The Maine Lvrs Brothers:
GC, BW, NW Maine Lvrs Phoenix of Abizaq
GC, NW Maine Lvrs Charlie Brown (of Agavecoon)

BY LEE HARPER
Published August 2014

Photos copyrighted by the individual photographers
Article copyright © ShowCatsOnline.com. All Rights Reserved.
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without the express written permission of ShowCatsOnline.com


This is the story of two fabulous Maine Coons—brothers and littermates—and how the siblings became CFA National Winners in the same show season, finishing #6 and #7 in Championship, less than 173 points apart.

It is also the story of a group of women . . . of their friendships and their adventures together . . . and of how they shared a season to remember . . .


GC, BW, NW Maine Lvrs Phoenix of Abizaq
CFA 6th Best Cat in Championship
2013-2014
Photo by Chanan

GC, NW Maine Lvrs Charlie Brown of Agavecoon
CFA 7th Best Cat in Championship
2013-2014
Photo by Chanan

The Litter

This story begins on March 4, 2012 when a litter of four Maine Coon kittens was born in the home of Anne Jones, McPride cattery, just north of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Anne had bred GC Mcpride John Duke Wayne to GC Maine Lvrs Keepsake of Mcpride, a queen she co-owned with Michelle Chaffee of Maine Lvrs Cattery.  

Anne couldn't help but brag about how fabulous the kittens were in the litter.  When they were 8 weeks old, Anne sent pictures to Michelle so she could see how all the babies were developing. 

Shortly afterwards Anne became seriously ill and knew she would have to undergo chemotherapy treatments.  Realizing it would now be impossible for her to keep any of the kittens, Anne called Michelle and Martha Auspitz of Abizaq cattery, asking for their help in finding show homes for the Fab Four.  Michelle decided to take the only female leaving the three boys in need of show homes. 

Martha called her friend and partner in a Maine Coon breeding program, Beth Feininger of Jaspurrcats Maine Coons.  Beth and Martha immediately fell in love with the only red tabby and white boy in the litter.  He was big, typey and already a deep rich mahogany color that was most striking.  Anne and Michelle agreed that the redheaded boy would join the Feininger family, co-owned with Martha. 


Anne Jones holding up the red tabby and white male kitten at just 8 weeks old


Martha also really liked the other two boys, both brown tabbies with white.  She asked Carol Allen of Agavecoon if she might be interested.  Carol didn’t really need a second stud boy but Martha convinced her that she just had to take the best brownie.  The decision was made.  Carol and her friend Judy Bemis of Jamis Cattery would co-own the best brown tabby and white boy.  The remaining brother went to a home to be shown in Premiership.

Colorful Names

With high hopes for successful show careers, each boy now needed a special name.  Carol and Judy decided on Charlie Brown as a fitting name for their kitten with his coat of warm brown undertones. 

It was harder to find the right name for the red tabby and white brother—until Martha & Beth thought of the name Phoenix.  The mythical Phoenix bird has brightly colored red and gold plumage and tears that heal.  The legend is that the Phoenix always rises from the ashes.  The name not only reflected the vibrant coat of the red tabby and white boy, but the name was an acknowledgment of Anne's courage as she battled cancer.

The two brothers now had their official names; Maine Lvrs Charlie Brown and Maine Lvrs Phoenix of Abizaq.  Charlie joined Carol in Utah when he was 6 months old. Meanwhile, Phoenix settled in Kentucky with Martha.


Phoenix at 5 and a half months
Photo by Chanan

A Phoenix Rising

Phoenix immediately began a busy show career.

As he grew, it was obvious that he would be a large cat. Some of his admirers called him “Tiny Tim”, but his real nickname (and what he answers to) is “Red Robin”.

He loved to show himself off on the judging table . . . and the judges loved him back.

By the end of the 2012-2013 season, Phoenix was CFA’s 3rd Best Kitten and officially added the NW title to his name.  In doing so, he accumulated the highest point total ever garnered by a Maine Coon kitten, setting a new CFA record for his breed.

A Baby Grand

After Phoenix aged out of kitten competition, Martha very much wanted him to compete as a Grand in the upcoming CFA World Show in Ohio.

One problem.  He had only one weekend to become a Grand.

At the tender age of 8 months, Phoenix entered the show hall as an Open and left as a one show Grand.  This allowed him to enter his first World Show as a baby grand where he was the Best Maine Coon in Championship in the RED show and competed in the Best of the Best competition.

