Drawing by Betsy Dickenson

"Once we have been graced by the richness of another's heart
We come to know the divine capacity of the human spirit." Flavia

Donna C. Dale: Her Life and Love of Skye Terriers (PDF) by Michael J. Pesare

Following the untimely passing of Donna C. Dale on March 10, 2001, remembrances were published in the Summer, 2001 issue of the Skye Terrier Club of America Bulletin -

My den walls are devoted to my Skyes, my cherished friends. These Skye photos also include many of my most treasured two-legged Skye friends. Donna is certainly among them. She was my mentor in a way, my first Skye friend who I met for the first time almost 30 years ago at Asheville Kennel Club when I went specifically to meet her. It was the first dog show I'd ever been to. She helped me to find my first show Skye. She helped me evaluate the litters as they came along, gave me some of my proudest wins and taught me many invaluable lessons - "Follow your instincts", "Would you take that dog home?", "Only breed the best to the best", "If it's not good enough to show, it's not good enough to breed."

Without her help, I would never have had my best friend, Bigun (Ch. Buffalo Drumnacoub), my beautiful Blossom (Ch. Buffalo Blackberry Blossom). When she asked to breed to their son Ch. Buffalo Broom O'Cowdenknowes, I was on cloud nine!!! She and Ben could never really have known what that meant to me. The really wonderful thing about Donna is that my story is certainly not unique! There are so many, many who can tell the same story. Her willingness and ability to take a rank novice and educate and inspire them was a most important attribute. So was her thoughtfulness - my adult daughters still treasure the books she sent them when they were small - and her unquestionable love of dogs, Skyes in particular.

Her sharing of her knowledge of Skyes and guidance inspired me to love and enjoy Skyes, which will continue always, whether in the ring or now on the farm. I think of Donna and I see her smiling face... hear her speaking softly to the dogs as she pets them... and understand that God needed some help with the Skyes. They were being rowdy and rude and getting out of hand. He knew who could help him most.

Betty Y. Dickenson,
Buffalo Skyes,
Castlewood, Virginia

Donna Dale has always been my idea of what a dog person should be....gracious, patient, good with puppies, knowledgeable and smiling. I always think of her with that wonderful smile. Roger and I made it a point to bring our young Wheaten puppies to her because we knew it would be a good experience for them. I only wish I had taken the time to tell her how much I respected her.

I also remember the trip to the Skye Specialty at Great Western that I was included in. We stayed by the harbor and I introduced everyone to In-N-Out Burgers. What a fun trip!!! I am happy to have been her friend and will always be grateful for her inviting Roger and me into the Skye World and so many new friends.

God bless you Donna----we miss you!!!

Candy Way & Roger Cotton
Bantry Bay Wheatens


My Tribute to Donna Dale
by Yvonne Roadarmel

Where do you begin when you've lost a very dear and special friend? My friendship with Donna goes back 26 years when I met her and her husband Ben at a dog show near my home. I knew right away that Donna was a very special person, and felt an instant bonding with her. A short time later, I purchased my first show Skye from her and Ben (Ch. Gleanntan Glamour Girl), and a wonderful friendship began! Donna became a very close friend. She was so very kind and thoughtful and was always there to comfort and stand by me through many rough times in my life. She was there for me when my own family wasn't. Because of Donna, I've been blessed with many other delightful Gleanntan Skyes who have brought so much joy and happiness into our lives throughout the years. A lot of wonderful memories fill my mind when I think of Donna. Her wonderful smile. Her soft voice. Her comforting words when I needed someone to talk to. Her endless help and support when I had a question about grooming the Skyes or other Skye-related questions. Her love and devotion to the Skye breed. The cute face she would make when she was imitating and telling a story about one of her Skyes. All the wonderful times I spent with her and Ben. Everywhere I look in our home, I see something that reminds me of Donna. Her beautiful needlework, and all the wonderful T-shirts and sweatshirts that she made for me. The beautiful Skye wreath that adorns our sunroom. Several Skye prints and figurines throughout our home. Many photographs of Donna, and other items too numerous to mention, but definitely a reminder of dear Donna. Even though she is no longer with us, she will always be very close to my heart. I refuse to let her memory die! I feel that I was truly blessed to have had Donna in my life! I love you and miss you, Donna.

