Posts by Laura Reeves

202 — Mentoring the Future LIVE at the Copper Classic | Pure Dog Talk

Mentoring people in the sport will keep it alive

PureDogTalk host Laura Reeves moderated a LIVE Saturday Symposium sponsored by the Copper Classic in Prescott, Ariz. on the topic of Mentoring the Future. Judges Joyce Vanek, Cindy Vogels and John Wade headlined the panel.

Become the change you want to see

Anna Mysliwiec, Prescott Arizona Kennel Club, said, “We are the start of the change.”

“As a judge if I have a novice in the ring I try to help them,” Wade said. “We have to encourage people. Maybe the dog they have right now isn’t show quality, but they’d like to continue in the sport. Encourage someone so they are here tomorrow.”

Juniors speak up

Juniors attending the Seminar asked great questions, including one that prompted this response from Vogels:

“What’s the hardest part of being a judge?” asked by Julia, age 9.

Vogels: “…we realize each of you love your dog. We get to please very few people by the end of the day. The hardest part of judging is 5 dogs, 4 ribbons.”

Another junior attending, Kyle, age 14, asked, “What’s the first thing you notice about a dog when it comes in the ring.”

Vanek said, “The overall presence of the handler and dog.” Vogels added, “Correct silhouette.”

Workable solutions

Suggestions for clubs, breeders and exhibitors to “mentor the future” included:

  • Encourage young people to be apprentice ring stewards
  • Offer a Peewee Handling Competition at the show
  • Advise all-breed clubs to offer Junior Showmanship as a FREE class
  • Hire former junior handlers to judge Junior Showmanship classes
  • Offer “best of the best” Junior Showmanship competitions with monetary prizes
  • Support scholarship programs like those offered by PHA and other organizations
  • Organize a potluck at the show for exhibitors in your breed
  • Focus on the positive instead of the drama when counseling new exhibitors
  • Show courtesy to ring stewards
  • Encourage local and national breed clubs to offer junior memberships and junior showmanship competition.
  • Remember that the ribbon, the win, isn’t everything

“Welcome people to the sport,” Wade said. “Welcome people to your clubs. We need club members. The “greying of our sport” is apparent everywhere.”

Become a PureDogTalk Patron

For folks who haven’t checked out the PureDogTalk Patrons program, visit … A supporting gift of as little as $5/month helps make possible LIVE events like this one and our continued “crowdsourcing” of knowledge. As a bonus, Patrons receive access to outtakes and additional material, including a wonderful soliloquy from this event in which Johnny Shoemaker talks about how he helped create the wildly popular PeeWee competition.

201 – Exhibitor Education Courses Come Online | Pure Dog Talk

“Crowdsourcing” Knowledge for Exhibitor Education

Vicki Ronchette, author of “From Shy to Showy,” has created a new exhibitor education resource with online college-type classes available on a wide variety of topics.

New owners, exhibitors who want to improve their performance and experienced members of the fancy who want to hone their skills will all find a topic of interest.

“A lot of people don’t have access to training classes near them,” Ronchette said. “Or the classes are more socialization and don’t offer a lot of information for training the dog or the handler.”

Listeners who missed Ronchette’s previous podcasts, can check out some of her outstanding positive training tips here and here.

Variety of courses available

Show Dog Prep School Courses include everything from training nail trims, to using Tellington TTouch for better results, to Safe Travel with dogs.

Full disclosure, your host, Laura Reeves, is an instructor for SDPS. Her first offering is: Canine Structure 101 and Applying the Breed Standard.

Courses are available with coaching from instructor, as well as a mentoring program with Ronchette, webinars, forums and more. The school is designed to offer easy navigation and a user-friendly platform.

Learn on YOUR schedule

“In today’s society, people don’t have a lot of time,” Ronchette said. “Show Dog Prep School  allows people to learn on their own schedule. Virtual education is really helpful for folks to learn and get up to speed when they are just getting started.”

Ronchette is dedicated to the positive reinforcement system of dog training. And she applies it to her students.

“Positive reinforcement for people is so important,” Ronchette said. “We are creating a community of helping and support.”

