MARY MERLO, EVERGREEN IRISH SETTERS
winning two Select Dog awards at the National, along with many spe- cialties, Groups, RBIS and BIS. Probably the most successful breeding I have done so far, was going to Ch. Vermilion’s Sea Breeze (Westminster RBIS, number one Irish) with a stud fee puppy bitch I had picked out. This puppy was by my Ch. Evergreen Smoke N Mirrors, JH to Ch. Beaubriar Saxony Infatuation. This puppy became Ch. Evergreen B’briar Celebration, that holds the record of winning 22 Best in Sweepstakes. When bred to Ch. Vermilion’s Sea Breeze, she produced two puppies, a boy and a girl. The girl, Ch. Evergreen Set Fire To The Rain, was RWB at the National. Then the fol- lowing year (not shown for a year because I was showing Vincenzo) she took WB at the next National. Claudette went on to win back-to-back National Specialty Best of Breeds, multiple Best in Shows, was the num- ber one Irish for two years, and number 12 Sporting Dog, all breeder/ owner-handled! A feat I am most proud of. Please comment positively on your breed’s present condition and what trends might bear watching. I am pleased to say many breeders are now concentrating on their dogs’ front assemblies. I see much improvement over the earlier, straight- er fronts with the swooping rears that had come to represent Irish Setters. Dogs are not so overdone on their stacks, where this lack of fronts and the sweeping rears were evident with a pronounced, far too sloping topline. There is nothing prettier than a free-flowing, effortless side picture with an Irish...and many breeders and handlers are working to achieve this balance in flow. Training and conditioning are important. The sport has changed greatly since you first began participating. What are your thoughts on the state of the fancy and the declining number of breed- ers? How do we encourage newcomers to join us and remain in the sport? Ah, the million-dollar question. In the past, more people stayed around to watch Groups and talk dogs with others. Invaluable knowl- edge was shared back then. The professional handlers (breeders them- selves), when they knew you were serious, would sit, talk and explain... again, invaluable information. As we all can see, much of the dog-show population is the older crowd. I know so many of us try and get puppy people interested in the avenues open to purebred dogs. Everyone needs a mentor. No one gets this done on their own. Where do you see your breeding program in the next decade or two? I am a firm believer that bitches are the strength in breeding. I hope to continue to produce dogs that are known for their breed type and move- ment. I will keep a bitch from a breeding that embodies what I had hoped for and look to find a suitable sire. I am not against importing semen and using frozen from dogs of long ago—if that is what is needed to get that look. It has been a wonderful opportunity to use dogs from the past and bring their qualities forward again. Finally, tell us a little about Mary outside of dogs...your profession, your hobbies. Originally I had planned, since junior high, to become a professional percussionist, hopefully playing with a major symphony or in the pit on Broadway. I devoted hours and hours to my craft and played profes- sionally, but just not at that upper echelon. While in college (Hofstra University) my mother forcibly encouraged me to take education classes while on a full music scholarship. Although I reluctantly listened to her, now I realize the importance of her advice. I spent 30 years in education at the high school level, teaching Spe- cial Education. School and dog shows just seemed to go together...with plenty of weekends to travel and do my thing. I was also able to dabble in clay work. I enjoy sculpting dogs and have a number of people who share their homes with one of my creations. Presently, I enjoy my retirement, and love my home and friends in North Carolina. God bless.
GCHG Evergreen Set Fire To The Rain – Claudette
Claudette on the move
GCHP Evergreen Good Intentions - Vincenzo
CH Evergreen Chase The Clouds, JH - Flavio
56 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2020
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