Aikerskaill Kennels was established by David Markus and Rob Lindey in 1980. Our distinctive kennel name is taken from the name of Rob's great-great grandfather's farm in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. While Rob had the initial interest in showing and breeding, the demands of law practice have limited his involvement at dog shows in the last several years. David, who owns a grooming shop and is licensed as an All-Breed Judge by the Canadian Kennel Club, is more heavily involved in managing the kennel, handling and exhibiting at shows, and planning the next breeding. David is also one of the founders and first President of the National Whippet Club of Canada. While we have owned and bred Standard Long-haired Dachshunds and Miniature Poodles, our main interest has always been the Whippet.
A friend in North western Ontario imported a Whippet from the United States, showed her to her championship and bred her. We got to know one of the pups: Can. Ch Merewyn Pearl Harbour
, a BIS Whippet sire by Am. Ch. Blue Fox of Whippoorwill
. "Pearl" was pure white, had an elegant outline and was a great mover. We were intrigued by her almost cat-like mannerisms and were won over by her affectionate nature. This, we thought, was the breed for us.
Our first Whippet was a male. As Bo Bengtson says in his book The Whippet
, once you own one, it's hard not to get another. Six months later, "Pearl's" owner, Diane Ambro was breeding her bitch, so we reserved puppy. This puppy, Can. Ch. Tuckerton Minnie Pearl, F.Ch.
became the foundation bitch of Aikerskaill. Her pedigree is a combination of Whipporwill
bloodlines. We exhibited "Minnie" in Canada in 1983, primarily at the local shows, and she became No. 3 Whippet in Canada that year. "Minnie" was an Irish-marked fawn and white girl with lovely large, dark eyes that just melted your heart when she cocked her head and used her ears – as if to say: "How can you deny me?" She had a good length of body and a gorgeous topline and underline. But the most precious thing about "Minnie" was her temperament: even-tempered, playful yet with a serious and sedate aspect, she was wonderfully gentle both with humans and puppies. "Minnie" retired from the show ring to produce four litters. We had the thrill of a lifetime when she came out of retirement to win the Veterans Class and an Award of Merit under Allan Pepper at the first National Whippet Club of Canada Specialty in 1994. We lost "Minnie" in April, 1996. She had turned 14 the previous December.
First Breedings: Can. Ch Tuckerton Minnie Pearl, F.Ch.
"Minnie" was first bred to Can. Ch. Ashgrove's Magnum Force
("Deuce") in Montreal. We had been quite taken with Allan Pepper and Terry Taft's Can. Ch. Alery Astrologer's Antares
but since he was no longer standing at stud, we went to his son. We were also impressed with "Deuce's" sister, Can. Ch. Ashgrove Aphrodite
. This breeding produced three puppies, all of whom became Canadian champions; one of the bitches, Ch. Aikerskaill Distant Thunder
("Jody") won 2 All Breed BIS as well as many SBIS. She was also ranked Number 3 Whippet in Canada twice. "Jody" was a petite, balance blue-fawn bitch. Her litter brother, Ch. Aikerskaill Tuckerton Pharlap
, a red brindle with white markings, was longer in body and had more bone. He produced well for us and for breeders with other bloodlines.
We had long admired the Whippets produced by Whippoorwill Kennels of Barbara Henderson. We had the good fortune to meet Barbara and Harriet Nash Lee (Winsmith Kennels
) in 1983; we began to discuss breeding "Minnie" to a male out of the Whippoorwill line. We took "Minnie" to Am. P.R. Ch Obailee's Britannia
("Paul") owned by Stacey Davis. This breeding produced four Canadian Champions, one of whom played a big role in our later breeding program: Ch. Aikerskaill Andromeda
We decided to tighten the line between Aikersaill and Whipporwill and so we took "Minnie" to Harriett Lee's BIS Am. Ch. Whippoorwill Tanzanite
("Zan"). He was a very striking blue brindle dog with a nice neck and shoulder and elegant top and underlines. He had a lovely side gate, although somewhat over-angulated in the rear. This breeding produced only one girl and so we decided to repeat it. This time, we leased "Minnie" to Harriett lee and this co-bred litter produced two lovely girls: Am. Can. Ch. Aikersaill Laurel of Winsmith
("Charlotte") and Can. Ch. Aikerskaill Marbel Annapolis
("Willow"). These two fawn and white bitches were quite different in type: "Charlotte" being very refined, elegant and "ladylike", whereas "Willow" was a more "houndy" type.
