We decided as a family in 1991 that the time was right for us to have a dog. After long discussions about which breed of dog to have, the Golden Retriever was the unanimous winner. Being very naive and in our haste to get a puppy, we made our first mistake - we purchased a puppy we later found out to have been bred on a Welsh Puppy Farm. Megan was a ‘one-man’ dog, (my husband Kevin’s) and although she performed well in obedience, her temperament was far from what one should expect from a Golden Retriever.
In 1995 we decided to get a companion for Megan. This time we did our homework and found a lovely litter bred quite locally to us. Mollie was one of 11 and we were able to visit her regularly until we were able to bring her home at eight weeks of age. Mollie was born in a farmhouse surrounded by loving people. She was a dream to train and her temperament exceptional.
Tragically, Megan died on Boxing Day 1998. It was then I decided to go ahead and have Mollies relevant health checks done as I desperately wanted another dog like her. Fortunately her hip-score was low and her eye check clear. But breeding from her was not as easy as I’d anticipated. I found a proven stud dog - whose pedigree tied in nicely with hers and was also a dog with a good temperament, even introducing them prior to her coming into season. Unfortunately, even after a successful mating, no puppies appeared. We repeated the mating 9 months later and this was again to prove a fruitless exercise. I was very disappointed but remained determined and decided to have a third and final attempt. Through friends, I heard of a lady who lived locally who had bought a Stanroph Golden Retriever to use at stud. As this dogs pedigree also worked very well with Mollie’s, and he had passed all relevant health checks, and, although unproven at the time, we went ahead. Mollie adored him - Bart - and after a successful mating, produced 5 puppies - 4 dog & 1 bitch. This meant I had no choice in which puppy I was to keep. We named the bitch Ellie-May she is a fantastic dog and we all love her to bits. She is a bit hyper-active but she has not an ounce of nastiness in her entire body.
15 months later we repeated the mating, this time they produced a litter of 6 - 5 bitches and 1 dog puppy. I again kept a bitch puppy from this litter - Sophie.
Sadly we lost Mollie in 2010 at 14 3/4 years of age, she was a wonderful dog and we owe so much to her.
Sophie had her first litter of 3 dog puppies to Champion Xanthos Black Thorn in March 2005. In July 2006, she had a litter of just 2 bitch puppies by Pandreft Playing the Game. I have kept one from this litter - Mia. As Sophie appears to have small litters, we decided to mate her again - but would you believe it - she had a litter of 10! Again I have kept a puppy from this litter - Maisie. Owing to house moves and other commitments, we had our first litter from Ellie-May in March 2007 from which we kept a bitch puppy Tilly. Ellie, Sophie and Mia all had litters during 2008 and it was my intention to keep a bitch puppy from Ellie to hopefully pursue an ambition to show my girls, but after a lot of thought and advice from others, we decided to let all the puppies go to pet homes. We had a failed attempt with mating Mia in the summer of 2009 and Sophie had her final litter with Ch. Xanthos Espionage. I’m pleased to say that in April 2010 Mia produced a small but quality litter to Xanthos Mondriaan and from this mating we have kept Tizzie, a very much longed for puppy to stay here at Cuckmere.
Ellie and Sophie’s days for having puppies are now well over and they are now happily spending their retirement relaxing here and will occasionally play with the youngsters when they’re in the mood!
Mia and Maisie both had litters during August 2011 with Jaffa and super pups they all were. Tizzie had her first litter to Malenbrook Master Mind in September 2012 and between them produced 5 absolutely adorable babies.
In December 2011 we bought in a bitch puppy from the very well known Xanthos Kennel. Xanthos Flavia aka Florentina or Florie for short has settle din very well here at Cuckmere and is a superb addition to our girls. In August 2012, I went with a friend down to Paignton for a Championish SHow, and was absolutely thrilled that she came third in a huge class which qualified her for Crufts 2013.
Maisie is due a litter in July 2013 and we intend to mate Florrie when she decides to come into season and plans are being made for Tizzie’s second litter at the end of the year. It is our intention to keep a bitch puppy from Florrie and a dog puppy from Tizzie.
Things do not always go as planned. We thought the idea of having 2 puppies at the same time would be too much. They would both need individual attention and one puppy is enough work. So we finally decided to keep a dog puppy from Florrie’s litter. Kevin being an ex-detective suggested we name the litter after famous detectives and so Cuckmere Dixon of Dock Green aka Dixon stayed here!
Tragically, in August 2015 Florrie wasn’t herself when we got back from mucking out our horses. It was obvious something was very wrong so a rush to the vets where he suspected some sort of vestibular incident - not a fir though, perhaps meningitis! We left her there for treatment only to have a phone call a few hours later to say she had passed away. We had some tests done to find some answers and the verdict was a probable brain tumour. Such a sad waste of a young, beautiful and MY little girl.
