In the beginning . . .
I got a slow start in dogs. Born to non-doggy parents I grew up in the 50′s and 60′s in a town and county so small that there were no dog shows (Lakeport, California). Purebred dogs of any breed were a rarity.
Our first dog was a . . . well, it was supposed to be a springer mix as I recall. It was short-coated, white with black spots, and my dad brought it home from work. We lived out of town. He chased the school bus. I remember watching him out the back window of the bus as it drove off. He would break a chain to chase the school bus down the road. One day he didn’t come home but we saw him a year or so later miles away, chasing cars with someone else’s broken chain around his neck.
Second dog was a mean little red and white chihuahua mix named “Augie Doggie”. He came from my dad’s parents, one of a litter of their chi mix Ginger. He loved us; he bit strangers. We moved to town and he was one of a pack of extra-small neighborhood dogs which included two more chi mixes named “Rudy” and “Doc”. Doc sucumbed to strychnine poisoning but Augie escaped that fate to eventually be run over by the garbage truck early in the morning of July 5th, 1966.
It was then that we got our first purebred dog. We went all the way to Santa Rosa to get one of a show litter of chocolate toy poodles. We named her Ce’Ce Serena and she was actually a pretty decent little bitch. We got her as a pet as her bite was off as a puppy: it corrected and I think her breeder winced when he saw her later but alas, she was already spayed. Ce’Ce might have been small, but she thought that she was a birddog: a pointer and a retriever. Except for the grooming I wouldn’t mind to have another poodle after having lived with her.
But I grew up watching “Lassie” (Timmy’s in the well!) and reading Albert Payson Terhune and my dream was to have a collie: preferably a blue merle collie like “Grey Dawn”. Then we got married and moved to Fresno and I met a couple of Shelties. I joke now that our first major purchase as a young married couple was a purebred Shetland Sheepdog puppy. As a couple of 19-year-old kids working for minimum wage or just above and going to school (Fresno State), a Sheltie puppy was in fact a major purchase.
There followed a decade of children, a couple of major moves: first to San Diego county then to Oregon, starting a business, and dogs went by the wayside. We bought a Dobe puppy while in San Diego county but he was not good with children so was placed not long after we moved to Oregon in 1982.. We were down to just one aging Sheltie (Holly) when Mandy hit 4-H age and wanted to join a dog 4-H club. The rest of the story she gets much of the blame for.
Since the Sheltie was getting old and crotchety and we now had a house with a half-acre yard we discussed with Mandy what breed she would like. She knew a couple of Aussies from the neighborhood we had recently left and that’s what she wanted. We called around to vets, got the name of an Aussie breeder, called and talked to her and while she had no puppies she referred us on. We went and looked at the litter of Aussie puppies and in the way these things happen we ended up putting a deposit on a blue-eyed blue-merle show bitch who came with a contract stating that she must be shown. We were clueless what we were getting into, but this was pre-AKC Aussies (1986) so it was a relatively painless way to start.
That puppy never finished her ASCA championship though she was major-pointed. She became Skyhawk’s Shadow Dancer, CDX TD NAC-V and she was also a sometimes flyball dog and a pretty awesome frisbee dog considering my limited skills. She was a great learner dog: smart, loving, and could have really gone far with a more experienced owner/handler. We only bred her a single time to ASCA Ch Circle-A Where There’s Smoke and then I spayed her to concentrate on performance. It was at the time of the litter that I picked the kennel name C-Mist (Seamist) to celebrate Shadow’s blue color, my love of the ocean, and the letter “C”. We kept a couple of the puppies but eventually placed all but a red merle girl, C-Mist China Rose. China did not pass OFA so was spayed and never bred.
Because Shadow became pretty much “my dog” we got Mandy another Aussie to be her own. The pup’s name was “Hunter” (Aqualine’s Highland Hunter) and he was a red tri from Las Rocosa lines. He was a fear-biter with rage symptoms and we returned him to his breeder at about a year old. We asked Mandy what she would like to have as a replacement, and she selected a Pembroke Welsh Corgi knowing an adorable tri Pem in her 4H group. A little more searching rewarded us with Dirk: Siskiyou’s Dragon Quest HS. He was Ch Gaylord’s Bobbindobber x Ch Fox Meadows Cherry Cola and would have been a show boy had he not been cryptorchid.
He was followed by his half-sister Tally: Siskiyou’s Carousel of C-Mist sired by Ch Nebriowa Christian Dior. She was pointed in conformation but was a plain and small red-headed tri and I wasn’t able to finish her. She had a single litter sired by Ch Shaferhaus Bust-a-Mov: a C-section due to primary uterine inertia and I spayed her not long after. We lost 3 of the 6 puppies at a day of age which was a nightmare. Of the three surviving puppies two were seriously dysplastic: one was destroyed at around a year of age, the other had femoral-head excision surgery. (Sometimes I wonder why I still have dogs!)
It was for the first Pembroke litter that I changed the spelling of my kennel name to C-Myste. I still mean for it to be pronounced “Seamist” though many people see it as “Sea-Misty”.
We have had a few other Aussies and a handful of Pembrokes along the way, notably littermates Siskiyou’s Dream a Little Dream and Siskiyou’s Mr Sandman and Ch Carroll’s Ms Nellie Bly.
But then there were Cardigans. Mandy was given a co-ownership on a dog she named “Spkyrock Lady Killer my Romeo”. Then I went to a stock trial and found Romeo’s 4-month-old sister still looking for a home. Ch Spyrock Coal Miners Daughter CGC NAC ROMs (Julie) was the queen mum here at my house until the age of 15 in January 2009.
Over the years we also dabbled with a couple of Ibizan hounds. I co-owned two Swedish Vallhunds with friends Barb & Cheri. But I love Cardigans: they are my “forever breed”. We bred a number of litters to start with and I enjoy puppies and love dog shows but I don’t enjoy keeping more dogs than can be house pets. We now have just 5 Cardigans here, which is a pretty good number.
Mandy has another couple living with her in Spokane.