First off I want to explain what drives us . . .
My husband, David and I are a small hobby breeder about 60 miles east Northeast of Atlanta, GA. We breed on average about 1 litter every 2 years. We live in David's grandparents old farm house (~120 yrs old) on 5 acres. We currently have 5 whippets, 5 chickens. Our dogs comfort is priority. So that means our home is not a show place by any means but it has a lot of "character." My mother is no longer breeding any litters but she still has a great influence on what direction we take. David and I breed dogs with my best friend, Crystal McNulty of Hycks Hollow Whippets in Illinois.
We believe that health and temperament should come first when breeding a litter! And firmly believe that quantity does not necessarily mean quality . . . we take our breedings seriously and I will be the first to admit sometimes "I" put too much thought into our breedings - but it's what makes our team work.
We want every pup we produce to lead a happy healthy life even if that means placing our best in loving pet homes. We want our dogs to be apart of the family and not just a kennel dog.
Now a little about how I got started in this crazy dog world . . .
In 1983, when I was 12 years old, my parents had a couple of Maltese. I fancied one of them and thought he needed obedience lessons so I decided to make the lessons a part of my 4-H project. During these obedience classes, I fell in love with an Afghan Hound that was also in the class. The woman that owned the Afghan showed dogs and ran a grooming shop. My mother, Glenda Durance gave me permission to get an Afghan provided that I agree to work that summer in the grooming shop to pay for the hound myself. I worked very hard that summer and acquired a blue Afghan bitch, Vantage Rhapsody in Blue, LCM. I started showing her, along with a male Afghan, Vantage Vermeil (pictured below) that I got a few months later. I began lure coursing Bluie, and while at the trials, I fell head over heels in love with the Greyhounds and Whippets (Why not? They don't require 5 hours of blow drying on Friday nights before shows).
Late in the summer of 1984, I received a champion Greyhound bitch from the same woman who sold me my Afghans. The bitch's name was Ch. Golden Chance Arabesque, and she was owned by myself and Joy Brown (was Bidmead) of Zanzibar Greyhounds. From this Greyhound bitch, I co-bred a litter with Joy in 1985. There were 12 puppies (know as the “Dirty Dozen”). Most all of the puppies went on to finish their bench championships as well as to acquire their field championship titles.
(Ch. Cherche's Flight of the Arrow, Fch pictured below one of the dirty dozen)
Shortly after acquiring the Greyhound and breeding a litter, I purchased my first whippet in 1985, a red and white parti-colored female pup from Richard and Anna Erdmann of Shaman Whippets and Greyhounds. Sherry was pick of the litter.
She quickly finished her Bench Championship owner-handled and her ASFA LCM title (ASFA didn't give multiple LCM titles at that time, but I'm sure Sherry would have easily finished several).
She was Ch. Shaman Sherry on Ice, CGC, LCM. (pictured below). Sherry's pedigree goes back to old Kirklea, Hound Hill and Elysian lines. She went on to be a top-twenty whippet in the ring, as well as top-ten whippet in the field. Sherry won multiple group placements and won Best of Breed at the Midwest supported Specialty under Louis Auslander (over 208 whippets), going on that same day to win the Hound Group (this weekend was the 2nd largest all-breed show in the country).
Shortly thereafter during the summer of 1986, I was blessed to have Dr. James R. Gray of Elysian whippets take me under his wing. He offered me a little fawn bitch that he could not keep from climbing fences and injuring herself. This bitch, Ch. Elysian Oh Suzannah, FCh, ROM, became our foundation bitch at Cherche'. Suzannah hated to show, so she was retired from the ring after finishing her Championship. Dr. Gray and Jan Swayze have been my mentors from the start.
