June sends heated frills
With the coming summer sun
Soon scorchers ahead
July is almost upon us, so I whip out the Haiku for the coming month.
Simmering high noon
Seething, sweltering long days
July sizzles on
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.
Mentorship Has Its Rewards
I provide mentorship of the breed to any and all that seek the expertise that comes with the years I have put into Labrador Retrievers………………..of course the level of success that I have had makes whatever I dispense to those inquiring, resonate with a lot more authority than those others that have been around the block as much, yet have very little to show for the time they put in.
Those around me know that my doors are always open for those that truly want to know………………..so, at each and every dog show that I travel to, dozens will take advantage of my ‘sharing of knowledge about the breed’ mentality. Such was the case this past weekend at the Orlando shows.
One such case out of the dozens that I spent time with wanted to know how I felt about the progress a couple of individual breeder/exhibitors that were present for the 3 days of shows had come to in the years they have been actively engaged in breeding and showing dogs.
My answer was a reflective one, because instead of being direct with my view and take, I had the inquirer do some thinking on their own to maybe answer their own question.
For instance, one of the breeder/exhibitors had a few dogs entered at the show of their own breeding. So, it would be a good gauge to look at those dogs and be able to see if the quality of those dogs was better than what they had been showing several years back.
Looking superficially at the lineup of dogs that this breeder had fielded for this weekend of shows, there might have been a consensus that the overall quality was on the rise, which would lead one to believe that the breeder was developing the ‘eye’ for the breed…………..developing the eye is a step in the right direction. That’s because the majority of those that take up breeding Labradors at the higher levels for show do not ascend to become proficient at producing consistency or heightened levels of improvement.
Well, superficial looks can be deceptive as I pointed out to the person asking the question. Because right there plain as day, that breeder/exhibitor was featuring a dog that was totally not what the doctor ordered!
Not only was that individual dog displaying a humongous ‘serious structural defect’, the same dog was also totally contrary to two of the three hallmarks of the breed………………………those hallmarks are HEAD, COAT, TAIL!
2 BADS out of 3……………………………..that’s 66% on the WRONG SIDE OF THE TRACKS!
So, I ask my owner, “Tell me what you see in that dog?” I continue "But first let me tell you what the breed standard describes as being breed indicative."
Coat: The coat is a distinctive feature of the Labrador Retriever. It should be short, straight and very dense, giving a fairly hard feeling to the hand. The Labrador should have a soft, weather resistant undercoat that provides protection from water, cold and all types of ground cover. A slight wave down the back is permissible. Woolly coats, soft silky coats, and sparse slick coats are not typical of the breed, and should be severely penalized.
Tail-The tail is a distinguishing feature of the breed. It should be very thick at the base, gradually tapering toward the tip, of medium length, and extending no longer than to the hock. The tail should be free from feathering and clothed thickly all around with the Labrador's short, dense coat, thus having that peculiar rounded appearance that has been described as the "otter" tail. The tail should follow the topline in repose or when in motion. It may be carried gaily, but should not curl over the back. Extremely short tails or long thin tails are serious faults. The tail completes the balance of the Labrador by giving it a flowing line from the top of the head to the tip of the tail. Docking or otherwise altering the length or natural carriage of the tail is a disqualification.
“Now, tell me if you see the correct COAT?” I asked.
“Tell me if you see the correct TAIL?” I asked again.
“Well, the coat looks to be long and fluffy and kind of sticking up and out, really not like the rest of the dogs showing!” was the ‘now enlightened’ answer for coat from my owner.
“No, the tail doesn’t look like an Otter tail, it looks more like a Fox’s tail!” came the response from the looker that now was also a seer! Remember that folks ‘look’ a lot, but seldom actually ‘see’!
Delving deeper, I explained, that the dog in question has a coat that can be described as being totally ‘open’, ‘long’ and ‘soft’, contrary and not what the standard has in mind. Short, Dense and Course is one thing, Open, Long and Soft is the opposite.
If the coat is correct for the breed, then the coat on the tail will be totally bound around and tight, with a very thick base at the beginning of the tail forming 1/3 of the tail and then tapering two thirds towards the tip…………….so much is the tail bound around that it forms a ‘twizzle’ or vortex of hair at the end, much like a tornado spirals around. ‘Tapering’ is a major operative word here…………………tapering means that the tails starts off very thick at the base and decreases in girth to the tip.
On this particular dog, the coat on the tail bristles out, totally open like a bottle brush or as my owner described it, like a Fox’s tail does, especially at the very tip where it bushes out and not spiral around inwards………………….BUSHY is a better description! So, there is no ‘tapering’ taking place, in fact the girth at the base and the girth at the tip are the same, both huge because the hairs are sticking out from one end of the tail to the other!
So, my question to my owner is, “How much does a breeder know if they display a dog with so many breed inconsistencies……………………..never mind the dastardly cow-hocks that are a serious structural defect?”
Now, armed with obvious and verifiable facts that are plain as day, facts gathered by the person asking the questions, the evident answer becomes more substantial than taking my word for it……………….of course my word should suffice, but firsthand knowledge is worth one bird in the hand versus the two birds in the bush that comes from second hand opinions.
Having worked through the question and answer to the first breeder/exhibitor, the queries about the other breeder was quelled even quicker. It was apparent that the exhibits from that particular breeder over the last year had been at the top levels of competitiveness, so from what we had seen showing in past years, there was a very noticeable step-up in the right direction (up) for improvement breeding.
That bodes well for that breeder as a sign that they have developed the eye for what the breed is intended to be. Future exhibits from this breeder should provide more proof that they have indeed arrived at a higher level with their breeding program.
Which now brings me back to the mentorship program that I offer all those inquiring minds……………by providing this service to those that are in the learning process, their ‘learning curve’ is less arduous and not as long a journey and they are given the opportunity to make less mistakes with their own breeding programs as they progress through the ranks and hopefully there will be more of them that reach those levels as compared to all those others that drag on for years without a mentor to guide them and they end up making terrible choices and mistakes that affect the breed in so many ways.
Qualified and proper mentorship is a win, win, win situation for all involved……………………..the student benefits greatly as their trials and tribulations and mistakes are lessened…………………………….the breed benefits because, hopefully there won’t be as many ‘ill-bred’ dogs produced………………………I, the mentor benefit because I owe it to the breed as a pay it forward for all the breed has done for me!
Mentorship, indeed, has its rewards!
Walk Of Shame For Those That Talk The Sham!
Talking the talk takes lots and lots of walking the walk………………where walking the walk is validation that backs up the talk!
The above was in response to someone that wanted to know which other Labrador breeder posted the amount of wins that Chambray accrues weekend in and weekend out.
Well, the honest answer is that I really don’t think that there is any other Labrador breeder that wins at the level that we do. So, the validation to that last statement is offered at the www.chambraylabradors.net website under the Dog Show Results heading.
Every single dog show in the last 4 years is posted there and then there are 5 more years of Dog Show Results in archives at the old www.chambraylabradors.com website!
That’s called ‘proof-positive beyond any shadow of a doubt’ walking the walk! We state that we are the winningest Labrador breeder in the country and we back it up with iron-clad, irrefutable, rock-hard proof of those claims.
As the venerable, still reverent TV commercial stated, “It doesn’t get any better than this”! So too, it doesn’t get any better than seeing the results and ‘seeing is believing’ for those that tend to doubt what they hear.
Of course, I don’t blame the Doubting Thomas’s out there for there is so much rubbish that is plastered all over the Internet by the ‘fly by nights’, the nefarious and the Johnny Come Lately’s………….gibberish and gobbledygook that my head rocks and rolls in a perpetual headshake every time that someone directs me to one of those shameless fabricators of worthless babble.
I just surfed over to a Lab breeder’s site and right there at the top header of the home page it blares out, ‘Breeders Of Champions’!
If that ‘breeder’ were to be presented with a turkey and a champion Labrador, they wouldn’t know the difference even if those two are totally different ‘birds of different feathers’……………and Labradors don’t have feather and they still could tell the difference!
For a fact beyond fiction, that person has never, ever bred anything close to being a show prospect let alone an AKC champion of record, however right there in its entire splendor was the pronouncement that she was a ‘Breeder of Champions”!
Straight to the walk of shame rather than the walk of fame reserved for those that can do the talk because they can back it up with the appropriate walk!
Parameters Need Not Apply
It didn’t take long to implement the new protocol of Name That Labrador!
Barely a couple of hours after publishing the Divergent Labrador Retriever blog in the morning………………I had already sent several wayward puppy searchers on their way to breeders of This & That Labradors!
One email came in looking for the ‘Typical American Looking Labrador Retriever’! That is exactly the terminology used, so I did what I said I was going to do……….instead of trying to educate the seeker about what’s what, I merely pointed them in the right or wrong direction, depending on how you look at things, towards the breeders that perpetuate that ‘look’………………………heck there are literally thousands upon thousands that poke and dabble breeding the likes of those dogs, so ‘happy trails to them’.
