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How our lifestyles have shifted, for the moment . . .

10 April 2020

Canadienne Emilie-Claire sings ‘Seule ce soir’.

Emilie-Claire Barlow sings a lovely version of C’est Si Bon on her album Seule ce soir from 2012.  Translated, it means ‘alone tonight’, as many of us are during these curious times.  Lately, I’ve had my Google Assistant playing Brazilian Jazz and I get great bossanova, when I ask for Brazilian Jazz.  As I’m not an Alexa user, I may have lost half of you already.  Suffice it to say that my home lifestyle is much more predictable than it used to be and by late afternoon?  I am stir crazy, every day.

The Notch Road in Stowe. The original smuggling route between northern Vermont and Quebec.

How things have changed!  I spend my days with the dogs and they are LOVING that!  We’ve been hiking the snow covered Notch Road every morning and I rotate the older girls, so that everyone gets to come at least twice each week.  Now, we’re losing the snow and one of my forever families has graciously allowed me to walk their Stowe property, while they are sequestered north of the border.  I don’t have to worry about contact with any other humans and five times around the pond equals one mile.  Yesterday, it was twice around in one direction and twice around in the other.  This afternoon?  We’ll do five laps.

I cook as normal – well – sort of.  So far today?  I’ve made ghee, hollandaise sauce and am working on a white bean soup with smoked turkey.  I’m cooking through my freezer (and the lamb I bought in November 2019) and don’t go to the grocery store anymore.  Instead of my beloved Market Basket runs, I order online from Stowe Seafood & Meat Market (great veal chops), Stowe Bee Bakery (peanut butter cookies), Snug Valley Farm (for beef and pork) and Pete’s Greens (my weekly localvore veggie share plus dairy).  I’ve always had a fully stocked pantry – it’s how I grew up – with at least one freezer and a second fridge, and it’s finally proven to be my saving grace.  You’d think that I had food responsibility for six people – but, non.  It is only me and les chiens.  And most nights?  It is ‘Seule ce Soir’.  ;>)  Oh, but don’t forget the birdies.  My Crested Polish hens are laying four eggs daily!  (and eating all of my veggie and fruit scraps)

Rebecca Bradley with GRCH Kensington’s Questa o Quella?. In the ring at Westminster, 11 February 2019.

Before Becky left for Kentucky to be with her mother, we swapped Campari for Yvette.  On Monday, March 16, Becky left with Questa and Yvette.  Campari, my nine month old sable female, temporarily retired from her show career with both necessary Majors won and five points to go toward her CH title.  And Questa’s show career is on hold with the same number of points needed for his silver Grand Championship title (GRCHS).  All is temporarily up in the air, for now.  No dog shows; no TTCA National and no BCTTC Specialty in Wrentham.  But there is word that Camille is working on an alternative site for a celebration of the 2019 US Top 20 Tibetan Terriers.  And once we know where that will be held?  I will let you all know.  It is a wonderful thing to watch, with owners and handlers presenting some of the most beautiful Tibetan Terriers in the world for everyone to enjoy.  Last year?  Kensington peeps and fans shared a table and watched the parade in Boxborough, Massachusetts.  This year?  Questa will be in the parade, as he finished the year as the #6 US Tibetan Terrier.  I, for one, am hoping for a New Jersey venue, as it would be considerably easier than getting to Florida in June, where the event was originally scheduled.

Kensington peeps living their lives by breaking bread (and sharing libations). Naples, FL. 2019.

There are different things on everyone’s minds right now and each situation varies.  I’ve been taking calls from Kensington and Shalimar peeps who are wanting to formalize their estate plans to include their dogs.  I think this is ALWAYS wise and have a separate bank account with instructions for Lady Cheryl, for when MY time comes.  You should all think about this, as it is wise to have written plans for each of your loved ones, including those with four legs.  I have agreed to take a number of adult Tibetans, if and when need be.  I will be following the directives of the humans and preparing to open Kensington Palace to some new furry friends, whether that means this year, five years or even ten years from now.

Ziva’s March 2019 puppies by Yogi.

Additionally, I’ve been fielding countless inquiries (and I DO mean ‘countless’) from folks looking for a puppy because they are now sequestered at home for the foreseeable future and believe that it would be the perfect time to bring a puppy into their home lives.  But the problem is that demand for TT puppies has gone off the charts and none of the responsible breeders with whom I work has/have any puppies available now or expected to be available in the near future.  One breeder is pausing her program, until the Coronavirus pandemic runs its course and we find ourselves on the other side.  For her?  It makes sense.  But for me?  I am moving forward, as I feel an obligation to my peeps and really, really love what I do.  Please don’t take that away from me.

We still don’t know whether Lady Ziva is carrying puppies from her March 9 natural breeding with Questa.  Our ultrasound appointment in Salem, Massachusetts scheduled for today was canceled earlier this week.  Ziva showed classic symptoms of pregnancy to me during the first three weeks and now?  Her appetite has returned and that is another indication that the breeding took.  Time will tell and if we are expecting puppies, they should join this world sometime in mid May.  I usually have an XRAY taken just before whelping, so that we can count skeletons and get prepared for what might be coming down the pike.

Would’ya look at those gams? Thighs of a hockey player on our Pic. Yogi x Ziva, 2017.

Pic, Pic, Piccolo! continues to have NOTHING BUT PLAY on her mind and she will be the next Kensington lady to come into season.  We have several breeding options for her and each would be lovely.  If Truesdale will do a TCI?  I’ll use frozen semen from Oskar and repeat her 2019 breeding.  If not?  We’ve got Leo and Guinness in the wings, but both are 19 months old and we run the risk of their not knowing exactly what to do.  ;>)

So, I begin my day with an inspection of Piccolo’s crate and nothing, yet.  That will change and I will be ready.  Social distancing will impact how we do what needs to be done and I am committed to that.  It is the best way to minimize exposure to yourself and everyone else.  Yesterday, I received two lovingly sewn facemasks with a roll of Scott SHOP towels that together?  Will keep me safe.  Thank you, Jay Dee!  Now?  I’m ready for the world and when the time comes to jump into the car with the lovely Piccolo?  I can do so, safely.

