Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rest In Peace My Little Sweet Pea

I lost a piece of my heart today.

Reeves had been declining at a faster rate lately it seemed. This weekend I knew it was his time and my little sweet pea fell asleep for the last time in his little bed just after midnight. Before I went to sleep at 12:30am I held him close, hugged and kissed him one last time and told him I would miss him forever and that it was okay to run to the bridge. When the radio went off this morning the song playing was "Stairway To Heaven." I knew before I even checked, at that moment, my little boy Reeves was gone. And he had moved on ahead.

Another breeder once said - No matter how long, it's never long enough. No truer words were ever spoken.

I will miss you Reeves. I will always love you with all my heart. But I know now that you dance at the bridge with your best friends Gizmo and Crystal. Please be there waiting for me when my time comes.

My little sweet pea - rest in peace.
1/4/93 - 12/14/09

Monday, November 30, 2009

How was your weekend?

For Thanksgiving weekend Magic & I went to Yuma to spend a few days at a dog show. Magic came home proudly with his AKC championship! He finished his title on Sunday with his third major win and many adoring fans ringside. He turns heads wherever he goes it seems. Some of the adjectives this weekend from fans and judges - beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, correct and amazing! Yes, he decided to not just walk, but STRUT his stuff all over the show ring!

Thank you to Sandra "Goose" Allen for awarding a second major to Magic and to Margo Klingler for Magic's third and title-completing major win!

Magic is the first dog I owner/handled completely from the bred by exhibitor class from start to finish and as such I will be awarded a special medallion for this achievement by AKC. This title is very important to me. Magic is my seventh overall finished AKC champion Shih Tzu and my fifth home-bred champion.

Hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend - we sure did!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This made me smile

I had kind of a crummy day today - it wasn't the total disaster kind of day - it was just one of those days where no matter what I did I couldn't get anything done and more stuff got piled on. And of course everyone wants everything NOW. Plus there was another personal drama going on that just didn't help. But home I came to wonderful pictures of Jack - he's such a pretty puppy. Doesn't he just look great? His cute little face made me smile!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Samantha and Sabrina

Here are my girls!
This litter was a repeat breeding of
Tuxedo - BPISS CH WoTeH'sin S'Dandi's Black Tie-N-Tails.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Jack's doing great!

Jack is settling in with his new family nicely! Here he is with Bella. Aren't they sweet?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jack and his new family

Jack lives with his family not far from us in the greater Phoenix area.

He has a new big brother too! Jack and Milo are becoming great pals! You'll notice Jack's tail is one big blur - I think he's happy with his new family!

Lili and her new family

Lili now resides in the greater Denver area.

Doesn't this face . . .

. . . just melt your heart???

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A sucker born every minute!

Some people are really stupid. There, I've said it. Does that piss you off? Oh well.

I'll tell you what pisses me off. When I see these so called "breeders" pimping out their puppies on the internet with catchy phrases, glitzy websites and puppies next to soda cans, remote controls and packs of cigarettes. But the one I've seen today just takes the cake!

Website - page 1 -
"Home to the ORIGINAL "designer" themed Shih Tzu website. (Don't be fooled by others!)"

Eh GADS! How stupid are the people that read this, go further and buy a dog from this person??

This one I loved - on the list of what she provides with all puppies -
"Pedigrees of parents if available". IF AVAILABLE??? You have GOT to be kidding me?? People are giving this girl THOUSANDS of dollars for dogs and she can't even produce a pedigree?

She also says she genetically tests her dogs - big deal. What is she testing FOR? She doesn't exactly say, but she justifies her prices because breeding is SO expensive. She doesn't SHOW her dogs, hell, she can't even produce a pedigree all the time - what is she spending the money on? Toys, potty pads, genetic testing, snuggly beds, blankys, playpens, nursery necessities, advertisements, emergency c-sections, and of course HER TIME. Here's a newsflash folks - capital expenses like toys, pens, "snuggly beds", "blankys" - with proper care, they last a long time! Shih Tzu aren't in general destructive to these items. Her expense of c-sections - well hell's bells - if she wasn't breeding bitches below standard size, in general she wouldn't need to section them. Oh, and her TIME - my advice would be to GET A JOB! I will admit that vet bills are expensive - but my thought on that is that if you can't afford to pay for the medical care necessary for your dogs, then DON'T BUY OR KEEP ANY MORE - and certainly, don't breed them to pay the bills!

If one chooses to breed dogs and it is done with purpose - correctly - one will loose money. Get over it.

If you have bought a dog from this lady - you have been TAKEN! Some people are really stupid!

I've got to go get my blood pressure under control.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

We're exhausted!

Today the puppies went for a photo shoot. What a day! I can't wait to see the results! But we are SSOOOOO tired! At least I am - the puppies are running around here getting into stuff because THEY got to sleep on the hour ride home! Mom on the other hand - well, let's just say I could use a nap. No rest for the weary though - I have to head to the store before the pharmacy closes to pick up Reeves' refill on pain meds. The old guy is still kickin'!

As soon as I get the first draft of pictures - I'll put something up. They will be adorable!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Do You Believe In Magic?

Well, here is my pick puppy - no, they aren't eight weeks old yet, only six, but I've made a choice - subject to change but probably not.

Introducing Samantha - WoTeH'sin Do You Believe In Magic?

All I can say is C U T E!!

All the puppies are doing very, very well. They are all eating hard food and drinking from their water bottle. They play like banshees now. They are LOUD and getting L O U D E R every day! Their momma Violet makes a few trips into the nest still to nurse them a little, but she's pretty tired of their teeth!

Puppies are so much fun. I spend way too much time watching them every day. They grow up SO fast!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Puppy update

The babies will be four weeks old on Monday. Time really flies! They are now interacting with each other quite a bit. They still sleep a lot and they are most active in the morning when they wake up. I'll be starting them on mush this week - puppy food that has been soaked in water with baby rice in it too. As their teeth come in, they will transition to regular puppy food.

Here they are earlier today - at least the girls. The boy was snoozing on the other side of Violet.

They are such content and pretty babies! Violet and Magic did a great job again!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Three weeks old!

