Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Tribute to CH. Clas Myrrdin's Morrigan HOF


Any Mastiff owner can tell you multiple reasons why their dog is special. Mastiffs have a way of worming into your heart and filling it. Once there, you are amazed that you never knew what you had been missing and you can't imagine life without them. The love and pride you feel will lead you don't roads you never would have trod.

Take the story of Morrigan. Jim & Laura bought her as a "pet" and as she grew into adulthood realized what a wonderful dog she had become. Jim felt so strongly about Morrigan's worth, that he began looking and educating himself about the breed in general. He also began a search for a Stud dog to breed to Morrigan.

Alone the way, he realized the important of health testing--which he did and Morrigan passed all her OFAs with flying colors--she also was tested for PRA. She had "cleared" all her pre-breeding screens. Now, he just needed to find the right stud dog.

Jim located Susie Farber of Caledonia Mastiffs and found her stud dog Ford, Ch. Caledonia Built to Last, and fell in love with him. He resolved to breed Morrigan to Ford and began an earnest campaign to convince Susie his Morrigan was worthy enough to breed to Ford. After some time, Susie agreed and the breeding was done.

From that first breeding, an amazing group of dogs were whelped. Most of these dogs were placed as companion dogs in family homes, but those who were placed in show homes completed their championships easily. Susie was so pleased with what had been produced that she encouraged Jim to show Morrigan and to consider breeding her back to Ford. So a few months later, Morrigan began to show and took a 4-point major. She was then bred for her second litter.

Although all had not gone smoothly with the delivery of her first litter, both Jim and Susie were agreeable to repeating the breeding. Morrigan was slated to be bred on her next heat, because she had developed Pyrometria after her first litter and it was the advice of the vet to bred her back to back. Eight months later, Morrigan's second litter was whelped and it was at this point I met Jim, Laura, and Family.
I had found this second litter advertised on the Devine Farm site and I was estatistic about it for Morrigan is a grand-daughter of my foundation bitch, Ch. Matic's Lady Madolin of Kiokee. For several years, I had unsuccessfully searched to find a puppy from this line and had failed. It was with great delight that I contacted Jim about his litter and he agreed to place with me a beautiful brindle girl, my Boudi.

From this second litter , we took four of these special puppies to the MCOA National Speciality in French Lick Indiana in 2006. We had a great trip, met some wonderful folks and received lots of praise for our dogs. We also had the pleasure of witnessing Morrigan completing her AKC Championship in 2005. Wonderful days for us all.

Over the last 4+ years, I have had the opportunity to develop a friendship with the Bennetts. I have also met and know a few of Boudi's "extended family" and their owners. From these associations other friendships have evolved. We all share a love for our beautiful Morrigan babies. I had the pleasure of having her visit and stay with me in our home, and if possible, I love her as much as Jim and Laura do.

Jim had planned on breeding Morrigan one last time, but unfortunately it was not to be. In 2006, Morrigan was lost at age 5 1/2 due to a probable cancer discovered at Auburn University Vet school. We all cried when Jim told us of his loss. Jim had stood by her side as they put her to sleep, he then lovingly brought her home to lay at rest overlooking his home and her family. Jim could console his grief with the knowledge that Morrigan's children and grand children would continue on to other wonderful accomplishments. Each day from the front doorstep of his home, he could look out to see her live on in each one.

In the past year, I have experienced the pleasure of breeding to two of Morrigan's sons--Oscar and Trojan. Each of them have sired beautiful litters out of my girls, Reba and Sara Lee. Each of these boys have sired a daughter who has the "Morrigan Mark" (as I call it) -an hourglass shaped white patch on the lower abdomen between the hind legs. It pleases me to see this in my puppies and to know that Morrigan lives on.

Jim's dream had been to put Morrigan into the MCOA Hall of Fame. An honor bestowed on MCOA members who own a bitch that produces five or more champions. After her passing, those of us who owned her puppies made it our dream, too. In 2005, Heather Boggs of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin had finished her Tug-- Ch. Morrigan's Tug O War. In 2006, Jennifer McKemie of Lithia Springs, Georgia had finished her Oscar--Ch. Morrigan's Cu Mac Shimidh and in 2007 she finished her Chocolate-Ch. Morrigan's Godiva. In 2007, Jim finished Trojan-Ch. Morrigan's Hector. Jim's Lily and Lexus were pointed as was my Boudi. At this point, we just needed one more champion.

On March 9th, 2008, my Boudi, won her second 3-point major completing her AKC Championship making her Ch. Morrigan's Celtic Queen of Kiokee. This is also the day that beautiful Morrigan became eligible for the MCOA Hall of Fame.

I waited until, I left the show site to call Jim and our cell phone connections was terrible. After a few tries, we finally got connected so that he could hear me tell him that I had a "new Champion" in my van. For a few seconds, I heard only silence and I thought I had lost him again. With barely a whisper, Jim thanked me. I could hear the choked backed tears and I cried, too. In his search for a better phone reception, he had wandered over next to Morrigan's grave, and there he stood next to her as he got the news that we had all waited so long to hear. You could almost hear the thump of a satisfied tail. We both knew that where ever she was, she shared in our happiness as any proud Mastiff mother would.

So many events and so many people have evolved from that one single action of taking a Mastiff puppy home. Experiences and events that may have never happened except for that one decision. It's my belief, that all things happen for a reason. Morrigan was the conduit for so many life events for so many different people. Morrigan was meant for Jim, Laura, James, and Sidney.

Who says a dog can't change your life?

Cathy (Catie) Arney Kiokee Mastiffs