Equal parts fat and flour, stirred with time and love until it reaches a rich chocolate brown, the key to making a great gumbo depends on the quality of the roux…
For years I pressed Alyce to return to breeding. I needed a breeder of like mind to partner with and when she finally bred a litter in 2017, she chose quality ingredients. Roux’s sire was BISS GCHB Shadynook McDreamy At RK Tooker, “Trey”, BOB at the 2011 NBC National Specialty and one of my all-time favorite beagles. Her mother is a great-granddaughter of my own BIS/BISS CH Talbot Hill’s Thyme After Time and CH Talbot Hill’s Razzle Dazzle (2006 NBC 13″ BOW/BBE). CH Lisboa was 2016 Mexican National Champion and 15″ RWB at the 2016 NBC National Specialty. Her sire, CH Carlos Gardel, was 2015 Mexican National Champion.
Alyce began breeding again with quality ingredients, preparing a dish with the foundation of a great Roux but, just months after the litter was whelped, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her brief return to breeding was over and when she left us, Roux was sent to me. We had been friends, co-owners, and breeding partners for years. We shared a similar vision of the breed and she knew that Roux would not only have a good home but that I would respect the trust she had placed in me to complete the “recipe” that she had begun with Roux.
In 2020, I bred the final Bayou Oaks litter, according to Alyce’s wishes. Roux was bred to BIS CH Bayou Oaks English Leather, using 25-year-old frozen semen that Alyce left to me for that purpose.
“There is no perfect dog”
While Roux was a great start for Alyce, like any good breeder, she recognized where there was room for improvement. Roux has lovely breed type, level topline, hard coat, and a big, effortless sidegait but she is a bit sloppy coming at you and pigeon-toed in the rear. In choosing English Leather to sire Roux’s litter, she was selecting a sire that she knew “could correct the movement on any bitch” and the breeding did achieve that goal. In the back of my mind, however, I had reservations about the breeding. English Leather was of a type very different from that seen in the breed today…not that that is a bad thing (he could be very beneficial if used correctly) but combined with the bitch’s pedigree, I was concerned that there may not be enough bone and substance built into the pedigree to support the match; English Leather being better suited to a more “doggy”, angular bitch. My other concern was size. There is a lot of “big” surrounding this combination and my fears were born out when both of Roux’s sons reached 16 inches at 5 months of age.
As a breeder, I use a bitch’s first litter as a guidepost for future breeding. Clues to what she inherited from her pedigree lie in the puppies that she produces. To be able to recognize those clues, I have to know that pedigree and those dogs “in my bones”. In most cases when I breed, I have known, lived with, or had my hands on all or most of the dogs in the four generation pedigree because you never know “who is going to show up in the puppies”. If there are any gaps in my knowledge of a dog, I ask the breeder or owner for as much information, photos, and videos as I can get to aid me in my decisions.
Every litter that I breed is bred with specific goals in mind, not only for that specific breeding but for future breeding plans as well. You can’t accomplish all of your goals in one generation and you need to clearly and objectively identify where you’re going and how you intend to get there. For Roux’s next litter, I need to build smaller size into the pedigree of the puppies. Soundness is once again a consideration and I don’t want to lose ground on bone and substance.
Finding a small dog/”small” pedigree of quality is not easy. Making a choice that Alyce would approve of is constantly on my mind and we’ve had many “discussions” about the choice. So, let me introduce you to the dog that I’ve chosen to sire Roux’s second litter:
Benicio is a 15″ beagle but all of his parents and grandparents are either 13″ beagles or very, very small 15″ beagles. His sire, 13″ CH Beowulf Mass In C Minor, “Mozart”, was the great, great-grandsire of my own BIS/BISS CH Talbot Hill’s Thyme After Time (more about that later). Mozart’s sire, 13″ CH White Acres Designer Label, “Danny”, was from the well-known White Acres Kennel that was located south of Seattle decades ago.
When I was researching stud dogs for this and other litters planned for this year, I realized that White Acres Designer Label was the dog that Alyce had chosen when she bred her beautiful Best in Show winning bitch, BIS CH Bayou Oaks Chianti…
Together they produced CH Bayou Oaks Ingenue who was WB at the National Beagle Specialty under Anne Rogers Clark.
I had gone to my friends Ted and Terri (Beowulf) once before when I needed “small”. My first homebred champion, CH Talbot Hill’s Overture, was a bitch with a very nice English/Australian/European pedigree (translation: BIG). It’s nice to have those lovely foreign lines in your pedigree but thought must be given to size or some nice oversize dogs will be finding themselves on the couch and not in the whelping box. “Rosie” was just under 15″ and the only one of the five girls in her litter who stayed under the wicket. I bred her to Mozart’s grandson, 15″ BIS CH Beowulf Ransomcreek Hide In Plain Sight, “Clues”. The litter produced two sisters who produced very well: 13″ CH Talbot Hill’s I’ve Got a Secret, “Katie Berk”, owned by Terri Papagni-Carter (Danter Beagles), dam of 13″ BISS CH Danter’s Itty Bitty Trouble, “Greta” and her littermate, 15″ BISS Danter’s Son of Trouble (a moderate 15″ beagle) and my own 13″ CH Talbot Hill’s Secret Garden, “Sophie”, dam of BIS/BISS CH Talbot Hill’s Thyme After Time.
Given Alyce’s past success with the dogs that I was considering, as well as my own, I chose Benicio for Roux. He’s a nice dog in his own right, going 2nd in the Bred By class at Nationals in 2020, second to the dog who went on to BOW. Behind him lie dogs possessing the traits that I want in the pedigree of the puppies that I will produce.
Will the recipe be complete? Will there be a fabulous “gumbo” to serve up in the show ring? That would be nice…but that’s not the goal. This breeding will add a pinch of salt, a bit of fresh ground pepper, a bit of thyme to the pot already on the stove…seasoning to taste until the dish is finished.