Page 68 - ShowSight - August 2019
P. 68

                Breeder Interview: Erica & Rachel Venier
  USA/AKC Ch. Orchard Hill Easier Said “Elise” Best of Breed ACKCSC National Specialty 2008 Breeder- Judge Annette Jones, Timsar, UK
but there are more and more dogs with good breed type.
The sport has changed greatly since you first began participating. What are your thoughts on the state of the fancy and the declining number of breeders? How do we encourage newcomers to join us and remain in the sport?
EV: None of us individually can have much effect on the cultural and social changes of our times, but within our com- munity we can be kind. We can be willing to listen. We can be willing to help. And we can be open minded toward change.
RV: This is a big topic, but in a few words, the sport needs to be inclusive. The world is full of dog lovers. We need to wel- come them. My mom and I take the time to mentor. We share good dogs judiciously. We try to support talented juniors and young handlers. All of us—judges, breeders, exhibitors—need to support young enthu- siasts if we want them to stay in the sport.
Where do you see your breeding program in the next decade or two?
EV: My hope is to continue to produce dogs which are a credit to the breed.
RV: Every dog we show traces back to one bitch. We can’t tell you how hard it is to keep a bitch line going while maintaining quality. Everything has to come together for a dog to stay in the breeding program: health, type, structure, temperament. Then the dog has to be able to reproduce its quali- ties. You need to be steady and secure in your vision but have the agility to pivot when things don’t work out. I don’t think it gets easier over time. Our goal is to keep producing a family of healthy, happy dogs that compete at the sport’s highest levels.
Finally, tell us a little about Erica and Rachel outside of dogs... your professions, your hobbies.
EV: I have always been interested in art and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as well as earning a degree in Elementary Education from Alvernia Uni- versity. I consider our dogs to be an expres- sion of those interests.
RV: Professionally, I work as an employ- ment lawyer in Washington, D.C., primari- ly in discrimination and retaliation law. My legal background informs how I study breed standards and how I organize my thoughts.
Nurturing and working with animals has been a lifelong passion. Growing up with herding dogs and show hunters gave me a foundation for studying structure and function. I learn something from every animal I work with. Sometimes I think I learn more and know less every year! That’s the reality of spending a lifetime with animals.
 Left to Right: breeder-judge Wendy L'Hote (France), Erica Venier and daughter, Rachel Venier.
Who were/are some of your most signifi- cant Cavaliers, both in the whelping box and in the show ring?
RV: Producing a dog that is recognized by our peers either in the breed ring or as a producer is the soul of the sport. It is deeply gratifying to realize that our 2019 National Specialty winner, GCh. Orchard Hill Inclusive, comes down directly on his dam’s side six generations from our foundation bitch. Our foundation bitch, Ch. Bramble Royal Heritage of Orchard Hill, ROM, LOM produced three daugh- ters who are behind everything we have today. Her daughters, litter sisters CKC- SCUSA/AKC Ch. Orchard Hill Party Shoes, ROM, LOM; CKCSCUSA/AKC Ch. Orchard Hill Where’s The Party?; and Ch. Orchard Hill Surprise Party, ROM, LOM are behind a string of specialty and all-breed winners including three National Specialty Best of Breed winners and all- breed Best in Show winners. Linebreed- ing on the “Party Girls” is the basis of our breeding program.
Please comment positively on your breed’s present condition and what trends might bear watching.
EV: In some ways Cavaliers have improved greatly over the last 25 years.
Breeders with an eye on the Toy Group and beyond have been making a concert- ed effort to select for structure as well as head qualities.
A concern for breeders to bear in mind is temperament. Occasionally a timid or aggressive animal finds his way into the ring. The hallmark of a Cavalier is his joy- ful temperament. His ears are up, his tail is in motion when on the move, and his body language “smiles.” Breeders and judges do the breed a disservice when we reward poor temperament. But as long as breeders are honest with themselves and eliminate sharp or shy temperaments from their breeding programs, this potential problem can be kept in check.
RV: Breed type has improved in the United States. Our breed was essentially recreated in the early 20th century from King Charles Spaniels (known as English Toy Spaniels in the USA) resembling those in old paintings such as Edwin Landseer’s “The Cavalier’s Pets.” We are therefore a relatively young breed tracing back to dogs with a wide divergence in type, shape and structure. It is a tremendous challenge to set type in our breed. You may still see different “looks” in your typical US Cavalier entry,
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