Meet Me In St. Louis

While Phoenix pursued a high profile national kitten campaign, brother Charlie was enjoying a more laid back kittenhood. Carol only showed Charlie a few times as a kitten.  Once he turned 8 months old, she took him to the Phoenix Feline Fanciers show in December 2012 where he finished just 14 points shy of becoming a Grand Champion.  He garnered those last points (plus lots more) at the New Year’s show in Las Vegas two weeks later. 

Both boys were now Grands.  In January 2013, the brothers were reunited for the first time since they were kittens when they both entered the Lucky Tom Show in St. Louis, Missouri.

Carol now lived in Kansas due to a work transfer for her hubby, Steve.  She bought a plane ticket and together with Charlie flew from Kansas to Louisville, KY.  Martha picked her up at the airport and the next morning Judy Bemis picked them both up and all three ladies set off on a road trip to Missouri for the big campaign show—3 friends and 4 cats; an Abyssinian kitten, a European Burmese neuter and the two Maine Coon brothers together in a maroon SUV. 

The show was a great success for both boys.  Phoenix was 5th Best Cat in Show with Charlie nipping at his heels in 6th place.

Stolen!

The show finished early on Sunday so Judy, Martha and Carol loaded the kitties and all their equipment into the SUV and began the long drive home.  Judy and Martha had a tradition of stopping at their favorite restaurant, The Golden Corral, in Shiloh, IL on the way home from area shows—and this trip was no different.  No different, that is, until they finished dinner and returned to their car to find it missing!  Their car had been stolen! And the cats were in the missing vehicle! 

The women were in shock. 

Thanks to the local police and OnStar, the car was located within the hour—with all four cats safe and sound. Of course, the same could not be said for the rest of the women's belongings. Everything but the cats had disappeared along with the thieves.  It was a long and somber trip back to Kentucky that night.

It was months before Carol felt comfortable leaving Charlie alone in the car for even a few minutes during their travels.  They continued to go to shows mostly in Regions 2 and 5.  At the end of the 2012-2013 show season,  Charlie was as a Regional Winner—the Northwest Region's 5th Best Cat.

A New Goal For Phoenix

Both brothers had a very successful first show season under their belts.  Charlie had added an RW to his GC title.  Phoenix had both a national win as a kitten and a regional win as an adult as well as his Grand title.

What next? Retirement?  Hmmmmm . . . No retirement. Instead, a new goal emerged for Phoenix. 

Beth and Martha thought he could follow in the footsteps of his record-setting grandfather, the incomparable
GC, GP, BW, NW Tuvets Martha’s Pick of Abizaq, DM
(aka Panda).

Panda was the first (and currently only) Maine Coon to have earned a National Win in all 3 competitive classes in CFA—Kitten, Championship & Premiership.

The Triple Crown of cat showing! 

Phoenix had already added the kitten NW to his resume.  To join his grand-pappy in the record books, the next step of the journey would be a campaign for a National Win in Championship.

New Season, May 2013

So it was that as the new season began in May 2013, Phoenix was once more off and running to see if he could add a second NW title to his name.

Brothers Together Again

 

By June, Phoenix was in the top 25 in the national standings but it was still too early to judge how well he would do in the big leagues.  The Garden State show in July was the first huge campaign show of the season.  Martha entered Phoenix to test the waters.  Just because Phoenix had been a national winner as a kitten, she wasn't going to take it for granted that his momentum would carry over into an adult campaign.  The show was also an opportunity for her to check out Charlie who would also attend.


Carol & Charlie, judge Darrell Newkirk, Martha and Phoenix at Garden State

Even though it was hot and Phoenix was out of coat, he still did well at the show, holding his own against the best in CFA.  Charlie made fewer finals than his national-winning sibling, but Martha was very pleased with how he was maturing.  In September, Phoenix and Martha went to the prestigious National Capital show in D.C. and again, Phoenix triumphed. 


Charlie

Meanwhile In Utah

Back out west, Carol too was considering a national campaign for Charlie—but her background differed greatly from Martha's.  Martha was an old-hand at national campaigning with nine national titles under her belt.  Starting with her first Abyssinian national winner in 1989 she had a proven track record at successful campaigning—including three with the incomparable Panda.

