HALL OF FAME - DOGS THAT DEFINE US
The Story of
of Henry (by Liz Kenitz)
About ten years ago I met Briarder Gail Reines. Gail owned
Can, French Ch Looking for Trouble de Lindeau. When Gail
realized she was losing her battle with cancer she asked me to
give her two promises: First, if she passed away before she
could breed Layla, I would do it for her; Second, I was to make
sure that Layla would always remain someone’s “princess on the
pillow”. The day Gail died, Layla came into season. Layla was
bred and soon came to live with Rick and me.
month or so later Layla had her litter. Her breeder Rob Ferber
and I whelped that litter and my first promise was fulfilled.
The first puppy born was a handsome male that just screamed
“type”. He was born with a full deep chest, beautiful angles,
beautiful head…..and eeek!…he was missing a dew claw. I can not
tell you how many times that day we checked that puppy to make
absolutely sure that we were not mistaken. Unfortunately there
was no mistake… The rest of the litter was born; Layla
presented us with other fine puppies. She raised her
litter and left our home to fulfill the second part of my
promise. She went to live with Ruth and Ray and to be the greatly
loved “princess” in that home.
We placed Layla’s puppies very quickly. This was an important
and long awaited litter for us and our breeder friends. All the
puppies were spoken for soon and went to live in experienced
Briard homes, many to be shown and bred. The male puppy that was
missing that darn dew claw, however, was accepted as a “pet” and
went to live with a family that had never owned a Briard or even
a dog before, and didn’t care if their dog was ever going to be
a show dog or a stud. All they wanted was a pet male Briard to
love. They did explain that they did not want to neuter their
dog because it was against their principals. I made sure they
understood that their dog could not be bred. They said that most
of their friends keep dogs intact and never breed them and that
was that. We sighed with regret, said goodbye to what could have
been and went on with our lives….
The new owners of the “pet” asked me about a proper name for
this pup. I told them about the naming conventions. He would have
a name starting with an “O” and with the word Trouble somewhere
in the name. Olga, his new Mom, decided to follow this
convention. She wanted to name her dog “Henry”, so she ended up
naming him OHenry The Great Troublemaker. Little did I realize
at the time that he would prove to be named appropriately….
Henry grew into a
beautiful, kind, loving, strong male, the kind of a Briard every
breeder dreams of …. As soon as the initial adjustment period
of getting and raising a new puppy wore off, Olga realized that
she has fallen deeply into a new kind of love. She began to
learn about Briards in earnest and flooded me with questions.
After a little while the real torture began. Olga has learned
enough to realize that she had someone really special living
with her and began to pester me. “Why can’t Henry be bred?” was
a question that she asked me so much that it began to haunt me
at night…. You have to understand, she called me every day;
often more than once a day and it was before I had caller ID. I
was never worried that Olga would breed Henry without my
blessing, but I did want to help her understand that it was not
just a matter of a “missing nail” as she called it. I patiently
explained over and over that “we” don’t breed dogs with
disqualifying faults. Olga persisted…”Would you at least look
at him?” Sure, I said, and thought … “What’s the harm?” We
arranged to meet at the 2000 National…
Across the hotel grounds I
saw a Briard that made me stop in my tracks; what beauty and how
proud he was! When he and his human came closer I realized that
this was Olga with her now infamous Henry. He was almost two
years old and he stood before me watching everything with
dignity and poise that is rarely seen in a dog so young,
especially one who had never been exposed to the “show scene”.
Olga was beaming and I was trying not to show her my reaction.
I knew that if she, even for a minute, realized that I was really
impressed, I would never hear the end of it. A few of my friends
came out to look at him and we exchanged knowing glances while
Olga was watching us like a hawk. From time to time she asked me
“Well, now do you see what I mean?!!!” I did see and I was
seriously beginning to sway……however, old habits die hard, and I
still felt it was my responsibility to again explain that “this
was not done”..
The Rass was over and the
regular show was about to begin when we walked past the French
Rass judges…they both stopped and immediately asked me about
this young male. I invited them to go over him. Partially, I
was curious myself and partially I thought this was a good
opportunity to have some professional help explaining rules to
Olga… They both immediately began their exam. Henry, who had
never had a judge “go over” him, stood patiently and let them
check him from nose to tail. Finally came the dreaded dew claw
check…both Judges stood there and lamented the absence of the
dewclaw. Olga asked them if they would breed him anyway. To
her, these rules made no sense and she told the judges so! They
both, hiding smiles, explained to her that although it was not a
health concern, in France it would not be allowed. It was a
shame, they said, because this was a magnificent dog. Olga, by
this time beaming, turned to me and said…“See? We can breed
Henry, because we are not in France”…I explained again that “we”
don’t do that either. At this point I began to really
wonder…”What if?” I told Olga that I will ask a few more
Breeders and see what kind of a reaction we would get. With that
we went into the hotel and began asking. Reactions were mixed.
