I have always loved animals and decided on veterinary medicine as a career around the age of three. I graduated from Kansas State University in 1973 and have been in small (and exotic) animal practice ever since. I own Cardinal Animal Hospital in Richmond, VA.
In 1992, after being a 'big dog' person for many years, I brought home a small, black, silky-haired puppy without realizing the impact this little dog of Havana would have on my life. When Poppy arrived, we had a Bull Terrier, Mickey, and a large mixed "Irish Wolfhound" wannabe, Banshee, but it didn't take long for the 3 lb pup to make it clear that she was top dog. Poppy was my first Havanese and, as of (June 2007), at 15+ years, she was still the Queen around here.
Over the years, we have become a one breed household. In 1993 I joined the young Havanese Club of America and soon was very involved with the club, becoming a Director, then President, Chair of the Health and Cuban relief Committees and member of the Standard and Judges' Ed committees. Coming from Rare Breed into AKC, HCA certainly has had its share of growing pains and, in 2007, with HCA having achieved full member status with AKC, I retired from all HCA activities to concentrate on the Havana Silk Dog Association of America.
In 1999 we founded H.E.A.R.T., a 501(c)3 tax exempt non-profit foundation dedicated to funding both research into, and education about, the health issues that affect the Havanese dog. When we began, it was thought that cataracts were the major health issue in the breed but, over the years, it became apparent that there were a number of health issues and there was significant evidence to indicate that they might have a common link. The history of H.E.A.R.T. and the funding of the Havanese Genetics Project at Texas A&M can be found at the H.E.A.R.T. Website. Through H.E.A.R.T. we raised over $220,000 to fund this project which resulted in a published paper (Journal of Heredity, July/Aug 2007) which found that there is a significant heritable component to the disease known as Ockham Syndrome (manifested by a collection of symptoms including, but not limited to Chondrodysplasia (CD), Liver shunts and dysplasia, premature cardiac valvular degeneration, cataracts, and deafness.)
As CD may be a hallmark of OS, a group of dedicated fanciers, who have, over the years, been selecting for the original Cuban phenotype and straight legged dogs, formed the Havana Silk Dog Association of America whose mission is to restore the original breed as it was before the little dogs escaped from Cuba prior to the revolution, to breed only those dogs who pass all the required health tests and a conformation evaluation, and to seek (eventually) separate breed recognition from AKC. For more information on the HSDAA please visit the Havana Silk Dog Association of America. There you will find a wealth of information and answers to questions such as "Why does it look as if there are two different breeds in the ring when the Havanese show?"
There are currently venues where Silk Dogs can show with other Silk Dogs. HSDAA is holding independent specialities with large entries from all over the country. It is such a pleasure being in the ring where all the dogs are clearly of the same breed! When I got here, we were a rare breed...it's actually a fun place to be and it is refreshing to go back to our roots for a change. In addition to the stand alone Silk Dog shows, we are participating in NAKC all breed shows and, indeed, in the very first one we attended (Kissimmee, FL Feb 23, 2008) an Havana Silk Dog walked away with a Best in Show!
Update...NAKC is now ICKC. At the ICKC Blue Ridge Classic in Richmond, VA July 2013, Silk Dogs took BIS in 4 of the 6 shows, and Reserve BIS in another!
2014 update: yHSDAA introduced Rally Obedience to its show events at the National Specialty in 2014. It is now possible for Silk Dogs to compete in this fun performance event at HSDAA shows and earn new titles.
2016Update. The Havana Silk Dog is now eligible to compete in ICE shows. Our dogs have enjoyed success in this venue as well. ICE shows are well organized, all breed shows, and great fun!