The story of Kriskella Samoyeds began in 1978 when Geoff Abbott and Brenda
Davidson were married in the old barn at Silveracres Kennel, but the pieces
actually began a few years before that. Geoff and his first wife had done
some conformation and sledding with their three Samoyeds since 1973. My
first husband and I also had three Samoyeds, two of which I owner/handled
to championships between 1972 and 1977: Ch. Silveracres Bronco Beobear and
Ch. Silveracres Sunshine Boy. This involvement was just enough for each
of us to realize that our attraction to these funny, loving, beautiful white
dogs was more than just a passing fancy.
The intervening years have been full of sledding, dog shows, and litters.
However, we don't breed every dog we keep or even breed every dog we show.
We don't finish every dog we show or work every dog we own. We have never
campaigned any dog as a "special" because we honestly prefer the
level of the "game" (Sure, it's a game; didn't you know that?)
in the classes. We seldom enter the Best of Breed class unless the only
dog we have in coat for a show we want to attend happens to be finished.
We have owned and/or bred more than a dozen conformation champions and several
more dogs with obedience titles. We've placed major pointed dogs and potential
show puppies as pets because the perfect home became available, and we have
never required co-ownerships or required that our puppies even be shown.
This is Kriskella, and it all really started with Nopy.
In 1978 we purchased a seven month old bitch from her breeders, Liz and
Pat Hooyman. Nopy (Ch. Blue Sky's No Options), was from a very special breeding
of Ch. Blue Sky's Honey Bun and Ch. Sulu's Mark of Distinction (BOB at the
1979 SCA National Specialty). This pedigree goes back to the old Baerstone,
Sulu, Sassillie, and Snomesa lines. The litter also included Ch. Blue Sky's
Smilin' At Me, Ch. Blue Sky's Ramblin' Man, and Ch. Blue Sky's Pound Cake,
BIS, BISS. Liz and Pat had intended to keep both of the sisters because
they exhibited different strengths. While the Hooymans weren't eager to
sell either of the girls, they really couldn't make up their minds for sure
which one to keep. Liz (the handler in the family) wanted Pound Cake, and
Pat leaned toward Nopy. Once they finally agreed to sell one of them to
us, they wanted us to be sure we had the one we wanted. Pound Cake was prettier,
had the better rear, and was more showy than Nopy. Considerably taller than
her feminine sister, Nopy had a beautiful front and a flowing, balanced
sidegait; but since she didn't have any fancy "options" like a
pretty head and showy coat, Pat had named her "No Options"! We
were already working our show dogs and felt that Nopy would be able to offer
us the best of both worlds. She was bitch ahead of her time, and we have
always been proud of choosing her as our foundation.
Actually, Nopy did have one drawback as a foundation: she believed in having
her offspring one or two at a time like people do! She was bred four times,
but only produced a total of eight puppies in the four breedings. Bred to
our own Pal (Ch. Silveracres Sunshine Boy), she produced Kriskella's Adam
Up Again, CD who won the first sled dog class ever offered at an SCA National
Specialty in 1982. Bred to Ch. Silveracres Trademark, she produced two more
fine working dogs including our own Kriskella's Andy Isaboy, CD. Andy was
a powerful wheeler and a competitive weightpuller. Nopy finally produced
two girls in the breeding to Silveracres Nachalnik (1981), and these girls
have provided the basis of what we work with today: Kriskella's Wild Irish
Rose and Ch. Kriskella's Peg O'My Heart. For her fourth and final breeding,
Nopy was bred to her littersister's son, Ch. Blue Sky's Breaking Away, a
son of Ch. Ice Way's Ice Breaker. This litter with Nanuk produced three
puppies, Nopy's largest litter, including Ch. Kriskella's Melody of Carlar
owned by Larry and Carolyn Rodgers of
Kriskella's Wild Irish Rose was certainly her mother's daughter in looks
and, to some extent, in temperament. She was an extraordinary working sled
dog and mother, but she hated going to dog shows. She had two points in
the show ring, (missing a major by one bitch) but she was shown less than
ten times in her life. Rosie was in her element on the trail. She loved
to chase, and she preferred single lead, never working quite as hard when
another dog was allowed to "share" the glory. Our 1983-84 team,
led by Rose, earned both Samoyed Club of America Top Team and Organization
for the Working Samoyed Top Team awards that year. That team also placed
55 of the 186 teams earning ISDRA (International Sled Dog Racing Association)
points that winter; and to our knowledge, no other Samoyed team has ever
placed that high in all-breed and mixed-breed competition.
