Ms Santana: Breeder of the Year?

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Sometimes doing your homework is not enough (OR buyer beware)
From: Cyberdobes On Behalf Of Clare Mikel
Sent: Wednesday, June 03, 2015 12:21 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: [Cyberdobes] Sometimes doing your homework is not enough (OR buyer beware)
Though I am generally reluctant to invite everyone in to my life, today I think it is the best way to handle the
disturbing and somewhat sad situation in which I currently find myself, along with my dearest friend,
Katherine Munch ("Kennie"). Some of you may remember Kennie as the owner of Ch. Sherluck's Castle Rock
(Ch. Tolivar's Boo Radley Dob Mann x Ch. Moraga Hills High Fashion) from the late 80's and early 90's, favorite
client of Don Simmons and breeder of K-Rite Dobermans.
My name is Clare Mikel and I am the "star" of a recent discussion on Cyberdobes that began with a post by
Cheri McNealy entitled "Buying Your Dream Puppy". Though most of the story she presented was true, there
was some literary license taken in its re-telling.
For example, I'm not a newbie.
I grew up with Dobermans. My mother had them prior to my birth. My personal history in the breed begins
when I bred my Ch. Sherluck's Star Trek granddaughter to Ch. Sherluck's Castle Rock. My kennel name was and
still is "Dak". I co-owned the singleton bitch from that first litter with Kennie Munch, Ch. Dak's Destination V KRite. Kennie returned my stud fee and told me to put it toward her show career. We have been fast friends
ever since. She was bred to Ch. Chatelaine High Octane and produced a two pup litter: Ch. Dak's Destination
Chatelaine and Dak's Truffles V Chatelaine, WAC (he needed a major to finish). "Cody" as he was known, was
bred to a Wingate bitch I had from Jody Pidino and she produced another singleton puppy: Ch. Dak's
Detonation, WAC. She was bred five times and never conceived: twice to Ch. Thomas Jefferson Dob Mann;
once surgically to "Cass" and twice to a Martha Washington son. With the last breeding she developed
pyometria and was spayed. She lived to be 13 and when she died, I started looking for another bitch to show
and finish; one who could become my new foundation. (The four dogs I bred from those 3 litters are all listed
on Dobequest). As an aside here, I might add that I've also shown and finished Australian Cattle Dogs which
are my husbands' breed.
In Cheri’s story about me, it was true that I had "done my homework" and zeroed in on the "reputable
breeder" I hoped would help me with a new beginning in Dobermans. But I didn't chose her on my own. The
"third party" I'd partnered with for this great adventure was my dear friend, Kennie. A lot of time had passed
since our adventures in breeding all those years ago and things had changed in my life: I finished veterinary
school and became a practicing DVM and I'd gotten married and had a child (now 8 years old). So the prospect
of once again collaborating with Kennie to pursue showing, finishing and breeding Dobermans couldn’t have
come at a better time for me. To say I was excited and looking forward to the fun we'd have would be a huge
Unlike the story written by Cheri, however, a judge was not the first person to tell me my show puppy had
multiple missing teeth - three to be exact. I actually knew about "Meri's" teeth well before she was ever
shown. As soon as I realized there was a problem in her mouth, I x-rayed, not only for myself but so I could
send the breeder the radiographs thus providing her with information to consider in future breeding decisions.
My bad maybe, but even with 3 missing teeth, I went to the dog show and enjoyed exhibiting Foxfire's Brave
Merida V Dak (Ch. Foxfire's Alltimate x Foxfire's Jazz'n It Up - a "Jet" daughter), and hired Cindi Huckfeldt to
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Sometimes doing your homework is not enough (OR buyer beware)
handle her for me. Cindi really wasn’t terribly interested initially, but she did agree, I think as a favor to me,
and of course, that decision didn’t hurt her with Michelle either.
Also different from Cheri's story, "Meri" was not purchased by me alone. Kennie and I paid the $3500.00 for
her and she was not, to my knowledge, the pick bitch in the Jullyen x Jazzmyne litter, she was simply the one
offered to us. We co-own her with my husband and son and we were all partners with our plan: I would get
"Meri" to the shows, finish her and then we would breed her to "Cass" sperm. However, as you might expect,
the three missing teeth changed everything.
