Tuesday 10 May 2022

Saint Bernard Frequently Asked Questions

Calm and dignified. Obedient, very devoted and loyal. Wants to please. Steady, kindly and patient with children. 

Since the dog is so gigantic, be sure to socialize very well with people at an early age.
Children: Excellent with children.
Friendliness: Loves everyone!!!
Trainability: Easy  to train.
Independence: Needs people a lot.
Dominance: Moderate.
Other Pets: Good with other pets if raised with them from puppy hood.
Combativeness: Friendly with other dogs.
Noise: Not a barker.
A Saint is NOT A GUARD DOG!!!

What follows are several of the questions asked of owners of Saint Bernards.
How much does a Saint Bernard eat? A Saint does not eat as large of quantity of food as many people suspect. They will not "eat you out of house and home". A Saint Bernard can be raised and maintained on the same amount of food required for other large breeds. Saint Bernards are basically docile, sedentary dogs, and generally require less food per pound of body weight than smaller, and more active breeds.
How much do Saint Bernards weigh? As puppies, Saint Bernards weigh about one and one-half pounds at birth and grow rapidly during the first year – sometimes five pounds a week. It may take as long as three or four years before a Saint Bernard reaches full maturity due to their slower metabolism. Adult males should reach a height of 30-34 inches at the shoulder with a normally weigh between 150 and 190 pounds. Females are somewhat smaller at about 26-30 inches at the shoulder and typically range from 120 to 150 pounds.
Are Saint Bernards good with children? Absolutely. They seem to have an innate, almost natural understanding of children and are amazingly careful not to injure them. They are excellent babysitters and companions.
Are Saint Bernards easy to train? Saint Bernards MUST be trained early in his or her life. Saint Bernard, even the smaller ones, are incredibly strong animals, capable of pulling thousands of pounds. Think of this in terms of what will happen to your arm when the Saint Bernard attempts to chase the neighbourhood cat or squirrel. What about when Grandmother Lucy comes over and your Saint Bernard decides to jump on her? Fortunately, Saint Bernards are eager to please their owners and will begin responding to commands as soon as they understand what you want of them. Do yourself a favour and begin obedience training the first day your Saint Bernard arrives in your home.
Do all Saint Bernards shed? Yes, at least twice a year, and usually in the Spring and Fall season. During this time they will lose much of their coats, sometimes in large clumps that help them adjust to the changing seasons. This is sometimes called “blowing coat” and the poor Saint Bernard appears almost naked, but this is perfectly normal. For the remainder of the year, there is a minor amount of shedding and should not be the cause for any annoyance. Because Saint Bernards shed, regardless of their coat type and length, there is simply no such animal as a hypo-allergenic Saint Bernard. Such a creature is the result of either ignorant breeders or capitalists seeking to make a profit.
Do all Saint Bernards drool? Yes. The weather, the level of excitement, the shape of the dog's jowls, and the method used to provide water to the Saint Bernard all contribute to the amount of saliva, or "drool" produced. Most Saint Bernards will drool on occasion.
Is there a "dry mouth" variety of the Saint Bernard that does not drool, or does not drool as much? There is no such thing as a "dry mouthed Saint Bernard". If the Saint Bernard was bred correctly and conforms to the breed standard, it will have lips "flews" that hang. Saliva accumulates in the flews and when no more saliva can be held, the Saint Bernard begins to "drool". This is true of any dog that has flews, such as boxers. Some Saint Bernards drool less than others, providing the appearance that they are "dry mouth". Most Saints do not drool to an offensive degree, as portrayed in television programs and movies. Providing water via a large bottle, similar to what is used for rabbits, seems to reduce the amount of drool when compared to a bowl of water.
Do Saint Bernards make good watch dogs or guard dogs? The size of most Saint Bernards combined with the tone and volume of its bark will be enough to discourage most intruders. If an intruder gets by the size and bark, your may find that the Saint Bernard has decided to lead the intruder straight to the family treasure, since he would much rather make a new friend than protect your valuables. The one exception to this is when a member of the family is being threatened. Occasionally, when found in this situation the Saint Bernards instinct to protect those he loves becomes very apparent. This is dependent upon blood lines; ask your breeder how his or her Saint Bernards typically react in situations such as these. Your Saint Bernard will learn quickly to recognize your family and friends and seek to become their friends.
Why do some Saint Bernards appear to have short hair and others long hair? The original Saint Bernards from the Hospice in Switzerland were all short-haired dogs. Over 150 years ago, in the 1830s, the Monks at the Hospice believed the long coat of the Newfoundland would improve the short hair, smooth coated Saint Bernard’s ability to survive in the snow. The decision to interbred Saint Bernards proved a failure, however the influence of that interbreeding is present today and provides both long, or rough coat, and smooth, or short coat, Saint Bernards. Rough coat Saint Bernards require more grooming that the smooth coat, due to the greater potential for matted hair.
How much room does a Saint Bernard need? Contrary to what many would think, Saint Bernards do not require large areas to roam. By nature, Saint Bernards are neither active nor nervous breeds and are perfectly content to remain close to home for the most part. Consequently, a small fenced yard or kennel run with of an adequate height is enough. It is important that there is some place for the Saint Bernard to exercise regularly. For the Saint Bernard who lives in an apartment setting, frequent walks will be required to make up for the lack of an exercise area. Saint Bernards, by nature are not fence jumpers or climbers, but occasionally a Saint Bernard learn on its own, or by observing another breed that even a six (6) foot fence is no obstacle. The Saint Bernard is a social creature and desires to belong in a pack setting. Providing additional time in the house with the family, or supplying the Saint Bernard with a friend to play, ought to resolve the fencing escaping issue.
Is a Saint Bernard an indoor or an outdoor dog? Saint Bernards are both indoors and outdoor dogs.
Should I get a male Saint Bernard or a female saint Bernard? This is strictly a matter of individual taste and personal preference. Both are equal in becoming the ideal pet or companion. The male Saint Bernard will be larger, is therefore more impressive when first viewed as opposed to the female. The female Saint Bernard is of a slightly smaller build, however, must she be considered his equal in all other respects. Some Saint Bernard breeders will explain the male temperament as less independent that the females. Some Saint Bernard breeders will explain that male Saint Bernards tend to bond to women and female Saint Bernards tend to bond to men. In the end, the Saint Bernards will choose for themselves who they wish to bond with, and continue to get along with everyone else. A male Saint Bernard can either be independent or not, as is equally true for the female. Most veterinarians recommend the practice of sterilizing (spay or neuter) non-breeding animals for two reasons. First, neutered males and spayed females are at less risk for health issues, such as ovarian and testicular cancer. Second, animal shelters are already at or over capacity and neutered males and spayed females are incapable of falling victim of an accidental breeding.

