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Air Canada Rouge touched down in Toronto on Friday afternoon the 9th of September; George the designated driver was waiting to take me to the Holiday Inn in nearby Cambridge where the Great Dane Club of Canada was holding its National Specialty the next day. Show Secretary John Kuntze greeted me at the lobby and made me feel most welcome. And then it was time to sample some local food and beverages. With Jill Evans.

Jill had traveled all the way from Salt Spring Island to be there. And to say that I was happy (and overwhelmed) to meet my heroine and friend and mentor in person, after five years of Facebook camaraderie and meeting of minds, is right up there with the best of my understatements of the decade. We embraced and rejoiced and settled down to dinner – and if you’re ever in the neighborhood you just have to try King Pilsner, from King Brewery in Nobleton Ontario. It’s a Gold Medal Winner, and I don’t think I’ve ever tasted better. It’s a delicious, refreshing, complex  beer full of aroma and flavour. And of course I had the local dish – Poutine – to go with it; what else ? a Québécois combination of french fries, cheese curds and light gravy. Just thinking of it makes my mouth water. Coming from Ireland, a potato recipe is just what you need to settle you and make you feel at home  🙂 Which I did, straight away: because Canada is an extremely friendly and welcoming place !


We were soon joined by Laura Munro and Karen Martin from the States, who were judging the Sweepstakes and Regional Specialty on Sunday. And we talked and we talked and we talked – Danes, of course – and tried to find a way to get Deborah Beaven to the show. I was still on Irish time it seems as I had to retire early-ish and was up at the crack of dawn the next day. Now, then. It was time to meet some Canadian Danes…And it was an overcast day with a very light drizzle –  just like back home in Cavan. “A soft day” as we call it…

I just caught the end of the Obedience trial. Ch. Motch Askr of Bosworth, RAE4, AGIJ, CGN, scored a very impressive 191.5 under judge Leslie Marshal. He is bred by Barbara Shirk & Daniele Yule (by Ch. Boarhunters ZZ Top of Dantry x Ch. Dantrydanes Aurora Borealis), and owned by Brent Edmunds. Jacklyn Watts took the photo of this clever boy!


Nine months old Shakti-Starz Retro Rocketeer a.k.a Jocko (Ch. Starz SVF Blaz’n Hot Spago Argento x Shaktistarz Miss Congeniality), bred by Shirley Struble & Carole Brakhage, owned by Carole Brakhage & Shirley Struble, was Reserve Winners Dog both days, under myself and Karen Martin, from the Bred By Exhibitor Male class. He goes back to the wonderful ‘Rocket’, Ch. Lagarada Reach For The Starz, a dog I greatly admired.


My Winners Dog came from the Open Black male class, a very tall, striking and elegant youngster, just 20 months of age, Auchatelet v My Ladys Comes The Greek’s Son, a.k.a. BB Clyde (Ch. Cadrmn Shining DreamsRising at Olympus x Katcrew’s Fancy Don’t Let Me Down Mylady), bred by Donna L. & Jonathan E. Potter, owned by Renee Claude Lessard. Delighted to hear he became a Champion on the day, congratulations and best wishes.


His lovely sire, Ch. Cadrmn Shining Dreams Rising at Olympus is called “Helios”, hence the “Greek’s Son” bit in my Winners Dog registered name that gave me a chuckle when I was reading the catalog afterwards. Here’s Helios with his dickie bow in the Parade of Titleholders on Sunday, another photo by Jaclyn Watts. Ain’t that sweet ?


Winners Dog was moved up to Specials on Sunday and he was Select Dog under Karen Martin at the Regional Specialty. Here’s another picture of BB Clyde in the Specials ring the next day with Ginette Bazinet handling and in intense concentration.


In Veterans I had the pleasure of going over the lovely senior gentleman, distinguished fawn GCH Strider’s Santana v. Drogheda (Alpine’s Summit at Rochford x Ch. Drogheda’s Princess Kaiulani), bred by Julia Huffstetter-Kerr, owned by Frank Davey, Kelly & Glen Tait, who at 8 years 9 months was also Oldest Veteran in show. Dean Dennis – RingsideImages – took the lovely winning photograph. This clever dog remembered me from the day before and gave me some gentle loving. He sensed how much I love and respect the grey faces. It takes a long time to make a dog that sweet. What a lovely soul !


