Pruning the tree helps it develop stronger

Last weekend I wrote about my history from the beginning and how I went from my first champion to Dragoon and Savannah.   The tree, however, did not grow in  totally straight. There were many twists, turns  and some branches needed to be pruned off in order to develop a healthy line of dogs

So going back to the third generation, I had a nice girl named Abbey (Yasashiikuma Cinnamon Heart) that was the source of another branch of the family tree.

Abbey was bred twice to Hunter.   

judodkcThe first litter, born on the first night of Hannukah, was my Hannukah litter.   In this litter were two puppies I allowed friends to co-own, paying nothing for them.   Judith, pictured above, and Mike.  Unfortunately the co-owners of Judith divorced, and the husband decided he wanted her (out of spite) and I lost her in a court battle, getting paid less than I had expended on show entries and handling.  Apparently later he met a new girlfriend who didn’t like the dog and left her with his ex-wife, of course now spayed.   Mike’s co-owner took him to Ireland, and then dumped him.  Thankfully I did hear where he ended up and I was informed when he passed on a short while ago

The repeat of the litter, a year later was the Spice Litter.


Megan was a pretty girl with a lot of very nice attributes.   The youngest in a houseful of adult dogs she believed she was the princess until the arrival of her half-sister Gale a few months later.   Megan had a very short and satisfying road to her championship.  When I had asked others if there would be competition at the Orangeville show, I was told, “Oh no, the judges suck.  But we will be entering the Credit Valley show the next weekend”.  So I decided to enter Megan just for the ring practice, after all entries were only $9 a day back then!  To my surprise there were 8 other class dogs and bitches entered, and by going Best of Winners all three days she was at 9 points.  Only one point from her championship!  The next weekend, all that was entered was one special.  I thought it impossible, but we beat the special for the last point and Megan finished her championship!

Megan had a litter in 2003 sired by Am/Cdn Ch Phi-Vestavia Uriel of Careleon.   Sabra was from my “Liqueur Litter” and finished quite quickly.  She was a substantial bitch, with a pretty head, but needed a better front, and to be lower stationed.   

Sabra died suddenly while I was at a conference.   Not knowing what had killed her I had an autopsy done at Guelph, and learned more than I wanted to know about Chylothorax.  Sabra had one litter sired by Harry Potter and the girl I kept from that was Jaime, Yasashiikuma Cerydwen Sorceres.  (Yes, one S due to space limitations).

Jaime was a very pretty girl, and I had great hopes for her.   She had passed all her health clearancs with flying colours, I had plans to bred her, and then disaster struck.   In July 2009, Jaime also developed Chylothorax.  This time I knew the warning signs, and with great expense and a lot of praying, she came through it.  You can read about that time by clicking here.  Mother and daughter both having this was too much to ignore, so Jaime was spayed and that branch of the family tree was truncated  Happily, Jaime is in an absolutely wonderful pet home where they absolutely adore her and is doing well.

Megan’s second litter, born in 2004 was sired by Am/Cdn. Ch. McLea’s Admiral.   This was my Ice litter and the girl I kept was Cinder (CH. Yasashiikuma Fire and Ice)

Cinder was a very pretty girl with lovely movement, and finished quite quickly by 9 months old.   She had one litter for me – the Fire Crew born in 2008 and sired by Merrymoon Noblestar Jacob.   From this breeding there were two very nice puppies who did very well.

Ch. Yasashiikuma Burning Issue (Chief) is owned by Norman Dale of BC and was shown to his championship by Norm’s daughter.   On the road to his championship she earned a Group 3 with him, and was Best of Winners at the Canadian National in 2010. Not too shabby for her first show dog!

And the girl that I kept was Ember, (Ch. Yasashiikuma Slow Burn) who finished in a single weekend at the London shows, even defeating Dolly for the breed one day!   There was so much that I loved about this girl and would have loved to have carried on with her.  Unfortunately her hips were not good enough for me to carry on with, so another branch of the tree was truncated, and Ember lives with her half brother in Chicago.