It's hard to believe but the puppies are three weeks old! They are all doing great - all eating well and FAT! The little boy is a little piggie! He LOVES to eat! Momma Violet feeds them in shifts so she's doing a great job with motherhood. And Magic sticks his nose up to the crate every so often to see what's going on - he's not sure what those things are but he sure seems to think he did something special! :)

I've not figured out any names for these little ones - just the nicknames to keep the girls straight that I came up with when they were born. Horseshoe Girl, Perfect Girl, and Comb-Over Girl. If you look at their markings you can pretty much guess why they have those names. Oh, and the boy is just Big Boy. And he's the biggest one in the picture to the far right.

All eyes have been open a week or so and now the puppies are starting to actually get up and toddle around. They'll start playing with each other probably this week. That's when they are just the cutest!

More pictures next week!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Breaking News!!

WoTeH'sin Shih Tzu is thrilled to welcome into the world our newest litter of babies - 3 girls and 1 boy. Proud parents are Violet (WoTeH'sin Booty-N-Charm) and Magic (Intl CH WoTeH'sin Smoke And Mirrors). Here they are at less than 6 hours old having their lunch!
This is a repeat breeding of our little guy Tuxedo, BPISS CH WoTeH'sin S'Dandi's Black Tie-N-Tails, who went Best Puppy at the Metropolitan Atlanta Shih Tzu Fanciers Specialty preceding the Nationals in 2007. Tuxedo is owned by Sally Watkeys of Traverse City, Michigan and since Tuxedo was a singleton puppy, we decided to repeat the litter hoping lightning would strike twice! We've not had a litter since Tuxedo was born and I am so excited I could just burst!

Momma and babies are doing great! The puppies are all striking black & whites with beautiful markings! I hope to have one make it onto the mats in 2010! Daddy Magic needs only a major to finish his AKC title in limited showing, so he better hurry up! I don't want to keep two dogs in coat!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Foundations of a Successful Dog Breeder

These axioms are reflections of the temptations we face on a daily basis as dog breeders. If one were to make a similar list for any human endeavor, I doubt it would differ much from what I have listed. I think this list is one that we should all review from time to time, for it requires maturity and self-confidence to master-something we all should continue to hone throughout our lives. The ultimate payoff is the ability to succeed in and to enjoy our dog breeding careers.

The primary reason anyone becomes involved with dog breeding and showing is a fundamental love of dogs. We treasure the companionship, the never failing loyalty, the delight they exude. We love to have them on our beds. Their eagerness to face the new day, even when we wake them up at dreadful hours, provides us a wonderment that brings back the exuberance of childhood. They forgive us when we lose our temper, when we are impatient, when we are far less than they are. They bring out the best of ourselves, they nurture the "big" us. Unfortunately, dog breeding and exhibiting can tempt our "little" selves. It can feed a fragile ego until it becomes a raging ego. Often, this need to feel we are better than our fellow man is expressed in our possessions. We need to have the biggest winner, the producer of the most champions, the most champion puppies. We buy, we co-own, we collect.

Soon we have no time for dog pleasures, no time to play or rub a grateful belly, no time to stroke a patient brow. Soon we have no room for more dogs; we stack them and crate them and store them as though they were baubles that have no meaning but to make us feel important. We lose our ability to love. Dog showing and breeding is a great vocation. It is creative and challenging and very rewarding.

But we must never expect our hobby to take the place of a psychologist's work. We must never expect an unhealthy mental state to be cured by self-indulgence. Far too many people take to showing and breeding for the wrong reasons. Their houses go to ruin, their bank accounts evaporate, their credit hits the skids, their spouses and children are left to survive on their own as the breeder pursues their own manifestation of what they perceive to prove their self-worth.

Being a dog breeder is a huge commitment. It means we should assign ourselves the role of lifetime student. It means we will be humbled in countless ways and in countless circumstances. It means our lessons will be of the hard knock variety if we are to truly learn them. It means frustration, long hours, late nights and early mornings. It means never getting to sleep-in again.

It means finding friendships - some of which will last for a lifetime and some of which will flounder, being built on social advantage. It means being quoted and misquoted and having words put in your mouth. It means being given ample opportunity to be as "small" as a human being can be. But, hopefully, it can provide an opportunity to learn to be "big," to be generous, inquisitive, and adventurous. We should never ask ourselves if we are envied or important or successful. Those questions are meaningless. At the end of the day, we should ask ourselves, "Am I proud of the person I've become? What we must always be are dog lovers. We must be their advocates. We must ensure the life of every dog we breed and every dog we own is fulfilled and an illustration of humanity at its best hour.

Our vanity must not be stroked by having our pictures in a magazine or seeing our name on some ranking system. Our self-worth must come from knowing we provide our dogs a life of love, of pleasure, and of happiness.

It is easy to become lost in the purpose of breeding quality dogs. For some, the attraction of the bright lights, the glamour and the glitz cause them to stray from the path. Developing a bloodline that is well considered and that is a positive influence for the breed takes considerable discipline. Too often, the seemingly slow and carefully orchestrated effort to improve a breed is crossed up with the immediate desire to breed that one big winner and become famous.

The breeder's pledge must be to harbor and safeguard the breed. No breed is in perfect shape when the breeder happens upon it and none shall be perfect when they leave. But to leave a breed in better shape than it was when you came upon it is the greatest compliment. To improve type, movement, temperament and health must be the bottom line for every committed breeder.

Such accomplishment takes a long-range plan that is carefully thought through. It requires dedication and purpose. All too often, we are sidetracked by our desire to breed to the latest big winner, and then to the next and the next. Before long the pedigree is a long list of "who's who" that have no relationship to each other, other than they found success in the ring. What is key to learn (and to believe) is success in the ring is not an automatic indication of the dog's true quality. We all wish one indicated the other but that is too easy. It would require the removal of human fallacy to be accomplished!

Dogs do not excel for all the same reasons. Consequently, you can't simply breed one big winner to another and produce more big winners. Every feature and their nature of inheritance must be studied and understood before you can "manage" the inheritance variables. Once you gain this skill, you are on the road to producing a great line of winners.

The breeding of fine purebred dogs should be considered the pursuit of perfection - it is not the maintenance of it. All dogs have faults, all dogs are less than ideal in some ways and areas. If not, the "ideal" has not been well enough conceived. It is very easy to fall into the trap of being defensive about one's own dogs. This usually happens because what we assume to be correct is challenged by another as being less so.

