We have been blessed with so many beautiful, beloved Boxers, friends, achievements and memories throughout the past 33 years.
Cherkei’s start in Boxers
One sunny North Carolina afternoon the young Mr. and Mrs. Robbins drove to a trailer park with hopes of bringing home a Boxer puppy for their
5-year old son. From a litter of eight sired by Salgray’s Dapper Dan, a flashy brindle male was chosen and given the name Baron.
Baron had been in his new home one week when Cheryl called his breeders to let them know how Baron was doing. Following week two, a
second call was made to report on Baron’s progress. During this conversation the breeder told Cheryl that three pups were still with them and
eating them into the poor house. The breeder asked if Baron might like a playmate offering a second pup at no charge. Another drive, another
puppy. They named this petit, plain faced girl Lady.
As routinely happens, the pair of pups captured the hearts of all they met. Cheryl’s mother informed them of an upcoming match advertised in
the local newspaper. It was suggested the family should make a day of it and enter the pups, which they did.
Arriving at the match Cheryl and Keith were approached by a stranger who explained a bit of how things worked and offered the assistance of
her daughter who was experienced in handling. Appreciative of any help, it was agreed that the pups be shown by the young handler, Kim
Street. All watched with surprise and delight as Baron was awarded Best In Match.
Judge Deas Richardson told Cheryl and Keith, “I put your boy up but I’d take your bitch home.” He added, “Breed her right and you’ll get
The young couple had never entertained the thought of breeding still the judges words stuck in Cheryl’s mind. Little time passed before Cheryl
found herself at the local library ordering books on Boxers and breeding. She joined the local kennel club and the couple started attending dog
shows. A subscription to Boxer Review secured their link to the wonderful world of Breeders, producers and those beautiful show dogs.
Research suggested they should look to find a stud dog that produced offspring they liked.
Not unlike many novices, they sought the opinions of several seasoned dog folk as to what dog would be the best choice for their Lady. Answers
varied greatly with the direction of one man ruling supreme. Mr. Peter Baynes advised, “Everyone will tell you something different, decide in your
In short order one name became prominent in their quest, Ch. Salgray’s Good Grief. While attending a show in South Carolina they
approached a lady by the name of Shan Shiver who owned a Good Grief son and daughter entered at the show. Welcoming and helpful, Mrs.
Shiver guided them to Stan and Nancy Kanner of Miami, Florida, owners of Good Grief.
Accompanied by her mother, Cheryl drove Lady to Miami for her rendevous with *Griefy*.
The result was a litter of nine not to mention the world of Boxers laying claim to what would prove to be two most committed and conscientious
caretakers of this breed.
Three years following the birth of their first litter, Cheryl and Keith sat high in the seats at Madison Square Garden anxiously awaiting the Boxer
judging. As if by fate, a familiar face appeared and joined them. Together the three shared the experience of witnessing Ch. Cherkei’s Son Of
A Gun win Best of Breed.
Cheryl sat silently, recalling the words of the Judge at that first match, “Breed her right and you’ll get something good.” She turned to their friend
and said, “Deas, it never would have happened without you.” Yes, the third person was none other than the match judge Deas Richardson
who just a few years prior had taken the time to share his thoughts and encouragement with the new, young couple. Isn’t life funny!
For Cherkei Boxers history had just been made, destiny charted. Willingly and with deepest conviction, the Robbins had become Boxer
breeders, intent on remaining students and guardians of this most wonderful breed.
What does Cherkei mean?
To us it means teamwork. Simplistically it’s the first part of both our names.
CHER yl and KEI th = CHERKEI
How did you get to where you are today?
Cheryl quickly answered first, “love of the breed”.
Knowing Cheryl as I do, I would interject here to clarify that when Cheryl says “love of the breed”, I know her not to mean love of a specific or
chosen few individual Boxers but rather Boxers period. The depth of this otherwise seemingly generic comment must be appreciated and
practiced on all levels and no one lives it with more daily devotion than Cheryl.