Megan did have one more litter, unplanned by me, sired by her 9 month old nephew Spud.   That was my “loose ladies” litter, and they were all placed in pet homes.

So, unfortuantely, although there were some very nice puppies produced by this branch of the family tree, unfortunately none of these lines have been perpetuated, and Chief is my only option to carry on with.

For the next installment, I will go into the detail on the other two branches of the tree – the legacies of Gale and Libby.



A Historical look at how far I’ve come

I belong to a number of social networking groups where discussion takes place about breeding dogs, breeding better dogs, canine structure, rearing, etc.

One of the lament’s that is heard over and over again is that it is impossible to buy a good quality show dog.   After my latest fiasco (see the blog post Uterus for Rent) I have become one of those breeders who is not going to sell my show dogs outright any more.   On the breeder’s side of the coin, there is the feeling that purchasers want the instant gratification of purchasing a specialty winning top ranking dog, and are not willing to work their way through the ranks and put in the decades of hard work to develop a line that is recognizable as their own.  I can’t think of a single instance where a Cardigan person I have regarded as a mentor, has achieved their successes with a dog they have purchased.  They have all started with a “decent” dog, and through judicious breeding, achieved their success on their own.   It may take a decade or two to get there, but how do you know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been?


Downstairs in my rec room, I have what I call my “wall of fame” or pictorial pedigree.   On it is every generation, finishing their championship, and when I feel frustrated by the slow progress, I can look back at it -and see just how far I have come, or maybe where I didn’t fix something I should have.  

But with this blog post I will detail how I went, in six generations,

From this: To this:

Penny – New Champion – November 1991

Dragoon - Gr 1 - McKinley KC

Dragoon – Gr 1 – McKinle


In the beginning

In 1985 I purchased my first “show dog” – an Akita named Ben.  That is where the kennel name comes from (it means Gentle Bear in Japanese).   I never bred a  litter of Akitas, and Ben only had one oops litter, which did not survive.   When he attacked my daughter severely in a totally unprovoked attack, I wanted a breed known for gentleness, and that is where then Alanna my first wolfhound came into the house.   Two months later Penny joined the household. 

As a show dog, I now realize that Penny left a lot to be desired, but she had a wonderful personality, was extremely intelligent and did quite a bit of movie and advertising work.  For those interested her part in a Shining Time Station special is the subject of a blog post “Star Quality“.    She loved flyball and was just a gutsy little great dog.    Twenty five years later, if a dog of Penny’s conformation showed up in one of my litters, I would place it as a pet, but if I had I would not be where I am now.

F1 – The first generation


 Cdn. Ch. Finnshavn Disglaircopy Ceinoig  Am/Cdn Ch. Tesseract’s Pete of Santana
 Rudy1  candy

This generation produced two Canadian Champions – Ch. Yasashiikuma Rudolph Valentino (Rudolph) and Ch Yasasshiikuma Heart of Gold (Candy).   Both had improved toplines and rear assemblies over their mother.  Both still had the short upper arm and lack of prosternum.  The both still had far too much daylight under them.


F2 – The second generation


candy Tesseract Pete of Santana son -
Cdn. Ch. Yasashiikuma Heart of Gold Ch. Markwell’s Matthew Cuthbert

abbeyCdn. CH. Yasashiikuma Cinnamon Heart (Abbey)

 brandyCdn. CH. Yasashiikuma Heartbreak Kid (Brandy)

This half-brother/half-sister breeding did a lot to set better toplines, body proportions, and begin me on the road to developing the the “type” that I had pictured in my mind.  On Abbey the upper arm was still short but she was definitely lower stationed than the previous generation.  She was bred twice to Hunter and there were several nice puppies that I went forward with that are not part of this branch of the family tree, so I have excluded them.  For the purpose of this pedigree, Brandy is the dog I went forward with.


