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.
I Wish Dog Shows Were Like Burger King!
Where I Could Have It My Way.
Winning is the driving force behind every competitive endeavor. No one that I know of goes out of their way to do things to lose!
Breeding and then showing dogs is a prime example of folk being involved in an activity where winning is the prime directive. Oh, there are those that claim to be involved for fun, yet observing the looks on their faces when their dogs are once again relegated to exiting the ring instead of standing in the winner’s circle……………………….’fun’ was definitely not had!
The unfortunate situation brought about by the method of choosing only 1 winner leaves way too many in the loser’s column. In reality, there may be a whole bunch of ‘winner’ level dogs competing and the difference between that high grade dog that wins and those others of equal value may be settled by the tossing of a coin!
At some of the recent dog shows in Florida, there have been more than half of the dogs from the classes that have been worthy of being designated as the ‘winner’. Yet, that singular designation makes ‘losers’ of those others that have warranted the same appointment.
For as long as I have been showing, I have advocated a totally different system to be used to identify those dogs that meet the requirements dictated by the breed standard to be bestowed a ‘champions’ title.
My idea would be a merit system where a certain number of judges would be needed to award ‘quality points’ to each and every dog brought to the party. Those dogs at the top of the conformation charts would receive the highest merits, ranging down to the above average dogs and then those dogs that have no conformational merit, would receive zilch from those judges.
There would still be a Best Of Breed, Best Of Opposite Sex, Grand Champion points, also from the classes there still would be a Winners Dog and a Winners Bitch……………………………………………the great thing about this system would be that dogs that deserve to be recognized for their merits would not be casted as ‘losers’ for the day just because the judge had to select only 1 dog to award these quality points to.
I firmly believe that making more people realize that their dogs do have the conformational quality to be awarded these quality points would create a more positive atmosphere at the dog shows instead of the defeatism that is seen at the end of judging every day when only one dog and only one bitch is awarded ‘wins’ making ‘losers’ out of all the rest.
Yep, I wish I could have it my way!
Moving Forward Has A Price
The recent ‘Experiencing/Explaining” blog has brought up quite a few interesting responses.
One reader wanted specifics on how many people contact us for our puppies and how many actually are considered and how may end up with a Chambray puppy.
So, the ‘numbers persona’ in me went to work.
Here is last year’s tally:
1117 emails requesting information on puppies available.
1117 replies were sent out.
757 requests for additional information from the 1117 replies.
757 additional information emailed out.
210 requests for the Interview Process
210 Interviews set up, including 157 here at our home and 53 at shows in cities that I would be showing at.
177 Interview conducted
133 Deposits accepted
69 Puppies Born/Available
69 Puppies Placed
45 Deposits Returned with No Puppies Available
19 Deposits To Be Applied to a Future Litter
From those 69 Puppies:
42 were placed as Show Prospects
25 of those are currently in our Show Management Program
12 of those are being featured at different dog shows in 2015
5 are AKC pointed
1 finished at 12 months of age and Grand Champion at 14 months of age.
Another person wanted to know how many people take advantage of Chambrays Lifetime Support System.
A day does not go by that at least 3 dozen folk email asking for some type of ‘help’! Most of those are Chambray owners that get the Lifetime Support System with their Chambray puppy. However, a good number of those are people that I have never met from all over the country, all over the world that know of our involvement and appreciate our expertise in all matters concerning the breed and reach out to us looking for information that is readily not available to them.
Those wanting to know how the Puppy Raising & Puppy Placement Program works outnumber all the other inquiries.
I take a huge chance in placing my best produce with people that I have just met and interviewed. I basically use my intuition and gut feeling about people and make decisions based on emotions more than anything else.
If I make a mistake in placing one of my best puppies with someone that doesn’t really appreciate what it takes to produce show quality at the level that I am operating at now……………………..then that dog will be lost to my breeding program……………….however the worst part of that is that it will be lost to the pay it forward to the next generation of superb quality of dogs to be produced, which means that the breed in general will lose out as well.
Even if those folk go off on their own and breed that superb Chambray dog, what are the chances that they will know enough to breed to the correct dog that will bring about the betterment of the breed?
Zilch, nada, not happening will be the modus operandi for them.
In all these years, I have seen that happen time and time again.
Case in point:
I place a world class female puppy with a newbie back in 2001, within 14 months it was plain and simple to see that the owner was not playing with a full deck of cards. The person went on to breed that female all on her own with very little knowledge about the breed, genetics and what it takes to breed for the betterment of the breed……………………. producing lesser than the dam………………….then taking those dogs produced and breeding them to produce even less in that succeeding generation.
A breeding program going backwards as fast as a greased lightning in a downhill slide will permit! A total recipe for disaster!
So, when I place a top show prospect, it is with the intentions of mentoring the owner and participating in at least one co-bred litter to ensure that the breed goes forward. That association means that many will end up winning, the new owner, the breed, and of course Chambray/me as the mastermind that is ultimately responsible for the movement forward.
There is Experiencing ~ There is Explaining
There Is Experiencing ~ There Is Explaining
Never the twain shall meet!
Yep, there is just no amount a palaver that will sufficiently describe or explain an experience. Can’t be done especially if the intended person to be enlightened comes loaded for bear baggage!
Case in point…………………………..all of our more-than satisfied Chambray owners doing their very best to explain to someone outside the programs the benefits they have received by choosing to take part in our various Labrador Retriever offerings!
Just this past weekend one of the owners that has been involved with the higher levels of showing and even being involved in the breeding of 1 litter, an owner that started out in this fancy with 3 Chambray show dogs and have grown to be independently active with the breed, shared how difficult it is to explain to an outsider how Chambray’s betterment of the breed mission works.
How well I understand the plight of explaining an experience to someone that has never ever heard of such
offerings………………………………..this program just does not exist with any other top level Labrador breeder. It is an anomaly with no parallel and no comparison, so to the unenlightened or worst yet to those that have heard of our involvement from 2nd, 3rd or worst, the rest of the gossip mongering bunch…………………….making sense is like making gold out of lead…………………..Alchemy at its best!
Fear of the unknown is human nature and that by itself takes loads of positive publicity and spreading of the good word to overcome. Since our betterment of the breed offerings are so novel and ‘so good to be true’, most form an assumption before they actually look into it themselves. We all know what happens when we ASS-U-ME!
So, for years and years I have done my best to educate………………to make crystal clear the ‘what, where, when and how’ we operate and the great benefits to those that choose to learn more on their very own and then are thus chosen by us to participate with us for the betterment of the breed.
The biggest mountain to scale for us has been the spreading of falsehoods and innuendos by those that have been our direct competitors at the show level. Competition and in particular, losing has a way to bring out the worst elements in humans. This very small minority of people say less than 5% of those that have done business with us and for one reason or another did not work within the parameters that we have set up for associations…………………………those then have caused the bulk of the bad PR that causes outsiders to becoming Doubting Thomas’s.
The 95% satisfied Chambray owners, be they those that have gone independent or those that are still working within the framework of our various offerings find it very difficult to explain to outsiders what this is all about and how the breed is the main benefactor as well as the new owners that are brought in and given the very best specimens of the breed to start their journey with Labradors on the right foot.
Of course, Chambray benefits as well as a kennel and I also partake in the accolades and achievements as the breeder that has made all of this possible.
From my point of view, it is a major win, win, win, win situation.
The Breed wins
New Owners win.
Sandy Herzon wins.