Cheryl continues with saying, “Adding to this is being a never-ending student of the breed, hard work, dedication and surrounding yourself with
knowledgeable, ethical people.” Keith adds, “ you must ask questions, listen and be objective.” Cheryl and Keith bounce thoughts and ideas
back and forth, they debate, now and then even disagree but always operate as a team. (Shhhh, I’ll tell you a secret. Cheryl is the team leader.)
Keith in his quiet wisdom also advises, “never underestimate luck or fate.” He continues with saying, “We believe, and our experiences have
proved to us, that crucial decisions made along the way brought us to where we are today. We were not always aware that each decision would
lead to where it did still, whether you call it luck or fate, many initial decisions paved our present day pathway.”
Let’s reflect. After acquiring their first two puppies, Cheryl and Keith followed the advice of Cheryl’s mom to attend the match. They followed the
advice to have the gal handle their pups which taught them the valuable lesson of a dog well presented. Judge Deas Richardson advised them
to breed their bitch well. Peter Baynes advised them to decide on the stud for her which produced their first Westminster BOB winner who was
also became their first Best In Show winner and ABC award winner for most Dog BIS wins.
With that curious yet convinced gleam in his eye, Keith elaborates, “what if we had not gone to that first match, or had the pups handled by Kim
Street, or followed the advice of Deas or Peter. Without question, things would have been different.”
Pivotal decisions that followed included purchasing three Gunner pups from his second litter who became Ch’s. Cherkei’s Legendary Lawman,
Calamity Jane and Christopher Robin. Loving the Scher-Khoun line of Ben and Shirley de Boer and wanting *Shadrack* genes, Ch. Milray’s
Mistique (Shadrack dau) was purchased from Mildred Stokes. She was bred to *Matt* (Legendary Lawman) producing Ch. Cherkei’s
Desperado, aka *Spider*. (The author’s first and all time Cherkei love)
Around the same time, Gunner was bred to Ch. Me-Don’s Joy of Arriba owned by Art and Shirley Ponsart and Nancy Carrite. A fawn bitch was
purchased from this litter who became Ch. Me-Don’s Annie Oakley of Cherkei. Annie was bred to Spider producing Ch. Cherkei’s Arriba
Wicked Calita who, at the time of cropping, was
nick named by her co owner Ted Fickes as “The Perfect One.”
Keith states, “It is important to appreciate these happenings on two levels. First we acknowledge that success is not independent of outside
contributions. Secondly, we must be willing to operate outside the boundaries of the proverbial box which is to say that with an eye to the future,
one must consider and incorporate into their breeding program dogs of quality and genetic characteristics that will better what you presently
own whether or not these dogs belong to you or your line. Breedings of convenience rarely lead to greatness and certainly not greatness of any
Ch. Cherkei’s Arriba Wicked Calita was bred to Ch. Golden Haze Tuxedo producing Cherkei’s first Breeder/ Owner / Handled Multi. Best In
Show winner. Continuing to venture outside the box Cheryl and Keith purchased Turo’s Miata (a repeat breeding of Cache) who was bred to
their Ch. Cherkei’s High Cotton producing *Travis*, MBIS, MBISS Ch. Cherkei’s Ultimate High. Travis’s top winning son is MBIS, MBISS Ch.
Storybook’s Rip It Up who Cheryl and Keith owned and campaigned to Multiple ABC awards, ABC Top Twenty winner, BOB and Grp. Second
at Westminster, # 1 Boxer , # 1 Working Dog and # 5 Dog All Breeds in the year 2000.
>From their foundation bitch *Lady*, we can follow the Cherkei lineage into the pedigree of the most recent Boxer to make breed history MBIS,
MBISS, Ch. Bayview Some Like It Hot.
Cheryl and Keith first met Paula and Ken Morrison of Bayview Boxers through Lynda Yon. Following a California judging assignment Keith
pointed out to Cheryl that she had awarded ribbons to several offspring of
Ch. Bridgewoods B K Kahuna. Once again they found themselves looking outside the box and considering acquiring a Boxer with this breeding.