How do Saint Bernards handle hot weather? As long as there is a cool dry place to nap and plenty of fresh cool water provided, a Saint Bernard will do just fine in hot weather. The amount of food consumed and activity performed will be reduced. Abrupt changes in temperature are extremely hard on a Saint Bernard. This means going from an air conditioned environment into an extremely hot environment can be dangerous for a Saint Bernard. Care should be taken to provide a slow and gradual change in activity while the Saint Bernard adjusts to the change in climate.

Such people as these are the backbone of the breed

Gerald Warren was brought up in a doggy household where his family had as many as fifty Wire Fox Terriers, a couple of Greyhounds and the odd Cocker Spaniel.

In 1947 Gerald swapped a Cocker for his first Bullmastiff brindle bitch and joined the Southern Bullmastiff Society in 1948.

Before he was married, Gerald owned about 28 Bullmastiffs and on meeting Doris said he had finally found a big woman who would be able to handle his dogs! They were married in 1966 having found a mutually free Saturday between dog shows. The birth of their son Bill followed in 1967.

In 1970 Doris and Gerald bred their most successful bullmastiff for the show ring. Ch Copperfield Sarah Pocket was awarded 16 CC's in total and 11 of them were gained in one year. Sarah was classed by the many who judged her as one of the "truly great bitches in the breed".

Copperfield has continued to run successfully for the past fifty five years. We have produced over fifty champions world-wide and our dogs have formed the basis for many of today's most successful kennels.

All our dogs are part of a selective and carefully planned breeding programme and we are proud to admit that we have a maximum of two litters each year, although the norm is only one.

Through the careful study and research of pedigrees we successfully breed sound, active and friendly dogs that are true to bullmastiff type. Because no one has yet bred the perfect bullmastiff and probably never will, we are constantly striving to improve our dogs. We believe in being totally honest with ourselves and don't credit our dogs with virtues that they don't have.

Having over fifty years experience with Bullmastiffs does have it's plus points. We have an in depth knowledge of lines going back over twenty generations. This helps us to avoid hereditary defects and pin point the strongest attributes of dogs from the past.

When using an outcross which is always necessary even in the strongest lines, we spend at least twelve months studying the backgrounds and progeny of our potential stud dog. Stud dogs are chosen to complement our bitches, our decision is never based on how well a dog is doing in the show ring nor how many people are using him at the time!

Puppies are occasionally available but please be prepared to be patient. Mediocre can be bought tomorrow, quality takes a little more time.

Our dogs are available at stud both in the UK and overseas. Please be aware that we will want to see the bitch's pedigree and will endeavour to match a dog to your bitch, regardless of whether we own it or not!

Tuesday 3 May 2022


Q: When you have the first look at the line of dogs what is the first that catches your eye?
A: When the dogs walk in and as soon as soon as they start lining up, you immediately see the one which is gone attract your eyes. It’s the look of the dog itself which tells you.

Q: Well, how you mean, the eyes or general..?
A: No, general appearance and movements and the character of the dog, it shows off immediately.

Q: How far do you think it should be- the quality of the showmanship, the quality of the presentation of the dog- should be taken into account?
A: I would say first of all, a good judge always look for the quality of the dog regarding the confirmation. And they begin to look for the confirmation and the movement of the dog, than they can start examining quality of the dog and than they can compare those two and weigh it up together. That’s my theory and that’s my experience in judging dogs.

Q: And the presentation itself?
A: Presentation helps very much, and if the dog is presented well and shown well. But the dog you are going to present has to be a good quality regarding confirmation and good looks that is half the battle, and the old saying is the half of the battle is when you are showing a dog if the dog has the quality than you are there all the way trough. The personality helps, and than you can present the dog better, but if the personality is not there and the confirmation is not there you are not gone make that dog look presentable.

Q: And what do you relay most on…
A: I can’t hear you, I’m sorry.

Q: Sorry, what do you trust the most, visual examination or touching?
A: I think you got to touch them, you got to examine them to know the inner points, and than once you see the dog moving you get more ideas. So those are both important, but the most important is the one when you start judging the dog on the table.

Q: What would you say is your ideal champion?
A: I’m afraid that is another question I would say I would go for, because ideal champion, we all bred well known champions, we look for perfection, but I feel nobody has been able to success yet completely. So ideal champion is a useless word for me.

Q: But what are the main characteristics in a dog?
A: The characteristics, they should have the terrier characteristics in them which is very naughty, full of life and they want to be a type that like to show off.

Q: And what is the worst faults when you watch a dog, what immediately tells you that the dog has faults?
A: Well, when you are watching as a judge you examine the dog and even if you are not judging any other dogs, even if you watch the dog on the street you will know the faults if there is something wrong with the movement and than you realize that something is not correct. And than examining them on the table you get all the other ideas regarding the bites and the bone structure so that should help you with the reply.

Q: And this is a question of your activities as a judge. What is your reaction when you know that you in the ring has very well known champions who won a lot. Are you influenced by that?
A: No, you have to wait when the dog walks in and you judge and give your honest own opinion, because everybody doesn’t like the same dog, we all have to like different things so one doesn’t go by the fame of the dog. What should be taken into consideration that sometimes you may get a young coming up dog who would beat this famous dog quite easily.

Breeder Pug

We are husband and wife and our baby son, andeverything begun way back in 1999 when we found a lost pug that we had to return back after hearing a radio plea. At that time we agreed that as soon as we get married, we’ll buy a Pug.

In 2001 we bought Daisy Mae (known as Daisy). Friends encouraged us to start showing. The show excitement, atmosphere and the love for dogs was the start of our passion. To spice it all up, in her very first show Daisy won Best Female Puppy in breed.

A year later we enlarged our family, thanks to Mr. Mike Gadsby and Ms. Gwen Oake by sending us CH Afterglow Grimley Fiendish (known as Shaun) from the U.K.

He is the only Pug that has ever won Best in Show in Norway

It was a surprise to us that we had managed to obtain such a good, strong, close specimen to the breed standards. Shaun managed to gain his Best in Show and Best Puppy in Show in the very same show at the tender age of 7 months.

In 2003 we had our very first litter. A litter of 7 puppies, all males, that we named after the 7 dwarfs. We decided on keeping one, but unexpectedly we ended up with 3 of them, CH Fawnydawn dwarf Bashful (known as Scott), Fawnydawn dwarf Grumpy (known as Sam) and Fawnydawn dwarf Dopey (known as Dopey).
They were of a huge success to us as Scott is a 5 times Best Puppy in Show Winner.