Best Puppy both days was from the 6-9 months female class, the black Came Voila Celeste (by Ch. LaDoguerie Voila Clovis x Ch. Came Niagara’s Sunshine) very pretty and sound mover, bred by Isabella Messier & Paul-Emile Gaza, owned by Manon Martineau. Laura Munro took a nice candid shot of this beautiful feminine girl in the ring on Sunday:


Senior Puppy (9-12 months) female was the blue Dantrydanes Brave New World, bred and owned by Danielle Yule (by Ch. Dantrydanes Optical Precision x Ch. Dantrydanes Billy Blue Jeans). Here she is in a photo taken by Laura Munro. Cracking blues and blacks at the show and the future of the breed looks very exciting in Canada! Certainly worth watching the progress of these youngsters.


Thankfully Laura who apart from a brilliant breeder – judge is also a brilliant photographer was taking pictures the next day in the sunshine. So here is my Reserve Winners Bitch, RWB both days from the Open Fawn female class, the impressive Keller-Nikolodeon’s N Starz Hey There Georgi Girl (Am. GCh Maitau n Cosmic Better by Design BN, CGC x Nikolodeon’s Devious Diva v Kellerdane), bred by Al Keller & Peggy J. Clark and owned by Al Keller, Carole Brakhage & Peggy Clark.


And in the Open Black class, also photographed by Laura, the feminine and sound Haven On The Harbour O Bosworth, bred & owned by Barbara Shirk by Ch. Dantrydanes Optical Precision x Ch. Bosworths Haven On The Harbour.


In the non-Regular Classes, Baby Puppy Male winner both days was the fawn, Nikolodeon’s Shamrock Shenanigans, bred by P.Clark, A.Keller & L. Williams by Am. GCh Journey’s I’m Kind of a Big Deal x Can/Am GCh Nikolodeon’s That’s It! Gotta Be Me !, owned by Peggy Clark. Jill was sitting at the table in the background enjoying herself and marking her catalog. What an honor to have this great breed connoisseur at ringside !


And Best Baby Puppy both days was the blue female, Dantrydanes Who’s Talking Now (by Ch. Dantrydanes Captain Nemo x Ch. Dantrydanes Believe It Or Not), bred by Danielle Yule & owned by the breeder and Jacqueline Faubert. Laura Munro caught a great moving shot of this baby girl. What a hot prospect! More of this breeding combination further on.


It’s fair to say we had a spot of rain on Saturday. Nothing to phase a resident of Ireland but, we did have a shower for a few minutes. We won’t dwell on that. I didn’t notice it much because I was in that special space in my head where I go when I’m judging. In deep thought and elated. I did notice that handlers and dogs got a bit wet though. We had to judge a couple of classes under the tent – and then the rain stopped, thankfully.

Then came the Specials, as they call the Champions in America. Here’s a few of them boys


and a few more, boys and girls, in the lovely and warm Canadian sunshine; it was so lovely and hot on Sunday, felt just like summer!


I shortlisted three male & three female specials, so I had had six plus the two Winners and the two Veterans for Best of Breed, ten in total. It was a beautiful sight.

My BOS came from the Specials. I also shortlisted this lovely fawn, Ch. Cupar’s King of Hearts, bred by Shelby Cooper by Ch. Dantrydanes Optical Precision x Ch. Cupar’s Lil Miss Mischief, owned by breeder and Kim Herrera, Laura Munro photo:


My Select Dog was this boy, a very balanced and sound-moving harlequin, Ch. Saravilla Chroma Vagabond Road Warrior, CGN (Chroma A Wild Night TDI CGC x Ch. Saravilla’s Celtic Cameo v Ferridane), bred by Mimi Kim, owned & handled superbly by Pat Lo


From the female Specials I also kept this very nice uncropped blue, Ch. Karador’s Mystic Pizza, bred & owned by Alison Jones by Karador’s Rocket Man x Ch. Tavernier’s Impulsive Karador, Laura Munro photo:


And my Select Bitch was this fawn that I liked very very much: Ch. Cupar’s Golden Ticket (Ch. Dantrydanes Optical Precision x Ch. Cupar’s Lil Miss Mischief), bred and owned by Shelby Cooper. The candid photo is by Mary Feline.