Several hours later a scheduled Interview appointment showed up right on time. An older couple that had recently lost their Labrador which was 14 years old and now they were looking for another one ‘exactly like the one they had’!
Upon greeting them at the gate, I walked them over to where some of the dogs that had been to the Orlando dog shows this past weekend, including 2 grand champions, one the youngest male champion at 10 months of age and the youngest female champion at 12 months of age…………..so you can imagine how awesome they must be!
Lo and behold, neither of the people seemed too impressed with the dogs they were looking at so I asked them how their dog had differed?
The lady was carrying a large handbag that she took out a photo album. Sure enough, the whole album was of their dearly departed ‘Sophie’.
Sophie was very short, no taller than 20 inches and very rotund and I pointed out to them that she was very cow-hocked. They stated that she looked exactly like the dam and they had photos of her as well and just as they stated, the dam was the same size and also very cow-hocked.
The lady then proceeded to pull out Sophie’s pedigree and it was then that I could see why the small size (actually short upper arms) and the cow-hocks……………………very indicative of a breeder right here in the state that has been breeding for many years.
Before spending too much fruitless time with whims that I could not fulfill, I then directed them to several breeders that produce that type of dog right here in Florida that could probably satisfy their pleasure in having another dog that looked just like Sophie because here at Chambray Labradors we breed the Official AKC Seal Of Approval Labrador Retriever.
No further explanation was needed as the new, improved Sandy was now at the helm and our course is set full sails ahead with no divergence for those that are adrift in the Sea Of Morass. To each his own and the old drunken sailor swan song ‘The more the merrier’ now is the humming mantra that will be applied for all those seeking whatever it is that they think is the true blue dog of the breed.
I Am Tapping Out..................There Are Many Different
Divergent Labrador Retrievers
This weekend the proverbial last straw was inflicted upon me and I rolled over and very much as Roberto Duran cried out, “No mas, no mas!”………………so too have I been finally coerced into submission and am officially throwing in the white towel…………………So, from me, "No mas, no mas!"
There will be no more diatribes about only one Labrador Retriever existing………………..from hence forward, there are as many different types, styles, brands, nationalities, regions, sizes, localities, colors, hues, performance, and what have you of Labrador Retrievers as there are folks labeling them as such!
Yes, you heard………….actually read right, V. Sandy Herzon, the last Mohican left standing, fighting the unwinnable fight to educate the masses that there are no such things as American, English, British, specialty, all-breed, NE style, Cajun, California, field, fieldy, fieldiest and on we go and where it stops only Buddha knows…………………….nope, I now stand, sit and down corrected……………..there actually are myriads of them with 3 times as many names to them!
Whereas those at the Alamo and at the Little Big Horn fought until there weren’t any left to carry on, I see the writing on the Great Barrier Reef wall as the tsunami of folk that insist on there being infinite numbers of permutations from one end of the spectrum to the other at the nth degree……………………..I see the battle and the war totally overwhelming to the point that my drowning voice cannot be heard over the din made by those that insist on the many faces/names of the breed!
So, what dastardly transgression was heaped on me for me to repent my ways of 46 years…………………more than 4 ½ decades of steadfastness and now I am squealing “Uncle” like a greased pig?
A breeder/exhibitor whose dog did not fare very well with placements at the most recent dog show tells me that her ‘Specialty Labrador Retriever’ just doesn’t do well against the All-Breed Labrador Retrievers’!
That was the last straw that snapped the chameleon’s* back!
*Chameleon because I am changing colors here!
Of course the straw before that one was the vet telling me that 80% of the Labradors that he sees at his practice were the ‘American Labrador Retrievers’ and that most of those were also ‘Cow-Hocked Labrador Retrievers!’
Right at the moment that I heard ‘Specialty Labrador Retriever vs All-Breed Labrador Retriever I had an epiphany! Yes, it became painfully clear and crystally evident that no matter how much I say or do to show there is only ONE LABRADOR RETRIEVER………it actually ends up being doodoo, making as much sense to the senseless that hear it!
For the very first time I could see the light from the trees and the tunnel from the forest!
I responded to the lady, “Yes, you are so right, there are so many different Labrador Retrievers that choosing the right venue to show them takes precedent over actually breeding correctly!”
She was totally taken aback by my reply to her. Seizing the moment, I continued, , “Just look over there where that pro handler is standing, his exhibit is a Terrier Fronted Labrador Retriever and to his right is a No Neck Labrador Retriever being shown by another pro and then right there next to them is a breeder/exhibitor with a Bushy Tailed Labrador Retriever that also happens to be a Cow-Hocked Labrador Retriever and wait, over there is a Short Squatty Overweight Labrador Retriever!”
Now the woman had a scowl over her face and she wasn’t sure how to take all of what I was saying, so I added some more fixins to the vittles. I shared with her how earlier that morning a lady looking to buy a puppy just told me she had lost her ‘British Labrador Retriever’, to which I asked her if she meant ‘English’ and that she had replied, “Oh no, my dog actually came from the British Isles!”
“Whoa Nelly, Jelly and while you are at it, Smelly in Denmark!” now, that takes Marie Antoinette’s cake!
A Labrador that came from the British Isles that isn’t English! More straws on my already aged and worn out back………………………the last straw was plainly in sight!
Okay we now have all of the above panoramic scenarios with all those infinite shades of different looking specimens with equally different monikers to identify or misidentify them with………………….so now pray tell which Labrador Retriever Breed Standard will be used to sort out which is the best in a competitive venue that they each attend?
Since there is only one…………….UNO…………………..Official AKC Seal Of Approval Labrador Retriever Breed Standard, written up for breeders to follow when breeding and for judges to follow when adjudicating to select the best specimens, how on Motherly Earth or Jumping Juniper or where ever else conformation events are held…………………….how will that all work?
How can the same breed standard be used at specialties vs all-breed affairs, when the dogs look so different, yet the exact same breed standard is to be applied to both…………………………how does ‘short dense and course to the feel coat’……………..the breed standard for coat apply to the wooly mammoths, with long, plush, thick hair predominantly seen at specialties. Does the judge chuck the breed standard aside and do their own thing to make it fit the exhibits in front of them?
How about all those short-legged types, where the official breed standard calls for half the distance from ground to elbow as the same distance from elbow to withers and yet, the short-legged types are way, way shorter from ground to elbow and much, much longer from elbow to withers?
How about all the other inconsistencies seen between all the different looking types and yikes of dogs being passed off as bona fide Something Or Other Labrador Retriever………………………..yet, the exact, the same, la meme chose, lo mismo BREED STANDARD is used on all of those unreasonable facsimiles?
However, now that I acquiesce to all the cacophony of voices calling out different names for whatever it is that is at the other end of their leash, I now I must find a label to describe what type of dogs I have because I don’t want to be left off the ‘name that tune’ bandwagon of name that dog!
Hark, I really don’t have to look too far, because in reality the Official AKC Seal Of Approval Labrador Retriever Breed Standard is exactly what describes my dogs to a bold, underlined, capital T and I have the certification to prove it, the validation bestowed on the dogs I breed…………………….the Top Breeder status with more champions produced in the last 25 years than all the other breeders in the state put together and the country’s Top Breeder status three out of the last four years.
So, now when someone seeking to find out the type of Labrador Retrievers I breed from the dozens, scores or much more of names, labels, monikers and what nots are out there, I will simply answer the ‘Official AKC Seal Of Approval Labrador Retriever Breed Standard’ and if that person is looking for British, English, American, field, NE, Long-legged, short-legged, block headed, bushy tailed, wooly mammoth, behemoth, cow-hocked………………………..then I will send them to where I know those breeders are that actually are breeding that type of dog!
The Gong Show Revisited
The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” never sounded so good if it were to be applied to the breeds of dogs!
Each breed would have the perfect visual depiction of what that breed should look like. No two doubts about it, there’s the picture and there’s a dog……………………..does the dog look like the picture? If it doesn’t resemble the photo, then it doesn’t adhere to the breed standard and then that’s all she/he wrote!
It couldn’t be any simpler and there wouldn’t be ‘from here to eternity’……………………..and back, full of different ‘opinions’……………… ‘the way I see it’…………………… ‘the way I interpret the written standard’………………..no more ‘every which way but loose’ and even loose……………. varieties, variations and varying styles, types and what have you………………..no more ‘I prefer tall, or short or fat, or whatever!’………………………………….you have a photo or picture or realistic looking drawing of the perfect looking dog and then we take the judges to task when they put up some unreasonable facsimile!
If that were to happen, we can all scream from ringside “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaatttttttt???????????” and be dead right about our concerns!
I have always contended that ‘visual’ breed standards are the way to go!
The biggest plus would be that all those blokes breeding dogs could cut out the centerfold of the perfect dog, post it on their walls back at home or barn or where ever they have their breeding dogs and use that photo to guide themselves to breed to that goal!
Those folk and blokes wouldn’t have to read through sentences of ambiguously and poorly written at ‘best language’, that at times I honestly believe a 4th grader wrote……………..because for sure, if a fifth grader had done it, it would be far more comprehendible………………..it would make a whole lot more sense!
