Interview by Kerri Denter, Felicity Shelties

     

   




Chris Lynch began breeding Shelties (as Chris Meneley) in 1978 through 1995 as Westwind Shelties.  She bred/finished 16 champions including a ROM, CC, all-breed Best In Show, multiple ASSA national Award of Merit dogs, numerous ASSA placements and specialty winners.  She also provided foundation breeding stock behind today's beautiful sables of Laureate Shelties. 
 

As a professional photographer since 1978 Chris has enjoyed shooting the ASSA National Specialty show 9 different years. She has also had the privilege of photographing many of the breed's greats.  She will next have the honor of being  ASSA photographer in 2010 in Tucson, AZ.  She was CCA show photographer in 2006.
 

Except when on the road with photography, Chris lives at home in Rohnert Park, CA, with Sheltie "Squishy," a blue merle, and "Fuzz," an orange Pomeranian.  She is a retired Certified Nurse Midwife
(16 years) and an AKC licensed judg
e. 

 



Westwin Secret Agent - "Fuzz"


Ch. Contraband x Ch. Heritage Spirit daughter
Owned by Kathie Tietjen
Needed just a major to finish.
 

 

 

 


Kerri: 1.
When did you establish your kennel name and how did you come to choose it?
 
Chris
:  The kennel was established in 1978.  We lived in a city south of San Francisco where the west wind blew constantly.  Hence, Westwind Shelties.

2.  When did you first become interested in showing and breeding dogs?
In 1973, after graduating from nursing school at USF, getting married, and having our daughter.  In that order.

3. Why did you choose Shelties?

I  went to the Golden Gate Kennel Club show in 1977, wandering through the benching aisles looking for a breed that really caught my eye.  I had tried showing Pembrokes and Keeshonds and wanted a new-to-me breed.   A sable Sheltie was standing up, watching the crowds go by, and we made eye contact.  She had the most beautiful expression I'd ever seen.  That did it.  I went home and scanned the catalog index for any Sheltie exhibitors that lived in my area.  I found Yvonne Samuelson, Sea Haven, who lived just a few blocks away from me.  She graciously became my original mentor.

 

 


Am/Can Ch Benayr Westwind Contraband ROM, at 7 months (right) and 2 years old (left)

Benayr Trouble Maker x Grelore Luscious Lilly
 

 

4. What dog or line has helped you in your breeding program and why?

Sea Isle through Ch Sea Haven The Sorcerer, a Peter son, and later through Benayr, Ch Benayr Peter Principle.  Ron Lackey of Cahaba Shelties provided me with some outstanding bitches to breed to my Am/Can Ch Benayr Westwind Contraband ROM.  These were daughters of Ch Wayanet's Magic Sandman ROM, and Ch Sunnybrook's Heritage Spirit ROM. These kennels were dedicated to balance, beautiful soft expression, great temperaments. Cahaba bitches, in particular, added soundness.
 

5. How did you first establish your kennel?

I purchased a tri Sorcerer daughter from Yvonne and at her suggestion, bred her to Shawn Dar's Ghost of a Chance for an all blue litter in 1978.  Wonderful color and temperaments, but all 6 went oversize. 
 



Can Ch Cahaba-Krystalyn Dream West "Chelsea" at 8 mos.  

Co-bred by me and Yvonne DeFreitas, Chelsea was sold by me to Kim Aston as one of Kim's two sable foundation bitches.  Sired by Ch Contraband from his first litter. She was very beautiful and absolutely sound. 
 

 

6. What were you looking for in foundation stock? 

Balance, soundness, temperament, beautiful expression.

7. And how did you obtain it?

I had noticed Susan Bentley's dogs at shows.  After several conversations I purchased my first sable from her, a Can Ch Macdega Chesapeake daughter.  She was Benayr Heart's Desire, "Sara". While pointed, never finished because she never grew sufficient length of coat.  But bred to Barb Linden's Ch September Searchlight, she produced 2 champions in her first litter:  Am/Can Ch Westwind Party Lights AOM and  Ch Westwind City Lights, who later sired BIS BISS Ch Victory's Hidden Treasure CC, and Ch Westwind Harbor Lights.

8. Where do you draw the line in your breeding stock?

Temperament, soundness.

 

Benayr Heart's Desire, pts.
 

 

 
 

"Sophie," a Ch Contraband daughter at 8 wks.  

This was one of the first photos I used to advertise my photography.  Compliments on this photo came in from all over the country!

 

9. How many dogs have you finished to date, and what was your most enjoyable to finish? 16 finished.  Most enjoyable for me personally was Ch Westwind Starlight Promise, owner-handled to a 5 pt. major over 81 bitches.  Those were the days of huge entries!


