August's brewing storms
Signals with rolling thunder
what I appear to be
The love and passion that I have for Labrador Retrievers is what fuels my drive for my total involvement with the breed. The never-ending quest for the Betterment of the Breed is the legacy that I would
like to leave behind after it is all said and done.
This Blogging Off section reflects the "tell it like it is" persona that comprises one of the many hats that I wear in my daily activities with Labrador Retrievers and the people that own them.
"Questions are the keys to understanding,
answers are the open doors that will follow,
choosing the right door to proceed through will
determine if the correct path was taken."
V. Sandy Herzon
The Blogging Off Experience
These blogs will cover every Labrador-related topic under the sun and then sum/some! There will be puns intended, off the cuff remarks will rule, attempts at acerbic, acidic and arsed-like humor will be on the menu. Since I have lived outside of the box for most of my life, parameters need not apply.
There's Something Knocking At The Door
There are always those that question everything, even if the answer is a long-enduring and steady 100-mile an hour wind blowing in their face! Sure as heck, wouldn’t take much noggin to figure out a hurricane is a ‘knockin’ at their front door!
For those that can’t feel the force, that can’t read the writing on the wall……………………….a breeder whose dogs win every once in a while is doing really good, because if reason is the flavor of the day, it wouldn’t take much savoring to taste that the other breeder’s dogs just don’t seem to have what it takes to be winning at that same pace!
Now, following that simplified logic, a breeder that wins all the time would be that force in the face to reckon with or at least tip the hat to if it is still in place that acknowledges the way it is.
It befuddles my Spock-like mind, with all the logic and logistics in place, how some folk operate in an endeavor and have no clue what they are delving in and up against!
My logical way of functioning tells me that in order to thrive in any activity, in order to be successful in that realm that a thorough understanding of the standard operating procedures would be instrumental to be able to have a modicum of success. It would then follow suit that those that develop a mastery of that undertaking would then enjoy the highest level of dominance, of winning, of taking it to the max!
Hey, I just described the American Way! Those that are the most skillful, that work the hardest at being the best will rise to the top and win 27 Gold Medals! Of course there will be those that are good and work hard and come up with the Silver, those that settle for the Bronze and then there are a whole bunch that just could not swim, run, jump, or do the things needed to get the job done that won’t be receiving a ‘participation’ medal…………………….it doesn’t work that way in real life.
So, for all those that don’t get it, that don’t feel the whooooshhhhhh………………….. that wish that every dog would be given points regardless of their conformation value………………………..that suggest a different venue for the constant winners and another place to compete for those who seldom if ever win anything………………………for those that attribute everything under the sun as to why their dogs can’t win against those that win all the time………………………..for those that see conspiracies, shenanigans and nefarious undertakings when our dogs win at every weekend of dog shows, now 5 years in a row without one weekend’s interruption, that’s 139 straight dog show weekends when the whole Team Chambray participates……………………not including scores and scores of weekend wins by single Chambray dogs away from our area of influence.
So for all those still stuck in the Sargasso Sea, the sea of tranquility where no wind ever blows, it’s time to paddle over to where some fresh air is circulating….fresh air is good for the mind, makes things seem clearer, gives impetus to get going and do better or at least to accept the realities of the enterprise we are all involved in showing dogs!
There Is A Better Way
The professional dog handling business is very complex to say the least! Of course, the Chambray owners rarely need to deal with the ins and outs with pro handlers because most are fortunate to work only with the Chambray way!
Then of course again, not many of the Chambray faithful even know the way it is for 9999% of those whose dogs are in the fold with the pros.
No siree bob, they that have been pampered and spoiled and enabled doing it our way, have no inkling the other way, the actual real way it’s done all over the country, the world for that matter! The professional handler’s way is the only way………………..well, that kind of changes when you are down our way!
The Chambray way, where owners have a say or two about their dogs and all of that is the way that we have made it………………………….boy does that scenario change if per chance or bad luck one of those dogs ever needs to be done the good old fashion way with the pros………………..yep, right there before their very own eyes for the dog’s owner it will be a night and day difference with the pros singing the phrase “Vive la difference”!
Yep, a whole different tune and the owner don’t get to name it! Because you see, the pros do it 100% their way…………………no way Jose do they want the owners to play their game. Nope, that’s not the song they sing and march to.
Their humming mantra: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.”
So, send them your dogs and they will feed them, water them, groom them, condition them, train them, travel with them to the shows and then show them!
Oh by the way, you can come watch them at the dog shows…………but only at a distance! Better yet, it’s best not to even go be with them, lest they revert back to being banshees before all the work that has been put into them by the pro and their ways!
But what does a Chambray owner know? Of course none of the above, because they have had it the best way, the Chambray way…………………where man and man’s best friend are bosom buddies and never have to part ways, that unique and wonderful Chambray way.
The best way, where each dog owner has the choice to do as much or as little with the caring, conditioning, training, traveling with their own best buddy.................in fact, encouraged is a better descriptive! Yep, come join in with the fun being had with all the other owners and their dogs, doing all the things that are needed to have the dogs ready for the big time, the AKC shows.
What’s even better is that for those owners that are way, way too busy to do any of the above that needs to be done to get the job done at the dog shows…………………………..they can have the Chambray Team do whatever they can’t do!
PLUS: Now here is where it really gets interesting………………………..the Chambray Way is the most successful handling team in the country with Labradors! Talk about having spoiled owners!
Like at BK, at Chambray they get it their way AND it is the best that there is! How about that Bob?
Like at the Cheer’s bar, where everyone knows your dog’s name………………because it’s not about the handler’s name or the inflated egos that comes with that territory………………..nope, it’s all about the dogs and owners having it their dog's way!
Remember 'Father Knows Best'……………………………..well, the Dog Father Knows Best and there’s none that knows Bo, like the Little Old Wine Maker……………………….me! The only difference here is that I don’t know shellacking about making wine, but I do know Labs, I dare say more than anyone else in the land of the free and the home of the brave………………while I am at it, why just stop at these beautiful shores of ours, why night just proclaim myself the world’s know it all with Labradors…………………………yeah, that’s the ticket……………………………..The World’s Know It All With Labradors!
Let’s one up that last one, how about the Pope Of Labradors?
Hey, I never sell myself short; go all the way with the Chambray way………..what do you say?
So, here's how it works:
BBE Bronze Gr Ch Chambrays Eventful N Counter CGC
Champion at 12 months!
Grand Champion at 17 months
Bronze Gr Champion at 24 months
You Can't Beat That
Just read an email that stated “Because you bring so many good dogs, your chances of winning are mostly certainly higher than someone that just brings one good dog!”
Well duh! That’s why I bring the best of our dogs to the shows!
Okay, maybe not ‘duh’, maybe, just maybe, someone has finally figured out how it works! Maybe they just hollered "Uncle" and finally gave in to the preponderance amount of ‘what you see is what you get’!
Best Bred Dogs
Best Conditioning & Training Programs
Best Handling Team
Whoop there it is………………..there you have it, the final frontier where no one has gone before and yet someone just arrived at that spot and found us there!
That’s all there is…………………no smoke and no mirrors, just the best there is in conformation…………………the best there is in preparation and then wrap that sucker up with the best there is in presentation……………………….
No hocus pocus, no mumble jumble, no bait and switch, no BS or COW S either, just the facts ma’am.
There’s no drama, no behind the scenes powder puffing, no loss-leader dogs, no dead ringers, no gas money dogs, no pay your dues dogs, no pad and fill dogs, no dumping of one to benefit another, no holding one back to give another a chance………………………………..nope, none of the ‘business as usual’ that transpires at every level of the dog handling business!
With us, with Chambray, what you see is what is real! You see 5 males showing and each and every one of those males has our 100% backing……………….we bring 5 females to the shows and you can bet your behind parts that those all have the exact same chances of winning in our book!
Hey, it’s so simple that even a first grader could figure it out, no need for a fifth grade education here folks!
Now hear this……………………..for every dog that you see at the dog shows with Team Chambray showing them…………..grab on to the seat of your pants………………………….for every one of those on the starting day roster, there are 4 more at home (their owner’s homes) sitting waiting their turn to come out and play!
Yep, that’s the God honest truth, so help me God! Not only are there dogs and owners chaffing at the bit to get into the horse race, there is a new wave of under 6-month olds that are being readied for the big time……………….some bidding that time to be allowed into the starting teams rotation!!!!!!!!!!!
That’s an on-going process every 6 months! No sooner than a new group of 6 to 9 month olds have debuted at dog shows, right behind them is another group of younger ones going through the process and waiting to be called up to play in the big leagues, the AKC shows!
That’s the way it has been for 25 years now, the difference now is that it is all on auto-pilot!
Breeding the best……………………conditioning and training those best and then showing those best!
Guess what, the results are also the best!
You can’t beat that!
No, really, you can’t beat that!
All Numbers Matter.................But The Best Will Be #1
There still seems to remain a shroud on the number’s game. It seems that ‘clear days only happen in May’ for some…………………………and then I beg to differ because the same folk are of catawampus thinking even in the brightest sunny day in that same month of May.
Simple as a dapple on a dimple (I wonder how many can see through that one). If there were 10 dogs in the ring to be judged and the judging is to be done blindfolded, then each dog has a 1 in 10 chance (10%) to be ‘touched’ by the judge and have then just pick one. That is if all the dogs had a coat, because obviously a hairless Labrador could be felt even by a blindsided judge……………or we hope.
So, merely picking 1 dog out of how ever many there are present is just a 1 out of so many! There could be 100 dogs in the ring and just picking 1 out of those is a 1 in 100 chance or 1%.
Now, when ‘quality’ is added to the mix……………….when criteria is used to select the winning one, numbers don’t have the upper hand because now we have other things to ‘look’ at to come to a ‘valid’ and ‘qualified’ conclusion.
At the dog shows, in each ring where a different breed is showing and being judged…………………judged using that individual dog’s Breed Standard………………………the index, the blue print, the set of instructions that make that particular breed unique and totally unlike whatever is being judged in the adjacent ring…………..there could be 10 dogs competing or 100………………it makes no difference because the goal to select the BEST example of the breed and that has nothing to do with how many are in the ring! The biggest difference between 10 versus 100 is that it reasonably and understandably takes much, much longer for the judge to make their licensed opinion as to which is really the best.