This disharmony causes confusion in our mind and ultimately unhappiness. To right ourselves, we often become defensive and try to rid ourselves of that which is causing us the discomfort - namely the opinion that does not complement our own.

We must realize that "truth" is the ultimate standard by which our decisions should be made. In most cases, a roached back is a roached back, whether we choose to recognize it as such or not. Consequently, the best way for us to not be put into a position of being unhappily surprised is to pursue knowledge relentlessly to ensure our opinion is as accurate and close to the "truth" as possible.

This knowledge is gained in many ways, one of which is learning from fellow breeders. We must fight the urge to make up our minds about something and refuse to consider another viewpoint. Indeed, we do not make decisions based on facts when we are first learning, we are depending upon what we perceive to be the expertise of others to provide that for us. If that so-called expertise is, in fact, faulty, our whole knowledge base is called into question. And that causes us great anxiety.

The best place to sit is in the seat of the knowledge seeker. Whenever provided with an opinion that is different than the one you currently hold, always seek to under-stand the viewpoint of the other. Why does the person perceive something differently than you? Understanding another's point of view can be the road to greater knowledge. If you shut that door and do not entertain the prospect of learning something different than what you think is truth you will never actually recognize the truth and you will not succeed in your goal.

Quite honestly, you should be more critical of your dogs than anyone else could possibly be. That is not to say you should attribute faults to your dogs they do not possess, but your evaluation must be as detailed as possible and you must strive to see clearly their true faults and virtues. From this comes the map to success.

Sounds a bit like the golden rule that we learn in childhood. Yet it is amazing how many people forget this very important axiom. In dealing with others, regardless of the matter, think always of the other person's position. I have heard repeatedly, people state how they were burned in a co-ownership agreement. All too often the agreement is geared toward benefiting one party (often the seller) over another. Written agreements somehow are tainted as being only needed in a contentious situation. This is the first misconception. Not having a written agreement should be the very rare exception, not the reverse. Too often, should a worthwhile puppy be produced from one of these undefined arrangements, the fight is on for possession. Before contemplating selling a dog on a co-ownership or leasing it or offering stud service for a puppy back, you should think through what exactly you expect and desire from such an arrangement. Too often, these business dealings occur in the spur of the moment during a telephone conversation, and the deal is struck before either party has really had an opportunity to think it through. For some reason, rather than rethinking the situation, we tend to try to follow through on such an ill-conceived arrangement only to end up bitter enemies in the end. If people would stop and think about the likely end result, they would realize the best possible thing to protect the friendship is to have a written understanding.

It is very rare a litter is going to have more than one star if any at all. Consequently, it is important to under-stand who is going to own that super puppy, should it appear. People are too willing to tear apart relationships should one person seem to benefit a bit more than another. This is too sad and is reflective of the self-benefit motivation that all too many find as the driving force for their actions. When pressed, it is far better to give than to receive.

It is far better to let the other seemingly benefit than to destroy a relationship and acquire the reputation of being disreputable and self centered, if for no other reason than it makes you grow as a human being, which is probably a fair trade off in the long run.

Another pitfall breeders often experience is the inability to celebrate others' successes. While certainly we feel the route we are taking is the best way to approach that utopian plateau of breed perfection, there are actually many routes to that same goal. It takes nothing at all away from our own accomplishments to recognize the accomplished efforts of other breeders.

This inability and unwillingness to appreciate other's efforts usually comes from having made a decision not to breed to certain bloodlines or deal with certain persons. When such a kennel then produces a success, it is difficult for us to acknowledge such an achievement for we tend to find that inconsistent with our opinion of that particular person or family of dogs. It takes quite an honest and secure person to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of others.

While it is probably good advice to hold our criticisms closer to our chest, recognizing another's achievement only brings good things. By being someone who can see the virtues in breeding lines other than your own, you gain a reputation of fair-ness and objectivity that is a very rare pearl in dogdom. You may find, over time, your point of view and your philosophies are taken with much greater weight when others do not perceive them to have originated in a mind consumed with self-aggrandizement. Thus, by doing so you lose nothing and yet you gain so very much.

One of the worst situations a breeder can find her/himself in is to partition themselves off from another kennel or bloodline. It is highly unlikely that all improvements toward the perfection of a breed are going to come from one single kennel or bloodline. Like flowers in the field, they will spring up in various places. The clever breeder is the one who knows how to pick from all the field those who will make the ultimate, sublime bouquet. And to do this, you must be able to use the strengths of other kennels and bloodlines. Breeders will tend to have certain biases; andquite honestly, there are certain strengths and weaknesses in most bloodlines. While you may feel you have achieved the highest ground in certain areas, there will doubtless be other areas in which your dogs and bloodlines are less strong than others. Not to recognize this fact is to ensure you will plateau quite early in your breeding career. And by that I mean you will stabilize and go no further. You must always keep a watchful eye for that very special bloom that will enhance your bouquet.

It is this sophisticated combining of families without losing the good points of your own bloodline that strengthen a kennel and move it forward in breed importance. It takes careful consideration, orchestration and pruning to come to fruition.

- Author unknown


That's how many puppies Violet has in that little belly of hers! They all look to be fairly uniform in size - we're hoping for a smooth delivery sometime later next week!

Fingers crossed!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Puppies - puppies!

We definitely have some puppies on the way! Violet is as big as a house and she still has about 10 days to go! She's so big she mostly lays on her back to sleep at night.

Today I can just about feel some slight movement in there. It so exciting! This is the first litter here in about two years - and it's a repeat of the singleton litter that was BPISS CH WoTeH'sin S'Dandi's Black Tie-N-Tails, aka "Tuxedo".

Dang, I can't wait to see these puppies! Please let there be a beautiful little girl in there for me!

Reeves update

Well, Reeves is doing great these days! I've tinkered with his pain meds and increased the dosage a smidge and he's doing great! He's eating everything he's served daily and he's alert as he lies in his bed for a good portion of the time I'm home. He even found his way into the group food dish the other night about an hour after I had spoon fed him his dinner (and he ate it all up)! Just amazing. When I get him up on the table to feed him, he perks right up and can smell the wonderful smells of what he's about to dine on - usually warm chicken meat mixed with wetted down food, some cheese (so I can get his pill down) and a smidge of peanut butter for desert!