September 2005 was really special to us as we had our first baby boy that we named Duane.Then in October we took our Pugs to be shown in an International Show in Enna, in Sicily, Italy and there Shaun managed to win the Champion Class and a RCACIB while Scott won the open class and acquired an Italian CAC.

Currently in 2017 we are still showing our boys and they are still going strong. In fact in the beginning of April during the Annual Pug dog Club show Scott
managed to win Best of Breed.

On the 10th of April our second litter was born 3 boys and 2 girls. We are keeping one of the girls, and one of the boys, hopefully they will be of great joy and success like their parents and all their other brothers.

Thanks for reading about us. If you want to know more about us and our dogs, read our latest news.

Tuesday 15 February 2022

OLYMPIA! A Visit with Von Evman Rottweilers

When the Rottweil Xpress publishers assigned me to interview Manson & Eve Johnson of the famed Von Evman Rottweilers for this kennel visit, I was at first astonished (I've never interviewed before), then amused and then finally apprehensive. The latter two emotions stemmed from the awkward fact that when I first signed on to sell advertisement in the Xpress and naively began phoning Rottie fanciers (although not an active Rottie breeder, I do love the breed), I was flabbergasted to hear over and over that the majority had closed their ears to this wonderful publication. Why? The universal answer was that the publication was owned by the Johnsons...and the Johnsons were obnoxious because they were "into" German dogs and German shows. I was told we should turn the Xpress into a non-AKC-conformation magazine and become a magazine strictly on Schutzhund. (As our staff, between the editor, business manager, and myself, have a combined total of over 75 years' experience in conformation rings. I was shocked.) I replied through clenched teeth that this publication was solely owned and operated by Duane Doll and Joe McGinnis of Doll-McGinnis Publications, a subsidiary of Doll-McGinnis Enterprises, Inc., and was so registered with the state. They retorted that it may be registered with the state under that assumed corporation but in secret Manson & Eve Johnson owned it and used it as a vehicle to sell masses of puppies. These fanciers had been led to believe that these were facts - forget the truth, they weren't interested - and furthermore they knew that Manson and Eve had been born rich and they could buy anything they wanted (green eyes?) and in any case, why didn't they buy and show American???

For those interested, the utterly false rumor about the Johnsons owning the Xpress was spread by malicious gossip both to ruin their reputation and the publication's. I faced this problem for nearly two years. In the interim, I did not know the Johnsons although, strange enough, we live but a few miles apart and they run the largest Bonsai Nursery in the United States, which is situated on this small town's main highway and we do pass it often.

Originally, I did not understand why so many fanciers of the Rottweiler kept saying there is AKC and there is Schutzhund, you have to make a choice; you can't be both. In the distant past my husband and I were involved in German Shepherds and we were well aware that the breed in Germany was bred much differently than in the States and in the 60's and 70's it was the rage to have a German import. This meant you were getting better dogs. (Not always the case.) Why, I wondered, did the Rottie fanciers absolutely love or hate German dogs? I also wondered about Manson & Eve - were they huge puppy-millers buying expensive German imports to be flashy? And why did they not show in AKC shows?

Eventually, they did and I began seeing their Rottweilers in the ring as I attended shows - and what I saw knocked my socks off. To date the Von Evman show record includes over 30 AKC and International Champions. They specialed American, International Ch. BENNO von der Schwarzen Heide SchH III, IPO Ill AD ZTP, IT in only 5 shows on the January Circuit and in one year's time he became #1 in Group System in Florida. This year they are campaigning the bitch, Ch ELKE von Evman and so far she has taken Best of Breed and two Bests of Opposite Sex on the highly-competitive January Circuit. Still, I was truly interested in interviewing - the Johnsons, knowing that they have many admirers and many detractors. What would they be like? Arrogant? Flashy? Ignorant puppy-millers out to make big bucks? Were they breeding terrifying, Schutzhund-trained dogs who would rush to kill?

You arrive at Eve's Garden Bonsai Nursery on Highway 41 here in Land O'Lakes (just north of Tampa, Florida). This nursery encompasses eleven acres, employs fifteen people full time and up to fifty in the busiest seasons, like Christmas. They raise all manner of exotic Bonsai, and design their fancy vases, and ship these plants worldwide. The theme of the nursery and main building decor is Oriental and the place is a hustle-bustle, with no slouching. First thing I noticed was the tremendous loyalty and congeniality of the nursery employees. I figure that if that many employees are of long tenure and happy and loyal, the employers must be good people.

The second thing I learned was that Eve and Manson do not breed Rotties for financial gain, but that like any good business persons (and most fanciers I know) they do realize that breeding and showing dogs is expensive and you have to figure costs and be prepared to pay in order not to go under. Manson & Eve are adamant that they might sell you a dog and then again they might not. First, you have to prove you can take adequate care of the dog and LOVE IT FOR LIFE. Third thing, they are determined to buy, breed and show as near-perfect specimens conformation-wise as they can based on the more strict and smaller German gene pool and stern linebreeding accompanied by gentle temperament but with the ability of the mind to WORK, as the breed was originally intended to. Socializing their dogs from day of birth for longevity was their watchword.

Eve Johnson came from a hardworking, no-nonsense background. Born on Long Island, New York, her parents worked hard to make a living. Her grandmother doubled as mother and father. Her father's maxim was "work to eat." At age four, Eve sold sodas on a street corner to earn pin money. At eight she had a large paper route. At sixteen she was graduated from high school and entered college. Finding it hard to obtain a job at age sixteen, Eve developed the hobby of designing Bonsai and pottery to work her way through college. She earned degrees in Pre-Law, Fine Arts and Art Education.

Coming to Florida at age ten was somewhat of a cultural shock, but her family's interest in dogs kept her busy. Her father doted on Dobermans and some Beagles and her mother had Poodles. From the time she left home, Eve kept German Shepherds and Toy Poodles, her last one living 22 years and dying just last year. Her grandmother had always told her never go looking for a man, one day he will appear on your doorstep. He did! Manson came to buy a Bonsai and found Eve. Eve knew within five minutes this was Mr. Right. Four years later they married and have been a loving couple now for ten years.

Manson is from Orlando, Florida, with parents who believe strongly in the Christian Science religion. Manson was graduated from high school and went to West Point Military Academy, where he played football. A knee injury ended that career. He entered the University of South Florida, where he studied medicine and science. He eventually became a nutrionist with the James B. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa. As a teen in high school he bought his first Rottweiler. His neighbor and friend worked with him one whole summer to earn money for the dog. In 1969 he purchased "Trajan" from an old German breeder in Ohio, Hermann Heid. He had to drive to Ohio, as the breeder refused to sell unless he inspected the owner. Manson feels this is a good policy. "We produce something, we are responsible for its lifetime care."

