Kailasa Lhasa Apsos - Western Australia




Kerrie Mansell

“Well. I’ve been rich, desperately poor, comfortable and back to poor,” is how Joan Beard began her autobiography in “Memoirs Of A Gadabout” (2006); a life story which began in Hamstead, London on February 8th, 1919.

Joan has been credited with introducing the Lhasa Apso to Australia. She is also well known as an author of a number of travel books as well as the entertaining Into Bed Fred (about her beloved Ch Tasam Nak Po) and the equally interesting Lhasas And Lamas).She has also made a contribution to the understanding of prapsos in the breed through written articles both on this genetic phenomena and her work with the gene study group, CHART. Joan was a licensed judge of Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus and although retired many years ago, from an active involvement with the breed, has always retained a keen interest.

Joan R. Da Norbu

Joan Beard and R Da Norbu
(Taken early 1960s)

The following is a personal history as told to me by Joan Beard some time ago. I have been fortunate to have known this charming and witty woman for more than two decades.

Joan Tells Her Story

I was born in Hampstead , London and educated at St George’s School, Ascot. Although we lived in London, our house was always full of animals. I was given my first puppy when I was two; a Pekingese called Chang. He lived for sixteen years.

My mother was animal mad. She belonged to various animal protection organisations. She could train an animal to do anything she wanted, simply by talking to it. Unfortunately, my mother died when I was thirteen.

In spite of the fact that we lived in London, we had a large garden. I remember in winter, one Golden Retriever, two Pekingese, one Wire Haired Fox Terrier, a Persian cat, Angora rabbit and two white mice all huddled together in front of the fire. They were all house trained and never attempted to fight. My father had horses but they were kept in stables.

My father wanted to get married again so he married me off to a landowner which was disastrous. The war came and everything stopped so I ran away from home and joined the navy. I was stationed in Bath then London, where I met and married Arthur Beard RAAF, an Australian swimming champion. I arrived in Australia in 1946.

When the children we had were old enough, I decided to show and breed Pekingese. We did this quite successfully and my daughter, Lesley, became a good handler.

In 1960, we visited England and decided to try and find a breed that was not yet in Australia. Looking through books, we rather fancied the Tibetan Spaniels.

Upon arriving, we started visiting kennels. Neither of us saw a dog that grabbed us. Our last call was to Florence Dudman’s Ramblersholt Kennels. Here we looked at the Tibbies for a considerable time. Suddenly a dog jumped over the fence and came running to us. It was at that moment that Mrs Dudman asked if we were interested in any of the dogs. Pointing to the newcomer, I replied,

‘That one. It’s the most beautiful dog I’ve ever seen’.

‘Do you know what he is?’ Mrs Dudman asked.

‘No but I’ve got to have him’

‘He’s a Tibetan Apso but he’s not for sale. He’s my leading stud and has just won BOB at Burmingham. I call him Lion. I’ll show you the others.’

She brought out several dogs. I explained that I needed a male, a proven bitch and a puppy bitch as unrelated as possible. None of them had quite the personality of Ramblersholt Sing Gi, known as Lion. But they were lovely dogs.

I finally bought Ramblersholt Trag-Pon (Trag), a black and white, as my stud dog. He was 10in high, compact and well balanced with an enormous coat but he lacked the personality of Lion. His sire was Ramblersholt Chumba, a tan and white parti, and his dam was Kikuli of Furzyhurst, also tan and white.

Ch R Trag Pon

As a mate I bought Ramblersholt Da-Norbu (Nobbie) , an older proven grey and white bitch. Her sire was Gay Time of Lamleh and her dam Brackenbury Nuptse. On her dam’s side she only had a two generation pedigree, her grandparents Dzongpen and Minzong of Madamswood having been imported by Colonel Irwin with pedigree unknown. She was, however, one of the nicest animals you could hope to live with.

Painting of Ch R Da Norbu

The third purchase was a puppy bitch which Mrs Dudman had wanted to keep herself, Ramblersholt Dzom Tru (Zommie). She was white with gold ears and the prettiest thing imaginable but lacked the intelligence of the others. Her sire was Ramblersholt Chumba and her dam Ramblersholt Metok who was also white with gold ears.

They were transferred to me on May 28th, 1961 and duly arrived in Australia.