The seriousness of that fault was not something Kennie or I wanted to perpetuate so it was decided to take
Michelle up on her offer to replace "Meri" when we finally reached her with the news about her teeth, or lack
thereof. At that time, Michelle promised to x-ray the mouth of the as yet unborn replacement, so how could
we possibly go wrong? I might add here that we do not co-own “Meri” with Michelle. I do not know why she
didn’t ask for a co-ownership on her but she did not. At the time of purchase, Michelle advised me she’d be
sending a contract for us to sign, but that never happened. We never received the contract.
Not mentioned in Cheri’s story is the fact that Michelle assured me the 3 missing teeth in my puppy was due
to “randomness”. Much later, when I had x-rayed and discovered the five missing teeth in "Rian’s" mouth
(Foxfire’s Live Long and Prosper V Dak – Ch. Foxfire’s Alltimate -sire of my first puppy “Meri”- x Ch. Foxfire’s Ya
Wanna Be Me – out of a full sister to “Jet”), I learned Michelle definitely should have known or at disclosed
concerns about missing teeth: the grandmother of my replacement puppy, "Jada", the full litter sister to “Jet”,
had indeed, produced multiple missing teeth and so had "Jullyen" (Ch. Foxfire's Alltimate). I have since learned
from Cheri, that “Jet” does not have a full mouth either.
In spite of that knowledge, which was known by Michelle but again, not disclosed to me, she tried her best to
educate me about the missing teeth on both of my puppies. She offered to provide me with a “pedigree
analysis of both your girls” so I could “HOPEFULLY come to understand the “randomness” of missing teeth I
have ALWAYS, TRUTHFULLY spoken about” (May 23 email to me from Michelle).
I was provided with an article about missing teeth and the ‘randomness’ of that problem AFTER the five
missing were confirmed in "Rian". "Meri" and "Rian" – two closely related bitches suffering from the same
“randomness”? In a February 25th email to Michelle, I asked if I could send her the money for the
radiographs she'd promised because I wanted to reinforce to her how important it was to me that the x-rays
were done.
On February 26th, she answered: “Hi Clare, I don’t really have a way to x-ray her. The Vet that crops has a
mobile clinic. No x-ray machine to do them while under for the ears. There is a vet south of me that has done
teeth in the past. But they want to do them after 12 weeks and I never found it an effective means to route
[sic] out missing teeth. So I don’t know what to say?”
Instead of seeing the red flags waving, I went along with this because I believed Michelle when she insisted
this was simply something random and there weren’t any significant problems in her line of Foxfire
Dobermans. And, as practicing vet, I knew I could get the x-rays done as soon as we returned home and deal
with any problems at that time. Problems I really didn't expect to find based on Michelle’s word and the
explanations she’d provided for me.
Backtracking a little, I don’t remember the part of Cheri’s story where she talked about how long I waited for
my replacement puppy. The truth is that several litters were born before the bitch designated as “mine”
arrived. By then, “Meri” was old enough for the 12-18 class and that’s where I entered her at the shows in
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Sometimes doing your homework is not enough (OR buyer beware)
Vallejo, CA. when I drove there to get my 11 week old replacement show puppy (March 2015). The long hours
driving from New Mexico to California seemed to fly by because I was so excited to meet her – to get her –
and to move along with my dreams to show, finish and breed her. Everything was going to be fine!.
However, half way to Vallejo, I received a call from Michelle advising me that my puppy had been diagnosed
with pneumonia that morning. Although she offered to leave her home, I had waited so long and driven so far
plus I was confident I would be able to treat her as soon as she arrived, I said “bring her”. In Vallejo I was
handed a very sick 11 week old puppy with a 103.5 body temperature and nasty lung sounds which I
immediately started on a 10 day course of two simultaneous antibiotics. She relapsed shortly after that and
was started on a course of azithromycin (a Z-pack) which finally resolved the pneumonia. Because of the
pneumonia, I did not feel it was in her best interests to sedate her for x-rays when I got back home until I was
sure she was completely recovered. "Rian", unfortunately, was not the only sick puppy on the trip with
Michelle. I saw ocular discharge in multiple pups from multiple litters at her set up that weekend in Vallejo.
