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Lee Steeves and Ken Curren

Lee is judging our Puppy Sweepstakes at the 2006 ATCC National Specialty in May. Exhibitors will be welcomed by her wide warm smile and will appreciate her gentle touch with the dogs. As a long time breeder of Airedales, past Regional Director for the ATCC and currently the CKC Director for Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Lee shares her lifelong love affair with everything canine in this wonderful profile.

Lee Steeves and Welsh terrier Typist

Lee Steeves and Welsh terrier Typist
Photo courtesy of Lee Steeves

Isn’t it a great opportunity when someone – anyone – asks you to speak about Airedales? That they have been in my family for as long as I can remember is a wonderful start. That my husband also had an Airedale as a child tells a great deal more about our lives! How could a marriage not thrive when both members of the team are brought together by one of the greatest dogs in the world?

While Ken was breeding and showing Airedales when we met, I had been provided a Great Dane by my Dad on graduating from University so had a brief hiatus prior to marrying Ken. Our kennel (Regalridge) was established in the early 1980s. Prior to that, Ken had co-bred a number of litters with Linda Martin of Lookinglass fame. With Linda as support, we ventured further afield and purchased two Airedales from Everett and Marilyn Mincey. Meagan and Cody were exceptional – it was with Meagan that we were awarded our first Best Puppy In Show and the die was cast!

We have been actively breeding for more than two decades. Along with the English background that we began with and the addition of the West Coast bloodlines much loved by the Minceys, we combined our great friend Forbes Gordon’s Tartan lineage through our Ch Tartan Texas Ranger, and later several other Tartan dogs and bitches including Patches (Oil Patch Star). Over the years we have had many wonderful Airedales grace our home, often living fourteen or fifteen years. The sea air seems to support longevity!

When choosing our dogs – whether it is analyzing the strengths of a litter or deciding on a dog to add to our program – we seem to focus on several points. The first is balance. It is doubtful we have ever been thought of as folks who like the extremes in this breed and our dogs reflect that image of moderation, balance and strength. We seem to move toward dogs that are a sum of their parts and will never be thought of as head hunters. A confident dog that is able to do the work for which it was bred is, to us, the epitome of a great Airedale. Of less concern might be detailed coat work, the famous Airedale reserve or a less than perfect aspect that doesn’t impact the function the breed was developed to perform. We do greatly admire and strive to maintain correct terrier movement and are always taken with a great body!

When asked about Airedale memories, it is hard to choose only a few. It could be the image of the young blind boy who met Nicholas (Leader Of The Pack) at the Purina advertising photo shoot and declined adult assistance when he determined that he would take Nick for a walk through the hotel (that still brings tears to my eyes) or perhaps the joy we see daily when we have left the property and return to be greeted by a gaggle of exuberant Airedales popping up and down at the gates. There are, of course, wonderful show memories – of Nick’s four Bests In Show on one weekend, of our first Best on Jody on a very hot summer afternoon under Ed Dixon (who noted that he had never given an Airedale a BIS) or Christie’s Best under a judge from Australia who was on her way home after having just judged at Windsor Castle and noting that in her opinion this was a specimen equal to any she had judged in the British Isles. There are memories of our Airedales remembering Obedience commands (not many) that they had been taught as puppies and being so darned proud that they could barely live with themselves and thoughts of the great ones that are gone but who have given us so much on which to build. Perhaps the greatest of them all was Jenny – an Airedale that didn’t finish her Championship but who carved out a piece of our hearts and who will remain there – for her loyalty, her humour and tenacity and her certain knowledge that I could not do anything without her by my side for support, backup or simply as the greatest friend anyone could ever have.

BIS BISS Am Can Ch Regalridge Leader of the Pack, photo by Walter Norris

BIS BISS Am Can Ch Regalridge Leader of the Pack
Photo by Walter Norris, courtesy of Lee Steeves and Ken Curren

For those who are just beginning this wonderful journey, how fortunate you are. This is one of the greatest opportunities life will offer. You will make wonderful friends, learn a tremendous amount, be in a position to influence something that will become a huge part of your life and all with the greatest of dogs by your side. The show ring is the great equalizer. Good Terrier judges will not look at you at the end of the lead but they will admire your dog. The dog will make them smile and all of your work will be vindicated in that one moment. It’s not about the ribbons or the applause but it is about the pride of owning an Airedale – royalty otherwise thought of as King of the Terriers. We wish for you all a Jenny – you couldn’t do better!

Lee Steeves and Ken Curren
Regalridge

 

 

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