What you will encounter as you explore these pages is a very honest record of portions of my journey through the adventure of breeding pure bred smooth fox terriers. The learning curve is steep. Every fox terrier has its own personality, talents, limitations, and gene pool. Every puppy is an unfolding story. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst is wise advice for all dog breeders.
What a breeder selects at 8 weeks as a candidate for the show ring, future whelping box, or family companion should be a well educated assessment, but is not always a “sure thing” as you will discover as I share my experiences. Responsible dog breeding, while filled with many satisfying aspects, is also comprised of heartaches, drama, and plain old hard work.
Located in upstate New York, Sweetmont is a small hobby kennel currently including 5 spoiled smooth fox terriers. I have has as many as 12 adult dogs, but quickly recognized that I had exceeded my personal limits. I do not believe in warehousing smooth fox terriers–meaning I do not want them to live a life primarily “stored” in a dog run. This is not a condemnation of those who have more dogs. My schedule, commitments, and other interests, however, just do not leave me with time, energy, and attention enough to justify keeping more than 8 dogs.
As you can see, we are “relic dwellers” who reside in an ever ongoing renovation project—an 1880’s Victorian. Though we have exercise yards and kennels, our smooths are house dogs that take turns reigning over the family couch.
Due to my involvement with smooth fox terriers, I have thought it wise to post photos, pedigrees, show records, and our history. Individuals interested in our dogs specifically and smooth fox terriers generally then have a ready access to information that may be meaningful to them.
My collections of dog photo records have helped me compile photo pedigrees and records for some of my own dogs. I have found it beneficial to study pedigrees offered by long standing kennels. Such record keeping is vital to serious breed fanciers. Only by thoroughly studying the past can good breeders make progress in the future, because where they have been greatly determines where they should go.
On a lighter note, the candid shots and stories shared by other rescuers and owners of Sweetmont smooths have been a joy to view and read. Life with terriers is eventful, unpredictable, and challenging because they are not for the faint of heart. They are lovable, loyal, and sometimes a liability. But, NEVER are they boring!!
Some Photos of the outdoor runs as they have changed over the years.
SHADOW THE TALENTED TERRIER – Ramius’s Red October
Our start with fox terriers might well be blamed on Wishbone of television fame and circumstances. In 1995, my daughter wanted to get a dog like Wishbone. Consequently, we began a search of area animal shelters and were given a lead on a smooth fox terrier that was being rehomed.
When we first set eyes on this boy, we couldn’t get over the extreme energy and very long face. It seemed long to me because I had grown up around fox hounds, not fox terriers. It didn’t take long to see this was too much dog for a 7-year-old girl, but no matter. The terrier had attached himself to my then 12-year-old son–a replacement for the 12-year-old boy Shadow had to give up due to a new stepfather coming into his previous family.
Shadow was the most amazing animal. He possessed the craziest quirks and funniest personality. This dog insisted on sitting on our feet or leaning his body against ours whenever anyone of us was nearby. Posted on our foot, he would assume a watchful demeanor as if to warn all comers that he was on duty.
Never having had a terrier or a house dog before for that matter, we were in for some serious training by this creature. Gates were pointless obstacles. He sailed right over them. Beds and pillows were not human items; they were dog possessions shared at his discretion.
As for persistence, he proved he had us all beat. The kids had an old rubber hose thrown over a major limb of our enormous maple tree to enable them to climb it at will. Shadow determined that it was a tow rope to pull him to the top. That dog would grab hold of the hose and refused to let go until the kids would pull him up the side of the tree.
Then there was the game of “air ball.” I’m sure most of you long time terrier owners are familiar with it, but it took us a bit to catch on. Shadow, however, was very patient with us. This dog so loved to play catch that a ball really wasn’t necessary. After a while we learned all we had to do was pretend to throw a ball, having the person on the “receiving end” of the throw, clap their hands together as if they had caught a ball. That fun crazed dog would pursue that ball for as long as a pair of humans could tolerate the barking.
As for temperament, Shadow could not be outdone. This terrier had all the spunk and energy of a fox terrier, but very little of its common aggressiveness towards animals designated as pets. He would cuddle up with kittens and romp with baby rabbits in our home. He never fought over food in his dish–perhaps because he had been an only puppy and never felt a need to compete. There was always enough to go around.
