History of the kennel
In 1985 we got married and moved, by the September, into our house in Watford. Our first acquisitions were a pair of cats from friends who had a litter. A black male and tabby female came to join us, and much fun was had thinking of names for them. We wanted something that connected, but wasn’t so silly that if you lost one the others name couldn’t stand alone. In the end we chose Oscar & Emmy, after the awards, and a tradition began.
In 1989 we wanted a dog and great research started into a suitable breed. Large Munsterlanders appealed but were discarded as too big – funny how things work out. We settled for an English Springer Spaniel and decided that we wanted a black & white bitch from working lines. Contact with a Breed Secretary furnished us with a litter in Abingdon and following a couple of phonecalls off we went one Sunday morning to pick her up. We carefully carried our small bundle home and Bafta had arrived. With a complete choice of names we put down Strawhead of Preston – a band Keith followed, many bands have been honoured to have a Race Horse named for them, Strawhead assured us they proud to have a dog! We also put down Dafta Bafta Woofta, unsurprisingly the Kennel Club went with our first choice.
To say Bafta was a handful is an understatement, we made all the appropriate first time owner mistakes, not least of all with feeding. However through her we joined a local dog training club that really set us off in the directions that lead to where we are today.
The Club was run by Wendy Bell of the Kysami Japanese Akita affix. This was our first experience of the majesty that is an Akita and we decided that a second dog would be nice and an Akita would suit us well. Whilst waiting for their bitch Maroo to come into season her brother Kendo was returned for rehoming. Kysami Kubetu, a two year old male he had lived in Cornwall with both an elderly and a young collie and due to a change in circumstance was coming back. He arrived late one afternoon wedged into a mini, rushed into the garage where we were waiting to meet him, pinned Sarah to the wall in his trademark jump up to say hello and split her lip open! What a sweetie. We took him home on a trial to see how we got on. He was used to sleeping on his owners bed so to be banished from our room distressed him greatly. The fact that we were sleeping in the loft at the time and climbed a ladder to get there was too much for his tiny brain – at birth his mother was wandering around as he dropped from his sac! He howled for two nights. Keith was muttering darkly about his removal when he just shut up and from then on was fine.
At the dog club we had met Jane Thomas and her two Siberian Huskies Pola & Noushka. She had introduced us to the working side of the breed and by coincidence Pieter Burke, who owned Kendo’s Grandfather Fire, worked his Japanese Akita’s in North Wales at Llyn Brenig. A training weekend was being arranged and off went Keith & I with Bafta and Kendo to be initiated into the world working dogs.
At this time the dangerous dogs act was coming into play in a big way. Four breeds were banned from breeding and had to be muzzled in public and a further 12 breeds, including the Japanese Akita, were on a list and it was unknown at the time what the final outcome for them would be. Maroo had missed two matings and it was make or break time and we decided that although we wouldn’t part with Kendo, and would comply with any legislation necessary, maybe the Akita wasn’t the breed for us, however the Siberian Husky could well be.
Jane knew of a litter near Ely, you couldn’t phone, but you could try and contact them via a friend to say you were coming. So unexpectedly for them we found ourselves on the doorstep of Gary & Tracey Pittock. A few hours of verbal circling, the meeting of their pack of dogs and of course the appropriate cooing over the 4 puppies and off we went to make a decision.
We had second choice, the grey bitch Montreaux came home with us, to be registered as Cheechako’s Charadyeyka. Thus in 1991 the dawn of the Rigrunner kennel begun.
Having made various friends and joined the Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain, we started showing Mon at 6 months and also training her across her first winter, whilst she was too young to race. We soon realised that we really needed a second Husky to work, we weren’t too keen on relying on everyone else, although people were great in the help they gave us. We didn’t want another Puppy so enquired about a Welfare dog…sadly the word Japanese Akita seemed to draw a halt to that and so we asked around if any of the larger Kennels had a young bitch to rehome. In hindsight this was a strange time, we inadvertently caused the end of two peoples great friendship but we did eventually visit Chris McRae at Zoox to meet Sandy.
