Icons of the Sport: Anne Keleman

Learn about the contributions of dog breeder Anne Keleman of Ti Song Tibetan Terriers.

Anne Keleman
Ti Song Tibetan Terriers

Anne Keleman’s Ti Song breeding ranks among the most successful and respected Tibetan Terrier bloodlines. Breeder Marian Murphy calls Keleman the driving force behind the breed’s success on the West Coast. “Anne was a very special person to me, but everybody looked up to her. If you go back far enough you will find Ti Song stock in the pedigrees of almost everything in the TT ring today,” says Murphy.

In the mid-1960s, Anne was a Cocker breeder in Novato, Calif. Then as now, the Cocker ring was dominated by professional handlers and she wanted a breed she could show herself. A picture of a TT in a San Francisco newspaper sparked her interest, and a subsequent referral led her to Mrs. Neil Amend’s  Zim Sha kennel in Washington.

In 1967 she purchased a 7-month-old white-and-black parti-colored puppy. Called ‘Pirate’ or ‘Pi’ because of the black patch over one eye, Zim Sha’s Tasha Ti Song became Ti Song’s foundation stud. He was widely campaigned in Miscellaneous, where the breed was destined to linger from 1963-73. “She really promoted the breed, and Pi attracted a lot of positive attention,” says Murphy. “He was flashy, photogenic and very outgoing at a time when this wasn’t the general rule for the breed. Anne owned grooming shops and pet supply businesses in Northern California and she always took her puppies to the shops for grooming and socializing.”

Anne began breeding under the Ti Song prefix in 1968. “She got into the breed pretty early in the game and knew where she wanted to go,” says Murphy, who admits that Anne’s frustration grew as TTs remained stalled in Miscellaneous limbo. “She was very driven, and she could be difficult because she knew what she wanted for her dogs.” Murphy adds that this led to Anne’s clashes with the ruling elite of the TTCA who feared that AKC recognition would mean losing control of the breed. Finally, the Tibetan Terrier entered the Non-Sporting Group on Oct. 3, 1973. Anne immediately packed her dogs and headed for the first big circuits in Montana and Idaho.

Three days later, Pi became the breed’s first champion. He was also the first Group placer and ended the year as top TT. Anne also bred the first bitch champion, Ma Tasha Miss Kim, and the  youngest TT to earn an obedience title, Tasha Ti Song’s T’an Kuo CD.

Anne both outcrossed and linebred to maintain Ti Song’s  type while avoiding unwanted recessive traits. In 1978 she imported the Danish-bred top producer Int. Ch. Ryttergarden’s ChoCho. Anne  showed the 9-year-old  to AKC and CKC titles. He then produced  notables like Ch. Ti Song’s Lord Chumley Himself and Ch. Plumpoint’s Here Comes the Judge. “Bob Hope’s daughter Linda imported an inbred Luneville bitch from England  (Lhamoi Sister Lottie, imported from Betty Bangert) and Anne also added that outcross to her breeding program,” says Murphy. Four Ti Song studs and 13 bitches earned ROM titles. More than 150 Ti Song dogs contributed to the gene pool and helped found breeding programs.  
Anne had a knack for spotting novices with potential, and unhesitatingly shared her time and dogs. “She was very supportive and helpful, but she could be a bit of a curmudgeon. She knew who she liked and wasn’t afraid to let you know.” In 1974, Murphy acquired Tasha Ti Song’s Merry Merry from Anne, setting her on a 38-year career in TTs. “From then on we became dog show people and Anne became my mentor and friend.” Shortly after John and Kathy Ronald purchased their first TT from Anne in 1975, she offered to co-own Ch. Ti Song’s Mr. Personality with them. He became a BIS winner and top producer and John Ronald became an AKC judge. Ch. Ti Song’s J.P. Morgan, co-owned with breeder Mikki Demers, won the 1987 National Specialty.

The last Ti Song litter was whelped in 1994. “Anne was such a fixture in the breed, it never occurred to me that she would stop breeding, but she didn’t want her dogs to outlive her,” says Murphy. “I wish I had frozen sperm from some of those dogs. I don’t know where to find that type and temperament in the breed now.”

Anne filled her time with hobbies and authored The Tibetan Terrier in 1994. She remained actively involved in the Sir Francis Drake Kennel Club and the Tibetan Terrier Club of America. Breeder Jackie Faust, whose original stock descends from Ti Song, hired Anne to judge the National Specialty Sweepstakes in 1999. “Anne attended her last TTCA specialty in 2006. She was in her 90s, still gardening and enjoying life. The most remarkable thing about Anne was her dedication to purebred dogs.”

Anne passed away in 2011 at 96. She is one of three TTCA members honored with lifetime memberships, and the 2012 national specialty is dedicated to her.


From the May 2012 issue of Dogs In Review magazine. Purchase the May 2012 digital back issue or subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs In Review magazine.

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