People AND animals deserve to have an education so they can go in to a dog show with confidence and actually enjoy the sport and stay with it, Ronchette noted.

“We can help you understand the reason a dog didn’t win. It could actually be that your dog didn’t look as good. Let’s work on that,” Ronchette said.

Don’t miss Allison Foley’s Tip of the Week from the Leading Edge Dog Show Academy. Allison brings us *boggling* information about how to do up a coated breed beautifully – without power! Seriously, water and a bristle brush. What? Check it out.

200 – Celebrate 200th Episode with a Positive Outlook | Pure Dog Talk

200th episode? Celebrate with a positive outlook

Let’s talk about the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” And making a positive outlook YOUR approach to life and to this sport.

How can this be possible???

Host, Laura Reeves

Wasn’t it just yesterday that Mary randomly set up next to me at a dog show in Southern California and we started yakking about dogs and mentors and education and possibilities??

In fact, it’s just over two years since I first learned there WAS such a thing as a podcast. Never mind listened to one… lol

Since our debut in November 2016, Pure Dog Talk has been downloaded well over three hundred THOUSAND times! Yikes! We’ve aged out of the 12-18 class and we’re running with the big dogs, expanding our reach to more purebred dog enthusiasts every single day.

In recognition of the occasion, I thought I’d stop by for a personal one on one visit with all ya’ll.

Accentuate the PAWsitive

This post went up to rave reviews on a social media group. Many thanks to the original poster for permission to share here:

Barbara Eymard

A reflection on my first 9 months in the dog show world.

I have read lot of complaints about the cost of dog show. 2 tickets to the movies can cost more than one day entry fee for a dog and additional cost for each family member. Hanging out a a dog show with several family members much cheaper

For most part dog show parking and admission for friends and family is free. I live in an area where we do have a number of shows in day trip driving distance.

For my admission fee I get 8 hours of meeting and talking to people with a like interest, my dog evaluated, entertainment, shopping

Food is cheaper then at the movie dinner theaters. I come home win or lose happy and exhausted.

My granddaughter and husband often spend the day with me. Guess what, we talk, no TV and limited cell phones, we spend time with each other and our dogs.

Now compare the cost of a day at the dog show and the day at an amusement park which does mean travel and a hotel for me. The dog show still comes out cheaper and a happier event.

Costs of everything have gone up. my quarter allowance use to be able to buy 5 candy bars.

I use comparison shopping when spending my entertainment money. Dog shows come out as a good deal.

Thank you dog show world

Barbara NAILED it!! Would that several tens of thousands more exhibitors shared her attitude. PLEASE join us in this …. Joy and thankfulness are contagious!

12-Step Program

I wrote the following as a New Year’s resolution column several years ago. I think it is still applicable today and now is as good a time to celebrate a new year and a new you as any!!

I once read a line that has stayed with me for years. Essentially, it said, “The man who can focus his entire attention on one single problem for just 20 minutes can rule the world.”

In our hectic, over-scheduled, under-funded, hyper-stimulated world, this is, indeed, a very difficult challenge. Especially so in the dog world, where we are all juggling dogs, life, work, family and personal time in a constant battle to not drop anything.

To offer focus in this never-ending war against time, we have created the “12-Steps to a Happier You in the Dog Fancy” inventory.

One step, each month, establishes the habit. Then just keep building, brick by brick, adding one new goal each month.

January — Say “Congratulations” to the winner or “Thank You” to those who congratulate you. And MEAN it! Yes, every time. Yes, even when the winner is your most bitter enemy, actually, especially then.

February — Watch one breed, other than your own, from start to finish, at every dog show you attend.

March — Instill and enforce the “first to look at their phone during dinner pays for everyone” rule each time you go out to eat, whether at a dog show, with co-workers or family. Experience the miracle of direct human interaction.

April — Seek out a club official — show chair, chief ring steward, hospitality chair, etc — at each dog show you attend and thank them, personally, for their hard work and compliment them on a specific piece of the show which you particularly liked. Resist the urge to complain about anything.

