Celebrate the Whippet Breed

Arroyo Kennels

James F. Young


As related to Yearbook, reporter by Mrs. Christine Cormany

In 1904 my Dad saw his first Whippet, I believe he was in Winnipeg or Toronto at the time. He got his first one in 1906 and up to the day he died he was never without one. The ones most familiar to me and even if pedigrees are traced back far enough they can be found in a few of the present day dogs. One of the most lovely bitches he had was called "Rhoda", she eventually made her Can. Chamionship but when running on the prairie one afternoon fell in a chuck hole and broke her leg. The pedigree of Rhoda traced back to the dog called Ch. Watford Dream and her picture graced the cover on the first book ever written on the breed "The Whippet or Race Dog" by Freeman Lloyd. Anyone with Sunnysand O'Lazeland or better still, Ch. Clytie of. Meander, can trace back to Rhoda ie: Ch. Laze Meander by Ch. Sept of Althea, he out of Bettes (later registered with AKC as Bettes of Arroyo) she out of Strathcona Liz, she by Roderick, by Ch. Erin Torpeado out of Ch. Watford Dream and as Erin's sire was Ch. Strathcona King one must assume that "Dream" was exported from England to Canada. The bitch Strathcona Liza was out of Ch. Rhoda who was by Sunloch out of Falside Fascination and lovely black and white trim. Rhoda was also the dam of Ch. Strathcona Girl, a Ch. of Canada and later an American Ch. under the name of Ch. Arroyo Strathcon a Girl, she weighed 18 lbs. and stood 17-3/4 inches, was born June 1920 and if my memory serves me correctly, was a BIS winner with her son, Probably Not taking BOS to her. The judge, Freeman Lloyd. Several months later, or it might have been a year or two as Dad was living in Calgary, Alberta at the time, and thought nothing of traveling the length of the continent to attend a show in Winnipeg or Toronto, he had a letter from a Mr. Freeman Ford of Pasadena, California, inquiring as to the price of his two whippets (I think at the time though there were around 15-20 on the place!) as they had been very highly recommended by Mr. Lloyd.

After much correspondence, Strathcona Girl and her son Probably Not were shipped to Pasadena, (no air travel in those days). Mr. Ford was not new to the dog world, having been a breeder of several winning BIS Boston Terriers, which were his specialty, he had lovely kennels built for them, and even then kennels were not allowed and they were listed at the City Hall as "Pigeon lofts", there were pigeon lofts in the building to make it legal! Being one of the multi-millionaires of the day, even as of today, "money talks". I believe Mr. Ford acquired a few more dogs from Dad and then wrote him to see if he would come dawn and look after them as they were being neglected by the man in charge. I believe this was late 1923. After several such letters, all of which Dad turned down as he really didn't want to give up Pal years on the Canadian Pacific Railway, and having gone through a severe winter in early '24, Dad finally accepted the invitation, arriving in Pasadena March 1924. Three weeks later Mother and I were to join him. Mr. Ford relied heavily on Dad's judgment of a good show dog and would not buy anything without first Dad seeing it in person or after much correspondence with the seller. Dad was the right and left hand for Mr. Ford and he imported heavily from England, especially for racing stock which at that time was just beginning to take hold on the West Coast. Many of his rough-haired dogs were imported from England directly or bought from a Mr. Eddington, a wool merchant just outside of Boston, Mass. I believe there was a Mr. Gilligan involved and it could be he was a partner of Mr. Eddington. The movie queens of the early 20's were great favorites of Mr. Ford's and anytime he brought one to the "ranch" and if they should see a puppy or two and fell in love with it, he' just give it to them! Not many of them liked the roughs though, but one or two would fall in love with the "dahling little pieces of wool". Dad had had his fill of it at one point, and it just didn't seem right that he'd pick a likely prospect for race or showing, train it and give it a good start and then have it end up as a pet on velvet cushions. One day there appeared in a litter of roughs an ugly duckling (course she wasn't until she got older) and Dad just kept her on the side. This was around the early 30's and Mr. Ford had by this time suffered along with the rest during the "crash" but he still kept an interest in the dogs, although they had all been turned over to Dad. Mr. Ford appeared at the races one day in the Arroyo Seco adjacent to the Rose Bowl and this little ugly duckling, names "kerryline" walloped the tar out of her much larger competition, she was to end up the racing champion bitch of the west coast and even under the rules of the racing today, I doubt if there is a bitch that could match her, 58 races won out of 60 starts, over a period of 2 years. It might be noted of course, that in the early days of racing, before the American Whippet Club took an interest, that all races were done by handicap, yards per pound, and as Kerryline only weighed 15 lbs, she had a pretty good head start, but she had the speed and determination to hold that lead. Her only two losses came when she ripped a toenail on the starting box and got off to a bad start, and the other time was Dad put her in a race as a filler and she had only just been out of season for a couple of weeks, and was not yet back in shape, oddly enough the same dog beat her on both occasions. Some of the famous racers and show dogs of the Arroyo Kennels as called by Mr. Ford, were Arroyo Benjarry (rough, slate gray) Arroyo Applesauce (rough, black) Sidlaw Slow Eyes of Arroyo (smooth, black a BIS winner in 1924 at the Hollywood Kennel Club, Hollywood, California) Bettes (later known as Bettes of Arroyo). The late Donald Hostetter started with several whippets from Mr. Ford. The Meander Kennels also tried to get started with the rough-haired variety, but had an unfortunate experience in losing the only male puppy before he reached maturity. The rough variety faded out of the picture completely in the mid- 30's when Dad and his family were forced to move from the rustic environment of the old Freeman Ford property and all of the roughs at that time were laid to rest, along with several smooths. he felt at the time that anyone who did get them would not give them the proper care, people were not willing even to spend $25 for one of those silly, skinny race dogs who were so high-strung and nervous, they couldn't possibly make decent pets, so rather than have many of our faithful four legged friends roam the streets and get mangled by cars they were not used to, they were all put down with the exception of three stand-bys, Ch. Heather Sand, Ch. Corsian Silhouette and Ch. Corsian Sunbrilliant, who was later sold to the Meander Kennels with her son, Strathoak Heir Apparent. The dam of Silhouette, Ch. Demi Tasse, had long since passed away anyway, she was a daughter of Sidlaw Slow Eyes, and had the record of making her championship in 3-5 pts. shows, however, she took one 5 pt. show a year. Bred to Ch. Zanza Zoco of Valleyfields, she produced for us Ch. Corsian Silhouette, and that is another story.

