About Glenleigh’s Legacy Kennels

 The History 

Igrew up in a home where the only true dogs were German shepherds and all other dogs were considered a mongrel.  At least that was my father’s viewpoint.  My sisters and I managed to finagle other smaller mixed breeds into the home.  My father would not acknowledge these dogs in any way.  He would not even hold or touch them.  Other than the German shepherd elitism, my father was a great dad.  I acquired a black Pomeranian/Pekingese mix named Bumper that only weighed 2 pounds while in elementary school.  We were connected with the same umbilical cord, or so my mother thought.   Bumper helped me through elementary school, junior high, high school, college, medical school and 1-½ years of my surgical residency before she died.  I was living alone in another state and devastated with the loss.  I started reading dog books from the library I discovered the bichon frise breed.  After enduring black hair everywhere from Bumper, I was entranced with the non-shedding concept.  I mentioned to my mom that I was thinking about this breed as an interim breed.  My mom, not wanting her thirty something baby girl to be grief-stricken any longer than absolutely necessary, promptly purchased a bichon frise puppy from a newspaper ad.  My mom raised this puppy until she was six months old since I was working long hours as a surgical resident.  Our family quickly realized that the bichon frise breed is a special people-loving bundle of joy and they can win over even the most ardent dog elitist.  One of my most cherished memories of my father, who has since passed away, is my father holding this puppy out on the front porch in order that he and the puppy could wave goodbye to me as I was leaving after a brief visit.  It was such a shocking moment that I did stop and take a picture to prove to my sisters that dad can interact with “mongrels”.  Until his death, my father had a special bond with all of my bichon purebred mongrels*.

I acquired a second pet bichon from a newspaper ad for a companion for my first bichon since I spent long hours at the hospital.  I learned first hand the differences between the novice unlearned breeder and a knowledgeable reputable breeder.  Although both dogs were great companions, I had health problems with both.  My first pet bichon was critically hospitalized with Parvo as a puppy.  She was diagnosed with diabetes in 1999 at 8 years of age.  She has patellar subluxation, arthritis, and chronic hotspots.  She is blind from cataracts.  The second pet bichon, unlike my happy-go-lucky first bichon, was high strung and she had a nippy temperament around children.  With other medical problems not mentioned, my veterinarian bills are astronomical.  In both cases, the $500 bargain was too good to be true.  I still have my first pet bichon.

When my second pet bichon died suddenly, I decided to obtain a show dog.  This dog, Cameo, opened a whole new world to me.  I love the bichon frise and I am passionate about improving the breed as well as the lives of those who interact with this fabulous dog.  Although reputable breeders cannot guarantee 100% the health of the dog, they can greatly improve the odds of having a healthy well-tempered pet.  Having a pet that looks like the picture in the books or the dog on TV is icing on the cake.

I am constantly reading and studying about dog breeding and genetics.  My medical background is an asset in my breeding program.  I only breed dogs that have the attributes worthy of being passed on to future generations.  I will not breed a dog that has not proven worthy of being breeding stock.  The best method available to demonstrate breeding stock worthiness in participating in conformation dog shows that are AKC sanctioned.  A dog that cannot obtain a championship in a reasonable amount of time probably should not be bred.  My breeding stock is evaluated in every way currently available to assure they are of sound temperament, healthy and free of major genetic defects.  This includes OFA (hip certification-see www.offa.org) and CERF (eye certification-see www.vmdb.org/history.html) of both parents.  A veterinarian evaluates my puppies several times after they are born.  They are kept current on their vaccinations.  Although not required by the breed standard, I do remove dewclaws because it prevents complications and pain to the dog in the future if the dog is not properly groomed.  I am knowledgeable of the breed standard (see www.akc.org) and I breed towards this standard.  I am not yet a member of the Bichon Frise Club of America because I am still young in this sport.  However, as soon as I meet all of the requirements, I plan on being involved.

Although I have the personal goal of taking Westminster and Eukanuba by storm, my major goal is to provide loving healthy dogs to enlighten and uplift the lives of other families and share the joy I have experienced with this breed.

*Although no one in my family currently owns a German shepherd, the only “true purebred”, we all have a special place for this breed in our hearts because of the love for our father and we enthusiastically cheer this breed on in the groups and best of show competitions.

Karen A. Tormey, MD FACS