Chris Miele of Crosscreek Goldens in New York is a breeder, agility competitor, author, and former president of the GRCA. She was one of the first 20 licensed AKC Agility Judges and is also licensed in conformation for Goldens and Weimaraners (with more to come). She designed and judged the very first Jumpers With Weaves course to be used in competition and the AKC National Specialty. Chris is currently Vice Present of Hudson Valley Golden Retriever Club and has served that club in every position from Treasurer to President over the years. She was named Volunteer of the Year at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts because of her work on their docent program.
Chris’ dogs are active in conformation and agility. Several of the Cross Creek dogs have appeared on television and have been featured in national advertisements and are now in their fourth generation of agility titled dogs. Their accomplishments include several Champions, a Grand Champion, multiple Specialty winners, multiple Masters level dogs including bronze, silver and century masters titles and the ever so difficult MACH.
Chris, along with Mary Tiegreen, authored the book 1001 Reasons to love Dogs.
Chris graciously agreed to an email interview with me.
TDG: How did you get started in breeding golden retrievers?
Chris: My second Golden was purchased as a show dog – She was truly a lovely girl and finished very quickly – I think it cost me less than $800 using a handler. Her final two points were won at Westminster Kennel Club Show at the Garden. She was a huge education and she had one litter in 1990.
TDG: What sorts of testing do you do on your dogs?
Chris: For my stud dogs, I feel it is my responsibility to do whatever tests are available. So we do hips, eyes, hearts, elbows, thyroid, PRA-a, prcd-PRA and Ichythyosis.
All my dogs get DLS xrays at around 7 months of age to get a good look at their hip joint conformation.
Dogs get CERF’d as often as possible – certainly every year for those being used for breedings.
TDG: What is your biggest accomplishment as a breeder?
Chris: The first breeding I did was my BISS CH who was #1 at the time. So I bred her to the #1 golden male at the time. After all, isn’t that how you do it? The breeding did not take. So it has been a long learning process. I look at the dogs I have bred and I am proud that my name is on them. For the most part, they have longevity and excellent health. I have had multiple specialty winning dogs, multiple group winning dogs and lots of agility titles.
TDG: How many litters a year do you have?
Chris: Twice I have had two litters in one year – but more typical is one litter every other year. My stud dogs get used about 2-3 times per year
TDG: What is the biggest litter you have had?
Chris: 12 – it was my first litter, 10 boys and 2 girl
TDG: Where are your puppies raised?
Chris: For the first two weeks they are in the spare bedroom. Then they go to the kitchen or other noisy parts of the house.
TDG: What are some reasons for turning away a perspective puppy buyer? Does it happen often?
Chris: Hah! – I have turned away prospective buyers because they might be a puppy mill. I turned away one family because the children ran amuck in my house and if they couldn’t discipline their children, they would never be able to discipline a dog. I have also turned down a buyer because something made me uncomfortable. I have a good and on-going relationship with many of the people who have puppies from me with many getting their second, third and 4th dogs from me.
TDG: What are your future goals/projects? Any more books?
Chris: As I am getting older, it is getting more difficult to care for litters – so I dont know how many more I will be whelping. I still like the plan the breedings and will sometimes place the picks in homes that will be using them for show and breedings.
I would like to do two more books – just a matter of sitting down and starting them. We have enough material to do a follow up to “1001 Reasons to Love Dogs” and there is another book based on the letters of Elma Stonex and Pagey Elliott that I would like to do. I truly thought that I would start them this winter -but this is the first time in a long time that I have some free time so I am doing some long needed training.
TDG: Is it true that you are the breeder of Jimmy Fallon’s dog Gary?
Chris: I am not the breeder. Giselle Graham did the breeding to my dog Tweed (Cross Creek Royal Blend). It was a beautiful litter and Jimmy got the second pick bitch. Giselle kept the first pick. Giselle brought a litter to a recent show, sired by another one of my dogs, Clancy – that was the litter used for the Puppy Bowl and they correctly picked the Ravens to win the Superbowl. Celebrity owners are not always the best but this one has worked out well, Jimmy is a dedicated dog owner and adores Gary. And it is great fun to see her on TV. She is incredibly well socialized.
TDG: Is there any advice you have for the next generation of golden breeders?
Chris: There is something that I can’t stress enough in breeding – and it is something that I think has gone by the wayside in this age of technology. Often people select a stud dog from a picture in the GR News or from seeing them win a dog show. They don’t get to know the lines, to know the people who own them or to know the breeders who produced the dogs. It is important to find people you can trust, who really try and breed for all the right reasons and who put a priority on health, temperament, soundness and the breed standard.
Many of the dogs I have used were dogs that I knew their entire life. This includes Camrose Time To Return. He was just about 8 months old when I first saw him so I was able to watch him mature.
That gave me time to learn and establish a relationship of trust.
TDG: What do you feed your dogs?
Chris: We feed raw and have been doing that for about 20 years now. They get a meat, grain and vegetable mixture based on the Volhard diets.
TDG: I understand you are active in agility. What was your biggest win?
Chris: MACH 1, MACH 2, and placing 17th in the 20″ class at the AKC National Agility Championships.
My most memorable “win” in conformation was that my first Champion finished at Westminstker Kennel Club Show.
TDG: Are you involved in golden rescue in any way?
Chris: Not formally, although I have helped place dogs and have been able to get dogs out of the shelters with the help of several friends.
Thanks to Chris for taking the time to answer my questions.