So every day is a gift - and I'm blessed that my little guy is hangin' in there.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Getting Old Sucks

Sixteen years ago a decided I wanted to get a playmate for my dog Gizmo. Gizmo was about 1-1/2 and she was a Shih Tzu-Lhasa Apso mix. Today she would be called some kind of designer name, probably a Shih Apso or Lhazu or something trendy. I just called her a mutt. But Gizmo was such a great little dog and she was very active and I decided, much to my then fiance's dismay, that Gizmo needed a playmate. I was travelling a lot and Michael was working and going to school, and Gizmo spent many of her days alone baby gated in the kitchen. It seemed to me unfair when a little buddy could make her days a bit brighter.

I had gotten Gizmo as a referral from a veterinarian I had met that knew of someone that owned Gizmo who thought she was just a bit too active. So I guess in hindsight, that was a good way to find a dog. The vet knew her history and knew the people that bred her and knew they just wanted her to go to a home that would love her and be able to take care of her. Michael and I fit the bill on that one. But when it came to Reeves, being the normal pet buyer, I went to what I would now term a backyard breeder. I remember it was a sunny day in May when I pulled into this lady's front yard. There she was under a big shade tree with a puppy pen just brimming with black and white little puppies. They were all so tiny, except for one big ol' goofy looking dog that had a zest for life it seemed. The lady and I talked about prices and I asked about the big goofy looking dog. She said that he was the last one from his litter - the pick of the litter she said. He was five months old but she hadn't been able to find a home for him yet. In retrospect, that pick of the litter line was garbage. This poor little guy was still there because he was the homeliest Shih Tzu I had ever seen during the course of what little research I had done. But he was just the happiest little guy and was bouncing around like crazy. I picked him up and asked his price and the lady hemmed and hawed and said, well he was the pick of his litter, but because he's so much older than the rest of the puppies (which were all between 4 and 8 weeks old), she would let him go for $100. I paid the lady and left with Reeves and never looked back.

Gizmo and Reeves were like peanut butter and jelly. They hit it off immediately! They played and played until finally they would collapse together and pass out from sheer exhaustion! The loved one another and formed a very special bond. It was because of them that I decided to get further involved in dogs.

Eventually Michael left the picture and I was on my own again, but I had custody of the kids. Michael never did like Reeves, and I'm sure that my bringing Reeves home when Michael and I were in the middle of a power struggle over finances, well , that didn't sit well with Michael. But I'll tell you what, I don't regret for a minute that I brought home this little dog that warm, sunny, Spring day in May. I remember the ride home - Reeves was terrified. But once he got to the house and met his sister Gizmo, all was right with the world.

Now, 16 years later, Gizmo is gone. She has been for about seven years now. I miss her and so does Reeves. Loosing your first one is always hard. But I had Reeves to hold on to. And then there was the rest of the crew here too. As I got involved with showing, my family grew. But now, Reeves is nearing his time. It's so hard to watch him deteriorate in front of my eyes. I cry everyday after I feed him and love on him. He's in extreme pain daily now due to his bad hips and awful topline. His structure was awful from the day he was born because his breeder wasn't breeding for structure. And now he is paying the price. His poor little hips hurt him terribly. Even with heavy pain medication, he cries when he moves lately. His walk is slow. He has lost his hearing and his eyesight, but he maneuvers through the house pretty well. He still finds the doggie door on some days. And the days he doesn't I don't really care. I am his servant, and I gladly serve him. He gets special meals spoon fed twice daily. We have our ritual of feeding, drinking, medication, eye drops and vitamins. He loves his yogurt and his peanut butter. The other dogs stand around begging and whining. And Reeves is up on the table in his little bed getting spoon fed his last meals. I can't even pick him up anymore as he cries out in pain. I have to lift him up by the sides of his little bed and put him on the table to feed and love him. Although they are painful days for both of us, I am grateful for these remaining days as they are gifts from God. But Gizmo is waiting at the bridge with Crystal right there beside her, both of my girls waiting for their little goofy buddy to dance again with them, joyfully playing without pain.

I love you baby boy. With all my heart. You will let me know when it is time. Until then I give you everything I can to make your days easier. I wish I could make you young again and hold you in my arms when I tell you I love you. I pray your final moments are peaceful and I hope you know how much I love you.
Shown above is my little sweet pea Reeves, resting in his little bed which is right next to my chair in the dog room.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

They have a website - they MUST be ethical!

I found this posted on a "breeder's" website recently:

10 Rules of Ethical Breeding

1) The only reason to be breeding purebred dogs is to preserve the best qualities of the breed. Breeding to supply any market is not a justification.
2) You need to do all of your breeding with the best interests of the breed in mind. Never your pocket book.
3) For this you need to be a serious student of the breed and devote years of your life to it. No "in one day, out the other".
4) As a beginner you need to engross yourself in the breed as much as possible and ideally find a suitable mentor.
5) In order to be a serious breeder, you must show and compete.
6) You need to keep track of all puppies you produce, whether pet or show, to know how your breeding program is working.
7) All pet dogs need to go on a spay/neuter contract.
8) All show puppies need to go on a contract that will not allow breeding unless the dog lives up to the quality intended and passes all health checks and certification necessary for that breed. If a prospective breeder does not want to do this, then I am sorry but they will have to mess with someone else's dogs not mine!!

Co-ownerships allow you a certain amount of control in this regard because they require your signature in order that puppies be registered. The latest news from the AKC is that there is a pending change to the rules that will not allow registration unless all papers are properly signed. If you have a difference with your co-owner it will need to be settled in court before the AKC will register litters or puppies. This is new and still pending, but a step in the right direction.
9) Every breeder owes to the breed and to themselves to be involved with rescue.
10) Every breeder should be prepared to take any dog back for whatever reason. If they do not have the space, then they need to be prepared to make other arrangements. But take back they must!

So if a person posts this on their website, does that make them ethical? Even when they themselves don't abide by over half of the items listed? Even when they don't show? Even when they purposefully breed substandard Tzu that don't meet the weight standard as outlined in the breed standard set forth by the AKC parent club? Even when they've only been experts for less than a couple of years? Even when they tout all of the AKC champions in the pedigrees of their "kids" but have NEVER set foot in a show ring, let alone titled a dog they themselves bred? Even when they don't rescue? Even when they will sell dogs for breeding purposes if the price is right without some type of ongoing relationship - i.e. having the dog complete a title? Even when they charge more money for "rare" colors when our breed standard says all colors are permissible meaning there are no RARE colors?

