Page 234 - ShowSight - November 2019
P. 234

                  AKC Breeder of the Year 2019 Q & A
and really soared. Ten years later—she’s a top assistant for a top handler and has a bright future in the sport.
The other thing I say is if you judge and you like kids—get involved and judge Jrs—they’re the key to the future of our sport!
Andy McIlwaine has been involved in the world of purebred dogs since the age of 12, when she and her mother purchased their first show dog, a Samo- yed. Andy participated in many venues with this dog, including Junior Showmanship and sled-dog racing and breeding under the Ijsbear prefix. They produced many cham-
pions including a top-10 Samoyed.
Andy met her husband, Jack, while in college. Together with
their son, Jason, and daughter, Jamie, they have devoted their lives to Otterhounds. Andy’s mother, Nancy Dorian, gave them their first Otterhound, Ch. Chaucer’s Sunflower in 1982. In 1985, the McIlwaines imported a dog from England, Ch. Boravin Quarry- man. These dogs were the foundation of Aberdeen Otterhounds. They have since produced over 75 champions, including several top-winning BIS and BISS winners.
In 2013, Jack and Andy successfully campaigned GCh. Aber- deen’s Under the Influence (DUI) to multiple Bests in Show and to Best of Breed at the Otterhound Club of America national specialty.
The McIlwaines have worked with many all-breed clubs and have been co-chairs for the Ravenna Kennel Club shows along with Max and Lee Riddle. They have also hosted three Otter- hound national specialties and will be hosting their fourth in October 2019.
Andy is president of the Otterhound Club of America, Inc., and has served on the club’s board of directors. She is an approved breed mentor who has presented to numerous judges’ education groups and published articles on judging the Otterhound.
In her “other” life, Andy is a Clinical Liaison for the Cleveland Clinic. Jack is the owner of the Beach City Market and BBQs in California and Caveman’s Kitchen, which specializes in gourmet catering at dog shows. Jason apprenticed for many top handlers and is now out on his own. He has campaigned the four BIS, BISS Otterhounds bred and owned by him and his parents.
How do we feel about the current quality of our breed and group? Given the number of Otterhounds receiving group place- ments, I would say that our breed is in much better shape than it was when we first became involved in 1980. We just returned from our National specialty. In years past, we were hard pressed to find many dogs in the classes that were, what we consider, worthy of a championship. This year was much different—there were some excellent hounds in the classes, and the specials were truly special.
As for the hound group—I do feel that it is extremely competi- tive and has the greatest depth of quality, especially in the midwest. Changes we’ve seen in our time involved with our breed? Most of the changes have been very positive—coats, which are so impor- tant in our breed, have improved greatly. It’s been years since we’ve seen a soft coat. Bites have also improved. Tail carriage is still a
problem, but, it too, has improved.
Many have expressed concern about the number of dogs in our gene pool-roughly 800 Otterhounds worldwide. WE ARE NOT ENDANGERED! This has not changed much since we first became involved. In the early 2000s we did see some issues with popular sires and repeat breedings, which further limited our gene pool, but more breeders have made a concerted effort to broaden our horizons. My greatest concern, though, is that we are going to lose breed type.
Any particular challenges we face in our current economic cli- mate? I think we all face great challenges. It is impossible for us to keep large numbers of hounds and find good homes. The current “Doodle craze” has significantly impacted our breed.
Do we use a handler or prefer to show ourselves? We’re so for- tunate to have a talented handler in the family. Jason shows all of our dogs.
How many dogs do we normally maintain? We have about eight Otterhounds living with us at any time—from young puppies to senior citizens.
When do we pick a show prospect and what’s the most impor- tant attribute in our choice? Selecting puppies starts early in the whelping box. We look for that one that always seems to stand out. Then, as they get up on their legs, we watch for that one that always moves freely and easily in the yard and shows great confidence. We generally make our final pick at seven to eight weeks. After that time, we find that they become too clumsy and awkward with quickly growing bones and body weight.
We’ve made several mistakes along the way—probably the hard- est part of breeding. People make promises that go unkept, and the ugly duckling sometimes turns into the beautiful swan. The most heartbreaking, is the phenomenal male, that ends up with only one testicle—this is an ongoing problem in our breed.
Do we have trouble placing pets and show prospects? We have plenty of good show homes waiting for puppies—I just wish that every puppy in a litter is what we consider to be a show prospect. We are extremely discriminating and want to make sure that serious show homes have serious show dogs.
Who was our most impactful Mentor? I’ve been so fortunate to have many mentors along the way. My first mentors were the late, great Max Riddle, Chuck Herendeen, and Capt John Bell-Irving. I’ve also learned so much from my great friends, Terry Miller and Bob Urban. There are so many others that have helped us along the way.
Best advice I’ve ever received was from Chuck Herendeen, “trust your eyes—if a dog is well-balanced, you’ll notice it right away.”
What advice would we give the newcomer? Read, Read, and reread the standard. Watch and listen. Realize that your dog is the best friend you may ever have, but, conformation-wise, there is no perfect dog.
Renee and Jim Pope have been members of the Standard Schnau- zer Club of America since 1971. They are AKC Breeders of Merit who together have bred 100 AKC champions bearing the Geistvoll kennel name. The Popes have also bred eight Canadian cham- pions, an English/ Irish champion, and a Finnish champion.
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