In 1997, having lost our 14 year old family dog to illness and old age, I believed I was saying good-bye to our last dog. The children were just about grown and gone, it seemed like the time to simplify life. This lasted about six months before I found myself researching different breeds. Having had dogs all my life, I missed the unconditional love and companionship only a pet can provide. However, this time I wanted a dog with characteristics that would be a good match for my lifestyle.
Somehow, I discovered the Havanese breed. Information was kind of scarce, as the breed was barely known at that time. It looked like the perfect dog. It was small, bright and affectionate, had almost no genetic predispositions to disease, didn't shed, was nearly odorless and hypoallergenic, was a good traveler and suffered no skin problems so common in our sub-tropical climate. They also like the water and were good swimmers if exposed when young. As a boater this was a bonus. The only problem was I had never seen one and didn't know of anyone who had.
One day in the library, a woman saw my pile of books and we began a conversation. Unbelievably, she knew of a breeder right here in Tampa, FL. I immediately tracked her down and called...and called...and called again until the breeder agreed to bring the two Havanese pups she had left to a pet shop she owned in a Flea Market here at the time. I was going to just look. Good thing I brought my checkbook, because that is how I got my first Havanese, a male named Pico. Not until I decided I wanted company for him (they are great in pairs) did I learn that his pedigree was questionable and his breeder not highly regarded. I was bound and determined NOT to make the same mistake.
Eventually, I made contact with Lynn Nieto of Los Perritos Havanese, in Brooksville, Florida, just north of Tampa. Lynn is extremely knowledgeable, patient, generous and guided by her love of the breed. She has become my mentor. I purchased a Show Quality female from her that we eventually bred to her Champion Wee Pantoloons, who was invited to Westminster two years in a row. He earned this invitation by being the top Havanese in the country. I became so enamored with the process and enjoyed the pups so much that I have over the years added several more females to my family.