Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spirit, Chanel & Ziggy

The three girls, my sister and I curled up on a blanket this morning and said our goodbyes. It was very peaceful and very GSP with the girls heads on various laps and flanks and legs all tangled together. I know it was the right decision but my doG does it ever hurt. Words aren't going to do them anywhere near the justice they deserve but I did want to tell you about each of them.

Chanel - Can Ch Ersehnen By Design - Reo x Sage

Chanel was just over a year old when she joined the Nuthatch Gang. I had contacted her breeder/owner after seeing ads in a GSP Journal of her siblings. Betty Jane (Reece-Weaver) would go on to become a good friend and an excellent mentor. She sent Chanel out here on a trial basis. I think I fell in love with her at the airport before we even got home. She was so imperious and sure of herself. Everything was hers by divine right up until the day she passed. The Queen Bitch, she was nicknamed, and she ruled the house with an iron paw.

In the show ring, she cleaned up finishing easily with multiple Best of Breeds over specials. She would go on to multiple group placements with handler Sue Bain and later with either my sister, Joanna, or I at the helm. Joanna showed her to a Best of Breed at the Ontario All Pointing Breed Specialty under structure specialist Betty McHugh. Betty McHugh would later devote a day to having her photographed for use in a book on canine structure. Unfortunately, the book was never completed. I didn`t get to show her too often as she hated to share me and had no problem telling judges to back off if I seemed even slightly nervous or tired and wasn`t on top of things.

In the whelping box was where she really shone. She had four litters, three by Charlie (Mex FCi Int Latin Am Can Ch Nuthatch`s Presumed Innocent) and one by Chance (Nuthatch`s The Negotiator). The puppies inherited her elegance and the bitches, her incredible personality. Emily (Can Ch Nuthatch`s At Last) and Jeannie (Nuthatch`s Simply Irresistible) stand out in particular as top witches that have continued her tradition of excellence in the whelping box.

Chanel was lazy. She`d sleep on your legs and smack you with her paws if you tried to rise before she was ready. She grumbled if you persisted and gave you a look that said it was only her love for you that was saving your life. Everything was done with dignity. Most of all though, she never minded if you needed to hug her and would put her head on your shoulder to let you know she was there for you.

Spirit - Can Ch Ersehnen Blythe Spirit - Reo x Sage

Spirit and Chanel were littermates. Spirit was returned to Betty Jane when the couple who owned her divorced. When we learned about her return, we immediately offered her a spot here. We loved Chanel, who had been living with us for about a year at that point, and were eager to meet her sister.

When Spirit got off the plane, I kept looking at her and thinking - are you sure you`re Chanel`s sister? Where Chanel was tall and elegant with legs that went on forever, Spirit was shorter with broader ribs and a head more like her father's. I came to love Spirit and her build just as much as Chanel`s but at first I just wasn`t sure. She was so different on the surface.

What happened in Spirit`s first home we`ll never know but she arrived with a firm belief that women were to be protected, especially sleeping women. She would growl whenever any man came into the room where one of us was sleeping. This never changed even though she would at the same time be wagging her tail at Dad or Jacob or Alex. It was as though she needed them to know that she would always protect us no matter what.

In the show ring, Spirit finished with a Group 2nd, handled by her buddy John Glover. He would also handle her to a Best of Opposite Sex at the first ever Canadian National Specialty. In later years when she occasionally came out for Veterans, she would always wiggle in delight when she saw John.

Spirit's wiggle was a whole body wiggle that went from the neck to the tip of her tail. She greeted everything with exceptional enthusiasm with the exception of canoeing which she firmly felt was a fool's errand. She felt it was her job to round everyone up to go outside and could often be found barking at everyone to hurry up. Where Chanel was dignified, Spirit was a clown. A clown with huge brown eyes that you could fall into knowing she'd keep your secrets safe. She was special and everyone who met her fell in love with her.

In later years she went regularly to the chiropractor where she promptly pushed everyone else out of the way so she could wiggle up against Gloria and get her massage. If Chanel was the Queen, Spirit was the spoiled Princess.

Although she only ever had one litter, it was a great one. She too was bred to Charlie and out of them came Bug (Can Ch Nuthatch`s Truly Madly Deeply), Sally (Nuthatch`s Charlie`s Angel) and Spider (Am Ch Nuthatch BCK Alfa Romeo Spider - owned by Alice Richter & Mary Finley of Brush Country Kennels). Like Chanel`s kids, Spirit`s get excelled in the whelping box too.

Ziggy - Can Ch Robinhoods Ziggy Stardust - Michael x Darby

I drove down to the US with Ziggy`s breeder, Sherry Saunders, to bring Darby to Nichael. It was a fun trip that I still remember fondly. Ziggy was always an adventure right from the start.

Her best friend, who was also about the same age as her was Michael (Our Siberian, Can Ch Bain's Norther Riverdance). We used to tease them that they got their roles reversed. Michael was an off leash Siberian his whole life and had the obedience skills of a shorthair. Ziggy, at fourteen, was still not to be trusted off leash as she was always chasing the next adventure.

Naughty was a polite way to put it. If something could be got into, then Ziggy was there. If you could chew it or otherwise taste it - she had her mouth on it. She was trouble with a capital Z and everyone knew it and loved it. If food was missing from the counter, you knew who took look at (at least until Delceg joined the crew - then it became a toss up). When you called her name, she would stuff her head under the couch cushions - rear end sticking up in the air - as though that made her invisible.

Ziggy was the difficult child, whose spirit you admired even as you shook your head and cleaned up the mess. She is one of three dogs that I have Michael Steddum watercolour portraits of from before he became famous. Her, Holly (Can Ch Robinhoods Always Forever), and Maggie (Am Can Ch Ersehnen Do U Believe In Magic FDJ). They've all passed on now.


  1. My heart and thoughts go out to you and your family.
    Keep those wonderful memories close to your heart.
    Maxine and the gang at

  2. I'm crying as I read this. Hugs to you and the Nuthatch gang.

  3. My heart aches for you. I am glad you all were able to share so much love in the time you had.

  4. Heather, how devastating for you and your family. Chanel, Spirit and Ziggy will always be remembered... Love, Yvonne and Taz

  5. So sad. Such a pointer moment. My heart hurts. I am so sorry Heather. Three great ladies...I only have to look at Willy's eyes and head to see Chanel. Notwithstanding long legs and a grumpy attitude about waking early.
    Big hugs to everyone at Nuthatch...jennie

  6. miss heather,

    me and asa and mama are happy that you are home from your surgery, but we are very sad to hear that miss chanel, miss spirit, and miss ziggy had to go to the bridge. those 3 ladies were mega beautiful, each in their own special way. our hearts hurt for you. :(

    the booker man

  7. Oh, I'm so sorry this is so late - things have been so manic, especially since Muesli's arrival that we're so behind with catching up with our blog friends! - but I just wanted to add my condolences. How awfully hard it must have been for you. It's hard enough with one but 3 at the same time! Although I suppose there is some comfort in knowing that they are making the journey together and keeping each other company, stil a team, as they were in this life.

    Reading through their stories, they were each incredible dogs and I can't imagine how hard it must have been for you to say goodbye. My heart goes out to you.