In between furthering his career and showing Trajan in obedience and Schutzhund tracking and protection, Manson played tennis, golf and jogged for hobbies to keep fit. Upon his marriage to Eve he loved her German Shepherds and Poodles (she had a menagerie, including birds) but his first love still remained Rotties. He had never bred Trajan but always vowed someday he would have the finest Rottweilers available. Manson plunged into research in order to obtain these fine Rotties and to make Eve's hobby, Bonsai and pottery, a profitable, full-time business. In both his thorough research paid off, but it didn't happen overnight.

In the Bonsai business they worked shoulder to shoulder fifteen hours a day, and still DO, buying more land, enlarging, finding bigger markets.

Their Rottweiler aspirations also took hard work. Originally Manson read THE COMPLETE ROTTWEILER and made his first 3 purchases based on breeders in the book. Eve had never spent large sums on dogs, hers were more of the companion type. Manson had to convince her that you spend a minimum of $1200.00 per year just feeding a dog, whether it be companion or show stock, and if you figure your labor hours caring for same you can add another $2000.00 on to that. They paid $15,000.00 for their first three Rotties. The first breeding astounded them - they could hardly believe that these were Rottweiler puppies. There were white blazes, no bone substance and most of them could not walk at eight weeks of age. One of the adults, who was OFA-Certified as free of hip dysplasia, was found, indeed, to have it. Uponresearch with a radiologist it was discovered that the hips in the OFA-certified X-ray were NOT the hips of the dog in question!

In disgust, Manson learned further that breed standards in this country can mean much, little, or nothing. He discovered that missing teeth, light eyes and fading pigment as well as forged OFA-certificates were not unusual and were often ignored by breeders and in AKC shows. He turned in his quest to the Allegemein Deutscher Rottweiler Klub in Germany, the parent club in the breed's country of origin. He learned that in Germany, the Breed Wardens strictly enforce the conformation and temperament of the breed, visiting each breeder and inspecting litters and keeping copious records on file of each dog throughout its lifetime. The German stud dog books go back over 100 years and beside each name there is a detailed report of quality, such as exact weights, measurements, pigment color, dentition, temperament and quality of get, etcetera. In short, this is very effective in studying the type you want and finding out who's producing what. He studied the Germans' intense linebreeding techniques. Here, the majority of breeding are out crosses. In linebreeding, with detailed out lines of everything concerning each dog in the pedigree, one can pinpoint who brought a fault into the line and who produces which virtues. In linebreeding you can breed to discover latent faults and devise ways to stamp them out. In outcrossing over and over, this is simply not possible for the gene pool is too large. For instance, last year in Germany, 6,000 Rottweilers were bred with detailed critiques available of each dog and his background going back generations; in the U.S., 85,000 Rottweilers were bred...and where is there a detailed record for research?

Manson traveled to Germany many times, patiently researching. Waiting for the right dog. Eventually he learned of only two litters in a particular year that had passed their Suitability Test at age two. This meant good hips and Top V-ratings (See article detailing German titles and their common abbreviations, in this issue.) He contacted ADRK and got the names of the breeders, located them through their Breed Wardens, and went to visit. They were none too interested in selling. Manson said he would buy either a male or a female, whichever became available. Six months later he got a call that AMBOSS vom Konigssiek, SchH III, FH, IPO III, AD, HD-, OFA Good, Gekort, was available. He flew over. He hired a trainer and a handler to let Amboss remain in Germany to attain all his titles. He purchased compatible, linebred females and flew over with them to have them bred to Amboss. He eventually obtained Benno, who became Am. Int'l. Ch. BENNO von der Schwarzen Heide SchH III, IPO III, AD, ZTP, TT, HD-, OFA Good.

Amboss and Benno's dams are sisters. They share common linebred ancestors, going back to Ives Eulenspiegel on the sire's side, an International Champion who in the 60's was Germany's most prolific producer of top get. As all practitioners of linebreeding appreciate, this intense genetic structure in the pedigree provides the stability upon which to found or propagate a bloodline. This linebreeding may explain the production record of these two dogs, for it is, indeed, staggering. And one of these dogs is the recipient of one of the sport's highest accolades; Muriel Freeman, this country's leading expert on the breed, said to me, and I quote, "Benno is now this breed's top, top producer." A compliment of the strongest order to be sure. Staying true to their beliefs and being ever-vigilant in breeding has obviously served the Johnsons in good stead.

Upon arriving at the Bonsai headquarters Eve Johnson graciously met my husband Bernie and myself. We were ushered into an office that is filled with trophies, photos and ribbons, wall to wall, floor to ceiling. There once was a private Rottie office near the house and kennels on the grounds behind the Bonsai Nursery, facing a picturesque lake with majestic, towering trees and lush, heavy shrubbery. Tragically, last December 13th the house burned to the ground, seriously injuring Manson, whose life was saved by their beloved Rottie, Janny. (See January 1992 RX for full details of that tragedy under column Olympia.) Temporarily, the Rottie office co-exists with the Bonsai office. Eve and Manson may own the Bonsai setup but the office is bossed by Hudspeth, the resident rescue kitty who gets along fine with the gentle Von Evman Rotts. (Hudspeth and I fell madly in love, but I had to reluctantly relinquish her when we departed, or incur Eve's wrath. Eve loves her pets deeply and with tenacious, motherly loyalty.)

From the office we progressed through the huge Bonsai plant where orders are packed for shipment, to a large room where crates are stored, Rottie food is cooking and visiting Rotties are received. Adjacent to this large receiving room is a smaller private room equipped for whelping and sleeping in the wee hours during which most newborn pups make their appearance. Eve whelps all her litters herself and will whelp any litter from a visiting bitch to Von Evman studs. She also docks her own tails - she is so proficient at it that she is often flown to other breeders' homes to do their docking. She is also well recognized for her uncanny ability to achieve successful matings and often assists in this endeavor for friends.

Beyond the receiving room one enters the highly-hygienic maternity wing First - off with the shoes! There is a built-in basin for cloroxing shoe soles but Eve felt we would be more comfortable in our stocking feet. The nursery is more a hospital maternity ward than anything I have ever seen. It is roomy, done in white, pink and blue, with decorative nursery motifs, filled with every conceivable comfort for the puppies and their dams. There is a large area for newly-weaned and slightly older puppies. There are private doors and windows leading off the long back wall to indoor (climate-controlled)/outdoor runs for nursing - dams. There are medical supplies, washer dryer, bathing sinks, scales, and a very thorough computer/file setup so that every iota of information pertaining to the Von Evman Rottweilers can be stored for posterity and research. Puppies are weighed and measured each day. Nursing pups are supplemented on a bottle daily, mostly to socialize them. Two full-time nannies are with the puppies and dams at all times. These nannies socialize dams and pups of any ages. Socialization, recall, is the watch word at Von Evman. Manson and Eve rotate their hard-working Bonsai hours with the care of the Rotties.