Our early sled teams (1978-1980) were first made up of our "his-hers-ours"
dogs. Pal, although a very small (21+") dog, was our most dependable
lead dog in those "pre-Kriskella bred" years. He was so intelligent
that he refused to let me (in one of the very few races where I, Brenda,
have actually been on the runners!) take the wrong trail on the second day
of a race. After watching me trying to drag him off of the correct turn,
a nearby steward yelled, "Lady, your dog knows where the trail goes;
give him his head!" ISDRA medal winners, Al Valletta and his wife Brenda
are today two of the top sled drivers in the world, and the first dog Al
ever harnessed to a sled was Pal. Al claims that he still uses the beer
cooler that Pal won for him in a lead dog contest fifteen years ago!
The four race seasons from 1981 through 1984 were the ones where we were
beginning to breed our own Samoyeds. Our teams were consistently well-trained
and conditioned; and when that is the case, you can be sure that the drivers/owners
work every bit as hard as their dogs do. A competitive, dependable team
of Samoyeds is NOT a lucky accident! As our dogs improved, young Rose took
over the lead dog duties from Pal. Brothers Adam and Andy were powerful
wheelers, and all three of these dogs were at the top of the standard for
size. Little Peggy, Tessa, and mom Nopy were fast enough to do their parts
well on the few occasions when we entered the six dog class.
In the fall of 1984, we began training for the next season as usual; but
after all the years of abuse to his knees from the use of a training cart
on dirt and gravel roads, Geoff was facing surgery or a change of sport.
Training is the hardest part of this sport; racing on snow is the fun reward
the team gets for all the work in the fall. We decided the surgery was a
little drastic and the knees would still suffer, so we elected to "retire"
from racing that year. After ten seasons (1985-1994) out of the sport, the
Abbotts and their Kriskella teams are back on the trail again, thanks to
some great new dogs and improvements in training techniques and equipment.
Our teams have won the (OWS) Organization for the Working Samoyed Top Team
Award three times: 1979, 1984, and again, for this past season, the 1994
Rose was bred twice, both times along Pal's pedigree. Her first litter (1983)
was sired by a Pal son, Ch. Evenstar's Earendil, owned by Al and Brenda
Valletta. This produced Ch. Kriskella's Tatiana, the Reserve Winners Bitch
at the 1985 SCA National Specialty. Usually a real handful in the ring,
the little rascal really showed her heart out for me over a period of several
hours that day. Later we discovered that she had accidentally been fed her
full breakfast by TWO different people that morning! She was accustomed
to receiving half of her meal on the morning of a show, but you can bet
she never went in the ring hungry again. Tatiana later produced a champion
son of her own, Ch. Kriskellas Starfire, sired by Ch. Frostipaws Aces High,
a son of Ch. Blue Sky's Smilin' At Me. The "Most Persistent" award
for finishing a Kriskella dog has to go to Starfire's owners, our dear friends
Mark and Beverly Vasquez in Arizona, and Starfire's handler Dave Seibert.
He (Starfire, not Dave) is finally enjoying a well-deserved, if somewhat
delayed, retirement! Another Kriskella notable in retirement is Kriskellas
Sunshine Princess, UD, owned and trained by Mary Powell. Cessie was HIT
at the 1991 National and won< the 1989 SCA Top Winning Obedience Dog
Another pup from the Rosie/Blue litter was our own Kriskella's Winterhawk
who was the dog I took out when I didn't have anything to show. Gaiter won
14 points with three 4 point majors in very limited showing between the
ages of three and six. When he was nine years old, I looked at him, thought
he wasn't looking too bad and maybe I should get that last single point.
Over a period of two months he was entered in five very small shows with
four or five males each, and he took two Reserves. About this time, he began
losing weight very quickly but otherwise seemed fine. We entered him one
more weekend a few weeks later, but he died suddenly of cancer two days
before those shows. His best asset? That dog loved to go to a dog show,
and he sure didn't get that from his dam!
Rose's second litter was sired by our Ch. Silveracres Sunshine Boy (1985).
