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First Lady of Briards by Kathy Fitzpatrick to say and would start off with the positives. She knew
Years ago when I was watching the Westminster that the Briard she was being asked to evaluate (whether
herding group, the commentator referred to Art Tingley as Mr. formally in the ring or in a social situation) was someone’s
Briard. So true. I remember thinking at the time that would pet/family member first. “Lovely breed type, excellent ear
make Mary Lou Mrs. Briard or, perhaps, Ms. Briard. Upon carriage and expression, the rear, not so good.”
further relection, I decided that Mary Lou’s sobriquet should Second, Mary Lou was a lifelong leaner as well as a
actually be the First Lady of Briards. promoter of Briard health, education, and welfare. In one of her
Before Mary Lou moved to Connecticut to be closer early interviews she detailed her ring conformation experiences
to her daughter Karen and grandson Brian, we shared the state and how she gathered information whenever and wherever
of New Jersey, living only about an hour away from each other she could about structure, grooming, and handling as she and
(which in Briard miles is practically around the block). Our Art began competing at AKC conformation shows. She also
friendship spanned nearly 40 years, but I can still vividly recall took lessons in obedience, herding, and agility; and Mary Lou
meeting Mary Lou for the irst time. My husband Mike and I was most proud when a puppy she had bred (Karen Farkas’
had been living in NYC, and I had promised myself a dog once Genevieve) earned a tracking title at a very young age. She
we moved from Queens to rural New Jersey. (Yes, there are marveled at and celebrated all the wonderful things this breed
rural spots in NJ.) could do.
My breed research included the book How to Raise Her dedication to the health, education, and welfare of
and Train a Briard by Mary Lou Tingley which included the Briard was epitomized by her work on the Breed Education
photos of the Tingleys as well as other early Briarders. In 1975 Committee, the numerous seminars she participated in for
“Brenna” bred by Cece Collins (who had gotten her foundation prospective judges, and her years as managing trustee and later
stock from the Tingleys) joined our family. Shortly thereafter trustee for the Briard Club of America Health and Education
I attended a meeting at Faye Sloan’s house; the purpose was to Trust.
organize a regional Briard club. The working name at that point Third, Mary Lou was always ACTIVELY involved,
was the Yankee Briard Club, but it was later changed to the whether in club activities or other aspects of the Briard
Atlantic States Briard Club. Guess who was at the meeting? world. She believed that being a member of an organization
Those gathered introduced themselves and gave a brief was more than just paying annual dues. Past Briard Club of
bio, but I had already recognized Mary Lou from the photos in America President Bill Weber once commented that what
the book. No one present except for Mike and me had only one was remarkable about Mary Lou was not that she has been a
Briard, something I thought was curious at the time, but now I member of the BCA for over ifty years, what was remarkable
understand perfectly. When Mary Lou spoke about the need for was that she was such an ACTIVE club member for those ifty
a local club and her vision of its goals and objectives, people plus years. During that time she held various BCA ofices
listened, just like the old EF Hutton commercials. She was soft- and served on many committees. She was instrumental in
spoken, and the respect that everyone present had for her and organizing the Atlantic States Briard Club and the Briard Club
what she hoped to accomplish was obvious. of America Health and Education Trust, aka Briard Medical
Although our relationship began with a love of Briards, Trust. Her accomplishments as Briard exhibitor, breeder,
it blossomed into a friendship which included not only trips to judge, mentor, author, etc. are truly legendary as other articles
Specialties, canine health seminars, and Briard-related events, and tributes have detailed.
but family tales, book swapping (she was an avid reader), tech Mary Lou Tingley, First Lady of Briards, never will be re-
assistance, lunches, movies, concerts, parties, and holiday
greetings which would arrive just after Thanksgiving (hers, placed and always will be remembered.Mar
not mine). She was always willing to share her extensive
knowledge of Briards (history, breeding, training, showing,
etc.), but she was never dogmatic about it. She was a friend and
a mentor in the best of all possible ways. Some of my favorite
memories are of afternoons spent in the Tingleys’ backyard
“socializing” puppies, a glass of wine in one hand and a puppy
in my lap.
Forty years of memories are a lot of memories, and I’ve
spent the weeks since Mary Lou’s visitation winnowing those
memories. There are just three observations that I would like
to share as I believe they give insight into Mary Lou’s character
and why she was so special to so many people.
First, Mary Lou was always kind and considerate.
When asked her opinion about a particular dog or bitch (and this
happened ALL the time), she ALWAYS found something good Mary Lou at 2003 National Tribute to her & her Phydeaux Briards.
Kathy Fitzpatrick was instrumental in putting together the display.
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