Now, pray tell, what is negative about the preceding?
Back to human nature…………………….those outside of our breed programs that compete against our dogs, our training and conditioning and our handling………………………..they don’t win! That makes for very irate people with nefarious agendas when they speak of Chambray/Sandy Herzon!
To me that is not too bad, because I have been a competitor all my life in sports and I know what is like to be a winner and have those that don’t win become detractors…………………………to me the real bad part are all those uninitiated, well-intended folk that listen to the bad PR and then form an ASSUMPTION without firsthand knowledge…………………without experiencing it themselves and then they go off half-cocked and continue the falsehoods not knowing any better.
I know this, because I hear it firsthand from those that have been wayward until they experience the reality…………………….I also know second hand because so many of the 95% satisfied owners tell me how they do their best to EXPLAIN their good EXPERIENCES!
Defective Thinking Leads To Defective Breeding
Defective Thinking Leads To Defective Breeding
The well-intended, not known for brilliant thought person opined that “If your dogs were not showing, it would give other breeder’s dogs a chance to finish!”
On first thought that should be a great compliment to our Labrador Retriever programs for the betterment of the breed and also a great opportunity for other dogs to have a chance to win enough to also become champions……………………………….then a second goes by and self-serving pride gives way to logical thinking for what’s best for the breed!
If the best dogs are removed from the equation…………………..then what’s left?
Isn’t that what happens with the process that is in play at the dog shows where the supposedly best dogs win enough to finish their championship leaving the field wide open for those that couldn’t win against those newly crowned champions?
Let’s just take the last 3 years where that is what has transpired. In 2013, 2014 and this year, we have finished 15 champions! That means that those dogs are no longer in the mix for the points needed to be a champion…………………………………in essence, the well-intended person’s wish had come true, 15 of our dogs are out of the way for others to gather up those points that were being taken by those that are now champions!
Again, if the best dogs, the ones that were winning and are now ‘out of the way’, what is left out there? Logical thinking would lead to ‘the ones that couldn’t win before’!
However, in reality that’s not totally correct because our Labrador Retriever Development Program is constantly working with puppies, young dogs and even mature dogs getting them ready for the limelight of the dog show competition. So as soon as an opening comes up with the finishing of one of our dogs, a new dog is introduced and debuts at the dog shows.
So, there is always a fresh source of top conformation dogs coming from Chambray Labradors that ensures that the best dogs will be on the front lines to vie for those valuable Winners Dog and Winners Bitch points!
Which brings us back to the compliment/lament of the well-intended person…………………………in Florida at least……………………….there seldom is that void of quality that gives dogs that do not merit finishing, from achieving that lofty status of being and AKC champion.
Even if some squeak by, it takes them much, much longer to realize that goal and most of those end up dropping out of the race within time.
Making it more difficult to achieve a championship also makes it desirable to breed to those dogs that do finish with heightened competition and in a relatively short period of time. Most breeders know that if a dog is shown enough, say years and years, with 100’s and 100’s of shows to achieve the title, that dog may not be at the top of the charts for conformation.
That dog will not be a prime candidate for perpetuating itself to succeeding generations…………………..and that’s a good thing!
The Roundup At The OK Corral
At a recent weekend of dog shows a ‘learning observer’ mentioned to me how lucky So&So was because with their very first litter ever bred, they produced a champion.
That type of observation is why that person is still in the ‘learning observer’ level of expertise with the breed and with breeding.
While it is true that So&So and anyone else that ever produces a champion from a dog they obtained from another breeder is indeed lucky…………………….the lucky part is not in producing that champion…………..the lucky is in the fact that a breeder actually placed a good enough dog with them to produce that champion puppy.
For those with higher level knowledge of how things work in the dog breeding fancy, producing a champion take years and years for breeders to accomplish. However someone coming in out of the cold can purchase a breeder’s lifetime of expertise by breeding one of that breeder’s better dogs and produce a champion with their very first breeding.
So, lucky was in having a breeder take in someone that has never bred before and place a dog that has taken years to bring to that heightened level and allow that newbie to collect the rewards of being a ‘breeder of champions’ without really paying the dues that it takes to really be a ‘breeder of champions’.
Of course to the majority of those in the fancy that know how things work, the real credit goes back to the original breeder that placed the dog that produced the champion.
Having explained that thought process to the ‘learning observer’; she thought about it for a moment and replied “Yeah, that really makes sense!”
“How do the Florida Labrador breeders manage to have their dogs win when your group wins at every dog show weekend and there are not that many that win at any given dog show?”
They mostly hire professionals to handle their dogs. It is all about percentages, we win more than 65% of the time, thus our winning at every dog show weekend record that is now sitting on 117 straight dog shows weekend with wins! The professional handlers then win at about a 25% clip and owner handlers then come in at 10%.
So, in essence it will be Chambray dogs vying for the Winners Points with the best dogs from each of the state’s breeders (out of state too) handled by the professionals and a few others handled by owners/exhibitors.
“We understand that not every one that interviews with you for a puppy will actually get one, how do you decide who gets a Chambray puppy?”
Since we don’t breed for the pet puppy market, that will exclude about 60% of the people that communicate with us looking for just a pet because more than likely we won’t have any pets available. We make it crystal clear at our website that we breed exclusively for show purposes and we are looking for owners that appreciate our efforts for the betterment of the breed and will consider joining us with this mission of perpetuating the great qualities that we have been breeding for 11 generations.
Those puppies that are evaluated and have the outstanding qualities to make them show prospects will be placed with people that will become part of our Owner’s Program.
They will take advantage of all the unique amenities only offered by Chambray Labradors. Most of those puppies will grow up and develop into the next generation that will be under consideration to be the ones that will breed and produce the next stellar generation of Chambray-bred Labradors.
So, my quest is to sort through all those that contact us………………….that are invited to interview with us and then are selected to have a Chambray puppy placed with them based on their interest level and their expected participation with all of our programs for the betterment of the breed.
The numbers of puppies we have a year are less than 75, so there is no way we could ever have enough puppies to place with the more than 1000 that inquire yearly……………………nor would we want to!
So, we are very dedicated to where each puppy is placed and we want as many to take part in our one of a kind Owner’s Programs.
“How does your litter production compare to other show breeders?”
We are like minnows compared to some of the real big operations. That doesn’t mean that those producing 15 to 40 litters a year are doing anything wrong or producing lesser quality, what it means is that we are at the lower end of the big time producers. Our 6 to 8 litters a year place us at the very bottom of most of the well-known kennel names as far a quantity is concerned. Plus, since none of the females actually live here, there are no litters born at our home and farm!
So, in essence, we as breeders have no litters a year………………………….our 6 to 8 litters are all co-bred with our owners that take part in Chambray Labradors Owner’s Programs. This also means that none of our litters are born in a kennel environment! All our puppies are born in their owner’s home and raised by them, with some staying there until they are 8 weeks old and leave for their new homes. Others come to us at 6 weeks where they are then placed with the new owners direct from us.
So, we take a lowered number of puppies produced then the vast majority of those show kennels and we translate those low numbers into the highest winning dogs in the country*
*Top Labrador Champion breeder in 2012 and again in 2014 and for 2015, leading the pack to possibly repeat again, making it back to back years. That is commitment to the breed like no other!
“What percentage do you think of the judges that make the right call?”
