Showsight July 2020


arrival of her first Canaan Dog in 1998, she has devoted much of her life to this amazing breed. Her background and knowledge of purebred dogs and AKC events was swiftly welcomed by the Canaan Dog Club of America (CDCA). Chris has served the CDCA as past secretary, board of directors member, breed standard revision committee member, newsletter editor, and on various committees. She currently serves as treasurer, national specialty oversight co-chair, and judge’s education chair. Chris’s breed accolades include the top breeder/owner-handled Canaan Dog for the breed 2000 to 2005, the top owner-handled Canaan Dog bitch for 2009 and 2010, top breeder/owner-handled Canaan Dogs for 2011 to present. The 2005 AKC ACE Award for Exemplary Companion Dog was awarded to one of her dogs. CDCA National Specialty awards have included 2013, 2015, and 2018 Best of Breed, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2018 and 2019 Best of Opposite Sex, 2000 CDCA National Specialty, High in Trial and numerous CDCA National Specialty Best Rookie and Best Expe- rienced Herding Instinct winners. She can also boast of the first Canaan Dog to earn their AKC Grand Championship and the first with the AKC Coursing Ability title. Three of her dogs have also received the CDCA Dog of the Year award. Through the years, she has bred or owned over 30 AKC Champions and has over 100 performance titles. She is an AKC approved judge for Canaan Dogs and Junior Showmanship. She had the honor of judging the 2008 CDCA National Specialty Puppy and Veteran Sweepstakes and will be judging the 2020 National Specialty (Dogs, Bitches, and Intersex) in October at Eukanuba Hall. Chris was awarded the CDCA Mem- ber of the year in 2010 for her continued dedication to the club, sport and breed. We currently reside east of Atlanta, Georgia, in Conyers. We are in the process of renovating our new home and completing our new kennel in the Northwest Georgia mountains outside of Vil- lanow. We lovingly refer to the new residence as River Rock North. Furthermore, we will be officially combining forces with my father, Mike Houchard, to become River Rock at Lyceum. My breed for the last 23 years has been the Canaan Dog. I grew up with the Great Danes of Lyceum, had a few Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Dalmatians along the way, but the Canaan Dog capti- vated me in the late 1900s. My interests apart from dogs range from gardening, gourmet cooking, photography, travel, and painting. My passion in garden- ing are herbs which, in turn, lends itself to my gourmet cooking. In all honesty everything comes back to the dogs. What are the subjects of most of my photography and painting? Dogs. What does most of my travel revolve around? Dog shows. How many years have I been involved in dogs and as a breed- er? Growing up with my parent’s Great Danes, I have always been involved with dogs. I started showing the Danes 42 years ago and I’m still showing my own dogs today. If you want to count the litters that I co-bred with my mother, I have been a breeder for 36 years. Under my River Rock prefix, I have been a breeder for 30 years and just recently welcomed my twenty-fourth litter. The Canaan Dog entered, and subsequently began running, my life in 1997. They have become my passion. I can only hope to have given the breed half of what these amazing dogs have given me. They have taught me so much about the human-canine bond and natural dog behavior. I don’t think I could not have a Canaan Dog (or two) in my life. Do I compete in conformation, companion or performance events? I have competed in conformation since 1977. I have achieved CD’s on a few of my dogs. Rally is my favorite companion event. It’s well-suited for the Canaan Dog and their desire not to repeat the same exercise over and over. The performance event that really >

make you even question which breed they are. I do think show line GSDs are getting to a good point; just look at dogs like Rumor, Fritz, and Tony. We have come back from becoming almost over- done. For Cardigans, the quality at shows is becoming very strong and it’s great to see a strong line-up from the classes. They have gained popularity recently in the public eye, but the breed club and breeders do a great job of protecting the breed. How challenging has it been for exhibitors to find “majors?” Ger- man Shepherds have become a bit harder in my region for majors for various reasons, partially because we are not an easy breed to show; not so many handlers or owner-handlers are showing them (and many breeders/handlers still prefer to show at specialties or under breeder-judges only). Cardigans are easier for majors overall because they have a lower point scale and we usually know which shows owner-handlers can come to. Is there a market for “pet quality” puppies in my breed? For both my breeds there is a market for pet puppies. The people want- ing Cardigan puppies have done research and there aren’t as many breeders, so they are willing to wait. With German Shepherds, people will always want them, but some do not want to pay for a well-bred dog or wait, since they can find one easily, probably from a local person for cheap. Who were my mentors? First, my mother, Heather Miller, was my mentor in German Shepherds. I’ve also had help from Sergio Espejo and Laurie Jeff Greer and, recently, Nancy Schnider. All great people who have bred good dogs and done a fair share of win- ning at various levels. In Cardigans, I have to thank Joan Adams for her help guiding me after I got my first girl, and then I’ve had help from Betty Ann Seely, Sherri Hurst, and Cassie Frank. From the beginning I’ve learned to never throw the baby out with the bath water, but always be evaluating your dogs and don’t be afraid to change direction. From my own personal experience, I’ve learned while it’s great to have one mentor to guide you, still learn from as many people as you can and be willing to try something that you think is best. What is it about my breed that has sustained my interest and encouraged my involvement in the sport? While there are days I want to stop breeding German Shepherds, I’ve had them my whole life and I put my heart and soul into them, even when they break my heart. I keep coming back and chasing that dream of having that big-winning German Shepherd that influences the breed. As for Cardigans, I’ve been in them for a shorter time, but I love every- thing about them and see opportunities to be a part of a breed [with which] I can use my German Shepherd experiences to try to breed nice dogs that are healthy and competitive. CHRISTINAMILLER Christina (Chris) Miller has

been active in purebred dogs and AKC events for over 40 years. She first stepped into the conformation ring at the tender age of eight with her parent’s, Michael and Merry Carol Houchard, Great Danes. Since that time she has competed in conformation, junior showman- ship, obedience, agility, rally obe- dience, coursing ability, barn hunt,

Fast CAT, and herding. Chris became enamored with the Canaan Dog in 1997, the year of their full AKC recognition into the Herding Group. Looking for a breed of medium size, intelligence and exceptional health, the Canaan Dog seemed the logical choice. After meeting her first Canaan Dogs in person, a new chapter in her life began. With the


Powered by