May — Volunteer to help at one show. Even if it is an hour of ring stewarding, helping with clean up or set up, judging a fun match, simply restocking the candy dishes or picking up someone else’s poopie. Do one thing for a club for no better reason than you can.

June — Help someone new. It could be as simple as assisting someone with an armband. Maybe a promising youngster with a new puppy shows up and would welcome five minutes of *kind* and constructive direction. It is important here to understand the concept of help. Focus on the positive. Just be nice.

July — Organize a potluck. Get a whole bunch of people together at someone’s RV or grooming space, even invite someone you don’t know well, break bread together. Laugh. Tell stories. Talk dogs. If there is a water balloon fight (or an inflatable unicorn) somewhere in the mix, this cannot be a bad thing. Remember, we’re still carrying each month’s goal forward, so March’s “no phone” rule applies. By now, it should be ingrained and much easier to implement.

August — Read the standard for a breed about which you know nothing. Then, at the next show, while continuing your February goal of watching a new breed, go find the breed you read about. See if you can apply elements of the standard to dogs in the ring.

September — Go back to school … In your own breed. Re-read your breed standard. Memorize it. Commit the entire standard to memory so thoroughly that you can quote entire sections verbatim. Then pull a random dog out of your pack, stack him up and go over him piece by piece according to the standard. Try very, very, very hard to be objective and not make excuses. Simply see what’s there and what isn’t.

October — Take the skeletons out of your closet. Look at them in the cold light of day. Whether as a breeder, handler, exhibitor or judge, take a look at your past mistakes, acknowledge them, then burn them at the stake and move on!

November — Talk turkey. Get off the internet blogs and approach a more experienced person about a question in your breeding program, grooming routine, handling skill set, whatever. Talk to them in person. Invite them to lunch or drinks. Do not expect miraculous secrets, but acknowledge and respect someone outside your comfort zone. You learn something new every day!

December — Give the gift of your time and energy to a local animal shelter, rescue group or other doggie emergency support system.

This 12-step program is guaranteed to bring enhanced enjoyment, satisfaction, curiosity, knowledge, camaraderie and success to anyone’s dog show calendar.

Laughter is the Best Medecine

Our Last Word today comes with special thanks to Pure Dog Talk Patron  Andi Jalensky for the idea!!

I talk to exhibitors all the time who are terribly nervous to show their dogs. I always try to cheer them up by telling them funny stories of things that have happened to me over the years. If laughter is the best medicine, laughing at yourself is a silver bullet.

One of my all-time favorite stories happened when I’d just moved from Washington to Nebraska. (No, that’s not the funny story.) I traveled up to Minnesota for shows a month or so later. I didn’t have any clients yet and was just showing my own GWP bitch special. I didn’t know any of the local folks and only a very few of the handlers.

We line up for the group ring, judged by Dana Cline, with Smoke and I in the lead. I take off, long strides, dog floating, hoping to make that all-important great first impression. About midway around the ring my shoe flies off my foot and lands in the center of the ring.

What can you do but keep running?

So, I go all the way around, one shoe on, one shoe off. Stack my dog and then wait for all the dogs to trail in behind me so I can go find my shoe. Carlos Puig, God love that man, comes in last with the Clumber. He spots my shoe, runs to the center of the ring, picks it up and waves it over his head yelling, “Cinderella? Cinderella!”

As the audience roars, I run out, curtsey, grab the shoe and run back to stack my dog for the exam.

We didn’t get a ribbon that day, but I’ve never forgotten it and still laugh every time I think about it.

And yes, I threw that pair of shoes away!

Another favorite moment, happened at a tiny, out of the way show in far eastern Illinois. (Why, you ask, are all of these stories from the Midwest? Hmm, good question!)

I was showing a top-winning Pug named Louis. I’d won a nice breed and a pretty good group. I traveled by myself at the time and had no assistant and, again, nobody I really knew that well was at the show. We step in to the ring to go around last in the Best in Show lineup under inimitable Sandra Goose Allen. I give Louis a little tug on the leash as his signal to get ready to go. And the stitching on the Resco unravels like it was planned that way.

Oh, good grief.

