Editor's Page: The Heart and Soul of the Sport
Whether working to preserve an ancient breed new to our shores or maintain quality in a well-established breed, great breeders deserve our respect and admiration.
Allan Reznik |
Posted: November 3, 2014 10 a.m. PST
Photo courtesy Julie Lynn Mueller.
With all the superstars in our sport these days — jet-setting handlers exhibiting around the world, up-and-coming judges charting their every assignment on social media — it’s easy to overlook a segment of the fancy that is content to stay close to home and make beautiful dogs. Dedicated breeders are the heart and soul of our sport. It is their meticulous study of pedigrees and their knowledge of animal husbandry that ensure there will be fine dogs, sound in mind and body, to carry on for generations to come in the whelping box and the show ring.
In addition to their expertise, great breeders offer the sport the gift of generosity. Their willingness to pay it forward has helped all of us on our individual journeys. Someone took a leap of faith and entrusted a promising puppy to an enthusiastic newcomer, thereby recruiting another exhibitor, club member, breeder and perhaps future judge. With so few big kennels today and so many more people thinking they can achieve an adequate dog education from the Internet, connections between new fanciers and experienced breeders are harder to make, but determination pays off. Study your breed and learn to separate the genuine legends from the wannabes who market themselves loudly but have few credentials to support their tall tales. Introduce yourself to successful, longtime breeders, and don’t limit yourself to those in your own breed. Much good advice is transferrable. Visit them at home; take them to lunch. Listen.
The Affenpinscher that won the recent World Dog Show in Helsinki, Finland is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when breeders and exhibitors bring global vision to the task of producing great dogs. This mighty little Affen was bred in the US, has co-owners in the Netherlands and Indonesia, and triumphed at a record-breaking event in Scandinavia. The Affen’s success proves that "it takes a village,” indeed!
Co-breedings among serious, like-minded fanciers can accomplish so much at a time when housing fewer dogs and raising fewer litters has become the rule rather than the exception. This is especially helpful in breeds that have little to no market for pet puppies. Sharing a litter helps ensure that puppies will be placed well.
The challenges present in breeding good dogs are compounded when you are trying to establish a rare breed. A parent club must be maintained, a core group of breeder-exhibitors must be nurtured and encouraged, judges’ education seminars must be given around the country, and Meet the Breeds events must be supported. Every minute of public exposure for your breed is precious. Many in the rare-breed community are the master breeders we look up to, who took up the torch for a new breed that won their hearts. Learn more about their journey in "Pioneering a Rare Breed.”
Whether working to preserve an ancient breed new to our shores or maintain quality in a well-established breed, great breeders deserve our respect and admiration. It is their commitment to excellence that enables our sport to thrive.
From the November 2014 issue of Dogs in Review magazine.
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