Showsight Presents The Chihuahua

magic balance of type and soundness. He had a beautiful head and expression and was lovely on the move. I loved how his coat was just right. He went on to produce some superior individuals. 10. Anything else you’d like to add? We seem to have lost that sense of collective responsibil- ity that many of the old timers had. It’s fine to like slightly different styles—but we all need to keep a high “bottom line” about what is acceptable in both the show ring and the whelping box. Too many new fanciers lack the kind of mentorship that equips them to understand that a show record is not the sole factor one needs to consider when choosing breeding stock. That skill is critical these days when presentation often makes an average animal into a world-beater. Helping breeders make good choices for their gene pools and for the long-term welfare of our breed needs to be the priority for all responsible Chihuahua breeders. GRAHAM B. FOOTE BAllyBroke ChihuAhuAs 1. Please tell us about your background in Chihua- huas, including kennel name, highlights, judging experience. We’d also like to know where you live and what you do outside of dogs. I cannot recall any time in my life when I have not been involved with dogs. I was given a West Highland White Terrier by an uncle when I was three years old and apart from three years in the Royal Air Force, where I had some involvement in Dog Handling, I have never been without an animal. When I was ten I started to handle my mother’s Yorkshire Terriers, then Pembroke Welsh Corgis, until I left home at 15 and went to work on a farm where I had a GSD. Following three years of National Service, I was still on demob leave when one day my mother asked if I would like to share in the cost of purchasing a Chihuahua as she had seen one advertised in a local paper. My first words to her were, “Why do you want to buy a rabbit?” At that point I had never even heard of a Chihuahua and thought that she wanted to buy a Chinchilla. She of course explained that it was the smallest breed of dog in the world that she wanted me to take her to see. So off we went to look at a litter of six smooth coats and as they say… the rest is history. We bought our first Chihuahua that day. Lola—she turned out to be rather special and in her lifetime she had five lit- ters and reared 26 puppies. She lived to just under twenty years and most of our original stock came from puppies produced by Lola. Our prefix Ballybroke came from the name of a street in Girvan, in Ayrshire, Scotland, where my parents had a holiday cottage. As I was broke (penni- less) after paying the equivalent of nine weeks wages to

purchase Lola, I said being “bally well broke” would make the prefix a good name for the position I was then in! Margaret and I became the joint owners of the prefix after my mother retired from showing. Our daughter Alison, who in 2016 will be judging Smooth Coat Chihua- huas at Crufts, has shared in the prefix for many years, but has never really used it. Other than the Smooth Coat Club, I have judged every breed club and most of the All Breed Clubs in the UK, including Crufts. I have judged many times in Europe, also in Australia (where I judged their first National Specialty), Japan, South Africa, the States, and next month will be judging at the first National Specialty in Japan. We have now made up 38 UK Champions, including the record holder in the breed Ballybroke’s Miles Better. We are very near to retiring from breeding, although for this year, from the one litter that we have bred, we have the top Long Coat puppy for the year. 2. What five traits do you look for, in order, when judging Chihuahuas? What do you consider the ultimate hallmark of the breed? I like nothing better than to see a Chi going around the ring with its head held high on a nicely arched neck, a good level back and a nice high set tail just leaning slightly over the back. I am a stickler for correct move- ment. I generally get down to watch the dogs coming and going and like to see only one set of legs moving in each direction, but this is something that I do not see often enough. My main concern when judging is the expression and this is created by large well set ears, large eyes, deep stop and lean jaws. Dogs that I like have to be cheeky, bright and alert. Heavy jowls and broad, ultra short muzzles do not fit my picture of a Chihuahua. I like to see a correct bite, and in the UK have been complaining for many years about the high percentage of undershot, overshot and missing teeth. However, I can live with a bite that has only four instead of six incisors, particularly if the teeth are set evenly and filling the space provided. Exhibitors in the UK have often said I am a tooth fairy—I am not, but do think we need to work more at getting our mouths sorted out. 3. What shortcomings are you most willing to forgive? What faults do you find hard to overlook? As mentioned earlier, I must see good positive movement as important and dogs that are in soft condition and lack- ing in muscle tone are to me a sure sign of dogs that are boxed far too much and get very little exercise. I have a major difficulty in placing dogs that are not at least shown in good, firm condition; there is no excuse for this. In the States, much shorter backs seem to me to be more common than in past years. I wonder what this has meant as far as caesareans are concerned—are many more are carried out than in the past? 4. How has the breed changed since you became involved with it? Do you see any trends you think are moving the breed in the wrong direction? Any traits becoming exaggerated?

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