Lynda had no *Raider* pups available but told of a couple that had just bred to him. Cheryl and Keith note that they will be forever grateful to the
Morrison’s for allowing them to purchase the fawn bitch who became Ch. Bayview Tequila High of Cherkei. *Shooter*, a *Strider* littersister,
was bought with the intention of breeding her to *Travis* which resulted in producing Ch. Cherkei’s Al Pacino and Ch. Bayview Cherkei Jean
Harlow with *Harlow* being the agreed puppy due back to Paula and Ken.
A few years later the Morrison’s invited Cheryl to look at their newest puppy. Cheryl’s face lights up as she relives this memory and tells me,
“strutting across the ground came this thirteen-week old flashy fawn bitch exuding all the confidence, beauty and carriage of a seasoned starlet.”
Cheryl immediately fell in love with her wanted to take her home. To Cheryl’s disappointment she was not available.
Keith first saw this baby girl a few months later at ABC. Again Cheryl asked to take her home but her plea remained unsuccessful. The puppy
grew, attained her Championship and continued to be shown. Never losing interest in this bitch it was when she was 19 months old that Paula
and Ken decided to entrust *Monroe’s* future to her biggest fan Cheryl. The rest, as they say, is History, literally!
With the unequaled hands of Michael Shepherd at the end of the lead, Monroe set records on numerous levels including becoming the # 1 All
Time Top BIS Winning Bitch in Breed History with seventy (70) All Breed Best In Show wins and the # 2 All Time Top BIS Winning Boxer in
breed history with the # 1 position proudly and rightfully retained by the late, great Ch. Bang Away of Sirrah Crest.
Laughter abounds while we sit and share the memory of 33 years ago when Cheryl and Keith were a young married couple with a preschooler,
a station wagon and two Boxer pups completing their family. Keith was a working dad and Cheryl, a stay at home mom and housewife that
happened to get badly bitten by the Boxer bug.
Show dog dreams far exceeded their financial means and, like countless others, concessions and monetary scavenging became part of
everyday existence in order to support their new found passion. Living in the mountains of North Carolina, Cheryl tells of when their phone
service was repeatedly disconnected due to unpaid bills caused by her long distance dog related conversations. In time their station wagon
was replaced by a “less than perfect van, complete with leaking roof.” Their son Joel gave up on requests for name brand clothes and footwear
as that money was spent on second hand crates and other dog necessities.
Like many others, Cheryl confesses to the scrimping it took to support having a handler show that young hopeful or promising new Special. They
quickly realized that if their Boxers were to continue being shown, Cheryl would have to learn how to do it herself.
At this point in our conversation I notice the smile on Keith’s face as he listens to Cheryl talk of handling their dogs. To say he is proud of her and
all she accomplished would barely touch on the emotion he emitted as she spoke. Cheryl took to handling like a duck to water and a few years
later, encouraged by Keith, Cheryl hung out her shingle as a Professional thus allowing them opportunity to finance their ambitions for Cherkei
They confide that now in their retirement they were fortunate enough to be able to campaign a Special of the quality possessed by Monroe,
something they could never afford with any of their previous Boxers. Cheryl reiterates that from the first time she saw Monroe, she saw
greatness, believing this bitch was capable of the unimaginable if given the opportunity to reach for it.
Cheryl and Keith share that Monroe surpassed their wildest hopes and dreams to which they add, “not to say we don’t believe her deserving of
her accomplishments, we do.” However they also acknowledge that Monroe was part of a dynamic duo with the other half being her handler and
best bud Michael Shepherd. How do you define magic? Michael and Monroe!
Like Monroe, Cheryl and Keith tell that they too have endless love and respect for Michael. In their words, “Simply put, it wouldn’t have happened
without him.” They add, “Of course we will also be forever grateful to Paula and Ken for agreeing to dare to dream with us.”
As we turn the page the newest young Cherkei Champion tenderly touches down in the Specials ring. Already a Multi Group First Winner, we
anxiously await the maturing of Ch. Cherkei’s Cotton Crinoline aka CC, a half sister to Monroe bred and owned by Cheryl, Keith and myself.
Youngest hopefuls are the team of Can. Ch. Reannon Cherkei Turn Up The Volume, aka Captain and his plain littersister Reannon Cherkei Just
Press Play, aka Tennille. Captain attained his Can. Championship with Group placements, within one weekend from the puppy class and has 4
points toward his Am. Ch. also from the 6-9 class. Tennille is about to begin her Canadian ring adventures.
