BRITISH SHORTHAIR - DEVON REX
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The Story of Hawk
By Jo Cornwall, Kathie Von Aswege and Michael Hans Schleissner
CFA's Sixth Best Cat in Championship
GC BW NW TrueBrit Winter Hawk of KLA
is a White British Shorthair in a Blue British Shorthair world. In addition to that we were very surprised to find out when we did his DNA testing that he carries lilac. Winter Hawk was bred by Colin and Jo Cornwall and Michael and Brigitte Schleissner and is owned by and will live with Doug and Kathie Von Aswege. He is also co-owned by Colin and Jo Cornwall, Michael and Brigitte Schleissner, Leah Sturn, Christine Shek, Edmond Tang and Christine Lam. These are a few of the members of the Heritage Group and we live in the USA, Germany and Hong Kong. I guess you could say that Winter Hawk is truly an International Cat.
Winter Hawk is also very special in other ways as well. First of all, you may have noticed from his picture that he is White! The second thing about him is that he is nearly six years old. The British Shorthair was accepted for Championship status in 1980. Between 1980 and 2011 there have been ten British Shorthairs to receive a National Win in Championship. Of these ten, nine have been blue males. In 1992 a very special blue spotted female named Brithaven Little Sally Saucer was CFA's Tenth Best Cat. In 1988 Jedi Issy Blue became CFA's Fourth Best Cat and still holds the highest placement to date for the British Shorthair. We are very proud that Winter Hawk is the second highest placement with his Sixth Best Cat. This is no small accomplishment for a white cat in a blue cat world.
Over six years ago we met Michael and Brigitte Schleissner of Atzelhof Cattery and we purchased two kittens from them. My first choice was a blue female but in the pictures that Michael sent there was a white girl whose ears looked a bit big and her feet were big also. She was twelve weeks old in the picture and with British Shorthairs this is the time they usually look their worst. Her name was Snow White and I thought she had real promise. Michael consented to let me take her as well as the blue girl. Atzelhof Snow White is Winter Hawk's mother. She produced some very fine kittens for us, especially when bred to GC, RW Ravenswing Positively Orestes.
One of these kittens was a handsome white male. We named him TrueBrit Winter Hawk and as a token of our gratitude and friendship with Michael and Brigitte we named them co-breeders and co-owners. This was the beginning of a very rewarding partnership between their cattery and ours.
The concept of the Heritage Group occurred when we became reacquainted with Kathie and Doug Von Aswege at a show in Port Girardeau, Missouri. We had lost touch with them and had not spoken in ten years. Kathie had been a very well known British Shorthair Breeder and got her first British in about 1972. Recently she had been out of cats for a few years and was just returning to the cat fancy. She said she only wanted to show white cats and in Premiership only. The only British she would consider had to be white and had to be neutered or spayed.
Kathie has this to say about our story. “What is my part of Winter Hawk’s story? Well I am the keeper of the cat. Winter Hawk lives with me, and is loved by me. I purchased Winter Hawk as a pet, he was to be neutered and maybe, shown in premiership. Hawk did well as a kitten, and granded easily, he then went on to become third best of breed and a Regional Winner. After discussions with his breeders, Jo and Colin Cornwall and Michael and Brigitte Schleissner, it was decided we should keep him as a whole cat.
Four years later I said to Jo, Doug and I are going to show Hawk for a National Win. She looked at me and said, he is five years old, and I said just wait till you see him! So it was decided that Hawk would be shown and off we went. As Jo stated, only I would sit on a cat for five years to wait for his full potential.”
But there was a major bump in the road. Kathie called in May and said they would have to evacuate their house due to the flooding in Dakota Dunes. She asked if we could take Winter Hawk because they were now living in a small apartment. Kevin Weber, Linda Bartley and Colin and I offered to house some of their cats until they could move back into a house. Of course this meant we would have to campaign Winter Hawk.
We decided to try to run an International Campaign. We would show him in the States until the end of the year and then take him to Sweden for their show in January where he would be delivered to Michael and Brigitte, Winter Hawk's co-breeders, so they could show him the rest of the season in Europe. Kathie and I would fly to Switzerland for the last show of the season and bring Winter Hawk home. It is a good thing we had a plan because along came Rainmaker and it was obvious that he needed to run this year also; especially after being highest scoring cat at the CFA National Show.
This is what Michael had to say about their part in the campaign. “This was the moment we jumped in the game. We? That’s Brigitte and Michael from Germany, proud co-breeders and co-owners of Winter Hawk. Brigitte went over to Sweden and picked up Winter Hawk at the Stockholm show in January. Up to this time we had never campaigned a cat for a National Win and hadn’t expected how much we had to learn. For the next three months we showed Winter Hawk in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, France and the very last show in Switzerland.
Having shown Brits for years it was not about how to handle or to groom the cat, the challenge was to stay cool and to deal with competition. It’s not easy blocking your own cat for a show because you took a judging assignment months ago for this show. Suddenly you have all this competition in your ring and you must act professionally and judge fairly. It’s not easy traveling to a foreign country the very first time on your own not able to read any of those funny letters on the traffic signs and trust friends. It’s not easy sitting at home for three weekends not showing and seeing the competition doing great at shows in many different corners of the world. Stay cool.
We had great support from Jo and Colin, Kathie and the entire Heritage Group, they always had all the necessary information, points and counts and, of course, had the coolness directing us on the right way.
You don’t want to miss this experience; we did it, what a great year!”
Our Heritage Group motto is “The impossible dream becomes a reality when friends work together”. We were able through friendship and cooperation to successfully campaign both of these very special cats this year. Without the help of Michael and Brigitte this would not have been possible. Winter Hawk was able to live with them which eliminated the cost and stress of flying him back and forth across the ocean. We were envious of his travel schedule and all the delightful places he would be going.
The good news is our plan worked and both Winter Hawk and Rainmaker were able to obtain their National Wins. One of our friends said that it was no surprise the Heritage Group succeeded. She said “You never have to campaign alone; you have a team of friends and supporters who will help you along the way.” This is so true. I trusted Kathie to care for Winter Hawk and obviously they did a superb job. Then Kathie trusted Michael and Brigitte, Colin and I, to care for her cat through the Campaign year.
Thanks to our members, Kathie and Doug, Michael and Brigitte, Christine, Edmond, Leah, Teddy, Kathleen, Trish and Christine. With a team like this watching your back, everything is possible.
Thanks to all the judges on both continents who saw the quality of this splendid white male (in a blue cat world) and rewarded him with their finals and his National Win.