July 28, 2006 – April 10, 2019
He was not perfect…no dog is…but he came into my life at the perfect time…
He was the third generation of my breeding – breeding based primarily on dogs acquired from, or owned by, my friends and mentors, David and Lesley Hiltz (Starbuck Torbay Beagles). As a puppy, it wasn’t long before I recognized that I had something special.
I finished Herbie in 2007 under breeder/judge, Barbara Scherer, but I had signed David Hiltz on as a co-owner when Herbie was just puppy because David needed a new special. Having bred Herbie essentially from their own stock, it seemed only fitting that Herbie should spend his specials career with David since changes in my own life would limit my ability to show in the coming years. In August 2007, Herbie and David won their first group under Betty Anne Stenmark and the new team was off on their big adventure together.
2007 had been a year of travel: to Crufts, to the Very Special Show in Denmark, and to the National Specialty in Aldie that fall with our new special. It was also a challenging year. My husband and I worked in real estate but throughout the year the housing market continued to flounder, leading up to the financial crash in 2008. We went on trips that had already been paid for but my intent, that fall, was to get a full-time job with benefits. With one daughter in college and another entering her senior year of high school, we needed more stable income than housing market could supply at that time…
In October 2007, I was house-sitting for the Hiltz while they were traveling in Europe. I had just been offered a job with Alaska Airlines and was excited about starting my new job when I got home. While interviewing a couple that was interested in a puppy, I realized that I couldn’t finish a sentence without catching my breath. I spent most of the following day in the ER at the nearby hospital, eventually receiving a CT scan and a life-changing query from the ER doctor… “Did you know that you have mass in your stomach?”
The diagnosis was non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I would not be able to start my new job and I could not afford to care for the twenty beagles (most of them puppies) that I had at home at the time. I was oddly not frightened by the diagnosis. To me it was going to be an interesting journey; one that I did not choose…I could only choose the attitude with which I approached it. What hurt was the fact this brought my breeding program to a sudden halt. I had promising puppies in my yard at home, including my first litter by Herbie. I had plans for future generations of Talbot Hill Beagles but for the sake of my dogs I needed to find them good homes because I could no longer afford to care for them. I cried just once as a result of my cancer: pulling over to the side of the road I called Alyce Gilmore after putting the first of my dogs on a plane to its new home. I sobbed uncontrollably…and Alyce understood.
Herbie provided me with something positive to focus on throughout 2008 as I went through two rounds of chemotherapy and eventually, just days after the 2008 Nationals, had surgery to remove half of my stomach. He and David had a great year, earning many group placements and spending most of the year as #1 15 inch beagle until losing the variety at Nationals dropped him to #2.
The partial gastrectomy and the reconstruction of my stomach caused me to have grand mal seizures so I spent the entire year of 2009 in a heavily medicated fog as doctors tried to stabilize my condition. Still unable to work, we were forced into bankruptcy and foreclosure and eventually my husband and I divorced.
Herbie and I relocated to SeaTac, Washington, near the airport where I got my first job when I was finally able to work. Our little house is directly across the street from a park where we can see the Cascade mountains, the Olympic mountains, and Mount Rainier as the airplanes come and go from the airport. Herbie loved to go for walks in his park and kept a close eye on the park from his living room window. My daughter, Amanda, came to live with us after graduating from college and they adored each other.
To describe Herbie in human terms would be to ask you to imagine a proper English butler – “Carson” from Downton Abbey would describe Herbie perfectly. He wanted his home to be dignified and run on schedule…no silliness. No silliness…until his daughter came along. I had just two litters by Herbie. One in 2007 out of my 2006 NBC 13″ BOW CH Talbot Hill’s Razzle Dazzle and the second in 2018 out of Talbot Hill Dukeang Road Less Traveled, “CoCo”. Their daughter, CH Talbot Hill Dukeang Thyme Signature, “Hanne” remains with me, as unlike her dignified father as she can be, she is exuberant like Herbie’s sire but affectionate like her mother, “CoCo”. She brings a lot of laughter into our lives each day as we adapt to absence of Herbie.
Herbie had a check-up in February 2019 and all was well…
He had a spindle cell sarcoma removed from the right side of his muzzle in the spring of 2018 but the vet felt that she had gotten it all. He’d had a cyst on his back removed some years prior that had left a bit of a divot in his topline and an attack by two off-leash Dogue de Bordeaux had resulted in a fractured hip and spine in late 2014. We had both been through a lot but we both persevered. We said good-bye very quickly one night, just five days after the passing of my friend, Alyce, in April 2019. I had suspected lymphoma but had been focusing my attention on Alyce while ensuring that Herbie was not suffering.
Just days before she passed, Alyce sent her puppy from her final litter to live with me. Roux is Herbie’s great, great granddaughter and together with his daughter, Hanne, they are filling our home with love and laughter once again.
It’s so very difficult to say how much those very special dogs mean to you. Herbie was there for me during such a turbulent time in my life in a way that no human could be. I miss him dearly and I’m so terribly grateful for the time that we had together.