Page 202 - ShowSight - April 2020
P. 202

                One of the puppies became American, Puerto Rican, South Ameri- can, Champion of the Americas, International Champion Dinro McKenna’s Against All Odds, aka Brother. He was piloted to the Number One Great Dane spot in 1991 by our good friend and han- dler, the late Edward F. Lyons Jr.
More than a hobby or interest, it’s important to note that in the early ‘80s Louis and I adopted our son and daughter as infants. We enjoyed the ups and downs of parenthood like everyone else. Now we are known as Pop-Pop and Pa Pi by our two grandchildren. We enjoy their company when we are not working and/or traveling. I also enjoy cooking for large groups and listening to Gospel Music. In the mid-80s, Louis and I had a production company where we managed and worked with Gospel singers and actors. Under that umbrella, we also created the first Great Dane Top Dane Event in 1987, producing it for the first five years.
Outside of dogs, I’m half of the Louis and Bob team; still going strong after 50 years of being together. People still call him Bob and me Louis. Professionally, I’m an Assistant Dean for Outreach Pro- grams at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. I coor- dinate several initiatives for the medical and area college students and students in the Worcester Public Schools who are interested in careers in medicine and/or biomedical research.
CAU: Let me begin my saying that it has been many years since I was actively involved in breeding. When AJ asked me to take part in this exercise, I mentioned this to him and he posed a terrific ques- tion, “Well you haven’t forgotten everything you knew have you?”
I live in Connecticut. My first dogs were Alaskan Malamutes and we had a few of them for a while. I bought my first Great Dane from Marilyn and Merrill Lovett who lived in Rhode Island in 1971. Once a Dane lover, always a Dane lover. I actively bred and showed Great Danes for over 26 years.
I stepped away from dogs due to family obligations and a per- sonal health issue. While we were no longer breeding and showing, my family continued to have Great Danes and one of my daughters is currently campaigning a Dane, which brings me tremendous joy.
Outside of dogs, in addition to my family, I am very interest- ed in art in all of its forms (probably why I enjoyed breeding so much, since I consider that an art form), and currently am a docent at the oldest, continuously operated public art museum in the United States.
The current overall quality of the Working Group?
REL: From what I observe, the Working Group is a very strong competitive Group. Many of the breeds represent true breed-type and temperament with excellent movement.
CAU: I have seen some amazing dogs in the Working Group these past few years. Beautifully moving dogs with type and balance.
Any changes that we’ve witnessed during our tenure as guard- ians of these breeds?
REL: I don’t claim to be the guardian of any breeds, although we bred and owned over 50 champions. In addition to Great Danes, we also owned Dalmatians, Dobermans, Scottish Deerhounds and Petit Basset Griffon Vendéens that we finished. It doesn’t appear that new exhibitors are staying in the sport as the old-time breed- ers stayed in the fancy. It may have to do with the economy as we become a society of the haves verses the have nots, with a diminish- ing middle class.
CAU: I don’t consider myself a guardian of the breed having stepped away for so long. However, I feel that we are missing out on the expertise and willing advice of the old breeders who were willing to tell it like it is. I also feel that the numbers have dropped significantly in the show ring. In years gone by in Great Danes, for instance, the Open Fawn Class would have enough dogs to make a major today. I know this isn’t true for all breeds, but certainly for quite a few.
What are the biggest challenges facing today’s exhibitors of Working Dogs?
REL: Finding an affordable, quality puppy and a breeder willing to work with and explain to a new owner all the basic components of the dog show business. Because it is a business in every sense of the word.
CAU: Number one, I think that the Working Group is so very competitive. I also feel the economy is a real issue. Not everyone can afford a puppy, let alone afford showing. I also feel that insurance has become a problem. When talking to some “mature” breeders (better than saying older), I am hearing insurance as a huge con- cern. We live in a libelous society and owners of Working Dogs are paying the price for that.
Any particular challenges facing Working Dog breeders in our current economic/social climate?
REL: Yes, the cost of everything has tremendously increased and continues to skyrocket when compared to the expenses of what it cost to exhibit a dog in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. The average fam- ily can no longer enjoy the sport as a weekend outing to show the new puppy.
CAU: As I said above, certainly costs. All breeders have expenses and, after all, this is a costly sport. However, a breeder of smaller dogs can travel with more dogs, house more dogs, feed more dogs than a breeder of larger dogs. It also seems that at the current moment, society appears to be interested in and attracted to smaller dogs.
Any specific challenges facing up-and-coming judges?
REL: I don’t see any specific challenges for up and coming judg- es. New judges must be very knowledgeable about the breed and keep up with the new categories that must be recognized in the ring. I have been judging since 1994, and I have been fortunate to have served on both Great Dane Club of America’s Standard Commit- tees that wrote the descriptions for the Mantle—and, more recently, the Merle—to be exhibited. It’s all about the breed and providing breeders and exhibitors the opportunity to see the entire gene pool available when considering a bloodline for breeding.
CAU: I don’t see any specific challenges for new and/or provi- sional judges. However, I think it is important to understand each breed’s type. Of course, movement is paramount. All dogs should move properly, but we have all seen a mixed breed dog that can move. We must not lose type in our breeds. I am not suggesting movement be overlooked or sacrificed, but a new judge must rec- ognize type and to do that he/she must understand it as it relates to each breed that he/she judges.
What are the qualities that make our breed suitable as household companions?
REL: It’s all about the temperament, personality and loyalty. When we were actively breeding, Carol’s grandmother lived in their home and later, in a nursing care facility. The adult dogs and puppies were taken weekly to the nursing home to visit Carol’s grandmother and the other residents. It socialized the puppies and gave the residents something to look forward to each week. All of our dogs were visitation dogs before it was popular to have visitation dogs.
CAU: In my humble opinion, Danes are the best dogs in the world. They are people dogs. They want to sit on your lap and snuggle. They are easy to have in the house. They are sweet and dependable and are loyal to their people. Danes do have a need for a lot of socializing as puppies. All our dogs lived in the house with my family. We spent many an evening walking them up and down the streets of the small downtown area where we lived. As puppies, we took them everywhere with us. We took them to nursing homes and hospitals. Socializing a puppy is not a step that should be skipped with Danes. A beautiful Dane brings beauty into your life. A beau- tiful Dane is breathtaking and magnificent—an art form—a feast for the eyes each day.
What do we think causes shifts in breed popularity?
REL: The shift in breed popularity has a lot to do with the economy and where people can afford to live. The days of the large

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