My introduction to the breed was a bit unusual. My (ex)husband and I were teaching in East Africa and on the way home from our assignment we decided to go through Asia instead of the more usual trip through Europe. Not only did we have no winter clothing suitable for Europe in January, but my uncle had recently been assigned as Deputy Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Kathmandu, Nepal so our decision was to visit him on the way home. He had barely settled into his quarters there and was waiting for my aunt and their dog to arrive when we showed up (invited!) on his doorstep. His house had no central heating and Nepal was chilly in January so Uncle Jim left a small gasoline powered heater in the hallway to keep the chill off for us. Fortunately, the bedroom door was kept closed because the heater exploded and started a fire - I was the first to awake and screamed out to the others in the house and we all went out bedroom windows into the yard (ranch style house!). The Royal Nepalese Fire Department got there amazingly quickly but the damage was extensive - it even melted the hall telephone into a black blob - and we couldn't return there to sleep. Ann Rohr (now known for importing and working with Tibetan Mastiffs) was also in the foreign service and happened to live right behind my uncle. She let us clean up at her place before we went off to check in at the local hotel - and that is where I met my first TT, her Tiki. During the course of our visit we met other foreign service folks who had shaggy dogs (later determined to be Lhasas and/or TTs). When we got back to the US, Pat's (ex -husband) ex college roommate had become involved showing and breeding Great Pyrenees and persuaded us to get a purebred dog - and I was very fortunate to see a litter of Lhasas advertised in the paper and, when I called to ask if the person knew about the "other Tibetan breed" it turned out the Lhasa person had been to a show and seen Bill Walsh showing TTs and Lhasas and gave us his address. We contacted Bill, met him and a male "grumpy" Lhasa and a slurpy TT adolescent - and bought the TT on the spot.
I had the honor (though at times I questioned it as she was a hard taskmaster - especially on those of us who were young upstarts with dogs that weren't descended from the same source as hers (Dr. Greig's Lamleh kennels) of becoming involved in the breed when Alice Murphy was still actively showing and breeding. Since we lived only about half an hour away from their home, we saw Alice and Harry at shows - where Alice would loudly proclaim that Teddy was a Briard with drop ears and Harry would then proceed to come over and scratch Teddy behind the ears and call him by name.... Teddy didn't mind either event and went on to wag his tail at enough judges to be in the top ten Tibetans in"Miscellaneous" classification of dogs in 1970 and 1971. It wasn't long before he convinced us he needed a friend and soone his 3/4 sister, Tuppence (later CH. Miss Tuppence of Kathmandu, CD) joined the family. Then a few years later along came Miss Annapurna of Shahi-Taj and, well, things grew from there.... I have had brief forays into other breeds (several Shih Tzu and a Bichon) but decided that since I liked certain aspects of them because of their similarity to the TT that there was no sense in spreading myself out and trying to do justice to another breed, especailly when it was not something unique about the other breed that attracted it to me!
I've collected pedigrees and statistics from the early days (though the past ten years my statistics work has fallen behind). I have shown - mostly in conformation though we have "played" in obedience and conformation as well. I've bred an average of once a year or less as I tend to "forget" to sell puppies and don't breed unless I need a "new" one to show. Like most others in it for the long haul, I've run into some health problems here and there and feel very strongly the information, good and bad, should be shared without fear of recrimination. I've lobbied for a long time to get the TT to have open health registries... and participated in the volunteer registry that Angela set up many years ago where I submitted the first confirmed US case of lens luxation in her record base. I've had my share of HD and had a case here and there of LL and PRA and am always willing to exchange pedigree information on my own cases with anyone who shares his/hers with me.
Most of my girls have died of various kinds of cancer starting as mammary cancer. It is common among females of all breeds who are not spayed or, as in my case, spayed late in life after a show and breeding career is ended. The boys have succumbed to general geriatric problems ("wearing out" rather than specific disease diagnoses) after 15 or so. I have had a few cases of cancer in the boys - two litter brothers died about age 9 in 1997-98 of espohogeal cancer which I found interesting as I had never seen that before in my dogs or, indeed, in anyone elses. One bitch I eventually had to have put down when even putting her under anesthesia would not bring her out of a seizure. She had seizures that had become increasingly frequent over a period of about 6 months - interestingly, Dr. Rubin had diagnosed a brain tumor during an eye exam about 6 months before the seizures began. He had first told me she was blind (and I had had NO clue she had any visual difficulties) then - after picking me up off the floor <g> - told me she had a brain tumor pressing on her optic nerve which caused the blindness.