Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shih Tzu Reporter - Spring '10 - Mr. Victor Joris

Paying It Forward

Nancy Manelski
WoTeH'sin Shih Tzu

Purpose. What's yours?

Anyone can breed dogs. Take a look through your newspaper or better yet, take a trip to the humane society or your local shelter. Point and click your way to petfinder.org. It's eye opening really. If everyone that bred a litter of dogs stated their purpose, I think you would find that most wouldn't even touch upon betterment of the breed they took the time to propagate. And that is so sad.

About two years ago, I had an older dog for which I eventually wanted to find a forever home. We can't keep them all even if they are titled. And it pained me to place this dog because he was well on his way to a championship and he had already had a rocky road during his short life. He had some beautiful qualities. But for various reasons, I knew he didn't carry the necessary genetic make-up I needed to work with down the road. It seems cold, but those were the facts. So I was wrestling with the thought of spending more money showing him when I knew I would never breed him.

I had numerous conversations with a lady that got my name from a trusted source. She was looking for a dog to show. Actually, she wanted a bitch, but she found herself, or so she said, drawn to this dog. During our many conversations, this person told me she had no interest in breeding, she want to start showing dogs with her daughter as a hobby of sorts. A mother-daughter thing, if you will. Her mother showed a larger breed and it just seemed natural that she got involved similarly but with a breed she loved. All things sounded good. But as our conversations continued, I found myself trying to "sell" my dog to this lady. I found myself trying to convince her that he was the right dog for her to show. When I realized what I had reduced myself to, it was at that very moment that I picked up the phone and called her and told her that the dog was no longer for sale. He was staying here.

I found myself doing something someone with my purpose should never do. A sales pitch.

Eventually, this dog finished his American and International titles and he now resides in Phoenix in the home of one of my professional colleagues. He has a loving home with his new daddy and he has a brother too - another Shih Tzu with whom he plays his days away. He is happy, he is healthy, he is loved - and he is neutered.

This was a dog that was deserving of a championship title for many reasons, but in my house he was not a dog that needed to be bred. My purpose is not to breed because I can, my purpose is to breed only the best that I am able and move forward. My purpose is to give back. And this dog didn't fit into this plan.

So many people forget that even though a dog is titled, maybe that dog still isn't worthy of producing further generations in your house. So, if you won't use a particular dog to breed, is it really necessary to place that dog somewhere else with the potential to procreate? I guess that depends on who you are and who the buyer is, but again I urge you to take a trip to your local shelter before you sell something with breeding rights, especially to someone you really don't know. And how well do you really know someone with whom you've only shared a few telephone conversations and email exchanges? I can tell you that sometimes you may think you know someone because you have shared a relationship for years, but really, when it gets down to it, you don't know them at all. And do you want someone to have full access to everything you've work so hard for sitting in their living room waiting for the next lady in waiting if the price is right?

The lady that I caught myself pitching to, the one that just wanted to show for fun and not breed anything? She's got a full-blown website now with multiple brood bitches and puppy nurseries. This person is eager to share with anyone that will listen the horrors of showing dogs. Yet she promotes the multiple champions in her pedigrees. She concentrates on producing the "Imperial" Shih Tzu and offers the exotic colors of latte, mocha and chocolate. I think I fully understand her purpose.

What is your purpose?

I am pleased to present AKC Judge #5542 - Victor Joris:

- What was your first breed owned? Shown? Bred? Licensed?

The first purebred dog I bought was a fawn colored Chihuahua. It was a present for my two nieces. He lived to the ripe old age of 16. I can never remember when growing up there was not some breed of dog in the house or yard. We had at different times Am Staffs, Smooth Fox Terriers, Chihuahuas, Rat Terriers, a Beagle and years later, of course, the Shih Tzu. Currently a very smart little Rat Terrier is the house dog. I spent many years brushing coats and it was time for a polyester breed.

- Why did you originally decide to breed and/or judge Shih Tzu?

It was difficult for me to have a dog for many years as I traveled a great deal and felt it was not fair to own one. Later when traveling was not so necessary, I was lucky enough to accidentally meet the Shih Tzu at a garden party on Long Island in 1970. It was love at first sight.

