I was born 1966 to very typical Finish family. My father Heikki Kares (Jr.), a hard working business man and my mother Soili Kares took care of the three children. We also had a dog and later some more dogs. Two older brothers and I am the youngest member of the family..

I always loved dogs. The dog we had in our childhood home who was long coated collie Pepita  was simply magical. She was so smart. She was important part of the family. I was born with the connection to dogs. I like all animals but most of all dogs were the ones that I loved the most.

Juha Kares
Juha Kares

Summers we spent in our summer house by the lakeside in beautiful southern Finish countryside Loppi. My grandparents we also very close to me and I did learn a lot from them. Summers were about swimming, swimming and playing. I did have long and great childhood. I was kept quite protected and I did not know about bad things in life. I must say I had very old fashion childhood and that was good.

As 5 years old child I knew I am going to be Geographer. I never thought about it after that. I knew what I was going to do. I draw thousand and thousand of maps in my childhood and teenage years. After high school I did went to University and start to study Geography as decided at 5 years of age.

Winter view at the summerhouse
Winter view at the summerhouse

I used to play also ice-hockey very actively and I did learn a lot social skills in my childhood playing in a good team. I started to play ice-hockey as 6 years of age and soon after I was training ice-hockey at daily basis. I had two great coach who were great role models and I did learn a lot from them. Thank you once again Kontsu Ihamäki and Jaakko Honkanen for giving your time and knowledge to young people. It is great that such a people are out there willing to offer their free time to children and teenagers. I had to quit ice-hockey at 16 years of age as there was not enough time for school, dogs and sport. In particular the weekends were hard. I had to decide between dogs and ice-hockey and I choose the dogs.

My grandparents have been also important to me. I have spent a lot of time with them. My grandmother is my biggest hero and she has seen it all. She passed some years ago and was most positive person. She was smart and full of wisdom and love. She had the best sense of humor you can imagine. My grandfather was also a great role model and I learned positive philosophy from him very early. I realized you can be charismatic respected person and still always positive and supportive. He passed in his 90s but he is not forgotten.
I started to show dogs as teenager and I met a great lady in local show classes and club meetings. Mrs. Kirsti Louhi was giving great lectures and she was again one great role model in my early days. She was positive and she had great sense of humor. This was something I loved and try to follow this very same philosophy still in dogs. This must be fun.

Juha & Fifi

My home was very active and social. My parents were members of many clubs and they had lot of hobbies too. In my childhood home there was always lot of going on. There was not a dull day. I must mention also some very best childhood/teenage friends that were great and shared a lot of important moments with me Olli Janatuinen was my best pal before school and did we have fun and lot of daily adventures building huts all over the place as kids still use to do late 1960´s and early 1970´s. Petri Kujamäki was playing in same team as I was and he became also great friend. At my school I met Vellu Härma and Taina Lepistö (later Tuohimaa) and they were also great friends. Thank you for being there. With dogs I learned to know Minna Saivo and she was also great teenage friend that we studied together lot about dogs.

Breeding and showing dogs became such an important part of my life already as a teenager. As our home was active and outgoing we also had some foreign children and teenagers staying in our house in particular during the summers. From mostly North American ice-hockey players spending time in our summer house I did learn to speak English very early (but I still can´t write it well). This was great as I picked up the phone as 14 – years of age and did call overseas just like that to learn more about dogs. This was first time I called to Freda McGregor who had Littlecourt lowchens. I did learn a lot from her. Following year I had the change to meet her alive. Later I visited her and her husband house in Kent few times to see and learn much more about lowchens.

My great teachers with lowchens was also best Finish breeders at late 1970´and 1980 s late Ingrid and late Matti Wiita kennel Angel Walley. I had my foundation bitch from them. Later Norwegian lady Signe Eldor kennel Sönnafjellets and Swedish breeder Mrs Eva Söderqvist did teach me also quite a bit.

