Monday, October 28, 2013

Stud Dogs and Stuff

Stud Dogs and Stuff

It’s been a busy last two months.  In early Sept. Phyllis and I spent a few days in Lexington, KY,  one of our favorite spots.  We visited horse farms, The Kentucky Horse Park, and Old Friends, where they keep retired racehorses.  In October Phyllis went to visit our daughter, Alexandra and her husband in New York City.  When she got back it was hard to tell who was most tired.  Our Daughter lives on a fifth floor apartment with no elevator and I had to do the chores we normally share for five days.  Now you all know why no blogs for a while.

Steve Field, my mentor and friend, was also the most astute breeder I ever met.  He realized the importance of good bitches and finished several over the years, but he always was in search of his next good young male.  The reasons behind this are fairly evident at least to me.  Showing a good young male is good advertising for your kennel and, if you own his sire and/or dam it’s even better.  A good young male until old enough to hopefully have winning puppies sells himself by his wins and appearance in the ring.  Steve had a powerhouse line of stud dogs starting with Ch. Silver Ho Parader, to Image, to Venture, to Country Squire, to Reflection.  Of Country Squire’s offspring, however, it was not Steve who owned the most prolific.  That honor went to Ch. Two-Jays Hanover Enterprise.

Though I would never compare my dogs or success with Steve Field, there were similarities in what we believed.  Coincidentally the start of my kennel’s success started with a dog closely bred to Steve’s Ch. Silver Ho Parader.  I used to say that Ch. Gingeor Bellbrooke’s Choice could carry the costs of the kennel with his stud fees.  No doubt Steve’s studs did that or better and he also bred and sold some darn good pups.

There are seldom more than a handful of really worthwhile stud dogs in this country.  If you can own such a dog you have a profound impact on the breed.  A bitch at most has one or two litters per year.  A desirable stud can literally have near one hundred.  The price of a good stud’s fee used to be roughly the cost of a top notch show puppy.  Breeding a bitch to a well trained stud takes a lot less effort than raising a puppy, but the return is just as great.  Remember it only works if you have a well bred, top quality male with producing credentials.

Today a lot of breeding is done by artificial insemination.  When I was active the breedings were almost 100% natural and a stud needed to know his job as did his handler.  With a bitch ready to breed and without any obstructions, a good stud would have a tie in five minutes or less.  You had to have a bold eager dog who probably started breeding at 9-10 months on a limited  basis.  For safety the bitch would be muzzled and held until the tie broke at which point I got a sample of sperm to put under the microscope.  The stud dog was disinfected before and after the breeding to prevent any transfer of disease.  The care, feeding, and exercise for a top stud could take a book and many have been written so I’ll not try to compete.

In the dinosaur days of my breeding and showing hardly anyone showed bitches past what it took to get them finished.  The feeling was that their value was in the brood box producing the next generation.  The stress and exposure to disease, worms, and all kinds of goodies just didn’t make sense.  The males were in coat longer and generally took top honors anyhow.

It’s beyond me to figure out if bitches today are better than they were.  I only know that they are shown a lot more and go BOB much more than they used to in years gone by.  The dog show game has taken on many changes over the years.  The people involved as breeders, handlers, and judges have gone from being largely men to being at least equal numbers of women.  Perhaps the ladies understand and can get more out of bitches than men used to years ago.

More bitches may be shown today because less people want to breed than to accumulate ribbons or titles.  Over my years of judging I certainly don’t recall any preference based on sex, color or anything but quality.  Dog shows and breeding dogs have many issues, but preference based on  prejudice has never been included.  In Collies one of the most respected breeders and judges years ago was Dr. J.P. McCain, a black man.  He was one of those few about whom I have never heard a negative remark – ever!

If we as just people, whether dog breeders or not, could just aim for such a reputation as his it would be a much better world.

Think about it!!

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