Abercrombie & Fitch MH
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Site last updated June 27, 2004
A 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. Kerrybrook's Sable Minx MH Age 8 weeks Nov. 1985 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; Game Farm 1978each 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 bitch fromGwill as a puppy with Jewel 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's LitterGwill 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. Kerrybrook's Sable Minx MH (Age 9 months)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 prefix.

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. Gwill, Emma, and MinxMy 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. CH. Shamrock Acres Light Brigade, 12 B.I.S. Wins exceeded only by his Grandson, CH. Charisma's Lone Star Rick, who had 13 B.I.S. WinsMy 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 program.

In 1986, I met Debbie Van Dyke, the owner ofDual & AFC Hiwood Shadow 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.Woody and Minx At this point Kerrybrook was not a well-known entity, and I was pleased to have all five puppies go to wonderful companion/hunting homes. Regrettably,Woody x Minx litterI never had a Minx-Woody son or daughter to carry on my breeding program.



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 eighteen months.

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 talk daily.

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 eastern states.

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 dog.

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 Chris and NickNick 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.

Bob ReckartSpecial thanks to my field trial and hunt test professional trainers throughout the years: Jim Weitzel, Bob Reckart, Brian HartfieldBrian Hartfield and Chuck Tiranno. You have helped make good dogs, great dogs. And to Dorothy Kellerhall, who handled Pete expertly in the show ring.Chuck Tiranno

And now, off to my future! There's much to be done.



CURRENT EVENTS


Dr. & Mrs. Bernard W. Ziessow (Franklin Labradors) Voted Breeders of the Year by Dogs USA Magazine


The Labrador Standard
A brief excerpt from Chris Wincek's book.