In the winter of 1986, Dr. Gray gave my mother a solid blue male pup (I called him the "dumb blue dog" after all he turned out to be quite talented on the lure coursing field). That "dumb blue dog" was Elysian Like the Night, JC, LCM 7, ROM, a.k.a."Bo." He was inducted into the ASFA Hall of Fame. Bo was sired by Ch. Bitterblues Prarie Fire, CD, LCM, ROM and out of Ch. Elysian Like an Angel (a very exquisite black bitch). He was the number one lure coursing Whippet and Sighthound in 1990 and top 10 courser for several years running. Due to an injury not associated with coursing, Bo was was forced into retirement lacking a few points toward his LCM 8. Bo proved to be an awesome producer for the show ring and the field. Thanks to Elaine and Sean McMichael for taking Bo and accomplishing all was possible on the field with Bo.
In the summer of 1987, I received the ultimate gift for my 16th birthday. Dr. Gray gave me a very special red brindle male from Ch. Plumcreek Walk on Water, ROMX x Ch A-Few Marthasville. His name was Perry. Perry eventually became National SBIS, Multiple SBIS and Multiple Select winning Ch. Elysian A-Few Perrier, CGC, LCM, ROMX. A huge thank you to Dr. Gray and Jan for holding my hand on this incredible dog. Without them, Perry would never have been able to be tied for the most number of SBIS wins in the history of American Whippet Club. Another huge thank you to Sean and Elaine McMichael for helping with Perry's field titles.
In 1988, my mother, Glenda Durance and I bred Perry and Suzannah and they had a litter of 7 puppies. All but one puppy finished their Championship title and most had either a field championship or LCM title as well. One pup won Best in Futurity later that year, Ch. Cherche' Touch Me, Fch., a.k.a. "Skeeter.” We bred Skeeter back to Perry (her father) to get a solid gene hold on their fabulous fronts, extraordinary side gait, and soundness.
In August of 1990, I got married, became Chris Hatcher, moved away and went to school. These life changes made it difficult for me to continue to go to dog shows regularly.
In 1991, William and Jennifer Love (Innuendo) bred a Bo daughter, Innuendo's Rhumba Girl to Perry. This breeding produced a beautiful red bitch, SBIS, National SBOS and Multiple Award of Merit Ch. Innuendo's Peaches and Cream, FCh,a.k.a. "Peaches" and Innuendo's Pride and Prejudice, Fch, a.k.a. "Hannah."
In 1993, we bred a bitch from the Perry x Skeeter litter, Cherche' Touch and Go, Fch, a.k.a. Holly, to Bo. This produced a breathtaking litter of 10 puppies. While there were many shining stars in the litter, there was one that stood out beyond all others,2x SBIS, National SBOS, and Multiple Select SBIS Ch. Cherche' Wizard of the Wind, aka "Jacob." Jacob is believed to be the first 2-time Specialty Best in Show winning black whippet and was also a Top-20 Whippet. We co-owned Jacob with Dr. Gray. Jacob did love the bunny however, Dr. Gray required that we not lure course him as long as he was being shown. Since Jacob’s show career proved so successful, we were unable to run him in his prime.
In 1995, I was blessed to have Sharon Kirley of Whippletree whippets enter my life and move to the Southeast. Sharon wanted me to help train and handle some of her dogs, I took home 2x National Specialty Best in Show, National Specialty Best of Opposite sex, 4x SBIS, and Multiple Award of Merit Ch. Whippletrees Icy Affire, Fch, JC, a.k.a “Thelma” to train. She was approximately 7 months old, and I was to train her for the 1996 National in Vermont. Thelma placed 2nd in her 6-9 month old puppy class at the National.
Susan Bolduc at Hound Hill saw Thelma at the National and called Cora Miller and told her she had to see this bitch. When Cora saw Thelma, she saw the potential in her and inquired to Sharon about buying her. Unfortunately, Sharon was diagnosed with Cancer a few months prior to the National. Sharon knew she would not be with us long, so Thelma came to live with me and was owned by myself and Cora Miller. Thelma's exuberance for showing was uncontrollable. We didn't want to dampen the fire she had for showing, so we continued to show her sparingly, waiting for the day she would settle down enough to start winning. We had judge after judge tell us to calm her down. Often they would stop me as I exited the ring and tell me that they would have put Thelma up if only she would have just calmed down. We were patient with her, as we knew she was from a line that was slow to mature and there was no need to rush things. Instead just let her enjoy it!
