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Dogs – The Family We Choose – A Book Review

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74 – May 2017

by Joan Harrigan, photos by Holli Murphy

Melanie Steele considers herself almost an accidental author. She didn’t plan to write a book, but after mov- ing to Palmetto Bluff, S.C. four years ago, Steele found herself in the midst of a very dog-oriented community.

Palmetto Bluff is midway between Hilton Head and Savannah, in what is known as the Carolina Lowcountry. When Steele and her husband Jack moved there from Charlotte, N.C., they found a warm welcome for their GrandCru kennels. “Even the hotel here caters to dogs,” Steele says. “It didn’t take long for people to greet me with ‘you’re the dog lady!’”

Steele grew up with dogs, while her husband did not. As a married couple, their first dogs were Weimaraners, and Jack Steele hunted with them. Melanie Steele began showing when they bought a Weimaraner on a contract that required that the dog be finished. Her handler, Sioux Forsyth, was showing the number one Greyhound in the country, MBIS Ch. Hewly Hispanic II at the time, and Steele was smitten. Three weeks later, she and her husband purchased his granddaughter, “Belle,” who became Ch. Helicon Lighthearted and the beginning of the GrandCru Greyhounds.

Generations later, GCh. GrandCru Giaconda CGC is arguably Steele’s best known Greyhound. Gia won 46 Bests in Show before her retirement, and is owned by Steele, Amy Phelan, Rose Tomlin, and Rindi Gaudet. She was bred by Steele, Tomlin, and Gaudet, who also handled her. Gia was known for her personality in the ring—“we got that right,” Steele says. This exceptional temperament (“I call them Goldens in Greyhound clothing”) traces back to a dog named “Pete.” Ch. GrandCru Talisker At- Heart JC came from one of Steele’s early litters, and he stamped his descendants with his temperament. For the record, Gia is now at home, awaiting the arrival of seven puppies at the end of April!

A Book With A Purpose

After the fifth person told her that there should be a book about the dogs of Palmetto Bluff, Steele began to envision it: a beauti- fully-produced coffee table book filled with pictures and captioned with literary and popular quotations. Steele wasn’t interested in profiting from the venture—while she financed the production herself, all proceeds would fund canine research. Steele herself has served on the Board of the Canine Health Foundation, and she was familiar with the work being done by Denis Marcellin-Little, DEDV at the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. This institution is ranked in the top four vet- erinary schools nationally. Dr. Marcellin-Little’s research centers on joint disease and limb deformities, and he’s doing cutting- edge work in orthopedic implants, using 3-D printing with polymers and metals.

Click here to read the complete article
74 – May 2017

Short URL: http://caninechronicle.com/?p=124861

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