10. How many litters of puppies were born at your kennel per year?
I bred about 3 litters a year.

11.
What would you feel is important in conditioning a dog for the ring?

Well socialized puppies make the best bomb-proof showdogs. Raw food diet maximizes genetic potential.  Also avoiding all unnecessary vaccinations.

12. With all of the talk about diets and what works for our dogs, what do you feed your dogs, and do you use supplements? 

I first fed Solid Gold, then became an immediate convert to the raw food diet when I learned of its overwhelming benefits.  I used some supplements like fish oil.  Also used homeopathy and acupuncture extensively.  I actually lectured at the National in Orlando, FL, on these subjects because the holistic vet scheduled to lecture there could not come.

13. When did you begin to photograph Shelties?

1978.  Started with a German made 35mm, later graduated to Pentax 6x7- medium format, and did all developing in my own color darkroom.  Finally in 2008 I've switched to digital and have a 10.1 MP Canon and am pleased with its performance.  I've also learned the basics of Photoshop, so continue to process and print my own photos.

14. As a professional photographer, what would you say best describes the Sheltie you like to picture? ie: Good structure? Head detail, temperament etc….
Balance, balance, balance.

15. What would you say is most challenging about being a breeder/photographer today in the breed? 

Trying to make subjects appear balanced.
 
16. What has been the best experience as a photographer?  
ASSA national show photographer nine years.

17. What dog or dogs would you say were the most beautiful to photograph?

Many are memorable, but BIS BISS Ch Homewood Hurricane CC ROM is especially memorable because I was invited by the Skinners to photograph him throughout his career.  He has his own Gallery on my website, www.clynchcustomphoto.com

 
Ch Westwind Just A Love Song at 11 wks.  
A Ch Contraband x Ch Sandman daughter.   This is what the good ones look like when they're young!

Co-owned and finished by Sharlene DeFee and Lynn Moore.  Litter brother, Ch Westwind Word Of Honor,  UDTX HS PT VCX was owned and finished by Rita Carr Crawford and became the first Sheltie in the history of the breed to receive a
VCX title from ASSA.  His first conformation win was a 5 pt. Specialty major at San Diego SSC.  

"Abbey," Ch Westwind One Fine Day.  

 
Ch Westwind Somewhere In Time
Ch Contraband x Ch Westwind Party Lights

She was litter sister to Ch Westwind Starlight Promise who finished with 3 specialty majors.  Mira was finished and owned by Karen Lohman, Oregon.
 

Photo at 9 months  
By Ch Noradel Cimarron ROM x a double Ch Contraband granddaughter.  
Finished with 2 specialty majors.

 

Am/Can Ch Westwind Party Lights AOM, dam of 2 champions by Ch Contraband ROM.  She was 2 in this photo.  Finished with 3 specialty majors under Dorothy Christiansen, Katie Gammill and Sandy MacIntosh.  
 

 

Westwind Wish Upon A Star 7 pts. 1 major.  
Photo at 8 months.  
Sired by Ch Contraband x Ch Westwind Party Lights continued the emphasis on balance, outline, soundness.
 

 

18. What tips could you give the sheltie exhibitor about taking pictures of their own dogs?

Have a competent handler/groomer!  Be very picky about backgrounds.  Keep the sun at your back.  No midday photography;  too many shadows under the ears and eyes.  Use a black or brown lead.  Analyze conformation to achieve flattering angles.

19.
How do you feel the breed has changed over the years? The good? The bad?
Shelties have become long, low hair machines.  "Standard" caliber balance is very hard to find. 
 


 

20. What would you say the breed needs most improvement on?

Balance, balance, balance.
Ch Westwind Fire Up North exemplifies "Standard-caliber" balance.  He is THE definition of correct length of head to length of neck to length of back to length of leg.  Judge Judy Brown, when awarding him '98 ASSA WD, said:  "I'd love to have this one in my backyard.  I could watch him move all day."  He fits exactly what our Standard calls for in movement and balance.  To newcomers, this photo is worth committing to memory.  This is the type of dog I bred for and what I look for when judging.  He's from the very last litter I bred.

 


 


The most unforgettable moment:
 Ch Westwind Fire Up North going WD at '98 ASSA under Judy Brown for owner
Linda Churchill.  This dog was exceptionally sound and balanced!
 

21. In your breeding program, which dog do you feel was most influential to your success?

First Peter Pumpkin.  Then in my own line, Am/Can Ch Benayr Westwind Contraband ROM.  Justin  produced beautiful faces, excellent bone, good fronts when bred to the right bitches.  He was an absolute sweetheart, a good friend, good listener.  He was litter brother to Ch Benayr Here Comes Trouble ROM.  Quite a caveat for Susan Bentley, 2 ROMs in one litter!

