Ashford Kennel Löwchen

Ashford Kennel History


How I Got Started in Dogs. 

The first dog breed that I feel in love with, at a young age, was the Afghan Hound. I saw my first Afghan Hounds when I was five years old and I never forgot that moment. I had never seen anything like the two huge and crazy looking dogs that were barking these ferocious barks and launching themselves at the all rights I should have been scared, but instead I was fascinated and that was it... I sought out those dogs ever since. I was madly in love and never got over it. I knew even at that young age, that an Afghan Hound was in my future!

I grew up in an animal loving household. Dogs, cats, a skunk and even a pet bat(!!!) that I had saved from drowning in my fish tank, eventually also horses, occupied my life. I have been so fortunate to have shared my life with so many incredible and loving animals. (To see some of the dogs that I was lived with - click here) When I was 16, I was on the "Indoor Track Team" at Fairport High School in upstate NY. Don't let the name fool you, our practice took place outside in all weather. One winter night there were blizzard conditions and what did I find wandering in the snow, but a blonde, black masked Afghan Hound! My heart skipped a beat! I could not believe my good fortune. My prayers were answered, I had an Afghan! I immediately brought him into the school (late practice, it was dark and I got away with it) where we waited for the bus home. The bus driver let me take him on the bus and imagine my parents surprise when I came in the door with Rajah (That was his name). Of course, they informed me this was a valuable dog and that someone was surely looking for him. I was crushed and hoped against hope no one would claim him. Sadly, he was claimed and it turned out we knew the people, the Nowak family. Their kids swam on the same swim team as my sister. So they took pity on me, once they heard how crazy I was about the breed and offered that I could babysit him when they went out of town. Ok, I agreed to that, just so I could share space with such an incredible creature.

Oh happy day! We got a call a few months later, the Nowaks moving to England and could not take Rajah with them due to the strict quarantine laws. (They had originally bought him from the Horningsea Kennel, when they last lived in England.) Would we be interested in taking Rajah? Are you kidding??? I was doing cart wheels. My mother said well, we would try him and soon as I brought him home, she took him on a stroll around the house and yard and I knew he was in! He lived out his life with us and was a great dog. My illness took hold. I became even more dog crazy than before. I acquired two more (unwanted) Afghan Hounds, all un-nuetered males. At this time, 1976 through 1982, Afghans were the rage and they were ending up in shelters and rescue, everywhere. I was approached by people who knew I had these dogs, wanting to breed their females to them. I mentioned this to my father, who used to breed English Setters for hunting. He quickly asked what did I know about the breed standard, and the pedigrees of the dogs I had. I knew nothing! It was time to begin learning and so I sought out breeders.
 I began hanging around with Afghan Hound breeders, especially Bonnie McKissock. I never bred any of the males that I had. While waiting for my first show dog, I began doing rescue since two of the dogs I acquired were rescue dogs. 
By 1982, my work in this field peaked with the rescue of 26 Afghan Hounds in one year. Because of this experience of working with discarded dogs, I decided to find a breed that would be easier to place in pet homes.

