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Neradmik Once Upon A Dream

In the end there was only one puppy. History normally identifies itself with much more but my little piece tumbled into the world on a chilly February day in 1994.

Neradmik Once Upon A DreamIt had been a long haul since the Kennel Club had ended its ban on the importation of frozen sperm to give UK dog breeders the opportunity to enhance their breeding lines and there had been times when I had questioned the wisdom of my decision. But watching the tiny bundle now feeding happily I knew that it been worthwhile; my dream had come true and there was only one name I could call him – I registered him as Neradmik Once Upon A Dream and, that night, I held him high and whispered in his ear - "Welcome Dreamer, you are going to be special".

Keeshonds, like many other breeds from time to time needed some fresh blood to extend the limited gene pool here in the UK. I had tried importing puppies from the USA but the quarantine regulations made this unattractive to repeat so I moved swiftly to take advantage of this exciting new process. I returned to the USA to choose the donor – a handsome dog called Am Ch Vandys Malik. He had what it takes and his owner was happy to cooperate with the insemination process; already well established in the US.

Moving swiftly was my intention – reality was somewhat different because I was, to some extent, pioneering the process and, like many of the MAFF departments, had to learn ‘on the fly’. It was, as I expected, sometimes tiresome, often frustrating and always lacking in visible movement. It was, as someone put to me, like wading through treacle where the destination was hard to find and the route to it undefined and constantly changing. All I could do was oil the wheels where I could and recognise that some government careers were on the line and to sign every form that was laid before me.

Dreamer eventually arrived in one of nine ‘straws’, suspended in a flask of liquid nitrogen and ready for his next journey. With all speed I contacted my vet who was ready and waiting. The perils of artificial insemination were well known to me so I had nominated several bitches in case of failure. My worries were fully founded because the first attempt failed – one third of the precious semen had been lost; things did not look so good. I tried again, this time with Ch Designer Stepping In Style For Neradmik (one I had earlier imported from the USA) and, after the tense waiting period, we got the result we hoped. With just three straws left I tried for a third time with another bitch but this too ended in failure.

Despite the missed matings, on reflection, I was pretty pleased with myself. My efforts had paid off and I had become officially the first in the UK to successfully use imported canine frozen sperm from the USA. Dreamer would go on to become the first UK champion from that process, take 10 CCs (8 with BOB), 14 RCCs, 1 Group 2, 1 Group 3 and BOB at Crufts in 1996. He became a key part of the Neradmik breeding programme and his progeny went on to many successes in the overall UK Keeshond scene. Dreamer fitted into the kennel like a glove and although his unique status was totally lost on his fellow dogs, I could not help but to admire a dog that beat all the odds and created a little piece of history.

Dreamer died suddenly and unexpectedly on 29th December, just a few weeks short of his fourteenth birthday and I am left with all the memories that we shared together. He was always very special to me and I now have to face life without him. Just a single puppy that fulfilled a dream – a dream that will remain with me forever.

Jean Sharp-Bale