So, when some chap or chappette claims that ‘someone brings so many dogs’, inferring that it is the reason ‘someone’ wins so much…………………..makes me lose faith in the human race……………………makes me think that most folk live their lives with blindfolds on, not really ‘seeing’ what is real and what is the furthest from reality.
If they can’t see what’s right in front of them, how in tarnation are they breeding the very dogs that can’t win because they are not at the same level as the rest of those ‘numbers’ that they complain about.
Recently, there was the lady that has TWICE as many litters a year as has the whole Chambray Owner’s group together……………………………..so here we have real numbers to think about and consider. She states that “As long as ‘they’ bring those numbers to the dog shows, I am not showing my dogs!”
Of course the ‘they’ she was referring to is ‘us………………. Chambray. So, she produces twice as many puppies per year and yet she can’t field 1 of those with enough ‘quality’ to compete against the lesser produced numbers!
Whoa Nelly, we need to rein that wild nag in!
Now, if there was ‘strong arming’, like in twisting if those limbs in order to receive favorable nods of the heads, then it would be a total different ‘love story’…………………………but that’s not the case at all, because what it really, really entails is good old fashion hard work in so many different areas.
However, no matter how much work is put into it, without the main ingredient of CONFORMATION, the correct and best specimens of the breed……………………………then all the work and all the numbers would just be another number……………but not the winning number!
Bring the best on and may the best dog be the winner for the day…………………..regardless of the numbers.
Catch All Thoughts
Seeing Isn't Always Believing
It is said that ‘seeing is believing’………………………..however, I will need lots more evidence that this cliché is worth repeating!
Yep, Little Old Me is not a believer of that overused and overrated expression because time and time again what you see is not what you get!
Let me diffuse the obvious conundrum I have on purpose created! I mean if you see something then that should be what you will get………….right?
Nope, none of the above, because there right in front of you is a very cow-hocked dog, cow-hocked to the max……………………………you see it, like how could you not? It is there like the purring, pink, Pokka dotted elephant in the room (well, maybe it’s not really purring, but it is pink and Pokka dotted), yep name that tune and each time the name’s the same because the tune is looney and the melody describes what shouldn’t be!
So, if you see it, I see it, they see it, then how come the owner/breeder doesn’t get it?
See my point? “If you see it then that should be what you get”…………….get it? But the owner/breeder just doesn’t get it………………….so maybe, just maybe, they don’t get anything else about breeding for the betterment of the breed OR, maybe they need glasses!
The Number's Game
About the ‘number’s game’………………………………………the numbers of dogs taken to a dog show by the breeder, the owner or the professional has little to do with the winning percentage……………….that is unless the quality of those numbers of dogs taken are significantly better than the rest of the numbers present!
Let’s create clarity…………………bringing a shlit load of dogs does add numbers to the tally, but it doesn’t increase the winning odds.
What does increase the odds for an exhibitor, breeder or handler is bringing the best dogs to that venue! Then and only then does the scale tip in the tipster’s hand.
I know that the above to be the truth and nothing but the truth, because that’s how Chambray plays the ‘tipping the scale’ game. Our winning percentage is triple what anyone else in the Florida Labrador ring can muster because the quality of the dogs is overwhelmingly stacked that the scale has no other way than to acquiesce our way………………….so help me God.
Baked, Boiled or Broiled
Yes, it is about the dogs!
It should always be about the dogs and all the other ‘trimmings, traipsing’s and trappings’ are all part of the game that keeps the interest level going. All that other stuff is the human factor, the drama that is cooked up when anything is humanized.
What fun would it be to stick 45 Labradors in a large enclosed paddock, without a handler, each with a huge bull’s eye number painted in its side and from elevated vantage points choose which are the Winners Dog, the Winners Bitch and Best Of Breed?
Nope, no fun at all…………..we need the human element as part of the ingredients for the Cajun gumbo soup we call dog showing…………………it’s what makes it ‘savory and tasty’!
Yep, the behind the scenes whispers, the ringside grapevine…………….the inside the ring bantering between the handlers……………………………the Facebook gossiping, the innuendos and falsehoods like mayonnaise, spread freely and thick………………….the backstabbing between the breeders, each trying their best to proclaim that they are better than the rest………………………the questionable judging by whomever didn’t win, the aggrandizing of those same judges by those that did win!
Smearing, blackballing, mudslinging, bad-mouthing and no, I am not talking politics here, this is par for the course, on the menu entrees that are served up at any dog show………………of course politics of a different color is sliced, diced and skewered up either half-baked or broiled to perfection any time of the day.
Don’t get me started about what happens at night because the heat is turned up once it turns dark!
However at the end of the day, regardless of all that’s ‘cookin’ it is still all about the dogs………………..right?
The Goose And The Gander Should Both Have It Good!
My, my, it always amazes me when things are flip-flopped…………how the attitudes change!
How some things that are irritating on the other side of the fence are tolerated and even made a big deal about when it is close to home.
Spoiled rotten kids are celebrated when they are family, yet the same antics with someone else’s kids are criticized and admonished!
Bringing a slew of dogs to a dog show is ‘A-Okay’ by the perpetrator, but when it was done by someone else before them, ‘A-Okay’ turned into ‘He’s such and A—hole’, when I used to do it………………………..yep the old ‘if it’s good for the goose it isn’t good for the gander'……………………yeah, yeah I know that the saying is bass-awkwards but it makes more sense my way for this blog!
Thirty some odd years ago several ladies with Labradors on the west coast………the real west coast over by where the Beverly Hill Billy’s set up house……………….yep, those fine ladies, now legends of the breed came up with the novel idea of the ‘buddy system’ of pooling their resources and using their individual dogs in a collective……………a consortium if you will to make leapfrog advances with the breed.
‘Brilliant’ beyond the Guinness beer commercials……………………..here were several breeders coming together and were using their best produce to produce even better!
‘Wow and even wowzer’……………….'it doesn’t get any better than this' was born before that other very famous commercial ever said it!
My ‘eureka’ moment for my breeding program did not come out of thin air, nope, it wasn’t an epiphany nor an original thought………………………..I wish I could claim all those things……………………..but then I would be pulling legs and that’s just not my way!
No sir, no ma’am, I saw it from a huge distance…………………remember where I am, good old South Florida, as far south as you can get before you get your feet wet in the Florida Straits……in fact, I am the furthest south show Labrador breeder in the 50 states…………….so, from where I am across to the other coast to where those pioneers were forming a ‘block’, forming a ‘union’ to be able to choose the best of the best from their collective breeding programs to breed even better with each succeeding generation……………I saw it……………….so kudos and hurray for their joint efforts because today the Labrador breed has so much to thank those ladies with a vision for the breed………….mission accomplished!
Now here’s where the waffle gets flipped and it doesn’t fall back down on an ‘even-steven’ griddle!
A very similar undertaking is implemented way over here where the mission is to produce the best………………using the best, however instead of employing ‘already established breeders’ because there were none around to be found or that would contemplate such and endeavor………………………a group of Labrador-owning folk were organized to serve as the ‘well’, the reservoir or pool from which to draw the best to produce the best and the greatest thing about that undertaking is that it becomes a rollicking success by the very visual and apparent successes where hundreds of owners have participated over a 27 year span……………………..you would think that such a Labrador-oriented project that has served the community and the breed alike would have drawn rave reviews, applause and acclaim……………………however along the way the exact opposite has been the reality!
Yep, it’s quite okay when it’s done by the accepted, but not quite accepted if it’s done by an apparent outsider. The same rules don’t seem to apply if for whatever reason it looks different or isn’t understood or it is just too novel………………..or it steps on the establishment’s toes………………then fear of the unknown sets in and instead of those not knowing precisely how it works and looking into it for themselves…………..blackballing with innuendo and dispersions takes place.
Now, in reality all that naysayer attitude being heaped our way has never deterred or distracted the goal and mission of the betterment of the breed vision…………..quite the contrary because adversity has a way to bring the competitiveness from some and that’s the way I am fueled.
Give me a challenge and I am game……………….challenge me directly and I find a way to rise beyond any challenger!
Rise we have, but don’t take my word for it………………look into it for yourself!
The Way We Were, The Way We Are And The Way We Will Be
The ‘Small World’ blog has brought lots of ‘old stories’ from many of our past owners!
Thank you all for sharing with me, it really brings back fond memories and it gives me a treasure trove of memoirs to write about for future blogs.
One owner that has traveled extensively with his Chambray Lab across this great country of ours brought up a very important issue, one that he encountered on a few occasions when he visited dog shows in other states away from Florida.
“I cannot thank you enough for having given me the opportunity to be in Max’s life. You chose him for me using your great insight into people and then matching the right dog to them, which is precisely what you did with Max and me! Thank you again for trusting me with this wonderful Chambray dog!
Through my travels, both driving about the country and flying to more distant places, Max has been my one constant companion. As you know, with the sleeping disorder I deal with, Max has been my service dog to let people know if I go into a ‘restive state’ that all is well.
Of course, everywhere I go with him, he draws major attention because of his phenomenal looks, including the numerous dog shows that I have visited and he also came long to. Even at those places where the best of the best are on display, he always draws attention his way. Not because he was acting up, because he is always a gentleman, no, the attention he receives comes from exhibitors and even handlers that want to know if he is also showing!
Everyone wants to know where I got him from because he is such a great looking ‘show dog’! Once I tell them Chambray, most will acknowledge knowing of the kennel name; however there has been a few that seemed rather miffed once they heard the name Chambray.
When I inquired about their reaction they stated something to this effect, “I heard such and such!”
Upon listening to them the innuendo and falsehoods they heard, I then tell them, “So you don’t know for yourself, you don’t have firsthand experience and yet you have formed an opinion.”
I then proceed to share with them about your ways, your true caring for the breed, for your dogs and for your owners and how you have put together something so different from the other breeders that it has caused those that don’t know, those that fear what they don’t know and to then cast dispersion without knowledge and basis.
I am not out to convert anyone, but I stand up for what I know to be real and believe in and Mr. Herzon, you and Chambray are as real as all get out.
Thank you for all you do for owners and for Labrador Retrievers.”
Armando Salgado & Max
Priceless! You and Max are true ambassadors of the breed and of Chambray. I have received emails from so many of the places you guys have visited and somehow or another you guys have touched so many lives in your travels.
