Showsight Presents the Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees Q & A

“He is a thinker and will soon know if something could be a danger and act accordingly.”

Terry M. Denney-Combs continued hug for humans passing over at UCLA medical center and other organizations. Many a doctor has dropped for a hug in those hall ways as well. They are especially tolerant of children and do well in library reading sessions and college exam week anxieties programs. Most Pyr breeders are small concerns—very few big ken- nels—replaced by a family caring for the dogs that are part of their lives and go to shows with all the crates, tables, etc to make the dog safe and comfortable for the day. Usually they travel very well and love to go. It is a lifestyle that all show people adapt to regardless of their breed. I believe this family raising is essential to the continued development of the breed’s overall soundness of body and mind; the most important thing to breed for to be able to put our trust in their decisions. As pups I believe eight to nine weeks is a good age to deter- mine overall conformation—my line is slow maturing and I have changed my mind on an individual after nine weeks and will usually keep two from a litter until eight months old to make a final determination. Since I am a small breeder I have kept the new generations and found retirement homes for the adults (usually by four years old) so they have a change for their own special home and I can continue through generations to develop a line of dogs without having too many dogs to care for. One of my favorite memories is my first special’s eve of retire- ment and his handler and co-owner, Karen Bruneau put a tiny little red Santa hat on his head for the first go around in the group. It was the last show of the year at Long Beach Kennel Club. He proudly strutted around the ring—it was removed to her pocket quick enough for the first lineup though as the judge gave her “the eye”. Bah humbug. I’m advancing in years and will be unable to continue my life showing Pyrs before too long and I’m sure there are many devoted fans and breeders who will carry on preserving this great dog—this Great Pyrenees. I’ve had a great run and have no regrets. One will always be by my side until I pass over as well. JOAN HANOVER I live in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Outside of dogs, I shop until I drop—hunting for the special item for our regionals and National. Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? Our clients at our veterinary hospital all know them but outside of our zone they are Newfs or etc. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? Many Pyrs are working on farms but not AKC registered. Our Pyrs protect us and our home! What about the breed makes the breed an ideal compan- ion? They love life and their people they will also take off if not leashed or fenced in the city and suburbs. What special challenges do Great Pyrenees breeders face in our current economic and social climate? Finding sound dogs to introduce into our breeding program. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness? Anywhere between eight weeks and three years. What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? The joy of accomplishment and time well spent with our four-legged friends. What is the most important thing about the breed for a nov- ice to keep in mind when judging? They are a guardian breed. Approach as a friend and say hello first. Read the Standard.

What is my ultimate goal for the breed? Eliminate hereditary defects, promote good health and breed to the standard. PEGGY WATSON I live in Georgia. I moved here five years ago from Arizo- na. I work online from home, specifically so that I am here for my dogs. Does the average person in the street recognize the breed? In Arizona they were not often recognized, here in Georgia every- one knows what breed they are, and knows someone who has one. They are very popular as livestock dogs and pets here. Pyr rescue in Georgia has handled well over 1,000 dogs in the past seven years—popularity is not a good thing for our breed. It will make placing puppies in good homes harder than it was in Arizona I believe. Thankfully I rarely breed, only when I have to, and have great owners willing to wait for a puppy. How has the breed adapted to civilian life? Actually I believe many more of them work than show. In terms of the overall population very few of them are found in show homes with show bloodlines. They are the most common livestock guardian breed in our country, and most of them are bred from this back- ground. The show lines place a few into livestock homes, but there are really two groups—show people breeding tested stock and livestock breeders breeding either for the livestock or the pet market. A few of the livestock breeders health test, most do not. Rescue has a big job cleaning up the livestock bred Pyrs and Pyr mixes that are not placed well by their breeders. What about the breed makes them an ideal companion? He is ideal in his temperament, guarding ability and beauty. Your house will likely not be robbed, your children will have a trust- worthy companion and your neighbors will know you have a big, white dog. They are usually good house dogs and not big chewers. There are many drawbacks. The first thing I tell some- one interested in a Pyr is that they bark more than any dog you will ever own, they shed, they drool a bit, they dig and they like to try and escape—all this makes placement difficult. They are much like a 100 pound cat. You must be a calm confident leader, you must have excellent fencing, you must have a plan for bark- ing and shedding, otherwise the placement is likely to fail. What special challenges do Great Pyrenees breeders face in our current economic and social climate? Any large breed dog has larger needs and costs—veterinary costs, food costs, etc. With all the more restrictive dog laws being passed everywhere we are more limited than ever with where we can live with a kennel of Pyrs, so many Pyr kennels have died out. In terms of them in companion homes, as backyards shrink and neighbors get closer, it’s harder than ever to own a Pyr successfully in that type of home. These homes often have neighbors complaining about barking for instance. It will be interesting to see how our breed fares over the next 20 years. There are far fewer true kennels of show Pyr breeders left in this country. When I started back in 1990 I bet there were more than 50. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness? I start looking at day one and make up my mind between eight to ten weeks of age. What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? Well winning of course! I think we all like those faces of people who have come to a dog show and have never seen a Pyr before—the look of wonder on their faces! I love introducing people to my

360 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , N OVEMBER 2019

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