22. If you could go back and bring a certain dog into your breeding program, who would it be and why?  

There wouldn't be just one certain dog.  Many dogs have desirable attributes.  It's very difficult to breed "Standard-correct" Shelties.   I wanted my bitches to be "the big picture," or "the cake," as I called them.  Then breed to different studs who had strong female-tail lines for "frosting."  This greatly oversimplifies the decisions that go into breeding dogs, but in general this was the thinking behind Westwind Shelties.
 

 

  
Ch Westwind Masterpiece
Reggie at 8 months, head study
"Reggie" deserved his name.  He finished very quickly with 3- 5 pt. majors for owner Linda Sanders (Shamont).  
 

Ch Westwind Masterpiece was absolute quality.
 
Ch Noradel Cimarron ROM x Ch Contraband daughter.  

Reggie body shot at 8 months. He sired 6 champions.

  Litter brother Am/Can Ch Westwind The Poet Laureate finished both titles quickly for owners Kim Aston and Pete Culumovic.  "Robbie" spent his retirement years with dear friend Rita (Carr) Crawford where he lived to age 17!

 

23. What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of this sport? 

Most rewarding was breeding Shelties other breeders used or wanted in their programs because of the strengths of their pedigrees.


24.
What do you enjoy most about it?

Now, my photography.  It continues to document the development of the breed.  I have always considered it a privilege to be asked to photography anyone's Shelties.

25. What advice would you give a novice or a person just starting in the breed?  
Find an experienced (15 yr. +) breeder to mentor you with whom you are compatible and ideally, lives nearby, and is willing to be available 24/7!

26. Who was your first true mentor? Who has influenced you the most? Whom do you admire?
Yvonne Samuelson (Sea Haven).  I continue to admire the overall quality of her Shelties.  Ron Lackey (Cahaba) was always willing to share his extensive experience in breeding strong female-tail lines down from Peter and how to use dogs to cross-fault the bitches.


27.
What do you feel has been the one key to your continuing success?
 
My attitude.  I love photography.  I especially love the happiness clients derive from beautiful photos.  These are memories they'll have all their lives, documenting their own career in the breed.  I get excited for owners who will receive my work.  I always do my best.

28. What motivated you to become a judge?

I was actively breeding and wanted to observe trends in the breed across the country.  I also wanted to "make a difference" at that time, hoping to send a message of soundness and balance to onlookers.  I love to teach; a judge is a teacher to those who want to learn.  Judges have to put up with ringside rudeness or negativity but to those watching who are learning the breed, the effect on their learning curve can be significant.  Example:  Kim Aston approached me after seeing my (unfinished at the time) Westwind Party Lights in the open sable class at the '87 National.  She asked if I would sell her.  No. Did I have any other bitches like her?  Yes, later.  And Kim kept after me until I sold her my co-bred Cahaba-Krystalyn Dream West, a Ch Contraband daughter and later double Ch Contraband daughter, Krystalyn Just An Illusion.  The rest is Laureate history.

Am/Can Ch Westwind Party Lights, AOM

Beautiful balance.


29.
What are the pluses and minuses of being a judge?

If one is an active breeder, that judge is expected to put up dogs similar to what she/he is producing in their own breeding program.  I gained a reputation for measuring, soundness, balance and clean teeth!  No color preference.  And consistency. Because of my own success as a breeder I haven't forgotten what a good Sheltie looks like.  It's gotten very difficult to see our Standard reflected in breeding programs across the country these days.  This I know as a photographer.


30. Do you think a breeder judge is a more rounded, better equipped judge or are the two completely different things?

T
hat is the desired result, and breeder/exhibitors expect that.  I think most judges today have that as their goal. Sometimes politics override good judgment.  In a given area some breeders won't enter under certain judges, knowing politics may rear its ugly head.  Many breeders have not committed to breeding to the Standard, but breed "heads."  Many breeders don't know the Standard.  They've simply followed the direction of their chosen mentors who may not know the Standard and its emphasis on overall balance.  A beautiful head and expression on an unsound Sheltie is no credit to the breed.
 

31. What do you recommend breeders in US to help the breed head in the right direction?

Memorize the Standard. Choose mentors to guide you that have a long history of success in the ring.  Have the whole Sheltie in mind when choosing dogs for a certain breeding.  Definitely crossfault (and one has to know the Standard to properly crossfault) with particular emphasis on the female tail side of the pedigree of both sire and dam. We have several very good books like Sheltie Talk, and Linda Churchill's educational material that can be accessed to educate oneself. Charlotte Clem McGowan's book also clearly illustrates correct attributes in Shelties.  With soundness and balance comes good health.  Dogs with known genetic diseases/defects should be neutered.  No excuses.