The judge’s decision is the most covered question/answer now-a-days! Probably because at a dog show, say out of 25 males, only one will get the Winners Dog points and la meme chose for the females………………that means that out of 50 dogs entered and competing, only 1 male and 1 female get points………………..that’s 4% winners, which leaves the other 96% of exhibitor/owners wondering why their dog didn’t win!
In my learned opinion, I would venture to say that 3 out 4 judges make the right call in awarding WD and WB points. At any given show in Florida there are at least half the class males that deserve to be awarded points and maybe 60% of the females…………….yes, I think the females classes have more merit as a group then the males at this time.
So, it should be easy for a judge to pick out the right male and female when standing in front of them are more than half the dogs that warrant winning those elusive points………………………….HOWEVER………………….invariably, there will be that 25% ornery, contrary and whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat person-designated-judge that wants to swim upstream even if there’s no water in that dried up creek and award those precious points to some below par or even worse, a dog with structural defects!
I know, I know, I can get in trouble for making statements like that………………..but true to who I am and as old as I am and as long as I have been doing this……………………..I will give myself the entitlement to call it the way it is!
“Do some handlers win more than others?”
Do some sports teams win more than others, do some boxers win more than others?
Same thing with this business, those providing the best service with the most experience end up with the better dogs……………………..as they get to choose from many which ones they will hire out to handle. So their chances of winning are heightened proportionally.
In Florida, the Chambray handling team wins at the highest ratio because we bring on the very best in conformation………………we train and condition each dog with personalized and proprietary methods and we are specialist in Labradors.
Plus there is the recognition factor…………………….some handlers are known to have the better dogs, when in Florida the majority of the judges know that Chambray leads the pack and that recognition gives our dogs an extra look!
This is a fact of life in every fancy or profession, it is something that is acrued over a period of time when an entity supplies a great product and/or service.
“In the summer I attended a Florida dog show after 12 years of absence and you were the only breeder there that I recognized! What has happened to all those breeders from the 90’s and early 2000’s?
The Florida Labrador ring has become one of the most competitive breed rings in the country! Not winning has a way to dissuade and disillusion even the most die-hard of breeder and exhibitor. So, I would say that is one of the main reasons many of those you remember are now on the sidelines or the wayside. Many still breed Labs, but they seldom make it out to the dog shows with their produce.
Others have aged out because of the demands of the breed……………………something that may prove to be my exist from the breed as well unless the next generation of Herzons take over. However, that may be quite a few years away with the success that Chambray is posting year after year.
Many of those now in the breed have only been doing this less than 10 years and very few have any knowledge of those kennels and breeders that you remember from before 2005, let alone the known names and stalwarts of the breed from the late 1980’s to 2004!
Today, Chambray is the only kennel operating at the top levels and frequenting the Labrador ring consistently from those that were around in 1995. Once in a while 2 or 3 other breeders from that time will offer a dog at the show level from their existing breeding program.
The rest of those now showing are more or less beginners and less than 10-year intermediates.
From Cavemen Times To Now, Not Much Has Changed
In my Labrador world I deal with dozens and dozens of Labrador owners on a daily basis. The majority of these people are Chambray owners. That encompasses a lot of ground because we offer a Lifetime Support System for each puppy we place……………be it a show puppy or one that didn’t make it as show and was placed as a pet.
All of these owners know of our tremendous experience with this one breed and they usually will touch base with us for anything that concerns their dogs. This involves health, nutrition, and training, breeding and showing and of course any and all other odd subjects that come up with frequency when dealing with such a large group of people.
Because we have the Betterment of the Breed as our mission, we also open ourselves up to thousands of fine folk from around the world that own Labradors either bred by themselves or obtained from every conceivable source imaginable. We do this as a public service to the Labrador Retriever owning population.
We offer Mentorship to any that want to further their knowledge about the breed in all the areas that we are professional in.
Chambray Labradors Inc. is our entity for raising the absolute best Labradors for conformation. Conformation of course means breeding according to the breed standard and then taking that produce to venues where those dogs will be judged to determine their value to the breed. The goal here of course is to produce the very best and then use the ones that indeed are the best to perpetuate the breed by being those that will be chosen for breeding for the next generation of superb dogs.
For those owners that own top show quality females that want the most knowledgeable source for breeding, we offer the Co-Breeding Puppy Placement Program for their females. This program provides those owners with everything needed to produce the absolute best puppies. From all the preliminary work, way before the female is ready to breed………………….to choosing the most appropriate stud dog………………from performing the breeding through Artificial Insemination……………………to the whelping process……………………the raising of the litter and of course the vital placement of each puppy to further the breed.
For owners with males, we offer the Stud Dog Program for those dogs that have been deemed to be world class in conformation to be able to perpetuate their great quality and traits to the next generation. The service includes all the well-care information for the owners……………………the advertising and promoting on our websites that reach thousands and thousands……………………..the clerical and sales needed to tend to all those that contact us………………………..the financial end of collecting and distributing of the stud service fees………………………….the arranging of the collection and either breeding side by side or the shipping out of semen to the target female………………………….the storage of shipping boxes, semen extenders, breeding kits and all applicable materials needed for fulfilling the orders from prospective female owners………………………the follow-up and required record keeping of all breedings from the various stud dogs in the program.
Professional Canine Services Inc. is our business name for the training, conditioning and show handling of those dogs that are the prime example of what the breed standard calls for. We provide each dog a comprehensive Show Management Program that includes every facet needed to have the best trained and best prepared dog in the show ring.
It should be noted here that no other top level Labrador breeder offers anything comparable to these programs geared for owners, especially the following:
Show Dog Placement Program ~ Guaranteed!
All show breeders keep the best and place what’s left! No two ways about it, none will sell or place their best puppy! That is the ‘business as usual’ way of doing business since the first caveman bred his favorite dog and kept the best for himself…………………………….nothing was changed since dogs were kept in caves!
There are breeders that live in castles and they still operate just like the early on breeders did, keeping the best for themselves and pawning off the rest to those that don’t know any better!
Well…………………evolution finally found its way into the 21st century because at Chambray Acres, we do things more advanced than those with sticks and stones trying to break others bones……………..yep, our one of a kind Show Dog Placement Program takes each prospective new owner and educates them on our evolved ways and then invites those that can see beyond the millennia-old way of hashing and mashing………………………..we have the betterment of the breed in mind and will take our very best dogs and place them with others for there to be a betterment all the way around for as many as we can reach.
Gunning For The Top
It always amazes me how thick some people are when faced with stark reality. If an elephant is standing in the room and all that see it know it is an elephant, there will invariably be those that say it is a toad!
Don’t these people realize how asinine they look and sound when they spout off something that is so obvious that everyone else sees it for what it is? Don’t they know that their credibility washes out with the dirty water when they open up their mouths and out dribbles the contents of their brains and that hogwash then describes how deep or lack of depth they represent.
Just recently one of the Chambray owners was told by a professional handler that we operate a puppy mill! This is the same handler that we have been beating with our dogs for over 20 years………………….so wouldn’t that make all the dogs they handle be even worse than puppy mill grade? Since we have the top show Labradors in the country, wouldn’t that make every other Labrador breeder worse than puppy mill level since they can’t beat our dogs?
What makes what they said even worse for their lack of brains is that the very next day they told the Chambray owner that they were going by what other people had said!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now doesn’t that make that handler even thicker than a bucket full of poop………………………listening to others that the elephant is a toad when they themselves are in the room and can see for themselves that toads don’t have trunks!