The dogs duly arrived and settled in although at first they grew their coats in our summer and lost them in winter. This was rectified later.

R Dzom Tru

By now we were convinced this was the breed for us. I wrote to Mrs Dudman and asked her for a male puppy suitable to mate to my puppies. I didn’t get a reply and the months were dragging on. One day a cable arrived to say it had taken her a while to make up her mind but Lion was already on the boat. I was elated. My first love was actually coming to join us.

Apsos were called Tibetan Apsos for a few years and shown in the Toy Group. When the name changed to Lhasa Apsos, they moved to Non Sporting. It was a long hard struggle to get judges to see their potential. Finally the late Harry Spira gave Best In Group to Ch Rambersholt Sing-Gi (Imp UK). Then a bitch I bred, Ch Soemirah Pon-Dzara won Best of Breed in every class. She eventually went to New Zealand, in whelp, along with one of the three imports, Ch Ramblersholt Trag-Pon, to start the breed there.

After I lost Lion, the Houdini, who escaped from a maximum security kennel and somehow managed to squeeze out through the drain, I was heartbroken. I vowed never to own another male dog. But in 1969, a friend needed a home for a beautiful puppy. At first I refused and told her if he’d been a bitch I would have bought him then and there. Finally she persuaded me to help her out and take him. This was the famous Fred, Ch Tasam Nak-Po. Fred was the worst puppy I have ever tried to lead train. He had a mind of his own. Fred used to write an article a month for Lhasa Tales ,USA, for 13 years and had Into Bed Fred published; the life of a dog from a dog’s point of view.

Fred and I were devoted . At the age of eighteen and a half, he had a stroke. It looked as if he might get over it when he must have decided life was too difficult. I missed him so much I couldn’t even bring myself to pat a dog. The vet gave me a cat to help bridge the gap. She’s not Fred but I love her.


Since the time of recording this little interview with Joan, Dinah the cat had passed on and I was sorry to hear in the latter part of 2012 that Joan’s health was not too good. I remember seeing her on TV when I switched on the news some years back; protesting about the conditions for pensioners. She has always been an amazing and articulate woman to be admired not just for introducing the Lhasa Apso to this country but her genuine capacity to see life as an adventure worth embracing.

‘After word” to the article.

On March 18, 2013, Joan Beard passed away in Sydney, Australia. She was 94 years of age.

In 2006, she documented her interesting life in “Memoirs Of A Gadabout”; an autobiography and travelogue of her adventures across the globe.

Rest in peace my dear friend

Joan and Fred

Fred’s Story

An extract from


Chapter One-The Start Of A Tail!

I was born with the cards stacked against me. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind at the time of my birth, that I was doomed to be a nonentity, frowned on and generally discarded. I was born black. Prejudice was high at the time of my entry into the world, thanks to a few people who could not see further than their noses. My father was black and he did not do so badly; so I decided , as soon as I was old enough to think for myself, that I would make them realise that not only myself but many others of my race had something worthwhile to contribute to the breed.

My mum and dad came all the way from England to show people in Australia that we had a great deal to offer. My dad was from a long line of champions who had many great names for themselves overseas, and my mum had children who were internationally famous. Unfortunately I was their only child , which, of course, involved me in a great deal of responsibility. I was left to carry on the great name of those who came before me.

Naturally, none of this concerned me for the first few weeks of life. I was content to cuddle up to my mum, whose fur kept me warm, and I could front up to the milk bar any time my tummy told me it was empty. It did not seem very long before I was put in a box for most of the day, with a pen around it. This did not really appeal to me but at the same time, having an inferiority complex, I did as I was told. After all, I was fed and watered so what more did a young chap need?

This life continued for a short time and then I had my first adventure. I was put in a car, still in a box, and taken for a long ride to a place called Sydney. Here we stayed with a nice lady who was very kind to me, but when we went visiting that was the end. Numerous people would feel me and make very rude remarks. They called me all sorts of names , rubbed it in about my colour, until finally my owner told them they had ‘bats in the belfry’ and took me back to Melbourne.

