Timeless Chow Chows

The Archives of the Chow Chow in Southern Africa

Rogoff - Levin - Grants

 The Rogoff Story

Made possible by kind contributions of the Rogoff daughters, Bardine & Ruth (also Dan & Alan Levin) & Ms V Munro (granddaughter of Mrs D Grant). (Text: Bernice Leroy; Photos: Bardine and Alan Levine)

 Success in tracking the Rogoff story seemed improbable, as these folks were active in the early 1940's to 1960's... now some 60 years ago.  Thanks to a gentleman by the name of Alan Levin, for publishing his family's genealogy on the Internet!!  With the assistance of a telephone directory, it made short work of a seemingly daunting task!

Thus we met the intriguing family of Bardine & Dan Levin and by extension Alan Levin.  Thereafter, we had the opportunity to also spend some time with Bardine's gracious sister, Ruth Milne.  We will be visiting them again!

After some telephone conversations, we met at mutually agreeable times. We found the Levin family in a lovely large comfortable, non-pretentious home decorated by the most amazing collection of mostly modern art.  Their own daughter did some special works! 

Dan Levin is a successful business owner, and also a notable cook! Bardine is a graceful, kind lady who has been well known in more recent history for her beautiful Bards' Turkish Van cats.  We met the last of her boys, now a pet - and what a gorgeous, charming guy named Mr Balloo!

Listening to her description of the temperament of these Turkish Van cats we came to understand her love for these alongside her love for the equally 'feral' chow. 

 Due to her very busy schedule, we limited our initial enquiries of Ruth to telephone conversations, but this petite, graceful lady kindly made available some time & some very tasty eats when opening her magnificent home to us! Decor is stylish, befitting an old home with a warm feeling - like Ruth, we just fell in love with those huge doors!!  Love of beautiful artwork runs notably in the family, but those shelves & shelves & shelves full of books just made our day!!  Somewhere hiding in those shelves are books we will be returning to find...

 Barney & Martha Rogoff made the Chow Chow famous in South Africa; Bardine & Ruth kindly shared with us all the mementos they still had.

 Barney Rogoff was an active man, a Springbok Walker; he qualified for the 1936 Olympics alongside Mr McMaster.  There was only sponsorship for one contestant & Barney graciously allowed the less privileged McMaster to represent South Africa in the Games.  He was also an avid Rugby fan, following the South African team overseas as a supporter to cheer them on.  All these travels had the downside that he could not spend as much time with his family as they would have liked.

 He was often in trouble with the owners of the apartment building they lived in for feeding the wild birds. He was insistent on including different types of grain for different birds. Barney also won the Rhodesian Sweeps... some of the money was shared with his siblings, some of the money spent on a bit of 'living it up' & clothes, but the last amount was used as an investment in a business deal.

This is where the partnership with Fred Grant started.  Fred had knowledge of the workings of the business – but recognized Barney's exceptional people skills, and these were to form the other half of the successful partnership. It was Fred Grant's wife, Doreen, who was the strength behind the then well-known Grant's Chow Chows.

 Quote "Heads & Tails" (January 1990):

"Chows shot into prominence with the acquisition, in rather a strange manner,

By Mr Barney Rogoff  (the first chairman of the Chow Chow Club of Johannesburg  - now long extinct) of a dog Golden Boy This dog was won by Mr. Rogoff with a shilling raffle ticket during the Golden City Cavalcade in 1942.”

 Ruth also told of how, at the time of winning Golden Boy, he had eczema, mange and fleas.  They shaved him down, covered him with sulphur ointment and no one wanted to come near the poor dog for days, excepting the very kindly Martha Rogoff, to whom it was left to treat the dog.  As they lived in an apartment building, the neighbors even signed a petition that the dog be euthanased!

 However, his skin cleared, his coat grew and he proved to be a beautiful show dog, gaining his championship in 1944 and making chow history by being awarded Best in Show! Ruth remembers the day's immense excitement with pride!! On 12 May 1945, at the East Rand & Goldfields Kennel Club, with but a very limited show attendance behind him, Ch Grant's Golden Boy (pictured left) once again achieved Best in Show...however, it proved to be a 'fatal' show, for shortly thereafter, this 11 CC's winning Chow of not even 3 years of age was to die of Biliary (Tick fever) contracted at the show.

