As a child animals always fascinated me, especially horses. My elder sister, Linda owned and competed with her horses and luckily she included me in her adventures.I taught my first pony, Princess, to do several tricks. Eventually I competed in junior showmanship handling my sister's horses, Smokey and Black Bart. The competitive energy I witnessed in my sister was contagious... I caught the bug.
When I began living on my own, and having always fancied a Golden Retriever, I decided it was time to add a pup to my home. Being a novice, I did the predictable thing and purchased a puppy from a litter I had seen advertised in the local newspaper. That ad is pasted in my scrapbook. It reads, "AKC Golden Retriever puppies--$150.00." I called, and within an hour owned my first Golden Retriever. As to researching this breed regarding health clearances...I was clueless. This purchase began a journey which would lead me to the never-ending education of this breed.
This all started in 1981, the year Shawna, my first Golden Retriever was born. Her pedigree, which boasted of generations of AKC Goldens, lacked health clearances throughout. This I would learn as a very hard lesson as Shawna matured. Within the first year Shawna was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and severe skin allergies. Her hyper temperament was not typically golden, but despite this she was very willing and highly intelligent. Training was a joy, for both of us, and within a year her energy began to channel in the right direction. At a local dog training class I met Charlotte Gaynor who was training her Golden, Lucy. Charlotte recognized Shawna's potential as an obedience competition dog and encouraged me to train for a Companion Dog (CD) title. Here rose the competitive nature I developed as a young girl and within one year we earned both CD and CDX (Companion Dog Excellent) titles, with class placements. We began Utility training, but Shawna could not maintain the rigorous schedule due to her hip dysplasia. So, with that I decided to retire her. In her senior years Canine Diabetes added yet another complication. Shawna left me at the age of 13. We had a wonderful life together and I learned so much from her. As a result of Shawna's health history and the emotional roller coaster we rode, I was given an education on the importance of research, clearances and breeder responsibility. I am most grateful for the lessons Shawna taught me.
In the fall of 1982 I purchased a bitch puppy from Smithaven. She became Lacey, or Smithaven's Golden Lace OD. I was finally in the hands of reputable breeders and it was they who offered me guidance and inspiration. They advised me regarding health issues with Shawna and taught me how to raise healthy, happy puppies. I have fond memories of visiting the Smith's and watching happy, well-adjusted Golden Retrievers playing in a large, beautiful backyard. June inevitably would bring out a huge box of Milk Bones and the dogs went crazy for them.
While I purchased Lacey as a pet, I had aspirations of competing with her in the conformation ring. It became apparent that this was not Lacey's destiny, so I transferred my goal to producing a correct, healthy litter of puppies. Under the guidance of the Smith sisters, Lacey received all her health clearances and was bred. Next came the fine art of whelping puppies. What a thrilling experience this was...my first litter of puppies! WOW! Lacey produced two litters and I was the co-breeder along with the Smith's. The frosting on Lacey's cake was the distinction of OD or Outstanding Dam. This is the honor bestowed by the Golden Retriever Club of America on bitches who produce at least 3 champions. This certificate proudly hangs on the wall at the Smith residence as a testament to their wonderful guidance.
Lacey's first litter gave me my third Golden Retriever, the wonderful majestic Merlin. His registered name, Smithaven's Magic O'Merlin later earned titles at both ends, attesting to his beauty, correctness and performance ability. Merlin became my second champion adding the Ch. to the beginning of his name. Merlin easily obtained his CD and CDX titles, balancing his name to now read Ch. Smithaven's Magic O'Merlin, CDX. Merlin was a dog everyone loved and he truly possessed the ideal Golden retriever temperament. He also had an elegant headpiece. Merlin had that special something that affected all who met him...and they never forgot him. He was a silly dog, had a funny personality and knew the best tricks. I won my first photo contest winning two categories with pictures of Merlin. Famous artists, using different media, captured his magnificent expression and, to this day, I am touched to see Merlin live on in their artwork. His image graces every wall in my house and I see him each and every day. Merlin will never be truly gone.