In the raising, training and showing of Labradors, we have a product and a service that has no rival. So, we extoll our virtues without ever mentioning anyone else’s attempts at bettering what we provide. The product and the service we have been providing speak for itself as being the best.
Now, for the others it is a completely different scenario, in order to justify their lowered status, they do their best to compare what they have and then try to knock the established #1. It is the law of sales, if you are not at the top, do your best to knock them and see if you can convince buyers to accept the lesser product and or worse service.
At Chambray Labradors our policy is first to educate the buying public, figuring that an educated consumer becomes the best client. We dedicate a whole website to general and specific information about the breed in the hopes that those searching for that information will use it wisely and obtain the best possible Labrador from the thousands of sources out there.
We don’t operate the normal ‘supply and demand’ business………………..that’s because we have a very limited supply and we have an unusually tremendous amount of demand!
That ratio is less than 75 puppies a year to over 1500 requests for those 75!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now here is the real gauge to our dedication to the betterment of the breed: I manage well over 70 females that can be bred at any given time, so if we wanted to match the demand, we could easily have 50 litters a year with 400 puppies available to those 1500 that are requesting a puppy!
The opening statement at the top of this blog stated:
‘It always amazes me how thick some people are when faced with stark reality. If an elephant is standing in the room and all that see it know it is an elephant, there will invariably be those that say it is a toad!’
What’s really more amazing is how many people that see the elephant will listen to the ones that say it is a toad and then they go out telling others that they too saw a toad…………………..when what they saw was a an elephant.
Now that's thick!
The portly man approaches me and tells me that my dogs have improved so much in the last 20 years.
I smile and ask him, “Do you think you are a wiser man today than you were 20 years ago?”
To which he answers “Well, I hope so!”
I then reply to him, “You have just proven that to me.”
Puzzled the ‘then doubter, now believer’ questions me with “How do you figure that?”
Seeing I had his attention and seizing on an opportunity to educate someone who had for years been misled, I created a lasso and roped him in with, “Simple. Twenty years ago you didn’t know me from Adam. You didn’t know my dogs either. Your information about me and my dogs came 2nd, 3rd and 4th hand…………………….you heard what people with agendas wanted you to believe and you believed it and formed an opinion from what you heard. Now, you look and see what is before you…………………that’s firsthand information and you have come to a conclusion all on your own from your own experiences.”
A slight smirk formed on his face, kind of confused and kind of knowing he had been schooled, so he offers “Well, I am going by what I see now!”
The trap had been set and the oversized man had very little room to stand on, so I loosen the grip a little and leave him with “I am doing nothing different today than I was doing twenty years ago, so what’s changed is your perception of what it is I do with the dogs I breed…………………………that is the sign of a wizened man…………………….one that sees for himself and is not led easy by others…………………….it is apparent to me that you are a much wiser man today than you were twenty years ago!”
The older lady (older than me by about 10 years), tells me that she doesn’t agree with my stance on showing/breeding dogs that are somewhat cow-hocked. Her reasoning being that there are just as many dogs in the ring that show some degree of ‘cow-hockness’ (her own words) as there are those that don’t exhibit any.
She being one of those that traditionally for as many years as I have known her to be breeding dogs, has had more than her share of dogs with that feature.
I ask her “Do you breed dogs that are not yellow, black or chocolate?”
She answers with “No, those are the only 3 colors allowed by the breed standard!”
Again, I pose another question, “Do the dogs you breed adhere to the size restrictions, lower and upper limits?”
Again, she answers that none of her dogs have ever been DQ’d for size, either way.
“So, you breed for the correct size and the accepted colors, yet you find nothing wrong with breeding dogs that have ‘serious structural defects’ as the standard describes dogs that are cow-hocked.” I rest my case with.
Not conceding defeat, she pipes in with “That is a matter of interpretation; some don’t see it as you do!”
At that point, I have led the horse to water and I can’t make them drink it. It’s so true that you can’t teach an old dog a new trick, well at least that old dog that interprets things bass-ackwards!
A more-or-less ‘pet puppy breeder’ explains to me why she bred a certain dog to her bitch.
“My bitch has a slight sagging topline and someone said to breed to a dog that has straighter shoulders and that would pull the topline straighter on the puppies produced.”
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat came to mind first and then ‘cockamamie’ came to mind next!
You don’t take 2 extremes to form a middle ground, you don’t take 2 negatives to form a positive……………….it doesn’t work like that in breeding dogs for improvement.
I offered a smile and walked away……………………there are some horses that can’t be led to water, so it’s just best to leave them to fend for themselves!
“What can I do to improve my dog’s rear drive?” A well-intended owner asks me.
You can put a dog on a diet if it is overweight. You can build stamina and endurance through conditioning. You can teach a dog to stand still in a nice stack. You can’t teach a dog to drive correctly when the problems is in the rear structure itself.
Rear drive is dependent on correct structure. There are many variables that determine proper rear drive.
Dogs that have lacking angulation of the rear can never have the sufficient rear stroke to be perceived as having proper rear drive.
Dogs that have the wrong proportions between upper thighs to lower thigh to hock size will have deviated strides, causing rear drive to be affected.
Dogs that do not have complementary angulation from the front to the rear will have off-cadences strides which affect both rear drive and front reach.
All of the preceding structural faults will limit how efficient the dog will move. Usually these dogs will have a very slow show gait and when pressed to move a bit faster in the show gait, most will break into a trot.
Dispensing knowledge has its rewards, I just wish that the percentage of the horses would drink the water after being led to it.
From Outside Our Circle
I had heard your kennel name over the last few years, but only recently visited your website. I was totally amazed at your show record. There isn’t another Labrador breeder in the country with the successes that you all have had in the last 10 years. The really great thing with your organization is that you substantiate each and every win, record and award your dogs earn. At dog shows and even at breeder’s website too often they make claims that they cannot back up or prove. There is a breeder close by that advertises herself as “Champion Breeder” and she has never finished any dog she ever bred.
At a dog show recently I asked a well-known breeder how many champions she had bred and her answer was “So many that I don’t keep track of!”
I then asked another breeder that has been breeding as long as the first one and he said she may have 3 or 4 finished champions! Yeah………………too many to keep track of!
I saw your dogs and your daughter at the Biloxi MS dog shows and was really impressed with the type of dog you all breed. Your daughter is very knowledgeable about the breed and she is one of the best handlers that I have ever seen. We watched her work with dogs throughout the day in-between going into the ring with them, not many other professional do that to get their dogs ready.
I am sure glad that I took the time to look into your dogs personally and now I know more about what you all preach and practice. Keep up the great work you all do with the breed.
JR from TX
There's nothing like first hand knowledge to form an opinion with. Thank you for your input.
Chambray's Puppy Placement Process
The Puppy Placement Process Explained. Since most people are used to going to a pet shop or even to other breeders and choosing what they think will fit them best, here is an explanation on how it's done correctly at Chambray Labradors.
We place each of our puppies where we think each will thrive and serve the breed the best.
To arrive at that decision we use our 45 years of expertise with just one breed, Labrador Retrievers!
We have been Florida’s #1 Labrador breeder for the last 20 years with 49 AKC home-bred champions, that’s twice as many as the next Labrador breeder. We are the only Best In Show Labrador breeders, ever from Florida.
We are the #1 Labrador Breeders in the entire USA for 2012 and again in 2014. That’s from over thousands and thousands of breeders.
