I got my first Golden in 1976, having fallen in love with a picture two years earlier in a Hamlyn book of dogs, of a smiling Golden with a beautiful kind expression and a coat that looked like pure silk. I think the model may have been Ch Nicolas of Westley.
School holidays were spent working in Jennie Hill's "Quetta" kennels where I became completely obsessed with the breed, and I registered the prefix "Glensonas" after my parents' home in West Cork, before breeding my first litter in 1978.
I showed my first Golden with some success winning a Green Star and a number of reserve Green Stars, and had some fun doing Obedience with her.
After qualifying as a Veterinary Nurse in 1982 I based myself for a short time in England at the Twists' Bryanstown kennel in Suffolk where I had previously visited to use their beautiful stud dog Ch Bryanstown Gaucho. Michael and Cynthia had previously lived in Ireland and had started the All-Ireland Golden Retriever Club, and they took me under their wing. Many an evening was spent poring over old photo albums of dogs past and debating the merits of various dogs, gundog training, and the dog world in general! I was very sad when Michael and Cynthia died, but I feel privileged to have spent that time with them.
The rest of the eighties were devoted to developing my career, spent largely nursing first at Battersea Dogs and Cats' Home and then at Wood Green Animal Shelters in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire where I spent several happy years as Head Nurse.
During that time I became heavily involved in rescue, and fostered or rehomed over 100 Goldens. I allowed my Irish affix to lapse as I did not have the time to show and although I had four Goldens by now, none I felt were good enough to breed from.
In 1992 a new chapter started. I was offered a puppy in partnership with Scarholme Goldens. That puppy was to become Irish Champion Garbank Caoimhe for Scarholme, and more importantly, my best friend and my once-in-a-lifetime dog. The joint affix "Caoimhin" was registered for the purpose of breeding from Caoimhe, and I also registered Drumkilty as my own affix for a fresh start from my other new foundation bitch from Amilone Goldens.
In 2003 I moved to Scotland to set up Dumfries and Galloway Canine Rescue Centre www.caninerescue.co.uk and for ten years I felt privileged to live on the beautiful Caerlaverock estate as part of my job.
In 2012 my new husband Alastair and I bought a house together, and after a year of refurbishing it, I finally moved there in September 2013. I am enjoying living away from my workplace after ten years "on duty"!