Fortunately, he was a great little dog and waited while I hastily improvised a way to get around the ring still connected to one another. So, of course, did the judge and the entire audience. Not your best first impression in the BIS ring! I was grateful to have a few minutes before his turn on the table, but a small show, light crowd and no real support system meant a panic-stricken moment trying to find someone, anyone to send scrambling to my tack box in a whole ‘nother building, find a new leash and bring it to me. Thank God for the kindness of strangers! Some blessed soul managed to find my set up and get back in time…. With the Clumber special’s leash and collar. Yes, it was too big, but better than the broken shoe string I had as an option.

I threw away the leash, too.

GWP National in Oregon. The owners of my open dog had taken him out for a run before the show to tune him up for the field trial that started the next day. It’s coming time to show the dog and they are nowhere to be seen. Literally minutes before his class is called, they arrive, breathless. With a lame dog. Seems he cut a pad running on the rocks near the show site. A common occurrence in bird dogs, but really bad timing for a show dog. Mom was there and happened to have super glue in her purse. I’m holding the leash, the ring steward is calling his number and my assistant is on hands and knees blowing frantically on the dog’s foot, hoping the super glue will dry and the dog won’t be stuck to the floor. Wink went Winners Dog that day with a superglued pad and a huge sigh of relief that he wasn’t permanently attached to the show ring mats.

Super glue. Who knew? Never leave home without it.

Showing the BIS Clumber, back in the day. He’d won a very competitive Breed at the Portland shows the first year Animal Planet was filming for TV. (OK, I guess not ALL of the bad stuff happened in the Midwest…) I’d been running around showing other dogs and came back to the setup to get him ready for the group which started in an hour. I could smell the disaster before I even opened the crate. Somehow, no one had noticed he’d gotten ahold of a piece of liver somewhere (to which he had a famously violent reaction). We can laugh about it now, but I’m still not sure, to this day, how we got him bathed and dry and tummy settled and in the ring on time. I kept having nightmare visions of a bad-potty-on-national-TV moment. He won a gorgeous Group 2 under Howard Yost that night, but in my mind’s eye, my strongest memory is the refrain that ran through my head the whole 30 minutes, “Charlie, PLEASE don’t have an accident on the pretty carpet!”

Poopy, sometimes quite literally, happens. You deal with it and move on.

There are so many more stories, mine and others. The point being, relax! It’s not world peace. It’s a dog show.

199 – New Resource Launched for Dog Community | Pure Dog Talk

New Resource Launched for Worldwide Dog Community

Cheryl Krajcar with one of her handling clients.

Third generation dog breeder Cheryl Krajcar has created a fascinating new community on the information super highway, just for dog people. Her fledgling start-up has “great bones” and tremendous potential for dog people everywhere.

On the chain gang

“I remember, as a little girl, being drug to FT, winding up on the “chain gang” (stake outs for field trial dogs) after getting in trouble for turning dogs loose,” Krajcar said with a laugh. “I decided I wanted nothing to do with that and went to dog shows with my aunt.”

After years handling dogs for others, living with a rough Collie, Flat Coated Retrievers and more, Krajcar found herself full-circle, back at horseback field trials. Today she is a licensed field trial judge, owns Shelties and is using her computer programming skills to create this in-depth resource,

Cheryl Krajcar running her Brittany in a pointing dog field trial.

“It’s time to bring people together as a community,” Krajcar said. “I love what the kennel clubs around the world do… AKC, CKC, FCI, The Kennel Club. They all have tremendous resources. But there is no place where the entire sport can come, get together, and be involved. This website allows the worldwide community of dog people to come together to support the efforts of their kennel clubs.”

Avoid the drama

There are plenty of groups on social media, Krajcar noted, but they don’t meet the needs of the fanciers because there is too much unpleasantness. And not everyone is on Facebook.

“The cattiness is out there. Let’s make it friendly, let’s build the community that people want to be a part of,” Krajcar said. “There’s something for everyone.”

“I really want to focus on the owners,” Krajcar said. “There are no good dogs without good owners. Owners are the ones breaking their backs, putting dogs out in the community. They are the ones supporting the events.”