Pal had been used at stud by several other breeders, always producing at
least one champion in a litter, but he was probably used with the most success
by Mary Jo Ragsdale, T-Snow Star Samoyeds. Repeat breedings to Mary Jo's
foundation bitch Tushina produced five champions. We kept the only bitch
from our Rosie/Pal litter simply because we loved her so; Kriskella's Sweet
Charlotte, CD probably looks more like her dad than most of his very similar
sons! She was only shown as a puppy, had a reserve to a 4 point major, finished
her CD at ten months in three straight shows, has clear hips and eyes, and
has simply spent her life as a pet. Charlie has far too much coat, her head
is coarse, and she toes in in the front (fabulous rear, though). These are
not the Samoyed traits we breed for, so she's never been bred. Her litterbrother
(Ch. Kriskella's Snow Flurry, owned by Mark and Beverly Vasquez) on the
other hand is a really nice blend of his sire and dam. His sound, clean
movement, his OFA Excellent, and his clear eyes led us to use him as the
sire of a later Kriskella litter.
Ch. Kriskella's Peg O'My Heart was the Nopy/Chiefie sister from whom most
of our current dogs descend. She was the little cute one, the "one
Mom liked best", and the one Mom spoiled the most. In spite of her
noisy, lively, spoiled rotten little personality, she was quite a willing
worker in harness, and we called her "the cheerleader" on the
team. When the team took a few seconds rest in a race, Peg was the one who
recovered her wind the fastest and would frantically bark the cheer to "let's
go!!" I couldn't get on the telephone with Peggy in the room because
she was always sure I must have been talking to her, and she could certainly
carry on "her" side of the conversation! We always said that Peg's
bark was attached to her tail, and the tail wagged all the time. After breeding
Nopy to Ch. Blue Sky's Breaking Away in the fall of 1983, we liked the puppies
so much that we also chose him (with his sweet mellow personality!) for
lively Peggy Sue.
The Peggy/Nanuk litter (born on the first Saturday in May, 1984, during
the running of the Kentucky Derby) produced ALL girls including Ch. Kriskellas
Run For the Roses and Kriskella Formatt's Delight. Over the years and generations,
our girls have often produced daughters who look like their littersisters.
For example, Ch. Kriskella's Run For The Roses (Derby) was a big, beautifully
moving girl like her aunt Rose and her granddam Nopy. Derby's littersister,
Dee Dee (Kriskella Formatt's Delight) later produced another big, beautiful
mover in Vanilla (Kriskella's Single Scoop). We lost Derby to a raging case
of closed pyometra while I was away at a conference for a week. She had
never had an excessive appetite, and we thought she probably just wasn't
eating because I was gone. She was the sweetest, most mellow of all of our
lovely girls, and for this we must obviously thank her sire!
Kriskella Formatt's Delight was the third generation girl who, in three
litters, gave us the most to work with. She was bred once by us, and once
on a co-breeding with Janet Elledge of Little Rock, Arkansas, and once by
Janet herself. We bred her first to her cousin, Ch. Kriskellas Snow Flurry,
in 1987. This litter produced eight boys and one girl. Several of the boys
were very nice, but for one reason or another not a single one was ever
shown. The one we kept took a bad fall on ice at about seven months and,
in spite of rest and care, was still limping at the shoulder three months
later. We finally placed him in an excellent pet home with people who understood
that he might never be entirely without the limp. He was fine eventually,
but we made our decision when the home came along, and we still feel we
did the right thing.
The only girl from Dee Dee/Flurry was our Vanilla, named sort of the way
her look-alike great granddam Nopy was named: a big, graceful, smooth-movin',
plain-Jane of a girl! Vanilla took back-to-back four point majors at the
age of sixteen months - and then I returned to school for a graduate degree,
and she was never shown to be finished. Vanilla looks so much like Nopy
that Mary Jo spotted it immediately from across the building the first time
she ever saw her at a show, and Lana McClellan saw Vanilla on the truck
at a race last winter and said, "I don't know who she is, but she looks
just like somebody you used to have." I wish we could have gotten more
of the things Vanilla has to offer, but she was six before we finally got
around to breeding her. Oh, the years do go quickly!
Dee Dee's second litter (1991) was co-bred with Janet Elledge and whelped
in Arkansas. Backing up a little here: Janet originally wanted to buy the
only bitch in the Tatiana/Ace litter (1986) and had placed the deposit on
her when she was just a few days old. By the time the puppies were ready
for homes, I knew this puppy was not the quality on which Janet wanted to
base a breeding program. I explained this to Janet and placed the puppy
as a pet. A year later, because Janet thought she would like something to
show while she waited for a foundation bitch, we did a video of a young
male we had gotten back from Tatiana's litter. In the run next to him on
the video was Dee Dee. Janet called to see if she could, instead, buy the
bitch "with the beautiful front!" By then, we had baby Vanilla,
so I gave Dee Dee to Janet on a co-ownership with the rights to a bitch
back if she did eventually breed her.
