May 19, 2015 - Our old buddy, Denis Gros-Louis, owner of Napoleo St Bernards in Quebec City is a tired but happy man today after helping his girl, Harmony, whelp her first litter. There were 3 boys and 3 girls. This litter has special meaning for Denis.  It's the first he has had at home since the disastrous fire some years ago at his old kennel outside of Ottawa. He lost so much at that time, including his beautiful Napoleo Queen Meagan of Slaton and her babies. A lesser fancier might of quit at that point, but to his credit, Denis pressed on, determined to re-build.

And what a way to do it!

He bred his Napoleo Harmony NTabu Lasquite, a grand-daughter of National BOB Ch Benbaron's Taboo Of Yondo, to Lasquite's Journey of Denver, a smooth son of National BOB Ch Lasquite's Denver V Lucas. The pedigree of the new puppies looks like this:

 

Now this is the kind of pedigree we love. Not only are there many excellent dogs represented but nearly all tie in closely to either Lasquite or Benbaron. There are no "wild card" dogs and this is far from a "chop suey" pedigree. (See our other articles on breeding.) There is some inbreeding going on in that Upbeat, behind the sire, is a litter sister to Ustinov behind the dam. As well, Orlando is the sire of both grandmothers, Lucia and X-Quisite. And if you extend the pedigree back a bit, one would also see that Yondo is behind Upbeat, Ustinov, Pepsi and Taboo. So there is a very good chance that the new pups will inherit a good sample of excellent genes from these superior dogs.

Denis informs us that he has good interest in this litter from a number of breeders so perhaps we shall be seeing more of these pups at future shows across the country. Well done, Denis!

This is one of the male pups at three weeks...

And here is Harmony with Denis, showing off as a youngster by winning Best Puppy In Group...

And congrats to the new father, Journey, shown here in his crate and waiting to be shown by his pal, Marty Glover.

 

The circle of life can be more than a cliche. Last weekend, I found myself returning to the scene of my childhood at the air force base in Trenton, Ontario. We were attending grandson Finn's Junior A hockey tryouts. Not only was the rink only a few blocks from my grade-school home, but it was also here where I began playing hockey nearly 60 years ago. In those days, the Golden Hawks were Canada's elite flying team, not a hockey team.

It all brought back a lot of memories for me of old friends and boyhood adventures.

But the "Small World" moment happened at the Trenton dog park.

 

Toni found this lovely park online so we headed over to give our Bulldogs, Tubby and Lulu, a good romp. They always need it after a long drive in the back of the car. I found a nice bench and settled down to let the various dogs come to me, a welcoming bowl of water at my feet. Before long a sweet Heinz 57 came by to greet me and was followed several minutes later by her owner, a gentleman in his sixties. People at dog parks are usually in a good mood: "lovely day", "what do you call your dog", "do you visit the park a lot". Small talk.

The subject of purebred dogs came up and I told him that we had been active St Bernard breeders. He replied that his first dogs had been St Bernards. A rough and a smooth. "Do you remember where you got them", I inquired.

"A chap named Cawker", he told me.

"Charles Cawker! Of the Charlinore kennels! Our foundation bitch was sired by one of his dogs (Charlinore's Grand Brandy)". What were the odds?

"That's right. Eleanor Cawker was a friend of my mother.", he added. "God, I haven't spoken that name in over forty years".

We talked a bit more about the dogs in our lives. He mentioned that he was a lawyer and told me about the time a dog helped him get through a murder trial. We shook hands warmly and then went back to our separate lives.

A chance encounter in a dog park. A simple moment in time. A random connection between two human beings made possible by a mutual love of dogs.

I guess it's a small world after all.

 

As we struggle through another dandy Canadian winter, I find a bit of inspiration from this photo of Kennebank's Wremington Von Xulu.

Remy is an impressive young smooth male bred and owned by our dear friend, Pat Postma, in Nova Scotia. Like any Saint worth his salt, Remy thinks the more snow, the better the winter. Of course, he doesn't have to shovel it. Here's another shot of Remy with his late kennel mate, Benbaron's VonGabe Of Eddie.