I have always been fascinated by the Orient and all things Chinese from the time I saw the movie "The Daughter of Fu Man Chu", when I was about 10 years old. I devoured all of Pearl Buck's novels and any books in the library I could get my hands on concerning China. Fortunately later I was able to acquire 2 books by Princess Der Ling, Lady in Waiting to the old Dowager Empress and several more written by different authors who had spent time in close contact and with first hand knowledge of the Imperial Court in China. The fact that the Shih Tzu had Chinese heritage was a very big plus but I had already made up my mind that the breed was for me regardless of its origin.

I bought my first Shih Tzu from Reverend and Mrs. Easton of the famed
Chumulari Kennel. He was a double grandson of BIS American Canadian CH Chumulari Ying Ying ROM, the first Shih Tzu to go BIS in the US. Ying accomplished that on the first day Shih Tzu were allowed to compete for points at AKC shows, September 1, 1969. My puppy's pedigree contained all the foundation dogs and bitches of the Chumulari line. He was one of a litter of seven and actually I think it was more that we selected each other because I knew nothing about the breed, although I knew he was a special little dog (not something I would recommend now). He was bought as a pet but time proved that to be wrong. He finished his championship quickly and became a multiple BIS dog, also acquiring a Register of Merit. His registered name was CH Chumulari Chin Te Jih, translated from Chinese, Golden Sun. He was the first Shih Tzu to go BIS at Eastern in Boston defeating 2,500 dogs.

Shortly before Reverend Easton died I visited with him and Peggy in New Paltz. He presented me with all his books, research and photographs used in his and Joan Searly's book "This is the Shih Tzu". He also granted me, with AKC approval, the right to co-own the Chumulari prefix with Mrs. Easton, registered with the AKC in 1965. Mrs. Easton is well and lives in New Paltz, NY with 4 Shih Tzu. We keep in touch often.

- Give us a brief synopsis of your dogs/kennel and show "career".

I never showed my own dogs, they were shown throughout their careers by Mrs. Jane Forsyth. When Mrs. Forsyth retired, Dee Shepherd showed my Shih Tzu.

I met Mrs. Forsyth at Progressive dog Club at the old McAlpin Hotel where the Progressive Dog Show was held. Why I entered, I do not know. I knew absolutely nothing about showing a dog, but I was convinced I had a special little dog. I was ready to leave when I asked Mrs. Forsyth if she would show Sunshine. She took him and won a 4 point major at his first show. I think there were about 20 entries. The point schedule was much different at that time. From then on I took him to every show and groomed him for the ring. My dogs were never kenneled.

My first dog show was Westminster. I lived in New York City at the time and directly across town from Madison Square Garden. You could say it was a local show for me and certainly an eye opener. I have since attended 37 Westminister shows and was entered in three. Two of "Sunshine's" puppies finished there, a bitch and dog, and his grand daughter went reserve another time. The dog, Li Ning, finished the last time they allowed class entries in 1987.

I bred very few litters and almost only on bitches with Chumulari in their pedigrees. I did use "Sunshine" on several 'beautiful bitches' that were outcrosses. I have currently frozen sperm of "Sunshine" stored in Pennsylvania. It has been there for over 25 years.

My dogs lived to be quite old reaching 16,17 and 18 years. I never placed them in homes but kept them until the end. "Sunshine" and one of his daughters, CH Miss M. Monroe both lived to be almost 18 years old.

When I retired, I stopped breeding and showing except for a bitch, CH Chumulari Answered Prayers, that I had bred, who was a group winner from the classes. I then decided to apply to judge.

- Why did you decide to pursue judging?

I am interested in all breeds but am approved to judge the Toy group and 7 Non sporting breeds and BIS. I am fascinated with the history and background of all the breeds I judge including those I am not approved for.

- When judging, what is the "must have" quality you look for in a Shih Tzu?

We all know there are no perfect dogs. Each judge has their own opinion as to which fault they consider the least or the worst and the ones they can live with. Like all judges, I have my own opinions.

