Page 232 - ShowSight - November 2019
P. 232

                AKC Breeder of the Year 2019 Q & A
Best of Breed winners at the prestigious Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac show.
In the 1990s, Beth Sweigart and the “Green Team” guided Baloo’s show career. “Baloo adored Beth and she him,” Weiss recalls. “They had many wonderful wins and we had lots of fun. Beverly Shavlik and Sally Sasser co-owned Baloo with Emily Biegel and me for a while and traveling to the shows was always an adventure.”
Lobuff Labs have won countless specialty JAMS, WD, WB, and Best Puppy and Best Veteran honors as well as many Best in Sweep- stakes and more than 35 specialty Bests of Breed. A Baloo son, Ch. Aquarius Centercourt Delight, holds the Best in Show record for Labrador Retrievers.
I think the quality of my breed is very strong at specialties. At our Potomac Specialty in April (the largest single breed show in the world) the quality is very deep. The quality at your average all breed show for the most part is unremarkable , often dogs are lacking in type. Lab breeders prefer to show under breeder judges—most all round judges don’t draw majors or entries where you’re going to see a lot of quality—there’s always the exception of course. There are several sporting judges who do draw and do a great job with the breed, mostly successful breeders of their own breeds who have taken the time to learn the essence of Labradors. I’d love to name them but they know who they are.
I think the sporting group is very competitive right now. I’d like to see more typy Labs place in the group. So often when Labs have a breeder judge at an all breed show they’re one of—if not the largest entry. That breeder sends a really good one to the group only to have it be overlooked completely.
Changes I’ve seen in my time involved with my breed? I’ve seen the overall quality (and again I’m speaking of specialties) improve greatly. If you’re judging at a specialty with a nice entry you some- times wish you had eight or ten ribbons to give out instead of four, especially when you’re doing a class of 30 open black bitches or the Bred By class.
Any particular challenges I face in the current economic climate? Well we don’t have those big breeders with big kennels housing 40 or more dogs, sending 12 or so off with their handlers anymore. I think that’s the case in most breeds and the sport in general. I have a friend who jokes that she’s always robbing Peter to pay Paul to do all the shows she wants to do.
Do I use a handler or prefer to show myself? I have used handlers from time to time but not in recent years. In the 90s we had a dog called Ch. Lobuff’s Bare Necessities CD JH, Co-owned by Emily Biegel. He won Westminster twice and was the #1 Lab in the coun- try ’94 and ’95—he was shown by the very talented Beth Sweigart. I bred Labs and Goldens for Guide Dogs for the Blind for over 20 years—“Baloo” as he was known was actually bred in the Guide dog program and was the sire of more than 50 working Guide Dogs. I showed most of my own dogs in the 70’s and 80’s but was a bit busy having children in the late 80s early 90s (3).
Labradors are a very owner oriented breed and most of the com- petitors are owners or “breeder/owner handlers”. Today I co-own dogs with and work closely with Kaki and Bobby Fisher of Frakari Labs. They’re always at the top of their game! Both have incredible hands on a dog. They have some exciting youngsters coming up of their own and are able to give their clients their all.
How many dogs do I normally maintain? Usually about eight, never more than 12. Labs need a lot of exercise and attention—they want to be with you doing a job and that takes time—now that my kids are grown I have a bit more time. I also have two other co-owners Julie Quigley Smith of Hollyridge (we’ve been partners for over 20 years now and have had many specialty winners) and Juan Carbonell from Mexico of Loretta Labs. We own several dogs together and he’s a dog show maniac! Never gets tired of the travel does an amazing amount of it as he primarily shows in the U.S.
When do I pick a show prospect and what is most important? The most important thing to me is the total package! Balanced from head to toe—not extreme in any characteristic. I watch the puppies from day one: pay close attention to them as they develop, make a cut so to speak at seven or eight weeks of I can let the pets go to their new homes and then run on two or three that I like. I’ll do some DNA testing and that may weed some out. I usu- ally decide who I like the best by about six months but sometimes keep more than one until they’re about a year and I can do some preliminary x-rays on them. I’ve been breeding for over 50 years and I think anyone who breeds enough has guessed wrong at one time or another and let a good one slip through their fingers.
Do I have trouble placing pets or show prospects? I don’t have any trouble placing pets—I usually have a waiting list of people—I don’t breed that much anymore and I breed for myself first so I don’t have many to sell. I get inquiries through my website. There are always new breeders looking for show prospects.
Who was my most impactful Mentor? Mrs. Curtis (Joan) Read, Chidley Labradors—was my most influential mentor. I knew her as a youngster when I was riding ponies, she was involved with dogs and Pony Club. I had my first Labs from a good friend of hers— Anne Carpenter—also a breeder and a judge. Joan took me under her wing and taught me the ropes. Her philosophy was not to go for the biggest or smallest but that middle of the road puppy , if it was balanced and had adequate bone, coat and substance with a pleas- ing head and expression. She always said “those come on”.
Of course I couldn’t have gotten to a single show without my parents! My dad (Col. Jerry Weiss) drove me up and down the east- ern seaboard until I was old enough to drive myself. Despite all the travel our first dog never won a single point but we stuck with it—bought a good bitch bred her right and continued on. My dad became a judge in ’75 and I in ’92—we’ve been lucky to have shared this hobby for more than 50 years.
My mom (Lee) also played a huge part in the success of Lobuff Labs—she was there to whelp our first litter and still enjoys that part of it. She babysat dogs and puppies that stayed home while Dad and I traveled—later she babysat my two legged babies so that I could continue to show and judge. It was teamwork!
What advice would I give the newcomer? To find a mentor!! Maybe it’s the person you get your first dog from or maybe it’s an old timer that you befriend. A good mentor is worth their weight in GOLD. Don’t dive in head first and start collecting dogs! You need to get a good bitch and have your mentor help you find the right stud dog for that bitch. Have your mentor and fellow breeders help you grade your litters. It takes a village! Do that and you’ll be off to a good start.
In time, become a mentor—it’s good to give back to the sport.
The funniest thing that ever happened to me wasn’t funny at the time—I was about 20 and had a beautiful black and white Springer I was showing and doing well with. I had him snowy white on a rainy day at Trenton Kennel Club which used to be a big show. I was carrying him and on my way up to the ring I slipped and fell in the mud—I was covered in mud and so was he. Billy Gilbert the photographer was standing there and took our picture—it’s always been one of my favorites.
I think that being kind to newcomers and fellow competitors is really important. I also think that encouraging the next generation of enthusiasts is vital to the sport. If you get a chance to take a kid under your wing or give them a leg up—do it! I met a young girl a few years back and she wanted to get started in the sport—her parents had no experience what so ever in the dog world—they had gotten her a dog but he wasn’t competitive in the breed ring and he didn’t have the attitude to be a juniors dog. I lent her a champion bitch for Jrs and to fool around with before I bred her. She had fun—made it to the Garden—did some winning in the breed ring
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