Bit later I became friend with Eliasabet Carlzon (later Axelsson) that would later establish Straight Fire maltese kennel. We did show a lot around Scandinavia and we did want to learn everything possible about dogs. Those days we could stay a wake 24 hours and just talk and learn about dogs. Did we learn and study. We admired every talented dog breeder in the world. We both had parents that supported us 100 % and these great families gave us unique opportunity to give everything for our great hobby. We both had unique change to travel ,breed and show dogs already as a child and also we had to change import dogs from very early stage. To become a  very best in this hobby was our biggest goal. I do believe there is nothing so important than early start with this hobby. Late Ulla Segerströn (Ullah French bulldog) was very supportive to us and use to call us BIS childs). People are willing to share their deepest knowledge to a child or teenager. You can also learn and be more open as a child. Later as you grow up people do not share their knowledge quite the same way as with a child.

As I started with lhasas my best teacher and real mentor was found from USA. Mrs. Marianne Nixon was most talented person with lhasas and I did learn so much from her. Marianne and her daughter Leslie Ann Engen bred San Jo lhasas. Their determination and perfectionist way of doing things was just the way I wanted to do things. Marianne also visited me in Finland and I did visit them in Washington State in USA. We could stay a wake 24 hours with Marianne and talk about lhasas. I also got some great dogs from them. I never ever can´t thank enough Marianne Nixon sharing her knowledge with me. She was also a great role model and I still respect her more than anyone. My parents did respect this lady as well and they though no one ever in dogs could be better mentor as she was with dogs and beyond the dogs.

As I started with irish setters I found a like teacher and mentor with this breed from Australia. Mrs. Norma Hamilton and her husband Graham Hamilton with their Quailmoor prefix did became real role models as well. They were also people that I learned so much. They were most professional people that are also great characters. Norma visited Finland also and I have visited her in Australia and I did learn so much from her with dogs and beyond the dogs. I also got some great dogs from her. I never can´s thank her enough about everything.

These were the most important teachers in my early days and I must say I did learn from the very best Freda McGregor Littlelcourt), Marianne Nixon (San Jo) and Norma Hamilton (Quailmoor). I did share my passion with pedigree dogs with people around my age in Scandinavia that were also to become real professionals. Together we shared a lot People like Tuula Lehtinen-Cochetti (Misty Meadow Chihuahuas), Tiina Taulos (Canmoy-poodles), Leena Rönhovde-Juslin, Tuija Verho (Kingpoint kennel)  and Elisabeth Carlzon (Straight Fire) were all people born 1960´s and started early. We did learn and share the knowledge we had. Together we had a change to develop and breed dogs from very early. This is something seems to happen most of all in Scandinavia. There is lot of knowledge out there and the way is bit more open to young people here than elsewhere. I can say I am proud to be Finish. As older people and most of all some very bitter people did attack it was great that you was not there alone.

I must also thank my marvelous parents to be so supportive in every way in life. I had mother that was like a female tiger protecting her kids all the way. Both of my parents together offered a safe good home and best possible environment to grow up.  Any parents could not be more supportive than my parents has been. To let me have dogs and let me breed them in my childhood home was more than anyone can wish. They made everything possible. I never can´t thank enough my father and late mother to be there for me and my dogs all the way.

I must say that my father also has been great teacher. He use to tell greatest stories when ever he had time before we went to sleep. Those marvelous stories teach me so much about life. My father had also very special way to support development of healthy strong self-esteem. That was traditional way in Kares family. It was the way my family had followed for generations. You must believe yourself and be what you are. I remember night before my school started my father wanted to talk with me. He said do remember as tomorrow you start your school be yourself. Never believe what you are told if you do not understand and believe that yourself. I am always most proud of you if you are brave enough to think differently and stand against all others if you see they are wrong.  This lesson I have kept in mind all these years and have I needed that wisdom with pedigree dogs. I would not be here today with my dogs if I would not have followed my heart and own beliefs. There has been so much false information but I followed the road I felt is right. I do believe facts not what I am told to.