Such was our introduction to the world of terriers. We had Shadow for 6 years until he died in an accident. The scene was more heartrending than “Ole Yeller” with my boys sobbing and holding Shadow as he slipped away. A yard filled with teenagers helped dig his grave and lay the infamous and much loved rascal to rest.
CH Hexham’s Practical Magic ROM, aka SWEETIE
Within two days of Shadow’s death, I was searching shelters, online referrals, and contacting breeders as far away as the Mississippi River. None had smooth fox terrier pups available. My only lead was to contact a woman named Winnie Stout near Providence, Rhode Island. It was a six hour drive one way. It was mid August, so I decided we were going to take one more day trip before my son left for his first day of college.
What an amazing experience. We arrived at Winnie’s a bit after lunch. On some very beautiful property, with stone walls laid up with massive boulders, Winnie had her kennel. After getting clear on what we had in mind, Winnie placed a number of smooth fox terriers in a fenced yard and told us to take our pick. My kids and husband immediately went for a pretty little female who boldly ran up to the fence lavishing them with lots of attention. Fooled again! This girl was just beginning to instruct us in meeting her endless demands for attention.
After the choice was made, Winnie informed us that Sweetie had just turned 2 and was a retired show champion from Hexham kennels in Canada. We signed the required papers and paid the adoption fee, but within a couple days I was on the phone with Winnie. I could not bring myself to spay this girl; what if my daughter wanted to show her? What, I asked, were my alternatives. Winnie immediately gave me Liz McLean’s phone number. She was the original owner/breeder. The decision was up to her.
A year and a half passed. During that time, my father died and my second son who had been very close to him entered his senior year in high school. For many years we had done “puppy duty” for my father who raised beagles, fox hounds, and red bones. (One of our young dogs had even been bought by a gentleman from France of all places.) Anyway, after Dad died, my son, daughter, and I decided we wanted to whelp one last litter before Jason went to college. Closure—we thought—on many good memories.
I called Liz and she said I could buy Sweetie, CH Hexham Practical Magic, outright and be free to breed her. I opted to follow through on her earlier plans to breed her to CH Hexham’s Full Monty. Little did I know where all this would lead. Forget closure, this was a new beginning.
The First Sweetmont Litter
In April 2003, Sweetie gave birth to seven pups, six survived. At 8 weeks old, the litter was evaluated: a brown and white male was set aside for Liz’s clients. A black and white girl, CH Foxrun Pop The Cork, went to Marie Heffron. A striking all white boy with a black head, Nitro, went to Lynn Steel. A second girl, Portia, went to a junior handler. Finally, a third all white girl with a tan head, Sweetmont Angel Eyes, went to an agility home. By the time that Liz let me know that she had sold her clients another dog, I had decided to keep the tan and white dog Liz had reserved, Nature’s Nobleman and the last female, Little Miss Muzzie. I was becoming fascinated with genetics and breeding.
CH NATURE’S NOBLEMAN
The dog that was passed over turned out to be my first homebred champion. Winning nothing in Syracuse, NY as a 6 month old pup, “Comet” was kept home until March of 2004.
For the first two days of the Salt City Cluster, this boy did nothing. I was losing hope, thinking I was suffering from a bad case of kennel blindness. My fear, however, was soon dispelled. For the next three shows, Comet won three majors in a row: winner, winner’s dog, and best of winners.
I took him out for Montgomery County where he placed second in Open Class Dogs–second to CH Agria Giorgio Armani, stiff competition to be sure.http://www.agriakennel.hu/sima/bredby.htm
Comet finished his championship with four majors — the 4th and final received at his first weekend out after Montgomery County and a 5 point major at that.
Comet became an avid soccer player and couch warmer.
I suppose I ought to divulge the origin of my kennel name. After I registered Comet,( yes I was that clueless) I gave consideration to a long term kennel name. It arose from a combination of the dam and sire’s names from our 1st litter of puppies; CH Hexham Practical Magic: call named Sweetie, and sire CH Hexham Full Monty. Thus began Sweetmont Kennels. ( Piedmont and Beaumont are names. Why not go with Sweetmont?)