I certainly HOPE SO! April 2020.

This evening, we’re going to try a ZOOM video conference call.  I posted the details on the Wagging Tales at Kensington FB page.  But you are all welcome to join, too!  926-542-3738 is the meeting number and this will be my first time hosting.  The password will be ‘Kensington’.  6pm EST and I set the meeting up so that folks can join ahead of me and ahead of schedule, I do believe.  If this call works?  We’ll have another way to stay in touch safely and share our latest stories.  If nothing else?  I hope to keep the boredom at bay.

Here’s to getting through this safely and emerging stronger than ever, on the other side.  Stay strong.  We got this.




When the nights become days and the days become nights

Questa’s sire Yogi in show coat. July 2019.  Very handsome and prolific sire!

It is quite normal and has become part of my routine to be up between ~ 12:30am and 3:30am every night.  It’s either the ladies down in the AGA room who ‘boof’ for a potty break . . .  or dear Piccolo who comes to the gate between the kitchen and my dining room/bedroom to make her request clear.  As I’ve said innumerable times in the past, it’s a good thing that I live alone!  The doggies need care 24/7 and long ago?  I happily signed up to be the caregiver, laundress and chef extraordinaire.  ;>)

Beckham x Ziva’s puppies out for their first adventure. 30 November 2019.

Ziva’s puppies are seven full weeks old and they’re quite mature physically.  Still finding their emotional ‘sea legs’ and trying on all sorts of behaviours including biting something soft, until they get a blood curdling scream.  I think we’re almost past this stage, as I’ve come to the rescue more than a dozen times and by now?  They’re on the brink of realizing that it’s not fun to be on the receiving end.

Koko’s puppies are only four days behind Ziva’s puppies chronologically, but they are hard to tell apart visually from their older friends.  All are on straight kibble & water, 4x per day.  Carrots and apples come next.  Both litters are producing tootsie roll stools and I am very pleased about that.  The Royal Canin kibbles I use seem to yield smaller and less fragrant tootsies than other kibbles we’ve tried, ESPECIALLY the salmon based kibbles.

Look hard! There are five puppies nursing on Lady Piccolo. Oskar x Piccolo.

And then, there are Piccolo’s five beautiful babies who are still nursing: two females and three males.  Today is Day 19 for them.  I only wish that I could handle more for the wonderful forever families out there who are waiting ever so patiently – but three litters is my max.  This time?  It’s more like two, as the first two are only four days apart – but the laundry doesn’t lie and it feels like three litters to me!

But what is life without the occasional upset? Even with apparent total quarantine for the youngest litter, one managed to catch an upper respiratory infection.  How now, brown cow?  Well, apparently, his mummy Piccolo must have brought the germs into their whelping room and for whatever reason? He caught a cold.  Three .1ml doses of Clavamox later?  The apparent congestion seems reduced and it truly is 24 hours, since I noticed it yesterday morning.  I know that with humans, we think very seriously about whether to ingest antibiotics and I, for one, prefer to ‘tough it out’.  But when the patient is 18 days old with newly opened eyes?  Give me the drugs!

This morning?  We had our second outdoor snow experience with Ziva’s puppies.  The first car training with outdoor snow fun happened on Saturday, this past weekend.  With Koko’s puppies about four days behind Ziva’s?  Car training will begin tomorrow.

Winter is upon us. Maple Street in Stowe, Vermont, December 2019.

We didn’t get the 20″ of snow they got in southern Vermont and boy! would we have liked that!  But the 2″ dusting we got makes for a pretty morning and shortly, I am off for my solo walk to town.  Wishing everyone a terrific day!


Weigh ins, feedings, laundry, indoor/outdoor play; REPEAT

Our lovely GRCH Piccolo and her five babies. 26 Nov 2019.

The lovely Piccolo has hit her stride and seems to have settled into her maternal routine and is FINALLY back to eating her kibble.  Here she is, comfortably nursing her brood of five in her whelping box.

Ziva’s enjoying playing individually with the October born puppies, whether hers or Koko’s.  We let them out individually to scamper around the perimeter of their Xpens.  It gives them a great opportunity to taunt and tease their littermates, as they test out their newfound freedom.

And Koko’s enjoying outdoor sunshine and the best that the Maple Street kitchen has to offer.  She has learned that patience pays off in the kitchen.  What could be better?

A life without puppy poops on the linens, I’d say!  ;>)

Oh, how Leo loves being the center of attention! With a bunch of 8 year old girls in Newton, MA.

All is well, here at Maple Street.  Thanksgiving is only days away and Piccolo’s puppies will be two weeks old that day.  There are five of them: three males and two females . . .  and they keep Pic and me MORE THAN BIZZY!  I still have the baby monitor on their pen, so that I can hear any nighttime calamity . . .  but they’re all happy and quiet.  We’ve got the temperature stabilized, nursing is happening predictably & every four hours – and everyone’s digging Jazz Piano on Pandora, while yours truly plays in the kitchen.  Life is good.

Meanwhile, we await the second television broadcast with a Kensington Tibetan Terrier up on the big screen – please watch with us on Thanksgiving Day!

Here we are: like mother, like son, thanks to Photoshop!

Questa took Best of Breed down in Oaks, PA on 16 November 2019 at The National Dog Show.  THIS is the dog show that is televised annually at 12pm on Thanksgiving Day.  Watch it on NBC.  They are airing it in every time zone at 12pm.  Tibetan Terriers are in the Non Sporting Group.  We already know that he did not place in the Group – but that’s ok by me.  He’ll be up on the big screen!  Questa is out of a Yogi x Billie breeding and he has a number of brothers and sisters out there including Gryffin and Bodhi.  If you’ve got the time?  Please ‘watch’ with us!

Meanwhile, it’s back to the laundry for me right now.  I am changing pen linens today, so that I can have a couple of hours off on Thanksgiving to WATCH THE DOG SHOW on NBC!  Join me at noon on Thanksgiving Day, as we root for one of Kensington’s finest.

Woof.  ;>)

You’d think I had it made, playing with puppies all day . . .

