How Long to Persevere
The dust has settled on another National. There will be happy winners and not as happy losers, but it’s always been that way. We have more winners than in the past because we give out more awards and some even talk about how many “cuts” they made. It’s all part of the game.
The old dinosaur has had an interesting past few months. Fell and cracked my pelvis in October, pneumonia in January and just diagnosed with a hernia that needs surgery. Getting old is so much fun, particularly when you’re too dumb to admit it. As the boy said when he swallowed the pincushion, “even this shall pass!”
Dog breeding and dog showing have been changing over the years even though some basics stay the same. One thing that hasn’t changed is the need to honestly evaluate your dogs. Some folks drag a dog around forever to get it finished. Once your dog earns the right to have a “Ch.” or “Gr. Ch.” in front of its name, it’s still the same dog it was before. Titles are the result of opinions by judges who may or may not be knowledgeable.
I used to tell folks if they took a dog or bitch in good condition, groomed well, and trained properly to ten shows and had no points it was time to quit. You can drag them around and perhaps finish them eventually, but you still have nothing. Be honest in your judgement of your dogs, cull ruthlessly, and if you have a good eye you will achieve success. If you don’t have a good eye for what’s correct, get some help from someone who does. Some of the pictures I see of dogs who have finished give me the shudders. The old evaluation game of “it’s my competition dog and it’s no good, it’s my friends dog and it has lots of good points, and it’s my dog and should have won the National if the judge was decent!” is a sad plot to fall into, but shows how some people think. (all the same dog)
Frank Sinatra made a lot of money with a song that said among other things “regrets, I’ve had a few!” It further indicates he did it “his way.” Whether breeding or showing we all will have some things we wish we’d done differently, but need to have the courage to admit we did it our way. If you buy a pup that doesn’t turn out, you pay your money and take your chances and when you breed to someone’s stud dog you face the same criteria. When all is said and done it’s easy to brag about your good decisions, but much harder to not blame someone else for the ones that didn’t turn out so well.
When I was breeding and showing some regrets certainly showed up. But most weren’t too bad. A few were not so minor, but they were all my decision and I lived with it.
I had a beautiful bitch courtesy of my friend, Barbara Woodmancy (Ch. Gregshire Little Honeycomb). She was heavy coated, showed like a champ and finished with four majors when majors were hard to get. Her first litter produced Ch. Jadene’s Breezalong who won the Naitonal for me in 1967. Breezalong was sired by my Ch. Gingeor Bellbrooke’s Choice R.O.M., who was a fine sire. Bellbrooke’s Choice was sired by Bellbrooke’s Master Pilot, an outstanding dog who sired two first rate champions with hardly any opportunity. I always regretted not having tried breeding Honeycomb to him.
Later I had the good fortune to acquire a bitch who became Ch. Sontaw’s Trudy Fair. The day she finished at the Cleveland Specialty was a real high point. Her daughter, Ch. Marnus Evening Breeze won the Kem Sweeps, her son, Ch. Gingeor’s Jack of Tamarack was Winners Dog and Trudy was Best of Winners to take five points and finish. Days to rival that are few and far between. The others that come to mind are the Mason-Dixon Specialty under Oren Kem where Phil Blevin had Winners Dog with Gingeor’s Patent Pending, I had Winners Bitch with Gingeor Comanche’s Legacy and Breezalong took the Breed. There were also two shows where Steve Field gave me both sets of points for Majors.
After that great litter by Breezalong, I thought it made sense to breed Trudy to his sire, Bellbrooke’s Choice because he was a great sire and theoretically would be done at stud sooner because of his age compared to Breezy. Alas, after winning the C.C. of A. In 1967 Breezy developed a skin problem, the treatment for which rendered him sterile while his dad was still going strong. The Evening Breeze litter was never repeated.
Breezalong’s skin problem led to probably my greatest regret as an exhibitor. In Columbus in 1966 Breezy fought it out with The Clown Prince of Floravale for B.B. Next year in San Mateo, CA he took B.B. and was top Collie in the country. In 1968 the C.C. of A. was at the Mason-Dixon C.C. in Virginia, a show that Breezy had owned. I believe he won it three years in a row and the judge for B.B. was John Lindeman who had put Breezy up at the C.C. of Conn. and saw him take the group and nearly B.I.S. The catalog for the 1968 C.C. of A. has a silhouette of a dog and handler on the cover. It was a silhouette of me showing Breezy and a tribute to a grand dog who the club was honoring. I know of no other catalog for a National that offered such a tribute.
The folks who decided on the catalog and the rest of the club knew nothing of Breezy’s skin problem. I had had him to the Univ. of PA School of Veterinary Medicine, but we found no answer better than the low dose of predisone to stop him scratching and chewing. His coat came in, but in nothing of the former beauty that it had shown. We went to no shows leading up the the C.C. of A. National
As entry time approached the pressure to show him seemed to intensify. This dog had a big fan club and the show was in his backyard (I lived in NJ) with a judge who really liked him. As I sent the entry my thought was still not to take Breezy, but as the show approached I became sure he’d look decent. To the National we would go!
This is absolutely in no way a reflection of the winner that day, Ch. Noranda Daily Double. His owner, Dorothy Long, and his handler, Les Canavan always had my whole hearted respect. “Buster” and Breezy traded wins over the years, so I bear him no ill will in any way.
The only ill will in my heart was of a young fellow from New Jersey who let himself be convinced to show a dog who should have stayed home. This dog who had carried me to the pinnacle any Collie person could aspire to had been let down by the guy who should have shielded him when he wasn’t his best. That was my greatest regret and I’ve never forgotten in all these years. Don’t ever take a dog out that should have stayed home.
Think about it!!! I still do.