Page 218 - ShowSight - April 2020
P. 218

                 L/R: Judge Sari Brewster Tietjen, Owner Rhonda Croxton, Breeder-Owner Donna Jones; The Gang @ Sylan Myst.
in a variety of appealing haircuts when not involved in conforma- tion showing, this also harms their popularity.
What special challenges do breeders face in our current eco- nomic and social climate? Our low numbers make it difficult to identify great breeding pairings when there aren’t many stud dogs to choose from across the country. Many Löwchen breeders in the US are experiencing reduced litter sizes compared to ten-plus years ago, and the current average litter size seems to be three puppies. This is presumed to be primarily due to high inbreeding coefficients prevalent across the breed. Furthermore, Löwchen bitches can often have ≥9-month heat cycles, which reduces the period of time that a bitch can produce litters while in her prime. With regard to social climate, the biggest threat to all responsible breeders is the animal rights movement.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? Typically, by eight weeks of age most structural aspects can be prop- erly evaluated; we still have to carefully pay attention to bites until the adult teeth are in, but most other things can be determined by the age of eight weeks. Löwchen show their personalities and tem- peraments very early on, so that by eight weeks we can easily deter- mine which puppies have strong show potential, including which puppies would be better prospects for sports/performance.
The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Proper breed temperament. The Löwchen should be a happy, friendly breed—sometimes so exuberant that judging proper movement can be difficult because puppies often bounce around, even with much time invested in conformation training. We really appreciate when judges are patient with our puppies and tolerate the silly antics that even some of our well-trained, older dogs display. In our opinion, at Sylvan Myst, the greatest fault one can have in a Löwchen is a dog that goes around the ring with its tail down while on the move. It is totally fine for the tail to drop when standing still, that is just a Löwchen at rest, but the tail should always be carried high (forming a “teacup handle”) while on the move. Anything less than this is improper temperament—even if it’s a timid puppy who isn’t accustomed to the show ring yet, a Löw- chen displaying a lowered tail on the move is not displaying proper temperament on that day in the ring.
The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? We utilize social media to connect with other dog lovers of all different aspects of the dog world, with the hope of increasing awareness about the Löwchen among those with similar interests. We are eager to mentor individuals who want to learn more about the breed, and we make an effort to be friendly and welcoming to new people. We want them to fall in love with the breed, but also want them to want to be involved in our breed community in a positive way. We are proud of our contributions to the breed thus far, and we’ve already initiated a few new Löwchen lovers into our community, some of whom have even joined the ranks of Löwchen breeders, which is desperately needed to preserve the future of this rare and wonderful breed.
Our ultimate goal is to see the numbers of Löwchen and Löw- chen litters increase to the point of no longer being an extinction concern. We want to produce high-quality dogs of proper type (especially temperament) and sound structure that contribute in a beneficial way to the future generations of the breed. It’s not just about increasing the numbers, but increasing the number of excel- lent specimens of the breed that will contribute to a stronger future for the breed. Löwchen are a generally healthy breed—free of many of the health issues that plague many other breeds, and we want to keep it that way. Nothing makes us prouder than when our newest generation of Löwchen out-performs the older generation. This lets us know that our breeding program is heading in the right direc- tion to preserve our breed. We are also focused on recruiting and mentoring new Löwchen breeders so that they can help us improve the future of the breed.
My favorite dog show memory was on February 18, 2012, when I showed our foundation bitch, CH Musicbox Hope Springs Eter- nal RN NAJ aka “Nadia,” to a very unexpected 5-point major, in which she won BOB out of the classes and defeated several of the top-winning Löwchen Specials at the time, including her own mother! This win also finished her AKC Championship, which was also very unexpected. We had just won WB, which was all we could have hoped for...I was trying to share the wealth and let our friend who won WD be awarded BOW so that her dog could earn some points, too. To my surprise, Judge Sari Brewster Tietjen pulled me out of the line-up along with two other top-winning CH/ GCH bitches and she had us go around the ring together a couple of times...I must admit that we were quite new to showing at this time, so I really didn’t understand why Judge Tietjen was having me go around the ring several times with these other two top-winning bitches, and when she pointed to me and said, “Best of Breed,” I could not have been more surprised! Before it could even really sink in, our mentor and Nadia’s breeder, Donna Jones, was screaming and whooping at me from outside the ring—as were all the other competitors and spectators around the ring, and that’s when I began to comprehend how awesome of a win it really was! We still talk about it to this day. It was such a fantastic experience—a truly great day that I will never forget for as long as I live.
Even though the Löwchen is in the Non-Sporting Group in the US and are appropriately described as a companion breed, they are hardy, sturdy, highly intelligent, easily trainable, eager to learn and work with their people, and should not be dismissed by people who are interested in an excellent performance prospect. Löwchen can be found engaging in and excelling at a variety of dog sports, including agility, obedience, rally-obedience, barn hunt, nose work, Fast-CAT, dock diving, disc dog, and they are equally adept at doing therapy work. Löwchen are happy as long as they are with their people, and they thrive best when able to be involved in a variety of activities. They can become bored easily with too much repetition, so training measures may need to be adapted to best suit their inquisitive personalities.
I saw my first Löwchen in November of 1996 while doing a seminar on Whippets and Italian Greyhounds. A woman came into my seminar with a tiny puppy with the cutest bare bum and the rest is history.
I purchased my foundation dog in December of 1996. Shortly after I was joined by a friend and we became Madriglace Löwchen.

   216   217   218   219   220