Page 302 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 302

                 AMERICAN ESKIMO Q&A
“Meet the Breed opportunities at shows is a very good way to introduce people evaluating breeds to add to their family and is a great way to attract newcomers.”
Grapeview, Washington. Our new home is in the planning stages and will be constructed on property we purchased a few years ago.
I have to admit we do not have much of a life outside of our dogs. Both of us are members of, and involved in, the American Eskimo Dog AKC and UKC national breed clubs as well as a local all-breed UKC club. Bob is an officer of the AKC breed club. I just became a member of the board of the local UKC club.
Now that Bob is retired, I’ve been retired for a number of years, we are traveling in our RV to dog shows around the country. We do try and take the road less traveled, as we phrase it, as time allows in our itinerary. For example, we spent last 4th of July at the Dev- ils Tower National Monument in Wyoming where Mother Nature competed with the local fireworks show. Mother Nature won. We’ve also started visiting local wineries and buying wine for our- selves as well as Bob’s dad. We plan to continue traveling and seeing more of the USA, and hopefully Canada as well, as our dog show schedule allows.
Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfort- able with the placement? I have mixed feelings about increasing our popularity. I know there is a corollary between an increase in popu- larity and an increase in puppy mill activity for a breed. However I admit our ranking still does not mean we do not have puppy mills breeding American Eskimos. A number of years ago a puppy mill was busted in eastern Washington state with several hundred Eskies needing to be rehomed. Bob and I fostered two of those dogs for almost a year before they could be placed.
On the other hand with our travel around the country I have met several people who are new to the breed and to showing or performance. I always enjoy meeting new folks, learning about how they chose their breeder and chose to start showing their dogs and give them pointers on showing and grooming. Meeting responsible people who are joining the breed and getting involved in activities and the national breed clubs is a plus. Here in Washington and Ore- gon many of the breeders that were active when I started showing 18 years ago have now cut back on their breeding and showing or have retired all together. We need to continue to encourage young, responsible people to become American Eskimo Dog owners and to participate in dog sports or just be good owners of their Eskies.
Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? It amazes us that in the Pacific Northwest about 50% of people on the street recognize our dogs as American Eskimo Dogs. The other 50% either have no idea or think our Eskies are miniature Samo- yeds. What is funny is that we found out a few years ago at a local show, from a bunch of Samoyed owners, that their dogs are fre- quently mistaken for giant Eskies! All of us had a good laugh over that piece of information.
Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? When I bought our first American Eskimo Dog, Langley in 2002, I was told there were several veterinarians in the Seattle area that would not accept Eskies as patients because of a reputation for hav- ing a nasty temperament. The breeders in the Pacific Northwest worked hard as a group to dispel this view of our breed. I have not heard of a veterinarian refusing to accept an Eskie as a patient for years.
Of course I always have to tell folks at Meet the Breed oppor- tunities or others who ask me at shows or on the streets if my dogs shed that they do shed. Not sure why the general public thinks a double-coated dog would not shed at times, but that does seem to be a misconception out there.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I have purchased dogs from three breeders. They evaluate their
litters from five to nine weeks of age depending on the breeder and evaluator. I’ve always been told the sweet spot for evaluation is eight weeks. That is the point where you get the best indicator of a pup- pies conformation at maturity. However, I have been present at a number of whelpings by my local breeder who bred four of my dogs past and present including our first Eskie. When the first litter sired by my original Eskie made its appearance, I knew from the first day that one of the males would be the pick male and an amazing show dog. That has proven to be the case. Sometimes you just have a feel- ing from the get go.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? There are two things I would like a new judge to keep in mind about the American Eskimo Dog, especially if their own breed is not one of the many Northern breeds.
1. As a rule, of course there are exceptions, Eskies are not happy, yappy, bouncy extroverts. A well trained Eskie will not shy away from the judge, but they are not going to have the outgoing person- ality of a Terrier. Eskies will be focused on their handlers as they strongly bond with those who own them and/or show them. I would say their ring demeanor will be happy and pleased to be in the ring, but more reserved in their manner.
2. The other thing I will mention is that American Eskimo Dogs are shown in their natural state. Except for trimming to neaten the feet, the Eskie is shown as is. Judges coming from a breed where trimming is allowed need to adjust their expectations of how the dogs presented to them in the ring will look. Of course they should be neat and clean, but do not expect trimming in other areas except the feet.
What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? Meet the Breed opportunities at shows is a very good way to introduce people evaluating breeds to add to their family and is a great way to attract newcomers. I also ensure that I take the time to answer questions about Eskies when I am stopped on the street or in the park with one of my dogs. Additionally having quality repre- sentatives of the breed in the show ring and performance events is a good way to get prospective owners and future participants to take notice and research our breed.
My ultimate goal for the American Eskimo Dog currently is to see a slow, but steady increase in new owners. This can lead to a new generation of participants in dog sports as well as families in love with their pet dogs and with this fantastic breed. Finally there needs to be a steady addition of new breeders to take the place of our long term breeders who are starting to cut back or retire from breeding. Again, we need younger people coming in who are in love with the American Eskimo Dog and want to breed them, show them and to join the ranks of the existing preservation breeders.
My favorite dog show memory? I had to think about this for a bit. But I realize I have two favorite memories that involve my now retired (at the age of 11), boy Zephyr who is now 12.
The first is from the AKC in 2012 while I was dealing with can- cer treatment, Zephyr earned his first Best of Breed over a large class of quality specials. It was a very proud moment for me. Of course shortly after we earned the Best of Breed ribbon, I took Zephyr outside to go potty and he peed on my shoe! That’s one way to bring the handler back down to earth.
The second is from the UKC in 2017, at the age of nine, Zephyr earned a Best of the Best award at a multi-day show over all of the other Best in Show winners from that weekend. What a thrill for my dog, who I showed in Brace, Veteran and Breed that weekend, to beat the other Best In Show winners.

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