WKC 2018

WOW.

I am just about to take my forty seventh trip to the great Westminster Kennel Club annual event.  It would have been my forty eighth,,except for the fact that in 1990 I was in Intensive Care at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, pining to be in New York City when I was conscious.  

Even as a Canadian, I do look at the annual WKC Show as “THE” “doggie event of the year”. Of course, living in Ontario makes it a little easier to get to the “big apple” and participate in all of the activities offered every year, which include specialty shows, educational seminars,  breed mentoring opportunities, awards banquets, a grand bench show with two evenings of honouring the winning dogs in the spectacular Madison Square Gardens, televised for the entire world to  drool over.  Of course this show also offers the opportunity to visit many Broadway Shows, share many fabulous restaurants with friends that have travelled from around the world to be there, let aloneTHE shopping.

Over the years I have participated in a variety of ways: as a fancier of purebred dogs, as an exhibitor of Borzoi, and French Bulldogs, and Skye Terriers, as a ring steward, as a Breed Judge, as a Group Judge and, as a Best in Show Judge.   All thrilling experiences that I treasure.

That being said, I do believe that my real addiction to this annual event is the  awareness of the consistent (it IS the second longest sporting event in American history) honoring of purebred dogs in a style of elegance and competence that they deserve.  Without dogs in our lives, the quality of our journey on this earth would have been quite different, to say the very least.   Their contribution is not over with.

The Westminster Kennel Club event places our “best friends” in the spotlight they deserve. It surrounds them with beautifully attired female and male judges, admirers, fanciers and enthusiasts, who respect and honour canines’ contributions to our lives, and enthusiastically cheer them on. What a privilege to be there to join in the applause.  

Thank you Westminster.

I trust you will  continue for another  142 years or more. And, wishing I could be there for each and every one of them.

Gone to the Dogs

To write or not to write?

The question I ask myself, which haunts my life on a daily basis.  I have, for decades, perused  journals, diaries, common place books, notes and letters, and I continue to consider whether I have anything worth writing about.

Folk frequently say, “Hey, you should write a book,” when I am prattling on about something.  I smile and say “Thank you,” and at the same time internalize my panic and say to myself, “Write? About what?”

I have spent hundreds of hours reading about writing, rather than putting pen to paper.  I have an humongous collection of books which talk about writing and an even larger one of “memoirs,” which provide examples of other people’s “stories”.  “Why would the world want more?” I ask myself. I have always concluded that it doesn’t.

That is until now.

For some reason, as I approach the end of my eighth decade, and I observe the world happening around me, I am thinking that perhaps some of “my stories” may contribute to putting a positive spin on some of the happenings around us in order to inform the future,  rather than wallowing in the past.

I have several passions in my life: people, canines, books, gardens.  I am not sure which came first, but I suspect gardens.  As a little kid, and an only child, with a tiny patch in his parent’s garden, in a tiny village in England, I came to experience in short order; wonder, happiness, sadness, anger, failures and successes.

In other words: a life.  After the end of WWII, I eagerly tilled the land.

Since then, my journey has been to “parts unknown,” and filled with thrills, fears, and, simultaneously, joys.

In other words: life.

I have decided that it is time to share this journey, even if only by myself, by actually putting pen to paper, and, in this case, keyboard to screen.

Hang on … it is going to be a bumpy ride.

“KISHNIGA”

A word that has to be entered into Google, in order to find me, requires an explanation before taking one more step on this journey.

In the Canadian world of purebred dogs, in order to register the progeny of any breeding program, one must have an “original” kennel name.

In England, as an only child, my closest companion was a beautiful white cat named “Flicker,” with whom I shared every aspect of my life.  He knew all my secrets.  Sadly, he could not accompany me in 1952 when my parents decided to move us to Canada. I left him in the care of my neighbors, with the guarantee of loving care. I was torn with conflicting emotions.

Shortly after arriving in Chatham, Ontario, “Kim”, a mixed breed puppy, became my new best friend.  And he took on the responsibility of keeping all my secrets until I went off to university in London, Ontario.

Life at the University of Western Ontario introduced me to many awesome experiences, including falling  in in love with two exotic looking dogs that I saw when I walked to classes. I was mesmerized by these two elegant, arrogant, creatures who rarely even acknowledged my attention over the fence.

I knew I had to have one as soon as I could.   I had to wait until1965, when I moved to Toronto, Ontario, and entered my first year of post-graduate education, acquired my first apartment, and, also, my first purebred dog – An Afghan Hound by the name of “Shan”.

The day Shan was delivered to me by his breeders from Quebec, I was attending a dog show at the Greenwood Race Track. At that show I also met, accidentally, an amazing creature, BIS CH Sirhan Rugay of WIlolea . That dog was a vision that never left me. Yes, a Russian Wolfhound had entered my life.

“Shan” and I were kindred souls in so many ways. Always together, no matter where I went.  New York, Chatham, Vancouver, Fire Island.  To this very day he walks beside me.

“Shan” and I struggled with the idea of breeding Afghan Hounds. So, we carefully explored the process of such a commitment, and discovered that there were lots of great breeders and another one was not needed.  By now,  “sighthounds” had clearly become an essential passion of my life.

Guess what? “Rugay” popped up in my memory.  And off we went to explore the Borzoi world.

I decided that there was room for me to engage with that breed.  After much investigation, I acquired a Borzoi puppy from a most respected kennel located in Quebec (next door to Shan’s breeders, as it happened), and 12 week old “Nicholas” came to live with us, and Shan had a roommate.

Tragically, “Nicholas” died just a month later at 16 weeks of age.  His breeder immediately provided a replacement dog in the form of “St. Just Ganya of Sirhan”,who had been born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

‘Ganya’ entered our lives, and the world changed again. Now I was prepared to enter the world of breeding purebred dogs, AND had the kennel name to do it with, while at the same time honoring those awesome dogs of my past:  KI(m)SH(an)NI(cholas) GA(nya).

“Kishniga”: the dogs that forever changed my life.

 

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