We are professional dog trainers, having trained well over 40,000 dogs, mostly Labrador in those 45 years.
We only breed for show purposes. That means that we don’t mass produce puppies for sale for the pet market. In fact we don’t ever advertise any puppies for sale.
We only breed the absolute best sires and dams to produce as good as or better than they are. When that happens…………..when a puppy in a litter is as good as the champions it came from, then our goal is to place that puppy with owners that appreciate what it takes to breed the best over 45 years.
That puppy will be placed with an owner that will take part in all of our owner’s programs..............from all the free training to eventually breeding that puppy to perpetuate the great qualities of the breed to the next generation of puppies produced.
So, we evaluate each litter when the puppies are 7 ½ weeks old to select out the best show quality puppies.
Then we consider each and every person that went through the Interview Process and that we accepted deposits from.
We then make a decision as to which owners will be offered those special puppies that have been produced for the Betterment of the Breed.
Not every puppy in a litter is going to be top show quality. Those will be placed as Pet Quality. These will also be considered for those interested people that have gone through the Interview Process and that we accepted a deposit from for a pet.
Each of those people under consideration for a puppy, be it show or pet will be notified and they will then visit with us again to see what is being made available to them. If it is a perfect fit for them, then that puppy will be theirs to take home at 8 weeks of age.
Kudos For The Winds Of Change
"I have been following along with the Labrador Retrievers in Florida for quite some time now. Your steadfast contributions have to be applauded because there is such a huge difference in the atmosphere at the shows and also in the outstanding quality of dogs that make up the entries. The drama and constant bad mouthing is nowhere to be heard or found, what a difference! Kudos to you for your continued positive programs and movement for Labrador Retrievers.”
The ‘Winds of Change’ are certainly most welcomed! There is nothing better than fresh air to breathe without dark, ominous clouds constantly lurking on the horizon or veiled behind curtains of people.
With that cleansing of the environment, I find myself constantly explaining how our programs work. Of course the opposite of that was the constant need to defend myself from innuendos and bad press perpetrated by those cloaked in sheep’s wool with spite and venom as their mission in life which was to cast my efforts in the worst possible light.
Now, those that look and see for themselves, those that are not swayed by the hearsay and constant backbiting ………those that are not led easily, those that make decisions on what they actually see and experience rather than being led astray by those others with nefarious agendas…………………….those now come and want to know more.
I now find myself constantly working in the positive! I find myself paying it forward to those that want to know more, that want to make right decisions about the breed, that want to be educated and mentored……………………….that makes me very, very happy!
That makes my vision for the breed a much better one than I had……….say a mere 5 years ago. Of course, a lot has happened in that span of time……………………some of those harbinger gossipmongers have passed on, others have dropped off the face of the dog shows………………………all for the good! All that has left a great vacuum of fresh air (is that physically possible?)!
So, now my time is totally dedicated to moving forward with those that want to move in that same direction with the breed.
I love explaining what we have to offer because it is so unique, one of a kind, avant garde……………….it just doesn’t exist anywhere, with anyone else……………………all for the betterment of the breed!
Feedback Is Good
"After reading John’s blog, I too thought I would add my two cents worth, so here goes. I have had 2 Chambray labs. My first I got back in 1995 and she lived to be 14 years old. I went for the training classes at the FPL parking lot up until she was 7 years old, then we just took it easy and once in a while we would visit the farm for Tess to see her old buddies there. We didn’t show nor breed as at that time I just wanted a companion and that’s exactly what I got from her. She was my best friend all those years.
When she passed on, I swore that I could never have another dog and I was also saddened that she did not contribute her great genes to the breed. After thinking long and hard, I changed my mind about many things. I now have my 2nd Chambray lab, Maggie and this time I will take advantage of all that comes with such a wonderfully bred dog. I plan on taking part in the training and conditioning and hope that she turns out for the Herzon Family to consider her for showing and eventually breeding her. I now fully realize what Sandy’s mission for the breed is all about and I hope that I too can be part of that goal with my new Chambray Labrador."
Feedback Is Great, Keep It Coming!
The last blog is very representative of what I receive from those owners that partake in Chambray Labradors Owner’s Programs.
For those that are not familiar with Chambray’s one-of-a-kind Owner’s Support Network, Chambrays Owner’s Show Management Program, Chambrays Stud Dog Program, Chambrays Breeding & Puppy Placement Program and all the other amenities that are offered our puppy and dog owners and also owners of Labradors obtained elsewhere……………………….participation in all of the above is elective!
There are no contracts when we place a top-notch puppy with anyone.
So, each and every Chambray owners has free choice in taking part in all we offer.
Of course, who in their right mind would pass up the avant garde, free programs that are a result of our 45 years of involvement with just one breed………………Labrador Retrievers?
That’s 45 years of raising, training, conditioning and showing Labradors.
Raising the absolute best in conformation with USA Top Labrador Breeder 2 out of the last 3 years. Top Labrador Breeder in Florida the last 20 years with more than twice as many champions as the next breeder. The ONLY AKC Silver Medallion Bred By Exhibitor Recipient from Florida and now only 1 more BBE champion needed from being the only Gold Medallion Bred By Exhibitor Recipient. More Grand Champions, Bronze Grand Champions and Silver Grand Champions than any other breeder. This list goes on.
Training and conditioning professionally now for 40 years with over 35,000 dogs coming through our various training offerings. That includes the 2 nights a week for 21 years at the FPL Facility, seeing well over 25 dogs each night. The 3 nights a week for the last 4 years back here at Chambrays Acres seeing an average of 10 per night. Thousands and thousands that have gone through In-Kennel Training, where they were left with us for intense training. Hundreds upon hundreds that have attended our all-day workshops and weekend seminars.
Professional Handling………………….becoming the winningest Labrador handlers in the country, with a consecutive weekend winning streak for the ages………………….117 straight dog show weekends with wins of Winners Dog, Winners Bitch and/or Best Of Breeds………………………in that span having won all three in one show a mind boggling 22 times!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s WD, WB and BOB in 1 day, 22 times!
All these preceding records, streaks, awards, accolades are a mark of our commitment to excellence……. our mission, motto, credo and the whole kit and caboodle……………….the Betterment of the Breed.
As John posted in the previous blog to this one………………….the added perk of being part of a movement that has had a tremendous impact at the dog show level, around ringside and even extending to the social life beyond the show venues………………………that is incalculable, it just simply cannot be measured with any stick, gauge, wicket, or bar………………….that is a benefaction for those that were wise enough to research, investigate and come to their very own conclusion that the offerings made by our levels of expertise in the breed would benefit them and their dogs!
Very smart people those that chose Chambray!
PS: By the way, I encourage our owners and others that have benefitted from our offerings to share their good fortunes with others, it saves me from having to come up with different topics for blogs................. much easier to copy and paste something of interest that someone else took the time to write and email in.....................so keep them coming!
Letting Others Tell It Like It Is For Them
Hope all is well with you and the family.
As an ardent reader of your blog posts and committed member to the Chambray programs... I want to add an item to your long list of benefits received by your show management program which goes unspoken (probably because it is just a by-product of the system). Once a decision is made to enter into this awesome and unique opportunity, aside from the laundry list of amenities you provide which is covered regularly in posts, what I have realized along the way because of Chambray I have made a lot of new friends which I would never have crossed paths without the services you provide.