Young Ben, enjoying our CH Oskar x CH Gigi puppies, Memorial Day weekend in Marblehead, 2016.

I’m REALLY clear that I’m wonderfully fortunate to have an opportunity to live my passion during my retirement by breeding & raising the dogs of my dreams in a place that’s clean and beautiful.  And that is exactly how it looks, from the outside. . .

With or without a litter in the house, I begin my day between 5 and 6am, if not earlier. Usually, it’s the sunlight that wakes me. These days? It’s Piccolo who ‘boofs’ at midnight, again at 3am and by then?  I walk down the hall to the other mums in the house and let them out, too, hoping that between the three of them?  They’ll let me sleep until 6am.

This morning, I got lucky – but it was a tricky day.

Sable Louis in the Puppy Warmer incubator and Oxygen Concentration equipment. Staying warm, as he dries. Newly born!

Last evening, we lost the second sable male and Piccolo & I each had emotional reactions.  I cried and wished the little animal well on his spiritual journey . . .  and Piccolo washed him, so that he’d be clean for his trip.  This morning?  She and I were both despondent.

I was in a bit of a trance walking down to the big doggies to let them out into the snow – but was crystal clear that I needed a triple Nespresso this morning.  Piccolo appeared out of sorts and stuck very close to me, through my morning routine.  She walked with me to the laundry to grab the fresh load and bring it back to the kitchen for folding.  As soon as I put the basket down?  She burrowed into the basket and emerged with the pink monkey.  Piccolo took her monkey dollie back to the whelping room with her puppies.  The poor little dear curled up around the dollie in the corner under my desk, in the same manner as she does with her live puppies, and I couldn’t help but think that it was a substitute for little Ralph.

Rebecca Bradley with GRCH Kensington’s Questa o Quella?. In the ring at Westminster, 11 February 2019.

We got through the day and tomorrow will be another day.  Questa’s in the ring down in Springfield for the first of four days of Conformation competitions.  Ziva and Koko’s puppies are now five weeks old and starting to act like precocious puppies.  Lord, help me!  There are nine of them!  And I spend 15 minutes with each of those puppies every morning, handling them & letting them play individually on the towels that ring the puppy pens.  In this way, they begin to show me their unique puppy personalities.  I make notes and use these notes, as I begin studying each puppy with the forever home lifestyles we have ‘on deck’. 

From yesterday morning to this morning, weight gain was great for three of Piccolo’s puppies but not so great for the other two.  We now have five vigorous and apparently healthy puppies from Oskar x Piccolo.  I think the latter two will have plenty of time on the nipple overnight tonight, as I gave Piccolo some freshly cooked liver from The Frozen Butcher and the B vitamins, iron, minerals & other trace elements will be good for her pretty little head.

We will have a better day tomorrow!


Kensington’s first FIFTH GENERATION litter has hit the ground! Welcome GRCH Piccolo’s puppies!

So many thoughts about an opening line for this post – not sure which one to choose.

The lovely Lady Piccolo and her seven babies. Day One: 15 November 2019.

There was the thought that sleeping on the tile floor of my office last night next to Piccolo and her new puppies reminded me of traveling in Europe in the early 80s by Eurailpass and sleeping in some of the MOST uncomfortable positions on night trains.

There was the thought this morning that I was losing my first puppy out of the litter and it was only constipation-inspired lethargy.  All he needed was a fanny irrigation, a bowel movement and a drop of Karo syrup by mouth to get him revved up.

And there was the thought that Miss Piccolo seemed to have found her groove, after having lost it last night – although, you can’t lose something, if you’ve never found it, right?  ;>)

Can you count the skulls in Piccolo’s tummy? Monday, 11 Nov 2019.

Tuesday evening, earlier this week, I thought for sure that the puppies were coming within 24 hours, as Pic went off her food at 4pm and that’s ALWAYS been the sign to date with every one of my girls.  Down in Wyndham, New York, Lady Cheryl hopped into her car – arriving in Stowe before 11pm – and no action.  I slept on the floor of my office with Piccolo in the whelping box, thinking that we’d have action – but it never came.  And the lovely Lady Cheryl went upstairs to her room for a restful night’s sleep.

Wednesday morning?  Piccolo ate a healthy breakfast of poached chicken, mashed sweet potato, Monterey Jack cheese, Helm’s dried liver and Golden Delicious apple.  Shot my expectations to hell and Cheryl & I proceeded to just live through the day.  But Wednesday evening?  I had my doe eyed girl acting like she wasn’t EVER going into labor and so, I decided to bring her to my VT repro clinic and have a progesterone blood draw done to see where she was on the downward progesterone curve that happens before labor.

She came in at 2.5ng/ml and Dr. Cindy Pratt estimated 12-36 hours, before we’d have puppies.  That was at 7:30pm Wednesday evening and all I needed was a number, so that I could manage the household and know whether I had to sleep on the tile floor AGAIN on Wednesday night.

Sable Louis in the Puppy Warmer incubator and Oxygen Concentration equipment. Staying warm, as he dries. Newly born!

Well, I didn’t have to do that and so, Piccolo and I slept on the blow up mattress in the dining room.  She woke me up on Thursday at 4am panting and I knew that ‘all systems were go’.  By 6am?  I got Cheryl out of bed and said, ‘We’re on’.  And by 9am?  We had our first puppy: solid sable Louis, butt first and all 9 1/4 ounces of him.  As in humans, the ‘water breaks’ and it breaks for each puppy.  Solid sable Louis was first – then, solid black Dolce (another male) – then, boldly marked B&W Pierre (another male) – then, Ralph who is sable with bold white markings – then, Chanel who is black with a pearl necklace – then, sable Kate with white markings and finally, Calvin, our black boy with four white paws.

Kate’s delivery was the most memorable, as it took 23 minutes for her placenta to emerge after most of her body and during those 23 minutes, she kept going for the nipple to nurse – but couldn’t quite reach it, while her little umbilical cord stretched as much as it could.  That, I’d never seen before and I believe she is a seriously food driven little rascal who is both vigorous and beautiful in structure.

Scampi and puppies – what could possibly be more fun?

