Many of you will have heard the sad news that Brian Hogg has died (1). I’m sure there will be many tributes to him in a forthcoming edition of Cage and Aviary Birds, but I wanted to add my own appreciation of Brian, one of the canary fancy’s great ambassadors.
Brian is best known for his Lancashire canaries (with which he won gold medals at the World Show) and for his support of the old varieties (he was chairman of the OVCA). Less well known was his work on behalf of the London Fancy and Lizard canary, especially when dealing with COM.
I don’t have the privilege of having known Brian from his early years in the canary fancy, but I know that he was a major influence on well known breeders like David Allen. Our acquaintance only flourished over the last five years. I knew of his achievements, of course, but our paths didn’t cross until the Bologna show of 2014, where we both judged. He introduced me to Sergio Palma, a London Fancy enthusiast and promoter of the new Salentino canary (2). This was my first experience of Brian’s international outlook, and a good one.
As an OMJ judge, Brian had a basic competence in judging the Lizard canary. Being Brian, he was keen to know the finer details of the breed because he would inevitably be asked to judge them at COM shows. He was familiar with colour fed Lizards, but at continental shows most of the Lizards would be natural coloured (3). I was one of the few British breeders who showed natural coloured Lizards abroad at that time, so he didn’t have much choice. He got in touch and made the effort to visit me.
He was keen to learn and asked lots of questions. I was impressed. I know of OMJ judges who have had the good fortune to have been tutored by a Lizard specialist, but Brian was the only one I have known who went out of his way to obtain that advice.
Brian also took a similar interest in the London Fancy. Most people think of it simply as a yellow canary with black wings and tail, but Brian realised that there was far more to it than that, and again wanted to learn. Brian put on classes for the nascent breed at the South Bucks show and invited Sergio to judge them. He judged the London Fancies a couple of times at the National Exhibition and got everything right (4).
Both the London Fancy and the Lizard canary have come to the attention of COM in recent years. The former has passed the first of the three assessments to be recognised as a distinct variety by COM; the latter is the subject of a dispute over COM’s changes to the Lizard scale of points. In these circumstances, diplomacy can have a big effect on the outcome and that was one of Brian’s great strengths. I credit him with encouraging the OMJ to recognise the modern colour variants of the London Fancy in both cinnamon and white (5).
The dispute over COM’s changes to the Lizard canary’s scale of points remains unresolved. COM may have succeeded in forcing through the changes, but it has created a mess. Not only have most Lizard shows outside COM’s influence remained loyal to the LCA scale of points, but there is also an embarrassing discrepancy between the OMJ show standard and the OMJ scale of points (6).
Brian’s approach to these problems was to build bridges. He had charm, he was tactful, and he encouraged conciliation. I know that I have softened my stance thanks to his advice. Sadly Brian was not destined to see his diplomacy achieve the goal he had set: that COM and the Lizard fancy should be of one accord.
Brian died on the first of June. The canary fancy has lost one of its great ambassadors.
- Brian’s funeral will be held at St Margaret’s Church, Tylers Green. HP10 8EG at 11.30 a.m. on 14 June 2019. It will be followed by a service at the Amersham Crematorium on A404 Whieldon Lane. HP7 0ND. The wake will be held at Hazlemere Golf Club, Penn Road, HP15 7LR. My thanks to David Allen for keeping me informed.
- The simplest way to describe the Salentino is to imagine a red Belgian canary with a crest. It is named after Salento, a region which occupies the ‘heel’ of Italy.
- Brian bred Lizards on a small scale to better acquaint himself with the breed, as many OMJ judges do. Brian went on to judge the Lizards at the 2016 World Show in Porto.
- For a new breed, the London Fancy has been very fortunate to have enjoyed very competent judging at the National in recent years, thanks to Brian and Andy Williamson.
- Piet Renders, the founder of the Dutch strain of the London Fancy, used a colour canary in his breeding experiments which introduced both these colour mutations that never existed in the original variety. They were duly recognised by OMJ at its technical meeting in September 2018, at which Brian, along with Simon Tammam, was COM-UK’s representative.
- For example, the eyelash is described as a specific show feature in the show standard, but is not mentioned in the OMJ scale of points.