Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Shih Tzu Reporter - Spring '08 - Ms. Gay Dunlap

Paying It Forward
Nancy Manelski
WoTeH'sin ShihTzu

I began as an owner/handler in Shih Tzu ten years ago. While I still try to keep coat and drag around all those necessities of showing in the trunk of my car, these days I hire a handler more often, due to my own professional obligations and the "kids" I love at home. I am also blessed to have a wonderful mentor that works with me in showing my dogs in areas of the country more apt to draw major entries. These things combined keep my checkbook on low and my excitement on high as my dogs make their way around the circuit.

I have listened to the "arguments" brought forth by many a novice stating that the show ring is political. My experience tells me that many times when my owner-handled dog has not won, it was not always politically driven. Perhaps I didn't do the best job presenting my animal on a given day. Perhaps, had I been able to compare structure to structure, I would understand where my breeding had fallen short. But of course there were times when I felt my dog was blown out of the water unfairly, thinking they of course deserved the win. And thankfully there have been days when I walked away with a sweet victory over competition others would agree was tough and the points won were well earned AND deserved. Through it all I have tried to not only remember my humble beginnings but that the reason I do this is because I want to move ahead - to "pay it forward" to the Shih Tzu breed, as my mentor has taught me.

I recently contacted The Shih Tzu Reporter with an idea that has resulted in this forum. I will admit it was a purely selfish idea at first and I had not planned on being the one putting fingers to keyboard on this one. You see, I am no writer, however I have a great interest in where our breed is going and I also still manage to get a dog out there myself in the ring every now and again. My thought was to "interview" some of our judges out there to bring some perspective to the task they have at hand. It might also help someone new, OR old, understand the level of excellence actually putting their hands on our dogs - hopefully giving many of us a new respect for those under whom we enter. But more importantly, I hope this give us all some insight as to where we can improve, not merely in presentation, but in breeding better dogs.

Initially I will bring to you provisional judges, some of whom you may recognize. As this feature moves forward, I hope to bring to you breeder judges and all-arounders as well. I am excited to begin this new venture with The Shih Tzu Reporter! Let the games begin!

I am pleased to introduce to you, Ms. Gay Dunlap, AKC Judge #4623.

NM: How did you get involved in the sport of dogs?
GD: I have been involved in the sport since 1968 when I bought a Yorkshire Terrier and thought if might be fun to show her!

NM: What was your first breed owned? Shown? Bred? Licensed?
GD: My first breed was the Yorkshire Terrier, which I also showed and bred on a very limited basis. I "graduated" to a larger breed, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, in 1970 prior to their recognition by the AKC, applied and became approved to judge them in 1984.

NM: Give us a brief synopsis of your dogs/kennel and show "career".
GD: I have bred Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers for 37 years under the Gleanngay prefix with over 135 champions, including BIS, Specialty and Group winners. I bred and owned the top-producing SCWT sire and number 2 top-producing Terrier sire of all time, Ch Gleanngay Holliday, ROM. My foundation bitch was the breed's first BIS winner in 1974 and remained to only Wheaten bitch to achieve that honor until the early 2000s.

I am a regular contributor to numerous periodicals, including The AKC Gazette, Canine Chronicle and SCWTCA’s Quarterly, Benchmarks. I wrote the SCWT Standard Amplification and produced the SCWT Illustrated Breed Standard and Amplification. In 2005 I accepted the editorship of Benchmarks. The publication can be viewed on the web at

I was a member of the original SCWT standard committee and chairman of the standard revision committee that produced the SCWT standard currently in use by the AKC.
I am chairman of SCWTCA’s Judge’s Education Committee and have, for many years past, served on SCWTCA’s Board of Directors. During that time, I was both president and AKC delegate.

The SCWT Stud Register was designed and spearheaded by me and is featured on the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America’s website. I recently provided SCWTCA with a Judge’s Education Power Point Presentation available on CD.

I am a member of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America, Sun Country Terrier Club, American Dog Judges Association, Dog Judges Association of America, Rocky Mountain All Terrier Club, Greater Denver SCWTC and the AKC Canine Health Foundation.

