A Great Pyrenees called T.R. (Ch. Rivergroves Run for the Roses) has broken all records in wins for his breed, and he and some of his magnificent descendants -- who may eventually match his record -- were born and raised in Howard County.
Owners Jean and Wayne Boyd breed and show Pyrenees from their Rivergroves Kennels in Brookeville near Columbia.
For 26 years Mrs. Boyd has been a Pyrenees fancier.
''I saw this great white bear and I wanted one," she says. "Then one Pyrenees followed the other and I graduated from a small car to a station wagon to a large van,'' she says, laughing.
Her kennel name ''came from a combination of my name being Groves at the time and I had a river running through my property,'' she explains.
Her husband has been helping her raise and show Pyrenees for 15 years. "Now, I show the dogs and she does the grooming and breeding plus training the puppies.'' The couple travels to dog shows around the country about 50 weekends each year.
''No other Pyrenees has come close to T.R.,'' says Mrs. Boyd, referring to their 9-year-old, the top-winning Pyrenees of all times, according to winning tabulations by the Great Pyrenees Club of America. He has 48 Best in Shows, 162 Group One wins, 372 Group Wins and 483 Best of Breeds. Since 1986 he has been awarded most of the prestigious awards available for his breed.
But watch out. T.R.'s son Dusty (Ch. Rivergroves Excuse My Dust) is on his way. Dusty won the most points for his breed in 1990 and '91 and may break his father's record before he's finished. One of Dusty's recent wins was at the American Kennel Club Invitational held at the Baltimore Arena in March, where he was Best of Breed and Best in Group.
This year, the Boyds have been showing a dog -- Ch. Rivergroves If Looks Could Kil -- co-owned with a Canadian couple. In Canada, this Pyrenees has won the most points for his breed as well as for all breeds in Canada, and he is an American and Canadian champion.
Mrs. Boyd says dog breeding should always and only be for the betterment of the breed. ''There are too many backyard breeders who see dollar signs over a dog and think they will make money out of a litter of pups," she says. "And there is no money in dogs,'' she adds.
''We breed for perfect specimens and sell puppies as pets only on a spay/neuter agreement. Our last litter was June 1991 and we kept four out of seven of those puppies,'' she says, adding ''a good dog owner should have a fenced yard, offer a loving home and excellent medical care or should not own a dog.''
When it comes to spoiling their dogs, the Boyds excel. Usually, there are at least four of their 19 dogs in the house, along with a small beagle who was a stray. At least one Pyrenees and one beagle sleep with them in a king-size bed, Mrs. Boyd says, laughing.
''The beagle adopted us. She just appeared one day, terrified of us and everyone. We . . . call her Rosey."
The Great Pyrenees is one of the oldest breed. This is a dog of royalty in England and France and a companion of shepherds high in the Pyrenees mountains.
AKC breed history notes that the dog's remains have been found in fossil deposits of the Bronze Age and that ''it was in the isolation of the lonely mountain pastures that the Pyrenean Mountain Dog developed his inherent traits of devotion, fidelity, sense of guardianship and intelligent understanding of mankind.''
Mrs. Boyd says, however, that the Pyrenees is not for everyone because of the dogs' size and need for grooming.
A Pyrenees has a fine white undercoat and long, flat, thick outer coat. The dogs can weigh from 100 to 125 pounds and Mrs. Boyd says their longevity of 10 to 14 years is longer than the 8 or 9 years most giant breeds have.