Of course wishful thinking as the above would gather so much moss if it were not just words and ideas. So, for the time being………..my time being, I guess I will remain the same sitting on the dock of the bay and keep bringing what I know for 100% surety and absolutely no doubt what so ever, Labradors that have been bred to a T, as the breed should be even if at times it looks like pin the tail on the donkey was used to select the winning exhibit!
Hey, that’s one man’s opinion and last I saw, I live in a land that still reveres freedom of speech and intellectual expression, so you have both from me!
Meanwhile, we could all be playing the ‘Gong Show’ with the judging……………however me being me, I would like to propose a 3rd option.
Of course those that stand in judgement, do a good job with their assignment and get a passing grade, they can play again…………………..then there are those that were ok, maybe they can get better and we will give a 2nd try but on this occasion will get the GONG! Finally there will be those that will have the trap door they are standing on, collapse and we won’t ever be seeing those again!
What say ye?
We Hold Our Breaths
Not all puppies born from a promising show prospect litter receive the attributes from their parents that would make them candidates for competition at the higher levels of AKC shows.
If it was that simple and easy to produce upper echelon conformation, then every person dabbling in breeding dogs would be producers of AKC champions of record. That is certainly not the case, as can be plainly seen by the years that some folk have been breeding bevies of litters and have produced none or inconsequential numbers of champions themselves.
There are even those that have been breeding upwards of 30+ years and may have none, 1, 2, 3 or 4 champions to their credit, so even the ‘established breeders’ have a tough time producing at a consistent level that produces the top tier dogs that go on to achieve their show titles.
No breeder is exempt from the above, including yours truly.
Such was the case with an evaluation of an 18 month old dog that I bred and placed as ‘pet’. Since the people that bought the puppy were only interested in a pet and explicitly conferred to me that they were not interested in showing or in breeding, this was a perfect match between dog and new owner.
In the interim time that elapsed from them taking the puppy at 8 weeks and now, they had joined several training groups and had proceeded to become active in obedience and in agility! It is there that others noticed the dog’s well-rounded attributes for the breed and encouraged the owners to look into showing the dog in conformation.
So, they contacted me for a visit to Chambray Acres for me to evaluate the dog for conformation.
This particular dog came from a very nice litter of puppies where more than half were designated show quality because of their breed standard conformation. This one puppy, now full grown at 18 months displayed a couple of traits that rendered him being taken off the table as a show prospect.
My #1 pet peeve…………………everyone knows that any semblance of cow-hocks is the pits to me! That is no secret unless a person into Labradors has been in Outer Mongolia or just came in from Mars.
Well, this puppy displayed a noticable convergence of the hocks; say a 7 out of a 10, where a 10 is perfection.
Now truth be told, 15 years ago, a 7 would have been ‘good’……………like in good enough to be consider a keeper! Well, a decade and a half later, that’s just not good enough for our measuring stick!
So, as a puppy, this dog was relegated to pet status and placed as such.
Cow-hocks are considered to be ‘serious structural defects’ according to our breed standard. So, I cut no slack when dealing with the ‘inboard motor of locomotion’ for a dog! The rear is what propels the dog forward…………it is the driving force of a sporting dog…………………since Labradors are the #1 sporting breed of dog on the planet………………………..the driving mechanism has to be the very best that can be had or produced, which is what we as breeders are entrusted to do.
This particular dog as a puppy also displayed a narrowing between the front legs. Not the true blue 4 inches between the elbows that have served as the rule of thumb since folk started to take breeding for conformation serious. There was also a slight east/west placement of the front feet………………probably as a compensation for being ‘tight’ between the elbows.
So here was the dog 18 months later and at first appearance, he had come together very nicely! Which I am sure is what every person that encountered him saw and shared with the owners. To the casual observer, the overall look is usually what forms their opinion of a dog. Even when looking at puppies, most folk tend to see the ‘whole’ and very few can see the components that make up a true specimen of the breed.
When viewing a correct front, there should ‘appear to be a square look between the distance between the elbows (from outside of one elbow to the outside of the other elbow), and the height from the ground to the elbows. Of course, the legs should be parallel to each other and both feet should point forward.
With this particular dog, just as when it was a puppy, there was more of a rectangle look in that area. In other words, the dog appeared narrow and long in the front formation. The distance between the elbows was much, much less than the height from the ground to the elbows. On top of that, just as was obvious as a puppy, the dog stands semi-east/west for the feet placement.
So, on to the rear! Yep, cow-hocked…………………………..and more severe than as a puppy! Now more like a 5 out of 10. The reason is that cow-hocks get worse with time and age because the dog over compensates to create balance and turns the feet even more east/west giving the cow-hock look a more pronounced effect!
So, my recommendations for the dog were that, although a very nice looking Labrador, that actually was comparable to more than half the dogs showing in the conformation ring………………………….that it just was not to the caliber that the Chambray dogs that were currently showing……………….in fact, that there were between 8 and 10 of our dogs that were more conformational correct and competitive that were on the back burner and not active at the shows.
The story doesn’t end there because before coming out to Chambray for an evaluation, unbeknownst to me the owners had already contacted a professional handler and had more or less decided to have the handler show the dog if I decided not to take the dog on, which is the case.
So, as can be seen here, it is not about the numbers of dogs a breeder can field, it should be about the quality that the breeder produces and then orchestrates at the venues where the best dogs are brought out for judgement.
Of course then we are at the mercy of opinionated eyes, some very well-apportioned and others, well we just look away with their interpretation of what the breed should be.
As a breeder I have maximum control of what I produce, what I choose to be on the conformation bandwagon, thus present at the dog shows, what training and conditioning those dogs receive, the strategies and level of custom designed handling each dog gets………………………………..then we walk into the ring and take a deep breath and hope for the best with the judging!
Who's On First?
Okay, one Florida dog show weekend down (the Tampa 4 days of shows) and two more to go before we go into ‘warm/humid weather hibernation mode’! Besides, that means that down this way past mid-July, we all be on the lookout for those off shore, mostly off the coast of Africa low pressure waves that stew and brew up to become major headaches in everyone’s path and plans……………….I’m talking hurricanes of course!
So, this weekend coming up will be the 3 days of dog shows in the Big O……………….Orlando FL and then July 14 to 17 we will be knocking it down at West Palm Beach………………..before we call it quits until mid-September…………….when there’s a change of wind that chases away the hot and humid weather. We still have to be looking out over our collective shoulders for any tropical storm that can intensify into a monster with short notice, but at least we can go about our daily routines without being sweltered from head to toe that most of July………….all of August and into the first couple of weeks of September brings on.
So, here we sit just about half way done for the 2016 Dog Show season and our young crew of dogs is carrying us just peachy keen! We just crowned our 4th new home-bred champion for the year, which adds up to 34 champions in the last 7 years! That is as crazy as a number can get for finishing AKC champions! Right now we are ahead of last year’s pace where we ended up with 6 new champions and the Top Labrador Breeder for the 3rd time in 4 years. So, these 4 new ones for 2016 bode extra well for a three-peat for top breeder status again, again, again……………in 2014, repeating in 2015 and three’s a charming hat trick for 2016!
Talking about crazy numbers, the consecutive dog show weekend winning streak of winning a Winners Dog, a Winners Bitch, a Best Of Breed…………….or all three as has happened many times over just zipped into a zip code of its own……………………..136 weekends………….like in no other dwellers even on the same time zone! That is serious beyond the twilight zone territory; more like in Star Trek “Where no man/woman has gone before!” The theme song has become “round and round we go and where we stop, no one knows”…………………well sooner, but I hope later it has to come to an end, but boy oh boy what a ride it has been, one I dare say may never be repeated!
So, now our dogs are poised for the last two weekends for the summer here in Florida. The starting roster has a couple of dogs that can take us to that Promised Land. Needing just 1 more major to finish out is Chambray Triple Play. Chambrays Galactic N Counter has 14 points and needs 2 major wins. Chambrays Ole Miss Zeta Lady has both majors and needs 5 single points to arrive at her title.
There are several dogs in the middle of the pack with chances of finishing are Bred-By Exhibitor black male Chambrays Black Diamond Out Of The Ruff and there’s our Open Yellow male with 8 points and coming on strong lately has been Chambrays Chaos with 6 points, both boys would need 2 majors each to finish out. Also joining these boys will be Chambrays Dreamer with 5 points and 1 major to his credit.
There is still half the year left and our team of handlers are getting ready to set out further north and west of Florida where majors are easier made because of the lower point schedule and also because the competitiveness lessens the further away from Florida is traveled, we know that our dogs will be making a serious run for the roses to be able to keep the mantle right here in our stable for the 3rd straight year and 4th in the last 5 years!
You Make The Call
You Make The Call!
A prospective puppy buyer contacts me as do dozens on a weekly basis. This one is definitely interested in showing and breeding, which accounts for about 10% of those that are seeking a puppy, the rest, 90% or more are just looking for a pet!
