Information on Crafty Canines came directly from an
article written by Doris Denker & Jeanne Jenkins
Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away…
oops, wrong story.
As bedlington owners know, trying to find any craft
or art object that characterizes the breed is difficult. So when an item does turn up that genuinely resembles a bedlington, we are
overjoyed, grasp it quickly, and spread the word - a real find! Two talented, creative ladies developed a line of soft sculptured
bedlingtons that are still much in demand today. Their story is the beginning of Crafty Canines.
Bedlingtons are a crafty breed. They are highly
intelligent swift hunters bred to out run, out think, and out maneuver their prey. And when clipped, scissored & combed into show coat,
they also become sculpted living pieces of art. Thus the name Crafty Canines was chosen to embody both these facets of the Bedlington
For Doris Denker & Jeanne Jenkins inspiration came first & foremost
from the bedlingtons that trooped through their house starting in 1957. While strolling through a craft store one day, a remnant of lamb-like
fur caught Doris's eagle eye. She realized that the density of this fabric lent itself nicely to sculpturing with scissors. A short
while later she created a small pattern and with clipping, grooming with a toothpick & toothbrush, & a bit of coat shading with
pastel chalk & powder, turned this nondescript remnant into a four inch bedlington. These miniature bedlingtons later ended up on
decorative hoops, plaques, floral & Christmas wreaths. However, by far the most popular use of these tiny bedlingtons has been as
Christmas ornaments. This was the beginning of Crafty Canines.
Every owner has probably observed the stretched out Froggy position
of the bedlington, relaxed yet observing life around him. "Froggy" was born when Doris noted a vague similarity of this pose
to a small calico cat that decorated their sofa. She decided to create a froggy position pattern, working diligently to get the ears &
tail just right. By this time Jeanne had entered the picture to help with the cutting, sewing, stuffing, whatever. These life-like soft
sculptures were introduced at a Montgomery County boutique & dinner. Although in the experimental stage, the two "Froggys" were
snatched up immediately, one going to Florida, the other to Arizona. Several more were produced to be taken to Louisville to the 60th
Anniversary Specialty Show. A sleepy version of "Froggy" was also developed, but only a few of these were made.
The idea for littermates came from browsing through a craft catalogue.
The three attached calico bedlingtons originated as a draft stopper but are equally at home on a bed, the back of a sofa, or on a dresser.
Again, developing the pattern was a challenge. These too, were introduced at a bedlington boutique as well as in an advertisement in
Tassels & Tales.
Both Doris & Jeanne wanted to develop a smaller, floppy bedlington
and in 1966 a visit to a hospital gift shop brought Doris face to face with Baabaa - a little black lamb perched on a shelf, one foot dangling
over the edge. Voila! A pattern, revisions, the mock -up, then an introduction to family and friends seemed to indicate they were on the
right track. "Whimsy" made his debut at the 1966 BTCGC show boutique where he too found a following among Bedlington fanciers. Then
the "Beanie Babies" craze hit with all kinds of miniature, floppy puppies but alas, no bedlingtons. They couldn't let this omission
continue, so scaling "Froggy" way down & with a few modifications, "Petit Paws" was "whelped".
In 2000, Doris' sister came across a baby bottle holder that had belonged
to their nephew, born in 1958. It was tucked away in a rarely used drawer in Doris' mother's home in New Jersey.
When Doris examined the shape of the baby bottle lamb, the idea popped into her head that a new Crafty Canine was hiding somewhere in this
design. So she began feverishly working with some sherpa fabric scraps, scissors, needle & thread, and lo & behold, a little
"Bedlykin" was born. At the last minute, in a somewhat unfinished state, he got tucked in with the "Whimsys",
"Froggys", & "Petit Paws" that were headed for another Chicago show. He was a big hit & went to a new forever
home away from Delaware. Another Crafty Canine went into production. In fact, quite amazingly in the years they were involved in their
creation, Crafty Canines ended up in not only much of the United States and Canada but also in Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East
as well. However, as far as they know, none have ended up in Antarctica. Penguins seem to be a tough market to penetrate.
Lacie Thrall first became interested in Crafty Canines in 2007 when trying
to purchase one as a holiday gift for 8 year old junior handler Sarah Dwight. By this time, Doris & Jeanne had stopped producing them and
all that they had left was a Petit Paws. They graciously said they would part with it. In 2011, Care Thornton called Doris, wanting to buy a
Whimsy for a friend who had recently lost her bedlington and was told they were no longer available. Because they didn't want to see them die,
Care & Lacie made arrangements with Doris & Jeanne to carry on the production of these adorable stuffed bedlingtons. Since Doris
& Jeanne were "out of the business", they agreed to sell a pattern to Care, as well as send her supplies. They also graciously
sent Lacie a detailed froggy pattern and materials. Since she was traveling for the summer, Lacie didn't have her sewing machine with her so
she bought one for $3 at an auction. She and Care met for the first time that fall while Lacie was on her way back to Arizona. They shared
ideas & pointers for creating the soft sculptures. Thus was born Crafty Canines II…the next generation. The collection now includes not
only the original designs, but also some new ones created by Care. The Froggy design is "whelped" by Lacie in Arizona, the rest, by
Care in Arkansas. In order to not devalue the originals, slight modifications were made to the next generation patterns.
Doris & Jeanne started with a few material scraps and some ideas
that grew into the production of these wonderful soft sculpture bedlingtons. Their willingness to share their ideas & supplies has
guaranteed that their legacy will live on. "Of course, Crafty Canines could not have happened without the incredible support they
received from the Bedlington community every step of the journey. And we are delighted that now Froggy and friends have found new hands to
bring them into being; to continue bringing joy to others who adore our lovely breed as much as we do."
Where do you find a lovable bedlington that you don't have to feed,
groom, or take to the vet?
Crafty Canines II of course!