Saturday, March 26, 2011

More on names

Rosie – Rosie came to us as a 3.5 month old pup from Evelyn. We couldn’t imagine calling her anything other than the name Evelyn had chosen as her puppy name. It turned out Evelyn had chosen her registered name too – Lonetree’s Just My Style. It was a name that suited her, though if it had been left to us we were ready with Lonetree’s Jalapeno Rose, after her sweet and spicy personality.

June – Naming June was an involved process. She was the only female in a litter of two, born on June 1st. We had been calling the puppies Johnny and June (after Johnny Cash and June Carter) and I decided the name June would suit her. But how to match that up to a registered name starting with “D”? I was at a loss. Then I came across a reference to a poem by James Russell Lowell that seemed a perfect fit:

And what is so rare as a day in June?
  Then, if ever, come perfect days;
    Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
      And over it softly her warm ear lays.
      -  from The Vision of Sir Launfal (
And so June became Zephyr’s Day in June.

Lark – Another puppy name that became permanent. As I had not originally intended to keep something from the Breaker ex June litter my joke is that I kept her “on a lark”. As for her registered name, early on I had determined if I were to keep anything from this litter, the registered name would be Zephyr’s Evelyn Echo. A not very subtle homage to the breeder of my two original Tollers, Gem and Rosie, and especially appropriate because Gem’s much more famous brother Sailor is both the paternal grandsire AND the maternal great-grand uncle of this litter.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

All about June

June has been a pistol from the time she popped out of Ghillie’s womb. The only female in a litter of two, she left her brother behind – literally! – when she began scaling the puppy x-pen around 6 weeks of age. I raised it once, from 24” to 30”, but decided not to raise it further as all evidence pointed toward June continuing to climb her way to freedom with simply a bigger drop to navigate after reaching the top. Curiously, she only seemed to attempt this when I was home. It was this combination of agility, determination and social attraction that made me want her to stay.

As a puppy, June’s most often employed nick name was “the devil”. She was a force of nature, as one of my friends put it. She greeted visitors like a freight train and used the living room furniture like a training ground for a future possible assent to Mount Everest. This was not encouraged, of course, and on the many occasions when June could not settle herself she earned some time in her crate. I generally crated her in the bedroom, same as her nighttime accommodations, and her vocal protest was clearly audible three rooms away. We endured her displeasure with gritted teeth, knowing that to let her out while she was vocalizing would only serve to strengthen her remonstration. I worked harder with June as a puppy than any other dog we have had so far. I remember walking her down in the backyard to enforce the concept of a reliable recall. From puppyhood, I drilled in a wait and release command for her supper. Always happiest in motion, June’s greatest struggles in obedience revolved around the stationary exercises; sit, down and stand stay. We worked at these for nearly a year before she achieved any degree of reliability.

At 5.5 years old, June has settled some but remains the most animated, provocative Toller I have ever owned or bred. She is mainly handicapped by my ability as a trainer/handler. Not only does she want to work, she needs to in order to be a contented member of the household. Thrilled as I am with her performance potential, I realize her high drive and exercise requirements would make her extremely challenging at best in most households. The same traits I treasure make me very careful when considering potential studs for June. While I’m not looking for a couch potato I do seek to temper June’s drive with a dog who takes things a little more in stride. Breaker was a good choice for June’s first litter. Two puppies have their AKC Championships and a third is only a point away, two of them have multiple agility titles, one has a WC, CD and RN and two are hunted over. All have much of their mother’s spirit but are tempered by their sire.  I’m confident my second choice for June will produce similar results, and I’m looking forward to her planned litter for 2011.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Through a combination of hard work and good luck, I've recently had the pleasure of witnessing two milestones in our Tollers. The first is Gem. She turned 16 on February 21st. Considering the average lifespan of a Toller is 12-14 years this is significant. Gem has survived her littermates and other canine contemporaries and even some of her puppies. George and I feel very fortunate she is still with us and doing so well for a dog of her age. Some of it is good genes; I've been told it is not uncommon for Tollers in this line to live well beyond the average expectancy. I imagine some of it is luck as well. While overall Gem has been a very healthy dog, she has had a few illnesses along way though so far we've been able to successfully combat them all. Most recently, a few weeks before her birthday, she was diagnosed with old dog vestibular disease. When she couldn't get up on her own I feared the worst. We drove her to the emergency vet shortly after digging ourselves out of a record blizzard. As I held her in my arms I thought, if it was time, the best thing I could wish for her would be to go in my arms before we reached the vet. But as usual, Gem surprised us all and a few weeks out from her diagnosis is getting around almost as well as she did before, only occasionally leaning a bit to one side and still needing a bit of extra help on the stairs. She still comes to the breakfast table for a piece of banana and some yogurt from me and a piece of cereal from George. She knows when treats are forthcoming and unless she is deeply asleep never fails to make an appearance for hers. While we know we won't have her forever, we are grateful for the time we have had and continue to enjoy, our shared experiences, and all she has taught us.

The second milestone is I finally finished my first Bred By Exhibitor champion, Lark. To my amazement she finished with four majors, which is quite an accomplishment when most of us are thrilled to simply obtain the necessary two. At present, Lark is now known as UAGII CH Zephyr’s Evelyn Echo RN NA OAJ NF. That Lark is my first BBE champion is very fitting. She was named for my mentor in the breed, Evelyn Williams. And Lark’s pedigree is something of an homage (echo) to Evelyn. My foundation bitch, Gem, is a littermate to a much more famous dog in our breed, Sailor (Lonetree’s G Parklake Sailor). Lark is the result of breeding a Gem granddaughter back to a Sailor son. The result has been a very special litter of pups. I finished Lark’s sister Eta (CH Zephyr’s Eta Carinae CD RN WC) two days after finishing Lark. Because of how hard Eta’s owners have worked with her in the field and obedience ring, Eta's championship finished her Rusty Jones award requirements. Guess it's time to get out in the field and obedience ring with Lark and catch up.