Baltimore County KC - 1996 - L to R: Donna, Judy Davis, Carol Simonds
Maureen Cartledge, and Sandi Smiley

I am in shock about the death of Donna Dale. I had no idea Donna was sick and feel badly that I haven't kept in closer contact with them. I am no longer active in Skyes but did talk to Ben and Donna maybe once a year. I sold Ben and Donna their first Skye Terrier, Ch. JoJac's Rise and Shine. Not only did they purchase Kelly but also our house and kennel on Warfield Road where they lived for many years until they retired. Donna fell in love with the Skye Terrier at first sight and was hooked from then on. She was eager to learn all she could and the record speaks for itself on hers and Bens accomplishments. Donna's Skyes were like her own children. They were her children and her gentle way with them was a treat to watch. Her contributions to the breed are enormous and the standard of excellence she has set should be the goal of all who breed and exhibit the Skye Terrier. I think the thing I remember the most is her smile which was always present regardless of circumstances at the time. She always had a smile for everyone. She was an exceptional lady.

Jackie McDonald


I first knew Donna as an exemplary Librarian/Media Specialist with one of the first, and then as they became more common, one of the best, TV programs in the elementary school system. Her students learned to write, direct, produce, run cameras and sound and everything else needed to televise a daily news program for DuFief Elementary School. They were good! Several of her former students now are professional TV producers and directors and give her full credit for their career choice.

I then became even better acquainted with Donna in her role as the Director of Evaluation and Selection in the Montgomery (MD) County Public Schools. Her counsel and wisdom helped many young, and some not so young, new librarians learn the daily craft of their professions without going crazy. She had been there, done that, and could suggest different ways of doing their jobs without imposing her own style. Many a frantic phone call to Donna resulted in that person realizing that the problem was really solvable, not insurmountable, and calm would prevail. MCPS mourned her retirement from their ranks for many years. No one else quite had the "Donna Touch" of solving problems and making everyone like the solution, all at the same time.

I then knew Donna as a quilter and crafter whose love of color and design, and expertise in putting everything together, made an impression on everyone she came into contact with. Donna and I both loved to start projects; it was the completion of them that sometimes was bothersome. We both tended to finish things for other people before we would finish projects for ourselves. We would travel to different quilt shows and I grew to cherish her company and insights in yet another way. Donna was the perfect traveling companion, always willing to explore new places, new restaurants, new roads. She had an unerring sense of direction and a wonderful memory for roads and how they connected. When traveling with anyone else, I make sure I have maps, guides, etc. With Donna, I relaxed.

Once we combined a visit to her mother-in-law with a trip to the outlets of North and South Carolina. Donna remembered roads, and outlets, from 10 or 20 years before. We may have taken a wrong turn once or twice, but we always got where we were headed in a timely fashion, and had a wonderful time doing it. I am greatly saddened that I will not have another 20 years of memories with Donna, but I am grateful for the 20 years of memories that I do have. Her friendship greatly enhanced my life.

Danee A. Wilson


It isn't really necessary to tell all of you who knew Donna that she was a dear person--truly sweet, gentle, and caring. Her face and eyes reflected her kind and loving nature. I first came to know Donna and Ben through their excellent dog "Skippy." The friendship between them and my husband Dwight and me survived the test of time.

Two of the many memories I have of Donna are as follows: We were exhibitors at what I believe was the first show where she judged Cairns. My parents especially wanted me to take them to support the entry because they liked and respected Donna so much. I have two photos from that day that serve as happy reminders.

It was rare for Donna and me to travel together, but we had one unforgettable trip back from New York late at night after the Terrier Group at Westminster. There was an awful snow and ice storm in progress, and we witnessed many 18-wheelers jack-knifed on the NJ Turnpike. Being the conscientious person that she was, Donna was determined to press on because she was scheduled to teach the following morning. It was a slow, nerve-wracking trip, at the end of which she had to drop me off two blocks from our house since no snow plows had penetrated our neighborhood. However, we both were thankful we'd been together and had arrived safely. Needless to say, school was cancelled that day!

