Eleanor Rowe, fondly known as “Ellie”, was interested in becoming a veterinarian as a teenager. She worked after school and weekends at a local veterinary hospital where she first encountered Boxers. This interest was encouraged by her mother who had had a Boxer as a child in Poughkeepsie, NY, a puppy from one of Governor Lehman’s litters (he imported some of the first Boxers).
In 1939 she was asked to care for a Boxer bitch bred by Fred Hamm (Mahderf), and owned by a friend of the family, while he traveled in Europe. She took care of the Boxer for two summers before her parents purchased her for Ellie’s birthday. Mahderf’s Lucky Chance a daughter of CH Ferbo V Konigstor, was bred the first time in 1940 and had one puppy. The large male was donated to the Seeing Eye and was one of the first males of any breed trained by them.
Lucky Chance was later bred again and had 6 puppies. Through this litter Ellie became acquainted with Al and Mary Cousins of REXOB Boxers in Yonkers, NY. They cropped the puppies’ ears – a talent Ellie learned from them, Jack Wagner and others and later practiced. A puppy from this litter was shown at Westminster in 1943 under Fred Hamm – My Defender Roderich. He attended classes with her at Scarsdale High School and later at Cornell University and died at age 10 yrs.
When the Cousins moved to Milwaukee to manage Mazelaine Kennels they got permission from Mazie and Jack to bring Ellie out to stay during the summers. Jack took time to teach Ellie about Boxers, including how to judge them. After two summers at Mazelaine, Ellie graduated from High School in Scarsdale.
During the school year between the two summers she worked for Mazelaine she met Carl and Alice Wood, based in New Jersey. They bought two puppies from Mazelaine – Robin Hood of Mazelaine and Ysolde of Mazelaine (FB-45) – and asked her to help train and show their puppies. Ysolde became Woodcrest’s first champion and their foundation bitch. She was the first of many Boxers that Ellie handled to their championship. Ellie became life-long friends with the Woods. (Carl referred to her as “The lovely Miss Rowe” – I bet she had long legs and red hair – ED). Ellie joined ABC the first time in the early 1944 and dropped out 5 years later (1949).
Ellie spent the next two years at Cornell University Pre-Medical College. She worked for the Henry & Isabel Larks of Meritaire Boxers during the summers and on the side, taking care of dogs and handling. Unfortunately, this was just after WWII and the returning vets got preference for the available spots at the vet schools (women weren’t considered for admission as late as the 1970’s). When she didn’t get into vet school, she went to work full time for Meritaire at their extensive kennel facility in Dewart, Pennsylvania. She learned a great deal about kennel management and handling while there.
She handled the fawn bitch, CH Yller of Mazelaine to her championship in 1944. She was by CH Utz von Dom of Mazelaine LOM, out of a daughter of ICH Dorian von Marienhof of Mazelaine LOM. Ellie and Yller won 4 BIS and a specialty BOB during 1947 (picture with Ellie in the American Boxer Breeders Handbook). Yller is the dam of 4 Meritaire champions by Warlord (8/28/1944 & 5/15/1946). Yller also won an ABC Annual Award in 1945 for Bitch Winning the Most BIS. Yller and CH Schoolmaster of Mazelaine were both entered in the 1946 ABC and Yller in the 1947 ABC. Ellie had an AKC Junior Handlers License before becoming an AKC Licensed Handler (all-breeds) in 1947.
She married in 1947 (Drumwright) while at Meritaire. The best man was Schoolmaster and the bridesmaid was Yller. A year later they moved to Silver Springs, Maryland. She continued in Boxers, handling some from 1951-1954, working as a vet tech and doing a bit of Boxer breeding. She worked as a vet tech, assisting with the cropping for many of the breeders in the area. Eleanor Drumwright is listed as a handler in the ABC catalogs for 1952 & 1954.
In 1954, now divorced with 2 small girls (Ann – 1948, Gail – 1950), she took over management of the Mazelaine kennels in Helotes, Texas. Eleven months passed and she convinced the Wagner’s to move the kennel back to Illinois, near Lockport. Ellie stayed until the dogs were well settled before moving back east. She and her young daughters visited with the Woods until she moved to Carson City, Nevada where she spent the next 12 years raising the girls. She spent 7½ years as Head of Dog Control and did some handling under the name of Bartles.
In 1966 a friend in Nevada bred Rococo’s Enhancing (CH Rococ’s Major Muir x CH Rococo’s Bright Magic) to a son of CH Evo-Wen’s Impressario owned by Frances Lowman, CH Space Man of Jofra. The result was CH Merrilane’s Silver Dollar. He was known as “Two Bits” because that was all Ellie could give them for a down payment. He completed his championship at 17 months with 3 BOB from the classes, going BOB 11 times including East Bay Boxer Club. He was retired from the ring when Ellie began handling professionally again. He sired her Legion of Merit dam Merrilane’s Mad Passion CD LOM.