The above is not unique because I get the same thing from people that meet up with ‘Honey’ and Ivan as they wander through the country and ‘Samantha’ and Neil wherever they go………… ‘Ballou’ and Jorge …………………………… ‘Apollo’ with his two owners down in Key West……………… ‘Sunny and Sadie’ and Tony in Islamorada………….. ‘Amos’ with Jean and Phil as they have sailed both the Pacific West Coast and the Atlantic Coast with Amos on board……………….from ‘Maggie Sue’ and Emily hiking the Appalachian Trail…………………. ‘Bandit’ and JC down in the Keyes……………… ‘Hogan and Hanna’ with Rosie in all the activities she participates in……………………………and hundreds more throughout the years traveling throughout the country and beyond with their dogs ‘representing’ Chambray and Labrador Retrievers………..ambassadors for the breed, both dogs and their owners……………………..I couldn’t ask for more or better.
Dozens, maybe more like thousands of people that you all have met through your travels and then each has vouched for where your dog came from and the experiences each of you have had with our mission for the betterment of the breed.
It means so much to me to know that there are those that stand up for what they know to be real and believe in. The only way to conquer the unknown is to let it be known………………to share with people that fear something because they just don’t know, to share with them what is real and what has been instigated by a few with agendas and then spread by those that just didn’t know and feared that very unknown.
At the Eukanuba last year I had one of the legends of the breed admit to me that for years she was one of my biggest critics because she went by things that she had ‘heard’ and that now that she personally ‘knows’ how wrong she had been all those years………..but before she apologized any further, I stopped her and told her that we were past all that and from now ‘we’ begin anew, knowing what was real and what was purported to be……………….no need to dwell on what’s behind and best to forge forward with the time we have before us.
I have always told my owners that we let our dogs do the talking, because then and there we can do the walk, the strut that comes when you know you have the real deal.
What Is An Iceberg?
The pointing and finishing of so many of our young dogs, especially the championships of two 10 month old puppies has brought about an avalanche of inquiries as to how our training and conditioning programs work for puppies and young dogs.
Success has a way of attracting the bees to the flowers; it’s like one of those gigantic sky searchlights that scan the skies letting folk on the ground from nearby locales ‘see’ where the action is and hopefully drive on over to check it out.
“How do you all do it?" comes in very frequently.
A recent one was, “We have been breeding and showing for over 10 years and maybe have had two of our puppies win points and you guys are finishing them before they are a year old!”
They want to know what has taken us more than four decades to decipher as to what works best with the youngsters…………….the trial and errors that has brought us to this ‘aha moment’, the hundreds of starting over again because something wasn’t working as it should………………the constant tweaking to get it as right as right can go……………the time and energy that it takes to put something into play, something that took lots and lots of conjuring and devising, planning and innovating and in many cases inventing mechanism to employ in the implementation of a theory………………….yep, they see it working and they too want to enjoy that successful feeling when it all comes together and works.
Yes, they want to know but they don’t really care for the history behind the final product, the product that most see is the successes that comes with all the innovating, implementing, executing………………. after having decided on which dogs it will work the best on.
So, the answers is not always easy to give because so much depends on the individual dog, but of even greater magnitude is that the method needs to be applied with the expertise that comes with the endeavor.
Merely being told, ‘this is the way we do it’ is totally meaningless unless the inquirer has a level of knowhow on how to implement it…………….so a conundrum if you will……………we may share ‘an’ answer, but that doesn’t guarantee that it will be the right answer for their dog nor that it will be put into play correctly even if it did fit the dog in question.
It’s like summarizing that an iceberg is a little piece of ice floating above the surface of the water!
“Build it and he will come” from the Field of Dreams, at times reverberates well with what happens here at Chambray Acres.
I built it and they do come……………..in this case it’s ‘he’s’ and ‘she’s’ and ‘their’ dogs, not so much in droves as in the movie, but by design, one by one.
The majority of the time, I can handle the ‘one by ones’ and then three nights a week, I encourage as many as would like to trek out over here at the edge of civilization with their best friends in tow for group training classes!
Yep, no need to go any further west, lest you want to witness the behemoths go head to head or maybe ‘mouth to mouth’ would be a better descriptive of the battles to the death as just occurred a few days ago when an alligator traipsed off into the dismal swamp, much the winner over a ‘just expired’ 14-foot python in his dinosaur-sized mouth!
They say to the victor goes the spoils, so the indigenous Florida dweller has a lot to chew on with the now diced and diseased intruder that ventured into his domain. I’m sure that the rest of his ‘hood’ back in the reeds and backwaters have also been invited to the tasty exotic eat-out!
Meanwhile back at the farm, just within hollering distance of the duels to the end that occur just down the road from Chambray’s front gate………………….they come................the owners with their dogs!
They come because it’s part of being a Chambray ‘dog and owner’, it’s become a tradition now, after 46 years right here at the same place………………with some of those owners, their 3rd or 4th dog through four-plus decades.
Today, there were four appointments with Chambray owners and each one of them have been here hundreds of times over the years because all four of those owners had Chambray dogs in the 1990’s and one of them, Sam had obtained his first Chambray Labrador in 1980……………….36 years ago when I was 30 years old and he was 9 years older than me!
Here he was with his 3rd Lab in 36 years obtained right here at the place that I built.
This latest dog now 10 years old and the gentleman that I have known all these years was sharing with me that with him just turning 76………….sadly looking at the old grizzled gray-faced old black Lab lying at his feet that he knew it would be his last dog, “I'm not quite sure which of us will go first, I’m hoping it will be me, because I just can’t bear seeing another one go.”
That brought a tear to me eye, which I cleared away pretending it was something that fell in my eye because we all know that men aren’t supposed to cry.
The rest of the day’s visitors………….each was on their 2nd, 3rd or 4th Chambray dog. There was Mila with her young dog, now her 3rd and recently she added #4 that lives in the Carolinas with her husband, while he builds their next home away from home. Her first 2 dogs lived well into their high teens, both 16 years old when they passed on. So, there we were sitting under the old Orchid tree, some 20 years later ‘talking dogs’, some more!
Donna and Macey don’t know each other, however they have lived in the same zip code since both obtained their first Chambray dog in 1994……………..small world, both live in South Miami.................both purchased a Chambray dog within months of each other 22 years ago and here today they each have their 2nd dog from the same litter!!!!!!!!!!!!! Small world as today their appointments out to the farm were an hour apart!!!!!!!!!!!!! Small world indeed!
Build it and they will come!
This conjuring and reminiscing brings to mind another case where Chambray dogs lived a couple of blocks apart in West Kendall.
Roger (somehow related to Marie, Tank’s owner) owned a most impressive yellow male and on this particular day he was out for a stroll about his neighborhood with that dog.
Tony came home to find the side gate to the backyard totally wide open and his prized Ch Chambray’s Franco was nowhere to be seen! Summoning all inside the house, the whole family set out for points north, south, east and west to search for Franco!
After a half hour of roaming up and down streets and avenues, lo and behold, Tony spots his dog being walked by some stranger. He pulls the car up to the man holding his dog and demands that the man turn Franco over to him!
After some heated arguing, the two men get into a brawl and were rolling around the ground with the dog all twisted up among the two!
Just then, Tony’s father sees the commotion and drives to where the two men were pummeling each other!
Breaking the two combatants apart enough to announce that Franco had been found and was back at home now!
“How can that be, when he’s right here?” Tony would demand from his father.
As it worked out for all involved, a case of mistaken identity as Tony and Roger’s dogs were both Chambray dogs and half-brothers from the same sire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My, my, build it and they have come through the ages.
Some 175 miles in another Florida city at some fancy resort, an interview client stops to have lunch as they are headed south down to Chambray Acres on the outskirts of Miami, way out next to the Everglades.
As the whole family is giddy with excitement that after communicating for months with Chambray, they are finally going to visit and actually see some Lab puppies, the server for their table overhears “Lab puppies” and tells them that she too has Labradors!
She then proceeds to advise them that there is no other place than to go for a Labrador than to Chambray Labradors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You see, Debra, their server happens to have 4 Chambray dogs………………….two of them top producing champions! Small world 175 miles away!
Jorge is in Colorado on a skiing trip with his family and his faithful 9-year old black Chambray dog………..a dog that travels the world over with him. As the family is having breakfast at on open air, very popular inn, a large group of people walk by and are totally fascinated with his dog.
They were exclaiming how much this dog looks like their own black Lab back at home! As the people begin talking more about their dogs, come to find out that both families are from Miami and both dogs are from Chambray and from the same litter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Build it and they have come for 46 years now to the small world known as Chambray Labradors.
Words Of Wisdom Resonate
“They only talk about you when you are winning, because nobody cares about you when you lose!” words from the wizen, now retired professional handler and judge.
Yep, so true because for the first 10 years that we were showing and not making any head way, we were treated like we didn’t exist, now I am sure that most of those at the Labrador ring wish we didn’t exist all over again but for all the different reasons!
The old tough as nails judge Jane Kay, may she rest in peace shared with me that “in exhibiting dogs, misery loves company!” and that those “losers always whine!” That becomes so obvious right after the conclusion of Best Of Breed as all the losers for the day clump together to commiserate their fate and lay blame on everything but the kitchen sink and as sure as heck that snakes hiss, that the poor sink has probably been blamed its fair share of the time as well!
Another professional handler that puts on handling seminars always tells his paying attendees, “When you win, make a big deal about it, let all those outside the ring know you have won, let the judge know you appreciate his selecting you and your exhibit……………………………….if you lose, exit the ring post haste and disappear from sight, don’t be part of the loser group around ringside!”
Anna Katherine Nicholas, world-renowned dog authority and author of just about every book on breeds of dogs including the Book of the Labrador Retriever (the real big one), once pulled me aside at a dog show she had just judged at and said to me, “Follow your instincts and not the current fads or those making a lot of noise”! Back 26 years ago, at the time I didn’t fully comprehend her wisdom, now I see it clear as day.
“The real good ones last because they have some sense. The hasty ones come and go, keep an eye on this young bitch she will do your breeding program right.” Judge extraordinaire Marcia Foy shared with me in 2002, right after giving Winners Bitch to one of our young bred-by females being handled by our then 8-year old son Ryan. She of course was referring to having seen our dogs since Jessie was born in 1989 and Ryan in 1994, as she kept up with both of our kids and also with the Chambray breeding program just as her partner of over 25 years, Anna Katherine Nicholas had for all those same years.