This person has had Labradors before…………pets and now wants to join the minions showing and breeding! She states that she has been around the block several times in her search for a mentoring breeder! Seems that most won’t give her the time of day, some require a litany of hoops and hurdles that need to be jumped through before a person is considered for a placement on full registration, others will pawn off the leftovers for a hefty stipend, like in big mula and there are others that promise the moon and deliver cheese instead!
However, she had now narrowed it down to two breeders right here in Florida. Chambray Labradors and ‘We Have Just Begun Labradors’ (yes, yes, that’s not the real name, you know the drill).
On one hand and it better be a very big hand, there’s US, all of US, all 46 years’ worth of US, all that comes with all that territory and beyond.
Then on the other hand, a little hand because there isn’t much to hold, there’s a novice called ‘Just Begun’! Not much to ‘JB’, because they haven’t been around much and what’s even more startling is that they got their start from another relatively new upstart! A breeder that made their appearance circa 2001 with some ‘run of the mill dogs’ and then proceeded to grind out showing those dogs for about 8 years before finally seeing the light and seeking out higher ground.
So, now we have a brand spanking neophyte, considering getting her start from a novice who built her kennel from another unproven upstart!
Reminds me of the Three Blind Mice……..or is it now ‘Three Non-Sighted’ or ‘Three Visually Impaired’……………….I just can’t keep up with what is supposed to be the politically correct thing to say anymore, no sooner than I learn it, it’s time to change it again because politically correct is now part of NASCAR, always turning left, left, left and circling back to the beginning!
The burning bush question here that is begging to be answered is, “How in tarnation or Carrie Nation does Chambray and Just Begun end up as the finalist in any contest?”
The comparison of ‘apples and oranges’ make so much sense when comparing the above prior-mentioned commodities! This would be like comparing a Lotus racing car with a Lotus grasshopper…….both Lotuses but millions of worlds apart!
So, you make the call, do you spend a fraction of a second with a person that can’t tell the difference between an auto and a bug?
What Flies Hear
Being A Fly On The Wall
Imagine the chatter, gossip and hearsay available to flies? Earful just doesn’t do justice to what the pesky insect can gather flitting from place to place and pinning back its ears to let the cacophony of “she said he said” that takes place wherever two people meet up!
Recently at a dog show, I was seated in such a fashion that those folk that were the closest to me either didn’t care if they were being overheard or an old guy slumped in an uncomfortable chair snoozing off, didn’t pose much of a problem if the conversation topic was of a sensitive nature.
The gist of the meeting of the minds here was dog owners procuring the services of a dog handler. So, there were the dog owners and there was a ‘supposedly’ dog handler..................the Mind of Minolta would have been tickled pink with their collective minds!
I caught on with the conversation as the pro handler said “There isn’t a dog that I can’t finish!”
This guy must have been a used car salesman in a recent life! While he is touting himself as some type of magician that seemingly can transform even an ugly duckling into the next champion, he wasn’t giving much credit to the actual mission of taking a good dog and working it in the ring for it to honestly achieve its own championship! Rather, it was he and his presence that somehow makes champions out of chimps and chumps!
To further his status as the greatest dog handler under the big top, he boasted that he had just finished a dog that 7 other handlers had been showing for about 4 years and they couldn’t do the job, so he stepped in and showed them all how to do it!
The dog owners should have asked if he still had a front door standing because with those exploits and feats of the incredible, he either lives in a cave without a door or he doesn’t give out his address for fear that throngs of prospective dog owners seeking out his services would be knocking that door down over and over again!
After a few more minutes of the self-indulged, self-proclamation sales job, finally there was the call to arms to actually see the dog!
Gee, what if the dog only possessed 3 legs or what if instead of looking like the breed, it resembled more of an elephant? Way too many ‘what ifs’ before taking on the dog to make it a champion………first things first should be “Let’s see the dog”!
Seeing the dog seemed to be a formality because he had already agreed to handle the dog and the owners were giddy with excitement that Mr. Magic Hands Mike would be making a champion of their beloved Spanky (not real name to protect the innocent………………..the dog).
So, we have now evolved in showing dogs……………..not to be able to bring out the best from each kennel, nope, that’s not at all ‘wazzup’! It’s not about the dogs any longer, more about the owners wanting something that maybe shouldn’t be and about self-professed masters of ceremonies waving invisible wands over any reasonable facsimile dog and ‘whoop there it is’ a new champion is born.
My oh my has the tide changed…………the usual ebb and flow of yesteryear, actually yesterday now has been replaced by an incoming that just doesn’t seem to retreat. All that would be great if what flowed in was primo without compare……………in reality cats drag in much better at times. Unfortunately, the high-water mark left behind doesn’t really add up to much and mediocrity seems to be par for the course with the nouveau riche cast of characters with their lofty ‘champion’s titles’, yet below snuff dogs!
Can you imagine if flies could talk, the things that they hear would be the pulp fiction of cadres of books for all of us to read and chortle and guffaw if only it were funny!
Some Of This & Some Of That
Okay, the jury has deliberated and rendered their verdict!
“Sandy is still relevant, lucid, and still some ways away from the Gracious Hour!”
Well, let’s hope that hour is an hour before Father Time chimes in!
Yep, some of my trusted cronies have spoken and have given me the 2 thumbs up. A few have even commended some of my recent offerings as being ‘as cutting edge as an old prune can cut through intestinal blockage!”………………………..they really didn’t phrase it that way, the meaning was there but I figured that a little sautéing up would give it the right flavor.
Hey, there’s nothing worse than re-hashed, stale, same old same old servings. In the written blogger’s world, the spice of life is newness or at least topics that can be heated up, tossed a bit and then served with a twist and garnished with a topping that gives it visual zest and reading appeal.
I aim to keep up that way, cooking up different ways to serve the same menu of Labrador Retriever-related entrees.
Moving on lest I get cold, stiff and then I will have to yell, “Hey, I haven’t fallen, but I still can’t get up!” Of course like that idiot in the forest clapping with only one hand…………………..there ain’t no one home to hear me if I do fall or get stuck!
This Bud’s for the lady from Boston that communicated with me about her severely cow-hocked dog!
Yes, handlers will take your dog and show it! That doesn’t make the ‘serious defect’ any lesser…………….it still makes the dog cow-hocked and according to the breed standard a dog with a defect…………….a serious structural defect! From the photo supplied…………..from a 1 to a 10……………10 being perfect/correct, 5 being what we see most of the time at the shows, 3 being bad, your dog at a 2 was definitely something that the cat drug in and no way Jose, Igor, Guido or whatever flavor nationality anyone subscribes to, shouldn’t be in a show ring!
Here’s another beer for another ‘a little knowledge is like a little megaton explosion’ person!
Straight Shoulders CAN NOT BE FIXED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The dog was born that way, probably one of the parents was that way as well! No amount of mamby pamby, organic massage, K-9 Yoga or ‘palming’ physical manipulations is going to make it ‘breed standard correct’!
It doesn’t matter how much research or amount of reading a person does………………………breed standard faults and defects are just that! Of course, there are those that ‘look into’ into cosmetic alterations, which can ‘fix’ certain obvious faults…………………..hey, I have seen faults like missing teeth miraculously ‘appear’ after a dog was absent from the show circuit for close to a year…………….maybe that’s what it takes for teeth to ‘grow in’ or for teeth to become the correct bite they were not or awry teeth magically straighten out and just not be awry any longer………………yep, that’s the ticket, a little hiatus down to the beach, sip some Pina Colladas and presto all is well that didn’t start out that way!
I just love it when I give a dog owner the most honest and probably the best Labrador-informed recommendation about their dog and then they drive over to some shady lane breeder, who has zero accomplishments other than ‘heaven knows how many litters produced’ and that lame brain listens to the other lame brain…………………goes ahead and breeds the dog and then that owner has the dumbness to bring the asinine contradiction back up to me! Then come to find out 6 months later that the dog was severely dysplastic just as I said it was, however, now there is a litter from a dog that barely can walk!!!!!!!!
Folks, we are living in a scary world right now with people spouting off left and right and what’s even scarier is that there are way, way too many listening and acting on those crazy spouts!
Three Rights Makes A Movement
The Ever Evolving Labrador Retriever
Charles Darwin would have a field day with our breed! Talk about his theory of ‘selective breeding’ being on the schnozzle, which of course would make him even more snooty for being so right……………..have to hand it to the man for being so OCD nosy and for poking around and being so observant about how things adapt for survival, how they either change or perish………….that theory proven at its operational best.
Problem is, that when man is in charge of making things change……..good or bad, it usually has absolutely nothing to do with the specie’s survival…………….on the contrary, man-made evolutionary changes and adaptations will assuredly end up going extinct because very little of that change has anything to do with survival.
Yep, through man-made selective breeding ‘we’ have made a total morass of what really should be and have created a dead-end future for the vast majority of anything that has been ‘manly evolved’.
Those people breeding dogs, Labradors to be precise, the vast majority…………………………I venture to postulate upwards of 85%, have no rhyme or reason for what they are involved in and the recent conversation with a vet telling me that more than 80% of the Labradors walking into his practice are cow-hocked proves my conjectures that I seem to be harping on so much about.