Ellie married Victor Linderholm in 1968 and in 1969, with Ann and Gail in college, Ellie and Victor moved to California. Ellie resumed breeding under the Merrilane kennel name and established her kennel in Santa Cruz, California. Merrilane is the combination of the kennel names of the two top kennels she worked for – Meritaire and Mazelaine. She began handling professionally again. Ellie finished her first homebred champion in July 1971. Because she was a professional handler many of the Merrilane Boxers were co-bred and or co-owned by other Boxer lovers. Several of these became the foundation stock or made significant contributions to the breeding program of these breeders. Victor passed away in 1977.
“Passion” is the dam of 10 champions to including CH Merrilane’s Mad Magic of Jofra by CH Eldic’s Landlord; CH Merrilane’s Hot Pants; and CH Merrilane’s Holiday Fashion. Holiday Fashion was the 1975 ABC Grand Futurity Winner from the 12-18 class under Patricia Connolly. “MP” was also the dam of the 1974 ABC BOB winner, CH Merrilane’s Love Life of Jofra (by Landlord). His daughter, CH Merrilanes April Love was RWB at the 1975 ABC under Marion Fairbrother (a top breeder in England), a BIS winner and dam of two sires of merit by her half-brother Holiday Fashion – CH Merrilane’s April Holiday and CH Merrilane’s April Fashion LOM. The latter was Best Puppy at the 1977 Futurity and BOS at ABC 1979. He was owned by Coleman Cook and John Granade of Ohio and shown by Jane Forsyth. He sired 27 champions. Merrilane’s Pitter Patter was RWB at the 1978 Regional in Ohio, shown by a co-owner.
Hot Pants produced four champions to ICH Scher-Khoun’s Shadrack LOM. Her daughter, CH Merrilane’s Star v Heinrich was bred to Holiday Fashion and produced CH Merrilane’s Fashion Star the sire of CH Vihabra’s Stardust, co-owned and co-bred by Dr. Harry and Virginia Bradley. Stardust is the dam of CH Vihabra’s Magin’s Irish Gold by AM/CAN CH Marquam Hill’s Trigger of TuRo – Traper’s brother.
In the 70s Ellie finished and campaigned 38 homebred champions, including CH Merrilane’s Mad Magic of Jofra, CH Merrilane’s Love Song of Jofra, and her sister CH Merrilane’s Love Life of Jofra, CH Merrilane’s Holiday Fashion, CH Merrilane’s Closer Look and Box M Tropic Storm. Ellie received ABC Annual Awards for Kennel Breeding the Most Champions in 1976, 1977, 1979 & 1980. Merrilane champions contributed to the breed in such far-flung places as Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, Australia, Norway, Spain and Taiwan. CH Merrilane’s Happy to Meet You by CH Benjoman of Five T’s LOM out of Merrilane’s Holiday Passion, went to Dr. Miyagawa of Japan. A Holiday Fashion daughter, CH Merrilane’s Kiss of Fire was co-owned with Agnes Buchwald, Hexastar Boxers, Brazil (now residing in the USA).
At the 1980 Regional (Boxer Club of Southern California host), under Mrs. R C Harris of Sirrah Crest fame, BOS went to CH Merrilane’s Closer Look owned by Mr. & Mrs. Gordon J Turner. This daughter of CH Merrilane’s Fashion Star & CH Merrilane’s Harlot was Ellie’s 30th homebred champion. The April Holiday son, CH Merrilane’s Salute to April, – RWD under Ruth Wurmser at the 1981 ABC – was sent to the well-known publisher and photographer Paul Scott, Stabekk, Norway. Mr. Scott attended ABC shows several times in Frederick, MD, having a brother in the area.
In 1981, Ellie – now a widow – and Carl Wood – now a widower, married (Alice passed away in 1980). They settled in Carl’s house in White Stone, VA and continued enjoying breeding and finishing Boxers and their ABC activities. Ellie retired as a professional handler because Carl was a well-known and respected AKC judge. She registered “Merrilane” with AKC at Carl’s urging in 1981. They moved two years later to a beautiful house in LaSelva Beach, CA near Monterey Bay.
