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!


CWCCA Nationals 2014

Its been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to post. Good intentions aside, life has just been too crazy.

April, however, is the time for the annual trek to the CWCCA National Specialty. This year it was in St. Louis, but the events were not held at the host hotel as they usually are, but instead at the Purina Farms facility. The facility is gorgeous, lots of grooming space, lots of power, temperature controlled, etc. The problem was that I am not a person who likes to leave my dogs overnight at the facility, so it requires triple crating – one set for the hotel, one set for the van, one set for the venue. Start adding three sets of water bottles x 8 possible dogs – that is a lot of “stuff” to transport and creates the need for a U-Haul.

No specialty is complete without its disaster. Whether it be the non-starting van of 2009, or the forgotten show clothes also of 2009 (that was an exceptional year!!), or the broken serpentine belt of 2012, there has to be something that goes wrong with the departure. This year it was the U-Haul.

I wanted to be on the road Sunday morning, so I rented the U-Haul to pick up Saturday morning. The previous Saturday I got a call that the U-Haul was waiting for me to pick it up at the location I selected – unfortunately a week too early. Then they found me one for the next week 45 minutes away. I went and got it for 10 am Saturday morning, but the right signal didn’t work, and driving at highway speeds signals are important (at least to me!). I took the trailer to where I was originally to pick it up and they spent 3 hours trying to repair it – but the entire trailer needed rewiring. So at 4 pm I am desperately looking for a trailer for the week. I found one over in Stayner and managed to get it, leaving very little time to pack before dark and having to cancel a dinner invitation.

Thankfully that was the entire disaster of the trip this year. It seems the worse the trip, the better the results, so this year was pretty good results, but not the great ones of prior years.

Dolly, unfortunately has not been co-operative about getting into shape for shows this year.  At Westminster she was totally naked.  For the Nationals she has refused to lose weight despite a very restricted diet.  She is convinced she is going to die from the lack of food and is playing the part of “Pathetic” very well.

So only Dragoon showed at the Megan on Tuesday night.   He looked fabulous, and in my opinion out-moved most of his competition, but he only made the preliminary round.

Dragoon & Tim in the Megan

Dragoon & Tim in the Megan


We had a fantastic photographer doing candids at the National this year and she captured some amazing shots of some of the dogs   Comparing this photo to the information in the CWCCA trifold brochure, I think this is a pretty near perfect movement picture.


  • Free and smooth.  Effortless.  Topline level.
  • Legs do not move in exact parallel planes,
    but incline slightly toward center.
  • Forelegs reach well forward with little lift;
    hind legs reach well under the body,
    driving well beyond the set of the tail.
  • Equal reach in front and drive in rear.  Proper
    sidegait should be strong, workman-like, balanced.
  • Tail can be lifted when moving, but
    shouldn’t curl over back.

She also got this very nice standing photo of them.

Getting Mr.ADHD's attention is not an easy task!

Getting Mr.ADHD’s attention is not an easy task!

The next day, Wednesday, was puppy and veteran sweepstakes, and although I had nothing entered it was nice to see Hunter’s grandaughter win the puppy sweeps from the 6 to 9 month class

Thursday was class boys, followed by the 4-6 month old puppies.   In 4-6 there is no class placements, simply a best baby puppy and best of opposite baby puppy.  I handled Sean, and Natasha and Paula Weller handled Patrick.

Patrick smallThe puppies were narrowed down to two boys, and two girls for the final awards.  Paula and Patrick made it into that group but unfortunately it was the other boy that was selected.

Friday was the girls turn.  Both Dash and Cara were entered in the Open class.  I handled Dash, and Tim handled Cara.    Although Dash showed well for me it was Cara’s day.

Cara small

Cara – 2nd in Open Bitch

And then it was finally Saturday  – Best of Breed day.  All the specials had to be in the ring for 8 am check in,  which meant 5 am wake up , to be at Purina for 6 am.  Although Dolly was still fat (although less fat!) I thought she had to show in Best of Breed in order to show in Bitch.

Dragoon was in the first class of males, and made it through the first two cuts of males.  Darren is back from from the U.K. and made the first cut of males.

Darren small CWCCA2014

Dolly was the very last special.  When the whittling down was done Dragoon was awarded an Award of Merit

Dragoon - Award of Merit

Dragoon – Award of Merit

After the Best of Breed the unofficial classes began.   Dolly was in Brood Bitch and Bev Mercer and Laura Marocco assisted handling Cara and Dash, helping Dolly to win the brood bitch class.  :)

Dolly - Best Brood Bitch 2014

Dolly – Best Brood Bitch 2014

So there were highs and there were lows.  On the positive side, the dogs received some nice awards, the Purina venue was beautiful, lots of grooming space,  power, places to walk the dogs etc.

On the minus side, not having everything in one place made the trip harder, made socializing more difficult, and I missed the two things I am sure to attend every year – breeders education and judges education.    There was also a problem with food, and I was glad I had a mini-coffee maker and lots of cereal bars and protein drinks with me.  Of course the trip home had to be a challenge.  There were two major lines of storms tracking across the southern states and I was driving  north between the two of them.  With the torrential rains, and winds trying to send the van and trailer para-sailing I was driving with a death grip on the steering wheel for 21 hours.  Now my carpal tunnel has flared up so badly I can’t hold anything and I’m wearing braces on both arms.

I honestly don’t think, at this moment, that I will attend the 2016 National, unless Purina has built a hotel on the grounds by that time.  I have to realize I am getting older and the trip is getting harder each year :(   If I do consider it, it may be sans dogs, or with just a single one.  I will definitely go to Ohio for 2017 though!

Now all thoughts turn to finding suitable panels to show in Ontario, until the big trip west in the summer :)