Not knowing or worse yet, knowing and doing it bass-ackwards has the exact consequence…………a death sentence for the future when dealing with procreating something that ‘ain’t right’!
I do receive some feedback that more or less criticizes how much I dwell on some subjects…………but hey, if I don’t do it, do you know of anyone else that cares enough to do something about it?
So, my reply to those critics is this!
Now Hear This! I do something about it, first of all, I breed correctly…………..I breed the correct way it is supposed to be! That’s first and foremost and most important!
Then I tell it like it is even if there are some censors watching that from time to time chime in and let me know that ‘maybe I need to back off a little’! Well, that’s like telling a child not to eat candy when it’s right there in front of it. Now add tons and tons of passion for what I do and the fact that I know I am dead on right and that all translates into a bull in a china shop!
The hat trick beyond the first two from above is that I then have created a ‘movement’!
So, I do it right……………………….then I preach it right…………………………then I take the reins and create the movement for others to follow to do it right……………………………………in my book, 3 rights make it RIGHT!
In still waters, a small pebble tossed into the placid vastness creates a ripple that forces a change on the surface, not seen to the casual observer, that ripple also creates an undercurrent, small but perceivable and if enough pebbles are cast into the stillness, an awareness is created that can be taken further. All it takes is one, then two, three follows and onward we go with a movement in the RIGHT direction!
There Is Gracious Time & There Is About Time
There is a beginning to all………………..to a success story as well as to a disaster!
Nothing ends that doesn’t commence, that’s one of those truths that beckons no questioning. It has been that way since the beginning of time and will continue to be that way until time runs out.
My adventures with Labradors had a beginning long ago, oh so long ago. I had just turned 21 years old when I supplemented my life with a male black Labrador puppy……………………it would be the first of so many that would fill by life to its fullest.
As there was a beginning, so too will my story with Labradors come to an end.
This is an answer to someone that asked recently how much longer I would be involved with Labradors. At that precise moment, I didn’t appreciate the question and the answer was whimsical at best. However, a few days later the depth of the query and the answer that eventuality will serve up, gripped my imagination and kept swirling around like a pesky gnat does on a muggy, humid, hot summer day.
I imagine that the clock will stop ticking, sooner more so than later because Father time extends no timely courtesy to anyone in particular and since I am one of those ‘anyone’s’…………….then assuredly I won’t be able to ask for an extension or a delay of the inevitable!
The main problem that I see……………………and that I have seen through the ages is that the vast majority of those that are engaged in a long enduring endeavor wait way too long before they hang up their cleats.
Time is called on them, however they should have called time themselves a while back………………back when it would have been more of a gracious act…………………a curtain call if you will………………..called for with will rather than with ‘it’s about time’!
I have spoken to some of my most trusted and loyal comrades about this very subject! I have instructed them to let me know when it is that gracious time and not let me reach that end run time of ‘it’s about time”!
I trust this inner circle implicitly to sound the death knell for my time way before Father time makes his appearance.
For those asking about my Haikus.
This is what the Free Dictionary says:
A major form of Japanese verse, written in 17 syllables divided into 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, and employing highly evocative allusions and comparisons, often on the subject of nature or one of the seasons.
I became fascinated with this form of poetry some 50 years ago during my first year in college. I was drawn to the shortness and the intensity reached in those 17 syllables. It was a huge challenge to come with the full ‘story’ in 3 lines……….sort of like “get to the point PDQ!”
It was like painting a full landscaped scene in 17 brushstrokes!
My very first Haiku of any merit was the following:
The snow scuffled stone
by winter’s outrageous blasts
twas just a rabbit
It was selected as one of the best from the 8 classes that semester and published in the college newspaper. Not bad for a sport’s jock that had never done much poetry and thought that kind of stuff was for the powderpuff among us! Well, I guess I joined the ranks of the aforementioned because in the following 5 decades, I have penned well over 300 more! Some even made it into Reader’s Digest back in the 1970’s! Unfortunately, Hurricane Andrew in 1992 wiped out all of my written and photographic history prior to that date, so I have nothing left to prove any of the above.
Although, I lost my entire catalog of the 3 liners during that fateful day, I was able to remember my more memorable ones. One of my very favorites was one of many that came to mind about spring;
The fast following stream
in early spring’s melting snow
startles the sleeping
For some reason, spring seemed to catch my mind’s eye and at one time there were more than 30 Haikus about the season.
Fall and winter did not fare as well, since living in South Florida, those seasons just didn’t carry the visual or emotional punch as spring and summer did, so both spring and summer have had more visons come to mind that I then translated into the written form.
Summer’s sizzling sun
sends denizens scampering
We can’t leave fall out!
Fast fading daylight
triggers fall’s changing colors
soon bare trees abound
Covering Some Bases
When “Things” Go Bump In The Night
Yes, ‘things’ can come up even from the best bred litters in the world……….even from those that I am 100% responsible for!
When dealing with producing any type of live animal, genetics has all the ‘cards in the hand’ and we as breeders do the very best with what we have in our limited hands in the form of DNA testing, what we can accomplish with radiology and what we can glean from those others that also breed……..putting all that information together to do the very best we can to perpetuate the best qualities not only in conformation and temperament………………more importantly in health and soundness!
The difference between the breeders that fall into the ‘well-bred’ group and those of the ‘ill-bred’ group is the vast percentages in favor of the right ‘thing’s’ materializing with the first group vs the poor percentage of those in the ill column.
For instance, using 2 parents that have OFA certified ‘good’ hips…………………..the percentage of puppies that likewise will themselves end up with the same ‘good’ rating is 94%. That leaves about 6% that will not pass. That’s 6 puppies out of 100, which will not pass OFA.
Now, using dogs that do not have radiology done to them, thus no certification from any registry…………………….the ‘bad’ percentage quadruples to over 25%....................so the chances of having something not being good is 4 times greater with those dogs that come from those shady places.
Just this year alone I have had 1 puppy diagnosed with affected elbows from 2 parents that had radiology performed and those images ‘looked’ good to the practicing vet and also to me (I have seen hundreds and very seldom do I make a mistake)………………then submitted to OFA for certification and both parents were deemed ‘clear’ of any disease and yet there was one puppy produced that developed a problem.
So, yes to ‘things’ coming up from the best bred litters, however the percentages are way, way in favor of eventually ‘good’ results coming from the ‘well-bred litter’ vs taking a chance with those sources that do not take the time, energy or expense to ensure the best results.
So, although ‘things’ and will come up with the best bred dogs, the percentages are preponderant in favor of those bad things happening with the ‘ill-bred’ dogs!
Percentage Of Cow-Hocked Dogs?
I don’t think there has ever been a ‘study’ or ‘records’ kept for the percentages of cow-hocked dogs in the general population of Labradors; this is to answer several that have posed a similar question in reference to the above.
Now, here is my frightening concern………………………..if we ‘see’ quite a few of those ‘affected dogs’…………those with the cow-hocks at the dog shows……………….where the best of the best are supposed to show up, I would say that at a minimum the percentage of ‘affected’ vs CORRECT is about 1 out of 3………..which translates into 33% cow-hocked to 66% normal, the way it is supposed to be!
Soooooooooooooooooooooooo, if the best of the best, which is what the show dogs ought to be, is running at those percentages, what would you all figure the dastardly numbers in the general population to be?
I even had a vet tell me that he sees more Labs at his practice that are cow-hocked than non-cow-hocked, so much so that he figures it is becoming the norm!
Then it is easy to assume because if the breeders that are supposed to be the best…………… produce at 33% deficiency, pray tell, what would be presumed from those mass producers, pet breeders, backyard breeders, hobby breeders and all the rest that are not at the top levels of the show producers………………….what on earth could those numbers tally up to?
Yikes, I hate even thinking what the answer might be!
Majors Bode Well For The Better Dogs Winning!
Yes, I am as happy as a school bus full of meadowlarks! Happy that is, about all the dogs that will be competing at the up and coming Tampa shows this weekend coming up. When there are more dogs than not, then it is more than likely that a ‘better’ dog will be given the win!
That is my general observation over this long haul of over 4 decades. It seems that when there are just a handful of dogs, the awry happens. I am not sure what the motivation or lack thereof for the judges plunging off into the abyss with the choosing of the mediocre or worst yet, the ones that the cat drug in, but it seems to happen more frequently when there are less dogs for the judge to consider.
I’m thinking that with a large entry, there’s more ‘hell to catch’ for the errant judging that occurs than when there are less dogs, thus less blokes that will raise a stink with smelly judging!
So, I am up for the challenge with large numbers of dogs competing and may the best dogs win, whether they are Chambray or from the next best source!
Dialog Is Good
“Not all puppies that are mailed order end up being problems. We have a puppy that we ordered from the Internet and he has been the perfect example of health and vitality and so far we are totally in love with him. I wouldn’t trade him for all the show puppies in the world.” Samantha Powers. TX
That is great news and I am truly happy for you, your family and of course the puppy. Even for those puppies that come from well-bred litters, where clearances have been performed on the parents, where the dogs have competed in conformation and have been selected enough as top specimens and become champions of the breed………………even with all that comes with dealing with breeders that are in it for the betterment of the breed………………………………….there is a huge amount of time to traverse before giving the two thumbs up about the quality of the dog.
