Updated: Nov 14, 2019
It's hard, being the first at anything, and often a thankless task, so when your actions are validated by others choosing to follow in your footsteps, it is a remarkably good feeling. Such is our journey with Mystic Legion, an up and coming kennel in Greece that we first contacted in 2016. We had been watching them for a while. We liked the dogs they were breeding, the lines they were bringing together and the direction they were going. We couldn't find a suitable stud in NZ that Nikita wasn't closely related to, so we thought, why not?
When we first contacted Mystic Legion, outside of Europe they were largely unknown. We went to them with a list of problems we felt NZ Chihuahuas were suffering from, not the least of which was a very limited gene pool.
Except for the El-Toro Kennels, who have imported dogs from Europe and Australia on a regular basis (hence the reliable soundness and quality of their lines), no other breeder in NZ was importing dogs for any other reason than to show and win. Fresh lines were brought in but jealously guarded so everyone else - unless they to were able to import a dog, which was then locked down in retaliation- was left just mixing the same genes over and over, in ever deceasing quantity and quality.
Mystic Legion offered us a choice of 2 dogs - a puppy and a Greek Champion and Junior Champion they had retired to make way for "a better prospect". The "better prospect" won Best of Breed at Crufts this year, so there was no shame in being put aside for that. We opted for the Champion, obviously, and thus began our love affair with Narci.
Despite his obvious quality and his multiple Europen titles, despite being written about in the UK Dog World magazine by the esteemed international judge, Andre Brace, as being "full of quality with a correct coat", Narci was not warmly received in NZ by the Chihuahua community. The nay-sayers came out in force. We've been told we were ripped off, nobody had ever heard of the Mysic Legion kennel so they were probably crap, he was too big, his coat was wrong, he was a waste of money, that he hasn't produced anything worthwhile, or that he's just not a good dog. He was recently "booed" when he won Best of Breed at the Toy Show in Blenheim.
Despite this, Narci prevailed, usually when the judge had European experience and knew what they were looking at, but often when the judge, regardless of nationality, simply couldn't overlook his soundness, fabulous breed type and wonderful temperament. He is now also a NZ Champion and has won more dog CC's in NZ than we can count. And he's an awesome, happy, lovable dog who brings us joy on a daily basis.
We have never regretted our choice of a Mystic Legion dog and knew that time would prove us right. At so it has. Earlier this year an Australian breeder - Invalhalla - brought 2 more Mystic Legion dogs into Australia and now another Mystic Legion dog is about to land in NZ.
We are delighted. The arrival of another dog of Narci's type and quality in NZ can do nothing but ease the way for Narci to do even better than he has done before. More exciting still is that the plan is for this new dog t0 contribute his DNA to several lovely young bitches from lines normally so locked down, none have ever been able to benefit from them before now. Not any more. A few years from now, the Mystic Legion Crufts-winning type will be the dominant type in NZ Chihuahuas.
Our dream of improving the Chihuahua gene pool in NZ is happening, and all we had to do was lead the way (which is significanlty cheaper and easier than trying to do it all ourselves!!). The health of our breed in general is going to be so much better for this new arrival. Our hope that one day the NZ show ring would be full of dogs who looked like Narci, rather than him being the odd one out, is coming true, and much sooner than we thought it could. Even better, Narci's offspring and their offspring will be the norm soon, not the exception, and NZ dogs will become truly competative on the world stage.
It's been a rough road, at times, and as anyone involved in the dog show world will tell you, the more you win the more "friends" you lose. It's been worth it, though. To have those who complained the loudest now following our lead is more rewarding than they will ever understand. We are delighted and will celebrate every triumph of this fabulous little dog as if he were our own, because without us, he would not be here, so we are happy to cheer him on and do Team Mystic Legion proud.
The challenge now, is where to next, and how long before they follow us there, too?