BRUSSELS GRIFFON THE
1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs? 2. In popularity, The Brussels Griffon is currently ranked #98 out of 192 AKC-recognized breeds. Do you hope this will change or are you comfortable with his placement? Do these numbers help or hurt the breed? 3. Although he’s a tremendously hard-working dog with great power and stamina, he’s highly valued as a companion. What qualities in the field also come in handy around the house? 4. An energetic dog—of any size—requires a special household to be a perfect fit. What about the breed makes him an ideal companion? Drawbacks? 5. Are there any misconceptions about the breed you’ d like to dispel? 6. What special challenges do Brussels Griffon breeders face in our current economic and social climate? 7. At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness (or lack thereof)? 8. You have many choices equally valid under the Standard: rough, smooth, red, belge, black & tan, black. Any preference? 9. What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? 10. What’s the best way to attract newcomers to your breed and to the sport? 11. What is your ultimate goal for the breed? 12. What is your favorite dog show memory? 13. Is there anything else you’ d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. JEFF BAZELL & JEFF KESTNER
Together the Jeffs have bred and/or owned 108 AKC champions as of October 2019, bred another 68 champions in the United States and Canada, and owned or sold another 90 champions internation- ally. There are 1048 first generation St Johns titlists worldwide. St Johns exported the first American Griffons to Australia, where they earned multiple group and BISS placements. The Jeffs also helped reestablish the breed in its homeland during the mid-1980s. The breed had nearly died out in Belgium and the Netherlands before St. Johns Griffons revitalized the breed on the European continent. Dogs of St. Johns breeding have sired many champions internation- ally, and St. Johns is behind many of the world’s successful breeding programs. Performance titlists are important to St. Johns, with 20 AKC-titled dogs and an additional 18 internationally. Bazell and Kestner are proud AKC Breeders of Merit whose stock is fully health tested on a generational basis. St. Johns has been an AKC-registered kennel for many years. “The Jeffs” live in a small Ohio village named Bremen in the south central portion of the state. Bazell is a well recognized garden designer having won many national and international awards for his work. Kestner, a former elementary teachers, works for the Ohio Education Association in labor relations. We are also in the middle of writing the definitive book about the Brussels Griffon. Popularity of a breed has so much to do with “product place- ment” and other factors in today’s world. If a breed is featured in a popular movie or television series, away it goes in a rush. Humans are fickle and typically do as little research as possible to find if a breed is a good fit for them or their family. In turn, this leads to a high turn in rate at shelters and rescue organizations. Being in the middle of the pack in ratings is a good place for a breed to maintain. Popular enough for ease of recognition yet, not in demand. What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? Grif- fons are an equally good fit in an apartment or a large family home with large yard. They do need regular exercise though, as much for mind as for body. An unattended Griffon, especially a puppy, is a Griffon looking for mischief. Young Griffons are exactly like living with a houseful of 3 year old children. Some will sit and play and entertain themselves peacefully and some will be planning the destruction of life as we know it....no two are alike. Are there any misconceptions about the breed we’d like to dis- pel? Though Griffons are included in the toy group they grow out and mature much like a working dog. Having been bred down from much larger dogs that had to fend for themselves in barn lots and carriage houses they are generally stoic and hardy. They are disas- ters as “purse dogs” and become as neurotic and self-challenged as their owners want them to be. A Griffon’s temperament needs to be developed and allowed to bloom over time with maturity, just like raising a happy, healthy child. What special challenges do Brussels Griffon breeders face in our current economic and social climate? The health of the breed is in bad shape. Very few breeders are properly health testing their stock and the breed is oftentimes over bred and bred way too young. Min- imally, all breeding stock should have their eyes tested bi-annually by a board certified ophthamologist, a heart certification should be in place before breeding and this should be done by ausculta- tion and EKG, radiology checks of hips/elbows and patellas must be done prior to breeding and be within normal ranges and at least every other generation of bitches must have their brains scanned by MRI to guard against sryingomyelia and chiari malformation. This is expensive and the costs will never be covered by puppy sales
Mr. Jeff Bazell obtained his first Griffon in the mid- 1970s with a Brussels Grif- fon from Nigel Aubrey- Jones. He became a parent club member in 1979, dur- ing the Iris de la Torre Bue- no years. Bazell has served the club as president, show chair, and specialty coor- dinator, and for 16 years
he was publisher of the national breed magazine. He currently serves as the parent club historian and archivist and has amassed one of the largest collections of breed-specific items known among all breeds. He has judged parent club specialties on four occasions including the national and has judged Griffon specialties and club shows worldwide and is an AKC multi-group judge. He has been an approved breed mentor since the program’s inception and has presented the breed both here and abroad on many occasions. Mr. Jeff Kestner has been active in the breed for the last 15 years and maintains a vast Griffon breeding-record collection and data- base worldwide. He is approved to judge the breed along with half the Toy Group. As an active parent club member, he has served on constitutional revision committees and is a parent club–approved mentor and presenter. He has also judged sweepstakes at the national specialty.
302 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J ANUARY 2020
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