Once again the Smith sisters guided me with a breeding of Lacey. This brought Jenna, my fourth Golden Retriever. She was registered as Smithaven's Jazz Jeneration. Jenna was named after the beautiful Priscilla Presley and her character, Jenna Wade, in the TV series Dallas. Jenna was a beautiful puppy and, I soon discovered, a handful, constantly testing my patience. This became evident when Ian Dunbar of Sirius Puppy Training felt she "just didn't get it", and recommended repeating the course. Maturity did not change this trait as Jenna had her own agenda. I discovered Jenna preferred conformation to obedience and she easily became my first breed champion. It was Jenna who produced Sherwood's first brood bitch, Erica, who continued the tradition and became a champion and an outstanding dam. This breeding to Ch. Fanfare's Jazzman led to the wonderful, once in a lifetime true friendship with Joyce Coombs, owner of Jazz. It is a relationship I will forever be grateful.
By now I really had the competition bug. I had finished two breed champions, two companion dog titles, one companion dog excellent and an outstanding dam. I was ready to branch out. The taste of the conformation ring was strong and I wanted competition to match. For this I wanted to find a dog with a different pedigree that would blend nicely with my current dogs. Also, I needed a kennel name. I researched books and movies which resulted in my selecting Sherwood after Robin Hood, Maid Marian and the Sherwood Forest. I wanted to breed a litter with the Sherwood prefix and have my name known.
At a local dog show I saw a stunningly beautiful bitch being handled by Sylvia Donahey-Feeney of Birnam Wood Kennels. CH Kindred's Sun River Esprit, OD, was small, had more coat than one could wish for, and, very importantly, she had a beautiful expression and headpiece. I found that I was very attracted to Golden Retrievers with soft expressions along with a substantial headpiece. She was not overdone. She was absolutely perfect.
Sylvia bred Esprit and I obtained Trac, officially known as Birnam Wood's Posi-Traction. It is hard to write a short paragraph about Trac as he truly turned out to be a special dog. He became a champion, winning Best of breed a few times with placements in the Sporting Group, all from the classes. For years he was shown in Junior Showmanship and developed a great bond with his junior handler. They were a very successful team. He was a busy guy. First a breed champion, then shown as a junior dog, and then as a successful veteran and stud dog winner at specialties. He topped it off with a Companion Dog title at age seven. Trac achieved the status of Outstanding Sire with selective breedings, mostly for myself. Aside from all of Trac's accomplishments, handsome looks, and great silly boy temperament, he was my best friend for almost 13 years. Trac even made a grand appearance at my wedding, bow tie and all. Trac was truly a fine dog and still never far from my daily thoughts.
Trac was bred to Jenna and here came Erica, officially known as Sherwood's Erica Kane. Erica was named after my then obsession with the soap opera, All My Children. I finally reached one of my goals as Erica was my first Sherwood bred Golden Retriever. For years I had visions of what my first born would look like and she fulfilled all of my expectations. Those beautiful expressive eyes and sweet temperament made my dream come true. Erica took it a step further winning her first championship points at her first conformation show, defeating champions and awarded Winners Bitch, Best of Winners and Best of Opposite Sex! This thrill was experienced first hand with me at the other end of the leash! Erica completed her championship under the competent handling of Bruce and Gretchen Schultz. They developed a great relationship with her and she became one of their favorite dogs. I bred Erica and once again one of my girls obtained Outstanding Dam status. As of this writing Erica is a healthy 12 years old, enjoying the senior life and being my photography model.
On an occasion to breed Trac to an outside bitch I elected to select a puppy in lieu of a stud fee, and here came Bianca. Known officially as Sherwood's Star Attraction, her show career began at Skyline Dog Fancier's fun match where she won Best Puppy in Show. Bianca was shown in the conformation ring earning 8 points, including a major, but I realized that her true potential was in the obedience and agility rings. Bianca really used her brain. Bianca and I connected with Dee Dee Anderson and under her guidance obtained a Companion Dog title winning a first place. Later, we completed a Companion Dog Excellent title. Later, we explored the agility ring adding the Novice Agility title to the list. Bianca was not destined to be a mom. My hopes were dashed when she developed pyometra after being bred, resulting in the necessity to spay her. She was not destined to give me more vocal woo, woo puppies. Bianca really can speak her mind and I was hoping for more in her puppies. As of this writing, Bianca is a healthy 11 years old and close to her best buddy, Erica.