Every litter makes me nervous and I maintain that this is a good thing.  These are the words that come out of my mouth – but I think I’m always trying to convince myself of this.  Lady Cheryl was an angel to come and help, as she is experienced in the art of whelping and always brings scampi for dinner.  The girls know her well and love her energy; we are so grateful for her friendship.

Last night was our first night with new puppies in the house and I slept on the tile floor next to Piccolo in the whelping box, yet again.  She’s a first time mum and is learning the ropes, as she goes.  While potty training has been a recent issue, she woke me every 90 minutes last night to pee.  Making milk for the puppies requires that she drink an awful lot of water – so, in addition to fresh water, we feed her a soupy mix and make sure she has ice cubes available, when she needs a break from the warm heating pad.

It is unclear whether we have puppies available from this litter.  If we do, we have only one or two males.  If you are interested in a Kensington puppy, please know that we are planning three breedings for 2020 and expect our 2020 puppies to begin coming available in late Spring.  Applications are required, as are visits and deposits – and puppies are offered in the order of the dated applications and by the wishes and wants of our forever families.

TTCA 2019 National Specialty. Award of Merit for Questa, handled by Rebecca Bradley. Very exciting! May 2019.

Last to mention is the latest Canine Chronicle national standings in our breed.  They were just released TODAY through October 31, 2019 and our boy Questa (GRCHB Kensington’s Questa o Quella?) is now ranked #9 Nationally in our breed against all other TTs competing in AKC Conformation.  We hope to have him finish in the Top 10, having bested his mum Billie who finished #14 in 2016.  All very exciting and we are forever grateful to Rebecca Bradley, Questa’s wonderful handler, for loving him and handling him to the top of his game.  Whoo hoo!

Piccolo has seven puppies in the hopper!

12 November 2019

The lovely GRCH Kensington’s Pic, Pic, Piccolo! Littermate of Penny and Paisley. DOB 24 August 2017. Au naturelle in the snow. Stowe, VT.

And yes, we knew she was pregnant.  But yesterday we learned and saw that our dear GRCH Kensington’s Pic, Pic, Piccolo! is carrying seven very well developed puppies!  Obviously, we won’t know gender or coat color until they’ve arrived, dried and we’ve had a chance to study them – at least the markings will be quite apparent, upon arrival, and those markings will help us tell them apart.  As we bred sable Oskar to charcoal Piccolo, we’re hoping for at least a few sable coated puppies.  Fingers crossed!

Ziva’s puppies are several days more than four weeks old now and have begun their weaning onto a gruel of Royal Canin’s Starter kibble and water.  The proportions of kibble to water are very important at this stage, as the puppies’ digestive systems are not yet totally mature.  We present them with their gruel three times daily, while Lady Ziva continues with her sporadic nursing.  I actually think she prefers nursing at night, when the house is quiet and the lights are low.  Whatever she’s doing has to be more than enough, as her puppies are growing about 4 to 5% in their body weight daily.  Coats are glossy black with small white markings.  Eyes are bright and heads are gorgeous.  I am very pleased with our Beckham x Ziva puppies.

Day Zero: Sunday, 13 October 2019. Lady Ziva and her babies.

Koko’s puppies will be four weeks old tomorrow and so, they’ve recently been introduced to a canned Starter Mousse slurry.  The starter mousse slurry is the first step in the weaning process.  Next comes straight canned starter mousse and finally, the gruel of crushed starter kibble with water.  Koko is a wonderful mum, when it comes to staying with her babies to feed them and keep them warm.  But same as last time?  She’s just not that interested in keeping her babies’ butts clean and so, that job falls to me.  We call it ‘irrigation’ and since puppy stools are pretty loose, it dries like cement.  More than you wanted to know?  Oh, you have no idea how much there is to this process that you don’t want to know!  Irrigation baths are just the beginning.  ;>)

Leo at two months of age. He and Campari could be twins.

Leo was here boarding for five days, during which time we had him successfully collected and his semen evaluated.  He’s shooting live ones, whoo hoo!  At fourteen months, he appears to be mature with all of his parts in the right places and we look forward to using him with Lady Piper, come spring.

Life is pretty good, today.  I slept well and am still on top of the laundry.  We cleaned one of the puppy pens yesterday morning and had a full load for the doggie Bosch.  Being efficient always gives me satisfaction and being able to fit everything in the machine keeps my house smelling neutral.  And my dear friend Lady Cheryl arrives tomorrow to help with Piccolo’s whelping, during which time my current routine will go to hell.

Lady Tracy holding Billie’s three puppies by Oskar, with Leo in the middle!

The heavy wet snow is still falling and the roads are quiet.  The only traffic going by seems to be the snow plows and an occasional commercial vehicle.  I continue to clip puppy toenails but really need Lady Tracy’s help.  I can handle the fronts with my jeweler’s headgear – but it’s tricky for me to do the little rears and having a second pair of hands makes a huge difference.  Lady Tracy raises birds, so she’s well experienced with toenail clipping of tiny creatures.

It takes a village!  And I am grateful to have the village of Stowe, Vermont in which to breed and raise our Kensington Tibetan Terrier puppies.  Thank you, friends!

Next up?  We are watching Piccolo intently and keeping notes that will become part of her litter file.  She’s still eating, although very selectively.  Once she refuses her favorite foods?  I’ll know to expect puppies within 24 hours.  Then, we’ll watch for the ‘doe eyed’ look – you know, the ‘deer in the headlights’ stare.  And soon, the panting.  And then, the contractions.  She is seeming very much like her paternal grandmother Georgie Girl.  Gigi was a terrific natural whelper.  Fingers crossed for puppies during the day!

I must prepare Piccolo’s whelping room today, as I have a hunch we’re going to see puppies within a very few days.  We’re going to use my kitchen office, as that’s where the incubator and oxygen concentrating units are located.  Oranges to Buddha and fingers crossed for vigorous & healthy babies!

Thank you for your support.

Technicolor Tibetan Terriers

18 June 2019


Izzie and James, our foundation dam and stud. 2009.

(For the record, I began writing this blog post over one year ago, after venturing into the study and genetic testing of my personal dogs.  I have learned so much and yet?  There is still boatloads more for me to learn about this topic.  Wait ’til I get my microscope.)

