Sonrisas is located just east of Toronto, Ontario. Our focus for the last seventeen years has always been on breeding healthy puppies.
Years ago, our family bought the most adorable little Lhasa Apso puppy who turned out to be the prime motivator for my wanting to become a breeder. Gizmo was a mobile genetic disaster with an overly aggressive personality, but we adored him. Despite the fact the he was registered with the CKC, he had a very questionable pedigree from some place in Missouri, so Gizmo taught me a great deal about how to go about buying a dog. He was also a financial disaster. He had severe arthritis and was allergic to everything imaginable. He put his back out regularly so needed to be under chiropractic care on a regular basis. Allergy tests were something new in those days and testing costs were in the four-figure range plus the cost of weekly shots. In looking back, I suspect he had several other conditions as well, but we were doing more than we could afford with our two daughters in University at the same time. I vowed at that time that I would someday be involved in breeding, and make health my number one priority.
Years later I bought two shelties and the one, Kinship’s Silver Shadows, was my first ever CKC champion (1997). While Willard was supportive, he kept asking me if I could please find a breed that didn’t shed. So the hunt was on. As it happened, CKC published a booklet on rare breeds about that time and on the cover was a picture of a Havanese. When I read about the temperament, I knew I had found my breed, but I knew I didn’t want to start breeding until I retired.
In 1996, I started looking for a show Havanese and it wasn’t until late summer of 2000 that I actually found one. In the years in-between I visited those breeders who would consider talking to me about getting a show puppy, and since my husband travelled with his job, I was able to accompany him and visit several breeders across Canada. Eventually, while waiting for a puppy from Pocopayasos, Paula Martel told me about a male show puppy from the US that was available. At that time the Canadian dollar was only worth about seventy cents so I told her that there was no way I was going to buy a dog from the United States, absolutely no way, but please send a picture of this puppy, and tell me where he was living. Two days later, I was driving to Toledo, my hometown, to pick up this little bundle of joy, who would become DeltaDawn Mijo’s Mojo, our beloved Mojo. What I liked about him was the diverse genetic background which consisted of European, American, and recent (at that time) Cuban bloodlines. We had a great deal of fun showing Mojo to both his American and Canadian championships because he loved the ring and the ring loved him. Even though he was barely shown in Canada, he was #4 Havanese in 2001. The next summer we went to Sudbury to pick up an adorable little black puppy from Pocopayasos, but I asked if I could see the other puppies that they had as well. There was a three-week-old little female puppy out of Ajersey von Havanna Centavos (Jersey) that I fell in love with, so I decided to wait and take her instead. Again, I liked her pedigree because it was different from most Havanese in North America. A few weeks later, we brought Pocopayasos LJ’s Hot Tamale (Molli) home. She grew into a breath taking little girl who hated the show ring. She would strut her stuff once, and only once, as if to say, “If they can’t decide on me now, well too bad.” Despite this, she was an American Canadian Champion by one year of age. To this day I regret not being able to special her, but it wouldn’t have made her happy, and I always like following my dogs natural inclinations whether it’s obedience, rally, agility or the show ring.
In 2002, we had our first litter of six puppies, one of whom stood out from day one for many reasons. Tiny began life weighing in at only 2.5 ounces. Our entire family stood vigil to ensure that this little one had equal time nursing. My family (Willard and our two daughters) decided to call him Tiny Thomas after our youngest daughter who was always called Tiny Thomas because she was the smallest in her class, and, as an adult is barely 5’ 1”.
Six months and two weeks later, I took Tiny to our first American National Specialty. He won the puppy sweeps under Dr. Garth Morgan – Jones. Two days later, he won winners male at the accompanying toy specialty for his first five point major. We didn’t show him again in the US until the National Specialty in Texas the following year where he took Best of Winners from the bred-by class under Judge Elaine Lessig. He earned his second five point major. He finally finished his American Championship that fall at the Finger Lakes, New York show with two more five point majors all owner handled. Even with his inexperienced owner showing him, he began winning group placements at many of the shows in Ontario.
His record in Canada includes many firsts to be followed not too many years later by one of his sons, Gingerbred Yukon Jack Desiero (Desi) who did something his father never did. Desi won both the US and Canadian National Specialties in the same year. Another son, CH. Lil Pawz El Destello ROM (Sparky) won an Award of Merit from the Bred-By class (Elaine Cirimele of Lil Pawz) at the Eukanuba Cup in California. After four years as the #1Havanese in Canada, Tiny was followed by another son out of Am Can Champion Sonrisas Mis Con Geni Ali T ROM, as #1 Havanese in Canada ending a five year reign. In 2011, Tiny won the veterans class at the American National Specialty in North Carolina at the age of nine. The previous year, in San Francisco, his sire, our Mojo, won the over ten veterans class.
Tiny, known as WORLD. AM. MEX. CAN. GrCH. SONRISAS’ TINY THOMAS CGN ROM, also includes the following as part of his accomplishments: He was Canada’s #1 Dog ALL BREEDS for 2006, and #1 Toy for 2006 and 2007. This was a first world record for any Havanese. In the process he won 35 BEST IN SHOWS, 13 Reserve Best in Shows, 6 Best in Specialty Shows and was the first ever Grand Champion Havanese in Canada. Along the way, he earned 300 Group Firsts, 400 group placements, and 500 Best of Breeds.
In 2015 Sonrisas George R Us took us almost to the same level in agility. George had his American and Canadian conformation championships by eight months of age. I then began his training in agility, and competed him for the most part on a mobility scooter. Because I knew I wasn’t doing George justice, I started training him with Liz Fortna Rowe who took her King Charles Cavalier to #1 All Breeds in agility. She has an upbeat and happy way with the dogs, a high priority with me, especially with Havanese. Despite not being able to compete George in the winter months while we were in Florida, Liz took him to #1, Havanese, #1 Toy, and #4 All Breeds. He did this so quickly mostly because of his consistancy, plus he adores Liz and runs well for her. We train all our puppies at least a little bit in agility because it builds strength and confidence. Right now we are pretty excited about Giocoso’s Joy for Sonrisas – Joy who is a JJ granddaughter. At nine months of age she is showing great promise.
These veterans have enriched my life in so many ways and I am so thankful to have such wonderful dogs as part of my life. They have given me the dogs I have today and each has taught me to love this breed more and more with each passing generation.