The history of the American Cocker Spaniel in Canada is a testimonial to the dedication of many notable individuals who persevered to perpetuate this breed and ensure its recognition in Canada. One of the oldest and longest continuing American Cocker Spaniel kennels in Canada, Shadyhill makes its home among the beautiful farmlands of rural Nova Scotia.
Jean DeWolfe is a familiar face to purebred dog fanciers and show enthusiasts both in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada. One of the foremost authorities on the breed in Canada, Jean's knowledge of Cockers is truly formidable and was acquired through years of hard work. As a result, she has a keen and remarkable eye for a Cocker.
The Shadyhill story actually begins years before Jean's birth. Her grand-parents Clayton and Pearl Sharp established Robin Hill Kennels in Ontario approximately 1930. They along with their daughter Helen Sharp (Jean's mother) acquired their foundation breeding stock: a black grand-son of Sir Obo, a black grand-daughter of Robinhurst Foreglow and a red female who goes back to Warglow and Midkiff Jean. Helen Sharp eventually married Raymond Wetmore and moved to New Brunswick with some of the early breeding stock, using the "Of Devon" prefix. The early records indicate that Jean's parents bred their first litter in 1938 and kept a buff and a black from this initial breeding. Additions to the bloodline included dogs going back to: Ch. My Own Peter Manning, Donatello R, Ch. Torohill Trader, Ch. Try Cobb's Candidate, Ch. My Own Brucie and Ch. Stockdale Town Talk.
Jean had a love and interest in Cockers beginning in her childhood. She helped her mother care for the Cockers and bought her first Cocker in 1956 with babysitting money. Her mother took her to her first show and she was hooked! She taught all the Cockers to stack and gave then regular trims with "a pair of Sunbeam cattle clippers that sounded like a freight train!" She finished her first Champion in 1960. By the late 60's, Jean was concentrating on her family and career ( Public Health Nursing - 31 years) and showing and handling. In 1973, the kennel name Shadyhill was registered.
Jean began attending the American Spaniel Club shows in 1968 to watch and study bloodlines. In the late 70's and early 80's, several Shadyhill bitches were sent to the US for stud service to: Ch. Fairacresfram's Jet Action, Ch. Kamp's Kaptain Kool, Ch. Pineshadow's Coco Cub and Ch. Lurola's Last Issue. From these breedings, Jean produced: multi BIS winner Ch. Shadyhill's Trouble in Action (black), group winner Ch. Shadyhill's Frost ‘N Fire (r/w), Ch. Shadyhill's The Root Bear, the first brown Cocker to be awarded an all-breed BIS (his sister was the first chocolate to be awarded a Best Puppy in Show and his daughter was the first choc/tan to win a Sporting Group) and as well, BIS Ch. Shadyhill's Classical Issue who was the first of three successive generations of BIS winners - his son Ch. Shadyhill's Powerhouse and grand-son Ch. Shadyhill's Just A Joker, also BIS winners.
While attending the 1989 ASC show, Jean met Dr. Mary Meriwether and brought home one of Mary's puppies. He was to become Ch. Tagalong's Shadyhill Storm (Peter) - his record in total: 32 BIS, 9 BISS and 127 Sporting Groups. He was twice top Cocker in Canada and #3 Sporting Dog in Canada. Undoubtedly, Peter was one of Jean's "heart dogs" and his impact on the Shadyhill bloodline is remarkable. His daughter at Shadyhill, Ch. Shadyhill's Wild Child (Tia) is Peter's legacy - she is a beautiful representation of those rare qualities that made Peter so truly special. But Tia is only one of the remarkable bitches at Shadyhill - they are the driving force behind this incredible producing bloodline...each one a reproduction of the standard.
As time passes, the contribution of these beautiful girls will become evident in the quality of their offspring and the attributes that they will pass on for generations to come. Some names to watch for: Shadyhill's Because I'm Worth It (Porsche), Shadyhill's Neat'N Tidy (Niko),Ch. Shadyhill's Over The Rainbow (Judy),and Shadyhill's Belladonna (Bella). Shadyhill does keep a select few stud dogs, utilizing outside bloodlines as needed to bring in desired features, with a thought to what is 8-10 generations behind them as well.
Jean has been a wonderful mentor for so many other breeders getting started in Cockers. She readily shares her knowledge and expertise and it is this quality especially that sets her apart from other breeders. In addition to Cockers, Jean shares her life with her son Jeremy and her beloved grand-son Joey. Her husband Ed DeWolfe, who passed away several years ago, shared Jean's enjoyment of the dogs and his own particular love for horses. Jean is also an expert gardener who has a fabulous array of perennials and shrubs which she enjoys tremendously and again, her expertise in this area is readily shared with others.
There are Shadyhill Cockers in countries around the world and many have become foundation dogs for other kennels. At last count, Shadyhill represents over 200 champions in the records of the Canadian Kennel Club. Jean has also successfully bred and finished several Miniature Longhaired Dachshunds.
Jean's philosophy is a simple one and it has held her in good stead for all of these years: aim for total soundness in mind and body and test, test, test! All Shadyhill Cockers are SLT yearly, thyroid tested and OFA certified. As well, Jean stresses the importance of having good breeding stock - a breeding program is only as good as its bitches...the importance of good fronts and rears, correct heads and expression is essential. As Jean says " We have to do our part to ensure that our beloved Cockers as a breed will be enjoyed for many years to come."
Authored by: Daria Edgecombe
Excerpted from Treasures of the American Spaniel Club