My Best Opposite Sex was a very classy blue Special, Ch. Dantrydanes Hubba Bubba Blue (Moredanes Let It Ride x Ch. Dantrydanes French Connection), just 16 months old and so impressive, bred and owned by Danielle Yule. He won BISS on Sunday under Karen Martin.  He is a stunning male. Here is a beautiful winning photo taken on Sunday by Mary Feline:


And so, I now have to reveal the star of the show for me. She stole my heart. She is a jewel, a black pearl. It was love at first sight and I sensed after I went over her and watched her move that it would take a miracle to beat her. She came from the 12-18 class and won her Champion title on the day under me. Congratulations. What a performance she put on !

Some of the pictures Deborah took (I am so glad she made it to the show; albeit only too briefly – sorry that she had to go and miss the seminar; but so lovely to finally meet – and hug – and be mercilessly teased about my accent !); this from earlier, when judge Scott Johnson was doing Sweepstakes; this black lady was BOS under him in Sweeps.


Then, when we had that little shower… (Jaclyn Watts photo)


and she never put a foot wrong, her footfall and timing was perfect; they can both obviously drive well on the wet, both Dane and breeder-owner-handler: her smile says it all. This is a wonderful capture of teamwork. This was a lovely display of soundness too.


watch that balanced sidegait again; at last I have a picture to illustrate it with:


thank you, Deborah Beaven, for this photo !

So you see there is such a thing as a s q u a r e bitch that moves with lovely precision and timing, excellent coordination, low to the ground, no wasted energy, no over-reach. There you have it. I’m smitten. Because the proof of the pudding is on the move. And at merely 12 months of age, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Yes she has faults – she has a major one: she’s not mine !


Winners Bitch, Best of Winners, Best Canadian Bred & BISS, New Champion on the day, Dantrydanes Dory Found Nemo, a.k.a Dori (Ch Dantrydanes Captain Nemo x Ch. Dantrydanes Believe It Or Not), bred and owned by Danielle Yule. From an older litter that produced the Baby Puppy above. Thank you for the pleasure ! You put that big smile on my face  🙂 and the trophies and the rosettes were absolutely stunning – a m a z i n g quality all around ! I also noticed there was a precedent – when Ann Foxwell of Auldmoor’s fame from the UK, a lady of great knowledge and eye, had judged the Canadian Specialty back in 2007 – and her BISS winner also came from the classes and it was also a black bitch: none other than Dantrydanes Itzy Bitzy Magic who gained her crown and eventually became Dori’s great great grandmother… And of course Jill Evans was right – dear Jill telling me there’s great quality in Canadian Great Dane breeding…

Feast your eyes on this head – it’s just the icing on the cake


Danny & Jackie Van Delft photo – with many thanks !


another moving shot of Dory (Danny & Jackie Van Delft photo from another show); now this lady can certainly move a Dane ! Notice correct neck position so everything falling into place; so impressive especially for a puppy.
So it’s just a matter of letting the dog do what they’re build to do – if they’re made right and they feel right they will move right, if you don’t restrict them: allow the neck to take natural position, adjust your speed to your dog’s – be a unit with the dog – and voila ! The breeder – handler is smiling as she has every right to: she knows what she’s looking at and it’s looking good  🙂

This wonderful young lady, just a year old, apart from the gorgeous trophies offered by the GDCC, also won this painting that I had brought with me and had specially made to give the BISS winner. Dori herself wasn’t much impressed as she’s not into art much – but I think her mommy loved it – although it’s probably the wrong color for her! I wish I had more time to spend with captivating Dori, as she captured my heart. I wish she was living with me. She wasn’t at the show on Sunday so I didn’t see her again. But I didn’t stop thinking about her. Thank you so much for showing your lovely girl under me, Danielle. Thank you for showing all the beautiful blossoms and fruits of your breeding. And thank you all the exhibitors and breeders for flying the flag for the true Apollo of dogs, the classic Great Dane. Keep up the good work ! Yourselves and the other talented and dedicated people around the world offer hope in the difficult times our beloved breed is facing…Dear reader, please visit this previous blog post, read and do the right thing – sign the petition!