Eve does most of the routine medical work, except X-rays. Her vet comes once a month to check the sanitation, all dams and pups, and to do blood work. Manson keeps track of the semen counts on the males, so that he can be sure of optimum success rates. Everything about every dog is religiously kept in the computer files; checks for correct dentition and bite development, worm checks, and so forth. So thorough and efficient is the Von Evman operation that when the AKC Field Reps came to visit, they pronounced the facility to be tops in the country for sanitation, socialization and for the intricate yet easy-to-read identification and health records.

When babies require bottle-feeding, their nanny wraps each gently in a baby blanket for security and talks to them as they nurse. Older pups are constantly played-with and spoiled rotten. Several nursing dams were let into the maternity room to visit with us and they were in optimum physical condition and treated us perfect strangers as long lost family members. Kisses upon kisses and wiggly tails. Eve says all Von Evman dams are watched for their maternal instincts to ensure they are very motherly and will not neglect the pups, for she believes if the dams do, the offspring will, also. (Females purchased in Germany were carefully screened for this quality in addition to their bloodlines, for Eve feels that soundness begins in the whelping nest.)

Leaving the nursery, we then saw the private, indoor/outdoor facility for visiting gals who are kept separate from the resident adults to make them feel secure and to ensure protection from carried virus. Visiting bitches are accepted for breeding on the basis of their pedigrees to carry on the linebred Von Evman line, and for their general type and health, as well as full knowledge of the environment in which they themselves live and in which their pups will grow to adulthood.

Next is an older-puppy facility brightly-lit and spacious. These pups comprise entire litters who will remain at Von Evman until adulthood for evaluation. They have a huge exercise yard, with all sorts of toys to ensure optimal physical development. Pups are exercised both in groups (under supervision) and singly. This completes their proper socialization.

Finally, we came to the adult Rottie complex. Rustic wooden trails, lined with shrubs and overhanging trees lead to indoor/outdoor, large single kennels for each adult. They have toys and large, non-splintering bones, and are constantly being cleaned and fed treats by the two full-time male attendees. These attendants also play with the adults, to keep their social skills finely honed. Amboss was Number One Resident, and at nine years of age was seen in top physical condition, with full dentition, incredible dark pigmentation of mouth and markings and able to move fast and strong with no let-down. He woofed at us and begged for treats. We saw Benno, in many opinions the finest Rottweiler male alive today, and Gretel the most titled Rottie bitch in the country. She, too, is nine and in fit fiddle. The Johnsons are quite pleased with the way their line holds up physically and mentally with age. All total in the adult residency compound we saw 7-8 dogs, hardly enough for what I would consider a puppy factory. Of course, there were nursing darns in the maternity wing, but when one considers that many Rottie kennels comprise 30-and-up dogs, I believe the Von Evman program to be on the conservative side, with quantity taking a firm backseat to quality.

Also in residence was a Benno son - Amboss grandson to be shown here in the States. He was twice awarded V-1 as a puppy, a very rare occurrence. We then took some time to discuss overall plans for the breeding program and the operation's regular routine. Again, it exhibits the thoughtfulness and thoroughness for which Von Evman is known.

Amboss daughters are bred to Benno; If a fault shows up, the females are then bred to a Benno son who does not exhibit the trait. This does not always correct in one generation, but with patience and insight the fault is eliminated.

Hips are X-rayed beginning at 7 months and every six months after that. Teeth are checked from age 3 weeks. (In one case a litter had excellent bites at 3 weeks but at 8-weeks they went overshot. Manson called an ADRK Breed Warden who advised that if they were good at 3 weeks, they would be good at 8 weeks. Results proved true in seven of eight.) For further socialization, young adult dogs are taken by the Johnson's two handlers, Fred Rosson and Jeff Brucker, for training. This gets them into other environments and prepares them for their extensive working and showing careers. Those who show up with a bad fault are neutered or spayed and removed from the program. Culling, without killing, is practiced fastidiously here. Using Manson's intricate and well-planned filing system and the in-depth and highly accurate knowledge of the working gene pool in which they deal, he can predict at birth to whom the females will be bred. Everything is planned well ahead. The motto is: To get ahead, stay ahead.

Pet Peeves? The Johnsons have several...

People who call everyone BUT the owner of a dog to ascertain his quality. Manson says this happens all the time. He can only tell someone how good or bad his own dogs are; those wishing to check out another dog should call the owner. And anyone wishing to inquire about one of his dogs, should call him.

Malicious rumors. Why must they circulate? Yet, we all know it is ever thus. Plus, Manson and Eve like to think of the dog first, and the love it gets. The dog loves you unconditionally - that's God's gift to man. Should not the dog be loved unconditionally in return?

For instance, at present, Elke von Evman is co-owned with Ron & Ann Yatteau of Knoxville, Tennessee. Elke finished on the January Circuit and has taken some impressive wins. An Amboss daughter and a great specimen of the breed, the Johnsons feel she should be campaigned, and that she would do extremely well. Yet, the Yatteau's love her and want her home. Manson and Eve certainly see both points, but will comply with whatever decision their co-owners make, keeping the dog's welfare primary in their minds. After all, a top special out of the Von Evman line is not going to affect their future breeding success or failure, nor impact their finances.

Other peeves, not necessarily in order of importance, are the terms "pet," and "show dog." They prefer breedable / showable dog or bitch or non-breedable / non-showable. A dog with a serious fault is a pet, it is non-showable and non-breedable, period. Another pet peeve is pet buyers who purchase at non- guaranteed, lower "pet" prices and six months later want to show the dog. You buy a pet, it is a pet to love, it is non-showable and non-breed-able. Another is the current OFA X-ray policy. To be ensured that the hips that appear on the radiology film are the actual hips of the dog in question there should be a tattoo number (placed in the dog's ear at 8 weeks of age and permanently used for AKC and ADRK identification) on the X-ray. When the dog is received by someone and is OFA-certified, but develops a problem this cross-reference can be used for verification. The Johnsons check the OFA-certification of every dog they purchase but re-check with an X-ray before finalizing the sale. The Johnsons feel, however that OFA-certification, when verifiable, is of utmost importance to the breed. For instance, take 2 OFA-Good parents and breed them - the litter ratio for occurrence of hip dysplasia is 17%; the litter ratio for HD in a litter produced by two non-OFA certified parents is 28%. Those numbers alone make it worthwhile, but protecting against hip problems does not end at birth.

