Showsight - March 2022



1. Where do you live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder? 2. What is your kennel name? How many dogs do you currently keep? 3. Which show dogs from the past have been your noteworthy winners? 4. Which have been your most influential sires and dams? 5. Can you talk a bit about your facilities? Where are your pup- pies whelped? How are they raised? 6. What is your “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do you make your decisions? 7. How do you prepare your pups for the show ring? Does your breed require any special preparation? 8. Is your breed hand-stacked or free-stacked in the show ring? Why is it presented in this manner? 9. Are Performance and Companion titles important to you as a breeder? Are parent club titles? 10. In your opinion, is your breed in good condition overall. Any trends that warrant concern? 11. Is your breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own your breed? 12. Do you feel that your breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders? 13. For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing you’ve ever experienced with a Herding Dog? 14. Anything else you would like to share about yourself ? Any special message you have for all of us in the fancy? VALERIE BLACK Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder? My name is Valerie Black. I live in Wisconsin, in a suburb of Milwaukee. I have had my current breed, Berger Picard, and been “in dogs” since getting my first Picard from France in 2005. I have always had dogs as pets, always grew up with them, but never showed or belonged to kennel clubs, etc., until this breed that I am passionate about. My first litter was in 2008, and since then, I have had usually 1-2 litters a year, depending on who is in my house at the time. What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep? I do not have an actual kennel, although the kennel name is La Vie en Rose. Where I live, we are limited to three dogs, so naturally, we always have three Picards, and I keep only girls as I love having puppies and enjoy the breeding aspect, not to mention competing in the show ring with my dogs. Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy win- ners? My first real show dog was my Genevieve de la Vie en Rose, whom I bred. She and I traveled all over the country, showing as well as participating in many Meet the Breed events. She won our first National Specialty for our breed and she was the first dog I took to Westminster. I will always adore her, as she was so very special. I now have and show her daughter (Select Bitch at Westminster at

the age of 21 months, with me, and top bitch in the US at the age of 3). She and I have followed in her mother’s pawprints by travel- ing and sharing my breed with others, participating in NOHS and invitationals, etc. Which have been my most influential sires and dams? I should mention that when I first got this breed, I had no intentions of really doing anything other than having pets for our family, maybe hav- ing a litter or two so that my children could experience it, etc. I met a very persuasive woman, Betsy Richards (she found me via a Yahoo group for the breed), who called me up and talked me into forming a breed club with her and a few others, showing my dogs, etc. At the time, I had a very busy homelife, with two children in college, two young kids at home, plus my career as a hospital/ surgical PA, etc., and I really wasn’t interested. What persuaded me was the idea that we needed to protect and preserve this breed as it came to this country, and preserve it as the French intended. I still feel that way, very strongly, which is why I have been a continu- ing Board Member of the parent club (the Berger Picard Club of America), am immediate past President and current Vice President of the club, teach Judges Education, attend Meet the Breed events, and do my best to educate interested people in the breed. I do not keep dogs, only bitches in my home, but I have co- owned several of mine and I’m very proud of their accomplish- ments, not only in the conformation ring and by what they have sired but also in the sports that are related to what they were bred for—herding—as well as other fun sports such as dock diving, agil- ity, barn hunt, etc. Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised? I do not have a kennel, but we do have an old farmhouse that has space for dogs. My puppies are born in my kitchen and raised in our home until they leave. I use Avidog to help “bombproof ” the puppies, and I attend as many seminars as I can on both whelping and raising puppies. I am fortunate now to have a group—larger all the time—of friends with children to come over and play with puppies over and over again before they leave. I will typically have two or three in the box with the mom and babies within the first couple of days of life; holding them and petting the mom and babies. Everyone loves that. My moms adore children and it has worked well. I believe a lot of that early stimulation with both loud noises, toys, obstacle courses, and different people (especially children) being around them helps tremendously with how well they fit into their new homes. What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions? I don’t believe I can truly know who is a “show puppy,” but structure can be evaluated and it gives me a pretty good idea what I have (and usually validates what I have been seeing all along). My puppies are all temperament tested at seven weeks. So far, I have used the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test, which, while not designed for a Herding breed, does give me an idea of how con- fident a puppy is. Then, at about eight weeks, I have a group of judge friends who will come to help me evaluate the litter again, for conformation mostly, but also temperament plays a part then, too. How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation? Picards are not the easiest breed. They have been described as aloof with strangers, which can trans- late into skittishness and sometimes aggression if they are not handled correctly and calmly from an early age. From what I’ve observed, the more I handle them early on, the more easygoing they turn out.


Powered by