Following their triumph at Crufts on Sunday night we thought it would be interesting to dig out this feature originally printed in the Dog World Annual in 2012 and written by Simon Parsons which charts the development and success of the Afterglow kennel. To read part one click here...
The kennel's second Pup of the Year, the Tibetan Terrier Ch Araki Pick Up A Penguin for Afterglow.
The American-bred Pu Ch/Am Ch Sheffeild's Shenandoah.
Among the breeds in which Mike has made up champions is the Miniature Wire Dachshund: Ch Emem Milkshake for Afterglow.
photo Pearce/Kennel Club Picture Library
For someone with Mike’s restless energy it was unlikely that he would confine himself to just one breed... And the list of those in which there have been Afterglow-associated champions is a very long one. One of his first ventures was in Shih Tzu where he had a dog from Sheila Mackenzie Spencer of the Aspen Poodles, and then a puppy from his friend the Johnsons. With Sebastian of Keytor he won RCCs, but was unable to keep him as he wasn’t the quietest dog and the neighbours complained, so he went home and became a champion with G2 at Crufts. Mike did make up a Shih Tzu many years later, the Norwegian import Ch Ming-Tzing’s Mercurys Afterglow is Centastageco-owned with Elaine Macdonald.Not only did he win the Pup of the Year title with Dexter but as few years later did it again, under Hans Lehtinen, with the Tibetan Terrier Ch Araki Pick Up A Penguin at Afterglow.
One day he judged and admired a Pointer of Donna MacDougall’s. A little later Donna was, sadly, retiring from showing so Adstock Professor Higgins joined the Afterglows. He eventually became a show champion – this was the same year as Douglas was being shown – the Pointer struggled to win his title whereas Douglas won Top Dog all breeds, though Mike always thought that the Pointer had the edge on the American Cocker. A son bred by Afterglow recently won his second CC. Other interests include Chihuahuas, in which the Afterglow affix has been carried by a champion, Japanese Chin, Papillons and now Pekingese on which Jason is very keen.For some time Gavin Robertson worked at Afterglow and developed with Mike his interest in Petits Bassets Griffons Vendéens. He handled Mike’s Ch Famecliff Chemin De Fer for Afterglow, who later went to the US, and, hoping to double up on some of Nick Frost’s old lines, they obtained a Debucher bitch from whom they bred the famous Ch Afterglow Woody Woodpecker, a BIS winner for Gavin and Sara and winner of the veterans final. Next came Ch Willowbrae Amazing Grace for Afterglow and these were the foundations of the Robertsons’ subsequent successes. Other champions bore the kennel name including Ch/Am Ch Afterglow Ebenezer who did so well in the States.
Mike with Ch Afterglow Woody Woodpecker and Gavin Robertson with Ch Willowbrae Amazing Grace with Afterglow, winning both CCs at Blackpool 2001.
Mike & Clive Davies with Sh Ch Gallowdyke Wreckless Eric at Sundeala, the UK's first Italian Spinoni titleholder.
Italian Spinoni have been a long-term interest and before the breed had CCs Mike admired Gallowdyke Pawnee, owned by John Piggin, and offered to show her. This developed into a successful partnership and she achieved the top rare breed award. In due course she was mated and from this they co-bred Barbara Davies’ Gallowdyke Wreckless Eric of Sundeala who in 1994 won three of the four of the first five dog CCs on offer to become the first UK show champion. Tragically John died while the pups were still young so never saw this triumph. There are still Afterglow Spinoni today, co-bred with Claire Sharp and descended from Eric’s sister.
But the canine love of Mike’s life, and in his view the best dog he has owned, was none of these. "I used to react very badly to criticism of Riot – it was as if they were being vile about my own flesh and blood.” No one who saw them in the ring together will forget the Afghan Hound Ch Tejas Conquistador.
Mike's favorite show dog was the Afghan Hound 'Riot' Ch Tejas Conquistador, seem winning BIS at Belfast under Marion Spavin.
A rare photo of Mike in tear, and the only occasionhe enjoyed a reserve CC win! His most emotional win was with Riot when she won the RCC at Crufts under Uwe Fischer at 11 years old. CC winner was Alsharma Brief Encounter at Shibarghan, later a champion.
Bred by Ivor and Michele Keelan, an American couple who spent some years in Northern Ireland, she was a daughter of the American Afghans they brought with them, Ch/Am Ch Pahlavi Pandemonium and Ch/Am Ch Anasazi’s Testarossa, and so a granddaughter of the comparably charismatic Am Ch Pahlavi Puttin’ On The Ritz.
As a youngster she went to Anita Doe and John Watson of the Izmars, was scarcely shown but produced two litters, from which descend a number of winners. When Mike obtained her she was cut down but he quickly got her in form and with her ‘attitude’ she became a great ringside favourite.
A BIS winner, she was four times BOB at Crufts, taking three group places there but sadly never a win, something Mike still feels badly about – surely if ever a dog had been designed to show off in the final seven at Crufts it was her.
Her final appearance was again at Crufts where Uwe Fischer gave her the RCC, aged 11. For once in his life Mike was more than happy with a reserve CC... A sentimental occasion and Mike couldn’t help crying – though he was brought back to reality when he overhead someone say, "Look at Gadsby trying to pretend he’s human,” a remark which rather appealed to his sense of humour.
Mike never got a litter from her but did breed on from one of her Izmar daughters, producing a champion and more recently there are some young Afterglow CC winners.