 Mid 1944, "Goldie" as the family fondly called him, was studded out for the first & only time.  (Unfortunately the Rogoffs were not informed that they were entitled to a stud fee or stud fee puppy.)  This litter, born on 17 September 1944 was to have a profound effect on their lives.

 "Heads & Tails" quote:  (January 1990)

“Lady Barbara R Royle (the Queen Mother's cousin) was the breeder of the parents of Golden Boy and when she visited South Africa, made a special trip to see the Rogoffs, although Golden Boy had died by then.  When Golden Boy died of biliary fever, news of this death was broadcast over the SABC network. Mr. Rogoff received over seventy telegrams of condolence!"

 The Rogoffs were devastated.  They had seen the litter produced by Golden Boy, as pups, and Mr. Rogoff pointed Bogum Chang (pictured below) out as pick of the litter at that point.   Now, some time later, with the loss of Golden Boy, they wished to buy a pup, but the pups were long sold.  As Ruth relates - after some time and coercing, the owner of Grant's Bogum Chang of Ningpo, Christopher Ballantine, agreed to part with him for the princely sum of £100, September 1945.

"Heads & Tails"(January 1990) & Newspaper quotes:

"Older folks in South Africa will certainly remember this magnificent show dog who was later to travel 40 000 - 50 000 miles around Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and the Union of South Africa (as SA was then known) to championship shows with his master and acquired the following, almost awe-inspiring amount of awards:

Over 600 First awards, 65 Champion Certificates (CC's), 101 Challenge Classes (Group 1st), 10 Best in Show awards. (At that time Mr. Rogoff ascertained from local and overseas dog breeders and authorities, that this was a world record. A display cabinet in Mr. Rogoff's home contained over 100 cups and trophies won by this famous dog.) So impressive was this dog, at the Bloemfontein Kennel Club Show, the then Minister of Railways, on seeing him, offered Bogum free transit anywhere in the Republic by the SA Railways. He traveled by rail to all the shows, the Rogoff's booked a coupe for him and themselves and needless to say, he caused a sensation at all the railway stations! “

Meet Johannes "Rogoff". Johannes was the caretaker of the grounds at the apartment building where the Rogoffs resided.  Every day, Bogum  would indicate his need to leave the apartment at a certain time. He was allowed out.  He would cross the busy Oxford Road, neither looking left, nor right.  He ignored cars' hooting, and in 12 years, had trained the traffic to allow a snobbish chow to cross the road!  On his return to the apartment building, he would spend some time with Johannes, who would groom him daily.  Johannes was also the 'violins & roses' during mating time, as he knew how to assist with difficult matings... 

Johannes regularly accompanied the Rogoffs to shows, being Bogum's personal caretaker. Eventually, Johannes joined the Rogoff family on a permanent basis fulfilling various roles during his lifetime of service within the family.

 Bogum never fought with other dogs on his excursions, excepting with this one Bull Terrier on limited occasions - always coming off the victor thanks to a big, protective coat.  The last time would be different. Ch Grant's Bogum Chang of Ningpo died at about 12 years of age from injuries sustained in a fight with this Bull Terrier.

 The Rogoff's involvement with the dog show world then slowed down, but in time, they imported another chow from Lady Barbara R Royle, a chow which unfortunately did not survive the trip. Lady Royle replaced this pup with a beautiful youngster originally named Hung Kwong of Kutsang (UK) and would cost Mr Rogoff £200! Ch (UK) Emperor of Junggwaw, the chow chow that won BOB & RBIS at Crufts that year, sired it. So certain was Mr. Rogoff of “Goldie Fingers” quality, that he pledged to put £25 to the Rand Daily Mail Christmas fund if it failed to reach championship by the end of the year.  Mr. Rogoff applied to have the name prefixed and his KUSA registered name became Golden Jubilee of Kutsang. (So named to mark the Union Festival - 1960).   "Goldie Fingers" was to be the last Chow Chow the Rogoffs imported and showed.

 Judging from the photos and mementos still available, Goldie Fingers caused quite a sensation at shows.  He went to Match Shows as a puppy and at his second show managed a Best in Show over 168 entries. Martha Rogoff also was showing a Miniature Pinscher named Bambi at this time. 

Unfortunately Goldie Fingers was run over by a car - the memory of that day still haunts Ruth to tears in her eyes...

