We have always been a family who loved all animals. As a child, we always had a Boston Terrier, but through the years we also had other breeds, including Boxers, Miniature Schnauzers and Irish Setters. Of course, all pet quality, but I loved teaching my dogs tricks and basic obedience. As a child, I even made report cards for them. My other childhood pets included a paper-trained Belgian Hare named Oliver Wendall Holmes; the guinea pigs — Maria and Gertrude who whistled on command; Kimberly — the chicken who grew into a rooster, and my hamster who lived for many, many years . . . but only because mom kept replacing him with another . . . and fooled me into thinking it was the same one.
After I left home for higher education, the only pet I had was an iguana, who I taught to walk on a leash. His name was Greenhead (how creative), and he was allowed in apartments and college dorms. Greenhead did not survive my transition from college into the real world, so I was petless for several years. In the early 80’s, I decided it was time for me to get myself a pet to go with my husband. I then began the search for a Boston Terrier.
And so the story began . . .
In 1985, I got Stemco’s Mikki of Whalom. He was named after the tough guy “Mick” on Hill Street Blues. He was a tough little Boston and full of energy. I decided to take Mikki to obedience classes to get his behavior under control. Mikki got his CD and Therapy Dog Titles. Through my obedience competition, I met Nancy Washburn of Pequoag Bostons. She welcomed me into the world of show Bostons and convinced me that I should have a better quality dog. Well one thing led to another and thanks to Nancy, my “Miracle” came to join Mikki. Yes, CH Pequoag Whalom Super Miracle, CD was the foundation dog to my breeding program, and this is how it all began.
Although my marriage didn’t last (not because of the dogs), but it did result in the addition of CH Pequoag’s Twice As Nice “Melody.” She was my foundation bitch and at that point I started to travel down the road of becoming a responsible breeder and a not so good handler. Thank goodness I met Phyllis Wright who has helped me immensely over the years with my handling. I loved breeding and showing, but I always missed my obedience work. As my breeding program grew, so did the number of dogs. One day I woke up to find 16 Bostons and 3 litters of puppies in my house. With that many dogs, I didn’t have the time to spend with obedience training, and that truly was my strongest interest. I decided it was time to downsize the kennel, breed less and re-kindle my obedience interest. It took me awhile, but I eventually placed most of my dogs. I then got hit with bad luck — two bitches with pyometra that had to be spayed, and then my last intact bitch had two litters of males and the third litter a singleton female puppy who died at 15 days old. Nothing was left in my breeding program . . . DONE. I was left with two old Bostons with special needs and decided that I wanted to try a second breed. I wanted a breed that required very little grooming, was medium sized, but also intelligent and had an interest in working. I loved my Bostons but they have no work ethic, and I really wanted to train a dog through Utility.
One day, while standing in the Boston ring, I saw these lively red dogs in the next ring. I was fascinated with their attitude and their tails. I was quick to join in the conversation with some of the exhibitors ringside and that was my introduction to the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Three months later, I was driving down to Maryland to get Turner. If you have had the pleasure to meet Turner, you will know that he is one of the most high drive, anxiety laden, work focused, dominant Tollers you will ever meet. He has been a challenge since Day 1…but I have risen to meet his challenge and did not listen to those people who told me to get a different dog when I took him to beginning training classes. I have learned so much from him. He and I have become a Team, although we will always be a work in progress. He is helping me attain my dream of showing a dog through Utility, and he has also introduced me to Field events. I love Field training more than anything!
It took me four years to find the right second Toller. I wanted to wait until I had more control over Turner, but also wanted to find the right breeder and the right dog. You can’t be impulsive when you want very specific personality traits and structure in a dog. I have to say that Nadia was worth the wait. She is a wonderful addition with her zest for life and her tendency to be an overachiever in all that she does.
So what happened with the Bostons? Both of my old special needs dogs have passed. I am grateful to two friends, Barbara Naas and Valerie Kaesemacher who have sold me dogs that have my old lines behind them….so a Whalom Boston will still be what it used to be. I now have two show-quality Bostons, and one old retired boy, “Sergei,”
Down to 5 dogs, I am comfortable with where I am with more time for training, more time to pursue Judging, and more time to move forward with other dog- related projects. There is so much more to my relationship with dogs than breeding now. That is the focus of my website since people just seem to know about pieces of what I do. Time to bring it all together under Whalom Canine Connection.