Some said they would risk it, some said they would not. We were
almost right where we started when we ran into another
respected, long time breeder who immediately noticed Henry. She
went over him, noticed the lack of a dewclaw and thoughtfully
asked “Who is he?” Olga, who now was clearly on a mission,
immediately demanded this breeder’s opinion about breeding this
male….the answer came not as I expected it: “A dog of this
quality? I would absolutely do it. It is not a health concern.
It is only a missing dewclaw”
By that time, my resolve
to hold Olga back has weakened considerably anyway, and this
Breeder’s opinion was the final straw. I knew right then that I
would be looking more seriously into this issue.
Several years went by. During that time I have
consulted numerous genetic specialists and breeders on the
issues of dewclaws, Henry passed all the necessary health
clearances and the decision was made. We began to look for the
right bride. Enter Kay and Don Kline. Kay called me one fall
day and said she was looking for a possible mate for her Shaka
daughter, (Ch Petit Chou de Brushy et Lindeau)…What did I think? I
mentally went over the pedigree, everything clicked into place,
and I broached the subject. We discussed at length the “special
circumstances” and both came to the conclusion that Kay and Don
needed to meet “The Troublemaker” Henry. Once Kay and Don met
Henry, they too fell in love with this powerful, gentle soul and
the deal was struck. Kay and Don agreed that Olga would raise
the litter, I would come in and whelp it and then return again
to evaluate it at 7-8 weeks. Olga and Kay would be the
They both then approached me and asked if I
would come on as a co-breeder… I said “yes” with pleasure and
will be forever grateful to these two generous ladies for this
offer. The breeding took place and the whelping day was coming.
Rick and I flew out to Boston to whelp the Petit Chou/Henry
litter. The first puppy born into my hands was a male. Like his father,
he filled my eye! I was
afraid to look at his dews. A few seconds later, after I did
look, I was ready to yelp with joy. This perfect little male had
perfect little dewclaws! As each next puppy was born, before we
even checked the puppy’s sex, we went to look for ...yep, you
guessed it, those pesky dew claws…All were present and
accounted for in all the puppies and we opened a bottle of
Champagne. We toasted to the health and long life of this so
much loved and created against all the odds litter, and we
wished for them to grow up to be wonderful, happy and much loved
Briards, just like their parents.
Little did we know on that day in March that one
of them, the first born male, would become the 2005 National
Specialty winner and another, a little firecracker of a female,
- the 2006 French National winner. We also did not know that
both of these puppies would also help their mom Ch Petit Chou
de Brushy et Lindeau, Rass Select win the Brood Bitch competition at
the 2004 National Specialty. To date, this litter of seven
pups has three American Rass and one French Rass selects (they
got selected in the US in 2004, as did their mom Petit Chou, and
one got her French selection in 2006) and American Champions –
Boston, Anka and Monty. Henry was bred one more time. His
second bride was our Annie, Ch Briardale’s Shur Shot of Sendero,
2004 US Rass Select ). Again, the breeding produced more
beautiful puppies, all with the required dew claws. We are proud
to say that ALL the puppies that “The Troublemaker” has sired
were born with double dew claws. At the 2006 US Rassamblement
more of his puppies distinguished themselves; one puppy from his
litter with Annie went Select and two others went Pre-Select.
Later in the year, another one of those puppies received his
American Championship, finishing with 4 majors. To date, Henry
is a proud father of 4 American Champions, and already a
grandfather of one American Champion (see
Margo’s page). He is
living a wonderful life with his Massachusetts Briardale family,
chasing his Jolly ball around the yard and telling his daughter
Anka how to live her life…. (see Anka’s
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Am. Fr. Ch Briardale Une Singe De Terroir
For some reason also known in
Briardale Un Singe En Hiver
Anka is a product of our first “Henry litter”
and basically my first “homemade” puppy. She certainly made it
very simple for me. She fulfilled all my dog show ambitions so
fast, that I really stopped having them. Yes, I still show dogs
and I will most likely continue to show dogs, but I honestly
don't know if I'll ever experience the kind of thrill with any
other of my dogs that I experienced showing my first Briard
Anka was one of seven puppies, and I wish I
could say that I kept her because I knew what a spectacular
Briard she will grow up to be. The reality was - I was not
making any serious plans for the future. This was my first
breeding and all I could think about was - I finally got my
wish! I was not only having my Henry “used” but was able to have
the litter raised at my home.