Tizzie had her 3rd litter in later 2015 with Dixon, just 2 pups and we were more than happy to keep the little girl - now named Ivy. So much like her mother, never keeps still and sadly is too much of a wriggler to stand still in the show ring. Never mind, she is a great asset to our K9 family.
2015 has been an incredibly sad year for us. Ellie was approaching her 15th birthday, she was getting slower and slower. Her appetite was going too although she awlays perked up when the grandchildren came to see her and would take food from them! Kevin was working away, I’d told him how poorly I thought she was and we decided to wait until he got back to make ‘the decision’. We had a lovely evening with Ellie, all lying on the floor, giving her hugs. We made the decision to call the et the following morning. Well, as ever Ellie had to have the last say in the matter, she passed away peacefully in her sleep during the night. Very sad, but she had a lovely long life and she bought such joy to us all.
Just 6 months later, her younger sister Sophie was acting very similar to Ellie. We took her to the vets where he thought she had multiple issues internally, so we decided to give her peace and allow her to go in a dignified and peaceful way. My two dear girls from Mollie gone - life will never be quite the same.
After all the sadness, we decided we would like to buy in another puppy, but how hard it has been to find what we wanted. On the 4th July, our Polly was born and we travelled up to Suffolk several tims to get to know her and her breeder. She has now settled in very well, is a beautiful, lively girl who will soon be making her show debut.
My daughter Kelly has always wanted a male dog. In 2006, we decided that we would buy in a dog instead of keeping one of our male puppies. We spent several months looking around and were delighted to find Jaffa - who was bred by Janice Hughes. His parents come from well established lines in Goldens and he has developed into a stunning looking dog and is a credit to his breed and breeder. He has an exceptional temperament and is loved by everyone who meets him. Jaffa has had all his relevant health screenings done and scores are very good. We have now taken the decision to offer him at public stud to approved bitches only. For further details please see our Stud Dog page. He has currently sired seven litters with another due late January 2012 and the quality of the pups has been exceptional. In 2011, we were absolutely thrilled to be honoured with the new Charity Hounds for Heroes accepting one of Jaffa and Maisie’s puppies on their initial intake of recruits to be trained as Assistance Dogs. They have named the puppy Colonel and we will watch his training with huge pride until such times as he goes to live, support and hopefully make someone’s life worth living again.
I have been a member of Seaford & District Dog Training Club since 1991 and have taken all my dogs there as puppies and progress each one through the Kennel Club Good Citizen Schemes. Ellie-May, Sophie, Mia and more recently Maisie are all holders of the Gold award. For some while I had been filling in, taking classes when other trainers are ill or on holiday. In April 2005 I started to take the puppy classes. I thoroughly enjoy doing this, hard work as it is. My daughter Kelly has been helping me to run the classes and we are very proud of our pupils and many of them have remained with the club and taken part in the Kennel Club Award Schemes. I
I am a member of both the Southern Golden Retriever Society as well as the National Society. I personally feel this is very important as they have far stricter guidelines when breeding from your dogs than the Kennel Club. They are able to put the health and welfare of this particular breed as a priority. Since I have started to breed, I have become even more passionate about the health, welfare and conditions puppy are born and raised in. In my opinion, potential purchasers have the right to the best puppy possible and to have that, the puppy, its mother and siblings should be raised in the home and wherever possible a family with constant care and attention. I most sincerely hope my puppies fill this criteria and potential puppy owners are very welcome to come and visit me and my dogs at any time. My dogs are most importantly my pets, they are my life and will live with me until the end of their days. I do not re-home my girls when they have finished breeding - I undertook to care for them when I decided to keep each one and they will remain here in my home forever, regardless of whether or not they are breeding material. This obviously means I do not have a constant supply of puppies available - so if its a Cuckmere puppy you want, you may have to wait a while or I may be able to help you find a puppy from another responsible, caring breeder.
I am also a Kennel Club Assureded Breeder and have been since 2004.
I would like to thank my family, friends and members of Seaford Dog Club for being so supportive of me. From what started out as owning a family pet has become a commitment to my dogs that I take extremely seriously. I will only breed from quality, healthy stock and I spend many, many hours studying pedigrees and choosing potential stud dogs. I always visit the dogs prior to the event to check out their suitability, temperament and general nature.
I would especially like to thank my husband Kevin. He regularly exercises the dogs for me and also drives me many hundreds of miles to shows and visiting stud dogs etc. His support is invaluable - thanks Kev.