About Us

Blacfriar is a small kennel located in upstate New York in a suburb of Buffalo called Hamburg.  In actual fact, all the dogs live in the house with us and we are a kennel in name only.

I began in dogs 55 years ago, initially showing Standard Poodles and also doing some obedience.  During the 1970's, I had four sons, which kept me from being as active in dogs as I would have liked to have been.  I also am a Psychologist and worked for the New York State Department of Mental Health for many years, finishing my career with 9 years as the Principal Psychologist for the upstate region of the Correctional System based at Attica Correctional Facility.  I retired from New York State in April, 2000.  Since then I have had much more time to pursue my interest in dogs.

I got my first flat coated retriever in 1988, a little furball named Darktarn Blac Phineas.  Phineas went on to be the top flat coated retriever in Canada in 1990 and 1991 and in the top ten flat coats in the USA for several years in the 1990's.  And I honed many of my obedience training skills on him as well.  In the late 1990's, I took up training hunting and, at the age of 10, Phineas got a Working Certificate and a Junior Hunter.  Since then all of the flat coats of Blacfriar have worked in the field.  And near the end of the 1990's, I started training agility.  Phineas never got a title in agility but he did run Novice Standard at the Kentucky Specialty in 2000.  His daughter, Amelia, has a PAX in agility which then was the top title in agility preferred.  And his granddaughter, Sammie, has a MACH! And his great granddaughter Stitch has a PAX as well!  And his great granddaughter Zenyatta  has two MACH's!

In the last 20 years, my sons have all grown up, gotten lives of their own, and have moved out of the Buffalo area.  Ian married Christine in September 2001 and now lives in Rockville, Maryland and shares custody of their three children, Abby aged 19 and twins Jonah and Ayla aged 17.  He recently had a lovely baby daughter Eliana with his lovely wife Danielle! He is an electrical engineer.  Adam lives in Long Island City, Queens, New York and works as an ER Physician.  Matthew is a geneticist and lives in the Atlanta, GA area.  On December 18, 2010, he married Katherine Bell who was a pediatrician at Stanford University, in an absolutely gorgeous wedding at the Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside, California.  And on March 31, 2016, they became the proud parents of Connor Matthew Hill.  And on July 7, 2018 they became the parents of Kaitlyn Rachel Hill and on August 27, 2021, they had Ethan Cooper Hill.  And Ethan, our youngest son, graduated Cleveland Marshall Law School in Cleveland on May 15, 2011, our 41st wedding anniversary.  He passed the bar and was admitted to the Ohio Bar Association in May, 2012. On September 8, 2012 he married Sara Herniman, who is a social worker at the Cleveland Clinic, in a gorgeous wedding in Niagara Falls, Canada.

And in the last 10 years, I have had much more time to work with the dogs and enjoy their company.  We currently have 3 dogs, two girls and one boy, who comprise Blacfriar Kennel.  The girls are Trivia, and Mariah and the boy is Hawkeye.  I also co-own a boy, Bart, who is Madeline's litter sibling.  And I have available for breeding from frozen eggs Sydney. The girls and I mostly do field in the summer and agility in the winter.  But we also show conformation some and do some obedience, rally and scent work.  Between them, the Blacfriar girls have 133 titles, Trivia 70, Mariah 47, and Hawkeye 16.  Additionally, several Blacfriar dogs get their Championships every year.  Like a lot of flat coated retriever breeders, I believe that a good flat coat has titles on both ends of its name!  And we do have a very special member of Blacfriar Kennel whose picture periodically appears in various places.  His name is Dancer, Thecatspa Dances With Wolves, and he is a CFA registered Maine Coon Cat.  He loves dogs, especially puppies, and we suspect that he believes that he is a flat coated retriever too.  And our wonderful cat, Dancer, passed away suddenly on August 3, 2013, apparently of a heart problem.  He was only 5 years old and we are very sad!  And we have a Maine Coon Cat, Gus, Highlander August Blacfriar Cat.  He is 5 years old and an important member of Blacfriar Kennel.  The dogs do adore him and he adores them in return!

Over the almost 30 years that Blacfriar Kennel has been showing, training, and breeding flat coated retrievers, we have had 87 AKC Champions (see puppies), 58 CKC Champions, one Barbados Champion, 32 Grand Champions, 5 Bronze Grand Champions, two silver Grand Champion, two gold Grand Champions and six dual Grand Champions.  Additionally, we have had six dogs in the top 10 in Conformation, and many dogs with many titles in companion and performance areas.  Blacfriar dogs have also won sweepstakes, taken multiple JAM's at Specialties and won more special awards than I can remember or list here.  Nine Blacfriar dogs are in the Hall of Fame, Phineas, Amelia, Sydney. Sammie, Stitch, Zenyatta, Madeline, Bart and Trivia.   Sammie got our first MACH on July 27th, 2012.  Zenyatta got our second MACH on October 23, 2016 and our third one on September 22, 2018!  Madeline got our first RACH on December 9, 2022 and Trivia got our second one on May 10, 2024!.  Six Blacfriar dogs were invited to the Eukanuba because they were on the AKC Honor Roll for 2012.  Stitch got Best of Opposite Sex and Zenyatta got a JAM at the 2013 FCRSA Specialty in Conyers, GA.  And a couple of dogs win the triple award each year at the Specialty, this year Mariah did it! Man are we proud of these girls!!!  They are something else!!!  And two dogs from our breeding went to the Eukanuba in 2013.  Ceilidh Fall Into Grace, Gracie, took Best of Opposite Sex (BOS) and Blacfriar Seamus McGrath. Seamus, Gracie's father,  took the first Award of Excellence!  And Seamus also took an Award of Excellence at Westminster!  And Bart got a JAM at the St. Louis Specialty in 2015 and another one at the Ft. Wayne Specialty in 2022.  And Gracie got a Judges Award of Merit at Specialty 2016 in California and in 2016 in Florida!  And Zenyatta won the Brood Bitch class at the 2017 Specialty!  And Bart got a JAM at Westminster in 2019 and Select Dog at the Royal Canin in 2019!  And Mariah took Best of Breed at Westminster in 2023!  And she took Best of Opposite Sex at the Royal Canin National Dog show in 2023.  

Blacfriar is always looking for good homes for multi-talented flat coats.  We always have breeding plans usually close to a year in the future.  And we are always willing to help selected buyers find puppies even if we don't have any ourselves.  For news on litters and puppies, go to News




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