I prefer a Shih Tzu who is not at the extreme of either end of the standard. I want a level top line, a must for me, a good broad mouth and certainly one with a beautiful round head. I do not like white of eye showing and do not want a long giraffe neck or a square dog or one raced around the ring at break neck speed. It isn't a race. To me it's a red flag - the handler is attempting to hide incorrect movement or a fault. I like the dogs shown on a loose lead at a normal gait.

- Tell us your definition of breed type in a Shih Tzu.

Type is the most important thing I look for when breeding or judging. The word type is a very difficult word. Most people when asked about type will interpret it, rather than define it. You can ask 6 people to define type and get 7 answers. Type is what distinguishes one breed from another. It's great, when judging or breeding, if you have a Shih Tzu with superior type who also has correct conformation and temperament.

- If you could address someone just coming into the sport of dogs, specifically conformation and Shih Tzu, what advice would you give a novice?

My advice to any newcomer would be to study the breed at shows, watch the competition, ask questions and learn much as they can about the breed.

Do not buy the first dog that comes along. You would not buy a car if you could not drive so don't buy a dog you know nothing about. Keeping a Shih Tzu in show coat is a monumental task even for a seasoned breeder and almost impossible for a newcomer. Most likely as a novice, a breeder will not sell you a show quality bitch. They will keep those themselves. Later if you prove to be a dedicated owner and have proved yourself within the breed you may be able to acquire a first class bitch from a breeder eager for you to show and finish a bitch of their breeding.

The conformation ring is a very tough place for a newcomer or a long time exhibitor and regardless of the quality of your dog you will not always win. If the same dog won all the time there would be no need for shows.

- 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?

I think the breed should remain in the Toy Group, but would caution many breeders that some of the dogs I have seen recently are much too large weighing closer to 17-18 pounds with to much leg. I do no consider those Toys. I prefer a smaller or middle sized Shih Tzu with good body and substance rather than a big coarse one and definitely NEVER ONE OF THOSE SO CALLED CHINESE IMPERIAL DOGS, which I consider sub-standard Shih Tzu.

- 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?

Long, flowing coats are beautiful but they have nothing to do with the conformation of the dog. It just means that someone is an excellent groomer. I do not like the muzzle shaved, it destroys the soft Oriental look the breed should have nor do I like painted eye stripes or an overblown topknot that never moves. If you want dark eye stripes breed for them. A judge could excuse you for changing the appearance of the dog by artificial means.

I think groomers have carried the art of grooming to extremes. They have created a cosmetic caricature of a beautiful, active, lively little dog with painted eye stripes, ironed coats and top knots that defy gravity all held together with mousse and spray. A clean dog, well brushed with a simple topknot is how the breed should be shown in my opinion.

- Where do you feel breeders need to concentrate and improve?

It is vitally important that the SHIH TZU HEAD NOT BE LOST. If the head is lost there is no way to retrieve it and whether you or anyone else agrees, the Shih Tzu is a "Head Breed". Of the 18 faults listed in the current AKC standard, 12 apply to the head. I think most of us who fell in love with the breed did so because of the incredible beauty of their gentle and trusting faces. Do everything possible to maintain the beautiful round head, which is the foremost breed characteristic of the Shih Tzu.

These comments are solely my own from studying the history of the breed and observations at countless shows over the last thirty-eight years. They may or may not differ from other breeders and judges. Like other judges and breeders who are still around, we were privileged to see and compete with many of the original imports and pillars of the breed.

Victor Joris

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Common Philosophy

This was posted by a new friend I've connected with on Facebook. Kristina Estlund is a Terrier breeder from California and she also writes for "Showsight" magazine. One of my recent puppy buyers is a mutual friend. My thanks to Christi Johnstone (Jack's mom) who "introduced" us and to Kristina for allowing me to re-post this:

Great Rules To Buying from a Breeder

From a Pit Bull Breeder Site:

If you must buy from a breeder, here's some things to watch out for. If the Pit Bull breeder you are looking at does not have at least 9 out of the following 10 criteria firmly in place, run away as fast as you can.