These boys lived together and got along famously.  Gabe's brother, Benbaron's Ustinov of Eddie, was the sire of Remy's mother, Vegas. 

And there are more family connections here. Ustinov is a grandson of Benbaron's Yondo Von Gizer because his mother, Pepsi, was sired by Yondo.. But so is Remy a grandson of Yondo. How is this so, you may ask? Remy was sired by Xulu, a Yondo son.

So Remy goes back to Yondo on both sides of his pedigree. Thus, we say he is inbred on Yondo. This was not by accident. It was by design. 

And here is Remy's uncle and Xulu's brother, Ch Benbaron's Xavier Of Yondo. "Couch" is Yondo's 25th AKC champion offspring.

Couch is a Yondo son and a big solid boy who has the family look. (Toni bought the figurine on the shelf behind him at Crufts. It is from the 1800's and was made in what is now part of Germany.)

And its not just about the males. They say, when looking for a wife, if you want to know what your bride will really look like in years to come, take a good look at her mother and aunts! Well here is a shot of Benbaron's Nifty and N'Ice as a baby...

She was a beauty for sure, and when we bred her to Yondo, using frozen semen, we got our wonderful second T litter of six out of six champions. One of those was ....

National Best Of Breed winner, Ch Benbaron's Taboo of Yondo! 

To our eye, all of these dogs share the same look and temperament. They were all powerful, enthusiastic dogs and good representatives of the breed. Make no mistake about it: we kept our pedigrees tight and often bred animals that were closely related to each other. We stayed away from "chop suey" pedigrees as much as possible because we did not want to randomly introduce wildcard genes into our program. We only went out for specific purposes as a rule and even then, we selected from lines that had a commonality with our own.

 

in short, we kept it all in the family! 

 

 

 

Robin Beninger recently dropped his big Yondo son, Couch, off at Art Shook's Trademark Kennels in Michigan so that Couch could be shown in the central part of the country and be made available at stud. Couch has been living on the West Coast until now where he won his majors. Art will be entering him in several shows in the near future.

GOOD NEWS! Couch won two more majors at the Christmas Classic shows in Cleveland and finished in style. He is Yondo's 25th AKC champion.

Couch - as in "couch potato" - is a big smooth dog of solid power. He moves with enthusiasm and has a wonderful, friendly temperament. While he doesn't have as much head as his famous father, he has excellent length of leg and a very solid topline. As a young dog, he was collected at ICSB Oregon and his frozen semen is of excellent quality. Couch himself comes from Benbaron's 50th litter, produced using Yondo's semen that had been frozen 22 years. If Couch has that "old school" look, that might explain it!

Art's Trademark kennels and our Benbaron kennels both go back to the early 70s and our kids used to play together while camping at the various Nationals. So it is very pleasing to us that Art has finished his title for us. Thank you Art!. Inquiries may be made to:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Robin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

After the recent National, and studying the catalog, I found myself wondering about naming conventions. As a longtime breeder, I always attach a lot of value to the proper use of kennel names. Breeders are the backbone of any breed. They do the hard work, take the risks, and expose themselves to tons of criticism when things don't work out as hoped for.

So it's little wonder that I think they should get the lion's share of the credit.

I do not like to see the stud dog owner's kennel name get precedence over the bitch owner's kennel name. If I see a dog named "Roxford's George of Truenorth", I assume the breeder was the Roxford kennel - not the other way around. And yet, many stud owners insist on their pride of place and register the stud pick dog as "Truenorth's George of Roxford". This only confuses those who would like to study pedigrees and understand breeding strategies.

Even worse, many dogs end up registered without the breeder's kennel name at all. "Truenorth's George" gives no credit at all to the real breeder, Roxford. How is that fair?

Over the decades, I have come across numerous examples of buyers registering a dog with their kennel name even when they were neither the breeder or the stud dog owner - as in "Superstar's George". Is this a trend in the dog sport where all that matters is the size of the buyer's checking account. "I spent a hundred grand on this dog to make him number one and to hell with the breeders"?

Forty years ago I wanted to find out more about the Sanctuary Woods kennel. As I studied the pedigrees I came across numerous cases where dogs were registered as "Sanctuary Woods" but Bea Knight was NOT the breeder. People just ripped off her kennel name. In some cases, one or both of the parents were originally from Sanctuary Woods so I suppose the owners thought it was advantageous to keep using that name, even if Bea had no part in the breedings.