In September 2006, Nina Wagner offered me a choice of puppies with which to begin my breeding program.  I vividly remember the two ‘red’ puppies who danced toward me, as I’d never seen that coat color before!  I asked Nina what it was and she told me that the puppies were red brindles.  Of the two?  One had better movement and so, I chose Izzie to be my foundation bitch.  Then, I had a choice of two black & white males and James was the little man for me.  We drove back to Vermont and introduced the babies to my old geezers Max and Mia – and the rest is history; actually, it is ourstory  ;>).

In March 2009, Alice Smith gave me a book to study: The Inheritance of Coat Color in Dogs by Clarence C. Little.  For many years, this book has been considered the pre-eminent book on the topic of coat color.

Talk about dense!  Little’s book is so technical, in 2009, I was barely able to manage the first 16 pages and I’d been a Neurology major at Mount Holyoke College, dreaming of becoming a neurosurgeon.  I believe Little’s book is written for geneticists – but I did get a couple of truths out of it, even back then:

Sweet little Bianca, not even 24 hours old. 19 March 2019.

White (as in ‘the absence of pigment’) is ultimately dominant genetically and black comes next.  After that?  My, oh my, so many genes and variations . . .  and then, we get down to recessive red brindle, if ‘brindle’ even exists in Tibetan Terriers.

Enter Hanne Mathiasen’s Tibetan Terrers – The Little People.  If you don’t have a copy?  Buy one!  It is a wonderful book that was published in 2006 and is a joy to read and share.  She’s also on FB, if you want to friend her.

In the beginning, I was sure about what to call different coat colors, as I had Nina telling me what they were.  I repeated what she’d taught me about the tri-colored (banded) ‘brindle’ hair and didn’t think anything of it, until after she’d passed and someone else corrected me.  This new person told me that red brindle = sable, not red brindle.  And they also told me that golden sable was the correct term for what I’d always called ‘gold’.  And that brindle didn’t exist in TTs.  And with that one comment?  I took issue and decided to venture into a study of the literature on coat color.

That’s Leo, front left. And Chewie, farthest back right. Two of our red boys. May 2019.

Dr. Helle Friis Proschowsky, DVM writes about the SABLE coat color on page 125 of Matthiasen’s book.  She also writes about the genetic tricolored coat and the ‘greying’ gene.  There are wonderful photos to study and compare how the different coat colors are described.  In the meantime, let me share some of what I have learned.

‘Many TTs have a wrong description of their colour, partly because breeders are uncertain about the colour names, and partly because some colours can only be determined when the puppies are small, while others appear later.’  This is a quote out of Mathiesen’s book from an article written by Proschowsky on page 124.  Many TTs ‘change color’ during their lives, with blacks going charcoal or silver and brindles going blonde.  The fact that a brindle hair is a tri-colored hair is also confusing, as keeping a TT in a ‘puppy cut’ allows only one color of a tri-colored hair to show; hence, a red brindle looking blonde, in a puppy cut.

The lovely AKC CH Copper Goddess. Mum to Billie, Annabel and Ziva. Grandmama to Yogi and Questa. Great grandmama to Piccolo and Leo. Her regal profile and fabulous coloration, courtesy of Oskar and Izzie. 2018.

Melanin is responsible for pigmentation.  It is present or absent in cells at the base of each hair follicle and is either black or red.  Both colors of melanin can be produced in a melanocyte, but only one at a time, according to Proschowsky.  This is what is behind the changing coat color in the TT.  Initially, the cell might have produced black melanin and later, it might switch to red melanin depending upon the genetics that are particular to each dog.  Or it might turn to charcoal or silver and I believe this would be evidence of two copies of the Recessive Black allele.  I have seen it in several of my dogs and their test results declare ‘two copies of the Recessive Black allele’.

Kensington Dogs April10 012_972 x 648

Izzie, CH Shalimar Izzie of Kensington. Our foundation bitch.

Proschowsky calls Izzie’s coat color ‘Sable’.  This is what I was taught to be ‘Red Brindle’.

There is a greying gene and it is a dominant allele.  Animals either get the greying gene or they don’t.  It is less common to NOT have greying in a dark coat.  (I wonder whether this is an expression of Recessive Black, as most of my black TTs turn charcoal and some with silver, at and after maturity.)

Proud mummy dog. Bellie with her puppies on their birthday, 22 September 2018.

Proschowsky discusses a Particoloured coat and this is our classic jet black and bright white coat, with a lot of white.  Not a ‘ticked’ coat, which I have seen and think it is beautiful.  Best described as very finely enmeshed black and white, almost like stippling.

There is also a genetically Tricoloured coat, where versions of black, tan and white comingle on the dog but in a particular pattern.  Genetic tris are most easily identified as young puppies by the tan at the base of the tail and above the anus.  It is quite obvious, when you see it.

And a Grey or Silver or Charcoal coat that is evenly colored was most probably a black coat at birth that greyed later on, sometimes early and sometimes later.  Gryffin was born jet black with some white.  By six months of age, he was thoroughly silver and a surprise to his breeder and his humans!  (I believe this is the phenotype expressing a recessive black genotype.)

Introducing Billie’s three puppies by Oskar!

Now, The Tibetan Terrier Book by Jane Reif uses different language to describe these same coat colors.  And beginning with the black coat, Jane introduces the idea of the ‘Buddha mark’, a touch of white on the head or chest of a black dog – not mentioned at all in Mathiasen’s book.  This mark is thought to bring ‘luck’ to the dog and its owner.  I interpret this as a detail of ‘coat pattern’ and not ‘coat color’.  And what Jane Reif brings to the discussion is the fact that there are several very highly qualified stewards of our breed and they use different language to describe the same thing.

When my fuse got lit about the lack of brindle in our breed comment, I decided to get serious and bought a microscope.  Soon, as in sometime this summer, I intend to do a visual exploration of coat color at the microscopic level.  I bought the most interesting microscope that will run off my phone and allow me to take photos of what is under examination.  I am so excited.  Soon, we’ll be able to broaden this discussion with photographs to compare and discuss.