I am a Labrador show breeder and I am also a professional dog trainer having:
Conducted Nightly Training Classes for 27 years now……………………….two and three nights a week……………….with an average of 12 dogs per night.
Met with owners on one-on-one, private At Kennel Training Sessions……………….over 30 per month………………………….30 years’ worth!!!!!!!!!!!
Taking in In-Kennel Training, where the dogs are left here for short or long periods of time for any and all types of training…………………..we average about 1200 dogs per year for IKT
Presided over 30 Weekend Workshops and Trainers & Handlers Seminars numbering well over 45 for each course, over 1500 totaled that attended these special group sessions
Being a show breeder, it would be presumed that the vast majority of the dogs that attended all those offerings mentioned above would be from the show type……………………….NOT!...........................over 75% of all those dogs came from mass pet producers, from places where ‘ill-bred’ defines them to a T, where clearances were muddied if at all produced………………………….where “Here’s your dog……………have a nice life”, instead of providing a support system that any caring ‘well-breeding’ breeder subscribes to!
So, I get to see and experience the after effects of receiving a mail-order puppy....................I see the preponderance of joint defects, skins and allergy problems and assuredly temperament not befitting that of a Labrador…………………..I get to see and experience the agony that those owners go through with those dogs that come from the ‘unknown’!
“You would think that those people contacting you for a puppy would be appreciative of all the information that you provide!” AJ
Fear of the unknown at times causes ordinary and extraordinary folk alike to be apprehensive of what they don’t know!
The business as usual…………………the way it has been……………..the time honored, traditional way accepted by the masses is the way that a good percentage of the population operates!
I liken that attitude to the vast numbers of migrating African Wildebeest, following, following no matter the perils ahead, crossing crocodile infested rivers because that’s the way it has been done by millions and millions of them for eons………………….never mind that huge numbers of them perish, becoming another species lunch. There is a scene of a tremendous herd of them that reaches a cliff and the ones on the leading edge just keep tumbling off the cliff because they just keep plowing onward……………….thousands of them meeting their demise at the bottom of the precipice.
There is some safety in doing things the old fashion way, the known way, the accepted way………………however, there are better ways that may be available, but it does take some looking into and that’s where fear of the unknown takes hold and keeps many from experiencing something new.
Yes, I do provide as much information as can be assimilated by the common lay folk looking for a puppy. However, I also know from delving a little that at times that same information can seem overcoming and daunting to those that just don’t know there is a difference…………………….as in the Wildebeest’s case, that there was a better way off from the plateau than to drop straight down the shear embankment to a certain death………………that better way was only ¼ of a mile away, which the rest of the herd in the rear found by drifting slightly away as thousands dropped off the face of the cliff in front of them.
To be honest, at times I am lost on how to ford that chasm between those looking for a puppy and yet not having the knowhow to ‘look into it’ a little further. How do I gap the gulf that exists between the mindless searchers and the mine full of information available to them for them to make the best possible decision on where to obtain a puppy from.
Even though our small amount of puppies produced a year are all placed in great, loving family environments………………….what bothers me tremendously is the thousands of people that end up helping to perpetuate the dastardly production of puppies by those sources that operate by pushing puppies off the cliff to those unsuspecting and uninformed new owners.
Baseball, The Theory Of Relativity & The Betterment Of The Breed
The communications come in, dozens a week……………………inquiring about the availability of puppies! They come from all over the country and even some from across the border, both south and north and in some cases from across the sea to other shores.
I have had some come in another language (Portuguese), so I forward those to one of my long standing (circa 1999) co-breeders who also hails from Brazil.
There are those that I have to translate, not in another language per say, but because I can’t make out what is being written.
Whatever………………….bottom line is “Are there any puppies available?”
Reading and understanding the correspondence is the easy-peasy part…………………………conveying to all those that expect a cut and dry answer as….. “Yes………….there are no bananas!”…………………well actually what they all want to hear/read is “Yes, there are hundreds of puppies available for you to run out this very moment and pick out the one that catches your eye!” and then in the words of the immortal Bob Barker beckon them with “Come on down!”
Like I said the question is so simple and the answer is oh, so difficult to phrase where it will make an iota of sense to those coming in off the street wanting a puppy to take home right now……………………………..did I say street………….more like the super highway chock full of folk that pass themselves off as bona fide breeders dispensing puppies like those dealers that dispense pills!
How do I start off trying to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity to someone when all they want is a furry little, cute as a pig’s ear puppy?
Yes, I have puppies or will have puppies! That is a hard fact that 99% will appreciate and totally understand, that’s a major fastball in baseball! Nothing difficult about a fastball, however after I pronounce the statement about availability…………………now comes a series of curves, change ups, knuckle balls, forkball, screwballs, palmballs, breaking balls and even a slurve!
The minute I mention “For the betterment of the breed” (curve ball), the deer in the head light puppy inquirer’s head spins 360 degrees!
“Does that mean you have puppies?” meekly they will ask.
“Well yes, however I don’t breed for the mass puppy pet market (change up)!" I will offer up.
More confusion sets in with the befuddled ‘visitor’ or the ‘still email exchanger’. They may ask again, “Does that mean there are puppies available?”
“Yes, they will be made available to those that will fit the criteria for each puppy (screwball).” I add to Einstein’s perplexing theorem!
Of course, you as my readers know that I am not really referring to the fuzzy-haired chap’s quantum leap conjectures…………………I am talking about my leap of faith ‘pay it forward’ movement of breeding the best, placing the best with those that will take part in producing the best, so that we, together can pay it forward to the next person that comes along looking for a puppy…………………..that I have to explain the whole process to, too!
Now, you see the relationship between the theory of relativity and our betterment of the breed movement! The relationship between those worlds’ apart concepts is of course the complexity of both agendas!
The thousands and thousands of breeders and reasonable facsimile blokes flooding the market with hundreds of thousands of puppies have it easy as a walk in the park and stealing candy from all the babies there……………………………….yep, there’s an unlimited supply to satisfy the endless demand for a puppy!
There’s nothing difficult about that premise and modus operandi…………………………there are multitudes of buyers and just as many suppliers to make their wishes come true. The online purveyors are like an endless conveyer belt full of puppies of every breed, size and color………………..all moving from the breeding farms to the airplane’s cargo area, to the airport near by the buyer’s locale and instantly the puppy searcher becomes a puppy owner...........larks were never happier!
Well, not exactly at Chambray……………………….ah here comes a ‘knuckball’……………………that’s not the way to ensure that the newest addition to the household……………….an addition that becomes just like one of those in the family and will be there for over 13 years…………………………that is not the way to ensure that it will be the best that it can be in every sense of the word "fit"!
More than half of those that touch base with us inquiring about the availability of a puppy have no clue as the dastardly sources of where those puppies come from! A puppy is a puppy and they want it now, is all they know and in some cases……………….all they want to know!
Yes, I have had people, totally not interested in knowing about clearances on the parents, not know about breed standards, not know about differences in quality, not know about training, and/or even about guarantees……………..show me the money/puppy is all they want to know.
So, can you imagine me trying to explain the ‘theory of anything’ to those!
Get Smart, Maxwell!
Not all roads lead to Rome! Not when breeding for show purposes and especially when breeding Labradors.
The best laid planned breeding between the universe’s greatest stud dog and the kennel’s claim to fame femme fatale can go awry as soon as the semen is introduced into the famous female’s incubating reservoir!
It has happened to the best of them and I am not fool proof either, because I have had my share of WTF happened here litters. I’m not talking about those ‘ooopppsss’ litters that can and will happen to anyone that has had more than two litters, I’m ‘conversating’ about super-duper planned litters that on paper look like a bipolar mine of diamonds and gold all at the same time!
But the old shtick hits the fan when an assortment of Steve Martin and Bill Murray from SNL, “What the hell is that” puppies show up on evaluation day and nary a one looks like anything that those pedigreed papers promised!
Just as oil and water don’t mix too well, so too it can happen with dogs from totally different backgrounds where instead of the great obvious traits that each dog possess showing up in most of the puppies produced, at times the worst features are what surfaces!
I have always contended that breeding dogs is a fanciful fantasy where there are more dreams than reality……………..where Lady Luck can do a 180 anytime she pleases, but the really great, successful breeders seemed to have Her Majesty on their side more often than not. So besides expertise, intuition and tenacity……………….being lucky is also an essential ingredient to have on this side of the table.
Luck is not random; it is made along the way. Luck seems to find the smart ones more often than those lacking in the right firing order of synopsis.
Of course, smarts goes a long way in playing the game, because smarts has been proven to keep folk that have it alive longer than those that were short changed at birth.
I just read a research paper that documented a couple of thousand folk for 3 to 4 decades and those with higher IQs lived much longer than their counterparts with the bottom dwelling scores. It wasn’t so much health that made the difference between the high scorers vs. the low achievers, it came down to the ‘smarties’ making much better ‘life’ and ‘staying alive’ decisions over those others that probably didn’t use their noggins as much and made one too many mistake which cost them their lives!