Perhaps I am old school on this but I think kennel names are important and I think it is important to give breeders credit where credit is due.

But as the comic Dennis Millar used to say: "That's just my opinion. I could be wrong!"

 

Toni and I decided to take a quick road trip down to the Peek 'N Peak resort in September and catch the 2014 National. We were glad we did. The drive itself was lovely with Indian Summer weather. We put the top down on the Mustang and roared along from Northern Ontario to Northwestern New York. Unlike past decades, this was truly a holiday National. No dogs to look after and no stress of any kind. I sat ringside and took notes while Toni took lots of photographs.

We had not been at the previous two Nationals so we were keen to get a sense of the state of the breed.

Now let me say that at various times in the past forty years, I have shared my thoughts of Nationals and World Union shows in a similar fashion, publishing articles in The Fancier. Invariably, I have managed to irritate a number of people by doing so. "Who the hell asked for your stupid opinion?" was often the response. I suppose that any response is a good response in these situations.

So how is the breed doing? The decline in registrations since the 1960s and 70s has been long and steep; from over 30,000 per year to under 3,000 per year. A drop of over 90%! Nearly all breed numbers have been in decline and the AKC is but a shadow of its former self. The era of the purebred dog sport has declined as the era of cross-breed designer dogs has risen. Welcome to the world of CockaLabaDoddlePoos!

Be that as it may, the St Bernard in North America is still a breed of sufficient quality to command respect.

 

This lovely 9-12 Month class bitch is evidence that quality still exists. She is Sandcastle's Indecent Proposal, sired by National BOB Ch Lasquite's Denver V Lucas and her mother is Mahogany's Lucy In The Skyz. She was bred by Deb and Bruno Denis.

Her owners are Brandy Mead and Martin Glover, and Marty is one of the best handlers in the breed today. The judges loved this girl throughout the week and why not! Look at her outline, the way the pieces fit together so well, at such a young age. Lovely.

What about the young males? Here too, we have reason to be optimistic.

From the 15-18 Month class comes Lasquite's Cooper V Keeper, bred and owned by Tikki Smith and shown to Best In Sweepstakes and Best of Winners by Marty Glover (I said he was good.) Cooper was sired by Lasquite's Keeper of Lucas and his dam is Lasquite's Zetta of Lucas. Wait a minute! Wouldn't that be a half-brother-half-sister breeding? OMG, an inbreeding! This dog has a Coefficient of Inbreeding (COI) of at least 12.5 and probably higher because of other common dogs in his pedigree. If you have read other articles on this website, you will understand that we used inbreeding intentionally to develop and fix our Benbaron line. We got our own Yondo from exactly the same combination. Take the time to understand before you condemm.

Another of my pet peeves of Nationals past has been the low entry of shorthaired Saints. I am happy to report that such is no longer the case. The shorthaired classes this year were as large as the longhaired classes. There were quality smooth dogs to be found from the Puppy Sweeps to the Best of Breed judging. So I thank breeders and exhibitors for finally making me shut up about this.

 

One smooth that caught my eye was Ch Belle Isle's Cookie V Cretan, sired by Scandia's Eros ex Belle Isle's Casandra. I liked his substance, his movement, and his elegance. As long as we have dogs like the ones above, the breed will endure.

The official results of the 2014 National will be fully reported in the Saint Fancier complete with gorgeous photographs. Congratulations to all the winners and their fine dogs. A special thank you to the breeders of these dogs. Without breeders willing to make the effort, take the risk, and do the work of producing litters, there can be no future for the breed.

As a final observation, I would like to acknowledge the ongoing success of two "younger generation" kennels: Lasquite and Alpine Mtn. Tikki Smith and her Lasquite dogs from British Columbia have become very competitive at the National level and, likewise, so too have the Whiting's Alpine Mtn dogs from Utah. As our generation of breeders sail into the sunset, it is very reassuring that there is a generation of young breeders coming along with the talent and energy to keep the breed in good shape. Hooray to that!

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