Welcome Biewer Terriers TO THE TOY GROUP 2021!
THE VALUE OF A MENTOR
BY DEBARAH BILLINGS
A fter falling in love with this breed, I started my jour- ney with the Biewer Terrier in 2009. At that time the breed was considered a “Rare Breed.” However, we were allowed to show within a few venues that had accepted them. My goal was to learn everything possible about breeding for improvement of structure, health and longevity in this beautiful breed. This was definitely a huge undertaking as I had never bred or shown any breed. Regardless, I was determined! Now to find that perfect puppy. My breeder mentor advised me to be patient as breeders cannot guarantee how a 12-week-old puppy will mature. How does that work out for such a new passion? After contacting the few breeders in our country, I was able to get on a waitlist. I could hardly wait to receive this special puppy! After receiving her, the first task was to find a conformation class, for which I showed up with my Biewer Terrier puppy in a harness and lead. You can imagine the look on my instructor’s face! I placed my puppy on the table, prepared for her initial examina- tion, and the instructor told me, “Lovely puppy, but the first thing we need to do is to get rid of this contraption!” I quickly realized I needed more than a breeder mentor! I found by taking my Biewer Terrier puppy to weekly confor- mation classes, I had the best opportunity to introduce this puppy to the rest of the world. The instructors were kind and gave me advice, cheering me on in order to boost my confidence as well as the puppy’s! You can see that I had a lot of work ahead of me if I were to have a chance of making a difference for the breed. I was fortunate to have a great mentor for teaching me the basics of whelping. Oh, no! What had I gotten myself into? Would I even survive this necessary step? First came the list of supplies that I would need for the arrival of new puppies. My goodness! I thought the mothers could take care of everything! I became friends with the UPS driver as orders began arriving. Dental floss, hemostats, liquid blood stop, lubricant, thermometers, a nice scale for weights, goats milk, Karo syrup, tube feeding supplies? Wait! I faint at the sight of blood! Thank goodness I wouldn’t need any of these for a while. My advice if you are considering this breed is to find a great breeder mentor! I repeat, a great breeder mentor! ! At this point, I joined the Breed Club. We traveled to all areas of the country to promote our first Biewer Terriers. The judges seemed to love this new breed and were complimentary. I soon met others who loved and promoted our breed. Although competing for those ribbons was surely competitive, I enjoyed developing friendships with people who appreciate the same passion for this intriguing
little dog. I asked for advice on grooming tips and was pleasantly surprised that a few fellow owners with years of experience gave rec- ommendations freely. I realized that I would soon need advice from others who were successful with drop-coats as my only goal was to show up with my dog looking as if she just came from the spa! It is a work in progress, but I couldn’t have had the successes without my grooming mentors. I enrolled in classes that teach us how to breed better dogs. I implemented this policy immediately and began keeping the best puppy to move the breed forward. (I didn’t realize the instructor did not mean I had to keep one from every litter... After a few years I had accumulated a full house!) It was at that point that I realized I needed advanced training for what “the best” actually meant. I traveled hours in order to attend seminars from leading experts on this matter. My first question for the instructor was, “Can you show me how to locate the rear angulation?” I can still see the look on his face! He must have wondered how I could be a “breeder” and not know this important part of evaluating my dog. I read many books, but I didn’t “get it” until I understood that putting hands on a dog shows so much more. Once again, I needed a different type of mentor! It was called, Evaluating a Puppy. After being accepted into the AKC FSS program, I knew that I had to face another challenge if I wanted to continue: Learning the AKC ring procedure. It was overwhelming, to say the least, but we jumped in with both feet. We began in FSS in order to learn the proper ring procedure. (A different approach than the International Style Shows.) I am sure I showed up at ringside an hour early until I figured out the listed ring time was “on time.” The point schedule in order to obtain the title of Certificate of Merit seemed impossible to achieve, since it required 15 points. After all, there was rarely ever a handful of Biewer Terriers in the ring. We needed 16 in the breed competition in order to earn five points. There were only two options for points in the breed: Best of Breed and Best Opposite. I was fortunate enough to earn several titles in our foundation and Miscellaneous Groups in preparation for breeding future Champions. After five years of preparation for the Toy Group, here we are once again learning a new way to show! Now there’s Winners Dog, Winners Bitch, Best of Breed or Best Opposite. We now start over with earning points that count toward a champion title. Having great mentors in my beginning has prepared me for the future of breeding better dogs. Now I realize that I, once again, need another mentor!
220 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JANUARY 2021
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