By the way that young bitch that had won 2 Best In Show Puppy awards right before turning a year old and then finishing her championship by 18 months, ended up being a major player for Chambray’s breeding program by producing 4 champions of her own, a Chambray record and also a Top Producer Award for the breed.
“Success isn’t always spelled with a championship, rather the longevity that your lines produce, spells whether what you are doing with the breed is measured or is forgotten.” George Bragaw, a true giant of the breed in so many ways, said to me when the breed standard revision was in full heated mode back in the 1990’s.
Words and shared thoughts are such strong motivation for those seeking enlightenment and clarity. They resonate years and decades later for those truly dedicated to making a difference and not the usual status quo or worst yet, those reveling in mediocrity.
It’s so unfortunate that those leading the way have to deal with those lagging detractors doing their best to hold back those that seek a better way.
Puff The Magic Dragon
"I am a long time Labrador hobby breeder that moved to Florida. For several years I have been following the Labrador scene here in the state as a spectator and also as a Labrador hobby breeder. I have shown my own dogs on several occasions, especially when a Labrador breeder is brought in to judge*. My casual observations have led me to come to a valid conclusion about the dog shows and dogs being exhibited and why more dogs are not showing.
There would be far more entries if your dogs were not competing! Most of the area breeders have decided that it is futile competing against this system that you have devised. You have created such a lopsided and unfair situation with the way you breed** dogs and then provide them all this training and conditioning*** that you claim is important and then because you and your whole family go out and handle the dogs, the all-breed judges**** are pressured to give your dogs most of the wins. That leaves the hobby breeders very little to go on as they can’t get enough wins to ever finish a dog that they bred. Some are more or less forced to travel great distances to where the competition is fair. However, sometimes your group will also show up at these out of state shows***** and win there as well."
Editors Note: *I starred some captions above to cover them below.*
There was more, but the above was the gist of the ‘message’ from a long time Labrador ‘hobby breeder’ as mentioned 4 times in the long and rambling communication!
Living in the land of the free and the brave…………….we all are entitled to freedom of speech and expression, so kudos to that and actually ‘thank you’ for sharing your thoughts and concerns.
Since the writer expressed that many other ‘hobby breeders’ she had spoken to, also shared the opinions she wrote about, I thought I would address the more obvious misconception that are being parlayed about.
Of course I know sure as tootin that it really doesn’t matter what explanations are offered, conspiracies have a life of their own and it is so much easier blaming imaginary mystical dragons and nefarious goings on than accepting stark reality. There is no mystery; no drama in what is real, so hear say, innuendo, and the dark side are so much more romantic and credible to those that cannot accept what is totally apparent before them.
So, here is a bit of reality.
*Our current winning streak of 139 consecutive winning weekends includes Winners Dog/Winners Bitch/Best Of Breeds from every Labrador breeder judge we have been under.
Including Best Of Breed Bred By Exhibitor at the 2015 Eukanuba National Championships
Select Gr Champion 2015 Eukanuba National Championships
5-Pt Major Winners Dog 2014 LRC Specialty
Best Labrador Puppy 2015 LRC
Select Grand Ch Bitch LRC 2013
Select Grand Ch Bitch 2014
3 Judges Award Of Merit LRC
1 Judges Award Of Excellence 2014 Eukanuba
A Best In Specialty Show
2 Sporting Group 1’s
17 Best Of Breeds
5 Winners Dog
4 Winners Bitch
**Our breeding program produced an average of 5 litters a year from over 60 females available. That is a drop in the bucket compared to all the other litters produced in Florida by ALL the other breeders combined.
Let me explain that and make it a little easier to understand.
If you take all the other Florida ‘hobby breeders’ who claim to be serious conformation breeders………..say there are 30 of them (that’s a low ball figure, because there could be 3 times that many) and you add up all the litters they produce in the same year that Chambray has those 5 litters……………and you say that each of those ‘hobby breeders’ has 3 litter each……………ANOTHER LOW BALL FIGURE BECAUSE THERE IS AT LEAST ONE BREEDER THAT HAS OVER 20 LITTERS A YEAR and several others that have 2 to 3 times as many as Chambray!!!!!!!!
But just keeping everything tidy and bundled up, say those 30 breeders had 3 litters a year, that would be 90 litters with about 8 puppies per litter between them or about 720 puppies compared to the paltry 5 x 8 = 40 puppies we will have for 2016 and 43 we had last year…………………….so pray tell where is the ‘lopsided and unfair situation’ created by Chambray’s breeding program?
It would seem that producing 700+ dogs would have a marked advantage than versus looking at 40 dogs! In fact for those that have a firm understanding of facts from fiction, if we can finish 6 champions from 40 dogs each of the last 5 years, shouldn’t there be 18 times more champions produced by those breeders that total 720 dogs bred? So 18 times 6 would mean that all those other breeders should have had 108 champions in 1 year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But here is the reality Chambray ~ 40 dogs produced = 6 champions
The Others breeders with 720 dogs produced = 3 or 4 champions at the most.
Now keeping it real, 720 is probably half of the numbers really produced by all those breeding dogs in Florida! Remember there are several breeders that produce more than 20 litters a year by themselves!
***Training and Conditioning ~ Really? These are sporting dogs and they should be shown in working conditioning. But don’t take my word for it, READ THE STANDARD! Oh by the way, watching TV and eating spaghetti and pizza is not working!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
****Breed Judges ~ unlike the professional handlers that schmooze with all the judges, be it all-breed judges or breeder/judges that get swamped with adoring minions, we totally rely on our dogs to do the talking and the walking!
*****Out Of State Shows ~ Yep, we too load up the truck and head out to where there are those that want competition. Besides, since the locals boycott the Florida shows, we need to go out and compete for those major pointed shows that are out of state since our own shows in the state have such poor entries in the Lab ring and yes, we did just finish another one of our dogs who was under the age of 12 months………….speaks volumes for the quality of all these young dogs that our program is putting out.
So, for those still in Puff The Magic Dragon land, keep drifting in that perpetual fog of mysticism and mind bending illusions while reality keeps on truckin with die hard and cast in stone, verifiable results.
Here We Go Again
Here we go again, I wouldn’t bring up, however this is way too fresh on my mind to let it slide!
The perfect rear, that’s what the perfect rear should look like.
Looking at the photo above, there are parallel planes created by each leg assembly as called for by the breed standard.
In order for that to happen, the toes, the hock joint, the knee and the thigh of one side all must be lined up right over each other, creating one plane, then the other side leg creates another plane that has the exact same components/joints being lined up over each other. The exact same distance from the left toes to the right toes is exactly the same distance from the left hock to the right hock, ditto the distance from left to right knee and too with the thighs.
If all that happens correctly, looking at the dog from the rear, the dog has the perfect rear assembly.
That’s what the Labrador Retriever Breed Standard dictates to breeders as being what should be. Unlike other standards for other breeds, the Labrador breed standard goes a huge step further in stating WHAT SHOULDN’T BE!
Yep, you guessed it……………………..IT SHOULDN’T be cow-hocks and that is stated right on the breed standard!
So, just how can we tell if a dog is cow-hocked? Remember that the distance between the left toes and the right toes should equal the distance between the left hock and the right hock. If the hocks are trying to hook up and have a party by themselves, if the opposing hocks are converging into one another…………then Houston You Have A Problem………………..actually more than a problem according to the breed standard………………………… ‘A serious structural defect”!
The visitor at Chambray with her very nice looking 18 month bitch seemed a little peeved at me for pointing out and explaining to her a glaring defect that her “Molly” possessed.
She then lamented that if wasn’t for me constantly bringing up the same old subject about cow-hocks that nobody would really be noticing and carrying too much about it!
Well bust my britches…………….yippee ki-yay………………..dang it if I haven’t been doing my job as the breed’s protector!
At that precise moment that the dog’s owner made that statement I was feeling silly with pride! Yep, mission accomplished if that is the only thing that I will be given credit for as a long time Labrador breeder!
She went on to say that her dog’s breeder says that none of the other serious breeders really care too much if the dogs are somewhat cow-hocks!
That’s what guilty people say and do when they sweep the dirt under the carpet and then claim to have a clean house!
The problem with this ‘sort of clean house’ is that it is always on display wherever the dog is and stands; there will be the expose, the dirt sans the carpet!
The difference is that dirt can ultimately be swept out, however cow-hocks will breed more cow-hocks, with succeeding generations just as the breeder of this dog has been doing for as long as I can remember…………….it is inheritable dirt and cannot be easily swept either under the carpet or broomed out from the breeder’s gene pool………….a very obvious situation that seems to perpetuate itself generation after generation.
Breeding The Best To The Best Produces The Next Best
Yes, all top show breeders use their best females for breeding! It would be a real ninny that would on purpose select the worst brood bitches in their kennel to use to produce their puppies.
Of course we all know that ninnies abound all around, thick as a Cyprus knees around their queen bees!
Without the benefit of having all their marbles as part of their playset, there were several who were quick to point out that my breeding scheme was not any different than all the other breeders were using, I need to illuminate through the fog that some must still be in.
The vast majority of the top show breeders, probably 999.9% of them Keep The Best & Sell The Rest.
If they indeed knew what they were looking at and made the right decisions on which really were the best from each litter, then theoretically they would be building up a repertoire of the best from each generation and have those outstanding dogs right there in their kennel to choose from for breeding.
That would be an ideal situation, but in reality, there are a lot of bumps along that path that derail the high expectations for that scheme to work as smoothly as it sounds.
First of all, very few folk ever reach the point of expertise in evaluating a litter and actually selecting the real top puppies from the litter. So, there is no guarantee that the best puppies will be the ones that are retained by the breeder. There is that probability that the best from each litter will be the ones walking out the door away from the breeding program.
Then there is the fact that things have drastically changed in the number of dogs that folk are allowed by USDA, state and local zoning laws……………….keeping a whole stable of breeding dogs is a thing of the past which more or less forces a breeder’s hand at limiting the actual numbers of dogs that they can keep and then consider for their breeding program.
Having a restricted number of dogs then leads to that breeder not being able to add freely to the breeding stock, so that the same dogs are used to breed 3, 4 or more litters, this process limits the actual new generations produced since the same dogs are the ones producing litters year after year.
Our breeding protocol is vastly different since we have every dog that has been designated as show prospects as puppies available to us as adults. So, when we state that we breed the best…………………..we ACTUALLY breed the best!
