My passion for dogs began at
a very young age. From the time I can remember, I have had a dog at my
side--whether it be my first dog, Charlie Brown, whom we rescued (see picture
above left), or my second dog, Honey (see pictures above center and right), who
was my best friend and confidante for several years, or the strays that my
friends and I would hide in our bedrooms at night and feed leftovers from
dinner (see pic below), to my first real "show dog" that I finally brought home when I was nine
years old (Ginger as a pup below).
was 6 years old, I picked out my second dog from the Humane Society. Or
rather, she picked me. Honey was one of the best dogs I ever owned.
She put up with my novice grooming techniques, my incessant training, pet shows
and dressing up. I even conned my younger brother into pretending he was a
dog; "Jo Jo" we called him, and he participated in the neighborhood dog shows I
would host every summer.
As my family can attest, I
was a dog fanatic growing up, studying breed books, attending dog shows by
dragging any family member that would take me, memorizing every recognized breed
and which group they belonged to, and begging my mom for a "real" show dog.
Finally at age 9, my mom said I could pick whatever breed of dog I wanted. It
was between a Saluki and a Golden Retriever. A BIG difference! After my
family weighed in, I chose a Golden Retriever. We researched our breeder well,
knowing my interest was show and performance in obedience. We were lucky to
obtain a show potential puppy from Jackie Mertens, of the well-known
kennel in Illinois.
the moment I brought
Topbrass Tawney Ginger CD
home, I was smitten with the dog show
bug—the training, the atmosphere, the handlers, the dogs, the grooming, and the
nerves. My mom was a trooper, hauling Ginger and I, and sometimes several of my
Junior friends, around the Midwest to all of the dog shows. I competed in Junior
Showmanship for 4 years, and was lucky enough to earn enough first place wins in
my first year of showing to qualify for the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club
show in New York City. Through my local Golden Retriever breed club, I was able
to meet some wonderful Golden breeders and traveled the Midwest showing their
dogs with them in the breed ring. It was a privilege to show Ch. Meadowpond
It was all a wonderful
experience, and I learned so much. My younger sister even became
"fleetingly" interested in showing dogs as well, and helped show my neighbor's
Boston terriers at local matches. And to round out the family involvement,
my mom became interested in obedience and trained Ginger to the Open level. She
obtained her CD and two legs on her CDX. Moving back East and other parental
duties precluded Ginger from ever obtaining her CDX title. Ginger taught
me so much about responsible dog ownership, humility, patience, and devotion.
She has been gone for many years, but she will always hold a very special place
in my heart.
When I was ready to absorb myself in dogs again, it was many
years later—after college, while I was in graduate school. My first Labrador came in 1992.
for Labradors was confirmed the moment he came home. "Roman",
Cloverdale Chocolate Hitman CD CGC TDI, embodied the true
Labrador in every way: in temperament, drive, trainability, and appetite!
I purposely chose
not to get involved in breeding Labradors right away. I wanted
to study pedigrees extensively, research genetics and heritable
diseases, attend Labrador Specialties and meet wonderful Labrador
breeders. I wanted to train, compete and title the dogs that I
had: Roman and his son, Zachary. And perhaps most importantly, I
wanted to make sure I had the time for the commitment and dedication
necessary to do it right. As a planner and analyst by profession,
getting all my ducks in a row was second nature. I wanted to
understand my "mind’s eye" to be clear about what "style" of
Labrador I admired and wished to produce. And I wanted to be able to
find a solid foundation bitch with whom to begin this journey.
Weiss of Lobuff Labradors bred Roman to one of her Ch.
Jayncourt Ajoco Justice daughters and I took a stud puppy home who
was to become my beloved
Nycoma’s Moonshadow JH CDX CGC TDI.
When I was at her home picking up "Zachary", I saw the most
beautiful yellow bitch and my heart melted. This bitch was her
Am.Can.Ch. Lobuff’s Sundown at Kerrymark, "Sunny". I had always
admired Lisa’s dogs, and decided that I would like to build my
foundation with this bitch in mind. After much study and homework, I
was able to find a Sunny daughter, Ch. Lobuff’s Onyx Alexandra,
"Alex", who caught my eye in the Labrador Quarterly.
bitch, I was able to meet Bob and Terrilyn Shober of
They are wonderful people with wonderful hearts. Bob and Terri were
kind enough to offer me second pick bitch out of a litter planned
with Alex bred to Ch. Tabatha’s Drifter at Dickendall JH. My
foundation bitch has become
Am.Can.Ch. Pembroke’s Sweet Alyssum JH WC
journey begins here, and what a ride it has been. I hope you enjoy a
glimpse of this journey on the attached web pages. My Labradors make
my life complete, and I feel blessed every day to share in their