Page 62 - ShowSight - August 2019
P. 62

                Breeder Interview
  Where did you grow up? Do you come from a doggy family? And if not, how did the interest in breeding and showing purebred dogs begin?
EV: I grew up in Philadelphia. My par- ents were working artists and taught me to view things critically and with a sharp eye. Their artistic sensibility was a strong influence on me.
As a child, my mother introduced me to the world of purebred dogs
through a well-worn copy of The New Book of the Dog (published 1908). Long before I could read, I spent hours admiring the many photos and paintings which illustrated the book, determined to have a houseful of purebred dogs of my own someday.
RV: I was born into the dog show world. Through the 1970s and ‘80s, Mom bred and showed Shetland Sheepdogs under the Wits’ End prefix. Even as a toddler, I gravitated toward the dogs. I remember “picking” my first litter as a four year old. (Incidentally, I picked right, though I strongly suspect Mom steered me in the right direction.) Growing up, my mom taught me the fundamentals of type, structure and movement. Watching the Shelties play in a field, my mom would candidly evaluate each dog for me. If two dogs were strong in a certain area, she showed me which was a tick better. She even evaluated our cats’ conformation. Even if I was too young to fully absorb the lessons when they began, they lasted through my growing up. I focused on campaigning show hunters through my childhood but came back to dogs in my last year of college.
Who were your mentors in the sport? Please elaborate on theirinfluence.
EV: As an introspective, self-critical yet independent person, I have learned by listening to successful breeders around the world while working quietly on my craft. We have gravitated toward artis- tic people who are also pragmatic and honest, people with an eye for art combined with high moral principles and a straightforward, outspoken style. Early on, I learned lessons from Tom Coen that I carry with me today. We have both benefited enormously from our association with Peter Green, Beth Sweigart, Ernesto Lara and Carlos De La Torre as well. Talented people who are willing to share their knowledge create an atmosphere in which we can all continue to grow and learn.
The Orchard Hill Cavaliers are widely known, highly successful and well respected. What breeding philosophies do you adhere to?
Thank you so much for such generous words.
RV: As a breeder, it is imperative to have a vision in your mind’s eye of the look you are trying to achieve. Without an artistic vision, you may lack direction in a breeding program. We are trying to produce a structurally sound dog of quintessential Cavalier type: melting expression, correct breed outline (slightly longer than tall, equal distance shoulder to elbow, elbow to ground), and affection- ate, sporting breed character.
Breeding with that vision always in mind, we often do type-to- type breedings. When planning every breeding, we assess the bitch against our vision of the ideal Cavalier and goals for our breeding program to achieve the vision. We first consider health and tem- perament, always. Then we critique our bitch carefully; she needs to be more than a good Cavalier; she needs to have something to contribute to the breeding program. We usually choose two things we want to improve in the bitch and two things we want to keep, knowing that we might not achieve all of those goals. Essentially, we identify one thing to improve and a “contingency plan” in case we miss the mark on our first goal. Thinking this way gives us a
  Left to Right:
Rachel Venier with Ch. Orchard Hill Gotta Adore Me, Award of Merit; Erica Venier with GCh. Orchard Hill Ephemeral, Best of Opposite Sex; Ch. Orchard Hill News To Me, Award of Merit (litter sibling to Gotta Adore Me; Robert Schroll has an amazing eye for type); Julia Johns with GCh. Orchard Hill Inclusive.
60 • ShowSight Magazine, auguSt 2019

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