Fully translatable chat rooms for worldwide conversation on allows people around the world to visit, find mentors, find dogs or reach out to rescue and more.

People buy the dogs they can find

“We have all these doodles, mixes, being advertised in the newspaper and on Craigslist,” Krajcar said. “That’s the only thing people can find when they’re looking for a dog. What are they going to buy? They’re gonna buy what’s available.”

The site also includes an emphasis on juniors and mentors.

“Juniors are the backbone of the sport. They are the next generation,” Krajcar said. “I made my own way, but I had a lot of people that came along to support me. Participating in juniors gives kids such advantage in the world.”

Advertising opportunities on the site for breeders, show dogs, artists and more are priced to keep them at a realistic price point.

“It’s not about money,” Krajcar noted. “It’s about what I want to do for the sport, which is bring everybody back together. Social media is tearing us apart. I want to provide a resource for everyone.”

Stick around to listen to Allison Foley’s Tip of the Week from the Leading Edge Dog Show Academy. Allison gives us a run down on Dry Shampoo and its many uses prepping for the show ring.

198 – Vet Voice: Dog Days of Summer Precautions | Pure Dog Talk

Dog Days of Summer Precautions

Dr. Marty Greer, DVM takes us through a few summer dangers, how to avoid them and some excellent tricks to solve some of them. Listen to find out why canned spinach and Dawn dish soap are on her “must have” list.

Hot cars

Hot cars kill dogs every year. Don’t be a statistic!

“Nobody leaves a dog in the car on purpose,” Greer said. “They get distracted and lose track of time.” She recommends keeping a leash draped around your neck as a simple reminder. And to never trust the AC in a running car.

Leave a note on the car’s dash with your cel phone number in those instances when you need to make a quick dash inside a store, Greer suggested, so people won’t try to ‘rescue’ a dog that doesn’t need it or in case of actual emergency.

Blue-green algae

These toxic algae blooms in still water are not common, Greer said, but they are dangerous. She recommends keeping Dawn dish soap on hand to wash a dog that has been in questionable water. And not allowing dogs to drink water that is not free running and clear

Canned spinach??

Canned spinach wraps around sharp objects to help them pass through the dog’s system safely.

Greer said this easy, cheap household staple can be fed to dogs who have consumed small, sharp objects that could cause gastrointestinal distress like sharp bones from a barbecue.

“The spinach wraps itself around the item and allows the dogs to safely pass small sharp items,” Greer said. “Every year we have dogs that don’t have to go to surgery thanks to this — diamond rings, you name it.”

Cookouts and holiday festivities are always of concern with our dogs. She noted that corn cobs are a particularly common source of bowel obstruction.


These nasty weed seeds are deadly dangerous to our dogs. They can penetrate skin and migrate anywhere. Commonly they become imbedded between a dog’s pads. In the best case scenario, the seeds simply abscess and make a lame dog. Seeds can get in the dog’s ear, working their way down to puncture the ear drum and cause painful ear infections. Worst case, Greer noted, is when foxtails travel to the lungs from the nose, or even feet, and cause a pneumothorax. Saving the dog’s life then requires dangerous and extremely costly surgery.

Fox tails and other grass awns can be deadly for our dogs.

Greer recommends prevention by checking your dog after every outing in the field and learning to recognize the dangerous plants by visiting, a website created by a client of hers in Wisconsin.


“These are nasty creatures we want to avoid,” Greer said. “Changes in climate have impacted the spread of ticks.”

An ounce of prevention, again, is worth a pound cure. Greer suggests that dogs be on flea/tick preventative year-round and that the current products are safe and effective. She is happy to provide current information about products that are safe to use with dogs in a breeding program. Visit for more information.

Ticks are vectors for zoonotic diseases including Lyme’s, anaplasmosis, Ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and potentially dozens more that as yet are unidentified, Greer noted.

“There are new diseases, even new ticks,” Greer said. “It’s startling how many tick borne diseases out there.” She recommends visiting for more information

Canine flu

Greer’s advice: “Vaccinate. Any dogs in competitive venues or that even leave their houses should be vaccinated. There is no natural immunity in the population because these are new viruses.”


