AMERICAN ESKIMO Q&A
Most people think they are fancy dogs meant to be spoiled while sitting on laps because of how beautiful they are, but they are hard working and intelligent dogs who need a job to keep those sharp minds of theirs fulfilled. A smart Eskie will keep you on your toes, testing the human pack to find the weakest link and manipulate that person to do their bidding if they feel they are lacking in leader- ship and/or activities to do. Is there anything else I’d like to share about the breed? Eskies are wonderful and unforgettable companions, especially for the right match of a person. They are the quintessential tricksters, for they excel at learning tricks (which is likely why they were used in traveling circuses to walk a tightrope in the earlier part of the 20th century), and everything about them initially, literally, tricks you: You think they’re from Alaska and are sled dogs because of their name, but no, they tricked you! You think they are frou-frou dogs who like to sit on satin pil- lows and do nothing but eat Bon-Bons all day because of how fancy they look, but no, they’ve tricked you again! They love to work, are smart, can be willful, and need mental stimulation to keep them out of trouble. You think they require lots of fastidious grooming because of their striking all-white and soft fluffy coats, but no, they’ve tricked you yet again! Their coats have an oil on it that repels dirt and exter- nal odor, and they also do not have your typical doggy odor on their skin. So, they are a bit of a self-cleaning white dog. Getting an Eskie from a reputable breeder will ensure that the pup you get has the right temperament that is a good match as a family companion. A good breeder will not continue breeding any pups that do not fit this description, no matter how beautiful they may be. HELEN DORRANCE I live in Leander, Texas and own a boarding kennel so there isn’t much “outside” of dogs for me. For years my goal has been to get the Eskie off of the low entry list and move it up in the AKC list of recognized breeds. I think being more popular would definitely benefit the breed. The Eskie is very distinctive and easily recognized by the general public. For years they were known as “spitzes” and it seems everyone has an older relative who used to have one. I would like to dispel some of the misconceptions about the siz- es. The American Eskimo Dog is a very versatile dog and all three sizes are fully capable of doing anything you ask of them. I do scent- work, agility and herding with my all of my toys and miniatures and they easily excel in all three activities. One of the biggest challenges breeders face is having big enough litters—especially with the toys and miniatures. Anyone who has had one always wants another one and it is very hard to produce enough to supply the general public with dogs—especially if you want to keep any for yourself. One of the things important to keep in mind is the toys and the smaller miniatures can look short-strided compared to the standards. It can sometimes be difficult to compare gaits of three dramatically different sized dogs in the same ring. Because the standards can usually cover more ground than the smaller siz- es it’s sometimes easy to dismiss the toys as not having enough reach and drive when many times they are equal, it’s just not readily discernible. I’m doing my part to attract newcomers to the breed. Almost all of my ex-employees and current employees have dogs from me and are doing agility and scentwork with them. A couple of them have even bred their dogs, but it is still hard to produce enough pup- pies to supply the demand. The ultimate goal is to encourage more breeders of this incredible breed.
title, which was new. I was watching in the crowd, and the speaker invited me and my dog to participate. My American Eskimo dog figured out the requested “tricks” right away! Back in the day, these dogs were used as circus dogs and one was the first dog to walk a tightrope! I personally just love the way these dogs are eager to try anything that I suggest; as long as it is with me! THY CAVAGNARO I’ve been the Chairman for the
Public Education Committee for the American Eskimo Dog Club of America since 2011. I’ve also been the owner and trainer of a trick dog team since 2009. “The Amazing Eskies” (for- mally known as “Atka, the Amazing Eskie” until our star, Atka, recently passed away in 2019) have performed
stunts and strutted their stuff all over the area, for massive crowds and intimate gatherings. They skateboard, jump through hoops and people’s arms, jump over people and other dogs, and spread love and joy everywhere they go. They’ve been movie stars, TV stars, have done high fashion magazine spreads with supermodels, and have shot commercials on Broadway. Lastly, they provide therapy to those in need at nursing homes and military bases, where they also salute when given the command to “present arms”. I live in Barnegat, New Jersey, and my day job is as a Project Manager for Canon, U.S.A. I’m also the founder of the movement, “Thanking Vietnam veterans in Barnegat, which focuses on events created to thank and honor Vietnam veterans at local levels. Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfort- able with the placement? Many may want the Eskie to place higher, but I’m not that upset about it being not very popular. It makes them stand out more in some ways because they’re not as common. In addition, when there is a smaller population of Eskie breeders, you find most of them to be fiercely protective about preserving the breed for the right reasons, as opposed to breeding profusely because there’s such a demand for them. Does the ranking help or hurt the breed? I believe it can be seen both ways. A less popular breed can have a smaller, but more devoted set of breeders for it. At the same time, funds might not be as readily available for certain causes, or volunteers (human or canine) may not be as readily available for certain events around the country. Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? No, and that’s one of the things I love about having Eskies! They are definitely a magnet for conversations, bringing strangers together to talk with each other, since people love asking questions about them. I feel like people learn more about Eskies when they encoun- ter one on the street specifically because they’re not as well-known, and instead of making assumptions and thinking you may know enough about the breed and not stopping to talk about them (as may be the case with the more popular breeds), people cannot help but find themselves being compelled to say, “Excuse me—what kind of a dog is that?” Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? Yes! Their name is a misnomer, since most assume they are from Alaska and pull sleds because of their name—“American Eskimo Dog”. Their roots are from the German Spitz, which was a multi- purpose farm dog, bred to herd, and keep a watchful eye over every- thing on their property, acting like the property’s loud and persis- tent alarm system should anything look out of the ordinary.
296 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MARCH 2020
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