It was with the "Zan" litters that we were able to improve upon the front movement, yet still maintain the elegance, topline and underline as well as the temperament that our Whippets already possessed. This linebreeding also helped to set the "type" that we were striving for. It also was the beginning of a wonderful working partnership with Harriett Lee at Winsmith.
The Next Generations
After four litters, "Minnie" had made her contribution to our breeding program and had given us some wonderful daughters who would continue her work. "Minnie" retired to the couch and played grandmother to the many pups that followed over the next seven years.
We took Ch. Aikersaill Andromeda
("Ashley") to Am. Ch. Surrey Hill's Houston F. Ch.
("Houston"). There were a few Champions from this litter; however, the type was not what we were looking for. The next year, we sent "Ashley" to Am. Can. Ch. Antares T.J. Winsmith
("T.J."), a Ch. Whippoorwill Moonstone grandson.
"T.J." stood over ground, had an excellent rear and moved beautifully. He was a striking blue brindle dog with a dark eye and good shoulders. "T.J." was long in body, but had a flatter topline than the ideal. He had a very old pedigree and proved to be a valuable asset in our breeding program. He gave us a wonderful bitch, Am. Can. Ch. Aikerskaill Glory of Winsmith
"T.J." was also mated with our "Zan" daughter, Am. Can. Ch. Aikerskaill Laurel of Winsmith
("Charlotte"). This breeding produced puppies of excellent type. Notable from this litter were Ch. Aikerskaill Spirit of St. Louis
("Solo"), a blue fawn male; Ch. Aikersaill Silver Dart
("Drama"), a fawn and white female; and Ch. Aikerskaill Memphis Belle
("Memphis"), a red brindle and white female.
"Charlotte" was a busy girl: we bred her twice more. We first took her to Am. Ch. Whippoorwill Tanager
("Timely"). A ten-year old when we used him, "timely" had a beautiful front assembly, good top and underline and a pretty eye. He was also a great moving dog. "Timely's" pedigree was also important to us. Since Am. Ch. Misty Moor's Thornwood Dondi
("Dino"),( Zan's sire), was no longer alive, "Timely" was our most direct route to such Whippoorwill classics as BIS Am. Ch. Lady Blair, Am. Ch. Fenwick and Am. Ch. Blue Fox.
We certainly learned the lesson that it is important to go to dogs like "timely" well before they are 10 years old; otherwise, their bloodlines will be lost. This breeding gave us type, elegance and movement. Am. Ch. Winsmith a Star is Born
("Judy") lived with Harriett in Virginia while Can Ch. Aikerskaill Cabaret
("Liza") lived with us in Canada. "Liza" was not able to finish her American championship due to an accident that seriously injured her leg.
"Charlotte" was bred to Ch. Chelsea Whippoorwill Hudson
("Hudson") a grandson of Ch. Chelsea of Drakkar of Oxford
("Drake"). Our "T.J.: daughter, Am. Can. Ch. Aikerskaill Glory of Winsmith
("Glory")("Glory") was also bred to "Timely" and produced puppies with excellent movement.
We are striving to breed a sound, typey Whippet of moderate size and with good movement. From our foundation bitch, Can. Ch. Tuckerton Minnie Pearl, F.Ch.
we were blessed with a Whippet with very elegant lines, a lovely large dark eye and gorgeous temperament. She passed these attributes to her offspring. Minnie also had good movement – especially her side and rear gait. She moved a bit wide in the front and so we have paid particular attention to front movement in all our subsequent breeding.
We are fortunate to have had the friendship and guidance of two wonderful women who share our interest in the Whippet: Harriett Lee and Barbara Henderson. Harriet has been there for us when we needed to debate the merits of a particular breeding, to analyze a pedigree, to share the triumphs or to commiserate with us in our failures. In more recent years, she has been a partner as we co-bred litters and shared the responsibility of exhibiting the promising youngsters in the United States and Canada.
From the first time we visited Whippoorwill, Barbara has worked with us to help us understand Whippet structure and what goes into a good-moving Whippet. We were indeed fortunate to have her as our mentor. Barbara has been generous of her time, her hospitality and her knowledge. We have been sometimes referred to as "Whippoorwill North" – we cannot imagine a greater compliment.