Site last updated
June 27, 2004
History of Kerrybrook Kennels
When I was young, my mother and stepfather
operated a Game Farm in Northeastern Ohio. Our family's dogs were
trained gun dogs that retrieved waterfowl and upland birds seven
months each year. These
were good looking powerful dogs that were able to be outdoors
and active from several hours before sunrise until sunset each
day. Some of my favorite memories are of the dogs curled up in
tight balls in front of a roaring evening fire, their coats drying,
each sleeping intensely; each
preparing to start all over the next day.These dogs were bred
and lived for one purpose, to retrieve.
As I grew older I realized that hunting had secondary value for
me. I hunted to watch a retriever retrieve, first and foremost.
After college, I lived in England for not quite two years where
I taught school in the English Lake District. On weekends, I would
travel on my motorcycle to field trials, where I studied British
field trial retrievers and British field trials themselves. I
even trained with some of the locals. I decided to purchase a
English trial lines, so that when I returned to the States, I
could begin my own kennel. Hence, Neubauers' Gwill of Broome came
into my life, my foundation bitch. The year was 1980.
Gwill was not bred until she was four. A planned breeding to a
field trial dog did not happen, as the dog was on the trial circuit
at the time the breeding was to take place. Instead, Gwill
was bred to one of my parents' stylish good looking game farm
dogs, "Decoy," whose greater pedigree descended from Paul Bakewell's
Deer Creek lines, and Sally Munson's Shamrock Acres' lines. Gwill
gave birth to eight healthy black puppies. From that breeding
came my favorite performance dog ever-- Kerrybrook's Sable Minx
MH. Minx was a good-looking bitch who required little or no training
and always made me look great at Hunt Tests. Her
marking and memory were superior. She ran hard blinds and made
them look simple. The harder the test, the better Minx ran. Minx
was the first retriever bred by me to bear my kennel name, Kerrybrook.
Ever since then, every retriever I have bred has borne the Kerrybrook
Minx was the dam of three Master Hunters: Kerrybrook's Luck of
the Draw MH; Kerrybrook's Streak MH; and Kerrybrook's Knight Hawk
MH. Hawk had also acquired bench points.
At or near this time, I made a promise to myself that I would
seek to breed a better-looking performance dog. During the late
1980's and early 1990's, a few of the prominent field trial stud
dogs did much to set back overall Labrador type by light years.
Type is a hard word to define. By type assume that I am referring
to those qualities that make a Labrador appear unquestionably
like a Labrador, as opposed to a different breed. Unfortunately
during this time many of the prominent trial dogs looked like
black greyhounds, and the show dogs like rottweillers. I felt
very alone during this period, given my goals as a breeder. My
dogs looked like dogs from the 1940's and 50's. It wasn't important
to me whether others liked the early Kerrybrook dogs. I quietly
did what I felt was right by the breed -- to preserve the dual-purpose
retriever. Such a goal was virtually unheard of back then.
In 1986, I contacted Mrs. Bernard Ziessow, of Franklin Kennels,
about purchasing a yellow bitch. My
family had bought a Shamrock Acres Light Brigade grandson from
Mrs. Ziessow in 1973. I remembered what a beautiful dog Oaks was.
I always knew that someday I would have another Franklin Labrador.
In July of 1986, Nora
became part of my Labrador family. Her registered name was Franklin's
Northern Flight MH. Nora became a Master Hunter at age three,
and was a Hunt Test pioneer. Nora was one of the first conformation
bred bitches to acquire the title Master Hunter. Although never
shown, Nora was a beautiful bitch and as I think about it in retrospect,
she was likely "finishable" in the show ring. Notwithstanding,
Nora proved to be an important part of the Kerrybrook breeding
In 1986, I met Debbie Van Dyke, the owner of
Dual & AFC Hiwood Shadow. "Woody" was the last Dual Champion to
date, and was retiring from field trials when I first met him.
I flew to Milwaukee with Minx to have her bred to Woody. The litter
was Minx's first, and she produced five beautiful puppies.
At this point Kerrybrook was not a well-known entity, and I was
pleased to have all five puppies go to wonderful companion/hunting
never had a Minx-Woody son or daughter to carry on my breeding
Shortly thereafter, a friend of mine bred his Dual & AFC Warpath
Macho daughter to Woody. What a pedigree! A Dual sired bitch to
a Dual Champion Sire! At my urging, my parents purchased a black
male and gave it to their good friend Bob Munger, who was CEO
of Cedar Point Amusement Park. Bob had cancer and wanted a new
puppy to keep his morale high during the period of his rigorous
treatment. The new puppy was named Abercrombie
& Fitch, "Abe" for short. Unfortunately, Abe
was eleven months old when Bob died. Sadly, Bob was so ill for
so many of Abe's first months, that Abe's basic obedience and
socialization were nearly non-existent. Bob's family asked me
to take Abe for my own. I at first declined. I did not really
want a male dog or a stud dog. But the family persisted and asked
me to come see Abe. The year was 1988.