And thank you Jacklyn Watts for this splendid photograph of my two Winners -what a beautiful sight:


BB Clyde on the left, Dori on the right, beautifully handled here by Nadia Bifolchi as Dori’s breeder was handling her blue boy. It was a great moment, caught on camera, Winners Dog and Winners Bitch together. You Be the Judge ! 🙂

Then we all had this lovely photo taken by Dean Dennis – RingsideImages:


a photo to treasure – Laura and Karen & Jill and myself with Danielle and her stunning four month old Baby Puppy, Dantrydanes Who’s Talking Now. Also took Best in Sweepstakes under Laura. I’m told she’s called Fergus but affectionaly known also as the Fungus as she grows on you ! Well she cetainly grows on judges  😀 😀

We had a fantastic time after the show, going over the catalog and chatting with the most courteous exhibitors – only briefly, as I had a seminar to deliver which started at 3 pm and I am very happy to say it was well attended. Then a fabulous official dinner on Saturday – the food was first class and so was the atmosphere. I won this at the Dane trivia quiz:


and I was given this lovely vintage piece of Great Dane memorabilia


Oh and did I mention someone left this in the room for me – how thoughtful and what a lovely souvenir to take back home and sample real Canadian Maple syrup:


We were totally spoiled in Canada, the hospitality was truly amazing and everyone was so kind to us. The nicest, friendliest, loveliest people on Earth ! Thank you, Great Dane Club of Canada! You can be proud of the atmosphere, the quality of the dogs at your show and the quality of the people! The exhibitors, the members, the volunteers, the efficiency of the administration and the sportsmanship were second to none.

This stunning gift is a wonderful example of the Canadian generosity, craftsmanship and sheer class that was present in every detail of this wonderful event – thank you for the memories ! What a wonderful present for someone who loves writing:



Jill and Karen and Laura and I had a fabulous time. I was really so lucky to be in the company of these ladies who are most renowned Great Dane experts, enjoy their wit and wisdom and learn so much from their deep knowledge and experience. We talked Danes non-stop and we also made new friends. We were really impressed by the quality of the dogs we saw. And it was great to see that both Karen and Laura made it to Toronto as they had both previously suffered accidents and leg injuries: Karen was still using a crutch sometimes and Laura had a special shoe nursing her foot. But the spirits were high – nothing like a good dog show to give you a buzz and boost your well-being that speeds up the healing process. We all made it home safely, to enjoy the photographs and the comments posted all over Facebook.

At the auction of Great Dane memorabilia after the official dinner on Saturday, Jill was determined to get one of the gazillion Scooby Doo toys that were on offer – so she got this very sweet and cuddly one – almost as sweet and as adorable as herself:


while I had my eye on this little figurine – and I was delighted to add it to my collection:

that’s not exactly the Great Dane I wanted to bring home with me from Canada – but will do for now 🙂

I can’t wait to visit Canada again and spend time with my new friends. I am definitely going to visit Salt Spring Island as soon as possible, to spend some more time with Jill Evans of the Time Traveler fame, the greatest book ever written about the breed’s beginnings. I am so grateful that Jill made the long journey to Ontario so that we could meet; it was such a joy! There’s just no words to express how humbled and privileged I felt in the presence of true greatness, or to adequately describe Jill’s personality and spirit, the depth of her insight and the richness, delicacy and eloquence of her words that continue to teach me so much; ah, to be a sponge at the her feet absorbing this magic distillation of a lifetime of achievements and selfless dedication, spent studying the breed and contributing to it with utmost devotion, crystal clarity of thought and the most unfaltering sense of direction, steering it safe and true!

Thank you again, Deborah Beaven, for this photo:


I also definitely wish to visit Dantry Danes of Danielle Yule and Matt van Ankum: very impressed with this breeding program of blues and blacks. I didn’t see one from this breeding that didn’t impress; I am grateful to allowed to use one of the stunning photographs that Mary Feline took of two gorgeous Dantry champions, to illustrate timeless and eternal Great Dane breed type in my previous post.

You can check out this video on youtube. Dantry owners meet up regularly to go for walks in the Ontario countryside. The philosophy of this breeding establishment is not like a kennel but like an extended family. The video has over three hundred thousand hits – and you’ll see why when you watch it.

Which brings me to the end of this post with a return to the beginning. This lovely card showing a Canadian mountie with two Great Danes in the snow, specially printed for the Great Dane Club of Canada – Eastern Division; this thoughtful touch is yet another lesson in hospitality, genuine friendliness and class that were so abundantly lavished upon us; the message inside welcomed me the moment I arrived and began a truly memorable weekend of unique experiences that I will forever treasure.

Thank you Canada, and À bientôt!