And when it comes to puppy prices, why are some more expensive than others? The price for a puppy should be the same no matter the color or sex.

WAKE UP FOLKS AND SMELL THE JAVA! Just because someone links to something or prints something on their website that eludes to ethics, it doesn't mean that they walk the walk!

ALL puppies are cute! Don't let your desire to find a cute puppy let you fall for the lies that are out there. A website does not make a person ethical. Count how many girls they have that are of breeding age - brood bitches - suppliers of their cash crop. Doesn't matter if they own or co-own them. More importantly - count how many puppies they have listed. Track this info for some time and you'll know EXACTLY what you are dealing with. Add up the money. Why does anyone that doesn't show their dogs need five litters of puppies on the ground at any one time? WHY? Well, let's see - let's say that totals 10 to 15 puppies at $1000 each and then you'll have an idea why. Especially when the don't have real jobs or their commissioned sales job has hit the skids lately.

Ethical breeders breed to improve the dogs that they have with every litter. They breed to improve on faults, to maintain good health, to maintain good temperament. Ethical breeders study pedigrees and can tell you why they bred their girl to the chosen sire. Usually they've gone to great lengths to find the right stud dog. They may have him in their house but if so, that dog's pedigree took some time to develop in order for him to remain in that house to be used on any of the girls that are there. He's not there because of his size or his color. Ethical breeders don't care what color is selling and they don't advertise mochas, chocolates, lattes and all those made up colors that make you pay more money. AKC says that Shih Tzu come in Gold/White, Gold, Black, Black/White, Silver, Silver/White, Brindle, Brindle/White, Red, Red/White, Blue, Blue/White, Liver and Liver/White. Some of these colors may have a black mask. That's IT! Don't fall for what the posers are trying to shove down your throat to make them sound like they have a quality dog.

Ethical breeders would rather pass on breeding a litter than overwhelming their household with puppies. An ethical breeder knows their limitations and they know what they need to do in order to give each puppy born the best possible care in their house. Ethical breeders will breed with intent, with purpose to improve the dogs, not the balance in their checkbooks.

As a puppy buyer, ask the right questions. If you don't get the right answers - MOVE ON.

You don't want a show dog right? So it doesn't matter, right? WRONG! Even the best pedigrees put together may result in not one single puppy finishing a title. But I guarantee you that out of every litter that an ethical breeder breeds, they will hold back a puppy for themselves to watch grow up before they make a final decision on the show worthiness of that puppy. Sometimes they will watch more than one.

Puppy buyers need to understand that THEY TOO DESERVE a well bred animal for their hard earned money.

Good breeders don't advertise their puppies on a website with cute little themes for each litter or catchy names or with the poor puppy next to a soda can to show off their size. Good breeders aren't going to advertise puppy galleries or notate a puppy with "puppy A", "puppy B", etc. Good breeders make you wait for the next litter because they don't breed to fulfill a market, they breed for themselves. Good, ethical breeders don't have puppies just waiting for you. Ask a breeder when their last litter was and how many litters they've bred in the past year, in the past two years, in the past five years. Then ask how many champions they've bred and/or finished. Out of their last litter, how many were shown, how many finished? Ask who their mentor is and check them out too. If you have half a brain, you'll know when things don't add up.

Most importantly, plan ahead and find a breeder that cares. Don't wake up one day bound and determined to bring home a puppy by the end of the week. Take your time. Look at what is out there and use your head. You will be grateful you did.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reinventing one's self

Now I know that there are people out there that reinvent themselves to keep their images fresh because in their line of work, it's crucial. Say show business - think Madonna. But in the dog world when someone reinvents themselves, doesn't it make you wonder? I mean REALLY wonder?

A while back I wrote this post about a particular person that was hawking imperials on her website. Her website would have led someone to believe that she had been breeding and showing Shih Tzu all her life, when in actuality she had only just happened into the breed when her day job started going down hill - think real estate. What better way to make money than pump out puppies, right?

So it's bad enough that she's trying to pass herself off as knowing anything about the breed. But now, she's reinventing herself. Her website now points to a new "improved" website with a flashy new name. Many of the dogs are the same with a smattering of new canine flesh mixed in to make you wonder how many dogs can one go through in the course of a couple of years? Bred 'em, place 'em and forget 'em.

Sigh. I think I'll go hug my 16 year old that's costing me a fortune at the vet. While I'm at it, I think I'll also round up the krew and have a group hug.

While I'd like to place an adult or two, usually they end up staying unless the most absolute perfect home happens along. They're not advertised on my blog or a website with a price tag on them. Nor are my puppies. When you breed for yourself, you find the numbers manageable enough and you don't have to stoop to puppy mill tactics to sell your puppies or adults.

Ethics - make sure your breeder has 'em before you commit to YOUR next dog.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


It's been a while since we've heard the pitter-patter of little paws around here! Specifically, my last litter was a singleton puppy born in 2007 (that turned out to be something pretty spectacular). Tuxedo was Best Puppy In Show at the Greater Atlanta Shih Tzu Specialty that proceeded the Nationals last year! I thought then, and I still think, that was pretty AWESOME! Thank you again, Sally, for believing in me, my breeding program and that special little boy!

Well as luck would have it - I finally have an opportunity to repeat that breeding! Violet is cooperating and I'm sure Magic will when called upon! :) Now all it has to do is take!

So if all goes well, and I hope I'm not jinxing it, we should have cute little black & white puppies in June!

Now, as if that wasn't enough to be happy about, my little Holly is also in season! I've been able to work out the logistics and Holly will be bred as well.

I've been planning these two litters for well over a year now. It's been a rocky road to get to this point too. I won't go into details, but let's just say that I didn't think I'd be able to breed either girl! It figures both would come in at the same time! But I've been blessed to be able to work out the details. And I'm very excited!

Pictures of course will be posted here for bragging purposes!!

Pictured above is Violet (WoTeH'sin Booty-N-Charm) with her singleton son Tuxedo (CH WoTeH'sin S'Dandi Black Tie-N-Tails).

Speaking of dog shows . . .