Dad was the type of man that gave unselfishly of his time and efforts, he'd bend over backwards to help others, if they were short a dog or two for a race meet, I've known of him, with already 4 dogs to race, go back home and pick up the needed number to make a complete program. He worked long, hard hours working with the dogs, conditioning, training, grooming, feeding etc. When the Arroyo whippets were in training for a race program there was nothing left undone. Whippet racing was the "thing" at the California county and state fairs, the old Keyser Stadium in San Francisco saw many of the Arroyo whippets race there, Dad taking up a string of 12. Prize money was split with other competitors, even the local people would get a share of the purse, Dad was not selfish. The hours and schedule the Arroyo Whippets were on would put us all to shame today, even those of us who think our dogs are conditioned. Every morning (unless there was a race on the weekend) 4 a.m. Let the dogs out that were going on the "tour". No water, Leashed up. A 5 mile walk, down the hill, to the main (dirt) street, a trip around the Rose Bowl, back home, all up hill. Crate the dogs. Take one at a time, an alcohol rub, a drop of water to rinse dawn the dust. Each dog gets a piece of round steak, weighed in proportion to the dog receiving it. Back out in the kennel runs to rest and then they are allowed to do as they please the rest of the day. Before feeding in the evening, a sprint on our own 175 yard dirt track, two sprints apiece, a rub-down, a bit of water, another piece of steak. Mother always said the dogs were fed better than the family! What time was left during the day was spent in working with little puppies, socializing they call it, training to chase the rag (no bunnies in those days) learning to race between tapes, run with a muzzle, come out of a starting box, this was done every day, not just once or twice a week. This was a serious business at the Arroyo Kennels but it was fun too. There were the rewards of a silver trophy for a job well done by a winner, paid trips perhaps, but it was also sweat, blood and tears. Racing in the 20's and 30's was work on top of work. The track had to be laid with stakes and tapes. The starting boxes had to be taken off the trailer, dogs were weighed in before each race, the crowds had to be controlled, dogs had to be walked to the starting boxes, placed in the boxes, and then each individual owner ran back the 200 yards to yell and scream urging his dog to come and all the time waving the little white rag (about the size of a 10-20 lb. flour sack). If one had 4 dogs racing that was 8 trips up and down the track! Yet, each dog was given a good brisk rub-down by his owner, and then one by one the others departed, leaving Dad and a few other diehards to take up the tape, take up the stakes, load up the starting boxes, and he'd haul them home along with his four foot-sore, tired and weary racers, but he never complained, more than once I've heard him tell people, "go ahead - I'll manage". Dad was not thrifty (as a Scotsman is supposed to be) when it came to time, energy, money and expense for his dogs. If he won in the show ring, the judge didn't know what he was doing and so and so should have had it! Even when his own daughter's dog made a nice win, he thought someone else should have had it! Deep down though he was pleased. Dad was especially fond of Silhouette, "Clinker" as she was called, and his letter to me in New York carried the markings of tear stains when he wrote me of her passing. He was tender and kind and hated death, but if a bitch had too many puppies to look after, if a foster mother couldn't be found, he'd take the least likely of the brood and put them down, he did not believe a bitch should raise a litter that was a drain on her and if 5 puppies was all she could handle, she was left with 5 puppies. More often than not solid whites were put down, mainly from personal experience they would eventually show up with a white eye now and then, but mostly deaf. We had very few solid whites on the premises.

Editor's Note: Mr. Young was admired and respected by many people, made no enemies and contributed much to the breed because of his love for the Whippet. Perhaps some took advantage of his generosity and good faith, nevertheless, there are Whippet breeders today who did listen to him and some who also wish they had!


Mr. James Young, photo taken in 1910. The bull terrier was his first dog and then he acquired whippets sent to him. "My folks were coming out to Winnipeg, Canada and I told them to bring me a Whippet and he was a racer and I still have the cup he won in 1913."