A Northern Arizona Collie Fanciers Dedication
As part of a celebration of life, the Northern Arizona Collie Fanciers dedicated its June10th specialty shows to Mary B. Kittredge (Kittredge Collies) and John Kavanagh (Kingsmark Collies). Featured in the NACF catalog is a beautiful tribute article about Mary and John of such historical value it is worth sharing on a national level.
The article was compiled by Joan Armitage, Bob and Sally Futh and Mary Kittredge's son, Bob.
Photos and article submitted to COL by Janine Walker-Keith.
Two longtime Arizona collie breeders died in 2010. NACF mourns both along with Sandy Cobb, longtime collie friend, and Marian Rock, last year's co-honoree.
Mary Byrd Kittredge lived in Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon until her death at 97 after a brief illness. She was born in Virginia and was part of the wealthy Byrd family. She graduated from the University of Virginia, and was a lifelong artist and sculptor, with works still found at the Richmond Museum, the Whitney Museum, the Boston Museum, and others.
Her "collie life" began after meeting and marrying Bob Kittredge (fellow artist/sculptor) in 1938, and moving to a very "rustic" Oak Creek Canyon (a mule cart to haul water, a wood stove, etc.) in 1945. Bob had already built a log cabin, but in 1946 built the Rock House—and continued building homes in the Canyon through the 1990s. The homes are now rented as part of Forest Houses Resort run by son, Bob.
Mary became interested in breeding and showing collies. She created, in a very short time, a line of beautiful collies which have made a lasting impression into modern pedigrees.
During this time period, Mary became interested in breeding and showing collies. She created, in a very short time, a line of beautiful collies which have made a lasting impression into modern pedigrees. Much of her early breeding was a mixture of Arrowhill and Parader lines. Her foundation bitch came from Florence Cummings, Arrowhill Skysail, and with never more than a half dozen dogs in residence, Kittredge Collies became National Specialty and All Breed winners. During the 1950s she was Breeder of the Year four times. At one point she served as CCA 2nd Vice President. She and her dogs traveled the country—often in a 1956 red Ford Ranch Wagon.
Mary first bred Skysail to CH Silver Ho Parader. Daughter, Kittredge Lively Talk, was then bred to Parader's Bruce of Bar-Morel, owned by Mort and Elda Glick (longtime Arizona Collie Clan members, and influential on a young John avanagh). Skysail was bred a second time to CH Parader's Bold Venture. Out of this breeding, Mary got a beautiful bitch, future champion, Kittredge Adventuress. At the 1955 National in Oklahoma, Adventuress went BOS to her own sire under judge Gus Sigritz. A granddaughter of Adventuress, future champion, Kittredge Jeanie was Winners Bitch, Best of Winners, and Best of Opposite Sex at the 1959 National (WB under judge Steve Field and BOW, BOS under judge Art Alexander). The next year another granddaughter, Kittredge Talent was Reserve Winners Bitch.
By the end of the 50s, Mary had finished about 10 champions, with several others very close—this in a time of fewer shows, fewer highways, and farther between!! Most of Mary's dogs were sables—with son, Bob, only remembering one tri—Mountaineer. Another note—When Adventuress was bred to CH Lewellen Cali Collaire, she produced CH Kittredge Temptress (Liza), another big winner, who is behind many of Bob and Sally Futh's Starberry Collies. Liza was left with the Fuths when Mary took up sailing. From a breeding to CH Wesbara Bold Yankee, they took home a small pick bitch, Kiltie (CH Starberry Kittredge Kilt), and after finishing her, bred her to CH Stoneykirk Sir Echo, finishing more champions. And then, by Starberry Saladin, came CH Starberry Kitwhistle, who was RWB at the National Specialty, and then finished with three 5-point majors!!
After a decade of breeding and showing collies, Mary went on to other "passions" in her life, while always maintaining an interest and love for the collie. In the 60s she and her husband bought a sailboat, and eventually sailed around the world.
After a decade of breeding and showing collies, Mary went on to other "passions" in her life, while always maintaining an interest and love for the collie. In the 60s she and her husband bought a sailboat, and eventually sailed around the world. (He was a self-taught navigator, and eventually wrote a book on celestial navigation). Mary and Bob started out from San Pedro, California, to sail around the world, but the unfavorable winds and rough seas were so bad that after battling the weather for a month, she told her husband, "You'll have to take me back to shore or bury me at sea!" They turned back, and he and the rest of the crew sailed to Tahiti in ideal weather in just three weeks. Mary flew out to meet them and they continued on, ending up in Florida, where they lived for several years before coming back to Sedona. They lived in a home filled with artwork, much of it reminiscent of Remington, and surrounded by Mary's birds and flowers.