Still today if anything goes seriously wrong I can trust my father 100%. He never judge but try to find way out. He can´t stand people who complain and look back too much. You must build your own future by learning from mistakes and do something positive with your life. My father is now in his 70 ´s but he is very young with his soul and way of doing things. He is as passionate and modern with his way of thinking as ever.

My mother died in a dramatic car accident. In a heartbeat she was gone. I remember Elizabeth Carlzon saying to me. You should not grief so much as I would also same time to understand how very lucky you ve been to have such a great mother and friend in your life for 35 years. That is more than anyone can have. She gave you so much love that that will carry on a person for hundreds of years to come. That was indeed true and I still miss her but I can honestly say that love she gave to her children will carry on thousand years to come. Thank you mother you were the best.

I am a teacher myself. I did study University of Helsinki Geography, History, Sociology and Education Science. I did study long time as it was possible in Finland those days. University had been place to develop and build up own private know-how. Education is something I love and I feel fortunate to be able to enjoy that myself for years. I graduated finally as to be honest with you my hobby has taken even much more my energy than studied did.

Doing the studies was often in second place as I had breeding and showing to do. As I was studying I had kennel and breeding program to take care of. I did finish and bred some 200 champions as I was still busy with my studies. I m glad I finally finished both of these fields with flying colours and funny enough I managed to graduate from University if Helsinki with highest possible marks. That just happened I really did not have time to read that much.

Our house in Vihti, Southern Finland
Our house in Vihti, Southern Finland

I did find finally also love of my life late 1990´s. I was so lucky to find a person who is outside of dogs but who do love my dogs dearly. We did move to countryside together 1990  and we live west from Helsinki next to biggest Southern National Park. From our kitchen window we can see the forest and nothing but the forest and rocks. There we have bears, mooses, deers and all the wildlife you can image. Back of our house there is also protected big rock so we are located in very special location just 45 minutes from Helsinki yet all protected countryside. This is very ideal and safe place to live. We just love our house and spot we are living in.

View from our kitchen window
View from our kitchen window

I do teach in a school which is just 10 minutes from our house. I do love my work and I enjoy spending my weekdays with young teenage people with full of life with full of opportunities. I feel very privileged to have a work like this. The school I work in is a great school with great people working there together for betterment of the human beings. I could not image to do anything else at this time. I have also plenty of spare time that I can use for my dogs.
I am also at this time president of the Finish Dog Breeders Association SuKoKa. This serious club works for serious dog breeders and try to protect their rights. There is much to do and this club with it duties also keep me very busy. However there is lot of great people and there are great values to protect so this work is very important. It was thru the SuKoKa I learned to know even better two great people that I had admired since a child. Late Mrs. Anja Puumala (Leavenwort-kennel) and late Mr. Rolf Dahlbom (Finnsky-kennel) were people I have known for decades. It was a pleasure to work in same board with them and I did learn a lot frome these two great persons. They had style as human beings and I did respect them in dogs and beyond the dogs.

I do also give lot of lectures and seminars about dog breeding and about pedigree dogs in general. This keeps me very busy too. I do write a lot too and I have written hundreds of published articles thru the years. I am working now also with a book about dogs and dog breeding. As time permit I do hope to finish that book during 2011.
I have a commitment with my family and married partner as well. At my house we have some 10 dogs and we have a deal we do spent together quality time relaxing overseas 2 months a year. That is hard but a must to keep up a good quality relation. This is also important for personal wellbeing. To relax and enjoy the life is great thing. We both love to travel and explore the globe. This is out together hobby and we love it. In past 12 years we have been travelling around the world so much and we feel so privileged to seen all those world treasures and most beautiful spots around the world. My soul mate works in travel industry so that is great. Being busy with work I have more time at home with the dogs.

