Calm After the Storm

A gentle Tibbie brings smiles everywhere from the show ring to nursing homes.


I waited for 13 months for my champion Tibetan Spaniel Sadie to come into heat, and it finally happened – during a hurricane. My tiny town on the Florida panhandle is called Fort Walton Beach, and we get many hurricanes. It wasn’t easy convincing someone to drive me to St. Louis, where my dog’s future mate lived, but thanks to my daughter, I was able to go. Fifty-nine days after the mating, my Tibbie Sneakers was born on Thanksgiving morning.

Ever since the 1970s when I began showing in conformation, I always dreamed of producing a bred-by-exhibitor champion. Sneakers (El Ray’s Sneaking By The Clock) was truly a natural in the show ring. On the day she attained her last three-point major, I proudly took her in for a crack at Best of Breed. The judge said, “Look at you in your underwear.” She did not get BOB, but she achieved her championship despite a lack of coat.

Shortly after Sneakers achieved her championship, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I truly believe that thinking about all of Sneakers’ wins painted a picture in my mind to help me recover.

I retired Sneakers after her show ring career and redirected her amazing “watch me” personality in the direction of therapy. Sneakers is still strutting her stuff, but now she makes seniors feel better in nursing homes. Once we visited a very young lady who suffered a stroke, and Sneakers refused to leave her side. Sneakers is fond of children and she loves listening to them read as part of Intermountain Therapy Animals.

Who would knew that the ravages of a hurricane could turn to joy in the form of a 9-pound Tibetan Spaniel named Sneakers?

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