Page 306 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 306

                DEBBIE MITCHELL
I am a graduate of the University of Georgia with a BS in Chemistry. I am a Registered Medical Technologist and a Certified Paralegal. I have been in American Eskimos for 31 years. I have been a UKC judge since 1997 and attained my AKC license in 2018. My husband and I are retired and live on ten acres in Krum, Texas with our dogs and cats.
I live in Krum, Texas on ten acres. I am a contract paralegal when needed, specializing in criminal, personal injury and medical malpractice.
Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfort- able with the placement? I am comfortable as I do not want the breed to become too popular. They are not for everyone. Do these numbers help or hurt the breed? They hurt the breed when trying to find majors and I have had people tell me they have had trouble locating a puppy when they have contacted me.
Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? Not always. Many stop and ask me if that is a Spitz. Of course it was once called that, but not since World War 1.
Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? Many think they are snippy. A well-bred American Eskimo is lov- ing and craves attention. They are very energetic and intelligent, but as the standard says, they are conservative. Also, the American Eskimo was not brought to this country to be a circus dog. They were brought to this country by German farmers to serve as multi- purpose working dogs of the farm.
What special challenges do breeders face in our current econom- ic and social climate? Many people want small lap dogs, so some- times, as I am a standard breeder, people think they are too big. They really are a medium-sized dog. However, the standard is not an apartment sized dog. Minis and toys work better in apartments.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I evaluate my pups at 12 weeks of age.
The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? The American Eskimo must have a Nordic type head with a wedge shaped face, small erect ears and broad muzzle and a well pronounced occiput with a well-defined stop, but not abrupt. They must be of medium bone. Length of neck is extremely impor- tant, with a correct return of upper arm. The standard states that the breed single tracks. A judge should pay close attention to move- ment when judging the breed.
The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? Participate in Meet The Breeds, take your dogs to public places. Show people how smart and agile the breed is and encourage them to join dog clubs so they can participate in conformation or perfor- mance with their whole family.
My ultimate goal is that judges and breeders alike will strive to award structurally sound dogs that are not trimmed, and that breeders will strive to produce single tracking, structurally sound, typey dogs.
My favorite dog show memory? In 1996, at Purina Farms, we held our National Specialty. My dog beat 21 Grand Champions to be awarded National Grand Champion and be awarded the breed. It is a day I will never forget.
I wish the judges would become more educated on a breed that is beautiful, intelligent, wants to please his owner and is the dog beau- tiful. I want our breed to be appreciated for those things. I want everyone to see that they are not only beautiful, but are incredibly smart and excel in not only conformation, but obedience, rally, agil- ity, barn hunt, scent work, dock diving, and yes, even herding trials.
I have been raising and showing miniature American Eskimo Dogs since 1996 under the Wintersun Eskies name, and am an AKC Breeder of Merit-Bronze. My first and foremost goal is to ensure the vitality and lon- gevity of the beloved American Eskimo Dog breed, which involves taking every action possible to not only ensure good physical and genetic health, but also
mental well-being in order to develop pleasant and confident tem- peraments. I also believe that focusing on structure, movement and gorgeous expression are essential to carrying on the essence of this breed. I am a member of my local all-breed AKC club, my national AKC breed club, and have participated in conformation, obedience and agility with my Eskies since 1991.
I live in Idaho. “Outside” of dogs, I’m a paralegal for a commer- cial finance company, I have my own business as a mobile notary loan signing agent, and I enjoy traveling with my husband as he performs and teaches flute across the Country.
Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfort- able with the placement? I’m comfortable with the American Eski- mo Dog’s popularity ranking at this time. It’s already difficult for the interested public to find well-bred, responsibly-raised puppies. A higher popularity ranking (i.e. higher demand) would make this more difficult and/or increase the number of breeders who are in it for reasons that don’t contribute positively to the breed. A gradual increase over time would be reasonable. Do these numbers help or hurt the breed? I don’t think these numbers help or hurt our breed at this time. I don’t believe lower popularity numbers sway the public or the judges one way or another; they either prefer or don’t appreciate our breed for their own personal reasons, which is not likely based on lower popularity. However, if American Eskimo Dogs were highly popular, I could see that being possibly detrimental as higher demand creates higher volume which is not necessarily better.
Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? About half the time. People still ask if he’s a “spitz” or a Pomeranian (even though my Eskies are around 15-18 lbs.).
Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? Yes, a couple of things. One, that they are stubborn or hard to train. They aren’t, they’re just really smart. Sometimes that means they can be manipulative or they can decide they have a better way of doing things than you expect. And two, that they are perfect for everyone. American Eskimo Dogs are highly intelligent and fast learners; whether they are taught something or not, they will learn. This means they require an owner who has good leadership skills and is dedicated to training their Eskie. Also, a lot of veterinar- ians comment about how “good-natured this one is, compared to others.” Responsible breeders have been focusing on good tem- peraments for multiple generations over 30-40 years now. The old, snappy, nervous “spitz” of the past are not the products of today’s responsible breeders.
What special challenges do breeders face in our current econom- ic and social climate? Even as highly responsible breeders, we are facing the risk of having our reputations and our beloved animals destroyed. This is partly due to the public’s misunderstanding of what constitutes responsible breeding, and how we contribute to a breed’s health, longevity, and our individual dog’s safety through- out its life. This is perpetuated by the animal rights activists’ con- stant social messages to “adopt not shop” and the overpopulation myth. Paired with the unchecked importation of dogs and pup- pies from other states and countries, bringing unusual diseases and

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