When I saw him I immediately agreed to take Abe. What a handsome
dog Abe was! But also what a wild little Indian. I knew if Abe
were going to be a success, he would need an excellent professional
trainer. Abe went to Jim Weitzel, a widely respected field trial
professional trainer in my area. Abe stayed with Jim for nearly
Jim had retired from trialing, so a new young pro, Bob Reckart,
agreed to run Abe in some Qualifying stakes. Abe was a handful
at trials too. But in his third trial Abe received a jam and I
was happy as could be that my efforts had paid off. Shortly thereafter
my friend Nick Mickelson and I were asked to be Board members
of the Labrador Retriever Club. This was a turbulent time because
the club had proposed to change the standard of the breed, and
the animosity on the part of a few caused me to devote more and
more time to club related issues. Nick and I as a result had to
Nick had no experience in performance events and I had never been
to a dog show. The proposed standard above all else stood for
the principle that the Labrador ideally is a working retriever
that is showable. Form and function were intrinsically interlinked.
Temperament, working ability, type and soundness became purposely
blended, one unable to coexist without the other. Nick and I took
the ambitious new standard to heart and we decided to combine
efforts in furtherance of its philosophy. Nick and I came up with
the idea that he would take Abe, try to show him, and at the same
time, Nick would hopefully put a Master Hunter title on him. And
Nick did. Abe was Nick's introduction to the performance world.
The two became a well-known pair at hunt tests throughout the
Eventually Abe went on
to produce 13 Master Hunters, a Qualified All Age Dog, 34 Guide
Dogs, 2 bomb detection dogs (one of which was considered a "National
Heroine" in Athens, Greece) and 2 search and rescue dogs. One
of the search and rescue dogs I am proud to say was a member of
the search and rescue effort at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan
after the September 11th terrorist attack. Abe is the grandsire
of the breed's youngest dog to become a Champion Master Hunter
and Abe is also the grandsire of a Qualified All Age Master Hunter
with 8 Canadian bench points.
I decided to breed Nora to Abe. This turned out to be a breeding
that nicked. Nora was a typier dog than Abe with tremendous drive.
Abe had endless endurance and an amazing trial pedigree. Out of
the first breeding came Kerrybrook's
Drake Can Do MH, a show pointed rugged and handsome yellow
male owned by Mike Vaughn and Dr. Fran Smith of the Twin Cities.
In a subsequent Nora/Abe litter, Mrs. Ziessow took a yellow bitch
that was named Kerrybrook Franklin's Bolero ("Joy").
Our arrangement was that in exchange for Joy, I would obtain a
yellow puppy out of a "Joy breeding" at a later date.
In 1996, I traveled to Franklin to pick up "Pete,"
a male from Joy's first litter, who would become CH.
Franklin's Pickpocket for Kerrybrook MH. Of the 26 Champion
Master Hunters in our breed history, Pete remains the youngest,
having finished both titles at 3 years 5 months of age. Two months
later Pete placed third in a Qualifying stake with 33 starts.
At age five, he is the sire of a Champion bitch, CH. Candlewood's
Abigail of Oasis, bred by Mary Howley. Abby's dam is a field trial
bitch! This sort of result hasn't occurred for perhaps thirty
years in cross over breedings. The competition in the ring is
just too great.
But Pete is a proven producer. The sire of several pointed get,
Pete also sired five new Senior Hunters as of this year, all of
whom are out of conformation bred bitches. In tribute to his early
efforts, Pete won the stud dog class at the 2001 Labrador Retriever
Club National Specialty. A combination of both show and field
breeding himself, Pete is undoubtedly the most prepotent dog I
have ever had in my breeding program. I am honored to have highly
regarded bench and field people bring their wonderful bitches
to him, each seeking the quality missing in their line, whether
it is performance or conformation. Pete is truly a dual-purpose
Minx, Nora and Abe are now gone. Drake is quite old, retired and
living with Mike Vaughn. Kerrybrook has been home to six Master
Hunters, and has produced several others throughout the United
States; two of which are champion pointed. Three others are qualified
all age and have derby points. I have been honored to have my
dogs become service dogs throughout the United States and Europe.
Seeing one of my dogs give the gift of independence to a blind
person has brought deep satisfaction. Kerrybrook has also produced
a Field & Amateur Field Champion, FC-AFC Kerrybrook's Goodtime
Girl, owned by Marshall and Katharine Simonds. "Goodie" qualified
for seven Nationals before her untimely death at age six. More
recently, Kerrybrook has also produced several other hunt test
titled dogs that are on their way to the coveted Master Hunter
title. And Kerrybrook has provided the foundation stock to several
up and coming dual-purpose kennels.
In closing, I wish to thank my mentors and friends that have
helped me throughout my quest. They are: Dr. and Mrs. B.W. Ziessow
(Franklin), the late Helen Ginnel (Whygin), Dr. Fran Smith (Danikk),
Mary Howley (Candlewood), Juxi Burr (Justes B), the late Albert
Uhalde (Westwind), Katharine and Marshall Simonds (Coppertop),
Nelson Sills (Yellowjacket), Mary Feazell (Wyndcall), Betty
Dunlap (Windsong) and last but not least, my mother and stepfather,
Dee Neubauer and Fritz Neubauer.
I acknowledge the late Nick
Mickelson (Birchill) for his friendship and for his fierce dedication
to the sport. Nick died unexpectedly in 1998 from complications
after heart surgery. He was 44. Nick, I at least know you and
Abe can train as much as you want now, in a better place.
thanks to my field trial and hunt test professional trainers
throughout the years: Jim
Weitzel, Bob Reckart, Brian
Hartfield and Chuck Tiranno. You have helped make good dogs, great dogs. And to
Dorothy Kellerhall, who handled Pete expertly in the show ring.
And now, off to my future! There's much to be done.