It is with the same level of excitement and enthusiasm of decades past that Cheryl and Keith discuss future breeding plans. They openly admit,
“Some things never change, we just love this breed that much.” Cheryl adds, “As long as the good lord allows, Boxers will always bless our
Who are some of your favorite dogs?
This is where the conversation found the interviewer being asked the questions “Favorite as in loved or admired?” “Loved or Admired for
beauty, brains, companionship?”
“This question is one we (Cheryl and Keith) can’t answer except to say that they have all touched our lives in their own way, each leaving their
own unique paw print on our hearts from our foundation bitch *Lady* to *Fuller* our eleven year ol’ grey faced gentleman that shares our bed
nightly. Neither carry the prefix of Champion but then we all know that has nothing to do with how a Boxer enriches our day to day existence.
That’s our answer.”
What were some of your biggest, most exciting wins?
Keith replies, “There’s no doubt the wins are sweetest on the ones you bred and the first or early big wins accompany a degree of excitement
that just can’t be repeated, like when Cheryl handled our *Annie* to a BOB win from the 6-9 puppy class over Top Specials and handlers.”
Cheryl adds, “When our first homebred *Gunner* won Grand Sweeps at the Georgia Boxer Club, also his BOB win at Westminster and when he
won his and our first Best In Show.”
Jumping back in Keith adds, “We can’t leave out the year our *Lita* (The perfect one) won Veteran Bitch at ABC. We couldn’t afford to Special
*Lita* so this win, given the competition within the class, remains one of our most meaningful and memorable Cherkei moments.”
On the subject of Judging
I asked Cheryl what judging Sweeps was like and how she prepared and educated herself for the responsibility of judging to which she
answered, “Of course I was nervous judging my first Sweeps. Like anyone, I wanted to do a good job. Sweepstakes are a prelude to licensed
judging and helps to develop a judges ring style. I love judging Sweeps, it’s like peeking into the cradle of our breeds future. I also watched
judges I admired.” Cheryl giggles and adds, “ Still to this day when we meet up at shows, I enjoy sitting ringside with them and judging other
breeds. It’s a learning experience. I drew from my years of handling regarding patterns and positioning of dogs for best presentation and
viewing. As a licensed judge my greatest thrill was judging at the ABC. There are no words to describe how it feels to be chosen by your peers
for such an honor and responsibility. To be surrounded by entries from various parts of the world that represent our breeds cream of the crop,
encompassing promising puppies to Spectacular Specials, it’s truly a humbling experience that approaches the surreal. I have also had the
pleasure and honor of judging the Boxer Club of Canada National Specialty in 1997 and look forward to the distinction of officiating again in
2008. I have enjoyed the opportunity of judging Boxers in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, South America, Argentina, Japan, England and
Mexico. So many beautiful places, people and Boxers.”
The sound of the metal whisk stirring her Crab and Asparagus soup comes to a pause as Cheryl grins and adds, “I’m also licensed to judge
Whippets and Junior Showmanship but that’s another article.” When I ask Cheryl why she never pursued license to judge more breeds she
answers, “Boxers have my complete heart and for me they are the only breed I wish to be a full time student of. I strive to continue learning about
Boxers inside and out so that if I had to, I could judge them blindfolded, without error. The learning time involve in order to do a great job judging,
is time I’d rather spend just on Boxers. As a judge, I’d never want to do an injustice to good dogs because I didn’t know a breed intimately.”
On the subject of Mentors
Within the phases and varied areas of the Robbins dog related goals and practices, these are some of the folks that have influenced Cheryl and
Keith as well as Cherkei Boxers.
Betty Denman, a Borzoi Breeder / Owner / Handler from the early days in North Carolina. Betty whelped the first Cherkei litter, our *Gunner*
litter. Of Betty Cheryl says, “She was a dog lady of the highest standards on all levels. Ethical, compassionate, knowledgeable and respectful of
dogs, she set the bar high and we remain thankful she taught us the benefits of being committed to operating that way. Betty was a mentor in all
areas and we could never thank her enough for all she gave us. Bless you Betty.”
