by Kathy Rhoades, Laurelen Shelties
Oh yes, I remember the call from Julie Desy telling us that Sandy had finished. It seemed to take FOREVER, though he was only three and had not really been campaigned that much. I remember much more vividly the weekend that Bonnie finished. She was on the road with Carl Langhorst. Tom answered the phone, said a few words, and came back into the room and said 'well, Bonnie took a major today' so calmly I didn't believe him. Then, the next day Carl called to tell us that Bonnie had won Winner's Bitch AGAIN - and had completed her championship. Bonnie finished very quickly in about 5 or 6 shows.
Any win is still very thrilling to me, but especially if there are points involved or a completion of a championship!
7. I know you are not color blind, but....did you have a preference for a particular color in your early breeding program? did that change over the years at all?
OH YES! We began with the AOAC's in our breeding program - our first champion was a bi blue. However, I have always had a soft sport in my heart for the sables - maybe because that was the color of our first pet. They are all gorgeous, any color, but I am partial to the sables. I believe that Tom - my husband - might lean more toward the blues. Ever since his Bonnie was born, he has always loved the little blue girls.
9. Do you think the overall look of Shelties has changed much in all these years? do you think that certain traits come and go through the years? have you seen them change and then become something different?
When we first began showing Shelties, I remember them being much more compact and rather short bodied and 'stubby'. I remember a VERY popular male Champion who it seems that everyone wanted to breed to. The dog had a beautiful face and expression, but moved very poorly. After his popularity, you would see many dogs in the ring who were very poor moving, but had beautiful faces, so he did reproduce himself well. Recently, it seems to me that more breeders are seeking out nice bodies along with pretty faces and heads. A very well known breeder told me years ago 'if you have good bodies, don't breed away from that'. Her words of advice were 'a nice head is only a generation away, but if you lose the body, you may never get it back'.
12. Which are some of the dogs that have really impressed you from years ago??? and now? is there something special that attracts you to them?
Like most of the breed fanciers, I have long admired Jade Mist Beyond Tradition and the Jade Mist dogs for their gorgeous expression and faces. I probably tend to like a kennel look more so than a particular dog. There are some kennels that just are 'known' for their beautiful dogs -- Shellhaven of Canada, of course Jade Mist, Laureate - also of Canada. There are many others, I shouldn't have begun naming names. One of my 'things' that I have held fast to over the years is a good rear on a dog. I am attracted to dogs that look great going away from me! I have finally learned what a good front looks like and that is poetry in motion! Of course, a pretty face is a HUGE plus, too.
13. Is there any dog from your years in Shelties that you would like to see in your kennel? what was special about that dog?
There was always something 'special' about CH Hannalore Tiger Rag that stole my heart every time I saw him. He was just such a beautiful dog with such an outgoing, friendly temperament. Of course, I DO realize that he was a BLUE dog, but I like to think it was the sable influence behind him that I was drawn to.
15. What faults would you say you can not tolerate?
Rusty Cromer always says, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.“ I always keep this in mind when faced with certain minor faults that are pet peeves . But if I had to pick one thing that I would eliminate a really nice dog from my breeding program for and couldn’t tolerate, it would have to be Bad Temperaments.
16. What is your usual routine for whelping and raising your litters? Do you enjoy the whelping part...or dread it, like I do.. <smile>
After a bitch is bred, she becomes a total housedog if she isn't already (others go outside most of the day). I try to get the whelping box all scrubbed and ready about 2 weeks before her delivery date to allow her to sleep in it if she chooses. The whelping box is in our bedroom where I can keep a close eye on her during this time. I LOVE having puppies, although I am a bit anxious until that first one is out and doing well.
17. About how many litters do you have a year??
We usually have at least one litter a year, sometimes two. It is usually determined by which bitches are due to be bred.
18. At what age to you usually wean your puppies, and what do you feed them?
I usually allow the mother to determine exactly when the puppies are fully weaned. Some of our bitches will begin trying to wean them as early as 3 weeks of age. I don't like to completely take them away from their mom until around 7 or 8 weeks. We begin feeding them a gruel mixture at around 3 weeks of age, when their eyes are open and they can stand on their own pretty well.
19. At what age do puppies from your lines stop growing.. or slow way down?
Our sable line seems to slow way down around 6 months of age. Then they take a one or two week growth spurt and quit completely. A few of them have been 'over the chart' from 8 weeks until around 5 months, but then slow way down and end up around 15 or 15 1/2 inches tall.
20. When do they fall apart..and do they often come back together? Do you usually have bloomy puppy fliers??
It's interesting to me....some of the puppies get very unappealing in looks around 4 or 5 months, others just seem to grow, holding the same look, just becoming larger images of themselves.
21. Are there certain lines that you think work best with your dogs?
I do think that line breeding works best, bitches with same or similar dogs in their background seem to work very well. There is one lady in Pa. who saw one of our ads and bred to Brett because of 'Phenotype', and her dogs DO look very much like ours, though the pedigrees differ quite a bit. She now has a beautiful 5 month old male who does look like both sides of the family.
22. What tests do you require for bitches coming to be bred? Do you do your own AI's? What do you use to collect?
I require a Brucellosis test. It is also nice if the bitch has had her hips OFA'd, though if her 'family' are free from dysplasia, I don't necessarily require the OFA to be done before breeding her. I do my own AI's, though we work with a wonderful vet in Kentucky (Dr. Becky Golatski) who is VERY well versed in the breed. I have learned a LOT from her about how to deal with a busy stud dog and keep him healthy. Dr Becky is well known in our area for her expertise and she actually has a dog from one of our breedings.
23. How many times do you usually breed a bitch that visits?
I like to breed a visitor at least three times, and after that it depends on where she is in her season. If she is a very receptive bitch and we began breeding her 'early', I have done up to 6 breedings. When we get nice bitches to breed to our boy, I really want them to go home pregnant!
24. Did you have any initial problems when you started your breeding program or your first times in the breed ring? If you did...how did you work that out or compensate?
I don't remember any problems other than my own inability to groom. It was - and I think still is - very difficult to find someone willing to take the time and effort to teach new comers. Since we began, the Sheltie clubs have begun to sponsor grooming workshops and seminars which are very helpful.
I can not think of any specific problems we've had in our breeding program.
25. What do you think you have achieved with each of your Champions? Any thoughts?
With our first Champion, I believe we proved ourselves to the handlers and breeders who live locally. It proved that we could purchase a nice dog and had the dedication to follow through to take him to his championship. Our second CH was home bred, that one, I think, proved to those people that we had learned enough about the breed to breed our own CH.
26. What is your criteria when choosing a stud dog other than structure and movement?
I look at the offspring that stud dog has produced, and then go backward to see what dogs are in his background, what they looked like and produced.
27. When all is said and done...and that sun goes down for the last time over your kennel, is there anything that you hope will be remembered about you and and your dogs?
Yes, I do hope that our breeding program is remembered as producing good, sound, healthy dogs. As for myself, I hope to be remembered as being supportive of others in the sport and a good loser - or winner.
28. Do you have any thoughts you would like to add?
Only that I really appreciate all of the support, encouragement, advice and help given from others who have shared their knowledge with me. I also greatly appreciate your help Kathy, nudges in the right direction and learning along with you as a co-breeder. I have been very fortunate and have met many wonderful people along the way.
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