There really is something to the "Chambray" family! As you know due to my job I do not get the chance to travel to the distant shows as I would love to do. When the time comes that they start to hit West Palm and come south to Davie and Miami I really look forward to going. After all the hours we put in together on weeknight trainings and around the ring at shows you end up meeting some really nice people. In the evening classes is where we get to meet, learn about our dogs and the others, learn the do's and don’ts together and usually get to share a few laughs because of our dogs. The atmosphere is setup for serious learning and success but it is light hearted and informative.
For sure we all have one big thing in common, which is our love of Labradors! After a while in the program and speaking with you, you start to get to know the "players" which is each dog and who owns them. First and foremost of course, everyone pulls for their dog to win come show day, sometimes it works out well but often not - only because of the great talent Chambray fields. When it is your day the Chambray family is always congratulatory, when it is not your day you become one of the ones cheering for the other Chambray team members in contention. It is true team support because we are “All in the Family".
At the many shows I have attended I have never seen that kind of support at the levels that Team Chambray brings. I very much enjoy the time before the show walking around the ring greeting and catching up with everyone and getting excited with the day’s anticipation. I also look forward to the Saturday show weekend in Davie where your family invites all current and former owners (even prospective owners) to come together and enjoy a lunch setup in the parking lot after the day’s work to share in everyone's success. It is impressive to see a lot of owners that no longer show and even those whose dogs are no longer with us still show up! That says a lot, not just great dogs and great opportunities but it really is a great atmosphere of good supportive people.
One of the great aspects of making all these new friends and hanging out with all the other Lab owners is that you get to share stories about our dogs and learn things outside of showing that others have experienced and in a lot of cases helps you realize "you are not alone" my dog isn't the only crazy one that does those things! Because at the end of the day we are all left with top notch specimens of the Labrador Retriever breed as our pets! I have realized that of the many friends I have made over these past 2 1/2 years at least 10 are now friends on "social media"... others I keep in touch with via email and then there are a few that we even text message updates. I look forward to meeting many more and especially to continue to cheer on our team’s successes.
Thank you for all you and your family have provided me and my family.
See in you in the next training class!
State Of Affairs On Our Class Males, It's GOOD!
Ok, here goes! Right now, we are showing the absolute best lineup of class males ever!
Now, people that breed make comments like this all the time……………………….but none of them are the top champion breeders in the country of their breeds like I am. None have finished 25 champions in the last 5 years, with Breeder of the Year………………twice in those 5 years, that’s Breeder of the Year in the whole country with Labradors. Not just in Florida where that has been business as usual for the last 20 years! Giving us Top Florida Breeder with 49 champions in those 20 years! AND…………….that’s a real big and, more than probably US Breeder of the Year for 2015 too! That will make it 3 Top of the Heap out of the last 6 years!
So, when I make a statement as I did in the first paragraph above, it’s not coming from Dipsy Doodle Labradors. “There’s bears in them there woods!” or as Tony Barreta would say “You can take that to the bank!”
Take it to the bank or anywhere else that makes sense, the males in our stable for consideration for our starting lineup at the dog shows is the best we have ever had to work with. Now, here is the clincher, in the last 12 months, we have finished 5 super stellar males that are no longer part of the male’s class dogs.
So, just which are these awesome dogs that I speak the highest about? Let’s review with the higher pointed dogs first.
Leading the pack is Chambrays Triple Play “Sonic” with 12 points and 1 major, lacking just one 3-pt major to wrap it up. Sonic shows from the Open Yellow Class.
Right on his tail is Chambrays Where Eagles Dare “Big Tank”, with both majors and 12 points, needing only 3 singles to name that tune! Tank comes swinging from the Bred By Exhibitor Class.
Setting all kinds of records as a puppy is 8 month old Chambrays Tank’d On The Boulevard with 11 points, 1 5-pt major, 1 Best Of Breed and 1 Group 1 to his ‘whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat’ record.
Chambrays Recurrent Dream N Counter with 5-pts and 1 Major. Dreamer has been showing under limited conditions from the Am Bred Class, however as soon as he re-emerges for showing, he will be handled from the Open Yellow Class.
Chambrays Shinning Diamond Dazzle, another stellar puppy that is 10 months old and has 3 points already. With Thor and Big Tank showing in limited shows, we plan on putting Dazzle in the BBE class when those 2 are not in.
Chambrays Thor God Of Thunder with 2 points. Thor has also been showing under limited conditions switching in and out of the lineup with Big Tank in the Bred By Exhibitor Class.
Chambrays 4 X 4 Big Dog Diesel with 2 points. This is another super stellar dog that came out in limited showing as a puppy and has not been back since reaching 12 months of age. This is one that we definitely want back on the roster.
Chambrays Black Diamond In The Ruff “Bandit”. This is one of the best black males ever from Chambray Labradors. He has been on hiatus and should make a very welcomed return soon to show from the Open Black Class.
Chambrays A’Hankerin For Trouble. This is another superb puppy that has shown well and needs just a tad of development to be competitive with the bigger boys out there.
Chambrays Coco On The Rocks. Now 16 months old, one of my odds on favorites as a puppy. Not showing on a consistent basis. If he was a regular on the lineup, he would really be pointed along by now.
Seven short years ago in 2008, when several of our class males were dominating the wins, dogs such as BBE Ch Chambrays Bailey On The Rocks, Ch Chambrays Hogan’s Hero Rocky and Grand Ch Chambrays Cadbury…………all of the above prior-mentioned class dogs would have been on the same stellar level as these 3 champions. There has never been this many class dogs with the potential that this lineup of dogs has.
Of course the problem is that we can’t show all of them against each other, so we have had to pick and choose, alternate back and forth, sit some down and bring out some new ones, which tends to spread the wins out over many dogs………………………..not a bad dilemma to deal with, but one just the same
Which brings me to some ‘good’ Sandyisms:
“When the going gets good, the good get going even more!”
“Too much of a good thing is really a muy bueno thing”
“Good is in the eye of the beholder………………even with failing eyesight, what I see is really good!”
“The good, the bad and the ugly……………………..well, one out of three is ‘good’ for me, and I will let the others fight over the other 2”
“Good things happens to good people………………..gee, I must be good after all!”
“When you are good, you really are good, we are really good!”
“You are in good hands……………………….mine!”
Ok, ok let’s stop while the going is still good.
Good night everyone!
May the good news be yours.
The Evaluation Process...........The Prelude To The Placement Process
The all-important puppy evaluation…………………probably the most crucial decision making process for a top dog breeder for continued success at the dog show level.
For most breeds of dogs, the 7 ½ week mark is ideal as it is with Labradors. Here we have a small window of opportunity to ‘see’ what a full grown dog will end up like.
Of course it takes an extreme level of expertise to decipher what is correct and what doesn’t fit that heightened level criteria.
We considered every detail that makes a dog a top show prospect. We go from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail and every single component in-between. Each part of the dog must complement the one right next to it and the one that is also the opposing area.
Any and all faults and defects are scrutinized and usually those puppies are sidelined once the anomaly makes it itself obvious. No need to go any further because a small booboo now will be a huge billboard once in the ring!
Accepting faults, no matter how impressive the puppy may be is a main ingredient for disaster later on. Plus, those faults perpetuate themselves generation to generation, so even if the dog does well at the shows, it will be passing on those negatives to its offspring…………………..disaster now and later too.
Besides correct physical breed qualities, temperament also plays a huge role in being successful at the dog show venues. Dogs with charisma and showmanship have a decided advantage over frumpy, shy dogs, no matter how good looking they may be. So the ability to select correct breed type together with detecting out-going social types, goes hand in hand for success.