Shan Shiver of Shandown Boxers. “Shan was one of the first to share her time at shows and speak with us. Shan bred and was showing the
Good Grief kids we thought were so beautiful and she referred us to Nancy Kanner, owner of *Griefy*. Shan always took time to speak with us
and share her breed knowledge, which was endless. Thank you Shan.”
Nan Hauprich of Hauphouse Boxers. “We met Nan while showing our first Boxers *Baron* and *Lady*. Nan was always so welcoming, taking
time to talk and help us along at shows. We never felt out of place or quite as novice as we really were when in her company. She made us feel
like we belonged. Thank you Nan.”
Nancy Kanner of Kricket Boxers. “Nancy owned Ch. Salgray’s Good Grief and without her agreeing to take a chance on us newbies and allow
the breeding of our *Lady*, there would have been no *Gunner*, quite possibly no Cherkei. Nancy also shared her time and knowledge helping
to guide us in how to do things right.
Thank you Nancy.”
Ted Fickes of Arriba Boxers. The mention of Ted’s name puts a special smile on Cheryl and Keith’s faces. Of course those that know Dr. Ted
will easily understand why and given the relationship between Arriba and Cherkei, the instantaneous smiles came as no surprise to this writer.
In Cheryl’s words, “Every breed has icons and when you first get into a breed it doesn’t take long to discover who these people are. In our
hearts and minds, Ted hung the moon, an ultimate, bonafide Boxer celebrity. Given our level of admiration and respect for this man, I (Cheryl)
was beyond nervous when advised to phone him to inquire about cropping our second litter.
Ted cropped our second litter and every other Cherkei puppy that followed. While cropping that second litter, Ted not only entered our home, he
entered our hearts and resides there to this day.
Over the years we attended shows together, co-bred litters incorporating both Cherkei and Arriba in the registered names, co-owned dogs,
campaigned dogs and so much more. We did our best to pick Ted’s brain clean and he happily obliged.” Cheryl jokes, “Maybe we should
have left some there, just kidding Ted.”
As her eyes start to tear and her voice becomes more quiet, Cheryl looks at me saying, “Our memory book of times spent with Ted is
overflowing with love, laughter and tears. We’ve shared the light hearted, the heart filled and the heartbreak that goes along with this world of
Boxers. He’s one of kind.” Keith agrees saying, “he sure is.” “Thank you dear friend.”
Cheryl again mentions her Borzoi buddy Betty stating, “she gave me my basics in handling. I also attended handling classes in North Carolina
taught by a Mal lady named Barbara Baxter who was great. When we moved to the New England area I was able to watch some of the Top
Boxer handlers which served to help refine my skills. Also, there’s no teacher like experience and I was getting lots of that because we couldn’t
afford to pay a handler. As I got a little better people started asking me to show for them. It was shortly after that Keith suggested I start
charging. During my years as a professional I primarily handled Boxers though on occasion did venture into other breed and Group rings when
approached to do so. I finished many lovely dogs and our circle of friends grew. My earnings from handling professionally were used to pay
another handler to finish our Cherkei class dogs. It wasn’t until our fawn boy Ch. Cherkei’s High Cotton came along that I / we first Specialed a
Cherkei Boxer. *Cotton* was my best bud and gave me my first Breeder / Owner / Handled Best In Show win with others to follow. I handled
professionally for sixteen years, retiring in 1995. It broke my heart to give it up and I miss it to this day.”
It was Cheryl’s dear friend Gary Doerge who encouraged her to pursue a judging license. Gary helped Cheryl throughout the process and
initiation into the world of judging. Cheryl notes, “My judging experiences added an entirely new chapter to our activities in Boxers and for that I
remain deeply grateful to Gary. Thank you Gary.”