The Johnsons do not approve of allowing young dogs to jump about, leap on furniture, nor to climb stairs. The hip joint is cartilage, not bone matter, and in a young dog there is space in the hip for the cartilage to grow. This space cannot stand undue stress. The bone density and muscle mass of a Rottweiler puppy, coupled with his natural enthusiasm, may lead to activities which could cause compression in the hip joint, making way for hip dysplasia to develop. Manson & Eve believe young dogs should have supervised exercise to develop good muscle tone, etc., but should be comfortably restrained from straining - their hip joints. (This theory is used successfully in many breeds.)

"God gave us the dog," says Manson, "but man is the selective force in any breeding program. Egos should be left out of any intelligent program." He spent 6 months in Germany researching their relatively-high success rate in producing dogs that conform to the standard, from a small gene pool. The legacy behind the Von Evman Rottweilers is a long one, conducted by conscientious breeders who labored hard to produce the best Rottweilers, conforming to the rigidly-preserved ADRK standard. Manson and Eve wish only to continue that legacy and leave behind one for other breeders to enjoy when they are gone. They believe that every breeder, of whatever country, has the right to his own opinion on his own breeding program. They are basing theirs on what they believe, and have proven in many rings - both working and conformation in this and other countries - that they have worked to obtain as fault-free a working Rottweiler as is possible and by retaining their tightly-interwoven, small, linebred gene pool, to continue in the years ahead to produce the soundest in body and sanest in temperament the legacy they chose can produce.

The Johnsons realize that in Germany the ego things gets into the breeding equation as well as here. Over there one breeder may see a beautiful specimen, yet will not ask about the dog nor attempt to breed to it, for the simple, stupid fact that it was produced or is owned by another breeder (who is a personal enemy); to admit that the other breeder possessed something worthy would injure their pride. Just as here, a bitch will come for breeding who has not the temperament for breeding. She is taken back by her owner who instantly tells everybody that they came to visit, took one look at - for instance, Amboss - and refused to breed to him! Where is the sanity in this? It takes away from the necessary concentration to breed good dogs.

Drawing near to the close of our lengthy interview, so graciously given of their precious and limited time, I asked Eve and Manson what to them were the happiest and saddest aspects of the dog fancy: With regard to the saddest aspect of the dog game, Eve responded, "Longevity. I wish God had given our dogs the same lifespan He gave us. I cannot stand the parting when death comes. Every dog we have is my baby. I have no children. I want, like any mother, to always have my babies." Eve views her Rottie dams as very loving mothers, more so than most breeds. She says her happiest days are when the babies come. You can see the mothers smile as they curl around their little ones; they sigh and are happy. This makes her happy.

Eve recently suffered the trauma of losing her favorite bitch, "Janny." (Janny von der Gruberheide, SchH III, FH, AD, ZTP, TT, BH, HD-, Multiple V-rated in conformation.) Janny, Manson says, taught Eve Schutzhund III! Janny also saved Eve's life; when an intruder threatened Eve with a knife, Janny, through her Schutzhund training and her innate sense of family protection, not only got the weapon away but managed to subdue the attacker until help could be summoned. It was Janny, also, who saved Manson's life in the fire that destroyed their home and all their possessions. As Manson fought the smoke in an attempt to escape the burning house, he ran blindly into a beam and was knocked unconscious. Janny rushed to his side, licking furiously until he regained enough of his bearings to make his way out of the inferno. Had she not awakened him, he surely would have perished. (Eve thinks Janny never recovered from the smoke inhalation she suffered; she was never "right" after that and died at age six just two days before Eve's birthday, June 6th. Twice the brave Janny put her life on the line for her beloved owners; no doubt her owners would have put theirs on the line, for her.)

Manson said his happiest moment was when "Alfa" (Alfa Vom Glimmerfels, SchH III, IPO III, FH, AD, ZTP, V-Rated, HD-, OFA Fair) - in full fledged heat, making her the last dog to compete at the National All-Breed Schutzhund Trial (Manson's first national) - became the first female Rottie to complete all obstacles. Other happy moments include Christmas cards from fellow breeders, showing their Rottweilers all dressed up for the occasion - Manson finds this sweet and touching, and treasures every card; watching "Janny" and Eve compete in Schutzhund and "watching Eve and Janny become women together." But one of the most gratifying experiences Manson recalls had little to do with breeding, and much to do with love. When Manson learned that Amboss' mother, "Lucy," well into her senior years and past breedable age, was not living in the best conditions, Manson knew he had to act. He so loves Amboss, he felt this was one thing he could for him. He brought Lucy over from Germany to spend her final years in loved comfort. He, like Evie, believes that Rottie mothers are the best and the instill the best in the babies. And the job she had done raising Amboss earned her a life of leisure. (It cost him a small fortune, but it was an act of love.)

Least happy moments include: the loss of beloved dogs; malicious rumors based on no fact; getting calls from pet owners who love their companion who has just been found to be dysplastic and there is nothing in this world one can do to help; learning of a freak accident, a dog being run over by a car, or choking to death on a toy. But the most upsetting of all is to learn from the media that a Rottweiler has attacked a human.

The Johnsons feel that the news media is more-than-a-little to blame for the bad reputation which now is attached to the Rottweiler breed. Sensationalistic news articles make the public feel that Rotties are, by nature, vicious. Manson and Eve state that a Rottweiler with true, correct, breed temperament is the most stable and loving of canines. A Rottweiler does not attack humans unprovoked unless driven to do so by lack of proper care, understanding, or training. Another opinion held by the general public that bothers the Johnsons is the idea that Schutzhund training is a "macho" endeavor and is primarily to "make dogs mean." Schutzhund training, they avow, is designed to make the most of the breed's ability to be companion and protector; to save lives through its keen tracking sense and strong physical presence, and to be under control in any situation due to the strict obedience required. (Or, as our editor, Joe, says, "You wouldn't race a Corvette unless it had brakes, would you?") By the same token, Manson and Eve state unequivocally that a Rottweiler with unsound temperament cannot be worked in Obedience or Schutzhund. Further, they believe that here, as in Germany, we should have a rule requiring all Rottweilers to have passed Temperament Tests via an Obedience Title, prior to being allowed to compete in the AKC conformation ring. That stipulation, they say, would make them very happy.

As Bernie and I departed Von Evman Rottweilers/Eve's Garden Bonsai Nursery, we were amazed, truly amazed. Both the Johnsons are extremely intelligent, deep-thinking people, totally committed to love of the Rottweiler breed and determined to work for the betterment of same, determined to protect the precious legacy handed down to them from Germany. Flashy, arrogant, and - above all - into puppy-milling they are most emphatically NOT. They are kind, sweet, gentle, and are rearing their beloved Rottweiler family to be of the same wonderful disposition. They are considerate of fellow breeders - regardless of which bloodlines they pursue - and totally uninterested in gossip of a malicious nature. Manson and Eve have raised themselves up by their own bootstraps to a position where they can adequately care for their Rottie charges and look down the road to a long, happy lifetime of producing the very best that they can breed, with the welfare of the breed - and each dog - foremost in their minds.