If you are not yet exhausted by this catalogue of winners, we’ve only now come to the Poodles. Surely Standard Poodles and Mike Gadsby were made for each other, though for many years he just followed them from afar. "I loved them but never thought I’d be able to do it.”
Eventually he asked Philip Langdon where he might find a bitch, and was put in touch with Pat Ashwell, who no longer showed but who carried on her Torpaz lines which had been so successful in earlier years. She let him have two bitches, a black and a white, on breeding terms. The white one gave him an excellent start and produced the super-fronted black Afterglow Alcatraz who seemed destined for the top before his tragic death after escaping from a motorway services.
Ch Magin Don't Eat Daisies at Afterglow, Donny's Dam. photo Johnson
By ‘08 the breed people seemed to have come to accept him and he regularly won through the breed, going on to seven all-breeds BIS and a comfortable Top Dog victory in spite of missing the final show as he made a flying visit to California to represent the UK at the Eukanuba National Challenge. After he put up a spectacular performance in what many considered the best ever Crufts BIS line-up in 2009, ending up reserve to the American Sealyham, the decision was made to retire him. His best known son is Ch/Am Ch Afterglow Sugar Daddy, whose exquisite dam Ch Kevlain Faith In Your Dreams is Donny’s cousin, their dams being sisters. Like his sire he enjoyed his American success before returning home to be campaigned for his title. He didn’t have quite his sire’s stallion presence in the ring so wasn’t shown much here beyond that, but in Mike’s view has proven the better producer.
One aspect one can’t fail to notice is that Mike doesn’t actually own a number of his top winners, or has them in partnership. "I have a generous nature,” he says. "If I’ve bred them, I don’t give a damn whether my name’s on them or not.” So a lot of the dogs, though campaigned from Afterglow, are in the names of loyal friends for whom this gesture means a lot, a current example being Andy Yau, whom health problems prevented from coming to the shows but from whom an email from his present home in Hong Kong awaits them every time they arrive home from a show.
Other interest? "I likegood food. I’m a technological retard, would love to but find I can’t ‘go there’. I would also like to be more involved with drama and the arts. I do have wonderful friends both in and out of dogs and believe it’s healthy that they are not always the topic of conversation.”
No - it's not Mike's new breed - but one of his all-time favourite show dogs, the Wire Fox Terrier Ch/Ir Ch Blackdale Carousel after he had given her a heat of the champion stakes.
What about dogs he has coveted? "Ch Blackdale Carousel, the Wire Fox Terrier, was fantastic. The relationship between her and Andrew Goodsell was magical and the presentation was unbelievable. It was like a joint love affair, she loved him and he her.
"The Giant Schnauzer Ch Zamoranos Picasso I gave BIS at an open show before he started doing well in groups. I loved the Lhasa Ch Saxonsprings Fresno, she was remarkable. Then there was the Dobermann Ch Allure Blazing Star Alisaton who won the group at Westminster 2010. The whole experience was surreal I felt so emotional watching handler and exhibit like they were floating on air. Gabriel Rangel’s Scottie Ch Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot was BIS, she was also beautiful but the Dobe had the ringside and gave me goose bumps."
Among people who have inspired Mike to carry on have been Leslie Page, who really encouraged him when he was a youngster on the way up, and Linda Collins, his best friend whose death sadly young left a big gap in his life: "A great friend and a great dog woman”. It wouldn’t be fair to mention present day people, but "What I can say is that attending DOG WORLD’s Audience with Di Johnson was inspiring because it was like a stage play with tragedy and happiness, like an emotional rollercoaster."
As for Jason, he loves the British dog scene and can’t envisage ever wanting to return to the intensity of the American show circuit where you just have to be at show after show after show if you want to do well in the rankings. The sheer size of the British shows was a revelation; in the US few even top 1,000 dogs nowadays.
He loves the more relaxed, almost ‘carnival’ atmosphere, and the fact that if you want to win you can’t avoid the competition like you can in the US. There may be down sides to having the top dogs competing at virtually every show here, but it certainly makes for interesting competition.
"I feel I’ve changed since coming to England,” he says. In particular there is the great potential to learn in depth about so many breeds, as most serious breeders live within a reasonable distance. What he really enjoys is the chance to ‘dive in head-first’ to a breed as a new challenge, and to be able to learn about all the different lines – currently he is really excited about making a start in Pekes.
Important and enjoyable as the shows may be, he feels that ‘the journey is more important than the destination’, the behind-the-scenes work of living with and appreciating a breed, rearing and selecting puppies and the day-to-day care, over that two minutes in the ring.He has begun to do some judging – in the US his work meant that the most he could judge was specialty sweepstakes.
It may be hard to believe but before coming to the UK he had never shown a Poodle in the US; like Mike he has learned the grooming and handling styles as he has gone on, not least through watching the experts at Poodle Club of America.Mike has strong views about the British dog scene at present. He feels that after Pedigree Dogs Exposed the Kennel Club didn’t do enough to defend dog people, to say that there are many fabulous breeders in Britain who breed healthy, wonderful dogs. Yes, the dog world has its problems, but so does society as a whole, and you can’t say that everything in the dog game is bad any more than everything is bad in the wider world.
Mike winning the CC at Crufts 2011 under Kim Sillito-Beale with Toy Poodle Ch Montflair Toy Soldier, co-owned with Jason & breeder Malcolm Akers. photo Walker
Mike and Jason winning Best in Show at Crufts 2014 with 'Ricky', Ch/Am Ch Afterglow Maverick Sabre. Jason co-owns him with John and Sandra Stone.