Finding My Breed-The Löwchen. 
While living and working with a Lhasa Apso breeder, I became enamored with a small frisky and friendly dog who happened to be a Löwchen. She had been given to this breeder by a widely respected and known Saluki and Chinese Shar-pei breeder Don Weiden, who at the time had branched into Löwchen. Sadly, she did not really like this little dog, since she was far more demanding than the Lhasas were and so I ended up playing and training with her. I loved her! Her name was Liesle. Then, an opportunity came to buy a kennel facility in Connecticut which belonged to a famous poodle breeder. I informed the breeder of this and that was the end of our friendship. She was so angered, I believe, since I was her free kennel help and also paid her $350/month to live there and absorb her knowledge. She refused to let me take Liesle as well as a Lhasa female Megan, who I had cared for and was to co-own with her owner. Sadly I was very trusting and took people at their word. Elsie, the owner (who I will never forgive) promised to get the papers signed over to me and never did. Each time she mentioned it, I would wave her off and say, get to it when you can. I wish I had done things differently. Elsie told me that she would not let me take Megan with me because the Lhasa breeder (Her mentor) told her I was not going to take good care of her! These two little dogs loved me and when I was threatened with police action if I took them, I was forced to leave them behind. They were stuck back into cages and lived out their lives poorly. Liesle eventually was given to Ann Peterson, but only after she had cataracts and became cage crazed. When Ann acquired her, she was horrified to find that when she put Liesle on the ground she did tight little circles and no longer communicated with people, it was as if we were not there to her. She had lost her mind. Ann told me I should not see her like this.I ignored this because I had to see Liesle and hold her again. Even though Ann had warned me, my heart was broken when I saw this. This little creature who I carted everywhere, this was what came of her when I left. I heard that Meagan the Lhasa, was given to another woman who also kept her dogs in cages in the basement and lived her life out in a little cage. She too, had gone everywhere with me. I am wracked with quilt to this day that these two little dogs that came to love and trust me and  who were taken away from me, were forced into a bleak horrid existence after all the fun things we did together. Perhaps it would have been better they never had a taste of what life and being loved could be. These two little girls, Kermit my Afghan Hound who I DID have papers on and I, we had gone went everywhere together and I loved them to pieces. To lose the two girls to such sad lives was too much for me, especially knowing the bad outcome for both dogs. I was heart broken and resolved to never show dogs or participate with AKC breeders ever again. Needless to say, I was never friends with this breeder after and have never forgiven her to this day for what she did to those two dogs. Because of her, I decided that I would just own and run a boarding kennel in Connecticut.
  After I moved on to the famous BelTor Poodle Kennel in Pine Orchard, Connecticut and worked with Mrs. Rebecca Mason, I learned that my horrendous experience was not the norm. Mrs. Mason was an incredible breeder. She was a true dog woman and loved her dogs passionately. She ran a tight ship and was incredibly honest not only with others but herself too. We had a age difference spanning 50 years and yet, I loved her. We spent hours talking dogs, breeding and about life. She was my mentor and got me back on track. After we both decided the Poodle was not for me, too much grooming, I knew the Löwchen was my breed. To my chagrin, Mrs. Mason disapproved because in her words: "The Löwchen are just a bad poodle!" She also pointed out that the breed could not be registered with the AKC and there was no place to show them. Silly me, those were mere challenges that piqued my interest even more...helping a breed achieve AKC status sounded exciting! I also wanted a dog that was stable in temperament, small and with few health problems, which is what I heard about this unique little breed. 

My Start in the Breed!
I began researching the Löwchen by finding two breeders advertising in Dog World Magazine; Bob Yhlen of New Jersey and Leslie Healy who lived in Texas. My first Löwchen were Lowe-Ray's Moriah, (Click here to see her story) and Lowe-Ray's Rasheena Replique. The next two dogs came from Liz Vargo; Destiny's Pooh of Ashford and Destiny's Ashford Shar-Dei. I then acquired Berdot's Wallace, sent to me by Dorothy Goodale. Other important additions were Massena's Misty and Destiny's Ms. T. With the exception of Moriah, these dogs were the core of my original breeding program. From them came Multi-Specialty, All-Breed Best in Show and three time National Specialty winner Ashford's Jordanian Prince; multi-Best in Show winner Ashford's Dhy-Bhur Hassan, Canadian Best in Rare Breed Dog Show winner Ashford's Quatra; rare breed show, group winning, Ashford's Malik Aswad, who was eventually exported to Germany, where he proved to be an important sire for the German breeders, Ashford's Tiffany who was also exported to Germany. Tiffany grew up to be the first American-bred Jugend Bundesieger winner and Jugend Bundesieger Champion. Ch. Lionheart's Ashford Liesle was the youngest Lowchen to win her rare breed championship. She and Lionheart's Be-Bop-a-Lula; both co-bred with Della Cialini, were out of Ashford’s Asha Ani.

In 1993, I began importing and exporting dogs from and to Europe. In June 1993, I brought in Ch. Pan Tau von Livland, the top winning Löwchen in Europe at the time of importation. Among his titles were Weltsieger, Europasieger and Bundesieger. Finished in several European countries, Pan Tau was one of the last top-winning Lowchen produced by the Livland Kennel. I began collaborating with Felizitas Dylla, then president of the Duetsche Lowchen Klub eV., in an attempt to bring the Ashford dogs to the original type desired and produced by Madame Bennert and Dr. Rickert. To this day I continue working with European breeders.  

Because of my involvement with European breeders, I was honored to be invited to  judge both the Finnish (in 1997) and the Swedish Löwchen Club Shows, (In 1998) which are equivilant to our American National Specialty Shows. I found the quality of dogs to be very high in both countries and was pleased to have been able to go over so many fine dogs! I did eventually import the "Best Puppy Winner" that I found in Finland, Lionlife Chapter One.

To promote the breed and have a place to show my dogs, I was the co-founder of the Western New York Rare Breeds Association which was started to give rare breeds a quality show at which to exhibit in Upstate New York. This led to the (now defunct) Western New York Lowchen Association which hosted two LLDCA National Specialty Shows. I also served as a newsletter editor and board member for the Little Lion Dog Club of America.

Ashford Kennel was designated a Registry of Merit Kennel, which was awarded for producing over ten champions.

More to come....

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