Talk to your vet about anti-anxiety meds, Greer said. Acepromazine and Benadryl are not anti-anxiety drugs, they just make the dog unable to show you how scared they are, she added.

197 – Local Legislative Liaison Defends Our Rights | Pure Dog Talk

New Legislative Advocate in Our Corner

Robert Miller and a WPG puppy named Hoss.

Robert Miller, AKC’s new legislative analyst and outreach coordinator, is a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breeder of merit and hunter. His background in legislative work and public information is being put to use on the west coast to provide proactive involvement with fanciers.

Legislation is constantly popping up that affects everyone’s ability to do what they want with their dogs, or even have the dog they want, Miller said.

Fight for your rights

“It’s important to recognize that you have to pay attention to that kind of stuff,” Miller warned. “There’s no one fell swoop that will take away all your dog rights. But you’re going to have a lot of little pieces, chips, death by a thousand cuts. Eventually you’ll say I want to get this kind of dog and you can’t because there is breed specific legislation, which is basically animal profiling. There’s a lot of laws that come up, sometimes well-intentioned, that have unintended consequences.”

Miller’s role is to reach out to fanciers, to encourage them to pay attention and speak up.

“We depend on our dog people. They need to contact us when something pops up at the local level,” Miller said.

Miller encouraged folks to take a look at the Toolbox ( on the Government Relations website.

“Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone,” Miller advised. “If legislators know it’s coming from constituents, they pay attention, they listen. Local people carry more weight with legislators than AKC. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can help you develop things that are germane to your specific district.”

It comes down to someone trying to tell you what you can and can’t do with your animals, Miller noted.

“Having animals and using them is a basic human right. People have had dogs for thousands of years. There is this recent sentiment that that is abusive. We believe you should be able to have the dog you want,” Miller said.

Get ahead of the curve

AKC is taking a more proactive approach with this new position.

“Being able to respond quickly is advantageous for all dog owners. I’m visiting local kennel clubs. I’ll do whatever it takes to solve the problem or provide education,” Miller offered. “Make friends with local legislators. They’re people just like you and I. Drop by the office. Get to know who they are. The squeaky wheel really does get listened to. Be civil and get to the point.”

The average legislator is probably not an expert on dogs, Miller observed. “If you are involved with dogs, you know a lot. They (elected officials) like it when someone can share their expertise.”

The people who would like to take our rights away are very active, Miller reiterated. “We need to pull a page out of their playbook. Get proactive. Do things. Run for an office, if that’s something you think you want to do.”

And don’t miss Allison Foley’s Tip of the Week from the Leading Edge Dog Show Academy. Potato starch? Who knew….

Be sure to support our newest advertiser,


196 – “Bracing” Talk: Pedigrees, Critiques and Skill | Pure Dog Talk

Andrew Brace on Pedigrees, Critiques and Skillful Handlers

In the third and final installment of my interview with international dogman Andrew Brace, he shared his knowledge on reading pedigrees, writing judge’s critiques and the definition of expert presentation in a wide-ranging and brutally honest discussion.

Our conversation also touched on the influence of animal rights extremism on the UK’s “high profile breeds” vet checks. Brace additionally noted the correlation between health issues in our breeds and the increasing tendency for breeders to “take Mother Nature’s job from her.”

Andrew Brace last showed a dog at Crufts 2000 when he retired having handled his BIS winning Beagle, UK Ch Dialynne Tolliver of Tragband.

Breed the best to the best to get the best

“Dedicated breeders are constantly aiming to improve their stock,” Brace said. “Those breeders who think breeding a winner is simply a matter of mating a winning bitch to a winning dog fail to realize the value and implications of the pedigree and do not understand what a valuable breeding tool this is.

“You need to be able to read a pedigree. This is where the truly great breeders score. The pedigree supplies valuable information –  provided the reader has researched the dogs who appear in it. (Master) breeders study a pedigree of at least five generations. If they don’t know all the dogs in it personally, they’ll research them by seeking out photographs or simply asking older breeders who are still around exactly where these dogs scored and failed.