 This devastated the family once again, resulting in the Rogoffs then ending their involvement with the dog show world, having made the largest contribution in SA show history to “making the chow chow noticed”.  During their years of involvement, Barney Rogoff served many years in various capacities for various clubs, amongst which being president of East Rand & Goldfields KC from 1948 - 1960, as well as being a founder member & chairperson of the Chow Chow Club of Johannesburg, now long extinct.

 History has Ch Grant's Bogum Chang of Ningpo   as an all time top winning Chow Chow in Southern African Show History.  Ruth (in whose name both Golden Boy & Bogum Chang were registered with KUSA) & Bardine (supported by Dan & Alan) are immensely proud of Barney & Martha's achievements with these beautiful Chow Chows, but even more importantly, they all still have a deep love for the Chow Chow as a breed.

It is always great to meet with kindred spirits who deeply love the regal & unique Chow Chow.


The Levin Story

(As kindly shared with us by Bardine, Danny & Alan Levin. Text: Bernice Leroy  Photo: Levin Family & Franck Leroy.)
Because the Levin and Rogoff story is intertwined, the Levin Story is placed here with minor editorial adaptions done by V Nicolau) 

 Bardine & Dan Levin form an integral part of the “Rogoff Story” – as their love for the Chow Chow as a breed stemmed from childhood, growing up with top quality Chow Chows. 

 Their daughter, Caron Cohen, is Head of Concepts at the University of Jerusalem in Israel (Bezalel) – some of her artwork adorning their home.  Their son, Alan, after obtaining his MBA, has been actively involved with the Internet world, based in Cape Town & travelling extensively. Alan secured “” for South Africa.

Bardine & Dan imported their own Chows from the UK. Minhow Monarch of the Veldt was imported to SA from the UK, in 1966. (Also known as “Lord Linus Levin” and “My Boy Linus”)

The story of how Linus ended up in their home was quite entertaining, but slightly risky! Puppy dog Linus arrived on Friday.  Customs wanted the state vet to check the dog & provide the necessary documentation, but the state vet was not available until Monday!  No way was that tiny puppy going to be left crated until Monday… so he was taken for a walk…. and not returned, but taken home to their apartment in Corlett Drive, Rosebank. On Monday the state vet was given the opportunity to examine him and provide the papers, but not after a LOOOOONG lecture!

 When Barney Rogoff saw this pup, he encouraged them to show him, as this rough red boy held much promise! He attended very few shows, but did superbly well. (Linus pictured on the right)
 ** At 3 months of age, Non-Sporting Challenge 2
nd (Utility Group 2nd) – Goldfields Kennel Club Match Show, 31 July 1966. (Judge: Mr H Pretorius)
** At 5 months, Non Sporting Challenge 1
st (Utility Group 1st) at the SALKA Match Show, 11 September 1966. (Judge: Mr J Thomas)
 ** At 6 months, Reserve Grand Challenge Winner (Reserve Best in Show)(pictured below) at the Eastern Districts KC Match Show, 30 October 1966. (Judge: Mrs AJ Browning)  
 ** At 11 months, CC & BOB Winner Eastern Districts KC Championship Show, 11 March 1967.But this was to be his last show, as an unfortunate event at this show left their prize winning boy totally disenchanted with showing, and they decided to just enjoy him and his offspring back home

 The late Norma Sher, Bardine’s sister-in-law had produced a lovely bitch named Katja.  She was mated to Linus & produced a beautiful big red rough boy named Sonny

 Sonny was mated to a bitch named Hosea at the Lechengjoli Kennels of Mr Hawkins and produced litter sisters Lechengjoli Sonja & Lechengjoli Zocha of Kungfu.
 Sonny was also mated to a red girl named Heidi and this produced the last of their Chow Chows named Honey, (pictured below with young Alan) a gorgeous shaded red rough bitch. 
 The Levin family were most generous in sharing their time & the remainder of their 
historical Chow Chow paraphernalia with us, and we thank them so much for filling in a gap in the South African Chow Chow history!


Grants      (93108) Owned by Mrs V D Schoeman

 (Text & Photos : Lindsay Fitzmaurice assisted by Ethwyn Munro)

 The Chow has been as much of a tradition in our family as Beatrix Potter, Winnie the Pooh and Eosop’s Fables.

