Puppy love started the ACHILLES KENNEL when Lucianne Cham (aka Penny Cham) bought her first toy dog, a toy poodle, and unknowingly established a kennel which would later be known as one of the best and most reputable dog breeders in the Philippines.

However, it was love at first sight, when Penny’s search for the perfect dog introduced her to the Shih Tzu. Rummaging through dog magazines, her eye caught a picture of a dog that looked like a mop of Fawcett tresses falling down to the ground, but beribboned and coiffed. So unlike the pom pom fur of the poodle, the Shih Tzu looked like a glamorous silhouette of a fashion model, dogwise.

Like any other responsible breeder, Penny planned to establish a good foundation for her new kennel. She imported her first shih tzu from the U.S., San Yen Foo Jin Nikol, and bred her with Kaolin Hwang Ho, an Australian import, to produce the first Philippine born litter. The two male black-and-white puppies were whelped by Nikol in Penny’s bedroom. Even during her salad days, Penny always had a keen eye for show dogs. She could right away spot a winner. And she saw potential in one of Nikol’s first litter. This puppy grew up to be Phil Ch Achilles Yogi Bear, which took the show ring by storm, garnering multiple Best of Breed wins over imports, as well as winning the Best Philippine Born in Show title. Thus, Penny found her place in the (dog world) sun. Achilles Kennel from then on, would be producing Shih Tzus and not poodles, and it is known today as Achilles Shih Tzu. An accomplished handler, Penny has bred/owned/finished over 100 champions.

Penny’s most memorable win was when Phil Ch San Yen Kin Teki Ka Sumi became the first shih tzu to win an All Breed Best in Show in the Philippines. Ph Grand Ch Achilles Mitzi of Sonora followed suit by becoming the first Shih Tzu to be awarded the Dog of the Year title in the country. Am Ch Achilles Crown Jewel became the first Philippine-bred Shih Tzu to attain an American Championship title.

In 2004, a dog which she co-owns with Mr & Mrs Edwin Luy, Phil Hall of Fame Ch/Am Ch & Can Ch Ming Dynasty’s Tuff Cookie broke all records by became the Shih Tzu with the most win in Philippine history. In eleven months of showing, this Shih Tzu has won 16 All Breed Best in Shows, a record unsurpassed by any other dog in the breed. That record has been surpassed by another dog shown by Penny, HOF/Am/Can Ch Symarun’s Good To Go “RICARDO” with 39 All Breed Best in Show wins. The same year, Ph Ch Achilles Cute as Can Be also made a record by finishing her championship title, earning all points, in one weekend.
Achilles Shih Tzus have appeared in Shih Tzu books distributed internationally like, The Shih Tzu Heritage by Jon Ferrante, published by Denlinger Publications, and The Complete Shih Tzu by Victor Joris, published by Howell Bookhouse. They were also featured in articles published in the Shih Tzu Reporter, a U.S. magazine, and in some dog magazines in Thailand.

Penny is a founding member of the Philippine Shih Tzu Club and served as President of the PSTC before becoming a member of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Canine Club, Inc., in which she served in various positions such as Corporate Secretary, Treasurer, and finally was elected President. Currently, she has “retired” from the rigorous responsibilities of the national kennel club and devotes her time to actively campaigning dogs. She is also a member of the American Shih Tzu Club and now with newly formed kennel club, the Asian Kennel Club Union of the Philippines, Inc. (AKCUPI).

With all her credentials, dog breeding and showing are not a full-time occupation for Penny. Unbelievably true, this is only her hobby. During weekdays, she wears the hat of assistant treasurer and credit & collection manager for a family-owned business, engaged in the manufacturing and distribution of various food products and Christian music. Their company also operates five radio stations, as well as a charitable foundation. But this indefatigable animal lover goes way beyond dogs.

As a youngster, she has raised Japanese bantam chickens, a goat, ducks, hamsters, birds, fishes, cats, long-haired guinea pigs, mice and turtles. But today, her love for animals has zeroed in on the beautiful Shih Tzu, which, in her own right, she has helped maintain, develop, upgrade according to AKC standards that, as a responsible breeder and astute dog handler, Lucianne “Penny” Cham truly deserves the title of “the Philippines’ Best in Shih Tzus.”

By Eclid Villarosa