Having a 46-year panoramic view of the goings on with the Labradors around me, I can see that there is some meat to that study when looking back at some of the folk that fared better vs those that failed miserably. Those that seemed to make the better decisions along the way seemed to prosper and lasted much longer in the fancy than those that continuously were butting heads……….their heads against immovable objects!
I can predict which ones ‘dabbling’ in the breed today will be with us longer and hopefully contribute to the breed while they are at it and I can also foretell which ones are doomed because of their myopic vision and miniscule brainwave capacities. There are just so many walls that a person can ram head on before the wheels start to fall of the wagon.
As Maxwell Smart did, ‘Get Smart’, get going and live longer! Maybe some will apply some smarts and common sense and do right by the breed.
Time will tell!
A Sign Of The Times
Ok, my most recent blog on my very favorite, most hated subject (conundrum) either threw fuel on the raging fire or quelled a major civil uprising!
Of course if you know me………….well the me that spouts off against any perceived threats against the breed, you unequivocally have to know that I am referring to the dastardly condition, actually ‘structural defect’ as pronounced by the Bible for Labrador followers……………………..the ‘physically challenged’ state of COWHOCKNESS!
Yep, someone suggested that ‘physically handicapped’ was no longer in vogue in 2016……..so their preferred reference is ‘physically challenged’, so as to not hurt the feelings of those dogs that possess that breeder inflicted wayward trait I have defered to the notion.
The numbers tallied so far are running 50/50 in favor/against tar and feathering. So, the more civil-minded are suggesting a more subtle response while the more aggressive types are calling for ‘in your face’ demonstrations. I guess the current political maelstrom scenario is now totally acceptable by half the masses!
So, I using my infinite wisdom bestowed upon me by my doctor’s degree from the University of Backstreet Street………………..The College of Major Trial and Error…………………Tripping and Falling Academy and their continuing educational programs of I Can’t Get Up, Over and Over Again, have come up with a singular solution that all those with rightest inclinations circling the wagons and those others wanting a more leftist solution with passive aggressiveness as the soup du jour, all can delve in and as the Flintstones, ‘we can have a gay old time’!
So, here’s my idea. We have signs that are accepted almost universally.
Let’s review 4 of those signs:
#1 Is the Peace Sign
#2 Is the Vulcan sign of Live Long And Prosper
#3 Is the U……………………..there is no other U, but that of the University Of Miami
#4 Is the Two Thumbs Up sign to mean that everything is okay.
Let’s take a look at those 4 signs.
Now, here’s Johnny…………………………well, more like Sandy…………….more like Sandy’s idea.
I have come up with a 5th Sign. So maestro drumroll please!
There you have it! Something that will give us unity in our mission for the Betterment of the Breed, our very own sign to use when the dreaded cowhocks come home or at least try to. We can head them off at the pass by flashing them this new weapon of no destruction, but with potent intent!
That should please the riotous hawks as well as the bleating sheep!
#5 The Cowhock Sign ~ Needless to say, that just looking at the sign gives me the shivers knowing that some of the dogs that are used for breeding have hocks that actually cross over at the hocks as the 2 index fingers are doing in the hand sign!
The Grapevine & The Birds
Whoa Nelly…………………………the Cow-Hocked Boo Boo Birds are out in full flock!
Yep, the old hanging grapevine is sagging big time with the volume of “Did you see what the judge just gave BOB’ or maybe it was “Winners Dog” or was it “Winners Bitch”!
Heard it from North Florida, Central Florida, NC, Kentucky and even from Tennessee! Must have been a Hitchcock-sized plague of the Birds or an onslaught of not so feathered friends because so many were up in arms and wings with the dastardly awards being handed out to physically handicapped dogs!
Is it politically correct to use that phrase? Physically handicapped dogs.
After all……………..that’s what the official, sanctified, certified and holier than the grail Labrador Retriever Beed Standard instructs us disciples to know it as…………………………..for right there in that dictum by both the powers that be at the AKC and the chaps over at the LRC it states in bold American English that:
Cowhocks, spread hocks, sickle hocks and over-angulation are serious structural defects and are to be faulted.
Hey, I didn’t make that up; I just ‘lifted’ that last sentence directly and in all it splendor, word for word from the Labrador Retriever Breed Standard!
Now, the only way to interpret that sentence is: COWHOCKS ARE SERIOUS STRUCTUAL DEFECTS!
There are no two ways about it, no two sides to this story…………………..none of the ‘he said that she said’ stuff that waters down facts and makes reality seem like living with the Seven Dwarfs!
Nope, none of the above…………………..plain and simple without a dimple or a wart, COWHOCK=DEFECTS.
Why anyone would be breeding dogs for the betterment of the breed then be showing those dogs with DEFECTS?
Do they plan on BREEDING those dogs? Do they want the rest of the folk, breeders, exhibitors and handlers to think that what they are doing is all on purpose?
Are those really the best dogs that they can field for the shows?
OR WORSE YET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t they know any better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If that last statement is true, then what are they doing breeding dogs…………..DEFECTIVE DOGS at that!
Now, here’s a task for all those that emailed/reported to me to let me know what birds are flying over the cuckoo’s nest………………………………at the following shows you are at, take photos of those dogs in the ring that stand in stark contrast to the breed standard………preferably showing the DEFECT and email those photos to me.
I will then compose an educational breed standard article using those photos that you all supply me.
Of course no names will be used and I can put a blindfold over the dogs face so that it won’t be recognized, since that is not the purpose of the expose………………………….we are not after the individual dog, we are after the condition that renders them HANDICAPPED and the more aware folk are the more pressure it will put on those perpetuating the dastardly traits, the breeders responsible for the DEFECTS...................they will then KNOW THAT WE KNOW because we can see it for ourselves and the Breed Standard tells us so!
On Placing Puppies
I receive numerous emails and communications asking how I ‘sort’ out potential puppy owners, to be able to place the small numbers of puppies produced (about 60 per year) to the tremendous number of folk (over 1200 per year) inquiring as to availability.
The first line of defense, because in reality a wave of over 1200 of anything is an onslaught that needs to be defended………………………the saving grace here is that 99.99% of those waving in that group, are friendly natives that pure kindness will manage………………..so that 1st filter that foils many are those that want a puppy like ‘right now’, ‘this very moment to be wrapped up and given to their 3-year old for her birthday present’!
There are seldom puppies available on the spot, so those with an aversion to a waiting list will skedaddle on over to the next website advertising Johnny On The Spot Puppies’!
The next hurdle to be jumped over and which knocks many out are those looking for ‘the cheapest puppy available’, “I have a budget of $500” and others looking for a bargain-priced puppy. So, those too will mosey on over to the local newspaper ads from the backyard breeders.
Interesting story about the preceding: One of my current Chambray Owners tells a story about when he was 12 years old and went with his father to look at a litter of puppies that were advertised in the local paper. The litter owner was asking $750 for the puppies and the father was negotiating for a better price. Then the father tells the son, we need to go back to the house and bring something back! Sure enough 45 minutes later the two of them returned with their African Grey parrot to exchange for one of the puppies! The African Grey had worn out its welcome at their home because every time it would see the boy’s mother, he would cast a barrage of profanities at her in Spanish! Since the parrot would now be living with non-Hispanics, they wouldn’t know what it was saying!
Of course, at Chambray we don’t bargain, barter or dicker…………….it is what it is and anyone looking for that way of dealing will just have to find another place to go to.
Some puppy searchers are looking for something very specific………………………silvers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then there are those with nationalistic inclinations, they want the ‘Amurican Labrador Retriever’……………..some are wanting the ‘short English version’ or there are those that want the mellowest, most laid-back, ‘the kind you don’t know they are even there’……………well it’s Howdy Doody Time for those, like in what we breed is what the Labrador Breed Standard calls for……………….NO SILVERS…….NO AMURICAN, NO EGYPTION, NO BRITISH, NO ENGLISH, NO CALIFORNIA VALLEY GIRL, NO LOUISIANNA LONG-LEGGED, NO SHORT-LEGGED NE……………………..NOTHING BUT THE REAL DEAL LABRADOR RETRIEVER…………………….So guess what, all those wanting those off-wares, ill-bred, what-ever-you-might call them, they will head west or north to find those odd-lot type dogs because there’s no heading south or east from Chambray.
Now, after all that filtering and deciphering, we are now working with more of the meat and potato menu of folk…………………..however, even then there is the Interview Process where after emailing back and forth we are then ready for the tete a tete, the meeting of the minds, the big cheese and enchilada, the pow wow, what every flavor a person savors themselves to be, the Interview sees to it that all the cards are on the table……………….not just the onlooker’s hand, my hand as well will be explained to the nth degree…………………likewise, I want to know all about where my puppies will be calling their new homes.
Here’s the statistics, only half………50% of those visiting Chambray or coming to see me at a dog show near where they live will actually have a puppy placed with them!