 It all started with my great grandmother who purchased her first Chow in the UK and never looked back from there.  My grandmother continued the tradition of the Chow ownership but delved further into her love for the Chow by deciding to start her own kennels.  Her reason and intent behind this decision is not clear and unfortunately my own reason behind deciding to start breeding had not been awakened and therefore the question had not been posed. (Above photo taken in 1943)

 At the time of my grandmother’s founding of the Grant’s Kennels there were only three known and accepted colours of the Chow, which were Black, Blue and Red and my grandmother only once and toward the end of her breeding career managed to produce an ever elusive Cream/White Chow.   My mother can recollect her heady excitement at its birth and it proved to be one of the last litters that the Grant’s Kennels bore.  Perhaps all along my Grandmother had had her “Five Year Plan” and in those days the producing of a Cream Chow produced much of the same excitement and stir that the first white lion caused in the 1970’s at Timbavati.

Today there are certainly more than three known and accepted colours but Black, Blue and Red will continue to dominate although now the offering also includes Fawn (also known as Cinnamon) and Cream (a lot more abundant than in my grandmother’s era).

 My grandmother kept a log of every litter born under the Grant’s Kennel’s name and one of her pride and joy was Grant’s Bogum Chan  , who was made up to an international champion.  Then, as is now, breeders covet the title as top breeder and strive to produce Chows of champion quality.  Over the years the look of the Chow has certainly changed as each breeder has bred in or out the particular look that they favour.  The one thing that has seemed to be retained is the aloof nature of the Chow, which has always made it stand apart from other breeds.  In my opinion it would be a sad day to see this particular trait lost as it gives the Chow a royal bearing that other breeds do not have as the Chow is certainly Man’s Best Friend but on his terms.

 My mother, although not having a kennel name, bred three litters of Chow’s from one of her bitches that she had purchased from my grandmother.  Those who breed and sell their puppies to responsible owners will only truly know the dedication and heartbreak behind breeding.  It can without doubt be related to giving up ones own offspring for adoption as one is placing trust in a person of unknown character and hoping that they will provide a loving home for a puppy that has been born through hard work, sweat and tears.  There is no monetary gain in the birth of the puppies rather a satisfaction knowing that the crossing of a carefully selected bitch and stud male has produced a litter of fine quality.  Chows generally do not have large litters due to the fact that for their size the puppies are quite large at birth so a litter of 5 is considered a large litter for a Chow and it has been known for some bitches to produce as many as 8 although the likelihood of all 8 surviving is not great and the bitch will pay dearly for it once the puppies are weaned.  The bitches coat, bone mass and weight suffer a terrible blow and it takes many months before she begins to resemble a third of her glory.

 What I still find baffling is that a great deal of Chow breeders, including myself, relies on AI (Artificial Insemination) in order to have litters.  It appears as though through the generations the natural act of coupling has been lost in the DNA make up of the breed.  My grandmother had similar problems although with manual intervention she managed to get the selected breeding pair to couple.  I have to this day not managed to understand why the natural act of coupling seems to have disappeared from their genetic make up and even if AI is the preferred and perhaps only method of producing a litter how has that most basic knowledge managed to slip from the breed.

 The registration of the litters was all painstakingly hand written and carefully logged.  It is so easy to forget with our electronic age how records had to be maintained in yesteryear.

 It is a great shame that my grandmother was taken from us before I had the sense to question her about her breeding and the choices that she made and I feel that a wealth of knowledge, from a lifetime with the breed, went with her.  Unfortunately we only appear to come into our own once we notice that the world does not in fact revolve around us and it is a great pity that we are not born or given the knowledge that we attain in mid life at a much younger age.  It reminds me of a card that I saw many years ago, which was from a son to his father and read, “When I was 16 I could not believe how little my father knew, now that I am 21 I am amazed to see how much he has learnt in 5 years.”

Our own reason to establish Kiangsu Kennels was based on our concern that the breed is dwindling and losing popularity due to the breed being either misunderstood or unknown.  I could not bare a world without Chows and those dog owners out there whom a Chow has not owned cannot begin to comprehend the loss.  Once a Chow owner always a Chow owner and every other breed will always fail dismally in comparison.

 I can only hope that my children and future generations to come will see the same qualities in the Chow that I have and my parents and their parents before them and will continue the Chow ownership and perhaps breeding to ensure the survival of the Chow.