BY SANDRA PATTERSONThe following article appeared in The Golden Retriever Club (UK) 2005 Magazine

A kennel’s success is often attributed to many years of hard work and dedication but I am sure there are many breeders who would agree that along the way, lady luck and fate have played their part. Our story is no different.

Around 1964 and just barely a teenager I saw my first Golden Retriever at a local dog training club. “Paddy” was of Bonspiel/Boltby descent and the breed instantly appealed to me.

In 1968 and after many years of hassling my father, “Caesar” came into my life. He was from the Santamaria Kennel of George & Rose Feast, sired by Ch Gunwalloe Woodruff CD x Gunwalloe Patricia. His pedigree had strong Bonspiel/Boltby influences combined with Halsham Hazel who went back through the Elsiville line. He was to become a champion in the show ring and gain is U.D. obedience title.

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Imported bloodlines have also played their part in our breeding over the years. In the mid 70’s, Ch Camrose Oh’s Buffalo (Tarquin x Styal Stefanie) was imported and lived with Shirley Sullivan in Qld. He was a dog with a super pedigree who I think was a style a little “early” for Australia and probably not fully appreciated. Nonetheless he sired champions and it wasn’t until his later years that his pedigree and full potential was realised and he was more widely used – a little late, but how often is this the case?

Another dog to play an important part in our breeding was Ch Lawnwoods Lovealot (Lorinford Lancelot x Lawnwoods Naughty Nancy) who resided with Tahmero Kennels in Victoria. More recently we were fortunate to import Ch Lawnwoods Rustic Rian UD (Rossbourne Just Jamie x Lawnwoods Remember me),.and from Sweden, Stenbury Water Snowman (Kulawand Summer Magic x Stenbury Water Lilac) and Ch Stenbury Sea Fantasy CDX (Okejs Explosive Symphony x Perrimay Fadilla).

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Whilst obedience was initially my first love, my introduction into the show world came when Caesar caught the eye of Woodruff’s owner, Shirley Sullivan. Shirley helped me with all the things a new (and very keen!) exhibitor would need to know. Shirley’s husband was a keen golfer and during a round of golf with a friend plans were made to mate the Sullivan’s Ch Tick Tock Reddy (Ch Gunwalloe Woodruff CD x Ch Bonspiel Joy [Comet x Hazel]) to “Sandy” (Kyvalley Golden Ellana – later to gain her championship).

Kyva was one of the most influential stud dogs ever in Australia. He was sired by Benedict of Golconda out of Ch Bonspiel Goldglint. Goldglint was a combination of Ch Boltby Comet and Ch Halsham Hazel. Leonie, bred by the late Violet Reid in Qld, was a daughter of Kyva’s out of NZ Ch Debutante of Silver Peaks whose great grandsire was Dorcas Timberscombe Topper. This “Kyva/Debbie” combination was repeated a number of times. Whilst “Sandy” was a much loved family companion, others disbursed throughout Australia to become the foundation of many of today’s top Australian kennels.

We knew little about bloodlines/combinations and everything else it is recommended you learn. Therefore I suppose it could be said that this is one place where fate and lady luck played its part for us. How lucky was it that the foundation of Buffalo Kennels was to begin with bloodlines that had been, and were to be, so well tested.

From this litter the legendary Ch Buffalo Woodbuff CD was born. Because of Woodbuff’s success, “Buffalo” (named after a nearby street from “Sandy’s” home!) become well known in golden circles. The Wilson’s did not wish to continue breeding and it seemed a shame that Buffalo would not continue, so I took over the prefix.

Woodbuff would go on to win many best in shows at both all breeds and speciality level, “royal” best of breeds, and produce numerous champions. A combination that was extremely successful was a mating to Ch Andalee Lady Celeste. This was repeated a number of times and produced 13 champions.

One of the dogs from the Woodbuff/Celeste mating was Ch Leoline Golden Ruffy who came to live with me. Ruffy like his father had a successful show career at all levels. However, I do recall that I could never teach him to come back to me when called!!

In the early 80’s I had met my husband Michael (at a dog show, where else!!). Michael had English Setters and whilst we continued with two breeds for some years, the goldens finally won him over. Once again, I feel fate and lady luck played their role and I have been very lucky to have had his support over the years.

A combination of these bloodlines together with that of our original breeding form the basis of our kennel today.

We have always been mindful of the inherited conditions in the breed and have over the years been very fortunate to have been able to keep them to a minimum. Today breeders have so much information at hand. However, this was not always the case in Australia.

Breeders can be very fearful of the unknown and it was a hard task for hip scoring to gain acceptance. On two occasions in the 80s Malcolm Willis visited Australia and for each Sydney visit, we organised and hosted a seminar enabling breeders to gain a better understanding of the hip scoring concept. We also were instrumental in introducing eye testing clinics to NSW and were one of the few to support the heart testing clinics when they were first introduced by the late Jean Shanks (Palkorra).

Today testing for hips eyes and hearts is accepted and the majority of breeders check their breeding stock. Most Breed clubs insist on these tests being carried out before members can advertise with them and the general public is so much more educated and aware of the problems our breed faces. Because of these tests, awareness has increased and both dogs and their owners are better for it.

I suppose one thing that has come to light over the years is that there is no such thing as being “free” of an inherited disorder. All dogs have the capability to carry disorders. Sometimes they become physically apparent and other times they remain hidden for generations. You have to learn to live with them and to use the knowledge at hand to produce puppies that can lead long and healthy lives.

And so today Buffalo can look back on an association with the breed spanning 38 years. It hasn’t been easy, as we all know of the many trials and tribulations that are associated with breeding dogs.

Our advice to those starting out is to always keep an open mind, to look and listen and always be willing to learn something new. There is a universe of education out there. We will never ever know all there is and should never think we do! Treat every breeding combination as a learning experience. Some work, some don’t. Those that don’t are a “lesson”, not a disaster, as nobody produces them on purpose. It can be such a lucky dip.

Do all the research you can. Look and listen, decide what appeals to you in a golden. Approach a kennel and start with the best bitch you can buy. She should excel in temperament and overall quality and possess the best pedigree you can get. By doing this right from the start you can save yourself a decade of breeding, trying to improve on generation after generation. If you can start out with the best you can find, so much of the work is already laid down for you and the foundation on which you built your “house” will be strong and sturdy.

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Ruffy was mated to a bitch sired by Ch Glennessa Ingot out of Ch Gunarryn Anthia (a g/granddaughter of our original Ellana back thru the Woodruff/Patricia bloodline). King (later Ch Leegolden Valley King) came home with us and was then mated to Stonebow Partita. Partita’s pedigree was a combination of English bloodlines combined with the Woodbuff/Celeste mating. This mating produced our very successful and legendary Ch Buffalo Kingpin.

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From that first Buffalo litter there are now 48 champions with 6 Aust and NZ champions and we are proud of many “firsts”. These include the first Australian and New Zealand champion and the first Grand Champion bitch (Grand Ch Buffalo Luvmelots – BIS Phillip Johnson Sweden), owned by Tahmero Kennels in Vic. In WA, Jessica Brown’s Grand Ch Buffalo Bel Ayre Prince is another we are extremely proud of. Dogs carrying our lines have also been successful in the field, obedience, agility and flyball.