NM: Why did you decide to pursue judging?
GD: It seemed a natural course of action at the time, although many years passed between applying to judge my first two breeds (Wheaten Terriers and Kerry Blues) and the decision to judge the remainder of the Terrier group as I felt I did not have sufficient time to devote to it. I am approved for the Terrier Group, eight Toy breeds and provisional for nine more. I am also approved to judge Junior Showmanship, Miscellaneous and Best In Show. A successful breeder is, first and foremost, a successful and astute judge of quality. Nothing thrills me more than to find a beautifully constructed, well-balanced dog of correct breed type no matter what the breed.

NM: Why have you decided to judge Shih Tzu?
GD: Since I actually got my start in a Toy breed, I have always found myself drawn to them. I love the elegance and grace inherent in the Shih Tzu. The dramatic and distinctive high head carriage and luxurious flowing coat are qualities I find particularly exciting. Coming from a coated breed myself I truly appreciate the work that goes into its proper presentation.

NM: When judging, what is the "must have" quality you look for in a Shih Tzu?
GD: I judge whole dogs and even in my own breed am hard pressed to place one trait above another in term of "must haves". I do, however, place great importance on correct silhouette in all breeds. I also cannot forgive poor temperament.

NM: Tell us your definition of breed type in a Shih Tzu.
GD: Breed type in the Shih Tzu must include the requisite silhouette with the proud, almost arrogant, head carriage and curved over-the- back tail. It must be solid and of good substance for a toy. Equally important is its luxurious long flowing coat.

NM: Type and structure - Are they the same? Why or why not?
GD: Any breed can display correct breed type and still have structural, or functional, irregularities. So, no, breed type and structure are not the same.

NM: What do you look for on the table?
GD: Examination on the table (hands on) is an important aspect of judging a coated breed. I want to make certain that the head I am seeing is actually correct and not simply created by clever grooming techniques. I want to feel the dog’s substance (or lack of it), that the top line is level, that the loin is short rather than the rib cage, that it is slightly longer than tall and that the neck actually does flow smoothly, and not abruptly, into the back. With a coated breed, my hands must tell me that what appears to be true actually is!

NM: What do you look for in movement?
GD: I do not want to see a Shih Tzu strung up, but rather moving of its own accord, with an effortless, fluid gait, and displaying sufficient reach and drive.

NM: Health, Conformation, Temperament - What do you feel is the order of importance and why?
GD: I cannot place emphasis on health over temperament over conformation. All three must co-exist! In my breed health has been placed foremost of late and consequently our breed is in serious trouble in terms of both breed type and temperament.

NM: In the US, the Shih Tzu is a Toy, in Canada, Non-Sporting. Where do you feel the Shih Tzu is a better fit and why?
GD: Based upon size and taking into account the size spread among the Toy Group generally, I feel the Shih Tzu belongs where it is here in the US.

NM: What is your feeling of the grooming techniques of today in comparison to those practiced when the Shih Tzu was first acknowledged by the AKC?
GD: By way of addressing Shih Tzu grooming techniques, I can only voice that I was shocked over what I learned at a breed seminar. The amount of artificial "enhancement" (coloring) to create a more dramatic appearance saddened me.

On behalf of The Shih Tzu Reporter, I would like to thank Ms. Dunlap for taking the time to respond to my inquiry. In our next issue I will be pleased to introduce to you Mr. Richard Beauchamp.

If you have comments and/or suggestions on interview questions, judges or this forum in general, please email me at

Pictured above is Ms. Gay Dunlap

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Yesterday was Crystal's birthday

This week was really a pretty tough week for me. It just proved how much these little dogs are really a part of me.

Crystal would have been 11 years old yesterday.

I miss you Little Missy. I love you. I can't wait until the day comes when we meet at the bridge and I can hold you in my arms again.

It still hurts like hell every time I think about Crystal being gone.

I was going through some pictures last night and found the one shown here. This was taken July 18, 2006 at 6:43pm. My gardener had just finished doing the yard. I thought I'd go out and take a picture or two before the dogs drug all their toys back out.

