On Dec. 20, 1969, nine Schipperke fanciers got together for dinner on and decided to form a Schipperke club to serve the interests of the breed on the eastern seaboard. Because the original members included individuals from New Jersey to North Carolina, the “Colonial” name seemed fitting. However, the “Colonial” name was initially rejected by the American Kennel Club (AKC) because AKC officials wanted to reserve the name “Colonial” for clubs in the Massachusetts area. Our club’s founders persisted and eventually the AKC relented. CSC received AKC licensing in 1980.
Don & Mary Nielsen
Don and Mary got their first dog, Bubbles, in the 1950s. She was cream colored but an unknown breed at the time. She accompanied them to Paris, where Don, who spoke fluent French, was assigned to the U.S. Embassy as the Naval attaché to France. In the early 1960s, when Bubbles was ailing, Don answered a newspaper ad for a collie, but the breeder only had Schipperkes available by the time he arrived. They brought home Topsy (and Bubbles lived for three more years). Topsy produced Don’s first litter in 1967, and Don and Mary started showing in the late 1960s. Their daughter, Mary Beth, joined them as she grew up. It was later, when he got his first glimpse of a cream-colored Schipperke, that Don realized Bubbles had been one all along!
Don became a champion for cream Schips by accident when, in 2002, two black Schips produced two puppies — one cream and one black. He worked with scientists at VetGen, a veterinary genetics service, to identify the DNA strand that leads to color in Schips. He repeated the breeding and got the same results. Already partnered with several British breeders, he began cultivating his Midwatch Schipperke line to produce beautiful Schips, both black and cream.
Because the Schipperke Club of America (SCA) still only recognizes black Schips in the standard, Don helped form the United States Schipperke Club in 2006, which allows both tailed Schipperkes and the various colors to be shown. Don built a foundation of colored Schipperkes with several U.S. breeders and started a “semen bank” with a Virginia vet to help with future breeding efforts. Don’s Schips won more than 80 championship titles.
During his 50 years of breeding Schipperkes, he bred 82 litters that produced 251 puppies. Don and Mary were longtime members of the SCA, with Don serving as its president for four years, 1988-1992. In 2016, the Colonial Schipperke Club awarded Don an honorary lifetime membership. Mary passed away in 2010, and Don in 2020.
Ben & Carolyn Bemis
The fateful 1969 dinner was at the Bemises’ home. Ben obtained information and literature from the American Kennel Club and from the Schipperke Club of America outlining the requirements and suggestions for forming a local club. During their time living in the DC area, Ben & Carolyn were quite active in CSC activities. They became honorary members when in the early 1990s they retired to Cocoa Beach, Florida, later moving to Palm Harbor Florida. Ben passed away on October 29, 2008, and Carolyn died on February 5, 2010.
Betty owned Cae Kennels in Cologne, New Jersey. She produced a number of champions and hosted CSC “fun shows” at her kennel.
Don and Vera McKeldin
Don occasionally showed Schips but was more involved in organizing shows, especially at the Howard County Fairgrounds. He liked to organize the stewards and do the ring layout tasks. They were active members of the Catonsville Kennel Club. Don and Vera always had several show dogs and pet Schips. Health-related issues caused the McKeldins to become less active in CSC over the years, although they continued to get the CSC newsletter, The Schip Scoop. Vera died June 15, 2003 and Don died February 11, 2016.