For myself, I'll never again be able to participate in The Columbia Terrier Association of Maryland shows each April without feeling Donna's spirit there with us. Her creative touches are everywhere - such a blessing from the Lord!

In remembrance,
Lydia Hutchinson


According to my records, Ben, Donna and I joined the Skye Terrier Club of America at about the same time in 1969 and since that time they and Walt and I shared many pleasant occasions together on both Coasts (and some in the middle!)

Donna and I both served in various capacities on the STCA Board of Directors through the years, as well as being on the Video Committee and, likewise, were strong competitors in the breed ring. Through all these contacts, we became good friends and I will truly miss her, as will many in the Skye World.

Carol Simonds


Sharing of some our memories of Donna C. Dale brings tears of laughter, joy and sadness.

It is almost 30 years ago that I started on the quest of owning my first Skye Terrier, and after many letters and telephone conversations with Donna & Ben, Gleanntan Going North (aka Mardi) was finally mine. A Gleanntan Skye Terrier coming to Canada!! And thus began our love affair with Skyes and a friendship that has lasted throughout the years.

Donna and Ben were always there for me. They both became my "forever people" - there for me through good times and there for me in sad times.

We had so many wonderful visiting trips, from the celebration of our son Brad's birthday at Roy's Place, to meeting them for a weekend dinner in Seattle when they were both judging. And, no matter where we were or where we met, Donna always made sure that I was "shopped out" by the time I went home. And if I wasn't she would call and ask me if she could send me any of the things I forgot, or didn't have room to take home.

On one of their trips to visit us, (I had my addiction to Werthers and could not get them in Canada) half of a suitcase arrived full of Werthers candies. A supply that lasted for almost a year! So thoughtful and humorous for this to be included.

In another conversation I mentioned that I was learning to cross-stitch and could not get all of the colors her (Donna managed to send me every color that was available) literally hundreds of scanes of thread arrived!

One of our most favorite trips was our Hawaiian spur of the moment vacation. We have been back several times since, but have never had so much fun. As usual we had a shopping spree, and as usual Donna loaded up on her quilting fabrics. We had such fun as the men went up for a helicopter ride to celebrate Ben's birthday and we kept our feet planted on the ground and waved gleefully as they departed. Oh free to shop alone at last!! We toured the macadamia nut plant, ate well, told stories and of course shopped.

While in Hawaii we shared a very special event with Donna and Ben. Our first granddaughter was born on Ben's birthday. Donna was so excited for us. So many memories, I could be writing for hours upon hours. Thank you Donna for letting us into your life, for always being there, for your kindness and loving gentle manner and your quiet sense of humor. Thank you for so many years of friendship, we were not ready to say Good bye! Thank you for the wonderful Skyes we have had over the years. Thank you for taking such good care of the breed. Thank you for being there over the years when we lost some of our beloved friends, and especially when we lost Louanne last year and THANK YOU for sending us your precious Julie. We feel truly blessed to have her to love.

Most of all THANK YOU for just being you! We miss you dearly and always will. You will remain in our hearts until we meet again dear friend. May you always walk in sunshine with your heavenly Skyes.

Jan & Ernie Kowalec

Donna & Emily

When I first moved to Maryland for my first job, Donna was the librarian at the same school. As was her way she befriended me and taught me much about children and teaching. Then before I knew it I was babysitting the dogs at Gleanntan Kennels. She and Ben made me feel like family as well as providing me with my first very own dog, Dusty (Ch. Gleanntan Feather Duster). Over the years our paths went separate ways but I always knew she would be there to offer advice and council. My association with Donna certainly changed and improved my life. She will be missed by many.

Jane Lodge


Inviting a nineteen year-old college student to her home to share with him part of her life's work. Driving eight hours on the day before Christmas to deliver a puppy to an anxious owner. Staying up many night until two in the morning to "talk dogs" with an eager student. Choosing to stand next to a young beginner at a national specialty so that he could learn more rather than critiquing ringside with her peers. E-mail, phone calls, and letters of encouragement. Long drives in the country offering counsel to a young friend on career, love, and family. Shared tears at a setback and laughter at a success. Finishing a champion when its young, but hopeful, owner couldn't afford to travel to shows. Allowing a friend to take her pick of the litter so that he might begin his own work with a good one. Hugs, wisdom, and love...... These are but a few of the gifts that I received from Donna. I love her for so many things and can't help but feel that we have all lost something very special. As a mentor, guide, "adopted godmother" and friend, I wish everyone the luck to be taught and guided by someone like Donna Dale. She is missed by me.

