Rebecca Tansil celebrated her 92nd birthday yesterday, and, far from retiring, she continues to show her miniature poodles and take them to championships in dog shows around the country.
In her Andechez Kennels in Parkton, this active person has bred some of the most magnificent white miniature poodles in this country or abroad since 1954. She is an outspoken advocate for dogs and is quick to say that dogs are happier when obedience-trained and that they love being in dog shows.
Her constant challenge is to breed seldom but to breed the best in order to obtain perfect poodles, which ''has always been of major importance to me and is true of any responsible breeder,'' she notes.
Interested in dogs since she can remember, she fell in love with the poodle breed after she trained a poodle named Annette who had been brought here from Paris. Her kennel name, Andechez, developed by adding the first letters of the names of some of her favorite poodles, beginning with Annette, then a breeding of Annette called Desiree and ending with Zachary, a male poodle that she says was the first poodle to obtain OTCH, obedience training and champion.
She and her sister, Blanche, shared their Parkton home. Each obtained doctorates. Blanche Tansil came to Parkton after she retired as head of the home economics department at the University of Mississippi. She died last year and would have been 94 this July.
Rebecca Tansil was a commander in the Navy, stationed in Mechanicsburg, and was the director of admissions at Towson State University for 31 years. ''As I became more and more interested in the poodle, I cut down on my work load at Towson State University, and our friends often joked that ''the Doctors Tansil had gone to the dogs','' says Miss Tansil. She is an honorary member of the Poodle Club of America and a member of the Maryland Kennel Club and the Greenspring Poodle Club.
She has four dogs who reached their championship this year. There are about 10 in her kennel, and most are free to come and go from kennel to house. Colleen is a worry for her right now. ''She is age 13 and is the first dog I have ever had to have a small tumor in her mouth that is being checked,'' says Miss Tansil. ''And I worry.''
Of her visits to nursing homes in the Pets on Wheels program of the Commission on Aging, she says, ''Dogs joined the human race some 12,000 years ago and have always given love, companionship, comfort and pleasure to their owners, but it has only been recently that we have taken advantage of this trait for others. It is the most rewarding thing I have ever done,'' she says.
She also wants a dog house for Marylanders. She feels that Maryland ''has been put on the back burner. We should have a facility for dogs, one built especially for dog shows, exhibits, training, demonstrations, therapy and obedience classes and more. We have stadiums for football, baseball, tracks for horses, tennis courts and all those things, however those who are capable of organizing and financing such a facility won't accept the popularity of, nor the importance of, dogs.
''A good example of popularity is the thousands of people and dogs from all over the country and abroad who come to the Westminster Kennel Club's annual show in New York, which is second only to the Kentucky Derby as the oldest continuous sport [event] in the country. Also, there are more dog owners than there are all the others I've mentioned and yet we do not have a facility for the sport of dogs,'' she laments.
Members of the Chesapeake Bulldog Club of Greater Baltimore presented their annual contribution -- this year $700 -- to the Baltimore City Municipal Shelter last week.
''I believe we are the only club which gives the shelter such a contribution,'' says Barbara Merrill, president of the club, which meets the second Wednesday of every month at the shelter. Anyone interested should call Patrice Morrison, 557-9855.