F3 – The Third generation


brandy2 gale
Cdn. Ch. Yasashiikuma Heartbreak Kid Phi-Vestavia Storm of Yasashiikuma


Cdn. Ch. Yasashiikuma Weetartan Sedalia (Ruby)

About the time the Heart litter was born, I also brought into the house Gale, a daughter of Hunter and Gloria (Phi-Vestavia Good Gracious).   Gale hated showing and had the nickname of “Pukey Puppy” because she threw up every time she went in the car (which she thankfully FINALLY outgrew), but she became a very important part of my breeding program is behind every dog in the house today.   Gale was bred to Brandy, and produced a “tribute litter’ to my late partner Bill.   Ruby was the bitch I kept from that  litter.   As you can see this is much more the style of dog I have today, although she could have used more bone.

F4 – The Fourth Generation



This generation was again a line breeding when I took Ruby back to her grandfather  Hunter.   The purpose of this breeding was again to “cement” the improvements I had made.


This breeding produced three lovely littermates – Jade, Tiger and Topaz, all shown here at the Woodstock, Ontario shows.  Jade finished her championship first, and moved up to specials, which allowed this photo of Best of  Breed, Winners Dog and Best of Winners to be taken.  As you can see the breeding produced consistent toplines, rears, improved fronts. There is no question that these three were litter mates.

F6 – The Vision realized


am-ch-heart-of-gold-power-play jadefinish


Dragoon - Gr 1 - McKinley KC

Dragoon – Gr 1 – McKinley KC


So the final step was a line breeding for which I selected Powell (Am GCH Heat of Gold Power Play.    The results was my multi-champion Dragoon, currently sitting as #7 in the US with limited showing.   

Baden Win Pictures-page-001

Since Dragoon was a singleton, I repeated the breeding two years later.  The pick male from that litter is Baden, Yasashiikuma XIV K Scout’s Honor owned by Sherri Hurst and Charlotte Lamont.  Baden was Reserve Winners Dog from the 6-9 puppy class at the CWCCA National Specialty in 2013Savannah Win 2014-page-001And the girl I have kept from that litter is Savannah (Am. Ch Yasashiikuma Savannah Smiles) shown here finishing with Barb Peterson who took her home to finish for me with 4 US majors. 


But the buck has not stopped here.  Dragoon has gone on to produce a lovely son for Al  & Irene Driver – ALD Speed Racer – who is currently sitting one spot ahead of his dad in the ratings.   

So, I think this proves, with hard work, vision and patience, it can be done.  You don’t need to start with excellence, you can create it yourself.


Uterus for rent (Warning: Breeder Rant)

This has been a very sad week for me, and as much as I want to “let it go”, the betrayal of two people I considered friends, and the fate of one of Dolly’s puppies has me very upset.

Some of you have commented on the change in my adoption policies, and I am sorry that I will be disappointing people who have wanted a show puppy, but the emotional toll of this latest drama is more than I want to go through again.

Dolly has only had one bitch puppy that I have placed in a show/breeding home.  Her name is Yasashiikuma Driving Ms. Daisy.

Driving Miss Daisy 2 Driving Miss Daisy 1Unfortunately, although she is 3 years old, these are the last photos I have of her, at 7 weeks.  In all this time despite numerous requests I have never seen another picture of her.  

This all started with Lori Kopreski who originally wanted a puppy from another litter, but that didn’t work out.  We had been in regular communication for several years, and I agreed to put her on the waiting list based upon the highlighted promises in this email (full email is still on my machine)

Loris emailIt seems that the “promise” was worth about as much as the electrons it cost to send that email.  

The owner has had health issues, and so I bent my own rule (since I thought I knew her) and allowed her to be transported by a mutual friend, without having a signed contract in my hands first.  Even though I admit that was a mistake, truly a contract is only of value if you have the money to enforce it.  What a contract really does, is set out the expectations and desires of all parties.  I felt that had already been done in the email above.   When the mutual friend dropped off Daisy, her purchaser reiterated to her the conditions under which she was purchasing her, so she cannot say she did not know.

Due to illness, and other life situations Lori has never, to my knowledge shown Daisy.  As I said, despite many requests and promises, I have never seen a picture of Daisy.   I was frustrated when she showed other dogs,  but said nothing when Daisy was still not shown.    I made offers to take her back, and to show her but did not get replies.

