Many people have asked me to share the back-story of the journey I recently completed with my young BLF Healmark's Beautiful Black Betty. It may be long and windy and definitely won't live up to the "Disney worthy" label given to it by the OP of the original thread. However it is very meaningful and "special" to me
Betty is from a repeat breeding that I did with my bitch Healmark's Little Cougar Juliet. Of all my dogs my mother has always loved Jules the best. I bred Jules to Jim Carlisles stud dog Joey's Zoom Zoom. I kept a male from the first breeding. He won the first Derby he ever ran at 17 months. He then went on to win the 2nd Qual he ever ran at the age of 25 months. I repeated the breeding, because it produced very driven focused pups who also happened to be quite user friendly for Amateur trainers like myself; and the inevitable limitations that they are subjected to with Amateur training and handling.
I am no breeder and am a little squeamish and scared when it comes to birthing. Therefore, the first litter was raised by my friend Rebecca Dallam who did a fantastic job. Since then Rebecca got accepted into Veterinary School in the Cayman islands and was not available to whelp the repeat litter These puppies from the repeat were whelped by Mo Haleed and his wife Debbie. They did a marvelous job! As I already had a male with these genetics, I really wanted a female from the repeat breeding, and made this clear to everyone.
On the day the pups were whelped last Spring I was in Texas visiting my parents. My mothers health was failing. The pups started being birthed in the early morning. I got texts from Mo as each pup was born. They came fairly regularly every hour or so There were 6 pups born by early afternoon. All 6 were males.
That evening my parents and three of my brothers went out to dinner. Before going to the restaurant I called Mo at 7:00 pm. He assured me that the whelping was over and that the final count was the 6 male pups. He assured me that Mama and the 6 BLM pups were all healthy, happy & doing well.
After dinner was finished I escorted my Mother, who is a smoker, outside for an after dinner cigarette and conversation. When we got outside the phone in my pocket started ringing. My Mother taught us it was rude to interrupt conversations to take a phone call. Embarrassed, I apologized and reached to turn my phone off. Surprisingly, she told me to take the call, because it might be the female puppy that I wanted was making a late appearance. Against all odds, she was correct.
I then asked her if it would be Okay if I named this puppy Betty, after her. She told me that she would love that and would consider it a lasting honor to her. So the name for the new pup was settled; she was to be named Betty after my dear Mother.
I have always loved dogs. That love was mostly inherited from my Mother. She always said that in her opinion dogs were Gods greatest gift to mankind. She felt that we oftentimes weren't worthy of the love and devotion dogs gave us. Furthermore it is my belief that dogs saved me from a drug addiction. My mother worked behind the scenes with my secretary to purchase a puppy for me. She somehow knew that having a dog to work with would succeed in curing me, whereas Rehab, 12 step programs and the like had failed. I never acknowledged or admitted to my addiction.. However working with that puppy who was so eager to do what was right and to please me opened my eyes to the reality of my situation.
Seven weeks later the pups were ready to go home. I stopped by Mo's in Wichita Ks to pick up and deliver some pups. I went to visit my parents in Texas, and to show my Mother her namesake. My mothers health had really deteriorated and she was now spending most of her time bedridden. She really rallied, upon our arrival, and was very energetic and animated and playful with the new puppy. She observed a small white star on the pups chest that I hadn't noticed. She playfully joked that God had specially put the white hairs on her to distinguish her as a Special puppy who would be a star. When our visit came to an end my Mother walked us to the door. She gave us both a big hug and kiss. Her last words as we left were "You take good care of that puppy, she is going to be "Special".
That was the last time I saw my Mother as she died shortly thereafter. Her last words will always remain dear to me, and as fate would have it turned out to be prescient on multiple levels.
Immediately upon my Mothers demise, my oldest sister notified everyone that she was going to take care of funeral arrangements, obituary and everything else. This alarmed everyone as this sister had served as a thorn in the side and had disrespected our dear Mother for 40+ years. Before anyone had a chance to react, this eldest child had had Mom cremated. This was against everything my Mom believed in. She was an old school Catholic and believed that cremation was wrong. Myself and my other siblings, as well as the grandchildren were shocked and dismayed at this disrespect. Weeks went by and no Obituary was published or funeral scheduled. Upon learning that nothing was being done the rest of the family scheduled a funeral. Sister failed to ever turn over the ashes or any of Mom's personal effects that she secreted. I and my other siblings, as well as the grandchildren were shocked and dismayed at this hurtful disrespect.
The hurt and disrespect cut deep for me. Once again I used the dogs as therapy, and managed to find peace and solace in their goodness. As I worked with the puppies, I realized that there was some talent here. I thought that it might be fitting to use Mom's namesake Betty as a way to honor & partially redress the disrespect shown to her.
We began our journey to honor my Mother with the dogs. We ran HT's in Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska Along the way we had some great times and met and made some great new friends. As an example Jennifer Tucker and her husband Brian, who first posted about Betty's exploits became great friends as well as training partners. We broke bread,threw threw birds for each other, shared their home and hospitality as well as training grounds. I barely knew them a month ago and now feel as though we are lifelong friends. They often called her "Special"
As the journey progressed, Betty just kept getting better. Outside of breaking on the honor in a couple of tests she became flawless. The word "Special", which my Mother first used to describe her, was being mentioned by others. The judges in her last two Hunt Tests both called her "Special" Larry Kimble who judged her on her fifth pass in Mead Colo said she was so "Special" that she made him feel inadequate. Rick McConico who judged her on her Title run in Valley Neb said she was so "Special" that he had to have a pup out of her if I ever bred her. Very kind words and warm friendships were shared along the way of honoring my dearly departed Mother. I felt the joyous presence of my Mother as we made this journey, and felt her pride.
As to those who asked of future plans for Betty, I really don't know. We will take it as it comes. We may run some Derbies with her this Fall, or we may run the Master National. I'm realistic and know that Betty, although talented, is not the next Lottie. If she never finds and picks up another bird she will still be "Special" to me and my family. To quote my friend Steve Kelley; "Bill Gates couldn't buy this dog"
In closing I can say that as we all know, all of these dogs whom we have been blessed with are truly "Special". However in my heart my little Betty will always seem to be a little bit more "special"
Thanks to all who have shared in and enriched my "Special" journey with Betty