That is a huge advantage over breeding only what’s available in the kennel. Having 60 to 70 of the best ever females assuredly trumps only having available the 6 or 8 to choose from that are the kennel's breeding females.
However the biggest difference comes from having each succeeding generation available and not breeding the same females countless times over and over. So, a new generation of the best from the best is paramount for raising the bar on a more frequent basis than the same female breeding for 5 or 6 years, producing the same generation level of puppies all those years.
While our competitors are still breeding their bitches from 6 or 7 years ago, we have had 2 or 3 new generations of superior dogs already producing for us. After 10 years of that reality, our dogs will be at least 4 if not 5 generations further along than those breeders that use the same female to breed 4 to 6 litters!
There is no comparison whatsoever………………in fact none to compare to! That’s because what we do has no equal and no parallel…………………..being unique entitles one to be totally different………………….being the most successful Labrador breeding program then validates the innovation to be valid and one to emulate.
It's An Up & Down World
The Up Side: Another 100% Evaluation
We just completed the evaluations for what may be the last litter for Chambray for 2016. All 8 puppies rated beyond the ‘stellar’ mark of 95! Every puppy in the litter has what it takes to be show dogs.
Not just show dogs………………..top show dogs! That makes 3 litters in a row with blowout numbers!
That’s batting 1000 for 3 consecutive litters and out of the 4 litters that Chambray has produced for 2016, 3 whole litters produced ALL TOP SHOW PUPPIES……………………with scores of 95+ in every trait considered!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All 3 of these last litters………all 22 puppies in those 3 litters worth being top show prospects! Not one falling below a score of 95 on any of the 7 traits we rate! Keeping in mind that a score of 92 starts the range for being labeled ‘show’…………………………85 to 91 acceptable for showing………………………80 to 84 fair and anything under 80 just will not be competitive enough here in Florida to even be considered for breeding.
Lest we be accused of being ‘kennel blind’ in the same time frame that we evaluated these 3 top scoring litters, there were also 6 litters from different breeders/kennel’s breeding programs that we have also performed evaluations on…….so we have great comparisons to look at.
When I envisioned this progressive breeding program of only breeding the best to the best……………..by actually having the best available from each litter ever produced…………….knowing genetics and how they apply to succeeding generations, I figured it would take twice the generations to be at the level that we are experiencing right now.
Here we are at the 8th generation produced using this innovative and avant garde breeding protocol and the results by far exceed the expectations in half the time. Each of the succeeding generations so far have raised the bar on the previous one and the documented successes at the dog shows prove beyond any doubt the reality and value of the endeavor.
Now we await their debut at the competitive venues, the AKC shows that will be up and running by the end of September. Before they set foot at these competitive venues, each puppy is gauged first against our own lineup of puppies that have been produced for the 2016 season.
The ones with the most potential will be the ones that will be put on the front lines to debut at the up and coming Florida fall dog shows that kick back up in September at Deland FL.
We will get to see glimpses of a few of them at the AKC Beginner Pup 4-6 Month competitions that are now offered at some AKC show. We will see how they compare up against each other and hopefully there will be puppies from other Labrador breeders as well to stack up against which gives us a good idea if what we are witnessing is verifiable where it counts, at the venues where conformational virtue is a must.
The Down Side: An Interview Gone Awry Before Its Time
The Puppy Placement Program Interviews serve several purposes, however the first and foremost reason that I insist on a personal visit with me here at Chambray Acres or at an out of town dog show where the puppy searcher may live…….is to give me an opportunity to see and get to know who the prospective puppy buyers are and if I would consider them for placing one of my top show puppies with.
During that ‘investigative’ period, I also apprise them of our innovated, unique and avant garde Labrador Owner’s Program. I let them know that we only breed for show purposes and not to supply the pet puppy market and thus the few puppies produced will be placed in selected homes.
I also explain that each puppy has a very individualized temperament and personality and it is my job, as a dog trainer that has worked with over 40,000 owners/dogs in 46 years, that I will decide the puppy for the environment where it will be placed. I do that by finding out as much as possible from the people being interviewed.
Now, all of the above is documented throughout the different websites that I have uploaded to the Internet. It is something that I direct to each and every email that I answer way before I decide who will be set up for an interview.
From the 1200+ folk that contact me for puppies a year, I filter out over 900 right away for a myriad of reasons and then I coax additional information out of the remaining 300+ to the point that after 3 or 4 emails I will narrow that number down to about 100 that will be lined up for the all-important interview.
From that 100 or so, there will be those that will have placed the 50 or so puppies produce annually.
This year, depending on the last litter for the year to be born in September, if there are 8 puppies in that litter, we will reach 39 puppies for 2016!
So, imagine my surprise recently when the scheduled interview of the man and woman was seated across from me under the old Orchid tree………………..an interviewed that had already corresponded back and forth with 8 emails and when I start explaining the process of the Puppy Placement Process the lady opens up her note book and proceeds to stop me from going further and tells me that before we go any further she will be interviewing me to see if she was going to be picking out one of the puppies that I have available for sale!
Seeing that this was one of those situations that go south before taking a step in any other direction I make it known to her, “Well to start off, there are no puppies available.”
Silence is golden and pins and needles could be heard clinking out in the street! So, seizing the quietness, I added, “Then when puppies are made available, I choose where each one will be calling their new home.”
Up until then the man had sat rather still across from me, now he squirmed a little in his seat and looked rather uncomfortable as the lady took on a more offensive posture, closed her notebook and stated that this is not how she does business because she wants to be able to see the whole litter and be able to pick out the one that she wants.
Sensing the point of no return had been crossed way before I opened the front gate and led the couple to the outdoor chairs they were occupying, I tell her that I had made a mistake thinking that she had read all the pertinent information provided at the websites and through the emails that I had supplied her letting her know that she was here for an interview for a litter that we didn’t even know if the female was actually pregnant……………………….. one with several waiting list deposits for sight unseen, yet to be born puppies and those waiting would accept whichever puppy I would make available to them.
“Well, I am glad that we got all that cleared up because now we will be early to our scheduled visit with Scooby Doo* Labradors!” she would matter of fact announce. *not real name used.
So, their abbreviated stay at Chambray was indeed welcomed so that I could retreat away from the hot and most humid day in August here in South Florida, of course the next day and the day after that would also feel like the most humid day out here next to the Everglades.
The ironic twist to the Gone Awry Interview was that here they were at the pinnacle of all Labrador places to be at and now they were headed to a backyard puppy pet producer who doesn’t have any clearances on any of their dogs, offers zilcho support network, has no clue what training a dog is, no guarantees and the dogs from there look like they are another breed…………….…….
‘un-reasonable facsimiles’ wouldn’t do them justice!
True Blue or 50 Shades Of Gray
In the Born Champion’s blog I made mention of ‘bona fide true blue Labrador breeders’ and some wanted to know examples there of………………………well, I tell it like it is, but names I don’t do well!
Let’s just put it this way, we know who we are.
Yep, I know who belongs in this upper echelon, elite group, just as all those who are in it know who else is in there with them/US!
It’s very simple to surmise who belongs and who the aspiring are, the tag alongs, the wannabees, the also ran and of course those who will never make it…………………….all you have to do is look at the dogs they are breeding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sure as sugar is sweet, the tell-all tale of the tape is their end product………………….the dogs bred by them.
There is no way that someone with poor specimens of the breed will ever reach that status of being true blue……………………….someone with dogs that seldom win is missing on some of the important ingredients……………..someone breeding and then showing those dogs with ‘serious structural defects’ is goofy at best and looney at least……………….no way Jose that any of these blokes can claim to be knowledgeable Labrador breeders.
Hey, they may know how to put a male and a female together in a pen and let them have at it…………………..they may know that it takes 60 to 62 days later for the dam to whelp that litter………………..they know how to make announcements on FaceBook with lots of furry little puppy photos…………………….they know that at 8 weeks is the best time to sell those puppies and sure as tootin, they know how to deposit those checks and pocket that cash that comes in.
None of the above makes any of those true blue Labrador breeders!
To tell the truth, I don’t even know what some of those on top look like even if we bumped heads while picking up after our dogs at a dog show. We don’t need to know what WE look like because it is what the DOGS look like that matter.
I can honestly say that out of the Top 25 Breeders in the country, I may have personally met 5 of them. The rest, I won’t know from Adam or Eve. I would be very surprised if I ever walked into a show venue up north or out west if anyone would know me from Chico or the Man!
It’s not about the people, it’s about what the people have done to improve their lot and contribute something to the Betterment of the Breed.
My guestimate is that there are about 100 true blue Labrador breeders in the country. The rest need to prove their salt………………………………………by showing up with the goods in hand and those good be as good as can be!
So, bottom line is that there is True Blue and all the rest are 50 Shades of Gray.
Made Champions VS Born Champions
The Iceberg blog brought about a lot of inquiries as to what it takes to make up a champion.
I have always stated that champions are born!
Yep, real-live tootin champions* were born from the get go and then it takes nurturing, expertise and the right resolve to guide them to their destiny……………….that pie in the sky that we have set as the ultimate goal for a show dog, an AKC champion’s title!
Notice that there is an asterisk as part of real-live tootin champions…………………that’s because there is a fair share of dogs that like horses, are led to water and those dogs do drink the water and eventually with lots of smoke and mirrors, sleight of hand, inconsistent and at times dubious judging and other, way too numerous anomalies will end up also having an AKC Ch as a prefix in front of their name.
Those of us who know Bo…………………..that know Diddley……………that know squat………………….that can’t have the wool pulled over our eyes……………………..we know which those pseudo dogs are and which are the Real McCoy……………………we know value when we see it and having adornments in front of a dog’s name means less than beans.
We know that it is all part of the big picture, those that have it and those that don’t even though they both may have a title introducing their name. We know it takes all kinds to keep the wheels moving, that the machinery has to be greased in order for it all to flow. We know that for every dog that deservedly finishes its champion’s quest, 4 others started out and failed to make that imaginary finish line at the end of 15 points and 2 majors.
We also know that 4 out of 5 dogs that finish truly deserve the bestowment, which means that there are around 20% that ‘made’ it because of other reasons besides being tops with their conformation.
Labrador old timers will tell you that if a dog is shown enough by savvy and well-known handlers that its chances of being ‘made’ into a champion is as close to a done deal as Monty Hall of Let’s Make A Deal could offer.
