Flat-Coat Retriever Q & A
“They are smarter than they appear at times. You need to be three steps ahead of them in their thinking.”
go around, he came over to me and made me go sit down in his chair and said you are not to move until I tell you. Just sit there because I am not going to deliver a baby in my ring today! Flat-Coats are not a breed for everyone. They like to be active and enjoy doing things with their people. They are smarter than they appear at times. You need to be three steps ahead of them in their thinking. They are a great family dog and love to do different things. They like to be busy, but the flip side they will also lay on the couch with you to watch tv. ANDREA HOLSINGER The Bertschire Kennel name belongs to Nancy and Mark Caval- lo, who were kind enough to give me my first Flat-Coat and to allow us to be a part of the Bertschire kennel name. Thanks for that! I live In a small town just outside of Athens, Georgia. I am a Hospice Nurse. I am also a retired nursing supervisor from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, where I was employed for 34 years. I enjoy gardening when I get the chance. We love to travel. I live a quiet (but crazy) life with my partner of 22 years, Kass and her sister, Donna. I have 32 years showing, working and breeding Flat-Coated Retrievers. It was my greatest honor to judge puppy and veteran sweepstakes at the 2002 FCRSA National Specialty. I am not a licensed judge. The secret to a successful breeding program? There are many secrets. Honest evaluation of one’s own breeding stock, an ethical standard that respects the breed, it’s working roots and the reasons for which the breed was developed. The willingness to evaluate and remove poor producers or poor specimens of the breed, the will- ingness to continue to learn and the interest in helping others to succeed are all attributes. Oh, and a very thick skin! Lastly, without an artistic eye for dogs, it is just impossible to improve the breed. Do I think the breed’s ranking fosters a responsible breeding program? I think responsible breeders foster responsible breed- ing programs. If each of us screens our homes and works with individuals who purchase breeding stock from us, giving them education and guidance, our breed will continue to benefit from responsible breeders. Do I feel the breed gets its fair share of attention in the group ring? No. On the other hand, I am not enamored of the impact that “group attention” can have on a breed. Breed type in the Flat- Coated Retriever remains a mystery to most judges. I would like to see our system of judging change in this country to reward “breed specialist” judges. We need to get back to the business of judging breeding stock. My favorite dog show memory? Winning the 2013 FCRSA National Specialty with our home bred, owner handled dog, BISS GCh Bertschire Horse Power, JH, WC. Or maybe it was winning the 2003 national with an imported class dog that no one had ever seen. We met him in The Netherlands and fell in love with him as a 13 month old dog. He was loaned to us by our very generous friends, Richard and Wilma Van der Horst. His name was BISS Ch. Steelriver Could it be Magic, JH. It might have been winning the 2005 national with our lovely bitch, BISS GCh Huntlane’s Under the Sea, JH. She was bred by our friend, Jennifer Andrews. She
was shown by our friend and professional handler, Cathy Pullian to that win. Our breed is suffering from a devastating rate of cancer. Our gene pool is tiny and if we are to ever pull ourselves out of this corner we are in, we must utilize genetic diversity testing. We must expand our gene pool and consider that as an important cornerstone to our breeding programs. LIZ SAUNDERS We live in southern Alber-
ta, Canada, between Fort Macleod and Lethbridge. I run my own business developing and illustrating nature con- servation related educational materials such as interpretive signs, displays and booklets. I also create some of my own art work and am an avid pho- tographer. My husband, Andy Hurly, is a retired biology pro- fessor and avid hunter. We have lived with Flat- Coated Retrievers for 23 years.
We showed our very first Flat-Coat in conformation and have con- tinued to show our own dogs. Our dogs have always been hunting companions, mostly for waterfowl hunting, but also some upland work. Because our winters are long and cold, we turn to obedience and rally when field training is not possible. We bred our first litter 15 years ago and have had 11 litters to date. In 2018 I had the great honor of judging Veteran and Puppy Sweepstakes at the FCRSA National Specialty in Pennsylvania. My first serious venture into judging was an amazing experience as it was such a thrill to get my hands on so many puppies and veterans. In my opinion, a successful breeding program is one that con- sistently produces dogs that are sound in mind and body, can do well in the show ring and retain the natural instincts needed to be a valuable hunting companion. There is no one “secret” to a suc- cessful breeding program, it is a combination of hard work, passion, commitment with a bit of good luck thrown in! Some of the elements that I believe are key to a successful breed- ing program are: Knowing the breed standard thoroughly and understanding the relationships between form and function. Con- stantly evaluating dogs we have produced helps us make better deci- sions in the future, which means keeping in touch with all puppy owners through the lifetime of the dog. Being knowledgeable about structure and how it affects a dog’s outline, movement and working ability (our mentors, Hans and Margareta Berin, always stressed the importance of this in their breeding program and we have tried to follow suit). We also put a lot of thought and effort in to how our dogs and litters are raised—providing them with high quality food, plenty of free exercise in natural environments and opportunities to explore and learn.
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J ULY 2019 • 293
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