Although she attributed the problem to ‘allergies’, after I returned home and had successfully treated "Rian",
Michelle texted me for antibiotic advice on a male puppy who was becoming increasingly ill.
On May 18th "Rian’s" x-rays were taken and when I saw the 5 missing teeth, I was devastated. I had two of my
colleagues confirm my findings and also emailed the radiographs to Board Certified Specialist in Veterinary
Dentistry and Oral Surgery, Dr. Kris Bannon in New Mexico and asked for an evaluation and written report on
my then 19 week old show puppy, not only for myself, but for Michelle Santana, Foxfire Dobermans – her
In Michelle’s favor, she did offer to take "Rian" back and I refused. Frankly, I was worried about what might
happen to her since, in my opinion, Michelle had demonstrated so little concern for her when she handed her
over to me at the dog show in Vallejo. Pneumonia is not a casual illness that just came upon my puppy the
morning she was diagnosed and frankly, the lack of good judgment on Michelle's part - having sick puppies
AT the dog show, exposing other animals to illness, was disturbing to me.
My bad – but I just couldn’t send my puppy back to Michelle.
On May 21, 2015, the Cyberdobes email list received a post from Cheri McNealy (whom I had never spoken
with, and did not know) asking the subscribers to answer a question or two about “Buying your dream puppy”.
I was not a member of Cyberdobes at the time but the post was forwarded to me and Cindi Huckfeldt on
Friday, May 22 by Michelle Santana.
I later learned that Kennie had called Cheri and advised her about our situation and of course, Kennie has
never had a problem telling the truth or sharing it. Since no restrictions were placed on Cheri by Kennie, she
offered our story for discussion, taking some literary license to protect the innocent.
That apparently wasn’t good enough for Michelle because after I responded to the forwarded Cyberdobes
post, I received a text from Michelle advising me that Kennie’s decision to involve Cheri would likely make it
very difficult for either of us to acquire show puppies in the future, or find anyone willing to handle for us
either. Michelle said she thought Kennie should think more about me in the future by not involving outsiders
in the situation.
On May 23rd I had a final text message conversation with Michelle where I indicated to her that I had spoken
with someone who knew of multiple missing teeth in other Foxfire puppies. I provided Michelle with contact
information when she asked for it and she immediately emailed the person in question demanding
clarification. She said “a Breeder can only keep track of 'anomalies' when they are told of them occurring”.
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Sometimes doing your homework is not enough (OR buyer beware)
Those emails were copied to Lisa Burroff and they followed one of mine where I told Michelle I did not see
“randomness” in this problem but rather, I thought she’d doubled up on a recessive when she bred Ch.
Foxfire’s Ya Wanna Be Me (daughter of "Jet’s" sister "Jada") to Ch. Foxfire’s Alltimate. "Jada" and "Jullyen"
had both produced multiple missing teeth with other sires and dams! Although Lisa Burroff had been brought
into the conversation by Michelle Santana, she emailed me asking not to be included further since she knew
nothing about "Rian's" mouth. I don't blame her a bit for wanting to stay out of this mess.
Two of my replies/reponses to emails from Michelle (they’re MY emails) will follow:
#1: (My response to Michelle forwarding the May 21 Cyberdobes post from Cheri McNealy)
From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: RE: [Cyberdobes] Buying your dream puppy....
Date: Fri, 22 May 2015 20:08:24 -0600
There are obvious inaccuracies all over the place here, BUT she does correctly explain the dilemma.
1. I am not the newbie described here. I have bred and produce my own champions. I started with a backyard
bred bitch and produced 3 generations of champions. More the shame, I am a proven show home that takes
fabulous care of my animals, and would have been very open to working together in the future.
2. We knew about Meri's teeth well before she entered the ring. No judge needed to be the one to crush my
hopes. I have been spending good money showing and putting a handler on a bitch that will likely never finish.
Why should I bother when I need that for another attempt at purchasing a show prospect?
3. There was no secrecy regarding Rian being a replacement pup. No wink wink. And no shipping. Cindy knew
the situation, and if Cindy knew Lisa knew. I made another expensive trip to CA to pick up a pup diagnosed
with pneumonia that day, making it unwise to immediately sedate and x-ray the mouth. SHAME on me for
putting her health the priority instead of being a cold-blooded breeder/exhibitor bent to win at all costs, and
not realizing the ever increasing number of dogs out there with multiple missing teeth from your line that is
slowly filtering back to me.