Both Manson and Eve spend countless hours on the phone or in correspondence to help fellow Rottweiler fanciers in any way they can. They give much of themselves - but in looking at the shining love in the deep-brown eyes of their Rottweiler family as they gaze at their proud owners...it is obvious that of all this love they spend on the Rottweiler breeder, much is returned.

Thank you, Manson & Eve Johnson, and all the Von Evman Rottweilers for so graciously showing me around and divulging to me - and our readers - your thoughts and experience. It is my hope that the love of the breed that you've shared with us today will inspire others to work with the same tenacity and commitment to the protection of the Rottweiler breed. For it is only through its human protectors that the Rottweiler, loyal friend and protector of humans, will remain safe and welcome on this earth to be companion and protector to future generations.


VON EVMAN ROTTWEILERS is located on a 11 acre property just north of Tampa, Florida. When you visit our property you will walk through our beautiful Oriental Bonsai Gardens. In the back of the property is our home and the beautiful dog facility shaded by large oak and fruit trees overlooking a 7 acre lake.

At VON EVMAN ROTTWEILERS our goal in breeding is to always strive to BETTER THE BREED. In other words, to produce a litter which is uniform in looks, size, and temperament. This does not occur by accident. Sometimes luck does enter into the picture and a beautiful dog is produced by two inferior parents. But this is nothing more than luck and will not be repeated by breeding this individual. The only way this can be done with any predictable consistency is by extensive knowledge of at least five generations in the pedigree of the Dam and Sire of your planned breeding. It is also of great importance to have as much knowledge as possible on the litter-mates of your Dam and Sire. Such information should include temperament, size, weight, structure, movement, bite, hips, elbows, eye certification, thyroid functioning, and any titles attained in conformation and working.

After gathering this information, some honest decisions based on these facts must be made. We start off by making a list of what faults the Dam has which we want to correct. Remember, a good breeder is a realistic breeder. All dogs have faults. Once you have listed the faults in the Dam, try and trace them back to which ancestor or ancestors they came from. Do the same for the Sire.

Now comes the MOST IMPORTANT question. "Will breeding this Dam to this Sire produce offspring that have less faults than their parents?" If so, then you will have a good breeding... If not, then you have nothing but trouble.

The next question to be answered is where do these great looking, genetically matched, parents come from? They can be produced over a long period of time following the above mentioned methods or you cam import dogs that will fit into your breeding program. In our particular case, we have used a combination of breeding within our own program and importing dogs to compliment our program.

Our breeding program began in the early 1980's. We studied the German ADRK Stud Book for many years before we purchased any dogs. We saw that dogs which did most of the winning in both conformation and working shows were out of IVES EULENSPIEGEL bred to BENNO vom ALLGAUER TOR. So we looked for our foundation stock based on IVES on the Sire's side and BENNO on the Dam's side. AMBOSS vom KONIGSSIEK was purchased because his mother LUCY von HOHENHAMELN, was a BENNO vom ALLGAUER TOR daughter and his father, AMBOSS vom SIEBERTAL, was a son of IVES. All of AMBOSS' litter-mates had good hips, good bites, and at two years of age, passed the ZTP., Breed Suitability Tests. Thus, we knew it was a good uniform litter with homogeneous gene pool.

Since breeding, in my opinion, is a lot like chess in that you must be several moves ahead of yourself in order to be successful, once AMBOSS vom KONIGSSIEK was purchased we began to look for another male out of IVES' lineage which would be the son of AMBOSS' mother's sister. That is how we found BENNO von der SCHWARZEN HEIDE. His father was SANTO vom SCHWAIGER WAPPEN, and IVES' grandson and his mother was LAILA vom HOHENHAMELN, a BENNO vom ALLGAUER TOR daughter and sister to AMBOSS' mother. We purchased BENNO at fourteen months of age and brought him to America after he became the World Sieger. Thus, our breeding strategy became breeding AMBOSS daughters to BENNO and BENNO daughters to AMBOSS.

Our next large move has been BIS, Biss Select I, American/Canadian/International Champion CHAMP vom VILSTALER LAND. A BENNO grandson. The reason we made the decision to purchased CHAMP is because we wanted more bone, substance, and size in our line. CHAMP, in himself and his pedigree, brings up these qualities. We can breed both AMBOSS and BENNO daughters all to CHAMP and keep the continuation or our original breeding plan. Thus, we were in a position to take our breeding program into the next generation.

One of our prized possessions was our own born and raised American/Canadian Champion QUIET RIOT VON EVMAN. He combines the genotype of AMBOSS and the best all-around female we have ever owned; American, German Champion GRETEL von der SILBERDISTEL, SchH III, FH, IPO III. Many time V-1 rated at the ADRK Klubsieger Show, Bundessieger Show and throughout the the world.

Our next step to our breeding program was Krikarott JOCKEY vom Blackriesen. We needed a larger rounder head and a slight change in looks of the puppies. We also needed JOCKEY's line to complete the flow of mixing our old boys back into our bloodline by use of frozen semen.

Another important part of our breeding program is the use of frozen semen. We have collect AMBOSS, BENNO, CHAMP, JOCKEY freezing their semen for the past several years. This gives us the ability to add them back into our breeding program whenever we desire to strengthen their traits in our line.

Some advise on importing dogs would be to always import dogs for the right reason-to better your breeding program. You must be very careful in selecting dog imports from. You should only buy dogs from people you have formed a relationship with and know they will help you with any problems which develop. Another way is to establish a relationship with someone in that country who has contacts with breeders and can help you select dogs to fit your needs and help you with your breeding program. Be aware!! Many people have been importing dogs from other countries for mere selling puppy from "imported" parents to receive higher money. Very few countries have the strict standard as the German ADRK Club. Therefore their breeding program is not the quality you should be looking for in a Rottweiler.

Monday 8 September 2014


Great Dane
In our “Sculptors” series we ask blue breeders questions to provide some insight into the various schools of thought found around the world. In this article, we interviewed Lileen Dunn of Shiloh Valley Farm in Brooksville, Florida, USA. She is a longtime member of the Great Club of America.

BGD: How did you get started in Danes?