Petit Chou came here (thank you Kay and Don!),
conceived under my roof, and her babies were born here.
This was more than I ever dreamt possible. I had puppies by
Henry and of course I wanted to keep one just like him. I wanted
a show boy!
As it happened, I actually kept Anka mostly
by default. My favorite show candidate from that litter (Boston)
was going to Liz by mutual agreement, and while I was thinking
about the other boys, we also had to consider how to place our
girls. Liz kept saying that I needed to keep a girl as daddy
Henry would much prefer to keep a daughter. All the puppies in
the litter had wonderfully pleasant temperaments. One girl,
however, presented an especially interesting character: she was
fresh, too active, very annoying and she constantly tried to
climb on the top of my head. Liz called her a “Pixie”, and kept
trying to convince me that the little devil was the pick of the
litter. I thought she was just trying to make me feel better
because she knew that that puppy was destined to be mine. I
called her my "Monkey" and ended up doing the “responsible”
thing. I kept her because I really did not think it was fare to
hoist that little vertigo of a dog on someone else. And so she
While I loved all of Henry’s kids, I was a
little disappointed with the one that I kept. I prefer calm,
steady and powerful dogs. She was too small and too squirmy. I
kept complaining to Liz that I'll never get used to this busy
"pip squeak" with a small head. Liz kept saying: “She is not a
pip squeak and she will have a beautiful head.” Well, Liz was right and Anka
certainly showed me! Not only did she grow into a gorgeously
proportioned female with an absolutely gorgeous headpiece, she
channeled all of her exuberant energy into a powerful presence,
akin to her grandfather Shaka.
Anka became my loyal and
patient companion, whom I can always trust with any human, large
or small. She also became the "show machine" one could only
dream about. When I first began showing Anka, I knew next to
nothing about showing dogs. I asked Liz how to go about it, and
she said: "Ask Marsha. She will help you". What great advice
that turned out to be! Marsha Clamp (Snoaire Briards) knew everything there was to
know about showing a Briard and she has graciously agreed to
"show me the ropes". Thank you, Marsha! She showed me how to run
and how to stack, how to free-bait and how not to fuss.
(Although that last one took forever to actually learn not to
do, and I'm not sure I ever really mastered it...Liz says I
still haven’t). It was Marsha actually, who once laughingly
reported to Liz about us: “Anka will take those ribbons right
out of judge’s hands in spite of Olga’s handling abilities”.
Marsha was right.
I began showing Anka when
she was 9 months old. When she won her first major at our first
show, I did not even understand what it was that she had won.
Someone had to explain to me that that purple ribbon meant
points and that Anka just got 3 of those. The other 4 majors
came just as fast. Anka became a Champion at 12 months,
finishing with 5 majors, all owner handled. After that I was
hooked. In 2004, I brought Anka to the Rass and the
Nationals in our Sturbridge Village. She and her two brothers
went select there at just under 18 months old. Then, showing off
with her brother Boston, she helped her mom TiChou win the title
of "Brood Bitch" for 2004. OK, now I was really starting to love
this “showing” stuff.
I decided that I eventually wanted to show her
as a "Special" and I began looking for a handler. Liz and I
spent countless hours discussing possibilities. Eventually she
said “go with your gut and you will know the right handler when
you see one”. At one of the shows I saw Stacy Snyder handling a dog in
a sporting group. I loved the way she did everything. My choice was made, Anka was headed for the
show ring, and this time it was with a pro.
I then approached Liz and
asked if she would want to co-own Anka with me. At first I don’t
think she thought I was serious and I had to ask again. Her
words to me were “I would be honored, but you don’t need me to
Special her.” I patiently explained that she had trusted me
with Henry, took the time to mentor me and had the patience for
my endless questions. She was always a big part of Anka’s life
and her future and I wanted to make it official. Liz said yes.
Stacy took Anka to try her out in July of 2006. They became a
fantastic team very fast. By the end of August, less than 8
weekends later, Anka was listed as one of the top 10 Briards in
the country. This was done without any advertising, purely on
the merit of this wonderful handler/dog combination. Anka and
her brother Boston (who by then was in the top 3) were making
their presence known in the AKC ring.
before, Anka advanced much further and much faster than I had
anticipated and I was faced with a dilemma.
My husband and I had tickets to go to France in
September. All of that summer I was entertaining the idea of
bringing Anka to the 2006 French Nationals, and although I even
registered her for that show, I was not really sure I was truly
up for this kind of adventure. Dragging my Anka on her first
flight all the way to France seemed really a bit much. Besides,
my husband was not happy about the idea. He wanted a real
vacation and that did not include my dog stuff….
