BREEDER INTERVIEW: WILLIAM H. (“BILLY”) MILLER, BAYARD CHIHUAHUAS
Melanie taught me the value of making an easy, fluid side gait a MUST. Once it is lost, it is hard to get back. Avoiding the extremes or exaggerations has always been important to us. The Chihuahua should have large, flaring ears and this should be apparent in their silhouette. Extremely short muzzles, eyes that become too buggy, and small ears are common problems that distort the appear- ance of the ideal headpiece. The breed is SLIGHTLY longer than tall and length is measured from the point of shoulder to the point of buttocks. SLIGHTLY. Web- ster’s Dictionary helps define the word. The breed tends to want to be longer than desired in the standard and it is important to always focus on proper, compact silhouette. How many dogs do you currently house? Tell us about your facilities and how the dogs are maintained. When we were actively breeding, all of us maintained the shared dogs in our separate homes. We had a number of dogs. In recent years, we have downsized and cut back. When my parents were ill, I took a break from breeding and spent my time caring for them. Shortly after Melanie’s husband passed away, she stopped actively breeding. But we have maintained frozen semen and are looking forward to using it shortly. I was fortunate to have Melanie invite me to share her kennel name and work with her. Later, I met my husband, Kenny Saenz, and he joined the team. Kenny loved to travel, and unlike me, he didn’t mind airports. He was always up for the fun of a trip on a plane to show his dogs. My bestie Erika Lanasa also joined the team. She was busy raising her two children and spent lots of time raising puppies and maintaining breeding animals. When her children were out of the nest, she began a career as a handler and has been very successful with her client dogs. Who were/are some of your most significant Chihuahuas, both in the whelping box and in the show ring? Good question. The first really exceptional dog to don the Bayard banner was Ch. RJR’s Reginald of Bayard. Reggie was a top Chihuahua Club of America (CCA) sire for several years. His first son (Alvin) was Best of Winners, Best Bred-By, and Best in Sweeps at the National. Alvin later won the Variety at the Garden. While my first BIS winner was a smooth coat, my heart was always with the long coats. Melanie had always owned long coats. When a dear friend passed away, she inherited his dogs and the smooth coat gene was introduced to our kennel. Perhaps our proudest accomplishment was having three consecutive generations of National Specialty winners: Ch. Bayard Wind Beneath My Wings, “Windy”
The late Joyce McComiskey was surely known as an accomplished Lakeland breeder. She had worked for Jane and Bob Forsyth and then became a professional handler herself. Joyce showed a lot of Chihuahuas! She was the primary han- dler for the Pittore dogs of Patricia Howard Pittore. I followed her around and offered to help cart her dogs to and from the ring. Joyce taught me to watch puppies loose on the ground and only to take the time to table the ones that were worthy of the effort. I had spent so much time stacking puppies and it was a great lesson to just sit and watch them. She taught me the importance of being part of a “dog family.” Joyce truly saw all of us as her extended family and she always reminded me of that. Perhaps my greatest mentor and dearest of friends was the late AKC judge and Doberman breeder Jane G. Kay. Jane always had a Chihuahua as a housedog and was a well- respected Chihuahua judge. I remember showing to her and enjoying her wicked sense of humor. When she began the search for her last Chihuahua, Jane enlisted my help with the hunt. Game on! We had a litter with a puppy that fit her “must” list and Yodytoo left Erika Lanasa’s house to go live with Jane. Because a very close friendship had formed between us, we stopped exhibiting to Jane. She visited us often and even traveled to shows with us. She was family. Jane taught me the importance of breed character. She always reminded me that a marriage, if based only on good looks, was certain not to last long. Jane insisted you had to love your breed for who they are on the inside. Without proper breed character, you essentially have a mutt. To this day, I look at young puppies and watch them interact with the world. First and foremost, they must have correct character. The late Beagle man and AKC rep “Jack” White worked for Mrs. Kay. He always told us that, before the people eat after a show, the dogs were exercised and fed. The dogs’ needs came first. Jane loved dogs and insisted their happiness be a priority. Your Chihuahuas are widely known, highly successful and well respected. What breeding philosophies do you adhere to? The Chihuahua is an all-around good little dog. Unlike many other standards, the Chihuahua standard explains how the breed should move—going around, coming and going. Structure is always of utmost importance. Proper carriage is essential.
Ch. Bayard Believe It Or Not RJr, “Ripley” Ch. Nauset I Believe I Can Fly, “Teddy”
170 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER 2021
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