Janet and I co-bred Dee Dee to Pat Taylor's nice boy, Ch. River City's Ruff
Edges. (After the breeding I received my puppy and signed off of Dee Dee,
and Janet later bred her to Ch. Polar Mist's First Stryke.) The Dee Dee/Reggie
litter was a total outcross breeding, and we got three really nice bitches
out of the seven puppies: Ch. Avalanche's Quantum Leap (a Group I winner)
owned by Lynn Sluder in Texas, Ch. Avalanche In The Rockies (Avvie, whom
I co-owned with Janet) and our own Kriskellas Stardust Delight who now needs
a major to finish. Dusty is continuing the line for Kriskella these days.
Avvie finished with a Best of Winners at the Houston specialty in 1994,
and we bred her to Ch. Risuko's Joi of Snowonder. Those puppies are just
five months old at this writing, and Janet and I are very happy with them.
My girl from the litter is Kriskella's Hatsoff T'Avalanch (Inga). Watch
for her later! I no longer co-own Avvie because Geoff and I believe that
co-ownerships should be used sparingly and only for a specific purpose;
Inga was my goal in that co-ownership, and Avvie now belongs solely to Janet.
From the day snow-white little Dusty (hence: Stardust Delight) arrived at
her "ancestral" home, Kriskella, I had plans to linebreed her
on her maternal grandsire, Ch. Blue Sky's Breaking Away. My choice was Kathi
Metter's beautiful Theo, Ch. Denkas Teddy Bear, who was a Nanuk grandson.
Theo, however, was tragically killed just days before Dusty's second birthday,
and I had a lot of hard thinking to do. Geoff and I started looking at litters
from other sires, and looking at different pedigrees; but the pieces of
the puzzle didn't really fit until we took another look at a dog we had
known since the day he was born six years earlier.
Ch. Frostipaws Champagne Bud is a Nanuk son; his dam was Karana's Misha
(who had a very old pedigree of Kondako, Rickshaw and Snomesa lines), and
Bud was bred by our friends Debbie and Galen Hansen. Looking at him that
February, 1993, at the age of six, we thought Bud looked like twice the
dog he had been at three when he finished. True quality lasts and improves;
a good Samoyed should not peak at two or three. Bud has the sweetest temperament
we have ever known; his head is broad and beautiful with those dark, almond
"Nanuk" eyes; his front and rear are still correct (and he is
going on nine years old now!); he is 23" tall; and he is a very soft
toasty shade of biscuit with snow white shadings. At first, we were looking
at Bud as a stud for Dusty, but he stayed with us for a couple of days so
that we could get a current CERF check done prior to the final decision.
That was it for us; we were in love! Debbie and Galen were in the process
of getting out of dogs by that time, and because of our long friendship
they allowed us to acquire their very favorite dog. Bud is also one of our
all-time favorite dogs. Sometimes I have a dog that "makes my heart
sing" every time I look at him or her; Bud and his son Midas are two
of those dogs.
In May of 1993 we bred Bud to both Dusty and Vanilla, half-sisters with
the same dam. Dusty gave us seven puppies and Nils gave us three. Two boys
are now in Germany with a wonderful lady, Heidi Weiss. Heidi had started
writing to me a year or so earlier because of our common interest in breeding
working Samoyeds who fit the standard. She wanted a boy from us to incorporate
into her own, already established breeding program. I originally told her
that I would love to have the correspondance with her, but Geoff and I had
decided years ago that our puppies would not be shipped out of the United
States to people we did not know. It's difficult enough to know if a home
is a good one when it is in this country. So Heidi, (who had never even
been on a plane and who wrote English much better than she speaks it) came
to Pine, Colorado by herself for three days to get her puppies! Yes, two,
one from each litter; and she adores them both. Both of those boys have
passed their German breed evaluations and clearances to breed, and our friendship
is now one of those very special benefits of being "in dogs."
