LQ Article

In 2007 I was asked to submit a biography for the Winter 2007/2008 Labrador Quarterly, a well respected journal for Labrador Enthusiasts.  I will share the article here as it summarizes the history behind Shalane Labradors and lends insite into my philosophy and breeding practices.


    By Deborah Lewis
     SHALANE Labradors

I grew up on a farm with a barn full of Arabian horses, they were my father's passion. We studied the Arabian Horse Journal in the same manner I now study Labradors. In an effort to try to include me in this horse game, it was my job to study pedigrees and choose the stud for the upcoming year. We would then go "stud horse" shopping, traveling from one farm to the other looking at horses. This began my obsession with pedigrees. I loved their grace , their movement and their proud nature. My sister was passionate about them, I just wanted a dog . As a child , we had a number of purebred dogs, everything from a Dalmatian to a St. Bernard, although I liked them I was not in love with them.

In 1972 I married my High School sweetheart fresh out of school , the first thing I wanted was an Irish Setter , of course I knew nothing and bought one from a litter at a farm house with a sign in the front yard. I loved that dog . I mean I really loved that dog , he was eager to learn , and I taught him constantly, his vocabulary was huge , I found myself spelling things to my husband if I didn't want this dog to control the household, he was that intelligent. I started obedience classes with him as a hobby, and we did sign up every time they were offered. I did not compete with him, but he was a member of our family and treated as a child, that was enough for me at the time. Then the children came along. In 1975, Dan and I became parents to a daughter and in 1979, we had a son. The Irish Setter lived to the ripe old age of 13 and when we lost him I was devastated. Actually I was a train wreck, and could not pull myself out of this slump over the death of that dog. I promised myself I would never love a dog like that again. A promise not kept.

In 1985, my husband, Dan, contacted Carol Heidl, who graciously sold me a lovely black puppy girl who much later became my foundation bitch, CH Tabatha's Sweet Delilah (CH Martin of Ballyduff x CH Tabatha's Corker O'Valleywood, WC) . This pedigree made me drool. I poured over the then very small Quarterly, and could recite these old dog's pedigrees from memory . Please don't ask me to do that now ! She was purchased as a pet, but that was back in the day , when Limited Registration was unheard of. As luck would have it , I ran into a dog show couple that tolerated my novice attitudes and allowed me to travel with them , [thank you Damon and Sue ], I must have drove them insane ! I helped them as much as I could , they had Weims, but I must admit , I was much more bother than I was worth.

I was raising children , Dan was very involved in his career doing a great deal of traveling, getting away to attend dog shows was extremely difficult, so I had a handler show Delilah to her championship. This sweet black girl took the spot my Setter once had , and was shamelessly spoiled and pampered, dressed in doll clothes and slept in my daughter's white canopy bed ! Keeping her fit and her coat in shape was not at the top of my list of things to do, so finishing her took some time.

Her first breeding at 4 years of age was to CH Borador's Lord Travis, which produced a typey black puppy bitch named Shalane Sweet Jezebel [Jezzy]. When I chose this stud dog , I knew nothing about Labradors really, I only knew what type I liked , and knew I liked black. But I was anything, but ready to do a breeding.

I attended Miami Valley LRC specialty the next year, with Jezzy entered in a class of over 40, 6-9 month puppy bitches. She placed second to Carol Heidl , of course I was an instant success and thought this was a breeze , what was all of the fuss about ! It's amazing, in hind sight how one can know so little , and be so oblivious to the dog show world , all the goings on in the ring , not to mention all of the "stuff" that goes on outside of the ring and still participate. Ignorance truly is bliss!

Delilah's second breeding was to CH Huntsdown Buddha Beechcroft which produced my most favorite bitch ever, Shalane Marilyn Monroe. Maryl was not a show dog, but a fabulous producer. She always produced better than herself, and always had ten puppies and raised everyone of them. She was still feeding the "keepers" from the litter at 4 months of age . Her maternal skills were so very impressive , she was a fabulous brood . I loved the type I was getting , this was a beautiful old Ballyduff pedigree.

We always said, all she needed was semen. She lived in the house , and was a very special dog to me , a true Labrador brood bitch, that would step in and mother every bitch's litter , and make sure they were kept clean to her standards. I bred Maryl to Ch. Guidelines Century Condensed , and kept a real nice yellow bitch , Shalane Sophia , she did well in the ring,one of her most notable wins was Best Bred By at Winnebago LRC in a very competitive class .. She eventually became my husbands pheasant hunting companion , and is by far the birdiest Labrador I have ever owned. She is amazing in the field , her nose leaves me wondering if she uses her brain at all, she is driven ! Her annual pheasant hunting trip to Iowa with the men was truly what she lived for . She was devoted to my husband, and has been affectionately titled the "blonde mistress".