On the other hand, Anka was
doing so incredibly well at the shows here, that I could not
help but think, what if….. After all I knew that, at the very
least, her getting selected in France was not completely out of
the realm of possibilities since Anka's grandmother Layla did
just that and more.
Layla made the trip to
France more than once and became the first and, at the time, the
only American-born French Champion. Besides, Liz kept cheering
me on...... and kept telling me that Anka definitely is a good
candidate to try.
||In the end, my curiosity won over my fears,
and my poor husband agreed to spare a few days of his long
planned French trip for a dog show. My hope for that trip was
to get Anka selected in France. My little "Monkey" of course
went well ahead of my hopes and dreams and ended up winning the
To say that it was a trip of a lifetime would
not be a fitting description. This was Anka’s first ever “Best
In Show”, and what a Best In Show it was! She was handled in
France by Annie Tabutaud who kindly offered us her help and
talent. What a magnificent pair they made there! Annie is not
only a wonderful person and a fabulous Briard breeder, but she
is also a spectacular handler. I am very grateful for meeting
Annie and to Annie for the generosity that she so kindly
bestowed upon us. Thank you, Annie! Anka and I and Liz are
A few months later, Anka and I returned to
France again. This time I was specifically bringing her to
compete at a Regional specialty. I was hoping for a CACS
certificate in order to collect more points towards her French
Championship title. She recieved the CACS, but she also won the
Specialty, handled again by Annie. By the time the show was
over, I was completely numb. I knew that Anka now needed only one more CACS certificate to become a French Champion.
And here is the rest of Anka's French
Championship story: On July 1st of 2007 Anka was shown in La
Rochelle in the last required all breed show.
The entry was very small (it is normally a small
show). Anka was the only female in her class. There was only one
male in his class. There were a few other dogs shown in other
classes. One of them was Annie's own Viva Rosa (the recent
Champion). She was shown in the Breed competition by Annie. The
second was Tendress Blonde De La Tour Saint Genin. This girl was
also shown in the classes by Annie, but was shown by her owner
in the Breed competition. But I'm getting ahead of the story...
Anka was the first dog to be shown by Annie and
the judge (M. S. Gianonne) had to judge her based on the
standard - there was no bitch in her class to compete with.
Based on that judgment, he issued her the last required certificate
and she was finished. Just like that...
Annie gave me Anka's lead with a huge grin and
told me that now I will have to show her at the end in the
Breed. Annie has a great sense of humor. Not only I'm not a very
experienced handler, but I also don't speak French and don't
really understand what the judge expects of me in the ring, as
it is very different from here. However, there was nothing more
I really wanted to do in that show, so playing "handler" with
Anka in the French ring was actually quite a treat for me. I
grabbed her lead with a grin that was even bigger than Annie's
and went to wait for our turn.
When our turn actually came and we went
into the ring, it was a hysterical experience. My husband was
hiding his face in his hands, so that I won't see his laughter.
As soon as we walked in, the Judge said something very fast to
all of us and I completely missed whatever it was he said.
Everyone was looking at me expecting me to do something and I
said in English that I have no idea what he wants me to do.
He showed me with his hand that he wants us to
run. I was the first in line, so everyone, including a very
happy Annie, was waiting for me to move....
I did and after
making one circle, out of habit, I was planning to stop. They
yelled and motioned to me to continue. I did, for 3 or more
circles, but I managed to ruin everyone's rhythm in the process. Even Anka gave
me this "What is wrong with you?!" look over her shoulder.
After we stopped, I had to let Anka kind of
free stack next to me, but I had no idea how to do that either. Well,
after a lot of laughter and pointing fingers at me, accompanied
by rapid French - the judge picked Tendress as his winner, told
something to all of us about all of our dogs and the show was
over. After the show I asked Annie what was it that the judge
said to me about Anka.....
told me with (if it was at all possible) an even bigger grin -
"Good dog, Bad Presentation". I hugged her and laughed all the
Anka has completed her road to the French
Championship. She is now the second American-born French
Champion. She made all of us very proud and we want to say:
BIG THANK YOU!
to the judges who felt
she deserves the privilege of being one of the 8 new French
Champions for the year 2007.
Another BIG THANK YOU to
Anka's wonderful French presenter
And my personal THANK YOU to you, Anka, for
being such a trooper and for making it so much fun for me!
Note from Liz: Anka and her
littermates were born out of trust. Two very generous ladies
Olga, and Kay and one man (Don you got muscled out and have
never complained) have allowed me to be a part of this very
special litter. To be included was a special gift…I thank you
…It’s been an honor.
Here is Anka on a day trip to
one of the Loir Valley castles...
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Copyright 2007. Olga Shulman at Briard Breeder.
All rights preserved.