Page 286 - ShowSight - August 2019
P. 286

                 Cocker Spaniel Q & A
 “Find yourself a great mentor, you will not
have success or longevity without one.
BUT ALWAYS BE OPEN TO LEARNING FROM OTHERS.”
With retirement I finally have the opportunity to do my dogs full time as well as handle for select clients. In my time outside the ken- nel I enjoy gardening, especially working with day lilies.
My opinion of the current quality of purebred dogs? I think in some ways we as breeders of purebred dogs have made some improvements, but we have also made mistakes. The truly dedi- cated breeders are staying with correct type and following function in their breeds. Unfortunately, those dedicated breeders are becom- ing extinct. The world today lends itself to immediate gratification more than thinking years down the road. I think this is probably the biggest contributor to the decline in dedicated breeders. There are so few people coming into the sport, the expense of the sport, the constant battle with AR fanatics and ultimately the time it takes if you are going to do it right are major factors in the decline of our sport. In Cockers the decline in folks joining as breeders has one in my opinion huge issue. It’s a breed that takes a lot of time due to all the coat we have bred on them. Learning to properly groom that coat takes years and that kind of time doesn’t exist in most people’s world anymore. Also, our breed has for many years been a “handler” breed. Unfortunately, that can lead to what I call “cheap champions”. There are a lot of dogs gaining their championship that in reality shouldn’t because of who’s on the end of their lead and their ability to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. Then those proud owners many of whom don’t have a clue set out to breed their new unworthy champion.
The biggest concern I have about my breed? While I think it’s an issue across the board in Cockers breeding to the “dog of the day” has been a real issue that has led the breed down a road to lack of correct front assembly and bone. People seem to forget that while they may not do it often anymore the Cocker is a Sporting dog and should be bred with the conformation to back that up. One of the greatest attributes on the Cocker is its beautiful head built for carry- ing birds. The muzzles are far too short in many cases and the head overall too small. Many would struggle to carry a parakeet much less a woodcock or pheasant. Going back to correct front assem- bly, rarely do you find a dog that has proper reach. Steep shoulders plague the breed in an attempt to get that sloping topline. Also, it seems to be that a Cocker needs to fly around the ring with flash and pizzazz when nothing could be further from the truth. I would like to see that flashy dog in the field working all day as it was bred to do, it wouldn’t last an hour.
The biggest problem facing me as a breeder? I love showing my dogs as well as those of others. Like everything there are ups and downs. I have always prided myself on not being kennel blind and I think that has served me well. No one is more critical of my dogs than I am. It’s too expensive to be blind and end up with that expen- sive pet on someone else’s couch. I am the last person you want to come to if you don’t want to hear my real opinion about your dog or mine for that matter. My biggest problem honestly is finding some- thing else that I want to breed to and bring into my line.
The best advice I can give to a new breeder is the three L’s. Look, Listen and Learn. If you do nothing else soak up as much knowl- edge as you can before you go toward a whelping box or for that
matter buy your first dog. Find yourself a great mentor, you will not have success or longevity without one. But always be open to learn- ing from others. Ask questions of everyone. READ your breeds standard and if there’s something you don’t understand or can’t visualize ask. Something was said to me many years ago about a dog I bred and was showing by someone who’s opinion I truly valued. “This dog should probably never be beaten BUT he will be, and it will probably be by the worst thing in the ring. If you can’t take the heat don’t go in the kitchen.” Those are words to live by in the show world. Lastly, know that this world of showing and breeding is not for the faint of heart.
As for new judges PLEASE insure you know the standard before you hand out the first ribbon. DON’T be afraid to withhold a ribbon if you deem it necessary. Most importantly always make sure you are looking at the CORRECT end of the lead when mak- ing your decisions. You are judging breeding stock with four legs not two.
I think the most common fault I see in my personal breeds are lack of correct type. Many of the dog’s lack correct angles along with a lack of bone and substance.
I love breeding and exhibiting my dogs. I am very passionate about them and the sport of showing. It really bothers me that more people don’t experience the thrill of reading pedigrees, planning a breeding and hopefully seeing that dream come to fruition in that special puppy. I haven’t done a lot of breeding over the years as the job that paid the mortgage didn’t lend itself to that. But I have been very blessed when I did venture to the whelping box. I’ve never had huge winning dogs that ranked highly or broke records. That isn’t why I do this. My greatest joy has always been seeing that promising puppy become all it could be.
Do I have a favored color? First and foremost I like a good Cock- er regardless of color. But like all I do have my favorites. A true Silver Buff will always have my heart as that was the color of my first Cocker and foundation for Loch Lomond. Silver is followed closely by Black and Tan.
Is the breed’s popularity good or bad for breeders, and for the breed? A breed being popular with the public has its pros and cons. The pros of course are it’s easier to find homes for those in the litter that don’t make the cut for the show ring. The biggest con is that when a breed becomes popular all types of people tend to jump on the wagon and start breeding them. Many do so without doing the proper health testing or giving any care to socialization. This occurred with the Cocker several decades ago when it was at its height in popularity and bad temperament became a huge issue in a breed that should be known for its wonderful temperament.
NANCY FOLEY
I live in Noblesville, Indiana with my husband David.
Outside of dogs, I spend time with my husband and my two grown children. Most of my time outside of dogs is spent working as a Consultant in the Life Sciences/Pharmaceutical Industry.
My opinion of the current quality of purebred dogs? Obviously I’m concerned about the overall drop in participation in our sport,
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