“In this way they build up a comprehensive picture of their dog’s ancestry. They will, over a period of time, be able to assess what faults and virtues lie behind their breeding stock. And, perhaps more importantly, establish which dogs were responsible for producing them,” Brace said.

“Correct is not produced by mating two extremes,” Brace added. “A potential parent who lacks in one area should be mated to a dog that excels in that failing. A dog that’s slightly straight behind will not produce perfect rear angulation by mating it to a dog that is hopelessly over angulated. Its chosen mate should have correct angulation.”

“Winning” dog is not always the same as “best” dog

“We have focused on show dogs,” Brace said. “In many breeds, this has meant that dogs that are perhaps a little exaggerated in one way or another have taken the eye of the judge over the dogs who are maybe more correctly balanced or constructed because they have a little sense of drama about them.

“It is our responsibility as judges to reward the correct dog over those dogs that have probably won a ton of best in shows by virtue of the fact that they fly around the ring with their long necks, gay tails and dripping in hair.”

Useful written critiques

“When writing critiques, I think it’s essential to detail the dog’s outstanding virtues but also mention any obvious shortcomings, which can always be done tactfully,” Brace said. “For example, ‘Head like a bucket’ and ‘prefer a cleaner backskull’ – they mean the same thing, but one is more palatable. It isn’t necessary to describe the dog from head to tail but, concentrate major pluses and minuses.”

Listen to renowned judge Ginny Lyne on this topic.

Merge into the background

Andrew Brace judging the American Pointer Club 2007 National Specialty. BOB Ch Cookieland Seasyde Hollyberry, handled by Michael Scott.

“It is little wonder that some of your most successful handlers go on to become outstanding judges,” Brace noted. “The thought process is exactly the same. Handling is the art of emphasizing a dog’s virtues whilst disguising its faults. Judging is all about recognizing the virtues yet getting the faults into perspective.

“Some countries, unfortunately, have produced some so-called professional handlers who have clearly watched a lot of American videos, bought some flashy jackets and race around the ring with dogs of indeterminate quality. They often carry too many dogs to do justice to and its obvious they aren’t kept in the best of conditions. These are the guys that are just doing it to make a buck. They aren’t handlers as I understand the word.

“The best handlers are those who are so skillfully unobtrusive that they just seem to merge into the background. These experts have the ability to project the dog to the judge at first sight,” Brace added.

SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE ALERT: Speak Up in Dallas, TX | Pure Dog Talk


Wednesday, 6/27 at 9 a.m., the Dallas City Council will consider a proposal that ALL dogs impounded in the city be altered before being returned to the owner. The current law has exceptions for show and performance dogs. This proposal is seeking to do away with that exception.

Show Up and Speak Up in Dallas, TX

Sheila Goffe AKC“With the recent incident of a stolen van with show dogs, imagine if those dogs were required to be sterilized before being returned to owners,” said Sheila Goffe, AKC Vice President of Government Relations. “These dogs are the future of our blood lines, the future of our breeds. These are not the dogs that are creating what are legitimate problems in the city.”

AKC Government relations has detailed information available here with location, contact names, numbers and emails, talking points and more.

Goffe noted that responsible dog owners want to be part of the community to help the city with the dog issues it has. “Responsible dog owners aren’t the problem. Going after them isn’t the solution. This is a solution in search of a problem.”

Tips and recommendations from Goffe, most of which are applicable in any similar legislative circumstance:

  • You are a resident or you travel through Dallas. You are very concerned about the potential of a dog becoming loose by accident or mishap that you will not be able to have returned intact.
  • In 2017, 1100 AKC events were held in the state of Texas.
  • 150,000 dogs participated in AKC events in Texas just last year.
  • Large dog show weekends bring $1.7 million to community.
  • People who have breeding licenses, showing dogs aren’t the problem.
  • Spaying/neutering a dog owned by another person can be considered taking property. These dogs are valuable property, we appreciate them being treated as such.
  • One size doesn’t fit all.
  • First offense. Not an appropriate response.
  • Boston and Houston have both considered and decided against this type of proposal.
  • Physical bodies are what count. Call instead of email.
  • Show up! It makes more of an impact. They need to see, visually, that there are a lot of people out there who care. In an election year, especially, that drives home the point.
  • Stand or sit together. Wear clothing or color that makes identifiable as a group. Sign in on a topic. Make it known why you are there.
  • Speaking on behalf of xyz kennel club and the x number of members.
  • Several bullet points, each person focus on one point – 1-3 minutes to speak. Share a story about how this can impact you personally.
  • Be respectful.
  • Show reasoned argument why proposal isn’t good for the community.
  • Suggest alternative. “We’d like to help you, we have services to offer, invite to dog show. Develop a relationship. We’re the dog experts.”