Delilah's final breeding was to CH Autumns Thunder Vision, which did not give me what I was looking for and I placed the pick bitch puppy with a puppy back agreement. That puppy back was Shalane Hit The Road (Jack). He would eventually be Best Bred By at Miami Valley LRC under Kendall Herr , Best in Sweeps at Huron River, RWD at Winnebago LRC , Best Bred By at Winnebago LRC , all before 12 months of age, I was thrilled , the only thing I would have changed on him was his yellow coat. I have this thing in my head that a Labrador should be black. Imagine my disappointment on that Monday morning after Winnebago , when his prelims came back dysplastic. I had such high hopes for that boy, the first in a long line of highs and lows in this sport.

Everything I currently own goes back to CH Tabatha's Sweet Delilah. I miss her still.

Even after two generations, I still did not feel I could take credit for the dogs I was producing. I felt that the influence from the Tabatha bitch line, was so intense. I am grateful for that stumble into Carol Heidl's path. Her bitches are astounding to me, and typically just short of perfection. Just this weekend I saw Carol's beautiful black girl , Pester , oh my , she does take my breathe away !

I kept at it, putting one foot in front of the other on some days, endured my years of nightmare whelpings, and singleton births. Those long nights in my basement whelping room either waiting for my girls to get started or get finished ! I wish I had a nickel for every time I wondered , "why do I do this" ! I continued looking at dogs , and attending Specialties searching for that black dog to breed to my girls . It's this search that is the most intriguing to me , showing is a necessary evil, breeding is where my heart is.

Reading everything I could get my hands on, MRW , Reaching for the Stars is a favorite , keeps me sane, in the number of dogs I keep. It bears re-reading yearly, and a good kennel cleaning after. Words of wisdom, do not keep dogs that you cannot use in that master plan. I allow myself one pampered house dog, every dog that lives here has a plan attached to it , or they will soon live elsewhere!

Jezzy really started my dogs as they are today. She was bred to Rochby Straw Boater which produced Shalane Kissin Cousin Kate, WC, CGC, TDI , [ who is now that one singular pampered house dog , soon to be 15 years of age]. Oh Kate, what will I do when you are gone !

At that point in my breeding program and as my family life allowed (teaching 4-H obedience classes, being a soccer mom and teaching puppy classes for those pet people wanting to train their dogs), I mostly competed in obedience and was active in my local obedience club. However, through all of these years, I continued to study pedigrees and longed to produce that black bitch that was in my head , but not in my kennel.

Kate was bred to Canadian CH Suprebe Cosaque DesSavannas which produced Shalane Cinderella, CGC, TDI. At that time, I then purchased a black male Tabatha's Impulse At Shalane, "Gus" (CH Muskelunge Top Gun X CH Springharbor Sass O'Tabatha) from Carol Heidl. Gus wasn't the greatest mover, and his topline hurt my eyes to look at, but the breed type was stunning. I took a chance on this big black dog, he had things I wanted, so I added him to the growing population. He was useful to me, he was pointed in the ring, he taught me many things about this breed, he now lives in a lovely pet home and is, I'm sure , much happier . He loved the person that fed him. So why did I cry when he left?

Cinderella was bred to Gus which produced one singleton black bitch. This bitch became CH Shalane Come Fly With Me, CGC, "Raven". Raven has a very outgoing dominant temperament, she is in control of all the dogs in the kennel , with a blink of her eye , they all part and let her walk threw the gate first. Watching pack behavior is one of my favorite things to do, I love to see how each dog has his place , the inner workings of a good sized pack of dogs is an amazing thing to see. Raven began the type of Labrador I had been looking for (beautiful breed type with lovely side movement). This bitch was great fun in the ring, a super confident bitch who knows no fear , and would follow me into a burning building. I remember once at a large inside show , we had to walk through a sea of Rotties to get to our ring, and Raven was in standing season, I was a bit hesitant to take that first step when I saw those males put their noses in the air. I'm sure they all sensed that , so she gathered herself up ,[ I think she made her self at least two inches taller than she really was], and we walked right through that mass of male Rotties, her head was high and she never looked at any of them ! They were beneath her , and she let them know it ! When I turned around to glance at the group after we walked through them , there was nothing short of utter chaos going on, and my feet just kept moving! I laughed all day over that!