 

Ch Westwind Wildfire
"Jody," going BOB over 5 specials.
 

Jody sired Ch Westwind Fire Up North, '98 ASSA WD.  Jody was one of 6 champions sired by Ch Westwind Masterpiece.  He was as sound and balanced as he looks in this photo.  His rear angulation was exceptional in that he was not overangulated as many Shelties are today.

 

  


32.
 Do you think Shelties are still good working/herding dogs or is their temperament becoming more of a toy dog temperament?
 
The Standard describes temperament as "reserved toward strangers."  That doesn't mean they hit the deck or flee under a bed when a stranger or little child approaches.  That doesn't mean they are all over strangers like Golden Retrievers. Neither should they need drugging to be steady in the ring.  Shelties continue to exhibit herding/working behavior when given the opportunity.  Shelties continue to be versatile, but most conformation breeders do not expand into herding, tracking, agility or obedience.  This has created two communities as in other breeds:  Breeders are either "show/conformation" people or "performance" breeders.  The best of both is to breed mentally sound, balanced individuals exhibiting correct conformation which will enable them to perform.  More than a few Westwind Shelties were very versatile and have multiple titles in performance along with their championships.  


Ch Westwind Harbor Lights

Co-owned by Glenda Henson and Katie Gammill.  Champion sire for Katie.

33.  What breedings were particularly successful for you?

I suggested the breeding to Vicky Jackson that produced BIS BISS Ch Victory's Hidden Treasure CC AOM.  I tried to buy her as a puppy but Johanna Primeaux and Yvonne Samuelson beat me to her and gave her the stellar career that made "Vanessa" a showstopper across the country for hundreds of Sheltie people to admire. 


I also suggested the breedings and co-breedings to Yvonne DeFreitas which strengthened her sable foundation stock, giving her Ch Contraband ROM kids to build on.  I later owned/sold several of these bitches to Kim Aston and husband Pete Culumovic, establishing their original sable line.  These included "Holly," Am/Can Ch Krystalyn Just An Illusion ROM ROMC, a double Ch Contraband granddaughter, and Can Ch Cahaba-Krystalyn Dream West, a Ch Contraband daughter.  Their Am/Can Ch Laureate Santana, a Ch Contraband grandson, was their first sable merle.  Stunning dog!

 


Am/Can Ch Laureate Santana  
A Ch Contraband grandson.  I had the pleasure of awarding this beautiful dog his last American major to finish
 

I chose the bitch Yvonne DeFreitas bought from Ron Lackey, Tempo's Cactus Flower O' Cahaba, who later produced national winner Am/Can Ch Krystalyn Windswept when bred to Ch Sunnybrook's Heritage Spirit ROM.  I leased her from Yvonne, bred her to my Ch Contraband and got a stunning bitch who became dam to BIS BISS Am/Can Ch Westwind Heartbreaker CC AOM, the best male I ever bred who went on to a wonderful show career with Boyd Smith, also producing two champions.
 



 


BIS BISS Am/Can Ch Westwind Heartbreaker CC AOM


'95 ASSA 1st Open Sable:  He was special right out of the box. Four months old on the ad on left. He fulfilled early promise by going 1st in Open Sable at '95 ASSA.  He later was owned by Boyd Smith who guided him to Century Club status and an all-breed Best In Show.  Absolutely sound, correctly proportioned and balanced with a wonderful temperament.
 


I am very proud of having contributed sound, balanced Shelties to breeding programs across the country.  If I had it to do over again, I'd have used Ch Westwind City Lights (Ch September Searchlight x my original sable from Susan Bentley, Benayr Heart's Desire) more.  I didn't appreciate his ability to produce at the time.  But he reflected my basic plan, take Benayr to Cahaba and September, crossfault, keep the best, early spay/neuter the rest to keep numbers down.  I later added in Ch Noradel Cimarron ROM, to "loosen up" the pedigrees which were headed in too-tight a direction.

In all, my Westwind champions produced 32 more champions for other breeders.  

34. What do you find to be the highlight of your career? 

Finally having a website where potential clients can peruse my work.  It's http://www.clynchcustomphoto.com

35.  With your great successes, what other goal may there be for you?
To master Adobe Photoshop!

Click here to visit Chris on the web! Visit Pedigree Lines to find all dogs mentioned here and see their pedigrees.
And study the Sheltie Standard!

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