Showsight Spring Edition, February/March 2021


In the two years I spent at Dassin Farm, I learned more about animal hus- bandry, coat care, breeding philosophy, and managing a breeding program than I could ever have thought possible. Everything that I do in my breeding program now is based on what I learned listening to Buddy talk on long drives from one show to another. No book, no website, and no webinar could ever teach me the things I learned from him. Presen- tation was something Joseph excelled in, and at the time he possessed a patience Buddy didn’t have. He would work with you on a brushing and drying tech- nique, scissoring skills, and the finishing touches of banding and spraying up. All of these techniques I’ve adapted myself, but I couldn’t have learned without his expertise. Eventually, as often happens, the travel, the sheer volume of work, and the responsibility for the dogs began to make me enjoy it less. I realized, by watching the difficult chore of pleasing clients, that being a professional handler was not some- thing I really wanted for myself. I loved the dogs, I loved the breed, but I needed to find a way to support myself and have a more home-based life. At that point, I was lucky to find a local grooming shop that had a big Poodle, Bichon, and “scis- sor breed” clientele. While I knew that I’d miss the team and the camaraderie of working for a handler, it was time. During the time I was assisting Bud- dy and Joseph, I was fortunate enough to develop a personal relationship with my 40-year partner, Michael Carothers. He traveled, on and off, with Buddy and Joseph, assisting them, and he shared my passion for the Dassin family of dogs. Together with Buddy and Joseph, Michael and I co-owned our foundation Standard, Ch. Dassin Daybreak, bred by Delores Solomon. She was a consummate Dassin type, and in three litters she pro- duced 10 champions. Until Buddy’s death,

kept coming back into my mind. I asked to be off for the week of Poodle Club of America (at that time held in Ludwigs Corner, Pennsylvania, in June), to go and observe—lawn chair, sun hat, and catalog in hand. I watched for three days and I was hooked. Having been a breeder’s daughter prior to being an assistant, the breeder in me was starting to grow. As I watched during the three days, one family of dogs stood out in my mind. The type, the movement, and the presen- tation appealed to my uneducated eye. I thought that if I was going to do that much work, then that is what I wanted them to look like. At the end of the week- end, I approached Bud Dickey and Joseph Vergnetti, and explained that after the Forsyths’ retirement I would be looking for a new job. Although it wouldn’t be until after The Garden, could they keep me in mind should they need an assistant? Buddy’s quick retort, “Look around, sister, does it look like we need help?” unnerved me at the time, but his quick wit became something I loved most about him dur- ing our relationship. Over the next few months, we got to know each other when they came to East Coast dog shows. Both Bud and Joseph felt a weekend at the ken- nel and a weekend at the shows with them was something I should try before making a commitment. We agreed on two week- ends, and things began to fall into place. The weekend that I went out for the “test run,” Christine Foster Nethery joined me. At that time, she assisted Dave and Erica McCurley, and we shared a house in Beth- lehem, Connecticut. I had never seen a breeding operation like Dassin Farm. It amazed me, intimi- dated me—and I was hooked. Following the weekend, I had a firm commitment on a job and Christine had purchased a Stan- dard Poodle puppy, Ch. Dassin Dakota, who was her “foot in the door” for her now successful Boxwood Standard Poodles breeding program.

Anne Smith (then Dolan) with Ch. Glen Eire Willie Wonderful

After graduating from college, I felt the need for a break from the academic scene. Vet school was my goal, but even at that time I felt veterinarians would be best served by working with breeders, show kennels, and groomers to have a more well- rounded aspect of this segment that needed veterinary service to function efficiently. I was fortunate to connect with Bob and Jane Forsyth. Assisting them and learning from Bonnie and Mark Threl- fall changed the direction I had planned for myself. I am not sure that anyone was more knowledgeable or better equipped to train you than Bonnie and Mark were. The Threlfalls left the Forsyths to go out and launch their own successful careers. The step up taught me about busi- ness management, kennel management, and animal husbandry, and the impor- tance of maintaining good relationships with other handlers and breeders. It was an invaluable education. Bob and Jane were good enough to give all of their assis- tants a fair timeframe to investigate other options before publicly announcing their retirement at Westminster in 1981. One of the benefits of working there was hav- ing an exposure to a wide variety of breeds. While I was there, they showed a few ran- dom Poodles, mostly for clients who had used them before they became a specialty breed. From the beginning, Poodles fasci- nated me. The beauty, the trim, and their intelligence all piqued my interest. When they did have one to show, I was fortu- nate to have developed a friendship with Michael Dachel, who at that point assisted Bill Trainor. He would set-aside the time to try to show me and teach me the basics to make the dog presentable in the ring. Dee Shepherd and Sue Lackey, who assist- ed Wendell Sammett, were a great resource as well. When it came time to make a plan, fol- lowing Bob and Jane’s retirement, I con- sidered all of my options. The Poodles just

Ch. Oaktown Gone Rogue

Ch. DeLaPassion Coachella ByReQuest


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