Showsight July 2020



time there—both as a breeder/owner-handler and as a professional handler. In 1987, my first Terv won his first Best in show and I was bitten by the dog show bug! That dog had just finished his Com- panion Dog Excellent title with high scores, but we would never experience the “Futility of Utility” as the conformation ring had become much more fun! My second Terv only earned his CD (on a bet, which I won), but went on to win ten Best in Shows. Is my breed still capable of performing its original function? Yes, very much so! Although I no longer compete in venues other than conformation, my puppies and their owners do me proud in all events. Many have done very well at Herding trials and the first Herding Trial Champion was a grandson of my second Terv. Can I define the key essentials of “type” in my breed? For me, type is all-encompassing. It is not just a “look,” but the entire pack- age: Form and function. Type is temperament, coat, structure and movement. Type embodies the blueprint for the breed distinguish- ing it from all others, both standing and in motion. If you read the AKC Belgian Tervuren breed standard, the key essentials of “type” are those of a confident, medium-sized, square dog, elegant in appearance, whose gait covers maximum ground with minimum effort. It is not a “head breed.” Nor should its pre- dominant color be pale, washed out, cream or gray. The color range is rich fawn to russet mahogany. I would like to note there is

Sky Acres’ legacy in Belgian Tervuren began 36 years ago and launched one of the most success- ful breeding programs in breed history. Michelle has bred over 100 Champions, producing 18 dogs that have amassed over 110 Best in Show and Best in Specialty Show wins. Sky Acres has been home to the #1 ranked Terv 30 of the past 36 years—in either the All-Breed sys- tem, Breed system, or All-Systems, and often of All-Belgians. Over the years and generations, Sky Acres has claimed the fame of having the Top-Winning Bitch of All Time. MBIS/ MBISS GCHG Sky Acres Flying Solo was #1 All-Systems, All-Belgians for three consecutive years. She is the only bitch to be ranked Number One, holds all bitch records, and is the breed’s only Gold Grand Champion bitch. Sky Acres also claims the distinc- tion of having the Top-Winning Dog of All Time. Solo’s son, MBIS/MBISS GCHP Sky Acres Maximum Altitude, holds the records for most BISS wins, BOB wins, Group placements and dogs defeated. He is one of only two Platinum Grand Champions.

a coat difference in my breed, between the male and female, similar to that of a “lion and lion- ess”—with the male coat being very grand, long and abundant with a pronounced collarette,

whereas the female coat is rarely as long or as ornamented. This dis- parity should not be considered when the female is judged against the male, as long as both coats conform to the standard. This line from the standard sums up “type” very well: “The Bel- gian Tervuren is a herding dog and versatile worker. The highest value is to be placed on qualities that maintain these abilities, spe- cifically, correct temperament, gait, bite and coat.” Am I pleased with my breed’s current overall quality and popu- larity? I am sorry to say I am disappointed by the quality I see in the conformation ring. Too many dogs lack the sound structure described by the breed standard and, therefore, cannot and do not move correctly. It is much easier to breed for a “look” in the head or body standing still, than it is to breed for aesthetic structure and movement. However, when that static picture becomes kinetic, the dog must have the correct structure in order to be functional in motion. Too often I see lovely dogs that simply do not cover ground as defined by the standard: “Gait—Lively and graceful, covering the maximum ground with minimum effort.” I am very pleased with the public popularity of this breed. As breeders, we do not want the breed to become too popular, as that may encourage indiscriminate breeding, producing poor quality, temperament, and health. It is also not a breed for your average dog owner, so puppy placements must be made with careful consider- ation. The breed is highly intelligent, with high energy and high drive, making it rather “high maintenance!” I am disappointed the breed is not more popular with the con- formation judges. Many dismiss it in the Group and Best in Show rings—even ones that are outstanding—for a more popular or

Sky Acres is the only kennel to have produced three different National Specialty winners: MBISS CH Sky Acres Piper Pawnee, BIS/MBISS CH Sky Acres Piper Aerostar, and MBIS/MBISS GCHB Sky Acres Spy Plane. Spy also has the prestige of being one of the breed’s four Group-placers at Westminster Kennel Club. Michelle was honored for her accomplishments and contribu- tion to the breed by being named the 2009 AKC Herding Group Breeder of the Year. In 2010, she was one of the first to be rec- ognized as an AKC Breeder of Merit. Her breeding philosophy is simple: “Only breed the best for the betterment of the breed!” I live on a private airport in The Dalles, Oregon, located in the Columbia River National Scenic Area. Since 1984, my breed—and passion—has been the Belgian Tervuren. When I am not walking dogs, playing with dogs, training dogs, breeding dogs, grooming dogs, showing dogs, cleaning up after dogs, playing with puppies, and doing all things that are dogs… I sleep! And sometimes I clean house, do yard work, enjoy photography and graphic design and drawing, shoo critters off the runway (elk, deer, turkey, and the neighbor’s cows) and go flying in a Bonanza Beechcraft A36. I grew up with German Shepherds and learned to walk holding onto a very patient, old girl named Leibchen. When I was ten, I got a dog that was all mine and started training and showing in confor- mation, obedience and Jr. handling—which was pretty much it in those days (unless you had a hunting dog). One of my GSDs earned a coveted Utility Dog title. I purchased my first Belgian Tervuren in 1984 and started breeding three years later—a passion, devotion and vision for my breeding program was conceived. Do I compete in conformation, companion or performance events? I competed in conformation and obedience with my first two Tervs. In the early years, Herding events had not yet been invented, but we did attend some herding seminars. There was no Agility, Rally, Trick dog, Barn hunts, etc. and when there was, I had found my calling in the conformation ring and was spending my

promoted breed. I understand that when a breed lacks depth of qual- ity at the breed level, it is hard for some judges to reward it on an indi- vidual basis, but those are exactly the dogs that need and should be meritoriously recognized! >


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