4. I am not deterred. I will not let the fact that you did not x-ray Rian's mouth, like you promised, while
weeping what I have to assume were crocodile tears, make me quit Dobes. As I will not let your veiled threat
of black balling me as a puppy buyer.
Further, you should not be placing show pups at $3500 a pop without x-raying mouths knowing full well the
propensity Jullyen has for producing multiple missing teeth when bred back into your line. If you do not have
the time to do this, I suggest you breed half the number of litters you do each year, or enlist your minions to
get it done, OR decide between devoting time being a proper, ethical breeder vs. the queen bee of the DPCA.
If you have a concern regarding your reputation, you should behave in a manner that will not jeopardize it.
Very simple.
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Sometimes doing your homework is not enough (OR buyer beware)
I may have to join cyberdobes to see how others respond to this fictional account, that Cheri dramatized, that
bears many similarities to the reality. I, myself have never met or spoken to Cheri McNealy. She has an
eloquent, if not completely accurate way of provoking discourse.
Clare Mikel DVM
[email protected]
From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]; [email protected]
Subject: Fw: Fwd: [Cyberdobes] Buying your dream puppy....
Date: Fri, 22 May 2015 15:09:32 -0700
From: Cheri McNealy [email protected]
Date: May 21, 2015 at 2:41:49 PM PDT
To: Cyberdobes < [email protected]>
Subject: [Cyberdobes] Buying your dream puppy....
Reply-To: "a discussion list for the Doberman Pinscher Fancy." [email protected]>
For those of you tired of current topics - and politics - I offer this - and I didn't pull it out of my hat
You decide you want to show dogs and you do your homework before you zero in on the reputable
breeder from whom you hope to buy your puppy. <snip>< snip> <snip>
-----------------------------And Number 2:
From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]
Subject: RE: Question Jackie
Date: Sat, 23 May 2015 20:45:36 -0600
SO you bred Danika, a Jada daughter (who produced multiple missing teeth), to Jullyen (who produces
multiple missing teeth).
I'm not seeing how this is random. Sounds like you doubled up on a recessive.
You promised to X-ray, then reneged, then when I am already 1/2 way to Vallejo, in Barstow, CA you call
saying my pup has pneumonia, (which takes two long courses of antibiotics to clear) and prevents me from
sedating immediately to do my own x-rays. AND I don't believe for a second all those pups at your set up with
ocular discharge had “allergies", especially after you texted me wanting antibiotic advice when one of the boys
became sick.
I am done conversing about this. I am not reading articles. I am putting this as far behind me as I can. I have
learned another hard lesson. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.
(Oh, and Hi Lisa, since you are somehow being involved.)
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Sometimes doing your homework is not enough (OR buyer beware)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Just this week during a Facebook message conversation with Kim Clark, the owner of two Foxfire dogs, she
wanted me to know know how lucky I was, I guess, to have $5000 worth of dogs (2 pets) for only $3500.
I can’t help likening my windfall here to someone who saves their money, dreams and plans for a vacation in
Barbados for years, finds the best airline to get them there and when the plane lands in Antarctica in the dead
of winter and the vacationer is upset and surprised, the company people insist there was nothing to complain
about because after all, "you're going to get your vacation"! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- In closing, I could have sent both these bitches back. I won't. They will fed and
loved, and take up space I could have used for breeding stock. "Meri" will continue to sleep in my son's bed,
and he will learn you don't dump animals because they aren't perfect. "Rian" won't disappear because she is
an embarrassment to her breeder. I still hope to obtain a foundation bitch to show, breed, and move forward
with in the future. I should have insisted on a contract, but didn't expect to need one from the President of
the DPCA. I shouldn't have trusted the President of the DPCA to make good her word and get radiographs of
the replacement pup, and I shouldn't have accepted the second pup without them. I didn't think lightening
would strike twice. Turns out it isn't lightening, but far more commonplace. I hope my hard lesson will spare
someone else out there looking for their "dream puppy". Please call me if there are questions, concerns. I
hate texting.
Clare Mikel DVM 505-860-2276