*Are "Into" Dogs. In other words they actually do something with their dogs. They don't have them tied up or has house pets.

*Their dogs are show dogs, sport dogs, etc... and they have titles to prove it. Pups' pedigrees are filled with dogs who have obtained show titles/working certificates; never breeds dogs without "papers"

*Supports Pit Bull rescue. What? They actually care about the breed? Yes. If they don't support rescue directly or the idea of rescue. They need to really look at why they are breeding.

*Knowledgeable about every aspect of breed, including health issues/defects; they research genetics and health issues when choosing their breedings.

*Offer continued help with their dogs. If you have a question, you should be able to pick up the phone or sign online (email) and get an answer. For a very, very, very long time after you get your pup.

*Have a list of reputable references. If they can't provide you with at least 5 or 10 references, leave.

*Breedings are planned 1 to 2 years in advance and they rarely breed. Rare meaning like once every year or three.

*Only breeds proven, stable, mature dogs. Not puppies or young dogs under the age of two.

*Does all genetic testing and does not breed dogs that have not been completely tested and shown free of common defects.

*They want to meet you and your family. Not just once, but they want to get to know you.

So you see, I'm not the only one out there that believes in this philosophy. Do your homework before you buy a puppy!

Fired up

In the matter of just minutes my heart broke today. Then I got angry.

Sundays, in fact weekends in general here, are very laid back. I value the time I get with my dogs and as such, I don't plan much for weekends. I know - I'm boring!

So after a leisurely morning waking up and loving on the kids, I took off in search of my favorite treat - an iced coffee - large - lots of ice - brought home to be flavored with my secret recipe of sugar free items to make it nice and tasty. I know I could brew it myself, but it's just not the same. But I digress . . .

So as I'm driving thru the neighborhood, I see a sight that just broke my heart. There he was, a man sitting in front of his house with a pen full of puppies for sale.

Now I know that it's a free country and all of that. And it is unfortunate that people have come to a point in time when they seek any means they can to make money. Including breeding their pets. But the sign of the times doesn't make this any easier to look at.

Most people think that dogs are a commodity. I suppose the over abundance of animals out there available make it seem as such. But believe me when I tell you that pets - beloved animals we live with - should not be seen as a commodity. This is the reason there are shelters and euthanasia and the need for rescue. It's a catch 22 that just isn't improving and it is the force behind our government getting involved in an area of our lives in which it should not. It's not just puppy mills that are the cause of this problem. It's the backyard breeder that is the root cause.

Yes, it's a free country - and that's why on my way back home as I drove by - I stopped. And I begged the people looking at those puppies to seek out a responsible breeder from whom to get their next beloved family member.

All puppies are cute. Poorly bred or well bred - they are all adorable. The difference is that well bred dogs ARE NOT A COMMODITY. They are planned well in advance, they are carefully raised and they are NOT put out on the front stoop with a for sale sign in front of them. They have breeders that breed for the right reasons. Those puppies don't end up in shelters because their breeders take the time to find out about the people that adopt them. Responsible breeders are there to answer questions, or even in an extreme case, to rehome those puppies that become adults if and when the need ever arises. Responsible breeders only breed for themselves and betterment of their breed. They don't breed to fulfill a market or make a few bucks on the side. Responsible breeders have jobs and lifestyles they can afford without the need to sell a few puppies to make some extra money.

And that guy on the corner? He won't be around for you or your dog in the future. He'll take your money and try to pay his next bill with it. You just got what you paid for.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

Well, I would post a picture, but my computer crashed and my files are out of reach at the moment. And that free backup service I was using - yeah, about that. Thank you Qwest for your outstanding service, as usual.

I've contacted a company to recover what they can from my old hard drive and in the mean time bought a new computer. Sigh. I'll also be researching alternate back-up methods to prevent this from happening again in the future.

The good thing is that I just bought one mean machine! Can you imagine a 1TB hard drive??? Good Lord! Plus 8MB RAM and loads of other goodies. It's fast. Hopefully it will serve me 9 years like the last computer did!

So Happy Easter wishes to everyone - despite our computer problems!