Page 180 - ShowSight - April 2020
P. 180

1. Where do you live? How many years in dogs? What do you do “outside” of dogs? Any other hobbies or interests?
2. Current overall quality of the Working Group?
3. Any changes that you’ve witnessed during your tenure as guardians of these breeds?
4. What are the biggest challenges facing today’s exhibitors of Working Dogs?
5. Any particular challenges facing Working Dog breeders in our current economic/social climate?
6. Any specific challenges facing up-and-coming judges?
7. What are the qualities that make your breed suitable as house- hold companions - despite its size and original purpose?
8. What do you think causes shifts in breed popularity?
9. What are the trends that you’d like to see continue? Any you’d like to see stopped?
10. Any health concerns in your breed?
11. To whom do you owe the most? In other words, which mentor helped you the most as you learned the ropes?
12. And for a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing experience you’ve ever had at a dog show?
We live in Silverado, California, and started exhibiting purebred dogs around 1973. Outside of dogs, my husband and I are attor- neys. We love vacationing with our extended family. I enjoy hiking and cooking.
The current overall quality of the Working Group? While I don’t consider myself qualified to comment on every breed, as a Working Dog breeder/exhibitor it appears that soundness and temperament have improved across the board in the Working Group.
Any changes that I’ve witnessed during my tenure? The Work- ing Group is adding many new breeds at a record pace. While this is wonderful, it also makes exhibiting at the Group level cumbersome at times. Dog show rings are often not large enough (either at the Breed or the Group level) to allow these large and giant breeds to be moved and shown properly.
What are the biggest challenges facing today’s exhibitors of Working Dogs? Locating and networking with a solid and helpful community within your breed. This is particularly true for exhibi- tors seeking majors.
Any particular challenges facing Working Dog breeders in our current economic/social climate? Decreasing registration, aging of breeders and suburbanization (a population shift from rural areas into urban centers) have all been a challenge for our big dogs in the Working Group.
Any specific challenges facing up-and-coming judges? Up- and-coming judges should remember that the Working Group is comprised of breeds with a myriad of different functions. In other Groups, the breeds have the same or similar functions (e.g. Terri- ers for vermin control, Hounds and Sporting for hunting, Herding for keeping flocks intact). By contrast, there is a huge variety of jobs performed in the Working Group, including, but not limited to, working as Sled Dogs, Livestock Guards, Draft/Droving, Police Work, Military Work, Water Rescue, and Snow Rescue. These jobs not only influence the structure and breed type, but temperament as well. Many breeds in the Working Group are simply not wired to be push button show dogs and this should not only be respected, but rewarded when consistent with the breed standard.
What are the qualities that make my breed suitable as household companions? Although the Kuvasz was originally a flock guard, his- tory has imposed a variety of hardship and changes on our breed. Historically, they went from being on the plains to becoming the armed guards of Hungarian Nobles and living in palaces. The breed was almost obliterated during WWII not only by the Nazis, but by the Hungarians themselves who knew their loyal and barking Kuvasz would likely draw dangerous attention from occupying forces. The breed is far more versatile than imagined. Some cur- rently work as therapy dogs and most are household pets. Despite their size they are gentle and not big eaters. Kuvasz raised with chil- dren will sacrifice their life willingly to protect them. It is one of the few breed standards to actually contain the word “children”. Spe- cifically, it states: “Extremely strong instinct to protect children”.
What do I think causes shifts in breed popularity? Differ- ent events contribute to the popularity of a breed and this is not something unique to the Working Group. Typically it starts with a movie, or news items. A recent example was the surge of popularity and interest in the Belgian Malinois after military hero “Conan” served an integral role in the special forces track leading to the death of terrorist Al-Baghdadi. While we should all try to promote our breeds in light of decreasing registrations, this type of publicity can be harmful too as people may be an attracted to a breed which is not a proper fit for their lifestyle.
What are the trends that I’d like to see continue or stopped? I like the trend of more AKC dog shows being televised. I find that every time a dog show airs we get a lot a more interest from the general public. It is also a great opportunity for public education.
Any health concerns in my breed? The Kuvasz breed is in fairly good shape in my opinion. Hip Dysplasia was a common problem when I started in the 1980s, but our breeders have done a great job and HD is now infrequent. Unfortunately, we see it more with for- eign imports. PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) started to appear, but with genetic testing the problem seems under control. We have higher incidences of cancer in older dogs which is idiopathic at this point.
I started in a rare breed and before the age of the Internet, so there was no single mentor upon whom I could rely. That’s not to say that I didn’t have advice and mentorship, but it was from a variety of old-time breeders. I think that worked well for me. Having a single mentor would have been great, but I was forced to accept advice from many people which was often wildly different and inconsis- tent. This allowed me to figure for myself what worked and what did not.
The most amusing experience I’ve ever had at a dog show? My friends still tease me about when I was showing a Kuvasz in Best in Show. I lost a shoe on the down and back and bent over to slip it on when my dog decided it was a good time to hump me. Needless to say we didn’t win.
My husband and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area in Califor- nia. We have owned Siberian Huskies for 45 years. We are retired now, but I was in Software development and my husband was in Marketing. Dogs have always been my hobby, and my husband is a yacht racer.
The current overall quality of the Working Group? I think that the quality of the Working Group is very good. I know that when judging the Group, I always have more favorites than ribbons.
Any changes that I’ve witnessed during my tenure? I think tem- peraments have improved, which is great. But I also think that in

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