My journey to the blues

As many of you know, I have been in this breed now for over 25 years. The last quarter century has been a great education in terms of biology, physics, canine nutrition, human nature, perseverance, humility, and everything else that comes with dogs, dog shows and dealing with the public.

Donovan winning Best Puppy in Show under Leslie Rogers at Muskoka Kennel club

My journey in the world of wolfhounds was actually a fairly easy and successful trip, thanks to several good mentors who took me under their wing from the beginning. They helped me to train my eye and to have a vision and with thanks to Susan Prokopenko, Lucille Pakalnis, and Danielle and Germain Renaud, I actually achieved great success in my second litter with the four wheaten wonders – Wrangler, Sonny, Sarah, and most of all with Donovan.   I owner handled Donovan as a puppy to multiple puppy group wins, and a Best Puppy in Show, and Best of Breed at the Queon Sighthound specialty.  I then handed him off as an adult to the care of Bill Sahloff who took him to #1 Irish Wolfhound until the last show of the year, where the #2 dog went Best in Show, effectively reversing their standings.  

Donovan with Bill – Credit Valley Kennel Club

As a yearling Donnie went out with Beryl Ramey and Sean Shields, who showed him to many group wins and placements under such noted judges as Nigel Aubrey-Jones, Dorothy Hutchison and Audrey Benbow. 

Donovan and Beryl – Group 1 under Dororthy Hutchison

When Donovan retired his nephew Ruari took up the torch and co-owned with Martin Doherty took over for his uncle.


The journey in Cardigans was not as simple.  I started off along a train track on my journey, certain that just staying on track would get me to my destination, as it had with the wolfhounds.

train track 

I traveled through a couple of small junctions feeling confident in my direction, and then came to a large “meeting of the crossroads” – the Cornwall specialty. At that specialty I met other travellers, who came from other directions, and were taking other routes to ultimately reach the same goals as me, but were not going along the same route.


I really had never had exposure to the sights that many others had.   I began to question whether the route I had chosen for my journey was the correct one.  Would traveling the route that some of the others had taken perhaps get me there faster?   Were their routes even the correct ones, as I had been warned about the perils of going that way.    So I paused a while, and took in the scenery.   I did research, and learned that not only were these people taking this route but that many others all over the world were headed in the same direction.  

I am thankful to people like Barb Hoffman who sat with me for hours pouring over old Handbooks, teaching my eye to see what a good Cardigan truly was, and trusting me with Hunter.   I am extremely grateful to Helen Jones who allowed me to sit next to her year after year at the Western Reserve specialties – never “telling” me what I should be seeing – but making me question not only what I saw – but to make me figure out why it was happening.  I was grateful to be able to sit in on the Judges Education seminars at the CWCCA specialties, just to learn what truly made a great Cardigan, and to others who shared their wisdom and time with someone who wanted to truly learn.

double trackWith a renewed vision, I set out again on my journey, determined this time to take in all of the sights along the way, and to not accept that there was only a single path along the way. This change did not endear me to those who I had originally traveled the journey with.  Unfortunately, unable to accept that I would strike out on my own, they did everything possible to derail my journey.   This is where I TRULY learned of the poor sportsmanship that could take place in this breed.  I was told that there would be no competition at a show, and upon deciding to enter anyways would find that there was enough dogs for me to earn 9 points on a puppy on the weekend.  The following weekend when I was told there WOULD be competition, there was only a special, who she defeated to finish.  Now I just don’t even bother asking since I can’t get an honest answer anyways.  I watched a competitor turn to the person next to her and make a gagging motion when a judge awarded my puppy a Best Puppy in Group,and then come over and hug me and tell me what a lovely dog he was.  

I have heard the rumors from puppy purchasers about the supposed genetic issues in my dogs.  Anyone who knows me, and who asks about my stud dogs, knows that I am the first to open up about possible problems in crossing certain lines.  I have researched and found connections to the Chylothorax and I have warned others when I know they are considering an at risk breeding, but don’t feel that it is my place to publicly announce the link.

So unfortunately, my journey has been solo without really having anyone to share the trip with since losing Chris.  As a result, one of the things I have made a commitment to do is to honestly help and guide others when asked, to try and pass on the education I was lucky enough to receive.

As i went along this journey, many times I have had people ask me if I breed blues.  My answer has always been, that until I achieved the quality of dogs that I wanted to attain, I was not going to limit myself to 20% of the gene pool, since blues can only be bred to blacks, as per the CWCCA Code of Ethics.

With almost all of my goals as a breeder achieved, (yes there are still a few to reach), I finally feel able to take a sidetrack and go for another destination in the journey.   In March, I am expecting my first litter of blue/black puppies.   Shadow has been bred to a young blue dog named Gabe, and is already showing signs of a thickening waist.   This litter is going to be whelped and raised by Betty Jean Greig, who will be a co-breeder also.  Further information is available on the Upcoming Litters page.

I am looking forward to this next step in the journey and hope that it will be as successful in reality, as it looks like it will be on paper.  At this point, its just a vision…..and a new extension in my quest for education.


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3 Responses to My journey to the blues

  1. Lucy Power says:

    Very interesting Shelley. Sometimes taking the high road is not always the easiest decision, but I believe it is the right one.

  2. Kathy Hays says:

    I wish you the best of luck with this litter! You have worked hard and deserve to have the proper recognition!

  3. Susan Beaudry says:

    What wonderful news! Hope all works out for you Shelley. It is the Blue that I am looking for but I do no wish to show or co-own. Looking forward to future post of your Blue Family. Congrats 🙂

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