 

Although Carol had been involved in the fancy for almost 15 years, she had yet to attempt a national campaign.  If she decided to try with Charlie, it would all be new to her—and it would be complicated by geography and the need to avoid Phoenix for much of the year.  With no clue how to run a national campaign, Carol sat down with Martha at the beginning of the season and Martha gave her pointers.  Charlie's campaign was definitely going to be a learning experience.

Charlie started the new season slowly, averaging only a couple shows a month, but as summer arrived things began to heat up.  By the first of August, Charlie had climbed in to the top 25 cats nationally, although quite a bit behind his brother who was sitting comfortably at #5.

From their Kansas home base, Carol and Charlie flew east to New Jersey and Florida, drove south to Texas and Louisiana and west to Denver, then out to California.  Charlie was making most of the finals and the points were piling up nicely.  In November, they made plans to enter the biggest show of all—the CFA World Show in Novi, Michigan. 

CFA World Show 2013

The CFA World Show has a unique format.  There are actually two separate shows running concurrently on the weekend. A cat can only enter one of the shows.  Once the judging for each separate show is completed, the top three cats from each show meet to compete for Best of the Best.

In 2013, Phoenix entered the RED show and Charlie entered the PURPLE show. A total of 719 cats competed over the weekend representing 40 breeds.

When the dust had settled, Phoenix was the Best Maine Coon in the Red Show and Charlie was the Best Maine Coon in the Purple show.  The brothers ruled!

Phoenix finished 5th Best Cat in Championship in the Red Show (3rd Best LH Cat). Charlie walked away from the biggest event of the year as 3rd Best Cat in Championship in The Purple Show. Carol was thrilled!   While Phoenix had always been confidently pointed towards a second NW, it was only after Charlie did so well at the World Show that Carol truly believed a national win was possible for her boy too.


Phoenix was Best Maine Coon &
5th Best Cat, (3rd Best LH Cat) in Championship
in the Red Show
Photo by Chanan

Charlie was Best Maine Coon &
3rd Best Cat in Championship in the Purple show

Photo by Chanan

Head To Head

By winter, both brothers were well up in the national standings, so high that they couldn't avoid one another anymore.  To have enough points to be worth competing for, each cat needed to go to the largest show of the weekend—and that meant they would now often be head-to-head at the same show.  They were so closely matched that it was a challenge for the judges to chose BOB.  At the biggest campaign shows in CFA, the boys locked friendly horns.  One week Phoenix might take BOB and the next it would be Charlie winning the breed ribbon. Still, regardless of which cat took BOB, most often both boys made the finals.  From December to the end of the season the brothers were at the same show 7 times, both made the top 10 at each show and 4 times both cats were in the top 5 cats in Championship! That's how closely matched they were.

December
Phoenix Feline Fanciers, AZ
Phoenix - 2nd Best Cat
Charlie - 3rd Best Cat
January
San Diego Cat Fanciers, CA
Charlie - 3rd Best Cat
Phoenix - 8th Best Cat
March
Cat'n On The Fox, IL
Phoenix - 3rd Best Cat
Charlie - 10th Best Cat
April
Crow Canyon Cat Club, CA
Charlie - Best Cat In Show
Phoenix - 2nd Best Cat
April
Foot Of The Rockies, CO
Charlie - 4th Best Cat
Phoenix - 5th Best Cat
April
North Texas Cat Club, TX
Phoenix - 3rd Best Cat
Charlie - 7th Best Cat
April
Americas Heartland, MO
Phoenix - 2nd Best Cat
Charlie - 5th Best Cat


Phoenix
Photo by Chanan


Charlie
Photo by Chanan

Charlie Checks Out Europe

For newbie Carol, there were times when traveling the campaign trail was exhausting—but Charlie was always ready for the next show.  He would start acting antsy come Wednesday as if to ask, “Am I getting a bath today?   You need to pack a bag, Mom!   We need to go to a show!” 

January found them in California attending three big campaign shows. Then Carol's dear friend, Judy Friedman, gave Carol the gift of a airline ticket. Carol and Charlie were soon boarding a plane and crossing the Atlantic Ocean to attend shows in Rome and Moscow.  For Carol, it was the highlight of the season.

Charlie finished high in the standings of both European shows and was a special hit with the spectators.  The crowds in Rome would have tested the patience of most show cats but Charlie reveled in all the attention.  He took it all in stride.  Charlie was truly a gentleman and a perfect ambassador for the Maine Coon breed. He also always enjoyed the one-on-one time with Carol in the motel room on the weekends.  