After losing Jenna I was ready for another dog and contacted Sylvia Donahey-Feeney again. She had a wonderful bitch she obtained from Nickie Hertoz of Claircrest Golden retrievers. Sylvia lamented that she and her new pup didn't 'click', and so Chilly came to live with me. We co-owned her. Chilly, known as Claircrest It's Snow Business also became a champion. Once again, in Jenna's paw prints; I had a bitch with a mind of her own. My experience with Jenna steeled me for Chilly's agenda. She wasn't an easy dog to show as her idea of showing was movement! She really made me work. Most of her conformation points were earned owner-handled. Chilly was an excellent mother, nurturing and educating her pups. Never did she give up her tennis ball fascination. That they were with her in the whelping box! Her pups honored her further by making her an Outstanding Dam. Sadly, Chilly left Sherwood at the young age of 10 due to kidney failure.
Next came Gracie, also from Sylvia Donahey-Feeney via Barb Madrigrano of Wingate Golden Retrievers. She was a stud fee puppy and Sylvia and I co-owned her. She became Wingate's Fast Getaway. Her show ring attitude was amazing. Gracie lived up to her name and literally flew through the conformation world becoming a champion in 6 weeks. And that is how Gracie went through life, and as such I lost her at the age of 9. Sylvia and I decided to breed her to Chilly's brother, Ch. Claircrest Nobody's Business, better known as Boss. One of her stunning puppies became Ch. Birnam Woods Take Center Stage, better known here at Sherwood as Diva.
While at Sylvia's I saw an absolutely gorgeous dog. He had a huge presence and stood majestically proud. He had a remarkable headpiece and rich golden coat. His name was Houston, or more formally, Ch. Birnam Woods Have a cigar. I bred him to Erica as they were similar, except for size. Five puppies of stunning quality resulted and one stayed with me. He became known as Vinny, and early on earned the distinction of champion becoming Ch. Sherwoods Wiseguy. Vinny loved the shown ring, loved being groomed, and his career reflected it. Four of his championship points came from the puppy class, and at his first time in the open dog class at 17 months he won a 4 point major. Vinny was named well and still lives up to it in his wiseguy ways. He loves ice and accommodates himself by pressing his nose against the ice release lever on the refrigerator. He continues his happy life here with his extended fur family.
Chilly and Trac 'clicked'. Together they produced four litters and I kept three puppies from those breedings. The first breeding produced Tiger. He is known as Ch. Sherwood's Let's Play A Round, CD, NA, NAJ. Tiger was named for Tiger Woods whose career needs no explaining. Tiger was an adorable puppy who matured into a very handsome dog. Powerful, yet gently playful, assertive yet sweet is what Tiger is all about. Tiger earned his championship easily at the young age of 22 months. Tiger went on winning numerous all-breed and specialty best of breed classes. I then decided to explore Tiger's other talents and with the assistance and guidance of Dee Dee and Billy Anderson Tiger obtained a Companion Dog and two agility titles all with placements.
The second Chilly/Trac litter produced True. Sherwood's Truly Bodacious was an unbelievably beautiful, quality puppy. Her gorgeous head, perfect expression and great structure allowed her to float around the conformation ring. I named her well, after the naughty large blond rodeo bull named Bodacious. Her career produced championship points at 6 months old, winning numerous sweeps classes and going best of breed and a sporting group placement from the classes, and a major win at a specialty. These wins being accomplished in the hands of a true professional, Jerry Weirick. Next on True's agenda was motherhood.
The last Chilly/Trac litter produced Tagi. The name Sherwood's Tribal Council evolved from the TV series Survivor. The first tribe, the Tagi tribe intrigued me. Tagi is formally, Ch. Sherwood's Tribal Council, BISS. Like True, his sister, Tagi had a very successful puppy career, winning Best in Sweeps at the Western Regional. Tagi was the model for many Petco print photography ads. Tagi won major championship points the first weekend he was shown. His sweet and silly personality amuses all of us here at Sherwood.
Chilly's last breeding was to Vinny and that combination produced Seeker. Ch Sherwood's Golden Snitch, BISS, acquired her name through the inspiration of Harry Potter. Like her half-siblings, Seeker, had a great puppy career, winning Best in Sweeps at the Golden Retriever Specialty, and on that same weekend won a major. Shown selectively, her championship came easily. It wasn't the quantity of shows but the quality of Seeker that made this possible. Seeker is an elegant, stylish bitch, coming from a good pedigree. Combine that with proper socialization and training...it makes all the difference!
I hope you enjoy looking at my website and learning about the history of my Golden Retrievers. Even though some of these smiling faces are no longer with us, they still live on in my heart and through their offspring. They will always be special to me as they were first and foremost my family. There will always be a current crew of happy Golden Retriever faces in my life along with some sweet rescue dogs mixed in for fun. They will continue to make Sherwood history…