Utility Dog Drawing

Utility Dog -Jan Taylor

Life returned to its normal peaceful self and I had decided that this was to be my lot, when the lady from the place we had stayed at in Sydney turned up. She obviously thought a great deal of me and gave me lots of cuddles, but I decided that I wanted to stay with my mum and dad and no one was going to take me away. I heard some very funny conversations. My owner was telling the lady that although she did not want to part with me, I had to go. The lady kept saying she did not want a boy. My owner became more and more persuasive and even went to extremes by telling the lady she was the only one she would send me to. I did not like this conversation and tried to listen in as much as possible. Everything I heard was bad.

I gave a sigh of relief when the lady left for Sydney and I was still in my own surroundings. It was a fool’s paradise. A few days later I was put in a large cage and into a great big machine like a huge bird and borne into the sky. I was frightened, especially as it made a loud noise. It was not for too long: soon we were coming back to earth. My cage was put on a truck , I was wheeled into a big room and there was the lady from Sydney waiting to take me home.

Life in Sydney was nothing like it had been before. I was subjected to all kinds of things which I did not like. I was told I had to be a show dog (whatever that meant), but I firmly resisted all attempts to make me into something in which I did not believe. Although I admitted to myself that the beds were comfortable and the tucker good, nothing was going to make me show any kind of feeling to my new owner.

Of course, there were many visitors to the house, and they all asked what my name was and if I had a pet name. You should have heard the rude remarks when they discovered that officially I was Tasam Nak-Po, which means black in Tibetan.

‘You can’t call him that’, was the usual answer.

‘We’ll think of a nickname.’

You should havee heard some of the suggestions. Try shortening Nak or Po and see what you get! It finally boiled down to Rasputin or Chou En Li. Apparently I bore some resemblance to those infamous men. Of course, while all this naming was going on, my new owner had to call me something. Every night she would say ‘Into bed Fred’, and Fred I have been ever since.

At this stage I will merely summarise the events which followed. First I discovered that there was some agreement with my ex-mum and my new owner, who had to take me to shows. I hated them, but when my mum makes a promise she keeps it. Fortunately, after a short spell I became a champion, although I was still being dragged around for what seemed like an eternity. This was not the life for me. I knew I had to get another interest, other than sex, which is a bit hard to come by at times.

Int Dog Union Drawing

International Dog Union

Jan Taylor

None of this happened overnight, and before any of this could take place I had to give in to my new owner, whom I realised was ‘a bit alright’. One night when she said the proverbial, ‘Into bed Fred’, I replied ‘OK Mum’. From that day on she has always been known as my mum. The articles I have written over the years virtually tell my life story, so I will relate my tale as it comes to mind.

Perhaps I had better be fair and explain that I am a Lhasa Apso, a rare and very old , pure breed of dog,. We originate from Tibet, where we were kept as watch dogs in the homes of the mighty. The Dalai Lamas used to give us to high dignitaries, much as the Queen of England gave a knighthood. However, it is much easier to be knighted than to be given an Apso. The present Dalai Lama still keeps quite a few of us around him. We are supposed to bring good luck when given, but so many of us are sold that maybe the spell is broken.

We are, of course, extremely intelligent and very acute of hearing. We are extremely independent and no home is ever the same after one of us has moved in. We like to be one of the family and even if we think the humans we live with are a little mad, we still humour them by joining in whatever strange hobbies they may have. We also make it very plain that if they do something we do not like, we pay them back.

Naturally we are incarnations of Lamas, so our characters vary. My mum says I must be the re-incarnation of a sex maniac, but we try to keep that to ourselves. No doubt our personalities are moulded, to a certain degree, by the people with whom we live, but the basics are predestined. My Lama must have been quite a character-someone special-but thank goodness he had a sense of humour.

And so began Fred’s life with Joan; a life that they shared for more than eighteen years.

Ch Tasam Nak Po - Fred

Into Bed Fred ISBN 0 7223 1819-7 was published by Arthur H Stockwell Ltd, Great Britain in 1984. The text consists of 80 pages of the delightful antics of Fred and an appendix outlining The Official Standard For Lhasa Apsos. It also has many black and white line drawings by Sydney artist Jan Taylor.

Jan Taylor’s original paintings and drawings have appeared on scarves, brooches and cards. She works from photos or composes original designs. She can be contacted at;

Jan Taylor
7 George Street
New South Wales
Australia 2779

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