Sadly, there are great numbers of dogs that were born champions that won’t make it to the promise land. The August 7th blog, Dogs That Don’t Champion details those cases.
Dogs that are born champions are born that way because of breeders that had the vision and the knowledge of the breed to put together the right traits and genes to produce those ‘born champions’.
Then it takes a whole set of other knowledge to prepare those dogs to go into the venues where they will be judged according to their conformation and their performance.
Then it takes another set of values to be the one doing the presentation, the handling of the dogs in the ring.
So, in a nut shell,
it takes a breeder to create the ‘born’……………………
it takes training and conditioning to prepare them to compete
and then it takes handling to present them correctly.
Now, the interesting thing about those dogs that were not born champions and yet made it to the winners circle just the same………………
it took a breeder to make them be born that way,
it took training to get them ready
and then it took handling to present them in a way to make them look like born champions.
The litmus test for a bona fide, true blue Labrador breeder is, can you tell which is which?
Reaching For The Stars
Tip Of The Iceberg Syndrome
In every endeavor, sport, organization……………….anything where success is the final product, what is witnessed by the masses is just the instant moment of the hitting of the 3000th hit in baseball, the breaking of the 100 meters track record or a company moving into 1st place, passing up whichever other company, batter, runner or what/which/who-ever had held that prestigious spot a fleeting second before that instant that someone crosses that sought out line, raises that quested bar. Those moments of reaching the top are the tips of the iceberg that are seen by all those following along.
What is not seen, felt or really appreciated is the humongous time, energy, skills, practices………honing and perfecting that is done in the background by hundreds, thousands or greater multitudes……………..including the bester that just went that one step further.
A recent statement that I received in a correspondence made mention that Chambray Labradors was on auto pilot with the 139 consecutive weekend winning streak………………….a record for the ages. “You guys make it look so easy!” was the finishing touch on the email.
Making it look easy is NOT EASY TO DO!
That visual moment, that tip of the iceberg doesn’t show what lies underneath………………it doesn’t show all the layers of time and matter, the acumen, expertise, and applicable knowhow……………the energy expanded with the trials and errors to get it right and then coming to grips if it doesn’t work after dozens of times working it to a T! The constant brainstorming and going back to the drawing board……………..the tweaking of tiny widgets and the incorporating of larger gadgets to get it working at maximum capacities……………………..hopefully, all leading to it looking ‘so easy’!
We live in the most instant gratification moment in history! The savoring of a major accomplishment is fleeting because once that swing of the bat produces that 3000th hit, those onlookers are now looking elsewhere for the next ‘great’ feat by someone else…………………..that great feat being the tip of the iceberg at another venue or realm, endeavor or happening.
Garnering 20 Olympic gold medals by Phelps is another one for the ages and according to the commentators, one they will never see bested in their lifetime of sports coverage! Watching Phelps touch the pool wall a millisecond before the 2nd outstretched failing hand and capturing the 20th high watermark gold indeed was thrilling and yet a moment later it was totally out of my mind as I watched the gymnastic team raise the bar themselves in another tip of the iceberg moment!
We are so bombarded by record breaking events that they only matter for a nanosecond when it may have taken what seemed eons for the quester to accomplish, yet we and even I want more. Like the Star Trek opening scene tells us, “To boldly go where no one has gone before”.
So what happens when the Enterprise reaches that place where no one else has gone before? Right when they arrive there, there’s another place just down the lightyear road that lies just beyond the place that they have just arrived at and they too will now seek that next tip of the iceberg that lays in wait for the next bester to come along.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I live for those moments because I too am a product of our “more/bigger/faster” society mentality……………..I want more, because more is gauged to be better and better leads to that tip of the iceberg moments that we can savor for a minute or two before it’s time to suit up and go for another gold!
Each of those moments, be it the weekend winning thing, the most champions in a year in the country, the most champions in a lifetime in the state, any and all those records posted, broken, bars raised for me with Labradors is a defining moment because it lets me know that we are on the right path to that place where no one has gone before.
A Growing Village
The Kenner Louisiana 4 days of shows are barely behind us and we now have a 6 week stretch of time with no dog shows to travel to………………yet here we are the very next day after finishing our 5th champion for the year and the gears are turning big time for the up and coming Florida shows at the end of September, the three weekends of shows in October and one weekend of shows in November. Those are the prelude to the super climax of the year, the Eukanuba week of shows in December in Orlando FL.
Talk about making plans and getting all the duckies in a row………………because things really move fast the last four months of the dog show year, especially taking care of business for the Eukanuba National Championships on Saturday, December 17th, the LRC Specialty on Friday the 16th and the 3 days of Orlando shows leading up to the LRC show.
Of course we are all super excited about our newest champion finishing before turning a year old. Ch Chambrays Duke Destined For Greatness becomes the 2nd puppy in as many years to achieve his AKC champion’s title as a puppy. Duke just became Chambray’s 55th home-grown champion.
Our newest Bronze Grand Ch, BBE Bronze Grand Ch Chambrays Eventful N Counter crosses that threshold and gives Chambray a record 7 dogs that have gone all the way to the AKC Bronze Grand Champion’s title. She is now ranked in the Top 20 Grand Champions in the country.
So, for the remaining four dog show months of 2016, we work towards finishing 7 dogs that have a chance to attain the needed points for their AKC championship.
Chambrays Triple Play “Sonic” with 12 points 1 Major
Chambrays Galactic N Counter Gayla with 14 points
Chambrays Black Diamond Out Of The Ruff 12 points
Chambrays Midnight Delta Lady 9 points 2 Majors
Chambrays Ole Miss Zeta Lady 9 points 2 Majors
Chambrays Chaos 6 pts
Chambrays Recurrent Dream N Counter “Dreamer” 5 points 1 Major
There are also several dogs with 4 points or less that will be in the hunt for the wins as well.
We will be debuting several adult dogs that have been on the backburner awaiting their turn and now that there have been 5 dogs that have finished thus far this year, openings have been created for them to be moved up to the show roster.
In addition, there will be several puppies that will also emerge as 6-month olds starting with the Deland shows on September 24/25 and others that will be old enough at the succeeding weekends of shows that will take their first baby steps in the show ring.
We always look forward to our newest addition to the betterment of the breed, plus welcoming brand new owners to the world of dog shows and to the Chambray Owner’s Program.
For the previous 10 years we have concentrated on placing our absolute best show puppies right here in Florida and of course that has been super successful with the titling of over 32 new champions in 6 years. However, that has also created tremendous competition within our own lineup of dogs at the Florida shows.
Three years ago we made a concentrated effort to take a percentage of our top puppies and place them outside of the state and even outside the country in show environments.
We have seen several of these outside placements really payoff. Two of those dogs were placed with Darrell Venters of KY and both dogs showed extremely well becoming AKC Ch-Pted along the way. Both dogs also contributed greatly to the betterment of the breed by producing great puppies, some of which have already become AKC champions and more are assuredly on the way.
Two other dogs were placed with Virginia Wilson of Memphis TN and both of those girls are now a few single points away from their AKC champion’s title. Fingers crossed, we hope both make it across the finish line this year and later both would be great candidates for the breeding program.
One placement went to Guatemala with the dog already achieving and FCI championship in record time.
Our 53rd Chambray champion was placed with Pat and Russ Blosse of NY and he just finished his AKC championship before turning 18 months! Mission accomplished!
We now have a couple of puppies that will be showing from Maryland and one from California and we can’t wait for both to make a run in those states with the Chambray banner!
A growing village indeed.
The Chambray Village Painting A Pretty Picture
There he was in all his splendor, a brand new champion taking pictures with his handlers……….that action of taking the ceremonial photo is part of the continuous brushstrokes to a beautiful painting………….an unfinished masterpeice that was handed to Chambray Labradors 28 years ago and one that will continue on with more to add to that canvas that stands before us.
To arrive at this point in Kenner LA with Johanna Herzon taking a photo with her newest champion handling assignment…………………..this Chambray Labrador’s 8th generation success story, there has been a whole village that has been instrumental in making all of this possible.
So, we start with the now and work our way back to 1988, where we began to add to the emerging big picture that was handed us at the time.
1) The 10-month old new champion in the photo is surrounded by his team of handlers, his name now officially is Ch Chambrays Duke Destined For Greatness. Duke is owned by our newest addition to the Chambray Owner’s Program and growing ‘Village’, Alyona Nikitsina and Gadi Shvarzman of Boca Raton FL.
From the very beginning at their Chambray Interview, they wanted the very best and let me know that they would be there 100% with their new puppy with everything needed, including the love that I look for in each prospect that comes to me at Chambray Acres looking for an addition to their family.
From the obvious success at finishing yet another champion before it is even one year old, both Chambray came through with the placement of a super star and the owners fulfilled their promise to be there 100% with their Duke!
2) Duke comes from a breeding to a dog, Devonshire’s Huckleberry Finn, a stud dog from another breeder also steeped in longevity and history with the breed, Devonshire Labradors. Huck was specially chosen to breed to one of our superstar females from our 7th generation of producing for the betterment of the breed, Ch Chambrays Mean Green Josephine “Jojo
3) “Jojo” was co-bred and co-owned by Chambray Owner’s Program, Debra Richmond and Dave Baxter of Vero Beach FL. She is a product of AKC Ch-Pted Chambrays Stella’s Desire.
4) Stella was placed as a ‘show prospect’ through our Puppy Placement Program with Debra and Dave. Back then the two new to dog show owners were then mentored through our various Owner’s Programs including the handling of Stella to a great show career. Eventually Stella was chosen to produce a litter for the Betterment of the Breed with Chambray and was bred to BISS Ch Gingerbred Celestial Thunder which produced 2 champions from Stella’s first litter, one is Jojo and the other is top Chambray Stud Dog BBE Ch Chambrays Stellar Thunder co-owned with Olga and Juan Marrero.
5) Stella herself, a 6th generation Chambray dog came from the breeding of BIS BBE CH Chambrays Out Of The Ruff “Hogan”, who was co-owned with Chambray Owners Rosie and Bill Feeley of Boynton Beach FL.
6) Stella’s mother was BISP Ch Chambrays Chance N Counter “Connie” who was owned, trained and handled to her championship by then 12-year old Jessie Herzon.