Anyway if you look closely at the picture - there is Crystal - evaluating Aurelio's work.

The yard was Crystal's kingdom. She loved to lay on the stone patio but she adored standing at the fence line looking through what is a crack in the masonry, and barking at the dogs in the next yard. And barking! And barking! If Crystal wasn't in the house she was out at the fence or patiently waiting on the patio for her buddy next door to come out and play. In the blazing summer heat she would lay at the patio door on the cool tile in air conditioned comfort patiently waiting for the sun to cross over the yard so she could go back outside and do what she loved to do most. Bark at the neighbor! She would be out there until nightfall some evenings in the summer. Laying, lounging, chasing, resting, rinse, repeat. And the neighbors never complained.

After Crystal was gone, one of the neighbors was out and asked where she was. She noticed the familiar happy bark was gone. I told them Crystal had gone on ahead. They expressed their condolences and then laughed about how she loved her yard so much.

I miss you baby girl. There will always be a place in every backyard I will every have for you to run in spirit. Rest in peace.

Pictured above is Lady Crystalline of Foxhollow in her kingdom within Phoenix.


Over the last six months or so I entered into an agreement with The Shih Tzu Reporter to write a series I've entitled "Paying It Forward." It started out as an idea where someone would "interview" judges and present those interviews to the readership. Well, long story short, my suggestion turned into a new venture in writing. To find prospective interview subjects, I choose provisional Shih Tzu judges with email addresses. Real technical, eh?

So out went the email and the response was tremendous. I was amazed at how many interested people responded! One judge in particular followed my signature link to this blog and read through in an effort to decide whether or not to respond - to see if I was for real I guess.

I am.

So emails followed and I was honored to have one of my pieces right from this blog published in The Poodle Variety during the first quarter of '08! I am honored that people find value in my work. Most of the time I just come here to rant or brag. I guess sometimes I make sense! :)

So thank you Ms. Ann Kennedy for believing in my words.

The funny thing is that once I started to research Ms. Kennedy's judging schedule I realized I had already shown to her! And won! Talk about a coincidence!

As for The Reporter articles, I will begin to copy those published to this blog.

Pictured above is WoTeH'sin Breakfast At Sniffanys winning her first point under judge Ann Kennedy

Tuxedo and Sally at the Nationals

Pictured is WoTeH'sin S'Dandi's Black Tie-N-Tails

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tuxedo's First Major Picture

Here he is at 6 months and 11 days old getting a four point major!


Shown is WoTeH'sin S'Dandi's Black Tie-N-Tails

Friday, May 9, 2008

Winning Streak!

Well, the kids of WoTeH'sin continue to tear it up out there in the rings.

Tuxedo (WoTeH'sin S'Dandi's Black Tie-N-Tails) now has 10 points, needing just one major and a couple of singles. This little guy is only 8 months old! What a thrill it has been during his whirlwind show career!

Holly (WoTeH'sin Breakfast At Sniffanys) gained another point last weekend and only needs three singles to finish!

Both Tuxedo and Holly are in the expert care of Sally Watkeys of S'Dandi Shih Tzu. Thank you Sally for your hard work and winning ways!

And on the home front, the kids and I went to Sierra Vista, AZ a couple of weeks ago and Garnet (S'Dandi's Crimson Crystal Of WoTeH'sin) beat the snot outta Magic (WoTeH'sin Smoke And Mirrors), taking WB, BW and the breed for her first point! The little brat! She had lots of fans by the end of the weekend, including one of my co-workers, Lauren, who joined us for the trip. Garnet is such a happy puppy, not to mention a stunning color, so people just gravitate to her. Red really does attract a lot of attention in the ring!

I was also approached by several folks in search of a good quality Shih Tzu puppy. Sorry to say that my next litter won't be bred until December! Ah but that breeding will be SO worth the wait - most likely a repeat of Tuxedo! Beautiful black & whites on the way! I hope this time there's a girl in there for me!

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures in Sierra Vista - it was WAY too windy and I could barely get topknots in. I'll try to post some other candid shots if I can get any around the house this weekend.