With Billie’s most recent and final litter of brindle, black and black & white puppies, we’ve welcomed Campari into our lives.  She is what I’ve been striving for, as a throwback to our foundation bitch Izzie’s coat color: red brindle or sable, depending upon from whom you learned how to describe it.  She doesn’t have a Buddha mark (not to be confused with the Kiss of Buddha kink in your TT’s tail) – but she does have a big white collar, white blaze, white muzzle and the always entertaining white tip of the tail.

Leo, ne Rocky. Seven months old and stunning. 10 April 2019.

Going forward, I have more of my TTs to test and am about to test my second red brindle/sable boy.  I am lucky that my foundation bitch born in 2006 is still alive & healthy.  My plan is to test Izzie, Coppi, Leo, Campari and our new puppy from Slovakia . . .  all in an effort to better understand the genetic mechanics behind the coat colors I’m breeding.

Thank you for hanging in there with me.  I am developing a spreadsheet with photographs and genetic test results and would love to have more data.  If you have thoughts or breeding experiences to share, please do so by personal email to me at  For the record, I have been using genetic coat color tests from

The difference between buying a puppy and having a puppy bred for you

Well, may I say Happy New Year and Happy Spring to all!  It has been quite a while, since my last post and with good reason.

Oskar x Billie’s litter of three. Shot by Kate Carter. November 2018.

We raised three litters of Kensington Tibetans during the Fall of 2018 and they were my entire life focus – I barely left the house!  Fortunately, we were extremely well organized, the litters were timed each one week apart from the next – and – MOST IMPORTANTLY, I have the most wonderful friends, fans and doggie au pairs who support and help me achieve my goal of exceeding the expectations of both myself and my forever families, with the puppies we breed and raise.  A HUGE thank you goes out to each of them and they know who they are.  ;>)

Now, I wanted to address the above topic, as I don’t know that the world understands the difference between having a breeder raise a puppy for a family vs. buying a puppy from an ad in the paper or a pet store.  And, certainly, sometimes breeders use ads to broadcast the availability of a litter and that option is a bit of a cross between the two options I want to address.

Proud mummy dog. Bellie with her puppies on their birthday, 22 September 2018.

In my experience, my family ‘got puppies’ three times during my childhood.  Two were German Shepherds (both female) and one was a Boxer (also a female).  The Shepherds proved to be reasonably predictable in temperament, although one was a little skittish.  But the Boxer?  She had no consistency in her behavior whatsoever.  And it gave me the opinion that we got ‘lucky’ with one Shepherd – but the other two family dogs were nuts.

Perhaps that is why I searched for a pure bred dog in my adult life and my first was a Lhasa Apso.  He was a puppy out of litter whelped in a horse barn and no one seemed to know who the sire was – but I liked him and took him into my life as my companion.  It was an introduction to that breed and my experience wasn’t ideal.  While I fancied myself to be a fine animal trainer, having worked with other dogs (and parrots), his temperament did not seem to be the least bit flexible.  Had I known better or had the option?  I would have opted for a puppy with what I describe today as a more ‘chill’ temperament; a ‘watcher’ with a self-entertaining orientation.

WB in the kitchen with her girls. 6 August 2017.

‘Benjamin’ was eventually re-homed to a family with a farm and four daughters.  Benji needed lots of humans, as he was a stimulation junkie – and I needed a companion who could self-entertain in his or her crate, while I worked 9-5.

Eventually, I found myself ‘in the market’ for another dog.  I knew I wanted a pure bred but was unsure of the breed.  So, I spent some hours with a dog encyclopedia and determined that the Tibetan Terrier sounded like a great fit for my lifestyle as an athletic married businesswoman.  We had many people in our lives, both professional and amateur athletes, employees and their families, not to mention friends and family!  In 1992, people with litters placed ads in the Boston Sunday Globe and that is how I found the breeder of my new puppies.  She let me pick the puppies out of two available litters – and I sat with the puppies for an hour and chatted with her about what I saw and what I liked.  When I got home, my husband asked me how it went and I told him that I’d found a male puppy I thought would be terrific, as he was a great sleeper.  Can you imagine?  THAT was my most obvious character attribute and the one that swayed my decision.  I figured that if he was a good sleeper, he’d be less demanding as an adult.

My 12 year old Max and Mia, hanging with Max Coleman, their Jack Russell best friend. Hopkinton, MA, 2004.

Amazingly, that turned out to be true.  But unexpectedly?  My husband told me that we needed TWO, as if we had only one?  That single puppy would be ‘lonely’, during the day.  He was used to two dogs in his childhood and so, off I went – back to the breeder.  I chose a white female, as I thought the two puppies looked ‘cute’ together.

Well, many things happened and my life changed dramatically, during my 15 years with those two Tibetans.  They turned out to be THE MOST WONDERFUL ATHLETIC COMPANIONS and they had lovely temperaments, thanks to their breeder and their bloodlines.  I got really lucky, as I had no clue what I was doing.  I thought I did – but really?  I selected the second puppy because they looked ‘cute’ together?  Good God.  What would I say now to that idea?  Let’s not go there.  ;>)  But they do look ‘cute’ together, don’t they?  Mr. Snappy Tux and Ms. White Ball Gown.

When you have a puppy bred for you, you work with someone who has considerably more experience in the breed than you do.  The ideal dog breeder is very careful, honest, responsible and experienced.  Generally speaking?  Folks who breed dogs who are not careful responsible breeders don’t offer the same quality in the puppies they ‘offer for sale’.  Their puppies are usually less expensive and for a reason.  No genetic testing.  No AKC titles.  No understanding or care of whether the sire and dam conform to the Breed Standard.  And often, inconsistently cared for and unclean.

Young Ben, enjoying our CH Oskar x CH Gigi puppies, Memorial Day weekend in Marblehead, 2016.

When you work with a careful, responsible, experienced breeder?  They may hold back the privilege of you selecting your own puppy – but this is a good thing.  They will take into consideration your level of experience in the breed, your lifestyle, the make up of your family, the level of activity in your home lifestyle, whether you have a fenced yard or not, whether you live in an apartment/condo or a standalone house AND your personal philosophy with regard to what is important to you.  Trust me: no breeder wants to take a puppy back who is older and, perhaps, requiring remedial training.

