Some of us are lucky enough to develop a "grand passion" in life. Mine turned out to be dogs, purebred dogs.
Growing up on the family farm in northeastern Alberta, Canada, I can't remember a time when we did not have a dog. My first memory of a dog was my dad's Labrador Retriever "Tuck" who used to walk me to school. Several dogs were part of my early life. Fresh out of university with my very first teaching job came my first dog, a black & white female Alaskan Malamute, Mistahiya's Skeena. She was an incredible dog for a first time owner and thus my kennel name 'SKEENAWHIP". Her only litter gave me my first homebred champion show dog, Champion Skeenawhip's Blizzard, and a solid foundation to grow from. I learned so much from this, but also realized how much more there was to learn. There is still after 40 years, so much more to learn.
After Skeena, came another remarkable female, my first Great Pyrenees, from Henry Hanemaayer and the original Ventisquero Kennels. This girl would go on to become Canadian Champion Ventisquero Mona. Mona was a character "par excellence".
These two girls set in motion, a lifetime of love, passion, learning and yes, even frustation. The good always greatly outweighed the not so good or maybe it was just my stubborness and my complete and utter refusal to quit.
Over the years with its' ups' and downs', I have always tried to improve the breeds that are part of the woven fabric of my life, especially in the area of health. I have test-bred my foundation stock ( Alaskan Malamutes ), worked closely with Dr. Bruce Grahn ( University of Saskatchewan ) to help find the genetic marker for the genetic test for CMR (Canine Multifocal Retinopathy) . I was also involved in the detection and development of the test for NDG ( Neuronal Degeneration ) in the Great Pyrenees, along with other breeders in the United States. I want to be able to say when I leave this earth, or look in the mirror while I am here, that at least I did not hurt my chosen breeds and I did my utmost to ensure their longevity and health. I firmly believe we can preserve our breeds by remaining true to the official breed standard, and use all the tools to improve the overall health of our dogs.
With the coming of several DNA tests, and risk assessment tools at our fingertips, we can have healthy robust dogs who act and look like the breed they are supposed to represent. The statement " a healthy dog is a happy dog", is just as relevant today as it was when I started, and today we have more tools in the toolbox than ever, to realize that phrase over and over again.
A vision of what we want to achieve, as well as staying the course, has been difficult at times, but well worth it. Over time, with knowledge, experience and improvements, my vision, is a healthy dog, who fits within the standard of the breed, and able to perform its' intended function if called upon to do so, both mentally and physically.
From the beginning, I was involved in conformation dog shows, and what a journey it has been. Having had dogs in both breeds attain top winning status, I still believe the greatest achievement is each new litter that contains the hopes and dreams of the next great ambassador for its' breed. With the creation of Rally obedience, I have become hooked and absolutely love to see my dogs do well in the Rally ring, then go over to the conformation show ring and win there, or vice versa.
In 2017, I left the family farm behind and moved southeast of Camrose, Alberta. Here, David Clarke of Davenloch Collies and I joined forces in breeding, showing and partnership towards the continued improvement of our chosen breeds. We choose to remain fully committed and true to our breed standards, and to the health and well being of the incredible animals we have been entrusted with.
For us, having a happy healthy dog is like a potatoe chip......... One is not enough!!!!!!
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