Bio

The last 40 years of my life have been dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs.  Even as young child, I realized how incredibly fortunate I was to grow up in a family that bred, showed and loved Old English Sheepdogs. With our first OES, from a backyard breeder, we made all the mistakes a first-time puppy buyer can make.  We did have the wisdom to join our local OES club after the fact and quickly learned Alfie was NOT show quality, and with his health and temperament issues, he sadly was not even companion quality.  But we learned from this, and were were bitten by "the bug."  A few years later we acquired a beautiful female Old English Sheepdgo we named Mimsy, who would ultimately become the foundation of London Fog OES.

I became my Mom's right hand and her student, sharing the responsibility of exhibiting, breeding and caring for our dogs. I had my first "big win" at age 8 with Tiffany (Ch. London Fog's Touch of Class, left), going on to compete seriously in both the junior showmanship and breed conformation rings, while volunteering for our local club in Pittsburgh, PA, and assisting with the breeding and raising of about fifteen litters of puppies. From my Mom, I learned the importance of carefully screening puppy buyers, and that temperament and health should never take a back seat to what might win in a show ring.

I was always a studious kid, but the dogs were my life and my passion.  And they were even instrumental in helping me get into Princeton University.  When my counselor called to the various schools to whom I'd applied, just to "check up on my status," at the mention of my name she would usually hear something like "Ah yes! The girl who wrote all about her dogs!"

It was never about the wins, but I shared some pretty memorable days with my Sheepdogs, mostly at our National Specialties. To me, that is what good breeders do -- go to Nationals to see how their best stack up to the best in the country, to evaluate breeding stock, to share good times and knowledge with fellow fanciers.  The 1981 National Sweepstakes brought me my most thrilling day at a show. At 15 years of age, I handled my puppy Annie (London Fog's Love Ya Tomorrow, below left) and won a HUGE 12-18 month class of 34 puppies and went on to BOS in Sweeps.  

    

Throughout college I bummed rides to shows in the New Jersey area when I could.  During my freshman year, I attended the OESCA National in Virginia, where I finished Annie's son, Richter (Ch. London Fog's Seismic Force), with a huge 5 point major.  That was a high point only surpassed by winning the Veteran Sweeps with Richter a decade later when he was 12 1/2, at the National in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA (above, right).  He made me and many others cry that day.  After college, I moved to New York City where I shared the next ten years of my life with my best friend -- Ch. Tolkien's Ragtime Bilbette.  I finished Gina with big specialty wins, but it was my life with her outside the ring that I will remember most.  

After I lost Gina, a dog that left incredibly large footsteps to fill, I began to think about a change of breed.  Naturally I wanted another large breed, even bigger than the OES (as I was getting older too, it was now or never to take on a giant breed).  While I had mastered the art of grooming the OES, I wanted a more "honest" dog with nothing to hide.  I found that in the majesty of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

I welcomed my first Swissy puppy, "Axel", in April 2004. By the time I'd shown Axel to his championship, I knew I'd been bitten by yet another bug. In September 2005, my incredible "Moxie" came to join us and I realized quickly that she was everything a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog should be.. A year or so later, I was hoping for a female from  different bloodline proven to be very healthy and chock full of breed type and soundness. Nature didn't cooperate, as there were no females in Kathy Spencer's repeat Alli x Blaze litter.  But one of the boys in that litter was just too good to pass on, and so "Bowie" came to join us from outside Houston, TX in 2007.  
   
Bowie rocketed to his championship the day he turned 10 months old, was the #3 ranked Swissy in the country (#1 Owner-Handled) in 2008, and finished 2009 as America's #1 ranked Swissy in breed points for 2009 -- the first GSMD to accomplish this owner-handled!  The following year I repeated this seemingly impossible task, piloting a boy I co-own ("Shea") to the #1 Swiss in the country for 2010.  We have enjoyed many more thrills:  
Moxie taking Best of Opposite Sex to Best of Breed at the 2010 National Specialty, Shea winning the Top 20 at the 2011 National Specialty and taking Select Dog at the 2013 National, and the biggest of all...Shea winning Best of Breed and Bowie taking Select Dog, Best Veteran and Best Stud Dog at the 2014 National!

To date, I have raised a dozen litters of Swissies, which brings great joy but is also an awesome responsibility, one that doesn't end when the puppies leave for their forever homes.   However, nothing gives me greater satisfaction than seeing my puppies go to loving homes, where they will be valued as members of someone's family and hopefully live long, happy lives...whether they're show dogs or someone's devoted companion.

 

I truly do love these dogs more than I ever thought possible.  The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is a gift to us all, to be cherished, to be protected and preserved.  

Axel, 13 months old

Moxie, 2 years old

Bowie, 19 months old

Shea, 3 years old

 

 

 

 

    

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