When you work with a careful, responsible, experienced breeder?  They may not have a puppy available to you at that particular time and you might have to wait.  But they will be there to answer your questions, both before and after you’ve brought the new puppy into your home life – because they and we and I am committed to the long term emotional and physical health of every puppy we breed.  We all do our best to raise healthy, well socialized and fine examples of the breed to whom we’ve devoted our time and upon whom our reputations rest.  And we will NOT pair an inappropriate puppy with an ill-prepared human, as it is neither careful nor responsible.

My peeps submit applications that give me a bird’s eye view into their home lifestyles and quite a lot of information about their experience with dogs and what is important to them.  Based upon that application, I decide whether one of my puppies would be a good fit for them – or whether it makes more sense to refer them to a different breeder for any of a number of reasons.  Just because you reach out to a breeder with puppies doesn’t mean that you’ll get one.  However, if you reach out to someone selling puppies who is neither careful nor responsible?  Chances are you’ll get a puppy – and maybe even your ‘pick’ of the litter.

My peer breeders and I spend a lot of careful thought individually evaluating the puppies in a litter.  Pairing a puppy with a human has absolutely nothing to do with whether the puppy is ‘cute’ or not.  Don’t we tell our children that ‘beauty is more than skin deep’?  Well, the same is true in the canine world.

So, should you find yourself in the situation with a friend who might be considering ‘getting a dog’, do encourage that person to do some research, both into the breed and into the breeders of that breed.  Suggest they look at the AKC Breeder Referral page.  Your investment of time will pay off with the best puppy for your personal situation.

Grooming tools for next year’s stocking stuffers and ‘some of my favorite things’

8 January 2018

Rudolf took a break on the porch. ;>) Think he’s going to be late for Christmas!

Now that we’re into the New Year, the pressure is off.  The holidays are behind us, my kitchen is finally clean and it’s time for re-grouping.  I’ve figured out the trophies for our next Bay Colony Tibetan Terrier Club supported entry in Springfield, Massachusetts on April 7, 2018 and, on occasion, ordered ‘one for me’.  That latter part is the fun part.  And, actually, I have been known to buy two or three extra grooming tools to have on hand for visiting friends and new peeps, as a lot of these items are inexpensive and impromptu gifts are just plain fun.

Cheryl and Yogi James. 13 November 2015.

New TT owners might not know where or which grooming tools to buy for their canine companion.  Way back in the beginning?  I was told to buy a pin brush – and a slicker brush – and these are both mandatory things to have.  No one ever told me to buy a comb.  I can’t remember where I even got that idea.

While I’ve been ‘maintaining’ the coats of my TTs for a long time, I have also relied on a weekly professional grooming appointment for many years.  Each of my Tibetan Terriers has been in rotation, but it is not as difficult to maintain the full coat of an adult Tibetan Terrier, as I’ve thought.  Really, all it takes is five or ten minutes daily with the right grooming tools and a bath, every couple of weeks.  Quiet time with your furry sidekick is something you’ll both enjoy, as long as you stay on top of it.  And if you have osteo arthritis in your hands (as I do), just take it slowly.  Gentle, as you go.

In the grooming department, there are lots of tools available.  The essential equipment will fit into your grooming corner.  I can guarantee that any of these tools will make grooming time with your TT easier and more enjoyable.


Three way Greyhound combs come in colors!

Combs:  Greyhound combs are the top of the line and are a name brand.  Available from Ashley Craig in England, they last practically forever and have been manufactured in England for more than 90 years.  My first comb is still in use and was purchased in 1992.  They are electrostatically finished, to reduce static electricity.

Specialty rat tail and face combs from Madan.

Another brand I like very much that is available domestically is manufactured by Madan.  They make a variety of specialty combs and brushes, too.  This particular distributor seems to have the best inventory available and ready to ship.

Madan brushes come in colors, too.

Brushes:  Madan pin brushes are smaller and come in fun colors.  Trust me, after ten minutes on the table?  A little fun is welcome!

A wooden pin brush from Chris Christensen.

Chris Christensen brushes and grooming tools are wonderful, too.  My first Chris Christensen brush was received as a gift from a new puppy owner.  Now, I use both wooden pin and metal pin brushes.  The wooden pin brushes are great for puppies AND for doggies with sensitive bodies.  And I love their Ice on Ice detangling leave-in coat conditioner.

Les Poochs brushes are terrific for mat detangling and finishing.  Yes, they are expensive – but, my gosh, they work beautifully.  I only wish I had known about them 25 years ago.  I am also using their shampoos, these days.

Grooming tables:  This company sells an extra tall table that is great for TTs and tall people.  I love mine.  We use it as a judging table in my basement show ring.  They are expensive – but the durability is worth it to me.  And it keeps unnecessary junk out of landfills.

Bathing tubs:  I use the kitchen sink in the AGA room, when the puppies are young.  It is great year-round – but when the weather is warm?  I use a portable tub in my outdoor shower, where we have hot and cold water.  You could use this portable tub ANYWHERE that you have a threaded spigot with hot and cold water OR in a bathroom where you have a hand held showerhead.  It is sturdy, durable and lightweight.

This is just a smattering of grooming tools I have in my grooming corner.  If you have tips or favorite products that I’ve not mentioned, please submit a comment.  We can all learn from each other.

As for leads and collars, they come in many materials – I have a variety on hand, whether for early leash training, walking to town or the show ring.  My absolute favorites come from Paula Hogan.

Paula Hogan’s rolled leather collar for coated breeds.

Paula fabricates a rolled leather ‘choke’ collar – I call it a ‘slip’ collar – and it is THE BEST to keep the long hair protected on a TT.  Even if you clip your dog’s coat and keep it short?  I love her rolled leather collars, particularly because they fit multiply sized doggies!  (But that is in my world.)  In your world?  The quality of the bridle leather is beautiful and it comes in a variety of colors.  And her leads?  They are unmatched in quality and ‘hand’.  Plus, they are of good weight and that makes it easier on arthritic fingers and hands.

