Douglas Oliff who died on the 15th February 2008 aged 80 years, was a well known
and popular figure in the dog world and indeed in many other circles.
Douglas started his education being tutored at home, he then progressed to Woolaston
Primary School and then completed his education at Lydney Grammar School. He served
for a period in the Royal Navy and on completion of his service worked for the then
Gloucester Co-operative Creamery as an analyst in the laboratory testing the milk.
He continued his employment as an Environmental Health Officer for the Forest of
Dean District Council
until he retired.
Douglas’ interests were wide and varied. He was a real traditionalist and his interests
included caring for his orchard which contained some very rare English Apple and
Pear trees; he was an authority on bee keeping and kept many hives of bees, regularly
selling pots of honey on a stall at the Welsh & West of England Bullmastiff Show
together with the jam he made during the summer. He judged and bred Old English Game
and they could often be found wandering around his orchard.
He was a very keen and accomplished photographer, and had a great love of classical
music, he himself playing the Cello but only for pleasure. He was an avid collector
of first edition books on a wide variety of subjects. In his younger days he was
often seen round the country lanes driving his Vintage Rolls Royce, which gave him
Douglas was a kind and generous man, always willing to listen and give advice if
required, and for some time was a prison visitor, a job that he found fulfilling
and he made some lifelong friends during this time. Dr Jean Clarke was once overheard
talking with a friend about Douglas, and she said, “One thing about Douglas, he
never judges anyone, and when he introduces you to someone you never know whether
it’s going to be a burglar or a bishop”. This I think epitomised Douglas; he had
friends all over the world from all walks of life and considered it was the person
that counted not their upbringing or class.
Of course Douglas’ great passion was his dogs, and he was a great authority on the
Molosser Breeds having produced two superb books on the subject and he was a much
sought after speaker. He bred and showed both Mastiffs and Bullmastiffs and his dog
Wyaston Captain Cuttle was quite an influential sire of the time. Latterly he also
kept a Neapolitan Mastiff as a companion. He judged all over the world, judging Crufts
in 1977, the American Bullmastiff Association Golden Jubilee Show in 1983 with what
at that time was a world record entry. He judged the World Show in Dortmund, and
major events in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and group specialist shows in Germany. He
judged Neapolitan Mastiffs and was approved to award CC’s in Bullmastiffs, Mastiffs
and Great Danes.
Douglas was instrumental in founding The Mastiff Association, and was currently President
of The Neapolitan Mastiff Club and The Welsh & West of England Bullmastiff Society,
of which for over 40 years on and off he was also Secretary. He was well known
for the legendary shows he ran for the society at Clearwell Castle which also held
a separate Mastiff show on the same day. Douglas so enjoyed his time as secretary
for the Welsh & West of England Bullmastiff Society and was always there for anyone
to ring and get advice. At the shows he would spot a new face in the crowd and go
and introduce himself explaining to the newcomer how the show worked and introducing
them to committee members and generally making them welcome. Douglas was a gentleman
and always had a good word to say, and the one thing I will remember him by was his
“If you can’t think of something pleasant to say, better to say nothing at all”.