My experience with dogs had been restricted to family pets until the first of our Apsos came into my life in 1978. I was never certain that showing dogs was something I wanted to do but we did show the two Apsos and I soon learnt why it is imperitive to thoroughly learn about a breed and get to know it, particularly its history and past dogs before beginning showing and certainly before any thought is given to breeding. I also happen to think it is imperitive that some judging experience of ones chosen breed provides the best start when setting out to breed and goes some way to not falling into the 'kennel blind' trap.
We realised that the Apsos we had were just not up to show quality, so we began a search for show quality dogs to begin a breeding programme. This took a while but over the next few years we had some success in the ring. In those days there were no guarantees of qualifying for Crufts, such were the numbers and quality of Apsos being shown, but we succeeded on two occasions. One beautiful bitch was awarded Best of Breed at an Open Show. The Apsos continued to share our homes until the last one died in 2002.
I first judged Lhasa Apsos in 1981 and went on to judge them at Open Show level until 1988. I have judged a Utility Group at an Open Show and also carried out smaller, but no less enjoyable, judging appointments during those years. A proud moment for me was seeing my Best of Breed Shih Tzu at the Harlow Show, go on to be awarded Best in Show.
My involvement with Tibetan Mastiffs began in 1986 when Peter informed me he had found one which we were going to buy. We did do that and Kaya entered our lives. Some time later we were fortunate enough to be able to buy Major, who we intended to mate with Kaya when the time came. The result of this mating was Chortens Ben Sharbaz and Chortens Cobi Lingka. Ben went on to become a World, International and French Champion, a father of Champions in France and the highest winning UK bred TM of all time. Lingka too had a proud record of show wins, being the Best in Show winner at the TMC of GB's first Open Show. She also holds the record for the number of Best of Breed wins at one dog show - the National Working and Pastoral Breed Championship Show (as it now is) - where she won that award six times. These wins, together wih a large number of other Best In Show and Best Bitch wins, including Best Bitch at Crufts, means that Lingka was one of the top winning UK bred bitches of all time.
I was a Founder Member of the Tibetan Mastiff Club of GB when it was formed in 1987 and served as Treasurer and as a Committee member for a number of years.
My first judging appointment for Tibetan Mastiffs was at Crufts in 1993. I was asked to accept the honour by the Club's now late Patron, Mr Terry Thorn and was pleased to be able to do so and to know that I was considered by the Kennel Club, worthy of performing that task. My previous judging experience and knowledge of the breed qualifying me to judge at that prestigious event. Since then I have judged TMs at the South Wales Championship Show, at the first TMCA Specialty Show in the US in 2000 and at the ATMA Specialty in 2001.
In conjunction with a number of other long standing members of the UK Tibetan Mastiff fraternity, in 2003 I set out to remedy a widely perceived lack of progress in the breed in the UK. This manifested itself in the importing of three dogs from the US in 2004. Lynn Turner wanted a bitch, as did Peter and I, and Alexa Sutton wanted a dog. I was able to persuade Sabrina Novarra of Shang-Hai kennels in the US that dogs from her kennels or which she had been been raising, were what was needed here and this resulted in our importing Shaydo; Lynn, brought in Barbie and Alexa brought in Yogi, who as everyone knows by now, has gone on to become the top winning TM of all time in the UK and a two times winner of the World Champion TM accolade.
IOver the last twenty four years, Tibetan Mastiffs have occupied many hours of my life. I have been asked to contribute articles for a number of publications over the years and Chortens dogs can be seen in many dog books illustrating the breed. I am always happy to discuss all aspects of Tibetan Mastiff's in a polite and friendly way with anyone who is truly interested in the breed. I do not take too kindly to attempts at muck-raking but accept that as par for the course these days: I would much rather have amicable discussions in an open forum and firmly believe that social gatherings rather than the artificail surrroundings of dog shows or AGMs would provide a better environment to discuss the breed which even the muck-rakers profess to care about.
Born into a 'doggy and horsey' family, it could be said my whole life has included an interest in dogs.
We had Welsh sheepdogs and Pekes when I was a young child and into my teens, at which time I decided I wanted my own dogs and, since I had always liked them I had my first Afghan Hound, a big gold dog called Fred. A little later came Misty from the famous Horningsea kennels. She was a delicious smokey blue colour.
I had been showing dogs since my childhood (in those days we did what was called 'our apprenticeship', through local village and town shows, to Limit and Exemption, to Open and eventually, when we were ready, to Championship level, where we hoped we might qualify our dog for Crufts) and in my early twenties my first judging appointment came along. It was at Open show level and I judged Afghans, Alsatians (GSD) and Salukis.
I had an interest in Tibet from a very young age and though I wanted a Tibetan Mastiff and had been promised one for my 11th birthday, there were none in the UK, so my desire for one of these mythical creatures had to wait for fulfillment for almost 25 years, until I was aged 35. At that time we had our first TM, Delviento Tham-che, who we called Kaya. She was the mother of our Ben and Lingka and grandmother to our Jampa. Major (Althan de la Tour chandos) was their father.
I was one of the founder members of the Tibetan Mastiff Club of GB and was its first Chairman, a position I held for four years, when business commitments caused me to resign, but stayed on, as a committee member and newsletter editor, for a few years more. Now I am a mere ordinary member of the Club, though I was one of the members of the sub-committee which drew up the latest UK Standard for the TM.
I have judged TMs for Crufts Dog show, as well as for several other championship shows in the UK and have judged for both the major TM clubs – ATMA and TMCA – in the United States and the Dutch TM Club Show.
At Open Show level I have judged all the Tibetan Breeds – TMs, Lhasa Apso, Tibetan Spaniel, Tibetan Terrier and the Shih Tzu. Other breeds I have judged at this level are most of the molosser breeds - Pyrennean; Mastiff; Bullmastiff; GSD; Bernese Mountain Dog; Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Rottweilers, Dobermans, etc. Open Shows in the early 1990's were very interesting as you got to judge lots of breeds as well as your own speciality, the TM, though numbers were limited as they were local Open Shows and entries were often complimentary, with only those exhibitors living close to the show venue actually turning up on the day.
I have also judged several Exemption and Limit shows, including one which consisted of over 600 dogs, which took me from 11 in the morning until gone 8 o'clock at night. It was an exhausting day!
I have travelled extensively in the Himalayan region and have seen many TMs – and dogs which pretended to be one, of which there were many!
My other interests include growing orchids and I am now Secretary of our local orchid society.
Outside dogs, our main interest and livelihood, is our tour company : NEI UK Ltd. which, in 2004, saw our 10th Anniversary.
We offer a wide range of fully bonded holidays to India, Nepal and Tibet, Sri Lanka, Malaysia including Malaysian Borneo, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Chile and Peru .
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We also “tailor make” holidays to all of the above destinations at prices which are hard to beat but provide value and attention to detail, not always found elsewhere. And we are a British company. Be patriotic.
Please check out our website www.neiuk.co.uk and we will do our utmost to provide you with the holiday of a lifetime.