Showsight - March 2022


my brother would open the umbrella that mom had hanging in the house at Oscar all the time to make sure he would pass that part of the test. Well, there was a specialty where they provided the temperament test, and Oscar was doing great up until the next step; the umbrella. The guy running the test had opened the umbrella at Oscar who looked at it, jumped up and grabbed the umbrella, then spit it out and barked; in his words, “That’s all you got?” Needless to say, after grabbing the object, he didn’t pass as he wasn’t allowed to grab it… but it was the funniest thing ever. Anything else I would like to share about myself? Any special message I have for all of us in the fancy? I would like to share that I was raised by two top German Shepherd handlers; my mom, Donna Calabrese, and Leslie Dancosse. I am grateful to keep hitting my goals as a handler and a breeder, and to have the knowledge they provided me—along with other people I grew up with. One very well-known past handler/judge/breeder, Joe Bihari, would make me sit on his couch and watch videos, and critique the dogs with him and show me things. I think I am still learning to this day, which makes me the handler I am. I also work with younger Juniors to help them learn about our breed and our sport, and to try and men- tor them along the way. It’s a great way to educate them; by learn- ing all parts of our business and to show that it’s not all about just handling. It teaches them how to take care of animals and what the process is with our work environment, from the time you get up to the time you go to bed. It’s a Dog’s Life, for sure... A special message to the fancy: As a young handler growing up in this sport, not everyone is “that” lucky to have the option to learn from family members as I did. Remember, each young Junior Han- dler who is starting out needs us to offer support and advice with a helping hand. We need to inspire them today to be a great “dog person,” not just a great handler; a great breeder, yes, but also to be able to preserve our breed and to, hopefully, become even better than us one day. KARYN COWDREY

How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation? Yes and no. Our breed is very dif- ferent than any other breed when it comes to special preparation for the Specialty show ring. The rings are a lot bigger than the all-breed rings. The dogs are shown on more of a loose lead to showcase the German Shepherd’s natural side gait. The German Shepherd stan- dard states, “At a trot the dog covers still more ground with even a longer stride, and moves powerfully but easily, with coordination and balance so that the gait appears to be the steady motion of a well-lubricated machine.” We condition our dogs daily to prepare for the shows by biking and lightly golf carting them to build stam- ina after they are out of their youngster stage and are “prelimed,” making sure we don’t overdo something that could hurt them phys- ically. We have to teach them not to sidewind, but to go up the long straight-aways smoothly. In an all-breed ring, it is very challenging for a big-moving dog, always making a turn, then teaching them not to sidewind because then they don’t use their forehands. Down and back on a big-moving dog isn’t always easy if they have a lot of transmission, because they need more space to single track. As a movement breed, we run a lot more than most other breeds are accustomed. So, it’s important to keep them (as well as ourselves) as well-conditioned athletes. Is my breed hand-stacked or free-stacked in the show ring? Why is it presented in this manner? Our breed is both hand-stacked and free-stacked based on the judge’s preference. Some judges prefer a presentation that is natural to the dog when standing on its own—a free-stack. There is nothing more fun to show than a dog that will showcase itself. Are Performance and Companion titles important to me as a breeder? Are parent club titles? Absolutely, as a breeder, the German Shepherd Dog should be able to do everything. From protection work and herding on a farm to being a therapy dog in someone’s bed—and everything else in between. In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern? There are definitely some beautiful dogs out there right now. Growing up, I’ve seen different styles that range from a little more extreme in the hindquarters to well-balanced, short-coupled animals. For someone my age, I’m very old school. I like a correct, sound, and balanced dog that runs on its feet. Every dog has its good qualities and different faults. Some faults I’m seeing lately would be longer turn of stifle and over-angulation, making uncoordinated movers and immature-looking dogs at four years old. Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best can- didates to own my breed? Yes. I do believe this breed is well-suited to be a family dog, but with people who are willing to take direction from the breeders, and willing to give this highly intelligent dog a chance. It is a very smart breed that is great to be around, whether it’s out working or being your housepet laying on your front porch. Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders? Our breed is still supported by a decent amount of preservation breeders. Some great legacies have passed as the years go by, but their pedigrees still live on through some of their progeny, and the smart people have learned to research and learn. For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever expe- rienced with a Herding Dog? The most amusing thing I have seen was with my brother’s dog, “Oscar.” He was his housedog and he wanted that dog to do it all. When we were younger, Oscar was introduced to our temperament test, which includes various things like can-shaking, suddenly opening an umbrella, and walking on several different types of surfaces. There is a “friendly stranger” and then there is the “weird stranger” who yells and carries on but keeps a distance. There is also either a gunshot or a whip to make a crack- ing noise. My brother took Oscar, but he was smart. He watched other tests and simulated them at home (we didn’t know) because you shouldn’t be practicing something that should be natural. So,

Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder? I live in Bellingham, Washington. I have been in dogs for 55 years. I have been a breeder of Belgian Tervuren for 22 years, but I’ve bred and co-bred Airedales and German Wirehaired Pointers, starting when I was 10 years old. What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep? My kennel name is BlackFyre. I currently have three

full-time residents and eight dogs that I co-own that come and go. I am a professional handler, so I also usually have 1-4 client dogs living at the house. Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy win- ners? There are several, but ABTC National BISS/Multiple Group- Winning/AM/CAN CH Belmaba Paramour and her grandson, Multiple Group-Winning CH BlackFyre Absolutely Wyld CBAR, are two of my biggest-winning dogs of note. Which have been my most influential sires and dams? Both of the dogs mentioned above have been influential, and also “Wyld’s” daughter, GCH Arlequin My Wyld BlackFyre Jitterbug, aka “Jit- terbug,” and a dog I purchased, Multiple Group-Placing GCHS Blackwater Peloton Heads I Win, aka “Nick-L.” Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised? I live on five acres with my part- ner, Roger, the dogs, and three purebred Arabian horses. All of the dogs, including client dogs, live in our home, generally right in the dining room so that they can be in the thick of all that goes on in


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