Magic continues to creep on towards his championship title, in spite of me! He now has 11 points, and only needs one major to finish. This is the most frustrating part of showing dogs - searching out majors. And who knows - Magic may end up somewhere else in the country sometime this year. :) That's the beauty of owner handling - you can take your time, you can change things up, you can show 'em yourself or you can send them out.

Keeping my fingers crossed!

The kindness of strangers

A belated post, but none the less from my heart - thank you to those of you that helped me recently at the show in Tucson. You know who you are! If it weren't for your kindness and help, I'm not sure how my weekend would have ended.

Thank you!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Shih Tzu Reporter - Winter '08 - Mrs. Janis Clary McGee

Paying It Forward
Nancy Manelski
WoTeH'sin Shih Tzu

Levels of excellence. Now there's a twisted phrase. I mean really, isn't excellent just simply excellent? I suppose if one merely sees in black and white, then yes, that's all there is. But I dream in color and so there is a gradient always before me.

One of the things in my life that has really hit me lately is giving back. I make charitable donations just like the next guy but I'm talking about really giving back.

I work for an ESOP (employee stock owned) company. This ownership culture has really opened my eyes to many things. The culture of ownership encourages excellence. The better we are at turning a profit, the more our stock is worth at the end of the year. We merely rely on ourselves for our stock value and only we benefit from it - in other words while the S&P and Dow have seen frightening losses lately, our stock was up 54% this year. Simple concepts really, but these concepts have more impact when improved daily work habits result in more for your future. And in times like they are now economically, I'm happy to say that our work ethic is helping us weather the storm. But even more important is that our success as a company allows us to contribute to those less fortunate with greater impact. Collectively we not only excel professionally, but we make a strong charitable difference as well. We choose to contribute to children almost exclusively. Why? Because helping and mentoring kids, and those that work with kids, gives us as well as our community such a huge return on our investment.

So how does this relate to Shih Tzu? Glad you asked! You see we who breed hopefully do so with a goal of improvement. The way we determine the quality of what we breed is through showing our dogs. Some of us out there do it as a hobby; some do this as a business.

Today we live in a powerful age where information technology grants us the ability to learn more than ever before. Google the words Shih and Tzu and you will see what I mean. We've all seen the web sites about puppy mills and animals waiting for adoption in shelters around the world. I've shed more than a few tears viewing these sites. But what hurts the most is the trail of breadcrumbs that leads to someone that breeds, shows and eventually sells a champion to another party where that party is less than scrupulous in the future propagation of that purchased pedigree. Sure, the novice needs a chance, but what they need more than a pedigree are mentors, not free will to breed your hard earned pedigree to anyone that has a fist full of dollars.

Due diligence is key of course. And there are plenty of transactions done between responsible breeders that are win-win situations. But what I think is most important is having a potential new breeder prove their worth as a potential owner in the future of our breed. Their own little job interview, if you will. This should take months, if not more, of conversation, consultation and proving one's worth. We've all seen the experts that appear overnight and then disappear shortly thereafter. And if someone isn't careful this newfound savant will usually disappear with an intact dog or bitch with free reign to breed. This is typically done under the guise of being serious about getting into dogs.

Does that champion you just titled deserve to live in an environment where they are seen strictly as a puppy producer? Does it matter to you? It should. Why? Because your hard work resulted in nothing really for the breed except another breeder propagating puppies without regard for the standard or without the goal of improvement. And that doesn't help our "company's" stock in general go up in value. It lines the pockets of someone that really doesn't care about anything other than the balance in their checkbook. They don't care about giving back or paying anything forward. They do us as a "company" more harm than good.

Instead of selling that titled dog to a breeding home, shouldn't you consider taking credit where credit is due, altering the dog or bitch and placing it in a pet home? After all, you have better in your house that you are keeping. If someone is truly interested in learning about the breed and breeding better dogs, wouldn't your time and pedigrees be better served by mentoring that person and then allowing them to use your stock on a limited basis under a written contract where you control the outcome? You took the time to title that dog. Now take the time to evaluate and honor its worth to the breed. If you have better in your house, should your second best be out there producing puppies for someone that doesn't care as much as you did in the first place?

If someone is truly interested in the breed, in learning and paying back, they will be patient enough to work with you if you are willing to give them the time. Rather than sell a dog, encourage participation. Mentor them. Teach them coat care. Direct them to conformation classes even if it is with a pet quality dog so they can LEARN. Instead of selling them a finished champion, have them assist. Have them handle a dog of yours under your guidance and let them feel the thrill of winning and accomplishing something. Trade work for ownership. Teach them about the pedigrees you have and how to breed them wisely. At least then you will understand their desire to learn, compete, win and improve. You will instill in them the hunt for excellence! Remember lessons taught are better than experiences bought. So make your hard work mean something to the future of our breed. I guarantee you that the person you make prove their worth within this breed will mean far more to you AND the breed than the person to whom you sell your second best so they can breed their next litter.

As I step off my soapbox, I am pleased to introduce you to AKC judge # 20341, Mrs. Janis Clary McGee.

NM: How did you become involved in the sport of dogs?
JCM: In 1983, a beautiful little Shih Tzu named Tzusie, a gift from my husband, Don, led to my entrée into the sport of dogs. We chose to breed her to a lovely Champion dog and his owners encouraged me to become involved in the sport.

NM: What was your first breed owned? Shown? Bred? Licensed?
JCM: The first breed owned and bred by me was Cocker Spaniels through the 1970’s. Since my marriage in 1983 and the gift of Tzusie, it has been a love affair of owning, showing and breeding Shih Tzu.

NM: Why did you originally decide to breed and/or judge Shih Tzu?
JCM: It was truly a challenge to me to breed a better dog. Though my Tzusie seemed oh so perfect to me, many people challenged the fact that she hadn’t much of a pedigree. I did spay her after the one litter. It must be said, however, that her daughter, Saki, went on to earn her R.O.M. (Register of Merit) through line breeding. Saki earned that title from only two litters (a total of eight puppies) – one champion from her first litter and three from her second litter. She was spayed at the age of seven years and went on to live a healthy and happy life to the ripe old age of seventeen years and nine months – she was a Shih Tzu of extraordinary health and playfulness.

