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"Rastus" - BIS Ch. Barcon´s The Avenger

Pictured here winning BISS at the Trenton, NJ ALAC Specialty in 1974

* pedigree *

What a Dog! For anyone who has had the pleasure of gaiting a really good moving animal, you understand how exciting it can be. "Rastus" was one such animal. While I handled many great Champions to exciting wins, I've never had anyone compare to this dog moving!

The striking winning team - Joan and Rastus went on to win 11 Best In Shows!

Rastus was such a well-balanced dog around 11" in height, and not an over-abundance of coat. The noted Afghan Hound breeder and judge Kay Finch awarded him Best In Show - clapping her hands in excitement over a small dog that could move like the wind. She commented on the fact that his coat lay smoothly allowing his beautiful outline to be seen when moving.

The days of the "big promotions" were yet to come. Rastus did his winning with a minimum of advertising and hype. He was used very little while being shown, but he did produce a pretty little gold bitch by the name of Ch. Orlane´s Brandywyne (dam of Intrepid) out of heavily linebred Sparky stock. Brandy was the image of her father, on the smaller scale. Same color, same structure, but not as happy in the show ring as her dad. In fact, she really disliked showing. She was nine years old when she did attain her championship after numberous reserves to majors and that was a lucky break!

I think Rastus was ahead of his time. East coats breeders were shocked when Barry Tomkins bred to Sparky, considering the fact that he was not of "pure" bloodlines. They were even more shocked when Rastus began winning Best in Shows around the midwest. One of the true stories about Rastus involved Jerry Edwards, big handler from Michigan, who was looking for a top Lhasa winner. He had just made our own Ch. Orlane´s Good as Gold into a top BIS winner in the US and Canada (including Group 3 at Westminster) and wanted something special. I told Jerry about Rastus, said I really liked the looks of this youngster from the photos that Barry had sent me and thought he might be a "flyer". Rastus was just 7 months old, but he had a great outline and style.

Ch. Orlane´s Brandywine - Avenger´s daughter and Intrepid´s mother.

Avenger as a seven months old puppy

Jerry knew I had a pretty good eye for a dog, so he asked Barry to send him the dog for a possible weathly client. Well, Barry was enthusted, packed Rastus off to Jerry and we waited to see what he would say. His reply wasnt long in coming. He was extremely disappointed with this big, gangy puppy with sparse coat. How could I possibly think this dog could do serious winning, he was TOO big, kind of shy, just not what he wanted!

I was sorry Jerry didnt like him, but Barry was incensed! He named him the Avenger, and vowed to give him a chance in the ring and wanted me to take him out right then. I advised waiting until the dog was about 11 months old to have more coat and mature a little. We decided to begin his career at Florida circuit and entered him at six shows.Barry sent him to me about a month ahead of the shows to give him a chance to acclimate to me and be trained. He still didn´t have floor lenght coat, but was nicely bodied up and carried himself beautifully. I didnt know what to expect from him in the ring, he seemed a bit "soft" but I knew you just dont know what a dog will do until you get him in the ring a few times.So off we went to Florida shows.

You must remember, this was a lot for a youngster that hadnt´t been much of anywhere to be plunged right into hot competition, ready or not! The first show was an education for both Rastus and me. He was so happy with himself, with the other dogs, with the excitement of the ring. i couldn´t settle him down enough for the judge who expected a bit more decorous behavior. By the time I got him smoothed out a little, with all four feet on the floor, it was too late, but we still got reserve to a major. Still i was happy with his enthusiasm and while I didn´t want to hold him back too much, knew we had to work together a little better.

I got Rastus in early for the next show, and we worked out a bit before ring time, practicing on moving with me and not trying to investigate every dog. Stacking.. well, he wasnt big on that so I just showed him on the loose lead and let him show himself off. Since he was such a sound, well constructed dog, he couldn´t put a foot wrong and just stood there looking gorgeous. He showed like a trooper, just a little rambunctious and was Best of Winner for a major, and I was getting excited about this pretty puppy.

Well, he finished in the next four shows and we never looked back from that time forward. I felt he was still immature for specialing, so sent him home to grow up a little. Later that summer, Barry wanted him out, and I didn´t have a special, so we decided to give it a whirl. I entered him in three shows - Council Bluffs, IA, Sioux City & Sioux Falls, So. Dakota, figuring there wouldn´t be much competiion there. Wrong! Porter Washington with Ch. Flakee Sweepstakes was there, the Dalmatian Ch. Coachman´s Chuck-A-Luck, and the big winning Bulldog. Wow, some really heavy duty winners! We won the breed all three days and wonder of wonders, two Group seconds and a Group First! Three weeks later Rastus won his first Best In Show under Kay Finch and we were off running!

A beautiful head-study of Rastus!

This was a dog that loved the competition of the big rings and he could outmove almost everything in the Group ring except the Standard Poodle and Dalmatian without really exerting himself. Rastus went on to become No. 1 Lhasa in National Competition for two years, winning BOB at two ALAC National Specialties, 11 All-Breed BIS and numerous Groups. After a short two years, he went home to be a beloved housepet of Barry and Connie Tompkins in Syracuse, NY.

Jerry very graciosly later told me turning that dog down was one of his biggest mistakes ever made in dogs! Just goes on to show that you gotta have faith, right?

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