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.

ruarikitchenergr2

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.

junction

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.

 

And some more hot numbers

Dragoon winning an Award of Merit at the 2014 CWCCA National Specialty under breeder judge Cathy Ochs-Cline

Dragoon winning an Award of Merit at the 2014 CWCCA National Specialty under breeder judge Cathy Ochs-Cline

And not to be outdone by a puppy, Dragoon also had an awesome 2014.   The final statistics are out from Canine Chronicles.

Dragoon was shown a total of 16 weekends in 2014, and managed to come out quite admirably in the AKC final standings.

Canine Chronicle final all-breed 2014In the final all-breed standings Dragoon finished #9 for the year, with virtually no advertising and on an extremely thin budget.   Thank you to the Zeitz family for taking him on this amazing challenge.

Dragoon is back home in Canada, and I’m not sure what this year holds for him.  Maybe we will go in pursuit of a Canadian GCH or GCHEx – time will tell.

And huge congratulations must also go out to Al & Irene Driver, who’s Dragoon son Speed, defeated his dad by one placement!!  Well done guys!!

For anyone who is interested, Dragoon is now “on ice”.   We had three excellent collections at the vet freezing 165-175 million per breeding unit, and thawing at 80% motility.   I’m very pleased that I will be able to add him back to my breeding program in the future when I have out-crossed bitches to bring back to him.

Yasashiikuma I am Not A Number is……

… ,it turns out, #4!!

2014 UKC FinalsYes silly as it may be the little puppy that I ran on and on waiting,  because I couldn’t bear to let him go to a pet home, had a pretty amazing year last year!

Patrick small

From his debut at the US Nationals in the baby puppy class with Paula Weller he just was not going to be left out!

Patrick UKC CH and Group 3 - July 2014 - Judge Tony Raposo

Patrick UKC CH and Group 3 – July 2014 – Judge Tony Raposo

Before debuting in CKC competition he showed one weekend in UKC competition, handled by Lisa Parsons and Sonja Van Maanen, completing his championship and earning enough points to qualify for top 10 status as #4 for 2014!

patrick ccccOut to Western Canada two weeks later for the CCCC specialty and his first Canadian all breed shows and Patrick showed admirably, taking a couple of reserve placements and BOSS.

 

patrick cwccwr1

First day of the CWCCWR specialty Patrick was Winners Dog for a 4 point AKC major with Tim Zeitz. 

CWCCWR RWD 2014 smAt the second specialty he was Reserve Winners Dog, and repeated that the first day of the Lorain KC shows.

Patrick Lorain KC 20140810121714_0001The second day of the Lorain KC shows Patrick was Best of Winners with Mackenzie, earning another 4 point major.

After a couple of weeks off Patrick picked up his first Canadian points under Pam Bruce at the Oakville shows going BOB from the puppy class.

Patrick okc 2014

Shortly afterwards he picked up another three points going BOW at the Purina National Dog show.

IMG_0380Patrick has been at home growing up the past few months while I try to finish Mick’s championship while he is here visiting.  In the meantime he is growing up quite nicely and I can’t wait to get him out again!