Jam-Ups Shih Tzu, the prefix from the nickname given me by my father, has bred and finished many dogs. While I have never been a terribly prolific ‘bunch of puppies’ top producer, I bred enough to continue showing for the last twenty years, finished many dogs that I bred, co-bred or purchased for my own purposes. I imported a beautiful girl from the U. K. and finished her as well. Of course, I have had my share of "also rans" too – not everything is meant to be a champion! The main focus for me, personally, was/is breeding a sounder dog: Dogs of sound conformation, health and temperament.

NM: Why did you decide to pursue judging?
JCM: The decision to become an AKC judge was simply a matter of natural progression. Believed to have an "eye" for a good dog – it seemed only natural to follow a path to judging by educating myself as thoroughly as possible through all the avenues available; that is practical experience, seminars, AKC Institutes and being mentored by those I felt made great contributions to the sport, as well as their respective breeds.

NM: When judging, what is the "must have" quality you look for in a Shih Tzu?
JCM: Condition, conditioned and conditioning! Condition – picture of health – cleanliness and possessed of good conformation. Conditioned – prepared for a specific action – i.e., being shown. Conditioning – the process, or result, of inducing (the dog) to new or modified behavioral responses so that it can be judged fairly and honestly on all factors encompassed within the breed standard. All of these points are so clearly evident when an exhibit presents in the ring – the eyes clear and sparkling, the coat is clean and well groomed and the exhibit displays confidence and gaits with a fluidity born of excellent conformation married to excellent training and attitude. It is a beautiful sight to behold when this happens.

NM: Tell us your definition of breed type in a Shih Tzu.
JCM: The term "breed type" is today’s ‘soccer term’; while all involved in the sport of dogs kick it around, few seem to really score on the meaning. It is used and bandied about with ever increasing frequency without anyone seeming to understand exactly what it encompasses. The old adage ‘if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck’ is NOT actually applicable as some seem to believe. Breed type, by its very definition, has to be as subjective as is the job of judging itself. It cannot be defined in absolutes except as it represents a sum total of a judge’s INTERPRETATION of the specific breed standard to be applied.

It is not too terribly common to find complete agreement among judges, exhibitors/breeders and/or, for that matter, AKC Representatives as to what constitutes breed type of a specific breed. We all have choices and each see through a different set of eyes that are affected by our original breed and the experiences within that breed and/or breeding program. I, as an artist, am going to see many things that may not be seen by others. Balance is extremely important to me, but – I personally feel that breed type fully encompasses the "whole package" – the look, the feel (conformation), the movement and the attitude.

NM: Type and structure - Are they the same? Why or why not?
JCM: NO – type and structure are not the same, but each is relative to the other. If structure is poor it can, and often does, have a negative impact on the exhibit in that it can destroy the movement. It can ruin the flow of outline, particularly in profile, which is often described within the breed standard.

That said - lack of good structure does not always negate type. Occasionally an exhibit can somehow manage to use that lack of soundness so well that you cannot, in your wildest dreams, even begin to understand how in the world they do it. I have experienced it; I have seen it and I have judged it. So while type and structure are not the same, and are certainly relative each to the other, you can have one without the other on occasion.

NM: What do you look for on the table?
JCM: When an exhibit is tabled, it is my job to assess conformational soundness and evaluate through a ‘hands on’ examination the specifics as described within the breed standard. The table is my tool for discovery and the floor is the point of my ultimate decision.

NM: What do you look for in movement?
JCM: I like to see smooth, easy flowing movement with reach and drive of equal measure along with a display of level and sound top line and appropriate head carriage. I want the dog to cover good ground at the given speed without any hint of being strung up or raced around the ring. Natural speed varies in all breeds. While some dogs move at a naturally faster pace than others, it is so terribly obvious when a handler races the dog around the ring to try covering faults with speed or by stringing the dog up. How unprofessional it looks as the dogs involved either look terrified to the point of running for their life and/or when strung up, the poor little things have their front feet pulled off the ground. Both things are surely less than complimentary to the handler and the dog!

NM: Health, Conformation, Temperament - What do you feel is the order of importance and why?
JCM: All of these factors are of equal importance and somewhat interdependent. Health would include the musculature and skeletal structure of the dog and, therefore, becomes relative to the overall soundness. If a dog suffers any discomfort due to some deviation not fully evident it would, in turn, affect temperament. Though such flaws are not always evident in a young dog, it will be precipitate for the future of any breeder who fails to recognize a problem in its infancy and to take appropriate and responsible steps to correct the issue.

NM: If you could address someone just coming into the sport of dogs, specifically conformation and Shih Tzu, what advice would you give a novice?
JCM: Ah, the novice - sometimes referred to as ‘the newbie’. What a welcome addition! My advice would be fourfold:
- Talk to everyone while being terrifically discerning.
- Find a reliable, respected and respectful mentor (not necessarily a competitor) and give them you unquestionable loyalty.
- Believe in yourself; trust your instincts with regard to your dogs and the people you surround yourself with.

- Welcome diversity in dogs, pedigrees and people.

Be prepared for:
- The good – the joy of owning/breeding a great dog, the wins, the friendships built and the joy of the journey itself.
- The bad – losses (including your beloved dogs as they age), defeats in the ring and friendships that really weren’t in the first place.
- The ugly – jealousy, miscommunications and other aberrant behaviors that sometimes plague competition.

NM: In the US, the Shih Tzu is currently in the Toy group, in Canada, Non-Sporting. There is a movement by AKC to possibly move the Shih Tzu into the Non-Sporting group in US competition. Where do you feel the Shih Tzu is a better fit and why?
JCM: Welcome to the twenty-first century. All areas of life today seem cast in a global market. Group re-alignment is just one step for the AKC in a world of competition encompassing more and more registries along with more and more breed recognition. At some point there must an alignment more in tune with the globalization of the sport itself (yuck! That sounds politically terrifying!). Be it with smiles and accolades, or kicking and screaming, things must actually change in order to grow and remain competitive. My personal feelings aside, re-alignment is a truly complex issue. There are some really perplexing questions regarding the wisdom with which this will be accomplished. Judges are confused as to what will happen to their ability to judge the group change-ups. I have empathy for the judges department in their deliberations on how they can possibly make this palatable and fair for all of us concerned. More still, I feel for those of us "in process" and having things confused by this realignment.