As crucial as being able to correctly evaluate for the breed standard......to be able to detect faults and defects, also to be able to pick out the ‘charmers’..........the Puppy Placement Program is the next step for us for the ‘do or die’ show management program.
It is the process that causes me the most consternation of all I do with Labradors! Being able to select the best show puppies comes easy for me with my 45 years of experience and high level of success, being able to select the eventual owners for those great puppies is not as easy!
Not by a long mile, green mile, running across the miles, miles and miles…………………..not even close to being easy no matter how many miles!
Although we conduct a thorough interview with each prospective new owner, filtering out at a 5 to 1 ratio…………………………………….that’s 5 nays and 1 yeah………………………….there are still way too many puppies that are bred for greatness and then are placed only to be lost for the future.
‘Lost’…………….not like in lost and found, but more like in not taking part in the next step for the betterment of the breed………………..the passing it forward of what our whole program is all about!
There are thousands of Labrador breeders across the country…………………hundreds and hundreds right here in Florida producing every level imaginable of quality and lack thereof! So there are no shortages of where well-intended folk can obtain a puppy from. Some can be great sources of pet puppies, while others should be in the hall of shame for breeding incorrect breed type and worst yet, faulty and defective dogs.
No matter how many sources there are, there is only one Chambray Labradors with the exclusive one of a kind Owner’s Program. Only one…………………………..nothing comes close. That is guaranteed 100%!
We advertise and promote our programs as being breeders of only show quality dogs and not pet puppy producers……………….although in each litter there will be those puppies that do not meet our high standards for the breed and those will be placed as pets.
Our programs and procedures are no secret as we let each and every person that contacts us know that there may not be a pet puppy available and with the show puppies we place.................we only consider those people that demonstrate an interest in the betterment of the breed by taking part in the next step of that process………………….making that puppy placed with them be considered as an adult for perpetuating the next generation of superior quality Labrador Retrievers.
The preceding is why the actual placement of a top notch puppy causes me so much grief. I never really know who the buyers are even though I make each and every one visit me and go through our interview process.
Conformation stays the same for a puppy through adulthood. Of course accidents will curtail the best laid plans; however it is the home environment that alters the dog’s demeanor to where many can’t ever be ‘rescued’!
Yep, some environments are so helter-skelter, some lackluster, some low esteem/lack of confidence, some downright whacky, some way too lax/others way to overbearing……………………….the list of ailments is long and surprising as well.
It doesn’t take long for a puppy that leaves here at 8 weeks of age that is well-adjusted to come back in 3 to 4 weeks displaying the characteristics of the home/family environment. Most of the puppies come back and exhibit good examples of behavior, however there are always those that seem to go backwards due to poor leadership from those involved.
So not only do we lose those that never come back, we also have to deal with those where Looney Tunes and Never Never Land is par for the course. Luckily I am able to bring back some semblance of reality and normalcy to the majority of the La La Land ones and have them become contributing members for the betterment of the breed.
As I write this blog, 3 litters are lined up for their evaluations. All 3 have huge show implications, so my anxiety level is on the rise as the time nears for each. I have already conducted 3 dozen interviews for the 17 puppies available from the 3 litters, so now comes the headache of deciding with whom to place my little gems with..................not an easy task for the one of a kind Chambray Labradors and the Owner's Program for the Betterment of the Breed.
Dog Shows vs. Olympics
Medals vs. Points, Same Difference
I liken the dog show competition to the Olympics!
At the Olympics hundreds/thousands of athletes train for years and years and then every 4 years those that qualify get to go head to head with all those other gifted enough to have made it so far. From those vast numbers, some are really good, some are great and only a handful will win the medals.
At the dog shows thousands compete for the elusive Winners Dog and Winners Bitch awards. Some are really good, some are great and only a handful will win the points.
With the Olympics, the best of the best of the world end up at the venue designated for competing. At the dog shows, the best of an area, state or region end up at those dog show venues. So, the level of competition varies regionally with dogs. In some areas it is much easier for an average dog to win enough points to earn the AKC champion’s title. While in other areas, it becomes a much more difficult task to accumulate those WD/WB points even for the top drawer dogs.
Making the level of competition even tougher for dogs is that every 2 or 3 months puppies age up to the 6 month limit and join the active roster of dogs in any given area. This makes it even tougher for those dogs to be designated the winner for the day.
Of course, in the Olympics, the fastest runner wins the race or the guy/gal that jumps the highest wins the high jump or the one that throws the spear the furthest wins that competition.
In dogs, it is someone's opinion that is the deciding factor of which dog wins and which are relegated to not winning that particular day.
In the Olympics it is a slam dunk deal, one chance to get it right and then it is a 4 year wait for the next chance to run, jump or spear chuck! With dogs, there is always tomorrow and then next weekend and next month.
If the dog is good enough, there are many more opportunities to get it right. To fix what appears to be wrong in the presentation, to condition if that is what’s needed, to accentuate the strengths and shore up any weaknesses.
Although the majority of dogs that are showing have the conformation to be legitimate contenders, not all have that extra oomph that would cause a judge to single it out amongst the competitors that are also vying for the exact same colored ribbon, that of the Winners Dog or Winners Bitch.
Work Pays Off
At Chambray Acres we work with dogs 7 days a week. Some come for short stays while others are here for the long haul. Most of these are Labradors that are part of our Show Management Program, however we also work with other breeds that we manage and handle at the dog shows.
Together with the dog’s owner, we devise a very specific and custom designed package to bring about the desired effect in the ring that will bring about the best possible show presentation.
There is a game plan for each single dog that we take on. Nothing is left to chance, as we cover every scenario that will be of benefit for each dog.
First and foremost, we will not take dogs for our show management program that have defects or structural faults! Those would be totally counterproductive to the betterment of the breed.
However, being structurally and conformationally correct doesn’t mean that they are in working condition. Many of the dogs that are taken on for developing are not in the best of shape and condition.
We analysis each dog individually and decide what it is that can be done to make that dog’s ring presentation the best it can be. We then go over with each owner what must be done to maximize our/their efforts, time and money to be successful with each dog.
The dog’s owner must then decide what they are able to contribute to the game plan. Some owners have all the time in the world to devote to their dogs, while others are extremely busy with work and family life.
Together with the owner’s contribution, be that with time and energy or with the finances to provide what is needed…………that plan is put into affect to accomplish the game plan for success.
Each and every show that we participate in is seen as a ‘work in progress’ for each dog. We are constantly analyzing each of their performances, tweaking as we go along at the shows and then after we finish up the day’s work, discussing what needs to be done with each for the following day.
It boggles the mind to see other exhibitors going to show after show doing the exact same thing……………..same mistakes, same lack of conditioning, same old same old and to hear them complain and make excuses as to why their dogs don’t win.
My working mantra is “We breed great dogs……………..we train and condition them to demonstrate those great attributes…………………..we then present them to look their absolute best!”
The Eukanuba Cometh
Many of our owners…………….newer ones and even some of our longer existing ones have been asking for more information about the Eukanuba National Championships, the LRC Specialty the day before and the 3 All-Breed dog shows that preceded those 2 stellar events.
Well, since so many have inquired, I will do my job to enlighten.
In the beginning there was the Westminster Dog Show…………………and that’s the way it was for 125 years. It had been ‘the’ stand-alone dog show, the premier canine event from America for the world to see.
