Page 210 - ShowSight - April 2020
P. 210

                included recruiting experienced breeders, importing complemen- tary breeding stock, educating the public, and creating digital pres- ences with I’m happy to report that though we still have a long way to go, we have turned off the road to extinction.
My favorite memory was the honor of my first Group place- ment, awarded by Jimmy Moses. I was on cloud nine! I didn’t think an owner-handler with a rare breed stood a chance in competi- tive Groups. I am forever grateful that judges are recognizing this fabulous breed.
The breed is extremely robust and healthy even though they have a small gene pool. They are also extremely smart little problem solvers. I’m certain that my first Löwchen came out of the womb doing Utility exercises.
I belong to the Genesee Valley Kennel Club and am their current AKC delegate. I am honored the club members trust me with this position.
I have Ashford Kennel. I have breed and co-bred over 100 Löwchen champions. I have owned, bred and imported many top-winning dogs and my kennel through the years has con- sistently been in the Top-Ten of breed rankings, even when not as active in the breed as other times. I am proud
that my dogs can be found in pedigrees the world over. I have writ- ten a book on the breed and many articles, and am building a web- site featuring all the historical documents I have been collecting in the almost 40 years in the breed, which are in the process of being donated to the AKC library. My goal is to preserve them and have everything safe at the AKC archives and on, available to anyone who wants to look and/or learn. I love to teach people about the breed and hope what I have learned will be able to be passed on before I leave this place! And I love Afghan Hounds, Pekingese, and Saddle-bred Horses too! I live in Rochester, New York. I am a crazy animal lover and am known to feed wild cats and birds daily. I am politically active and currently am the president of the Maplewood Neighborhood Association. I am a Realtor and also own income properties. I love to travel and have found my special place in the world on a beach in Costa Rica. I do couture sewing for a hobby because I love color and can design my own outfits.
Being in the breed since 1981, I am used to the breed not hav- ing the recognition it deserves. This does not bother me as much as it used to, since I find with the advent of AKC Marketplace, it has become easier to place puppies. I don’t think low numbers hurt the breed necessarily. Many would say the lack of genetic diversity is harming it, but I think with the ability to work with overseas breeders, which many do in this breed, we have a super amount of diversity. I’d rather this than have an over-population of them and careless breeding being done, just to produce puppies.
Since I have been in this city for most of my time in the breed, there are many examples of Löwchen out there. Yet despite this, I am often startled when someone recognizes my Löwchen for what they are. I usually laugh and shake off my surprise. They generally know someone that has one or had one. They all have had positive things to say about the breed, leading me to tell them, “You need one too!” That only works sometimes.
The only misconception I have heard lately is that it is a “Head Breed”. This is not so. This breed was never intended to be a “Head Breed”. If this were to become the case, I think the wonderful con- formation we are now seeing in the breed could disintegrate. While the head does have many of the hallmark traits that identify it as
a breed, there is more to the dog than the head. One of its charms is that is comes in a small, compact body that can do pretty much anything a big dog does—and believe me they do!
Breeders face an amazing number of challenges in dogs today. One of the most important is the lack of recognition that people have regarding the value of a well-bred purebred, or a dog “bred with purpose”, especially among young people. When I was in my teens, I could not wait to become a breeder! I don’t hear that so much anymore.
Another is that veterinary costs are astronomical! It’s hard to be a breeder when a vet visit could cost $250+ each visit. Do enough of those visits and who can afford to be a breeder?
One of the biggest issues is the Animal Rights threats we face. I do not think enough breed fanciers and breeders recognize the threat as something they must be involved in, and not leave it to the next person. Without everyone in the fight, it could be we will lose. We are the David versus Goliath (animal rights)—We must reframe the conversation!
I look at my puppies at eight weeks and make my first pick. I then refuse to judge them again until they are six months old, unless something goes off that I know will never come back, say, like bad bite. Then the dog is pet homed. It’s hard sometimes to stay the course when a puppy goes off, but when I have let them go to pet homes, there were times that I regretted that. Real signs of show worthiness comes when they hit young adulthood, when they have filled out, hit their height and their proportions are done forming. If the dog is what I thought it would be, I keep it. If not, it goes to a pet home. I find the really good ones stay together (don’t fall apart) from eight weeks on and I favor those the most in a breeding program.
A new judge should seek out those who have done a lot in the breed through a period of years. I found in many breeds, if some- one says they want to learn about a breed, people who themselves are still learning will jump to assist. It is really hard to have a firm grasp on a breed until one has bred many litters, seen them devel- op and has learned to pick the high quality dogs themselves and then proven that knowledge through the show ring, or in working breeds—in performance events specific to that breed, on a repeated basis. Anyone can get lucky a few times—buy a good dog or bred it. It is those who maintain consistent results that should be mentoring judges. I have owned both Afghan Hounds and Pekingese continu- ously since I was in my teens. I have co-bred multiple Peke cham- pions with Patty Pytlak of Hyacinth Kennels. But if someone were to ask me to do judges education in either breed, I would refuse. I have not really learned enough of those breeds to comfortably do so. I recognize that my knowledge is extremely limited versus someone who has put a lifetime of blood, sweat and tears into it and has proven results. I have merely enjoyed the fruits of their works! For me to think I would know as much as that breeder is both ludicrous and an insult to them and their hard efforts. I think new judges to any breed need to ask hard questions as to what someone has accomplished in a breed before spending time having that person mentor them. When considering judges education they need to ask the same hard question, “Who is giving the seminar?” If not up to snuff, save your money and time. I think judges just assume the people the clubs put forth are qualified when sometimes it’s more about club politics than it is actual knowledge. I think judges, new or old, often fall down on the job of determining if the person offer- ing to teach them is proven and knowledgable in the breed.
The best way to attract newcomers is to get as many of these little guys into pet homes, where that newcomer will stumble across them and fall in love. Not everyone wants to be a breeder, but they can be a breed ambassador. And it’s these breed ambassadors that attract that person who wants to breed. The real question should be, aside from attracting people, “What to do to keep them!”

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