Travis Wright
Washington, D.C.


Although originally meant as a tribute to Donna and as a condolence letter to Ben, the following piece of correspondence offers an intimate portrait of a lady who considered herself to be "the grandmother of all Skyes". It was written by one who knew her well, her 14 1/2 month old granddaughter, "Gleanntan Graceunderfire". Unfortunately, it was to be the last of a series of letters that the two had enjoyed over a period of several months.

Ginger Lindsey

Dear Grandmommy Dale,

Hel....loo...ooo! Can you hear me? Mommy says you have a new email address. It is "heaven.com". But since I can't reach you there, I'll try your old address. At least, for one last time. Maybe, someone will forward your mail to you...wherever you are. Mommy and Daddy say you have "passed on". I really don't know what that means. I only know what they tell me it means. They say I won't be able to see you again. Or to sit on your lap. Or to lick your face again, ever! And that you have moved to a new "Big House". I hope it's a big house! That means there will be lots of Skyes in your new place. They will keep you company. I want to visit you there, too, some day. But Mommy says, "NO!"; that I will have to be much older to visit you now. Of course, what I want to know most is, "Why did you leave us?" If I had licked you more, or loved you more, or played with you more, would you have stayed? I will miss you, Grandmommy! I will miss your smile and your lap and your laughter and your love. BTW, if you should receive this letter, please know how much I loved you. And if you are so close to my heart, Grandmommy, how can you be so far away? Licks, Your little "Gracie" (a.k.a. "Snickers")


Donna was a classy lady with great intelligence, who could magically and effortlessly produce a humor and a coolness that transcended all parameters right in the midst of turmoil. Joe, Peter and I will miss her presence, her moral strength, her empathy, optimism and generosity always. Knowing her these past 30+ years was a gift. Her leaving has left a great void.

Eady, Joe, Leslie, Ken, Wendy and, of course, Peter Rickard


If memory serves me right, Joan and I would have met Ben and Donna sometime in the mid to late '60s when I was showing Ch. Gemini Sir Bruce and Ch. Cromlech Miss Muffin for the late Major & Mrs. Leo J. Sullivan. At that time we ALL made the Cherry Blossom Circuit, the Bucks County/Trenton, Westchester and Montgomery weekends and so would see one another probably a half dozen times a year. To be sure, we were all keen competitors and all valued the quality of their own exhibits.

Probably one of my fondest memories of Donna was in the very early '70s when she was judging The Skye Terrier National at the sadly now defunct Associated Terriers Clubs Show (ATC) in New York City on the day before Westminster. I had 10 year old "Bruce" (Ch. Gemini Sire Bruce) entered in the Veterans class and when I put him on the table, Donna having never met a Skye that she did not love, said to the dog - "You've been a great old man for this breed" and bent over and kissed the top of his head. With my now near closed throat, due to the very large lump in it, I squeezed out, "Donna don't do this to me," wiped my eyes and proceeded to parade the full-dentitioned and heavily coated "Bruce" the length of the ring to great applause. When I returned Donna had tears running down her beaming face. It is a picture that I have never forgotten. May God bless her, grant Eternal Peace and let her walk in His garden among the Skyes which have preceeded her. Rest in Peace Dear Lady.

Ken McDermott


The memories I have of Donna are endless. When I first met her in 1980 I was in awe of her. Her warmth drew me to her immediately. Little did I know then that she was teaching me from the very beginning. I always loved showing my Skyes to her because of her gentle touch and her unspoken words saying I Love You to each Skye. As I write this with my two beautiful Skyes at my feet I am reminded of the tremendous influence she had in my life. Donna will live forever in my heart and her spirit lives in all her gifted artwork and mementos that surround me in my home. Perhaps James Taylor said it best - -

"I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days I thought would never end
I've seen lonely days when I could not find a friend
But I always thought I would see you again"

Holly Thomson,
MacLean Skyes




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