I commiserated on my frustration with Penni Adrian (Elyan Cardigans).   Little did I know that she person would go behind my back and arrange to “lease” Daisy, for a breeding.

Now for those who don’t understand, a lease agreement is where a bitch or dog, is given to someone else for the purpose of showing and/or breeding for a set period of time.  This person can do what they want with the dog during that time, iincluding breeding and registering progeny.   In the case of a bitch, it is basically a “uterus for rent”.  In this case the purchaser gets a puppy back.

When I initially heard of this arrangement, I was upset by it, but thought that I could appeal to the integrity of Lori.  I sent this email:

Hi Lori,


This has been eating me since for quite a while so I am going to get it off my chest and put it behind me.


See the email below that you sent me when you wanted a puppy from me.  You promised to show her, and to decide with me where she would be bred etc.


I trusted you as a friend, to not force you to sign a formal contract.

 (I have trimmed here to not name people involved)

What I hoped, was that the purchaser would say “Oh yes, you are right, I did make that promise and I will abide by it”.    Instead I basically got  “go take a long walk off a short pier”.   There were excuses about why Daisy was not shown, there were more issues, in the purchasers life, but not one statement about having violated the promises made in the email.

Since I obviously could not appeal to her to have integrity and live up to the promises she made, I tried to work on the other side.  I made it known, I was not in favour of this breeding, that I expected Lori to live up her agreement, or at least return the dog to me if she was unable to.   Penni said that she felt the arrangement was in the best interest of Daisy as it would get her out of the kennel, and would give her a chance to put a title on her to count towards Dolly’s ROM.   For me, the ROM is not important.  Yes, I would like to see Daisy out of the kennel, but not at the cost of providing puppies.   As this has progressed I have gotten more and more upset over the situation.  On Tuesday night I received an email saying if the situation bothered me that much, Penni would not do the breeding.  I was relieved, and then shocked on Wednesday when that decision was reversed

If Daisy is in a bad situation, she should be returned to me as per our agreement.  If the purchaser doesn’t want her anymore, here is public notice that I will refund her money and take her back (and I usually don’t refund money on adult dogs!).   But it is eating me alive, to think of a baby I brought into this world be used as nothing more than a uterus for rent.


A weekend to remember!

Last weekend was one where the good news started early in the morning and just continued to come in!

On Saturday morning, I got an early morning call from Joan in Denmark

Denmark BOB at a show in 2011


Norton, Yasashiikuma Born to Be Wild,  finished his Danish Championship at a large show with over 80 Cardigans entered.

I then had a very nice day out on the bike and came home to a message that Dragoon had picked up a Group 2 under Tom Alexander!

Dragoon & Tim in the Megan

Dragoon & Tim in the Megan

 I couldn’t help but think that it was just about as awesome a day as I could possibly hope for, but it wasn’t done.


Baden in Open dog at the CWCCA National

Shortly afterwards another text came in, this time from Sheri Hurst that Baden, Yasashiikuma XIV K Scout’s Honor, also finished his championship – this time an American championship.   He sure has grown up from the puppy who was Reserve Winners Dog at the National last year!   Two champions and a group placement – what a fantastic day!

But it still was not done for the day!   Over in Russia, Baden’s sister Bronya, Yasashiikuma Do A Good Turn, finished her Russian Championship also!

Bronya Russian Champion 20140512

Bronya – Russian Champion – May 10 2014

Three championships, three continents and two group placements for the Dragoon was the final count for the weekend.  Congratulations to Joan and Jens (Kennel Smarti, DK), Sherri Hurst (XIV Karat, Texas)  and Charlotte Lamont, and Anna Zhudlova (Zhacardi, RUS) on your accomplishments and thank you, as always to Tim & Tracie for you excellent work with Dragoon.

Next weekend I hope will also be a fun one, as Sean makes his official debut in the show ring in PA.     Its going to be fun to see what this little guy does!