Page 201 - ShowSight - April 2020
P. 201

                join the development of their foundation dogs contributing to their gene pool.
What are the biggest challenges facing today’s exhibitors of Working Dogs? I think it is the same challenge facing all pure- bred dog breeders; finding quality homes that will help us with our breeding programs and join the sport to help grow it. We are battling designer dog popularity and ‘adopt don’t shop’ marketing where purebred dog ownership marketing has fallen behind.
Any particular challenges facing Working Dog breeders in our current economic/social climate? Currently, I have heard many breeders hesitate to breed this year with the pandemic limiting vet- erinary medical supplies. This directly affects elective animal sur- geries so that the supplies that do exist can cover emergency surger- ies. Also, the concern is if new homes contract the virus what would happen to the puppy when a family has to focus on the health of loved ones?
Any specific challenges facing up-and-coming judges? I think we are starting to lose the great mentors who built the foundations of breeds and who have vast knowledge of the building blocks of our breeds. This directly affects new judges not getting the quality of mentors in days past who could describe how type, form and func- tion all work together to make a beautiful representative of a breed.
What are the qualities that make my breed suitable as household companions? The wonderful temperament of the Bernese Moun- tain Dog allows them to be fantastic family dogs. They love their humans and with proper socialization and training are amazing companions for most all families.
What do I think causes shifts in breed popularity? The more the breed is used in entertainment, advertising and seen publicly the more it becomes popular.
What are the trends that I’d like to see continue or stopped? I think the trends for breeding “bigger is better” and more for extreme looks needs to lessen. Breeders end up with dogs who can’t do their original function, that move like Sporting Dogs or can’t move at all. It doesn’t do any good for the breed and new people in the breed get enamored by the extreme look and perpetuate it. I would like to see people look back at the original dogs of the breed and not try to change breeds for the extreme looks that aren’t correct.
Any health concerns in my breed? We continue to work to breed better immune systems in Bernese Mountain Dogs to increase longevity and build strength against cancer, immune diseases, allergies, IBD, etc. Our breed health database continues to be a robust, best in class example of how breeders and owners can come together to collect massive amounts of data on health clearances, ages and causes of deaths, diseases and pedigrees that help research- ers and breeders make educated decisions and support relevant research studies.
Throughout the years, I have had a few amazing mentors and friends who have guided me to learn the lessons I needed at that point in time, whether it be for breeding, grooming or showing Bernese Mountain Dogs. I started this journey with Bobbi Kinley- Blewett who still continues to have some of the top dogs in our breed year after year with a breeding program built on sound struc- ture and movement. JoAnna Matthisen helped me learn so much about grooming, handling and sportsmanship in the dog show ring. She also helped me start my breeding program foundation, of which I am now on the fourth generation and have bred multiple Group placers, many champions, grand champions and versatility dogs! And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my friend, Kim Groves-Mclaughlin, who helped guide me through the journey to owner-handle my own special (who was out of her stud dog) to a Group placement at Westminster, a National Specialty win and an all-breed Best in Show win. She helped keep me sane and moving forward as the stress of campaigning a dog on your own is very challenging! I appreciate all the help and guidance I have received over the years and hope to repay the support given to me by paying it forward to others!
The most fun I have had at a dog show is watching an owner- handler or breeder/owner-handler win the Breed from the classes and then continue on to win their respective Group! I have seen it happen twice, one was a Sheltie and one was an Akita. Both were puppies and excellent representatives of their breed. The pure joy, excitement and disbelief in their owners’ faces was inspiring and motivating. Definitely very fun to watch as a breeder/owner-handler.
I live in Ventura, Cali- fornia, and I have 30 years in dogs. Outside of dogs, I am a nurse and I enjoy riding my Harley Davidson.
The current overall quality of the Working Group? Very high quality.
Any changes that I’ve wit- nessed during my tenure? The breeds have become more flashy for the judges and less often judged on the job that they were bred for.
What are the biggest chal- lenges facing today’s exhibitors of Working Dogs? Having such a large Group makes the competi-
tion extremely challenging.
Any particular challenges facing Working Dog breeders in our
current economic/social climate? The size of our breeds makes it difficult to have very many dogs/puppies due to the current laws that restrict breeding.
Any specific challenges facing up-and-coming judges? Difficulty finding larger entries to watch and train with.
What are the qualities that make my breed suitable as house- hold companions? They’re very loyal and gentle, a wonderful family member and companion.
What do I think causes shifts in breed popularity? When people see a breed in a movie or TV show, they want the breed without doing the research.
What are the trends that I’d like to see continue? Breeders edu- cating the public.
Any I’d like to see stopped? Breeders that do not educate the public and breed just for the income.
Any health concerns in my breed? Osteosarcoma or heart disease.
To whom do I owe the most? I have learned so much from several breeders.
The most amusing experience I’ve ever had at a dog show? When I tripped in a gopher hole and continued to show my dog with an ankle injury. My friends assisted me in the ring, but did not replace me.
I live in South Grafton, Massachusetts. Previously in Mill- bury, Massachusetts, for 35 years where Louis and I had a large breeding kennel.
REL: We started in Dogs in 1970 when we purchased our first Great Dane puppy from Murlo Kennels in Westport, Massachu- setts, and our second and subsequent puppies from the late Rose- marie Robert of Dinro Kennel fame in Carmel, New York. We bred under the kennel names of Dinro/Sounda.
Carol is a close friend who later worked with us as our busi- ness ventures grew. Carol and I also co-owned and co-bred several bitches that produced outstanding litters and many champions.

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