So Zoox Mizhzandi joined us, bring with her a new look at pack management. Here was a bitch who completely understood pack heirachy, coming from a kennel of around 26 dogs. She is also a born ‘police’ dog. Bafta the poor Spaniel never really comprehended packs and although she and Sandy got on, I’m not sure they ever really understood each other.
In 1993 Jane decided to mate Noushka and we desperately wanted a good Show dog from this mating. It was lovely having a litter just across the park and we could spend hours watching the pups. Again we had second choice and Brit was it. Having always been amused by a talk in her early days and remembering this when applying for her affix, Snohuk, Jane’s theme for her litters’ names was perfumes and we chose Snohuk Dune.
Once we had three, suddenly four seemed a better number and that Winter we heard of a repeat mating that Dave & Jill Hemmins had. We went to see them and after long discussions had Grammy, Eekonoo’s Vash (a Star Trek theme), on breeding terms. This sadly never happened but it had started us on the route of thinking of breeding.
We looked around and decided that no one was breeding quite what we wanted and therefore we would have to go for it ourselves. There was a dog that Sarah had seen on a visit to Scotland, only a youngish boy and of working lines but she was very taken with him. As it was the working season it was easy to arrange to see him and a mating was agreed. A weekend jaunt to Scotland in March 1995 and 9 weeks later a bonny bunch of four pups. Two boys and two girls. We kept the red & white pie girl, named the litter after Pink Floyd songs and Rigrunner See Emily Play was our first born literally.
However things had changed just before this litter was born. Good friends of ours, Barrie & Hazel Smith had decided to upsticks and go to Holland, so one Saturday morning while getting ready for a Show a phone call out of the blue asked us if we wanted Skiivolk Foolish Panda of Koryaks. As we had always said we wanted her, we jumped at the chance, however she had to come here quickly as Mon was our Alpha bitch and we wanted them together before she gave birth.
Our thoughts turned to breeding from Brit & firstly we tried Rigrunner Astronomy Domine, or Hammer, Emmy’s brother. This wasn’t to be, so in 1998 after lots of searching we went back to Tupliak’s Salty and had our Brit Pop litter of three girls and a boy from which we kept Rigrunner Catatonia or Toni for short.
Sadly that winter we lost Bafta & Kendo within three weeks of each other which left a big gap. We tried mating Emmy to Frosty, Brushbow’s Maroznay, but she didn’t take…it could have been the escaped Cow just after the mating, who knows. Having decided though that we did want a non Siberian in our lives, we re-looked at Large Munsterlanders and finally acquired Bel…or No!Bel as is usually heard or Ichbin Dream Whisper mit Rigrunner to give her her full title.
We went back to Frosty though in early 2000 and on a stormy day in April Emmy presented us with 4 clouds, three girls and a boy and Rigrunner Cirrus a pure white girl stayed. We chose to have second litter from Emily and decided this time to put Champion to Champion, picking Ch Eekonoo’s Zefram Cochrane. In November 2002 She kindly presented us with two boys and a girl – all named for keyboards and Rigrunner Juno became our newest little red/white bundle.
In looking for a stud for Patsy, we returned once again to Zef, and our litter of advertising themes gave us Mobo, Rigrunner Hello Moto, another red/white. Sad losses meant a new ‘pet’ breed for us and Booker – Overhills Petrushka avec Rigrunner, a Beauceron came along as guard dog. It also led us to think quickly of a second litter and Patsy visited Bandit, Midnight Bandido Rambler for a mating and along came the Dr Who litter with Razzie, Rigrunner Rose the last born and only girl – phwew!
We then had a break as we could never totally decide on a mate for Juno and suddenly Keith was panicing as to new dogs so we had a look at a litter bred by Paul & Amanda Keen from Patsy’s son Salmo (Rigrunner Time Lord at Nashanessen) and Winterdance Virginaia Woolfe – who goes back to Mons sister. There were two girls and Keith finally owned his own dog Indy, Nashanessen Patricia among Rigrunner.
In debating when to stop breeding we decided to mate Mobo to a fab import that Mary Davidson had brought in from Jedeye kennels – Jedey Nemo of Manitou at Sassicaia and we also madly kept two pups – matching whites – named for phones! Rigrunner Clamshell – Gracie & Rigrunner Rotative – Pixel are currently making their mark around the place