The Shih Tzu could fit or compete well in either the Toy Group or the Companion Group. The ties into the Toys is such a long standing relationship that being moved into the Companion Group could cause some very negative effects. Without very close monitoring it could also lead to far too many deviations from the present breed standard. Small changes seem to somehow become the accepted and approved, and over time, become the norm. I truly would not like to see the Shih Tzu changed into some larger and/or less beautiful version of itself.

There are, at present, some breeds recommended to re-alignment that I do not agree with while there are at least three toy breeds I feel could benefit from the re-alignment. Whatever the outcome of AKC’s decision, hopefully it will be of benefit to the breeds involved along with the breeders, the judging community and still allow for continuity of growth for the good of the sport.

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?
JCM: This subject is bandied around as much as the "breed type" comment/question. There is no reason to even begin to try a comparison because there is none!

Attend just one National Specialty and you should come away with the knowledge firmly implanted that Shih Tzu breeders and owners/handlers are among the top groomers in the world. The dedication, the attention to detail so prevalent in the Shih Tzu ring today becomes so much clearer and so very much more appreciated when one attends the National.

Yes, one might be crazy to want to compete in Shih Tzu with all that work, but the result is breathtaking. When sitting at ringside at the National, it is a glorious site to behold! Admittedly, I AM PREJUDICED!

I would possibly change the overdone topknot of today. Okay, what constitutes overdone? Well, if you puff it up until it sits on the dog's nose – it might be overdone! I can still find the longer nose, the eye white and the lack of fore skull as well as the breadth of skull - so why put your self or the dog through all of that. You can make the dog look deformed. I do appreciate a lovely, smooth and complimentary bubble, but truly do not like overdone!
Next, while I appreciate, too, enough height to accomplish lovely balance, some topknots are obscenely tall with rubber bands out the ‘wazoo’. Further, no attempt whatsoever is made to conceal them. THEY CAN BE CONCEALED! The topknot is the most daunting challenge to anyone new to our breed. Most Shih Tzu look absolutely lovely in maintenance bands, braids or however we keep them daily – yet we put pressure on ourselves to perfect the topknot.

What we actually accomplish with all of this ‘stuff’ is to discourage and suppress interest in our own breed. New folks feel they just cannot compete because they cannot do a perfect topknot. They also have no interest in trying because many of us go nuts when someone walks up and wants to talk to our dogs or touch them before they go in the ring. Many of us have been guilty of this at one time or another! Embarrassing – huh?

Yes, I want beauty but not that which borders on sublimely ridiculous! If they are ironed, that is fine. I want beauty, not topknots flying around and falling over the gorgeous face and into the mouth and eyes. I want them clean and fresh and glowing and beautiful.

NM: In what qualities do you feel, overall, the Shih Tzu breed is strong? Weak? Where do you feel breeders need to concentrate and improve?
JCM: As breeders, it is imperative that we take on the issue of structure – particularly the front assembly. Bouncing, rocking and/or swaying in the top line are so prevalent. It is not an optical illusion, as some suggest, created by the dog's hair. Fronts are all over the place; shoulders up under the ears, no chest. Therefore they feel like both front legs come out of the same hole (not just in Shih Tzu); then there are bowed legs and elbows loose or out, necks too long or too short, straight stifles or sickle hocks. We have some rears overdriving the straight front assembly messing with the movement. Straight stifles are causing the dogs to stand under themselves showing a top line that looks more like a Havanese. We have Shih Tzu that move around the ring with Cocker Spaniel top lines because their angles cannot allow them to do otherwise. Sometimes, it is difficult to understand why they are being shown at all – and some of them in the Bred-By class.

Most folks feel it is a bad idea to try talking with individual breeders about what you see as most of us – well – we can be really sensitive because we have our own hearts tied up in these beautiful dogs! Perhaps the time has come for National Clubs (and not just Shih Tzu) to begin a program to educate breeders regarding structure and how it effects movement. Small attempts have been made but, I believe, a serious effort must be made.

The Shih Tzu has always been referred to as a head breed. There has been, for sometime now, a tendency toward smaller heads and eyes that are either smaller or showing excessive eye white.

It is not too late to fix these issues. There are some really fine dogs out there. Attend the National; talk with each other openly and HONESTLY. If you have been around awhile, share your knowledge freely and reach out to the novice and help them along. It is so very difficult to learn everything alone and many people just don’t have the ‘moxie’ to fight that battle!
We can breed a better dog when, and if, we work together!

On behalf of The Shih Tzu Reporter, I would like to thank Mrs. Clary McGee for taking the time to respond to my inquiry.

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

We have a house guest!

I have recently joined the ranks of a non-profit organization - Lost Our Home Pet Foundation - as a foster home. With the economy in such a sad state, I decided I could help someone in some way by offering a safe harbor for a pet that has been displaced due to economic hardship. I heard about LOHPF through a local radio station in Phoenix - 93.3 KDKB.

When I first offered my help I was told that most dogs that come through their organization were larger dogs. I was pretty specific about taking in a toy sized dog. After all, while I wanted to help, I couldn't see taking in a dog that wouldn't fit through our doggie door!

Well just before Christmas I got the news of a Pomeranian in need. His owner had lost her job and was facing eviction. Could I help? I spoke with the pet owner and arrangements were made for her to bring her pure bred Pomeranian, Wylie, by for a visit. And away we went.

Wylie is now pretending to be a Shih Tzu. All 20 pounds of him. His owner said he was 12 pounds. Well, maybe 8 pounds ago that was true.

From the Pomeranian breed standard:

Size, Proportion, Substance

The average weight of the Pomeranian is from 3 to 7 pounds, with the ideal weight for the show specimen being 4 to 6 pounds. Any dog over or under the limits is objectionable. However, overall quality is to be favored over size. The distance from the point of shoulder to the point of buttocks is slightly shorter than from the highest point of the withers to the ground. the distance from the brisket to the ground is half the height at the withers. He is medium-boned, and the length of his legs is in proportion to a well-balanced frame. When examined, he feels sturdy.

Yes, Wylie is STURDY.

My hope is that Wylie's owner can address her financial and housing issues and be reunited with Wylie by late spring. While obviously not a "show quality" Pomeranian, Wylie does possess the extroverted, intelligent personality indicative of the Pomeranian, magnified only by his size.

At least he fits through the doggie door!