After applying for her license Cheryl approached Dorothy Nickles to ask if she might share any tips or pointers. Cheryl said of Dorothy, “Having
the highest respect and admiration for this lady, coupled with the fact that she had been a teacher, I hoped she would agree I was a worthy
student. Dorothy generously gave of her time and knowledge, completely to my benefit. Words cannot express my gratitude. Thank you
While attending the AKC Judges Institute in Kentucky Cheryl had the good fortune of having Anne Rogers Clarke and Frank Sabella as two of
her instructors. Cheryl remarks, “Not only did their daily class content provide a wealth of information but Anne Rogers Clarke offered to stay
after classes for anyone who wanted to continue.....Anne Rogers Clarke! Well, this country gal didn’t need to be asked twice. I stayed and
stayed and stayed.
Thank you Frank, Thank you and God Bless Annie.”
The last name Cheryl shares with me is also one of historical proportions and worldly recognition. Speaking of friend Pat Craig Trotter Cheryl
said, “Talk about icons within a breed. Pat is the full meal deal. Breeder, Owner, Handler, Judge, Author and a 24 / 7, full blown, 101 % great
dog woman. Inspirational, admirable, knowledgeable and highly respected, Pat is a role model extraordinaire on ALL levels.
Pat, thanks for being Pat and sharing yourself with the Dog world.”
Cheryl and Keith conclude there have been many wonderful individuals who have touched, guided and inspired the growth of Cherkei Boxers,
as well as them personally. Again Keith echos, “Success is not achieved independent of outside contributions.” Ah, the perfect segue to the
mentioning of Cherkei's treasured and very special supporting team members.
Keith tells that, “If not for Michael Shepherd, Cherkei Boxers would have probably ended when Cheryl retired from handling.” They agree that to
have found a handler they could trust with the fawn and brindle fragments of their hearts, was truly a blessing from on high.
Cheryl recalls, “We befriended Michael when setting up next to each other at shows. For seven years we got to see first hand how Michael
operated as a handler. His level of competence, concern and compassion for his dogs impressed us from the start. The dogs care and comfort
were always priority with everything else coming second. In the ring Michael epitomized the word professional in act and appearance. His
handling talent and technique is uniquely his own being both superb and successful. It didn’t take long to discover Michael liked the same style
of Boxer we did which was most fortuitous for us”. Keith admits, “When Cheryl decided to retire from handling we were faced with having to find
a handler or close up shop. Our thoughts immediately focused on Michael. We believed he could be the one and we were right.”
Michael’s right hand goes by the name of Dottie James. What can be said about Dottie? She’s just a girl! (Inside joke) In reality Dottie is so
much more. She’s the coal that fuels the fire, the oil that greases the machine, she’s the dirty hands with the huge heart. Cheryl, waving the
dinner plate she is drying in the air, smiles saying, “All the dogs just Love her!” She adds, “ She keeps them in top, top condition. Dottie is a
cherished friend and a master at her craft. We are very lucky and thankful that Michael has Dottie.”
Concluding this interview I’m supposed write something about myself regarding my place and part in Cherkei Boxers. Suffice it to say that I
(Marjorie Ross) fell in love with a picture of a Brindle male advertised in Boxer Review many years ago. At age 19, I set out from my Nova
Scotian home to hunt down Cheryl and Keith Robbins at the Westchester, N.Y. shows so that I might see this dog in person. (Ch. Cherkei’s
Desperado) In the dark of late evening I spied what I was certain to be Cheryl’s silhouette walking between two motor homes. Overcome with
excitement I cried out from behind her “Mrs. Robbins?” I about scared her to death. We still laugh over that initial meeting.
In the words of Forrest Gump, “we go together like peas and carrots.” We have since we first met. Keith has told us numerous times that we’re
so alike it’s just scary. To say we’re always on the same page is an understatement. I am Cherkei’s greatest fan and when Cheryl and Keith
asked me to partner with them under the Cherkei name I shamelessly jumped at the honor.
It became my pleasure to whelp and raise the babies, train young hopefuls, attain Canadian Championships and generally prep the promising
for brighter lights and bigger cities. Talk about a labor of Love!
Cheryl and Keith embody all that is good and right as Boxer owners and Breeders. Despite all their success and eminence, they are plain folk
who adore this breed and each other. I consider myself privileged to be part of the Cherkei breeding program and even more privileged to have
them call me “family.”
My turn to say, “Thank you Cheryl and Keith.”
written by Marjorie Ross
"as published in the BOXER RING MAGAZINE"