Charlie chilling out in the hotel room with Carol

Charlie never fussed about the long hours spent on plane ride after plane ride.  He never fidgeted in his tent in the car as the endless miles added up on the odometer.  When returning home, he would tell "Dad" all about his adventures when Steve picked them up at the airport or came out to the car to carry him into the house.  What a cat!

Best In Show For Phoenix

When Phoenix entered the Atlanta Phoenix Cat Society show in Georgia in March, it was amusing that the club's name matched his—then when he was BEST IN SHOW it seemed perfect. 

Phoenix met a new “best friend” at this show.  A little girl about 3 years old wanted to hold and pet the big red and white cat.  Martha placed Phoenix on the floor then stood him up on his hind legs.  He was now eye to eye with the little girl.  His young admirer wrapped her arms around him and just kept whispering “I Wuv You, I Wuv You.”  Phoenix just ate it up.


Phoenix on the table with judge Rachel Anger

The Brothers Stand Together Side By Side

Meanwhile, March and April found Charlie and Carol in a show hall almost every weekend for the last push before the season's end.

Phoenix had been ahead of Charlie in the standings all season and at the beginning of March, Charlie was still over 700 points behind his littermate in the rankings.  Still, Charlie made it a tight race and by the end of the season, Phoenix edged out Charlie for the BW title by less than 173 points.  The two Maine Lvrs Brothers finished the 2013-2014 show season as 6th Best and 7th Best Cat in Championship.

Phoenix had reached his goal and earned his National Win in Championship, the second leg of his bid for the Triple Crown.  Before he can work an NW in Premiership, he has a different goal to attend to—he needs to sire kittens!   He will have to produce at least 15 Grand Champion progeny before he can add DM after his name, a title his grandfather earned in addition to his 3 national wins.

In a year of roller-coaster excitement, Charlie gave Carol her first national win—and now, like his brother, Charlie looks forward to a new career of stud duties.

Two National Winners . . . two Maine Coons . . . two incredible brothers . . . What an accomplishment!

But perhaps even more remarkable is the realization that none of it would have been possible without the friendships of the people involved . . .  breeders, Michelle Chaffee and Anne Jones . . . Phoenix owners, Martha & Norman Auspitz and Tom & Beth Feininger . . . and Charlie's owners Carol Allen & Judith A. Bemis . . . supporting one another and making their shared dreams become reality.


Co-breeder Michelle M. Chaffee, and Phoenix's owners Norman & Martha Auspitz and Beth Feininger


Charlie's owners, Judy Bemis, Carol Allen and co-breeder, Michelle Chaffee

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GC, BW, NW Maine Lvrs
Phoenix of Abizaq

Red Tabby & White Maine Coon Male

CFA 6th Best Cat in Championship 2013-2014
CFA Best Maine Coon 2013-2014
CFA Great Lakes Region's 2nd Best Cat in Championship 2013-2014
CFA 3rd Best Kitten 2012-2013
CFA Great Lakes Region's Best Kitten 2012-2013

CFA Great Lakes Region's 8th Best Cat in Championship 2012-2013

Born March 4, 2012

Sire: GC Mcpride John Duke Wayne
Dam: GC Maine Lvrs Keepsake of Mcpride
Breeders: Michelle M. Chaffee & Anne Jones
Owners: Martha & Norman Auspitz and Tom & Beth Feininger


Photo by Chanan


Phoenix sporting his namesake Red Robin T-shirt
Photo by Audra Mitchell


Phoenix at 2 years old
Photo by Chanan

GC, NW Maine Lvrs
Charlie Brown
(of Agavecoon)

Brown Tabby & White Maine Coon Male

CFA 7th Best Cat in Championship 2013-2014
CFA 2nd Best Maine Coon 2013-2014
CFA Northwest Region's 2nd Best Cat in Championship 2013-2014
CFA Northwest Region's Best Maine Coon 2013-2014
CFA Northwest Region's 5th Best Cat and Best Maine Coon 2012-2013


Born March 4, 2012

Sire: GC Mcpride John Duke Wayne
Dam: GC Maine Lvrs Keepsake of Mcpride
Breeders: Michelle M. Chaffee & Anne Jones
Owners: Carol Allen & Judith A. Bemis


Photo by Chanan


Charlie snuggles with his roommate, an Australian Shepherd named Moses.  


Charlie in his show tent admiring the decor

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