We kept three of Dusty and Bud's boys (Midas, Billy and Freck), though heaven
only knew why at the time; we sure didn't know why we were keeping three
litterbrothers!! We'd had plenty of opportunities to sell one or the other
of these boys. We did know they were special, though; they were sweet, got
along great with everybody and each other, and well, . . . they just sort
of "made our hearts sing". Truthfully, running a team again could
not have been further from our minds that fall evening in 1994 when our
friend and neighbor, Connie Rudd, came to dinner. Connie has been sledding
for several years and had just put the dogbox on her truck that day to start
fall training. As she walked up the outside stairs and looked over at those
three big fourteen month old brothers, she said, "Wow, what a beautiful
three dog team you've got there, Geoff!" Mind you, no leader, little
equipment, and no truck, but . . . what a team? Yes!
By that dinner's end we were deep in the box of old harnesses with names
like "Rosie" and "Pal" and "Adam" written
on them. Long gone, long missed special friends like those don't happen
again -- or do they? We didn't take the old names off, but now those same
harnesses also say "Midas", "Billy", "Freckie"
and "Bud", as even eight year old Dad proudly wore a harness for
the first time in his life and ran at four of the seven races. Geoff's knees
are holding up pretty well because training is now done with a ATV instead
of a cart. He still has to wear a brace in the races, and he "nupes
it" a lot on the weekends, but we had a wonderful comeback race season
last winter. This very young team's performance far exceeded our expectations
by repeatedly posting times on ISDRA trails in excess of 15 miles per hour.
Our friends were very supportive: Connie hauled us to training runs until
we could get the Grand Am traded in for a 4X4 truck, and Al and Brenda lent
us a sled, a leader, and an ATV.
Geoff and I have always believed that ALL Samoyeds should be bred according
to the written standard for the breed whether the individual dog is destined
to be a "working" dog or not. Samoyeds who fit the standard according
to size, angulation, movement, coat, feet, and temperament are good working
dogs. Kent Dannen explained this very well at a club meeting recently by
pointing out that several Sporting and Working breeds consist of two entirely
different styles of dog: show and working. Thanks to conscientious breeders,
Samoyeds do not have such a division.
This newest Kriskella team (OWS Top Team for last year), was led by eighteen
month old Midas (Kriskella Turns to Gold, WS) who ran lead at every race
we ran last season. He ran single lead at two of the three races where we
ran only the purebreds, and at the other four races he ran double-lead with
Stella, an Alaskan Husky bitch from the Vallettas. Stella's job was to teach
Midas how to be a leader, and he was an excellent pupil. Midas earned his
1000 points for his Working Samoyed title in just six races, and his seventh
race put him almost to his WSX. Littermate Billy (Kriskellas Fleks of Gold,
WS) earned his working title in seven races because wheelers don't earn
as many points in a single race as lead dogs. Midas also started working
on his AKC championship this spring by taking points under six judges, very
competently handled by his favorite friend, Linda Kitzman. Linda fell in
love with this guy after watching him do his thing at the races all winter,
and they look very nice in the ring together. He has blown coat right now,
but we'll be looking for the majors soon. Midas is a cream Samoyed with
a natural dark liver nose, but his coat won't be bleached and his nose won't
be colored. Judges will never recognize the acceptable variations in our
standard if exhibitors continue to hide them. An old saying goes "
. . a good horse can't be a bad color . . " and, within the limitations
of the standard, the same is true of a good Samoyed!
For the first time in all these years, we liked a breeding well enough to
repeat it; the repeat breeding of Bud and Dusty is due July, 1995. Our plans
for the future are to continue along the lines we have developed. We check
hips and eyes, and we encourage others to do so. For the last few years,
we have been checking the eyes on puppies before they go to their homes;
this is an early check that all good breeders should make because retinal
dysplasia (believed linked to CHD or dwarfism in the Samoyed) can only be
positively ruled out in very young Samoyeds.
Geoff and I belong to several organizations such as the Samoyed Club of
America (both of us are past Board members), the Denver Samoyed Association,
the Organization for the Working Samoyed, and the Rocky Mountain Sled Dog
Club. Geoff is certified to judge IWPA weightpull events, and he has judged
the weightpull at the National Western Stock Show in Denver every year since
its inception in 1988. Geoff's business is custom commercial signage, and
I teach high school. Lately I've become completely addicted to the internet
as a communication tool, and I'm online at email@example.com.
I would like to see most of the business of the SCA conducted online. Thank
you for reading this far!