It was a harrowing time at the airport, 4 years ago today, while we waited for the freight people at Air NZ to bring out our very first imported dog. Although we now boast that he comes from the Crufts Best of Breed winning kennels, Mystic Legion, at the time we bought Narci, Mystic Legion hadn't won anything nearly so grand. We had taken a punt on an up and coming kennel nobody in the Southern Hemisphere had even heard of and were seriously questioning our sanity.
It didn't help that it was April Fools Day.
For months we'd been regaled with horror stories about breeders who had been ripped off buying dogs from overseas, especially from a kennel nobody had heard of. We were taking a terrible risk, the old hands in the show world warned us. The dog won't look like the photos. He'll be un-showable, sterile, nasty, have slipping patellas or a heart murmer or not even be the same dog! It won't end well, they told us.
So we were nervous. Very nervous. So nervous we'd even gone so far as to ask the breeder in Greece why he would sell us this stunning Greek Champion to an unknown new breeder in NZ? I mean, if he was any good, why get rid of him? Why send him away to the other side of the world, at all?
The breeder's quite reasonable answer was that Narci had been their intended show star, but they had something better coming up. He wanted Narci to be shown, but he'd never get past Drago in the ring in Europe, so why not send his pride and joy somewhere his quality would be recognised and he wasn't competing with arguably, the best Long Coat Chihuahua in the world?
They did much to reassure us. They sent his health tests. They sent us a magazine article written by top UK All-Breeds Judge, Andrew Brace, who'd awarded Narci Best of Breed over 114 other Chihuahuas, describing him as "full of quality with a correct coat". They asked if we'd mind if they got a litter out of Narci before they sent him to NZ.
It all seemed legit, so we crossed our fingers, paid the (scary amount of) money, hoped and waited, because in the end, if we wanted to breed healthy Chihuahuas, we needed new lines. The NZ gene pool was dangerously small and none of the other breeders in NZ we approached for studs were inclined to help us. It seems the words "DNA and health testing" are an anathema to many older NZ breeders.
So our Greek Champion, Greek Junior Champion and the holder of 4 CACIB certificates finally arrived in New Zealand and when they brought out his crate and we saw him, standing there with a waggy tail and that stupid grin he gets on his face (despite 4 days in transit from Greece and 10 days in quarantine), we melted. The breeder had advised us that Narci would happily sell his soul for roast chicken, which we had at the ready. Once he saw the chicken and realised it was for him, the adoration was mutual.
Narci settled in quickly and took only a few short months to become a New Zealand Champion. He took Best of Breed in his second show, 4 days after he arrived. He's had a great show career in NZ, but he doesn't always win. His European type was, at the time he arrived 4 years ago, very different to the NZ type and he's not what our local judges were used to seeing. He always did better under judges who have judged in Europe or the US, regardless of their country of origin.
Narci's true value to the Long Coat Chihuahuas in NZ is not just reflected in his show career, however. He has sired 20 puppies so far and 70% of them have been girls, which is amazing and has allowed us to consolidate his health, quality and type in future generations. Many of his daughters have had stellar show careers themselves, but even those we make available as pets, have done brilliantly, too. His happy-go-lucky temperament shines through in all his babies, and they make the sweetest and most wonderful pets - healthy, happy and adored by their furever families.
He has had other effects on the breed in NZ, too. Since our success with Narci both in the ring and with our breeding program, other breeders followed our lead and 8 other imported Long Coat Chihuahuas have come to NZ since we brought Narci in from Greece, including 2 more Mystic Legion dogs. We cannot begin to express our delight at the effect this new, healthy DNA will have on the breed in NZ. With these new lines, the NZ gene pool is gaining depth and Narci's classic, European breed type will soon be the norm, not the outlier that sometimes put him last in shows where the judge didn't understand what they were looking at.
We joke he either comes first or last, but it doesn't really matter. Narci is the happiest dog on Earth, He is a joy to have in our lives and so full of love for everyone around him that even if he had never won a thing, our lives would be better for having him in it.
Happy 4th Anniversary GR CH, GR JNR CH, CACIB, NZ CH Mystic Legion Narcissus. You have brightened our lives and we adore you.
Check out Narci's profile, more photos, his babies and pedigree here.