7) Connie came from Ch Chambrays Chisholm Chancey JAMSS. Chancey was placed with Martha Chisholm and developed through the Owner’s Program. She was co-owned and co-bred with Ch Mtn. Meadows Romeo that produced 3 champion offspring. One of those was Connie.
8) Chancey came from AKC CH-Pted Chambrays Summers Rebel Amber who was placed with the Senra Family of South Miami who took part in Chambray Owner’s Program. Amber was bred to Am/Can Ch Grandquest Chambray Slaphot, “Slash” that produced Chancey.
9) “Slash” was co-owned with the Gonzalez Family of Kendall FL who actually were the first owners brought into Chambrays Owner’s Programs back in 1989.
10) Amber was the product of a breeding between Ch Chambrays Indian Summer (our first ever home-bred female champion), bred to Am/Can Ch Lindenhalls Grandquest Rebel, a Canadian import from the great Ebonylane Labrador lines. Summer was placed with the McGown Family of Davie Fl and was co-bred to the one litter with Rebel that produced Amber and one champion, CH Chambrays Caleb At Triple S
11) Summer’s mother, Beaver Creeks Crystal Chambray was our foundation bitch that was placed with us as a puppy by the late Drs’ Carol and Francis Rabalais of the then known kennel Beaver Creek Labradors (not associated with several kennels today with the same name). She was a descendent of the Ebonylane lines. When bred to Ch Snowden Hills Wise Guy, a grandson of the most influential Labrador in the history of Labradors, AM/Eng/Can Ch Receiver of Cranspire, she produced the stock that we are still working with today, the Chambray lines owe their existence to all those great dogs that came before Crystal.
So, here we are today and amalgamation of succeeding generations and of owners that were prudent enough to join in with the one-of-a-kind Chambray Labradors Owner’s Program for the Betterment of the Breed. Each of those dogs and owners taking part in the ever growing masterpiece that is now into the 28th year of progress and success with no equal in the US.
The successes the Herzons and Chambray Labradors enjoys today is a direct result of when people come together for a common cause, a Village in action where all are vital to the well-being of all involved……………….that’s what Chambray Labradors and the Owner’s Program for the Betterment of the Breed is all about and has been since that little first step way back in 1988 when Crystal squeezed out of travel crate at Miami International Airport, her destination from Pennsylvania where the Rabalias trusted me to do the right thing with her. I hope they can look down and see that I have held my end of the bargain.
Dogs That Don't Champion
General Population VS Chambray
Why Dogs That Are Exhibited, Some Don’t Become Champions.
With the championship of yet another Chambray puppy, I have received quite a few of inquiries asking for the reasons that some dogs that are exhibited do not finish their AKC champion’s title.
The reasons are many and some are combinations of reasons rather than just one.
There are also major discrepancies between the percentages for the general population of dogs being shown at the dog shows that don't make it and those in the Chambray Management Program that do not make it.
1) Dogs Not Having What It Takes:
General Population 40%: Lack of show potential fells the most dogs from the general population of show dogs. There is an inordinate amount of owners that account for this 40% because many of those people have no concept of the conformational value of their dogs, so there are many that start out showing and then drop off because the dog doesn’t win. Of course those owners blame everything else but the real reason……….the dog doesn’t have it!There is also a small percentage of dogs that are taken on by the pros as ‘fillers’ and ‘gas money dogs’ and it soon becomes obvious that they will be some of the ones that add to the Not Having It percentages and they too will run their course and not be shown any further.
Chambray 10%: There is a huge difference here between the percentages between the Not Having It of the General Population and those from the Chambray Management. Since we only include the best show prospects in our training, conditioning and then graduate them to the show roster, very few will actually drop out because they simply do not have it. However, since we work with so many more puppies than what’s being developed by the pros, there are some of those that just don’t have the drive or show charisma to continue on. Although all those have the conformation to be champions, they don’t have the showmanship and winning drive to make it however the owners are encouraged to remain in the breeding program to perpetuate their great qualities to future generations.
2) Owners Not Sticking With It:
General Population 15%: This is tied for the 2nd reason for dogs not making it all the way from the general population, where owners just drop out and do not continuing to show their dogs. These dogs could finish their championships, however there are dozens of reasons owners drop out, including the biggest reason, finances. Personal problems also knock out quite a few dogs from being shown. Odd ball personalities that just don’t seem to get it themselves causes worthy dogs to end their run towards the intended goal of being a champion.
Chambray 75%: Oh boy, talking about acid reflux for me! By a whopping 75%, the Drop Outs far outnumber every other reason for not showing and what is a real killer for me is that 99% of these dogs WOULD HAVE BECOME CHAMPIONS!
Ouch, that hurts…………….however, there is a big, big reason this occurs with our program.
We bring into the mix non-show owners at the rate of 10 to 1………………that means that the vast majority of this 75% Drop Out rate group had really no interest in even training for show in the first place, let alone actually showing their dog.
Their expectations are totally not what the doctor orders for those that are into showing……………thus their interest level may even be non-existent at best and may even be contrary at worst. Although finances affects the general population the most with drop outs, with the Chambray group, lack of interest or diversion in other activities, mostly the owner’s kid’s activities is the number 1 reason for not taking a stronger interest to show.
There are even some that tag along for a few weekends of shows and then become disillusioned with the process of exhibiting and not actually winning the points needed to be accumulated to become a champion. They don’t get the whole process of the dogs becoming proficient at actually ‘showing off’ to where they start to attract the judge’s attention. They don’t ‘see’ it as a continuing ‘works in progress’ to eventually get to that champion’s finish line sometime down the road. Some even take it personally that their dog is being 'overlooked' for the wins. They just don't see the 'whole big picture' that taking the dogs to the dog shows is a learning curve process where the dogs are learning as they are in the mix of things with dogs that have more experience, more training and are more ringwise because of the time and dues they have already put in to win those points.
The saving grace to the above is that most of those that just have no interest in the continuation of showing will stay within the Owner’s Program and if so chosen, and will contribute to the next generation by participating in the breeding program!
We also see a few that drop out because of finances and personal problems too and there is always a few that just don’t seem to fit in anywhere, including the active participation needed with their dogs in all aspects of training, conditioning, exhibiting and unfortunately breeding and these will be lost altogther.
3) Poor Handling & Bad Strategies:
General Population 15%. This reason affects owner-handlers more because their inabilities in the show ring are painfully obvious. Dogs that could finish early on take 5 to 10 times longer because of their inequality in handling skills between this group vs the professional handlers and the Chambray handling team that they have to go head to head at the Florida shows.
Along with lessened handling skills are also the bad strategies and decision making processes that are made by the novices and amateurs. Things like putting young dogs in the Open Classes against the seasoned and ring wise dogs that have pros on them and against the Chambray dogs and handlers. Also in Florida, breeder/handlers putting their dogs in the Bred By Exhibitor Class where Chambray will be handling the top prospects with the different Herzons handling there.
There are also many owner handlers that are way too sporadic in the entering of their dogs which builds no ring consistency with their dogs. Of course training and conditioning with this group is also questionable.
Chambray 0%: No problem here
4) Injuries, Disease, Death:
General Population 10%. This one really hurts because more than half of these dogs could have finished.
Chambray 5%: We experience half the losses, 5% to the 10% of the General Population because of our insistence of DNA Testing for our breeding stock, which reduces the number of dogs that end up with genetic diseases that could have been prevented. Also, through our professional training and conditioning program, we see way, way less dogs that are injured than those that have no guidance or mentoring.
5) Females Being Bred:
General Population 5%. There are always those females that the owners cannot wait to breed and have puppies, so more than half of those bred just will never come back to form and those will be lost for showing and they could have very well have finished.
Chambray 2%: Through our Management Program, we mentor all our owners that there is no hurry in breeding and we are able to cut in half those females lost to the shows by having had a litter and not being able to recoup.
6) Time Runs Out:
General Population 10%: There are always those dogs that just don’t seem to catch a break and end up running out of time because they take too long while other younger dogs keep coming up and taking the wins. Poor handling and poor strategies also contribute greatly to this group within the general population. Those owners that do not enter and compete with their dogs on a consistent basis will also increase the number of dogs that will run out of time and lose the bounce to be competitive with the younger more energetic dogs.
Chambray 3%: This is another area that we have cut down to 1/3 the numbers lost vs the general population. We are able to finish 3 times as many dogs in a much shorter period of time as the general population does so fewer dogs run out of time.
7) Various Other Reasons:
General Population 5%. There are way too many odd ball and unexpected reasons for this group to detail out.
Chambray 5%. Same as above
Specials Being Campaigned For National Ranking & Champions Shown For Grand Championships
With the finishing of our 55th lifetime champion, 5th for 2016 I thought this topic would be very relevant.
The time-honored tradition of campaigning a dog for national prominence and top breed rankings was reserved for those dogs that finished their titles and had the ‘it factor’ to take Best Of Breeds over the other top champions of the region where they were showing.
At times, where a top winning specials was being campaigned and it was doing a lot of Best Of Breed winning, younger dogs that finished from the classes would be ‘put up’ for a year or more until the top winning dog was either put up or the younger dog was developed enough to be competitive against the top dog.
If a top breeder had several champions, they would ‘run on’ with the one they felt had the best chances to take the breeder and kennel to the top. Almost never would 2 dogs from the same breeder/kennel
be competing for BOBs in the same region/state.
This was the way it was……………………for almost a century all the way to 2009!
With the advent of the AKC Grand Champion’s Title competition introduction within the last decade, the old standard ways of operations once a dog finished its AKC champions title have totally been turned catawampus and topsy-turvy.
Everything changed overnight and traditions were tossed out the window and those that resisted were swept up and within a few years, they too had to make changes to the new ways of doing things!
The newly introduced competition gave champions a reason to continue to show rather than be put up or retired from the ring. Instead of only the Best Of Breed winner receiving ranking points, now three other champions could also garner points towards another title.
At Chambray, the newest AKC introduction would be welcomed and fit like a glove because we had already been bucking the old ways for years by showing several of our owner’s champions and not deferring to one dog.
Of course, the establishment had things to say about our ways, but hey when you are leading the pack; those in the back really have nothing worthwhile to contribute since whatever it is they were doing was just not working good enough to be in front. So, it was heaven sent with our system of showing dogs to be able to continue a new champion with the hopes of attaining a higher title while it was doing so.
