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 Remembering Nancy Vanstrum Cannon

The fancy lost Nancy Vanstrum Cannon of NAVANS Beagles in May, 1999, to leukemia. Nancy's death, following less than a year after Mary Jane Evans has been hard on her friends here in Florida. Most people were not aware that Nancy had been fighting a battle with leukemia for a number of years. Even though her friends were aware of the situation, it really did not prepare us for her loss. I don't think any one of us felt up to the task of writing a memorial to Nancy. She was so many things to so many of us. What follows is a composite of chats with Nancy prior to her last hospitalization, notes from files, and thoughts from her friends here in Florida over the last several months since her death. We fear it is inadequate to all she has meant to the breed, but we at least hope to impart to those who never knew her, her great love of this breed. We don't want to just give you the names of her famous dogs and wins, but to help you know Nancy the person and how special she was.

It is hard to gauge Nancy's impact on the beagle breed, but we feel it is substantial; both here and in other countries. Nancy began showing in obedience with her first beagle; her beloved Jenny Sioux. We can all thank this little field beagle for indoctrinating Nancy into the world of beagles. Nancy's early ring experience was with her foundation bitch, Carrie, (Ch. Carwood's Carrie A Go-Go, CD) and her progeny. She said her early thrills in the group ring were actually with her wonderful Golden Retriever, Reggie. She was so proud to tell us that he was Winner's Dog and Best of Winners at the Golden Retriever National. Her shock at finding out that this beautiful animal was severely dysplastic had a great impact on her breeding program. Consequently, even her original foundation stock for her beagles were hip x-rayed. She told me she promised herself she would never be surprised like that again if she could help it. If a dog did not measure up, for whatever reason, it did not go into her breeding program.

Nancy's first show beagle, Carrie, was bred by Art Wood and was sired by Ch. Kings Creek Merry Go Boy out of a daughter of Ch. Kinsman Jimmy Valentine. Nancy selected Trailside Midnight Sun (also of the Kings Creek line) for Carrie's first mate. From this litter, she kept future Ch. Navans Penny A Go-Go, CD. She found that Ch. Kings Creek Triple Threat offered the qualities she most admired. By combining Trippe with her bitches, she concentrated heavily on the Kings Creek line, making this her foundation line since 1967.

The first breeding of Penny to Trippe produced Ch. Navans Triple Trouble, CD. He was a top ranked beagle here and a Best In Show winner in South America. From a repeat breeding came Ch. Navans Triple Trouble Rick and Ch. Navans Triple Trouble Taffy. Nancy's notes list Rick's record as: Two National Specialty Best of Breed wins (1975 & 1976), 7 All Breed Best In Shows, 54 Group I's, 31 Group II's, 22 Group III's and 12 group IV's. Rick also contributed much to the breed with his 54 Champion get. His sister, Taffy, contributed some nice wins and excellent progeny as well.

Some other special beagles were Ch. Navans Mystique Charmer, CD, who captured Winner's Bitch and Best of Winners at the National Beagle Club Specialty in 1971. Ch. Navans Special Rick-Quest was a top producing dam in 1988. Quest is sired by Rick and as of this writing is still ruling the roost at Navans at 17 years of age. Ch. Navans Spin Of The Wheel thrilled Nancy with a Best Veteran and Best Stud Dog win at the 1995 Nationals, as well as being a multiple group placer. Ch. Navans Music With My Friends was a multiple group winner and a Best Veteran In Show winner. Her beloved Windy (Ch. Navans Desert Wind) was a multiple group placing bitch. Last, but not least, two important stud dogs in her breeding program were Navans Kountry Plowboy (KP) who was sired by a Rick son out of a Trippe daughter and Ch. Navans Ruff N'Tuff McDuff. Duffy was a litter brother to Ch. Teloca Navan Pruf O'The Puddin. Some of the most outstanding progeny over the years have been the results of Duffy daughters and granddaughters bred to KP. Having these two males in a pedigree has proven to be an asset. Navan Beagles has made an impact on breeding programs around the world.

Nancy's deepest impact on beagles stems from her generosity in helping novices, her ethics, her sense of fair play, and most of all, her openness in discussing genetic good and bad within the breed and her own. In a day and age when everyone whispers about this dog or that dog, and what he is producing or what he is afflicted with, Nancy taught us that you should not listen to rumor and innuendo, even when it seems to be coming from good sources. She was adamant that you pick up the phone and contact the owners of the dog and talk to them about what you've heard. Most of the time you will find that a rumor will be unfounded. Sometimes it will be true, but she always counseled that even great dogs produce something undesirable. Sometimes the mating you are planning can best be accomplished by using a half brother or an uncle, rather than going to the dog directly. Nancy did not expect you to follow her advice blindly either. If you felt you had strong reasons for doing a breeding, or keeping a different puppy than she would have chosen from a litter, she would stand by you right or wrong, knowing that sometimes a learning experience was what was needed. Most importantly, she was there to pick you up and point you in the right direction when you failed. She had a firm commitment to Ada Lueke and the beagle genetic data base, generously sharing information with Ada over the years.

Nancy never forgot that little field beagle she started with, either. She was quietly rescuing beagles and finding homes for them for years. She was also a great fan of the Beagle Rescue Foundation of America and considered it her favorite charity. Her creative talents came into play many times to support the BRFOA auction in recent years.

If you needed help in any way, Nancy was there. From helping to train a puppy, to grooming, propping you up during a difficult whelping, nursing a sick dog, consoling you on the loss of a loved beagle, to cheering you on at ringside. You knew you could count on her always. In the last few years it was not uncommon for her to arrive at a dog show terribly ill. We would plead with her to stay in and rest, but she soldiered on. She would not lent anyone down. Looking back, I think that perhaps if she couldn't show the dogs, care for them herself and shower them with the attention they were used to, life would have been useless to her. It is a fitting memorial to Nancy that her husband, Harry, honored her last request--that she be buried with her beagles. I find consolation in knowing that her beloved Rick, Jenny Sioux, Penny, Ms Mac, KP and many others who died over the years are with her now.

As much as Nancy loved the beagle fancy, the fanciers loved her, too. When it came time to move some of the dogs from the kennel to new homes, breeders far and wide pitched in so that few dogs remain in the kennel today. I don't think anyone will ever quite fill Nancy's shoes. When we sit back and look at our dogs, we see the legacy and legend that was Navan. If we can carry the spirit and dedication that she showed us into the future, then we will have been worthy to have been her students of the breed. In conclusion, I would like to remember her special talent for getting to a show site early and reserving a spot for her friends. We are absolutely certain that Nancy has a cloud all picked out for each and every one of you.           

 (Written by Sharon Lehrke)







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