There is four persons that I must mention when it comes to judging and specially learning from it. Soile Bister helped me to understand the structure of the dog so well. I have learned a lot from her. Hans Lehtinen has over the years shared so much of his wisdom and sometimes set the limits I needed. His knowledge and understanding is beyond words. I also love his sense of humor. Kari Järvinen is outspoken and I respect his opinions. He has set also some limits over the years and he has lot of wisdom. Marja Talvitie has been great listener and shared also a lot of her wisdom over the years.  These four people have been great teachers and mentors and I am so lucky to know them.

If anyone has support me as much as my parents it is you my soul mate. How lucky I have been to find such unique person that do understand me and share the same sense of humor. Our home is always the place where I enjoy the most this is because we share something very special. Our home is safe and covered with love. You keep the limits and support and live the life fully with its ups and downs. Thank you for this. I feel so fortunate to find such a special person like you. To be honest without you I would also eat factory yank food daily and not enjoy proper home cooked quality food as my time would not permit time for cooking. I love your food and company. Most likely my life would be a mess without you.

I became also a judge 2002. I do judge some 120 breeds. I only can judge only very limited as there is so many other commitments in life. I do enjoy judging and it has given a lot of new perspective to my beloved hobby. May be sometimes later I have more time to judge.

Over the years I have met some terrific people with the dogs and outside of dogs. Some of these people have become so important part of my life and I feel so fortunate to meet unique people like this. Mrs. Outi Lindroos got her very first lowchen from me years ago as she still had small children. Now these children have grown up and Outi is even grandmother now. But Outi and her family has become so important part of my life too. Outi is my right and left hand also with lowchens and we breed lowchens together. Outi has this same sense of humor and long experience since early 1970´s with pedigree dogs working as a teenager in legendary of Golden West borzois.  Susan Giles with her Ta Sen lhasas has become over the years like my sister and we share a lot. I have learned a lot from her and I feel fortunate learning to know her. Her house in Virginia feels like second home time to time.

Sanna Kopola has become a great friend.  Sanna and her family are wonderful people. They are always there and they also now live nearby us. Sanna also take care of the homepage and help me so much with theses modern challenges with computers and stuff like this.  She is always willing to argue about pedigrees and mating – I love her for that. Sanna´s partner Janne  Hirsimäki is trustworthy young gentleman and sometimes he is the person I can ask the advise worth listening. He is master of science in engineering and you can tell that.  He is also only person in the world I would trust my credit cards and I know they would not be used whole lot.

There is many other people worth mention like my nieces Sari and Mira Kares and my whole family, Karo Kallela, Ilpo Ojala, Inkeri Helje, Sanna Vakkilainen, families Kojola, Alanko, Tumppila, Peisterä, Skutnabb,  Heinonen, Carina Kitti and her mother Thea Dahlbom, not forgetting oversea friends like Sterri, Hall, Knoll, Pingel  and Johansson families Wendy Cain, Susan Giles, Hedi Kumm, Tia McLaughlin, Kersti Paju, Sandy Steward and Steven Brown all worth of gold. I am so happy to know these great people. Thank you for being there.

This is me and life with my dogs. I love dogs more than anything. I love to be a dog breeder and I love my breeds and dogs. I am so happy to share my life with great people and wonderful dogs around me. There is nothing better than a sunny summer day and picnic with dogs and good friends in my secret favourite rock . If I would die tomorrow I would die happily knowing I have had just the life I was dreaming about. I did the things I wanted, I saw the places I wanted and met the people I was dreaming about. This has been full wonderful life and I do hope life will be as good full life years to come as it has been so far.  There is still much to do and after breeding dogs 30 years I still have so much to do. My pedigrees and breeding programs are planned  up to 2040 so I must keep going and hope for the best. My motto is Joie de vivre. Life is unique and I love every bit of it.

In 2019 I moved to Durham North Carolina with my new partner Dr Clifton Kenon Jr, and the kennel name CHIC CHOIX is shared under FCI now with Mrs Sanna Kopola-Hirsimäki, read more from here.