LD: I got my love of animals from my dad. We were into the horses and I didn't understand why I couldn't have a horse as a bed partner. (I was VERY young at that time) so the Great Dane was the closest thing to having a horse in my bed. Seriously, I have had Danes in my life as companions, always. Being at horse shows late at night, in not the best part of towns, I always felt very safe with a Dane by my side. When I had my first Kidney Transplant in 1987, it was a Blue Dane, "Guardian Angel",
that saved my life. I got her from Jill and Jerry Wiechens as a pet to keep me company The rest is history.

BGD: Who has helped you the most in your time with Danes?

LD: As far as pointing me in the right direction for showing Danes, I have to say that I am thankful to many who helped. It's a very long story.

BGD: Is there a particular dog or bitch you felt epitomized what you were striving for in your breeding program?

LD: I'm still looking and striving for that one. I don't mean to sound flip but Epitomize is a strong word. When I look at TOMMY, at 7 years old, HotZ's sire, he comes darn close and he's Blue to boot.

BGD: Who was your first champion?

LD: From the early '70s I did obedience with all my Danes on a local level. I didn't show dogs in conformation until I decided I wanted another Dane after my "Angel" died in 1991. That was 10 years after she was physically gone from my life. I had been searching with the help of the internet and found Linda Arndt. It took about 2 years to find exactly what I was looking for. It helps to have bred and shown World Champion American Saddlebred horses and top winning cats. I have a good eye and that is a gift you are born with. You can develop your knowledge of confirmation and learn by studying and doing but a natural good eye for a great animal is a gift. I wasn't ready for a Blue even though it had been 12 years. When I found New Years KISS, I knew she was the one. After many conversations with Georgia Hymmen and Edie Lind, she came to live with me. Jeff Lawrence handled her at the National Futurity and she won a HUGE class of fawn puppy bitches. It was between KISS and a 3 month old bouncy, adorable puppy for the bitch win over 89 puppy bitches. KISS did her DIVA act and the young puppy got the nod. KISS was my first show dog and Champion that I didn't breed. Her son CH SVF's SHILOH THE ONE N ONLY was her first born and my first homebred champion.

BGD: What has been your greatest achievement to date?

LD: Putting KISS in the TOP TWENTY and living through it. All of KISS's produce, except for one, are pointed or finished. Two having won AB PBIS and having her son, SHILOH, win multiple BOB over many specials from the puppy class. He took BOB over high ranking top dogs on more than one occasion. He finished from the puppy classes. This is what it is all about. Breeding for a better animal in health, temperament and performance.

BGD: Greatest challenge?

LD: Educating people to the scientific knowledge we have at our hands and getting them out of the dark ages of dog breeding. Taking on the BLUES and Natural ears in the show ring has to rank high up on the challenge list. I love the look of a cropped ear when done right but I adore the natural ears.

Also, finishing my first Blue, CH Wiedanes Too Hot To Handle SVF and seeing the young potential champions from her.

BGD: What health testing, if any at all, do you think should be performed on a Dane? Why or why not?

LD: There's no question of why not health test. The question is which tests are valid to perform. Heart echo-cardiograms, thyroid and general chem. screens and CBCs on a yearly basis are a MUST with this breed.

These are the basics. I also do titer testing as I do not vaccinate after the first year. I have done this for over 10 years and my dogs all have shown a good immunity. And then there are the hips. This will open up a big can of worms but it needs to be said. OFA is passé. There was a time when that was all we had but we need to move up out of the dark ages. PennHip is
a scientific method that is a measure and not some ones opinion. I liken OFA vs. PennHip to how Cancer was diagnosed and treated 40 years ago. We have made quantum leaps for diagnosing and treating Cancer. I would want to be diagnosed with TODAY's methods not the methods of 40 years ago that couldn't tell you at all or until after it was too late. Look at the survival rates of today vs. just 10 years ago. That says it all. Change is difficult for most people but we need to keep up or die on the vine. (I don't think my inbox will be able to handle all the emails. I can hear my phone ringing already.)

BGD: Do you have any advice for someone getting started in the Dane world?

LD: Yes, don't argue with success. If you want to make a difference in the breed and enjoy a GREAT dog, then do your homework. Remember we are human and we all make mistakes, learn from the mistakes others made and don't make them yours because in this game it is our wonderful dogs that suffer our mistakes. And don't forget to ask God for help and give thanks for all your successes and challenges along the way.

BGD: How do you feel about cross-color breeding?

LD: I think we are doing a disservice by not crossing colors due to the limited gene pools we generate. I don't mean to just take any color and breed to any other color. It must be done with thought and consideration of what it is we are trying to achieve. I was told by a legendary cat breeder/judge, "First you build your house, then you paint it." I think that sums it up very nicely.

BGD: At what age do you evaluate a litter to decide a "keeper"?

LD: It depends on the litter and the pedigree. There is no set rule in my book for doing that. Different lines develop at different times. That is yet another good reason for doing your research and studying dogs in the ring. Looking at the get of a dog and produce of a dam for consistency is yet another avenue to study.

BGD: We know you have an extensive cat breeding/showing background. How does breeding and exhibiting Danes differ from doing the same with cats?
LD: I had the number one All Breed cat in the country until, at the end of the year, I had to have a Kidney Transplant. We still ended up in the top 5 AB position for the year.

There are subtle differences in the breeding aspect of animals. Dogs, cats, horses, it all comes down to knowing intimately the lines you are working with. Of course the physical differences are obvious. In 20+ years I bred over 30 litters with many firsts in CFA. As with the Blues in Danes being difficult, I took on the Shell, Smoke and Shaded Persians. I had many Grand Champions and National Winners.

I also have a bit of horse breeding experience since 1988. With the horses we do embryo transfers and one mare can have a litter of foals in the same year with different stallions. It is all very high tech and extremely fascinating.

As far as showing, well that is entirely a different story. All cat shows are benched and you are a captive audience. The cats are not performing as we think of performing. The judge takes them and sets them on the judging table. Part of the show is getting their attention with various toys and feathers etc. The exam for conformation is about the same; comparing the cat to a standard of perfection. It never ceased to amaze me at how trained a cat could be. One thing I like very much in the cat shows is the amount of care in cleaning that goes on in the ring. The cages are ALL disinfected in between each and every cat. The judge sterilizes their hands in between EACH cat. There is little room for spreading disease by direct contact. As Show Chair for many All Breed shows I also made sure the show hall was thoroughly disinfected before and at the end of each day. I also had vet inspections of each exhibit prior to allowing them in to compete. I would like to see our dog shows adopt some of these good habits.

In closing I want to say thank you for this opportunity to reach those who are thinking of getting into this magnificent breed of dogs and allowing me to share some of my personal insights and thoughts. It has been a journey of gathering knowledge and friendships along the way that have been and continue to be priceless.