Then 15 years ago, a small upstart show sponsored by Eukanuba Dog Food Company was put together in Orlando Fl in conjunction with the Florida January Winter Circuit.
It was attended by a small group of breeder/owners…………….winning anything there was a mere footnote in a resume for a breeder. Now 15 years later, that little gathering has turned into the largest and most attended dog show in the USA and winning anything there is a major feather in the cap for that breeder.
This event has grown so much that in a decade in a half it now surpasses the granddaddy of them all, Westminster!
It is now the largest and arguably the most prestigious canine competition for breeders and exhibitors alike. Winning a Best Of Breed at the Eukanuba National Championships is the ultimate achievement for breeders, exhibitors and handlers alike. It would rank way at the top of that lifelong resume for anyone at my level of participation.
We have come close on 3 successive year occasions to taking that big prize home.
Our superstar of all times, BIS BBE Silver/Bronze Grand Champion Chambrays Celestial N Counter was neck and neck for that Best Of Breed in 2013, only to come in second with a Select Grand Champion award to the eventual BOB designee.
The year before, her littermate BBE Gr Ch Chambrays First N Counter would also receive the nod for the same Select Grand Champion award and last year in 2014, BBE Bronze Gr Ch Chambrays Ruff Jewel Walter was award the 1st Judges Award Of Merit after also being considered for the big pie in the sky award.
So this year we return with our best dogs, both champions and also class dogs to this rarefied-air, beyond stellar canine event…………..I should say ‘people/canine’ event because the place has the feel and look of a royal ceremony, extravaganza gala, pageantry all around celebration.
For this week of dog shows, glitz and glamour and dogs are abound around like a Labrador’s tail should be and just being there is major bragging rights, being there with your dog competing makes you and the dog stars of the runway……………..for Chambray Labradors……..Team Chambray, our dogs, our owners, all together with our one of a kind owner’s programs and especially with our dog’s successes in the previous years makes us the talk of the town.
I can’t wait for this year’s event to unfold again right here in Florida, our own backyard.
Update To Last Blog:
The owner of the dog that I covered in the last blog contacted the breeder and directed her to the Blogging Off page. The content of that page I stand 1000% behind!
According to the owner, the breeder states that as long as the dog shows and is not DQ’d or Excused For Lack Of Merit that it is show quality……………no matter what any other breeder says!
Stating further that ‘Show Quality is determine by the dog’s ability to compete at dog shows regardless of whether judges award it points or not and that if any dog is shown enough, that it has the chance of winning points and maybe finishing its championship.”
Well, now I get a bigger picture of why the Chambray dogs have been dominating the Florida show circuit wins for more than a decade! That is apple pie in the sky stuff!
On one hand you have this die hard mission for the betterment of the breed, only breeding the best to the best of each succeeding generation and then only bringing on the best of those best produced to the dog shows………………….at times leaving behind superior quality conformation that could stand toe to toe with the best of them, so that the best prepared, the best trained, the best conditioned would be on the front lines.
On the other hand, there are those breeders that stand behind dogs that are able to show up at a dog show and not get disqualified! Did I say apple pie in the sky?
My problem isn’t so much with those breeders and their convictions, my main concern is with the folk that obtain those dogs from those breeders and then traipse from show to show with inferior dogs in tow……………WORST YET………………breed those dogs later on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I understand that we live in a real world and a pretty much free society where blokes are allowed untethered freedoms. The owner of the dog stated that she preferred his looks to all those others that were showing (and winning) …………………..freedom of choice at its best and worst!
So the saving grace here is that you would think that since the dog, the exhibitor/owner/soon to be breeding the dog and the original breeder have nothing to do with me (thank God and Buddha)………………then I hear of a Chambray dog (not in my management program) that was bred to a dog with the exact same fault!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Does the phrase ‘raining on someone’s parade’ sound apropos? You darn tootin!
More saving grace.................since no one will buy a dog for showing from that person, I won't ever see a Chambray-related puppy with those bad shoudlers!
Explanation on how I choose what topics to cover in these blogs:
50% of my material is inspired by conversations I have at dog shows from inquiring minds. While at the dog shows many folk come to me for advise on breeding and showing their dogs.
Some of those people have dogs that are currently showing while others come to watch the shows to learn more.
I place myself in the way of harm (remember what happens to the messenger) as a service to my lifelong mission of the betterment of the breed. I have learned through the years that way, way too many blokes are breeding and showing dogs that shouldn’t be……………….both bloke and canine!
There are a good percentage of people that are well-intended and I extend myself out for those in particular, but I still make the time for those who trip all over their own 2 feet.
All that in the hopes that I can make a little smidgeon of a difference when it is all said and done, the bright spot here is that I do see that I have made a difference after 25 years of involvement at the show level and especially the last 15 years at the top of that level.
Just this past weekend one of those well-intended owner/exhibitor/breeder came to me to ask about her male that she is showing and wants to use in her breeding program. Now, this is no beginner as she has bred quite a few litters and has owned a bevy of dogs too.
A casual glance of her dog showed totally upright shoulders. Not the 45 degree layback, not 20 degree………………ZERO degree (or 90 degree, which ever makes the picture clearer). Shoulder blade was vertical and perpendicular to the ground. That is 100% wrong, which causes lots of repercussions all around.
Structurally the dog doesn’t have the correct alignment between the shoulder blade to the upper arm. In this case that alignment is totally straight, where there should be an angle of 45 degrees of the upper arm going back to the elbow. So besides having totally upright shoulders and not the 45 degree layback desired, the upper arm is also incorrect in its placement.
This incorrect placement of the shoulder blade to the upper arm back to the elbow places the front-end assembly way forward, giving the dog no front keel and no front angles.
The legs should be well underneath the dog, directly underneath the withers forming a totally vertical line from withers to elbow to feet. With the shoulder blades set back at the correct 45 degree angle, the point of shoulder at the front of the dogs chest forms the keel, then from that point of shoulders back to the elbows at that same 45 degrees gives the dog the ‘legs well under’ desired look. This is not the case with this dog.
The opposite of that is this dog where the upright shoulders covers several of the neck vertebrae’s, causing the dog to look like it has no neck!
I should mention here that all dogs have the same number of neck vertebrae’s and a dog with a short neck looks that way because the shoulder blade is too forward covering up those vertebrae’s.
This dogs legs are so forward that a line drawn up the leg comes out somewhere in the middle of the dog’s neck.
Now we see how movement is affected with the incorrect structure. Because there are no front angles, the dog’s reach is impacted severely because it can not extend the leg properly to cover the ground it is supposed to. So instead of the dog reaching out at the correct 45 degrees to the ground, this dog reaches out less than 20 degrees, which gives the dog a very short stroke with its front legs.
Compounding this fault is the fact that this wrong layback (actually no layback) causes the dog to carry its head below the horizontal medial line (below it’s shoulders). This severely affects the dog’s ability to move efficiently and worse, not be able to carry a heavy retrieve back to the handler. It will drag the bird on the ground and also step on it and trip over it as it moves forward.
In addition, the dog’s rear does not complement the front, because the rear has sufficient angles which makes the rear want to drive as it is supposed to, but the poor front reach makes the rear comprise its stroke, thus throwing movement off even more.
Should this dog be used for breeding?
You answer the question and that will tell me if you are one of those well-intended folk that heed the betterment of the breed credo or are you one of those blokes that are stumbling and bumbling along?