I lay it all out for all to see……………read and hear from me. If at any point in the process I get that feeling that it wasn’t meant to be, then there will be no puppy placed with that person. It has to fit or otherwise there will be another Interview with someone else.
In an ideal world, the above Puppy Placement Process would work like a charm where there would be total understanding between everyone involved…………….in our real world, at times the hayride gets bumpy and moving on becomes the operative way to deal with those that just don’t seem be able to fit into our scheme of things.
Fortunately there are thousands……..hundreds of thousands of puppies available everywhere………………ALL THE TIME………………….IN EVERY COLOR REQUESTED………………………..TALL, LONG, SHORT, FAT, THIN……………………WITH ANY AND ALL NAMES IMAGINABLE, YOU NAME IT AND SOMEONE WILL TELL YOU THEY HAVE IT!
So, here’s the bottom line for anyone contacting me for the availability of a puppy, with as few puppies as we produce and place…………………..I don’t sell puppies, I place puppies where I see fit…………..I have to totally trust whom I am dealing with…………………..if that creepy, non-trusting feeling comes over me, then it’s ‘Hasta la vista baby’ and everyone is free to fly about the country…………….no hard feelings, good luck in your search for that perfect puppy!
There are those that produce the best and place the best and then there are all those others that comprise the rest.
The well-worn saying says it still the best…………………you get what you pay for from whom you get it from!
This & That
Ah, the ever-sharp two-edged sword at its finest…………………………someone criticizing the why’s and therefore of allowing a top champion stud dog to breed to a mediocre female……………………..so my answer to dull that razor sharp tongue……………………… “by allowing the best there is to be used for breeding, there is a chance that the produce will rise a notch or two above mediocrity………………….to negate that opportunity would then chase that mediocre dog’s owner to some lesser producer whose product would be adding more of the same old, same old, run of the mill that populates with the masses.”
As sure as the sun will not rise in the west, clarity of the above is in order for those that don’t know Mitch Miller and the bouncing ball…………………..so, by allowing average dogs the chance to breed to top tier dogs, those breeders can offer their puppy buying clients something better that what they had on hand. It is part of the betterment of the breed mission, sort of the “trickledown breedanomics”! Hey, something is much better than nothing!
To the person that questioned if there were ever any litter evaluations that came from ‘outside breeders’ that had some merit.
This was probably a result of all the awesome litter evaluations that come from the Chambray Owner’s Program.
The answer is yes! There have been some, but before anyone jumps for joy, the percentage is less than 1 in 10………………..that’s 10% of outside litters had something in the litter that rated in the ‘stellar’ level of 95+, which also means that 9 of those litters were totally inconsequential in the dog show realm.
Because the bar has been raised with each succeeding generation of puppies produced, what was a ‘show score’ back in 1999…………………..an 85, is now sub show mark, with a 90 needed to break the barrier between ‘okay’, below 90 and 90+ which equals, ‘great’!
In fact, the most recent litter had 4 males that averaged over 95……………………that’s averaged over 95 each! Each of those puppies would have been the top puppies in litters evaluated back in 2009!!!!!!!
Florida’s first ever Best In Show winning Labrador born in 2004, BIS BBE Ch Chambray’s Out Of The Ruff , ‘Hogan’ scored an average of 92 and here we have a litter with 4 males with more potential than the 1st BIS Labrador winner and all time champion producer!
How’s that for taking that bar and sticking it as high as apply pie?
“How biased are you with your own litter?”
On the contrary, I am totally vicious when evaluating one of our own litters as will very well attested to by those that attend these evaluations that I conduct as working seminars for the many that are mentoring with me for the betterment of the breed.
That’s not to say that I hold back with an outside party’s litter, because I call it black when it’s black and white when it’s that color, regardless of which the breeder is. However, with our litters, the minute that a puppy is propped up on the table and any fault or heaven’s forbid, a defect is noticed…………………that puppy is off the evaluation table before most in the audience watching and learning can blink an eye!
We have absolute ZERO tolerance for any puppy with ANY DEFECT or fault!
Don’t even mention COW-HOCKS! If there were lions in the mist, they would be offered those as hors d'oeuvres………………….okay, okay for the squeamish and pansies out there, no we don’t really feed any of our puppies as sacrificial offerings…………………nope those puppies receive all the care and considerations in their placement with the best possible homes………………….as loving family companions, whereas those with show/breeding potential will be placed with those that truly appreciate what goes into this labor of love and passion that I have had with the breed for 46 years now.
Tale Of Two Cities/Litters
Nothing worse than being sick as a dog! Well, that's what I have felt like the last 3 or 4 days, but I am back!
Tale Of Two Cities!
Of course this blog will be about dogs………………….Labradors in particular, but just the same I will cover the title for it to mean something as you will see soon.
The litter evaluation is a most crucial step in the continuation of producing specimens for the betterment of the breed. It is the process that identifies those puppies in the litter that are considered as “superlative” over the average, mediocre and also-ran from that litter. This means that not every puppy in the litter is a #1……………………….a very simple premise that is self-proving; see if any top breeder of any breed will allow Average Joe and Plain Jane to waltz in and be able to take their pick of the whole litter!
NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! That breeder will place a puppy of their choosing with Joe or Jane, but 9999% of the time, that breeder will keep that one pie in the sky puppy……………………….that one puppy that stands that out like an alligator in a backyard pool!
Having the ability, capability and vision to project which puppy or puppies in a given litter have risen to the top by possessing the best attributes of the chosen sires and dams…………………….will go a long way in perpetuating the mission of producing breed specimens that bode well for the betterment of that breed.
So, here’s where the two cities come in! Yep, I will tie the loose string ends PDQ here.
City #1 is Fancy Farm KY and city #2 is Palatka Fl.
Here we have two cities where 2 days apart, litters were born with each having seven puppies; in fact, both litters had 4 males and 3 females.
At the 8th week mark, both litters end up down here at Chambray Acres for the all-important evaluation.
The Fancy Farm Litter is a co-bred litter with a Chambray owner that takes part in the whole kit and caboodle of owner’s programs.
This owner had 2 top show females placed with him and now, those females as adults are producing for the betterment of the breed for Chambray as well, plus for the owner too, as each of those puppies produced from our co-bred litters are considered as being bred by him; i.e……………….. breeder of record and already from a previous co-bred litter…………Champion Breeder of Record!
The Palatka Litter used one of Chambray’s champion stud dogs with a home-bred female from someone that “breeds the occasional litter to make ends meet” as expressed by that breeder. Also, expressed was the desire to keep the best puppy from the litter “to get started in the show ring”!
With one city/litter comes 46 years’ worth of involvement with Labrador Retrievers, in the form mentorship, guidance and support in all areas of breeding, raising, training, conditioning and ultimately, showing, all in the name of the Betterment of the Breed.
With the other litter also comes all of the preceding mentioned opportunities, as I make myself available to any and all that want to be involved with the breed........................however leading a horse to water is the easy task…………………the guideless cannot be mentored; no amount of ‘educating’ does good when it falls on stone walls……………………………….so breeding mediocrity to stellar produces more of the ‘below par’ than it does anything worthwhile for the competitive world of show dogs! I can’t say it no plainer, I can’t beat that drum no louder……………………..when folk have the freedom to choose whom to listen to, chances are they beat a path to whomever tells them what they want to hear.......................even if what they are hearing is bass-ackwards to say the least!
In the latter case, the breeder takes the word of another ‘old timer’ who has been breeding Labradors for over 30 years………………………………………..and has zilch to show for all that time producing litter after litter, nary a champion produce from all that production. My advice, sell off the whole litter and then invest in a top-notch puppy from a breeder with winning credentials at the dog show level.
There’s the horse at water’s edge, standing ankle deep and not drinking the water!
So, how do the two cities measure up for producing for the betterment of the breed?
Ask the horse standing in the water after they were able to compare their case of their 7 Palatka Puppies versus the magnificent 7 from Fancy Farm KY that were standing mere feet away, yet heads and shoulders above their own puppies.
Seeing is believing, but drinking the water is another whole ball game!
"Wow, they are so much more bigger! Why is that?" the astonished litter owners would proclaim.
Even after paying to have their litter evaluated and NOTHING meriting anything nears a score of 90, which is the low end of the bar for show quality…………………….not one puppy that could compare to the last puppy from the Fancy Farm litter…………………….the horse still would rather keep ‘something’ from a nothing litter than have a puppy with an average score of 95 placed with them!
Forget about 'horse', Hee Haw at its finest!
Hey, I collected the stud service fee, so my stud dog owner will be happy (the stud dog owner and I split the stud fees)…………………..hey I collected $150 for a cool 2 hours of my time evaluating an ‘outside litter’…………………………..the Chambray Owners pay nothing for the evaluations of our litters.
So, how come, with money in pocket, I feel like the breed has gone backwards……………………………..that’s because the breed does go backwards each and every time mediocrity has its way!
That down in the dump feeling doesn’t last long, because all I have to do is mosey on over to the large puppy play yard and marvel at the Magnificent 7 litter from Fancy Farm KY!