In 1997, at the Atlanta National, the unexpected occurred. Thelma had just gotten her act together in the ring a few weeks prior to the National and had been unstoppable in the ring. In Atlanta, Thelma won Winners Bitch from the Open Class, only a few weeks out of the 12-18 month class under breeder judge, Mary Beth Arthur of Mariel Whippets. Little did we know this was just the beginning for Thelma. Thelma continued to "wow" Mrs. Arthur, and went on to win Best of Breed at the National from the classes with me on the lead. This was the largest National to date! Sharon was able to participate in this exciting NSBIS win and experience the support of the whippet fancy for this beautiful bitch. Thelma completed her championship in short order the very next weekend.
The following year, 1998, the National was in San Diego, California. I decided at the last minute to take Thelma to California. I had entered Ch. Cherche' Wizard of the Wind, as the judge, Bud Gutilla, was known to appreciate black whippets. I decided to take Thelma, as I wanted people on the West Coast that hadn’t made it to Atlanta the year before to see her, and I also wanted people to see how well she had matured from the previous year. Jacob and Thelma both made all the cuts, and now it was time for Mr. Gutilla to put all of his dog and bitch cuts together and make a final decision. I had to grab someone standing at ringside to take Thelma in the ring for me, that person happened to be Claire Newcomb (Pennyworth), as Jacob was my priority. Thelma shocked us all by winning back-to-back National Specialty Best in Shows. No other whippet at that time had won two consecutive AWC National Specialty Best in Shows. To top things off, Jacob was Best of Opposite Sex. He was the first black whippet to win BOS at an AWC National. As of 2004, Thelma has 6 SBIS (2 of which were National SBIS) as well as 1 National SBOS .
In 1999, we went to the St. Louis AWC National Specialty. We took Thelma, Jacob, and Perry (Perry was entered as a veteran, as he was 12 years old), as well a few class dogs. Our judge was Mrs. Betty Stites. All three dogs made the final cut, so it was time to make decisions as to who to show. I stayed on Jacob, Jan Swayze did her magic, as she has always done, with Perry, and Scott Thompson took Thelma back into the ring. Perry had acquired several first selects at Nationals over the years, but this year was his year. He became the oldest whippet to date to win the 1999 National Specialty . . . wait . . . Thelma was Best of Opposite Sex to her house-mate.
In 1998, Thelma was bred to Jacob and produced several outstanding dogs that have done well in the ring, as well as in the field, proving their versatility. In 2000, I divorced and became Chris Durance again. This same year Thelma was bred to Perry producing yet another fabulous litter.
Then for her final litter she was bred in 2004 to Can., NZ. Ch. Martinique Rodeo Dancer. Another very nice litter. In 2006 she qualified for the ROM title.
I remarried in October 2006 to the love of my life, David Watkins. The rest is history ...
In summary, I have been extremely blessed. To breed as sparingly as my mother and I have bred at Cherche', to have only been owned by our whippets since 1985, and to have accomplished so much, we are truly blessed. I would like to thank my mentors: Dr. James R. Gray, Elysian Whippets; Jan Swayze, Longlesson; Sharon Kirley, Whippletree Whippets; Cora Miller, Hound Hill; Sean and Elaine McMichael, Eire Finghin for their expertise in Lure Coursing (“It's all in the way you slip”); and last but definitely not least, my mother Glenda Durance, for believing in me and for helping me accomplish all that was possible. Without her support, there would have been no dogs, show rings or field trials. I would like to thank someone who has lurked in the shadows of so many great whippet breeders over the years (Morshor - Diane Bleeker and Whippletree - Sharon Kirley) and currently lurks in the shadows of my mothers kennel, Bill Collingwood. Thanks Bill for taking such great care of the Hounds and for the knowledge you bring with you.