My husband, Jim, was on WJTN last weekend, talking about genealogy on "The Times of Your Life" with Jim Roselle and Russ Diethrick. It got me to thinking about how much easier a genealogy search is with purebred animals. There are special registries for domestic animals, so it's easy to know which animal is related to which animal.
I'm most familiar with dogs, of course, but I also remember growing up, spending time with a friend and working out fanciful horse pedigrees. At the time, there was an annual competition that coincided with the Kentucky Derby. Entrants sent in names for a thoroughbred colt, and the winner got the horse. My friend and I were totally horse crazy, and we'd really work at coming up with a brilliant name, based on the sire and dam of the prize colt. We never won, but that never stopped us from filling imaginary stables with horses with wonderful names.
I can't remember any of them now, but frequently we'd build on a theme. For instance, if the sire was "The Wizard" and the dam was "Dorothy" the offspring would be "Scarecrow," "Cowardly Lion" and "Tin Man."
With dogs, breeders tend to select registered names that combine kennel names as well as a reference to the parents, and then choose a shorter call name. Many breeders name all the puppies after a letter of the alphabet. Their first litter is the "A" litter, the second, the "B" litter, and so on. Some breeders will choose a theme, like wine, or cheese, or candy, and name the puppies accordingly. Years ago, a corgi breeder I knew had a litter of three males and a female. At the time, the Bob Newhart show was popular, and the puppies were Larry, Darryl, Darryl, and Stephanie.
If you register a purebred dog with the American Kennel Club, they will send you a three-generation pedigree. For an extra charge, they'll send a five-generation pedigree. Serious breeders can generally rattle off two or three generations back on whichever one of their dogs they're talking about. When I was showing, I could do it too. Now, I'd have to look up Rhiannon's pedigree to tell you who her parents were.
That wasn't the case with my first corgi, Brecon (registered name Treetop's Teapot Tempest). I could recite his three-generation pedigree easily, and I had several generations more written down. I acquired Brecon from a breeder who enjoyed researching, and she traced the generations back to 1947, which is a lot of dog generations. I loved to look at all the old names. Some were just lovely, like Cote de Neige Theme Song, and Willow Farm Black Velvet. Others were simpler. Teekay's Felcourt Supremacy is an elegant name, but his parents were Hillbilly of Lees and Floss. Just Floss. I love that. I picture a working farm dog, herding cattle and never setting foot in a show ring.
Because of the breeder's research, I can claim a royal connection. My husband may be able to trace his ancestors back to kings and queens, but my first corgi had a royal connection, too. Brecon's breeder traced his line back to Ch. Rozavel Red Dragon, and the current British royal family got their first corgi from Rozavel kennels in 1933. Some of Rhiannon's distant cousins are enjoying life in Buckingham Palace.
Speaking of the royal corgis, in 2002, I wrote an article for the AKC Gazette about corgis in Great Britain, and found some interesting facts about the Queen's corgis.
A corgi named Susan was given to then Princess Elizabeth on her 18th birthday, and the Queen now has had 11 generations of corgis, all descended from Susan.
Unlike the queen's labrador retrievers and English cocker spaniels, many of whom compete in field trials and have their championships, and who carry the kennel name Sandringham as a prefix, the corgis are strictly pets. From the information supplied by the Buckingham Palace press office, all the corgis have single call names, with no kennel prefix. The dogs live in the palace with the Queen, and whenever possible, they travel with her.
I love checking out my own genealogy as well as that of my dogs. It's fun to see how many champions are behind the corgis, and how many famous people might be in my own background (not many). But fun is just what it is. My corgis like me just fine the way I am, and I couldn't love them more if they won Westminster.