For my sixth generation, I chose to go back into Tabatha and bred Raven to CH Tabatha's Sport, WC. I was looking for that black bitch . I decided on two , and intended to keep them both. They had lovely style , and correct coats , with so much breed type , they gave me goose bumps. I finally settled on the one I was going to keep , the other eventually went to a pet home. The one I kept happened to be the smallest puppy in the litter , only 7 ounces at birth. I hand fed her frozen BilJac on the table as soon as she could get herself up on those little legs. She would spend hours on the Happy Legs in her puppy training time, she loved it . I never saw a puppy stack themselves up so beautiful at such a young age. I know I never did her justice with my handling skills, she still was a sight to see . She has this gaze , that she loves to do to a judge if she likes them, and it always makes me giggle, I know instantly what kind of person the judge is and if she didn't give them that look , she was not going to give it her all on the go 'round. Her name is MBISS Ch. Shalane Cora Belle. Her show career has been a whirlwind she rarely went in the ring that she was not noticed . Her notable wins include, Best in Sweeps at Potomac in 2005 ,[thank you Kim Black for taking her , and to Brittany Dumas for showing her , I was at home with a very sick puppy], back to back BISS Miami Valley LRC 2006 , JAMS at several Specialties that same year. She is a joy to live with , quiet and confident , an elegant black bitch.

Cora Belle's first breeding was to a black dog that took my breathe away every time I saw him in the ring. A proud , jubilant Labrador that had the silhouette I was looking for. He complimented her in every way , so different and still the same , his name Ch. Big Sky Stone Kutter. Cora Belle blessed us with a singleton , after much drama , truly an understatement . That little ball of fire , Shalane Rolling Stone, just this past weekend at Central Ohio LRC 2007,[ a Club of which I am a longtime member], was Best of Opp /Sweeps his first time in the ring from the 6 to 9 class, and for those that had the painful experience of watching him, he was leash trained prior to that , I know it did not show . But aren't those kind of bratty puppies the one's we find so much fun ? I told myself that on the drive home, even though my thumb was black and blue !

I am working on Cora Belle's next breeding now as I type , [ to Laura Witt's Ch.Windfall New England Patriot ] I can only hope that this beautiful bitch can produce a bitch as nice as herself. Do we ever stop hoping ? This will be my first Transcervical AI , keeping my fingers crossed this breeding takes.

Raven's final breeding was to a dog that I bred to , strictly on pedigree, I never saw this dog in person. His name, Ch. Tabatha Knight JH. And this litter has been my all time favorite litter as a whole. He put angles on puppies , beautiful breed type, and lovely sound movement, , a very consistent line bred litter . I kept three from it . Two girls for future broods , and a nice black dog. It was not my intention to keep a male, but he was such a stand out , I could not let him go, his name is Shalane Fly By Knight, [Hawk or affectionately called The Hawkster]. He has 13 points at this time, 3 majors all under breeder judges ,WD at Northern Ohio LRC from the puppy classes, WD/Best of Winners at Greater Pittsburgh LRC 2007, several RWD to 4 and 5 point majors from Specialties with stiff competition, and then there is that lovely win at Potomac /Open Black 2007. Thank you Kim Black for taking him , as I was at home doing a C-section w/Cora Belle and her singleton. I think there is a pattern here, I stay home with puppy duties , and my dogs get to travel to the Big Show , and make a good day of it as well !

Speaking of RWD to 4 or 5 point majors, shouldn't there be points involved for that reserve win ? I guess I think maybe so. Think of the number of dogs involved !

His litter mate , Shalane Evening Star, was bred recently to BISS Ch. Windfall Banner Major Attraction, she produced 6 puppies this past week ,[whelping four in one hour's time], five of them are girls, no less , what a good girl she is ! This makes her a "keeper" ! They really should be very promising , I love the pedigree !

I generally keep around ten dogs here, and I don't count puppies under 6 months. We live in a very rural area, no neighbors within ear shot , and lots of farm ground surrounding us. I have 8 kennel runs , that are 16 foot long, indoor /outdoor facility with a very large livestock fan that runs nonstop during these hot summer days in Ohio, and a loud radio that is never silent. I find I use the concrete kennel runs less every year , instead opting for the large fenced play yards with groups of dogs lounging under their shade trees . They are happier , and it's a lot less daily maintenance , this works for me !

Thank you for allowing me to tell my story , I only hope when I leave the breed that I can say , I've done no harm .

Shalane Sister Act and MBISS Shalane Cora Belle with my Grandson, Logan.
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