After her sailing years, Mary became interested and very successful in Quarter horses, breeding and owning several national titleholders there too. Our Collie friend, Nancy Bilher of Sedona, met Mary in 1989 riding horses—and then through Mary, met John Kavanagh and bought a Kingsmark Collie, Kelsi, who is now 11 years old. Kelsi met Mary's approval!!
While Mary was "exiting" the collie world in the 60s, John Kavanagh was just beginning a lifetime passion for the same dog.
Other passions include birds, flowers, and gardens. Her aviary had many varieties, but mainly finches. Her gardens were natural and fed many wild birds, and other wildlife. Some of her land was left to the Nature Conservancy so we all can enjoy wildlife in a natural setting.
While Mary was "exiting" the collie world in the 60s, John Kavanagh was just beginning a lifetime passion for the same dog. Mary had a great passion and then an abiding interest, while John had an interest that became a great passion. As a teenager in Phoenix, John was greatly influenced by Mort and Elda Glick, Lois and Dick Hillman, Alice Wharton, Bette Crawford, and of course, Mary. He used patience, perserverance, observation, listening skills and hands-on experience to learn about collie structure and collie type—and launched on a small scale, Kingsmark Collies in 1962. Patience—yes, it took 7 years for John to win his first point!! After college (ASU with a major in Political Science and a minor in English), John moved out of the heat, congestion, and air quality of Phoenix to the Flagstaff area. He was able to hone his handling skills and grooming by apprenticing with George Schlinker, a professional handler.
When he returned to Flagstaff, his own collies were based on Kittredge (Arrowhill plus Parader) and Gingeor lines. He had a six year partnership with Dorotha Sturm of Lick Creek Collies, and he began receiving national attention showing CH Lick Creek Blue Beard, a multiple specialty and group winning collie. In the 80s he used Blue Beard's son, CH Lick Creek's Blackbeard, to produce two dominant Kingsmark sires—first, out of CH Lick Creek Belle Elegant came CH Kingsmark El Capitan (a non carrier for both CEA and PRA) and second, out of Lick Creek Blu Haze came CH Kingsmark Mountain Man. Cappy, Davy and a third sire also out of Blu Haze by CH Keenhaven's Deep Blue Sea, Kingsmark Ghost Rider (Casper, the only NE/NC white merle in the country at the time) launched decades of Kingsmark champions.
All Kingsmark Collies had a definite, distinctive family look, based on body, bone and substance—a full muzzle, expressive eyes—and always aiming for good health and good temperament. With judicious outcrosses to such sires as CH Rickhaven's Shoot for the Star, CH Bandit of Foremost, CH Blossom Hill's Barely Bronze, CH Gambit's Restless State, and most recently, CH Gentry's Braveheart, he was able to improve his collies without compromising their health. John had that rare ability to see the "past" in all his collies with a vision of "perfection" in the future. John's mother once proclaimed, "John is very fond of the things he likes"—and it was that way with collies! With very limited showing, he finished about 50 champions, and had several in the Top Ten, including CH Kingsmark Oh Henry and CH Kingsmark the Rocksway (co-owned with Stan and Marian Rock), and most recently was the breeder of Abby, CH Kingsmark First Impression, owned by Jane Cooley and Cynthia Childrey, who was the #1 smooth in 2007.
In conjunction with showing and breeding collies, he and colleague, Karen Thomas, developed a line of grooming products, now used by handlers and exhibitors of multiple breeds—The Right Stuff Grooming System. He was a longtime member of the national collie club (Collie Club of America) and one of its youngest members inducted into the Quarter Century Club. He was a founding member of the Northern Arizona Collie Fanciers, serving as president. In the 80s he was a member of Flagstaff Kennel Club and was a supporting member of the Arizona Collie Clan.
John tried to always have words of encouragement for newcomers. He was a fierce competitor, but was willing to share his knowledge and expertise.
One other passion "ruled" his life—his love for his daughter, Shannon, and then more recently, of his two granddaughters, Taylor and Morgan. His face lit up whenever he spoke of his family!! John tried to always have words of encouragement for newcomers. He was a fierce competitor, but was willing to share his knowledge and expertise. He had certain pet phrases—we would all "get a turn" (we all knew that he got a few extra turns!!) and "collies were like ice cream," we all like ice cream, but we like "different flavors," thus the different types of collies for us to learn to appreciate.
John is not with us physically, but we all feel his presence in the dogs bearing the Kingsmark prefix! Many of us are pleased to have Kingsmark in the pedigrees of our dogs. But oh, do we miss his smile and our hugs!!