PictureAnd I’ve recently learned of some wonderful gift items, too, like the Tashi book.  Susanne Roderick is the author, a lovely lady who splits her time between Massachusetts and Florida with her family and her beloved TT.  Susanne has recently published a charming book based on the heritage of the Tibetan Terrier.  It is beautifully illustrated and sensitively written.  Terrific for reading out loud with children.  Please check it out at

And now that I’ve finished sharing these thoughts, it is time for Billie, Ziva and Koko to take their turns on the grooming table, as it snows outside.  A quiet afternoon, here at Kensington.  We shall make the most of it.

Happy New Year, all!

The tragedy of breeder rescue situations

9 November 2017

We have them in every breed: situations where things have gotten out of hand, the animals are neglected and somehow, the humans don’t see it; won’t admit it; and resist help.  And there is no need for me to include a photo similar to what we see on the television during the holiday season.  They are terrible photos.

Last week, I got pulled into one of these situations and lost my life for five days.  The tearful frustration that eventually led to my bowing out of the challenge was precipitated by many deep feelings and, ultimately, a sense of powerless anger.

I think I have a better understanding of these rescue situations, now.  One can’t deny that some form of mental illness seems to play a part, as does a ‘hoarding’ orientation.  Surrounding ourselves with the unconditional love of multiple dogs: they don’t judge us and we feel very much loved.  And as for whether there is a monetary component to these rescues?  It’s unclear.  In 2014, our breed had a large US rescue of 31 Tibetan Terriers where money hadn’t been an issue – but we also have rescues where money is a real problem.  The common underlying element I’ve seen is that the human seems to lose the power of discernment and there is a disconnect between true reality and what they ‘see’.

WB loving 14 year old Mia in Hopkinton, MA. 2006.

14 year old Max on the couch. Popponesset, 2006.

Way back in the beginning of my journey in this breed, I fell deeply in love with my first two Tibetans; littermates, one male and one female.  They both lived to 15 and passed, within one month of one another.  It broke my heart but I didn’t lose my way, as I’d already brought the foundation pair for my Kensington breeding program into our lives and these two young TTs helped me through my grieving.  It was right then and there, I realized I didn’t ever want to go through the death experience again.  And the only way I saw to avoid future death experiences would be to re-home my animals, when the time came to retire them from my breeding program.

I took matters further and vowed to myself never to either become a rescue situation or let my pack grow to a size beyond that which I could lovingly manage.  So, instead of grieving at death, I grieve in anticipation of each of my beloved animals moving on and into new forever homes at retirement.  But it is a ‘softer’ grieving period, as the animals live on and their departure allows for the arrival of a new puppy in my pack.

Is it easy?  No.  Is it painful?  Yes.  How do I plan for it?  I leave it up to the universe and inevitably, the universe presents options and I treat each one as a real possibility.  Toward that end, I’ve been sharing these inquiring forever families who are looking for older Tibetan Terriers with peer breeders, as I’ve learned that the practice is healthy for me and we must share our learning with our friends.  Together, this practice of re-homing retiring dogs can help to keep our breeding packs smaller and reduce the number of annual rescues.

Georgie Girl, now retired and splitting her time between Naples, FL and Concord, MA. 2012.

Along the way, too, there are the puppies I choose to breed and raise.  I’ve been asked many times, ‘How do you give them up?’  Well, I look at my forever families and see the joy that these puppies bring them and my circle of peeps widens, with each litter.  So, I’ve come to think of myself as the ultimate ‘foster’ mom.  I try to stay in the moment and enjoy each dog, each day that we’re together.

And I remain committed to keeping only puppies who are better than my best-bred-to-date.  That keeps the bar high, my brain properly focused and some semblance of order in the pack.

GRCHB Billie on the table at Westminster. 2017.

I do not want a large breeding program, as my mental health requires diverse interests and activities.  And I do like to keep control – ha! – over my pack.  Puppies keep you humble, as you just can’t control everything.  And nursing mothers?  They are a joy to care for and to watch.  When I get a puppy who truly speaks to me?  The older animals help to raise the baby and together, the pack swells and shrinks rhythmically over time.

Oliver in Charlestown, enjoying the breeze. 2017.

In about two weeks’ time, my beloved Oliver will be leaving us for his new forever home in New Jersey.  GRCH Kensington’s Oliver Twist is my pick from my first litter and my first Grand Champion.  At 8 1/2, he is no longer in my breeding program and so, it makes the most sense to have him enjoy his mature years with two devoted humans, where he can be pampered, well cared for and no longer bothered by teething young puppies.  And soon?  He will bring joy and share love with his new humans.  We have so many friends who rotate in and out of our house and our lives – some match our breeding cycles and come to help with new puppies – some come up to visit annually during a particular season or for particular events.  Oliver has been the meeter & greeter extraordinaire.  Of course, he will be missed.  But I would rather hear of his future antics while he enjoys good health, than lose the plot and have him suffer from being one of too many in the pack.

Oliver’s new home in NJ, come Thanksgiving. 2017.

Oskar, Izzie, James, Coppi and Georgie Girl have all come and gone, before Oliver.  Each has been very happily re-homed, beginning in 2010 when Oskar left.  I love when each of these animals comes to board with us.  And I love accepting invitations from their humans who live throughout New England.  I get to see my kids again and they always make a big fuss over me.  These dogs enrich my & our lives and I only want the best for each one of them.

Out for a snowshoe with my good friend, Kate. Stowe, 2017.

In the end, we must take care of ourselves, so that we are able to nurture those around us who depend upon us.  Caring for yourself is not selfish in a bad way.  It is selfish in a good way and necessary for being ‘leader of the pack’.  Asking for help does not imply weakness.  Rather, it implies that you know your own limitations.  Asking someone whether they need help?  That’s a demonstration of love.  And knowing one’s limits and being able to identify when you’re getting too close to the edge?  THAT is when we learn to ask for help from our peeps.  Through collaboration, we can make it a better world.  And I have yet to not feel good, after being asked for help.

Going forward?  Know that you can ask me for help and I might just ask you for the same.  ;>)