So, now there are two systems in place for those champions that stay in competition. The national ranking still commands the prestige it deserves because it is wholly built in winning Best Of Breeds for the Breed Rankings and taking Group Placements in the Sporting Groups for the All-Breed system.
The Top 20 dogs in the country are there because of the number of BOBs and the dogs defeated while winning those breeds. So, major bragging rights for those dogs that are in it to win it.
The Grand Champions system is also based on Best Of Breed wins, however, Best Of Opposite and Select Male champion and Select Female champion are also awarded points that accumulate and lead to first the Grand Champion’s title, then the Bronze, followed by the Silver, the Gold and then the Platinum. So theoretically a champion dog can now continue showing until middle age or more.
More and more breeder/exhibitors are valuing the newest form of competition as worthy dogs are being taken to stellar heights within each breed, in fact the general public and some breeders are now a days questioning why a champion doesn’t have a grand champion’s title!!!!!!!
Talk about the changing times and how fast something catches on with our super-duper fast paced information driven world.
4 Days Of Stir Crazy
Storms knocked out power, phones, Internet, email.....................so totally incommunicado since Tuesday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
AARRRRRGGGGGGGGGG! I must have read 500 saved emails to be used for blogs on a rainy day, well I had four days!
Here are some short and sweet ones that have come in the past.
First thing in the morning is check your blog, can’t wait to read what’s new in the Labrador world.
You all need to have your own reality TV show, you would then be rich and famous as those guys on the Duck Dynasty show.
Let the dog out, brew the coffee while reading your blog.
Let the dog out, bring in the newspaper, read your blog before the newspaper.
The best source for everything Labrador and right on my computer screen each morning.
When there isn’t a fresh blog, I am sad for the rest of the day.
Reading your blogs is more energizing than a cup of coffee.
LMAOROTHF whenever you go on the warpath. Go on the warpath more often.
You are the only Labrador breeder that is spot on and tells it like it is.
I love your writing style, although you do Labradors great, your calling is to write.
When is the book coming out, reserve me a dozen!
Hilarious, sharp and witty, to the point and pertinent for the times!
Have to hand it to you, you know how to reach an audience and keep them coming back for more.
You cover more ground than a hedgehog and are an expert on all matters concerning Labradors.* Editor’s note: I wasn’t sure if this hedgehog comparison was a compliment or not, down in my neck of the woods we don’t see hedgehogs, so I don’t know if the saying is a good or a bad thing!
Your sharing of Labrador knowledge is better than any book in print.
You are one of a kind in a great way.
Clear, precise and loud! Makes learning much easier.
You are the EF Hutton of our times, especially with Labrador breeders, you have them all ears!
When you are good, my OMG you are good……………however when you are bad, you are the baddest! * Editor’s note: I never really know if being good is really good or if being bad is good or is it the other way around?
I’m not much into the group thing or chatrooms, but I come and read your page at least once a week.
Herzon no one tells it like it is when the breed is concerned………….you are the voice for Labradors!
Truly amazing what your group does with Labradors. Just dealing with the tremendous number of owners that are part of your operation is just beyond comprehension, then taking it all and making it the most successful Labrador breeder, kennel in the country, priceless!
No Gas Money Dogs @ Chambray
The new Chambray show puppy owner posed a very legitimate ‘show handling’ question that would apply to 99% of professional dog handlers, “How do I know that my dog will not be just an ‘extra’ or a ‘gas money’ dog at the dog shows?”
For the neophyte or uninitiated into the ways of dogdom, especially dog show dogdom, professional handlers make a living showing/handling dogs for their clients. They contract out their services to those owners that want top-notch handling skills that would give their dogs a decided edge over less qualified handlers, amateurs and owner-handlers.
Most of the dogs that the pros have in their charge are top breed specimens, however at times in order to augment their income, they also take on dogs of lesser quality whose chances are much slimmer in winning the desired points that the dog’s owners have in mind, these lesser than stellar dogs are referred to as ‘extras, fillers or gas money dogs’, because they end up paying for the expenses, hence ‘gas money’ dogs!
So, the above was the concern of the new Chambray owner; if their dog was part of the show roster, would it be a top-notch dog or a gas money dog?
Fret not mon fil, we have no room for extras, fillers or gas money dogs!
Every single dog that is on our show roster is there because I have 100% confidence that it can win at any dog show we travel to. That’s because we only take the best of the best to compete and leave behind 4 times as many that could, would, should go but just don’t have what it takes at the moment…………………..so only the top tier make the lineup and all the rest wait their turn until they too have developed into a top contender for the wins!
It’s as simple as a hapless, handcuffed monkey sliding down a greased pole! There’s no ands, ifs or buts about it, every single dog under our show management program is there because we stand behind it 1000%, because if it didn’t have the betterment of the breed stamped all over it, there would be another dog right there to take its place.
Not to be repetitive but for every dog that we handle at a dog show, there are 4 more that did not make the trip……………because I decided that they were not show ready yet and that I will decide if and when they will ever be show ready. There’s no compromising or back sliding or making anyone happy at the expense of only working with the best. Because that’s the only way to be better and keep raising the bar for the next generation that is coming right behind the current one is to only deal with the best and leave the rest behind.
Now, having stated all of the above, what really should be of concern to the new owner or even the existing true blue Chambray owners is the fact that the real competition at a dog show are the same dogs that are part of the team!
That’s a good thing for Chambray and for all the dogs that are part of our management program because the judges come in expecting to see the heightened levels of our dogs and not disappointing them bodes really, really good for increasing their chances of winning the elusive winners points.
Build It Right And They Will Come
So, We Can Keep Building It Right Some More!
Here we are on the first day of August. Jessie, Johanna and the crew are about to leave for the Kenner LA shows tomorrow night………………….long trek, too long for me now a days, so I stay home. Besides, I have the newest Chambray litter here with me and when puppies are around, that’s my main thing!
Hey, I love the action and competition of the dog shows, but give me puppies and I am in hog heaven. There’s nothing like seeing the four decades plus of pure passion come alive with each succeeding generations of ‘well-bred’ puppies for the betterment of the breed.
I’ll admit that winning at the dog shows puts an exclamation point on the whole ball of wax. It’s where each breeder takes their best wares and puts them out there for all to see, especially for the chosen for the day judge to hopefully select the best. Of course we hope that the anointed one knows a thing or two about the breed and can sort out the lesser-bred, the ill-bred, the ones with faults, the ones with structural defects and eventually come up with the winning hand of the well-bred Labrador Retriever.
Having been into this ‘fancy’ of ours of dog breeding and dog showing……………….we all know that’s not the way it works all the time………………..those of us that are ‘old hands’ and ‘ring wise’ know that there will be those days when for whatever reason the cream just doesn’t rise in the eyes of the person doing the honors in the ring………..or maybe they are just dipping a little too deep into the churn and bypassing the good stuff that is plainly in sight at the top!
We live in an imperfect world and the dog show niche is no different, so when the judging goes south for the day, we chalk it up as that percentage that just doesn’t fit ala ‘square peg in the round hole’.
Besides, those off-ware owners and breeders, winning keeps them in the game creating numbers for those that do the winning on the most consistent bases, allowing those dogs to accumulate the needed wins and points to justly earn their AKC champion’s titles!
So some good comes out of bad placements even though at that precise time it is hard to swallow when lesser specimens are chosen over the rightful ones that should be in the winner’s circle.
So, missing out on the action for these 4 days of shows in Kenner will keep me in suspense each day until I get the ‘report’ from the venue from either my wife Johanna or see the post in Facebook by my daughter Jessie.
Meanwhile back at the farm at Chambray Acres, I will be putting some love on several different aged litters that I have underfoot. We have had four litters thus far for 2016 and each one has one upped the ante on the preceding litter in the evaluations for show. In fact the last 2 litters jammed it out into orbit with 100% top show level puppies!
That was 2 litters of 7 puppies each where every puppy was above a 96!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A 90 is the beginning of show quality with the Chambray system and here we have had 14 puppies whacking it out of the ball park.
So, now we have the 4th litter which are 7 weeks old and they will be the next ones up on the table. Of course the ‘table’ is the all-important, hands on evaluation that is the ‘make it or break it’ for all breeders! Here is where the cheese is sliced the thinnest because very few that are involved in breeding can actually decipher which puppies are the best as far as conformation is concerned.
Most looking at a litter ‘see’ the biggest or the chubbiest or the one with the most substance, however each of those puppies may be fraught with faults that the uninitiated eye cannot pick out. Of course, having a working knowledge of the breed standard could certainly help………………but the bottom line is that looking at a puppy that is 8 weeks old and making a projection of where and what that puppy will develop into is an art form that very few have been able to get a handle on, let alone master.
Our situation at Chambray is unique…….we have absolutely no problems in the evaluation process with the highest consistency with the determination process in sorting out the best puppies in each litter……………the major hang up is in placing the super stellar puppies!
Remember, unlike the rest of the top Labrador breeders who ‘keep the best and get rid of the rest’………………we ‘breed the best and place the best’……………….with specially chosen owners that will take part in breeding those best puppies that were placed with them in order to produce the ‘next best’!
So for us, the easy-peasy part is the actual evaluation. The fact that each year we set the bar higher for the betterment of the breed is a testament not only to the breeding program, but also to the ability to select out the best and then place those puppies with the right owners!
That’s the hard part, that’s the part that gives me the most consternation, the most heartburn…………..the endless sleepless nights……………..the most head shaking, second guessing and hemming and hawing……………………..that’s totally the opposite of who I am and how I conduct 99% of my life and yet, the puppy placement process makes me into a sniveling fool.
There is so much at stake with this process for me as a breeder. Remember that none of the other Labrador breeders at my level ever have to go through any of the above………………BECAUSE THEY KEEP THE BEST FOR THEMSELVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have chosen another path……………..a perilous one at that! Because if I make a mistake as to a potential new puppy owner’s intentions…………………………I end up losing exactly why I breed for the betterment of the breed……………………..that perfect puppy may just walk totally out of my life the minute that the gate closes behind it and the new owner drives away with that puppy!
So, I will fret and fret some more and one by one they will go to their new owner’s homes.
If I planted the seeds in fertile soil (new owners) and then I provide the nutrients……………..mentorship, support system, free lifetime training and the 'one of a kind' owner’s program………………………..If I have built it right, the vast majority of the time they will come……………they will come back and we will keep paying it forward to the next generation of Labradors and next generation of new Chambray owners!