GEOFF AND BRENDA ABBOTT

PINE, COLORADO







| Kriskella Photo Gallery | Interview with Geoff from the OWS Newsletter |





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
Utah.

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 award.

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 Award.

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 kriskella@juno.com. I would like to see most of the business of the SCA conducted online. Thank you for reading this far!

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