She received the ABC Annual Award for Kennel Making the Most Champions in 1984. The 55th Merrilane homebred had finished by July 1987. In 1988 Carl was at the microphone, with Ellie’s assistance, to do the 1988 Parade of Champions. Ellie and Carl returned to ABC from California every year in Ellie’s motorhome until Carl’s passing in 1990. (Carl Anton Wood 5/18/1903 to 2/12/1990 – ABC LM/HOF). Ellie continued this odyssey from California and later from Arizona until failing health stopped her in 2002.
CH Merrilane’s Knockout – bred, owned and handled by Ellie, finished his championship in 1986. This fawn son of CH Merrilane’s April Holiday was specialed by Ellie and qualified for the Top Twenty in 1989 and 1990. They won it in 1990. KO was co-owned by Robert J & Margaret J Deeds, Las Vegas, NV. She had saved the best for last with this special Boxer. He became her constant companion until his death in 1992. In 1991 he was Best Veteran Dog and received the Award of Merit under Ben DeBoer. KO sired one producer, CH Vandown’s Laguna Rose, dam of 2 sires of merit. KO was also the sire of CH Merrilane’s Golden Gloves who was imported to Australia by David Brace and Rosina Olifant-Brace where he became one of their top sires at Sjecoin. KO’s 18th champion was CH Merrilane’s Fortune de Jacquet, co-owned with Rick Tomita and Dorothy Mades.
The KO daughter, Merrilane’s Lookout was RWB under Alice Downey at ABC 1988. At that same ABC Lookout became co-owned with co-breeders Owen and Gina Proctor. Lookout was bred to CH Keil’s Dynasty (co-owned/handled by daughter Ann Keil) and produced CH Virgo’s Destiny, the dam of 7 champions to CH Virgo’s Market Boomer. Boomer is out of another KO daughter, CH Virgo’s Totally Awesome. Awesome was out of the Proctor’s CH Virgo’s Moon Zapper a daughter of CH Moss Woods Zinger Zapper.
The 76th & 77th Merrilane-bred champions finished in 1998. Ellie owned or co-owned 47 of them. That number does not include another 7 champions she bought from other breeders. Of this number there were 8 Sires and Dams of Merit she bred, only one of which she owned. She also bought her foundation bitch – Mad Passion – she did get her through 6 litters and finish her 10 champions. The bloodline is found today behind champions, breeding stock, performance, service, and search and rescue Boxers. These champions are behind Jacquet, Vihabra, Virgo, Hi-Hat, Laurel Hill, Bitwyn, Box-M and many other champions. Two more champions came to Ellie early in the new century. They were CH Moon Valley No Doubt and his son, CH Moon Valley No Foolin’. They were co-owned with Ida Baum & her daughter Nancy Schepis. No Fooling being out of Irondale’s Cheap Treat.
Ellie has judged specialties in Japan and Mexico with entries over 100. She judged the Top Twenty as the Breeder-Judge in 1995 giving the nod to CH Caymens Black Bart. (The beautiful turquoise outfit with the gold boxer head (KO) she wore at this event was hand made by her sister. It was sold at the ABCF charity auction after her death and is now in the Boxer Heritage Foundation museum. Ellie judged puppies and Grand Futurity at the ABC in 1981. She found her puppy winner in the 9-12 mos. class – Von Schaum’s Throckmorton and her Grand Futurity in Dean-Erick’s Feisty Future, Best Junior under Mrs. Burleson.
Ellie is an ABC life member, having rejoined in 1971 and became a life member in 1991. She served as Historian, a job she took over from Carl in 1990. She chaired the Standards Committee in 1989 and has also worked extensively on the Illustrated Standard for over 10 years. It was first published in 1991 with the revised version published in 2001. Ellie did the drawings in the Illustrated Standard. She has given several judging seminars using the illustrations from it.
In 2000 she updated the ABC pamphlet “Meet the Boxer” and received the Larry Downey Award. She had supplied the cover picture for the original “Meet the Boxer” done by Dr. Flint. The picture is of her first champion, Dollar with Ellie’s grandson who is now 30 years old (2001) and has children of his own (does that make Ellie a great-grand?) She received the Richard Baum Award in 1999. Other ABC committees she served on were Advertising (under Pete Puzio in the 1970s), By-Laws (1991 – 1992), and Judges Education under Bev Sachs and Billie McFadden and again in 2001. Ellie assisted Carl with the 1988 Parade of Champions – she wrote-he read. She has done the Judge and Life member biographies since 1986 and has chaired the committee since 1990. She was on the ABC Board for 6 years (1988 – 1994). She has served as a steward several times at ABC and the Top Twenty. And she was on the Top Twenty Committee for several years. She was Chairman of the By-Laws and Illustrated Standard Committees. In 1999 she created and donated the new ABC Boxer head logo.