by Richard Hawkes, DVM
As 2017 comes to a close and we prepare for a sure-to-be-busy 2018, I’d like to reflect on the past year with our kennel and growing GBK family.
January started as it often does for us. Arisha was hitting the road again with pro-handler Rhanda Glenn for what was to be an abbreviated campaign. Arisha had spent the previous two years campaigning with Rhanda and making history, achieving her Gold Grand Championship status, becoming the number one BRT bitch of all time – and the number two BRT in AKC history.
In 2017, we planned to have Arisha show only until she came into season. It was finally time to bring her home to have puppies!
Arisha had a great January and left the Florida circuit neck-and-neck with Ringo, who would go on to be the number one BRT in 2017 in points. Ringo would have a fantastic year, earning three Best In Shows, usually only stumbling at the hands of GBK dogs!
In February, Oli began to make his mark, winning a big Best of Breed in Atlanta and an Award of Merit at the 2017 Westminster Kennel Club show. We had hoped Arisha would finally break through at Westminster coming off her win at the 2016 AKC National Championship, but alas, she came up short, taking Best of Opposite to Ringo for the second year in a row.
February also marked the first anniversary of Zoya’s second litter of Baby Beans, including Charlie, who found his way back to us the previous summer. Charlie would also start his show career this month and prove a solid performer in the ring!
March brought more shows and travel, a common theme at GBK. A big entry in Tennessee brought points and acclaim for both Arisha and Oli. March also brought the Raleigh show – one of our favorites as it is close to home and usually well attended by GBK family members!
The pitter-patter of puppy feet also happened in March with the arrival of our D Litter – Zoya’s third and final. Two gorgeous girls were produced by a repeat breeding with Aaron Ben from Germany. Nadia (Guardian Bears Diamond In The Ruff) would find her way to California, and Lincoln (Guardian Bears Dancing With The Tsars) moved to Michigan. Fare thee well, little Baby Beans!
By April, Arisha and her handler Rhanda are, as always, firing on all cylinders, battling it out for top spot in BRT Breed and All Breed points. Arisha has earned six group placements already, and Oli is doing well, considering he is only showing part-time and not traveling with a handler full-time like Arisha. Charlie is also doing his best in working toward his AKC Championship. April flies by. The dogs are all doing well.
May would alter the course of the year. The dog flu reared its ugly head and hit GBK hard. After attending shows in Perry, Georgia, Oli and Charlie came home incubating this terrible disease. The entire gang would go on to be afflicted. Unfortunately, our beloved 4.5-year-old BRT Kira (the Care Bear) would succumb from complications of the disease. Maks from our A Litter struggled to recover, requiring months of treatment to get healthy again. We were devastated. Two of our Bears had passed away unexpectedly in the past six months. In addition to Kira, our BreeAsha died of epilepsy the previous November.
It was at this point in 2017 when the whole dog show lifestyle came to an abrupt halt, and not just for us. Dog flu was popping up all over the show circuit. Arisha was pulled back from showing and brought home. She was supposed to come into season in May to be bred, anyway. We took June and most of July completely off from showing.
By the end of July, our dogs had become healthy again. We regrouped and decided to send Oli on the road with Rhanda and see how he could do as a full-timer on the circuit. At the time, we had no idea what a great move this would be! July was also the 2-year birthday of Guardian Bears B Litter, Nika’s first.
In August, DeAnne and I hosted the first annual GBK grooming seminar and get-together. It was a fantastic success. Several of our BRT families and also non-GBK owners joined us for dog talk, food, drink and a darn good time!
Also, Alenka – Arisha’s breeder – came over from Slovenia for an extended visit! Alenka was supposed to help with puppy rearing, but since Arisha hadn’t yet come into season, she helped with the grooming seminar and attended a few shows!
We hope to repeat this event annually.
September brought the second Raleigh show and finally, Princess Arisha decided to come into heat! We had a successful breeding and Arisha would go on to whelp three large boys in November. Unfortunately, we had several families waiting for female pups!
The whelping would throw a little monkey wrench into our BRTCA Nationals plans – as it occurred only three days prior to the Salisbury, Maryland shows. I was still able to make it to the event, but DeAnne had to stay home to mind the new pups. This was Guardian Bears’ fifth litter – the Royal E Litter - sired by Oli!
September would also bring the devastating news of the sudden passing of Jonathan McClinton – Niko’s owner. Niko is from our A Litter. Jonathan had no family other than Niko. He was our good friend and one of our biggest supporters, and his loss was felt all over the BRT community. We were able to retrieve Niko from Detroit and bring him home to North Carolina.
In November, GBK was well represented at the BRTCA Nationals, with AKC Bronze GCH Oli, and up-and-comers Charlie and his sister Tamako competing. Charlie would prove to be the superstar, earning his AKC Championship in style. He won two Best of Winners, two Reserve Winners, Best Bred-By BRT, Best of Opposite Sex in Bred-By Sweeps, and a Group 2 Bred-By Exhibitor! Tamako would grab her second major, and take Winners Bitch one day as well. Oli was shut out until the final day, when he won Select Dog.
On November 6, we welcomed our Royal E Litter from Princess Arisha and our boy Oli into the world! Due to the large size of Arisha’s baby boys, they were delivered by emergency C-section. Luckily, mom and pups all did well.
November would also bring great news regarding the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club show. Both Oli and Arisha procured automatic invites by being in the Top 5 BRTs in breed points. Arisha was still #3 despite not showing since May, and Oli squeaked in at #5! Two of the five Westminster invites went to GBK!
December was the icing for the cake for a successful year at GBK. Oli won the AKC Championship for BRTs, keeping it in the family by defending Arisha’s title from 2016! To top it off, Oli would go on to win a Working Group 4 – a huge win and something never before accomplished by another BRT at the AKC Championship! This was the biggest win to date for our kennel and sets the stage for what we hope will be a fantastic 2018.
Also in December, two of Arisha and Oli’s Royal E Litter puppies went to great homes. Merle (Guardian Bears Everybody’s Had The Blues) moved to California, and Jeter (Guardian Bears Enjoy The Show) went to Pennsylvania.
The third E Litter pup, Elvis (Guardian Bears Elvis Has Left the Building), decided to stay put, right here at GBK! He hopes to take after his parents and become a superstar show dog in the near future!
Here are our eldest and youngest GBK BRTs bonding – Juri Bear (2009) and baby Elvis (2017)...