Icons of the Sport: Wayne Jensen

Learn about the contributions of dog breeder Wayne Jensen of Jen Araby Salukis.

Wayne Jensen
Jen Araby Salukis

Wayne and Marlys Jensen’s Jen Araby kennel remains the hallmark for moderate, elegant Saluki type. It was founded by Wayne in the early 1940s based on a combination of English imports, and stock from Diamond Hill and Pine Paddocks.

Mary Dee McMinn, a longtime admirer of the line, established her Shamar Acres kennel with a half Jen Araby bitch acquired from Kay Finch in 1975. “Wayne and Marlys have always bred the moderate Saluki, which you just don’t see today,” says McMinn. She asked for a dog soon after meeting them. Seventeen years later, Wayne finally offered her a puppy out of his famous bitch Ch. Jen Araby Kanti. “She was a fantastic bitch, and did a lot of winning. I bought three puppies from that litter and finished another one for Wayne.”  She adds that he typically didn’t allow anyone to show his dogs for him.

“They were very private, and particular about who they did business with. It took a long time to gain their confidence.” McMinn explains that Wayne never got involved in judging or dog club activities because he disliked dog show politics. He wasn’t much of a promoter, but Jen Araby stock earned worldwide admiration. “They worked with many breeders in Europe and Saudi Arabia, and had dogs all over the world.” 

Famed for his knowledge of bloodlines and excellent memory of specific dogs, “Wayne could pick out a good one at a very young age. He was a very talented artist with a great eye for type,”  says McMinn. She compares him to judges like Ellsworth Gamble who also bred livestock. Wayne and Marlys also bred Arabian and Morgan horses.

Wayne’s widow, Marlys, got her start through her husband. “He was already into Salukis in 1949 when I married him. He was born and raised on a farm in Iowa where his father bred prize cattle. He inherited that skill and stuck with it. His brother was a very good vet, and Wayne was always reading and studying all aspects of animal breeding.”  While living in Ojai, Calif., Wayne and Marlys also had had Toy Poodles and Jack Russells, and raised exotic birds, which they exhibited at bird shows. But the Salukis were the mainstay in their lives.

Jen Araby was primarily developed through linebreeding, Marlys explains. “We worked together planning breedings and evaluating dogs,” and proudly notes, “We kept the Salukis looking the same as they did from the start, as you can see from pictures. A lot of Salukis are slabsided. Wayne’s dogs had substance, grace and beauty.” Jen Araby was especially admired for producing elegant heads. “When you approach a Saluki and you like the head,” says Marlys, “you know you are going to like the rest of it.”

Their breeding also focused on temperament, which Marlys calls a big issue. “I recall one show where the Salukis were muzzled. Incidents like that didn’t give the breed a good name. Wayne really bred for temperament and showiness.” He wanted showy dogs but didn’t resort to breeding for flashiness. “He preferred solid colors and he got a bad rap because he didn’t like parti-colored dogs,” says Marlys. “He thought prominent markings interfered with the outline.”

Famed for his soundness, elegance and luxurious furnishings, Ch. Jen Araby Jurwadi Bey embodied Wayne’s breeding goals. A red grizzle sired by English import Knighttellington Djado, he was also a top producer, siring 30 champions. One of McMinn’s favorites was Kitten, Ch. Jen Araby Mumtaz Mahal, a black-and-tan bitch co-owned with Cynthia Wood and handled by Frank Sabella. “She was very special and did a lot of winning.” McMinn describes her as “very moderate and beautiful, and a great mover.”

“Over the years we helped a lot of breeders and gave them guidance,” says Marlys. Breeders who started with Jen Araby became known as the “Waynettes,” and included JoAnn Van Arsdale (Chubasco), Lesley Brabyn (Timaru), Sharon Kinney (Issibaa), Paula Backman-Chato (Baghdad) and Frank Cassano (Patayan). However, McMinn admits that Wayne wasn’t the easiest person to work with. “Sometimes people thought he was grouchy, but much of the time he was just exhausted. He worked nights on the oil rigs, and it was a very stressful job.” Getting to know him required perseverance. But she emphasizes that once that happened he willingly shared priceless insights. Marlys admits that “People either really liked Wayne or hated him because they couldn’t figure him out.” He had a wry sense of humor and people didn’t always realize when he was joking. Marlys compares him to Paul Bunyan because he loved to tell tall tales and lead people on.

After Wayne retired in 1992, they relocated to an 80-acre hobby farm in Illinois and raised Limousin and Scottish Highland cattle along with their Salukis. After Wayne’s death in 2004, Marlys sold their farm and livestock and now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. “People didn’t always understand Wayne,” says McMinn. “But they cannot deny that he bred beautiful dogs. He was always learning and trying to do the right thing, and he never gave up. His dedication to the breed was outstanding.”


From the June 2012 issue of Dogs In Review magazine. Purchase the June 2012 digital back issue or subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs In Review magazine.

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