“Our opponents always have representation at these meetings. It is crucial for us to show up and show the strength of our convictions,” Goffe said. “Many people who are involved in shelters and rescue, their hearts are in a good place. They are under-resourced, understaffed and frustrated. We support the good work of shelters. We just want to explain the difference, the nuance between responsible owners and irresponsible ones.”

195 – “Brace Yourself” for a Peek at the Masters | Pure Dog Talk


Behind the Scenes Peek at the Masters

Brace (center) moderating a panel with Michael Canalizo, Mary Dukes, Peter Green and a young handler from Europe.

In the second installment of my interview with international dogman Andrew Brace, he shares his personal memories of masters in the sport. His observations and interactions with Anne Rogers Clark, Pat Trotter, Jason Lynn, Frank Sabella, Michael Canalizo, Mary Dukes and more are legend unto themselves.

Brace wrote for top dog magazines from an early age. He had a weekly column in the UK’s Dog World for more than 30 years and later a column in DogNews. He was co-author with Clark of the International Encyclopedia of Dogs, authored several books on his own, hosted television programs and has interviewed world-renowned legends in the sport.


Anne Rogers Clark with one of her many, many “finds”…. 6 month old Cruiser, who would become BIS/BISS DC/AFC JetSet’s RagTop Day at Scotia, JH, CD… handled by Laura Reeves. Bred by Jane (Reeves) Bonaccorso. Owned by Tom & Jodi Quesnell.

Memories of legends

He offers a particularly intimate portrait of his work with Mrs. Clark, interviewing her and writing the Enclyopedia.

“She was extremely frank about all her doubts and fears,” Brace said. “She explained that it was her husband Jim who really created the image everyone got to see. Jim built her up to be a much more self-confident woman who stood tall and proud and eventually got to the stage that everyone wanted to be Annie’s gang. Annie was without doubt the most complex person I’ve ever met. A total one-off.”

In his many media gigs, Brace interviewed top members of the sport, including Mrs. Trotter.

“Pat is such a charismatic lady with infinite knowledge,” Brace said. “One of those people who can just articulate her thoughts so perfectly. Pearls of wisdom just drop from her lips one after the other.”

Brace leading the Master Class with Jason Lynn and Frank Sabella

He also moderated a series of Master Classes, including one with Mr. Lynn and Mr. Sabella.

“Jason was always kind of the quiet guy in the background,” Brace noted. “I was totally amazed. People were just spellbound.”

“When I was a teenager, my friends had posters of pop stars or footballers on their bedroom walls,” Brace recalled. “I, of course, had the famous photo of Frank (Sabella) in a tight white vest on Malibu Beach with Command Performance the white standard poodle in midair. At that time, little did I think I would ever meet this legend, much less become one of his closest friends.”

Brace with his early idol and later friend, Frank Sabella.

Currently on a hiatus from judging while taking care of his aging mother, Brace said he misses the chance to “find” a great dog, often as a youngster. He partially makes up for it with the occasional litter evaluation.

“I just adore looking at puppies. I like to see them at 8 weeks as they tend to be in proportion. I want to see them just stroll around yard. In this way, you can see overall shape, how the puppy carries itself, where it puts its feet down. You can see how it interacts with its littermates. So really those qualities we look for in a show dog are there from the start. Every once a while you see something strutting around the yard that just has that extra something, you think yeah…. And then you watch it blossom. That is the future.”

Join us Thursday for our final installment in this wonderful series. I’ve included links to a few of Brace’s books below. You can also check out the YouTube video teaser for the DVD of the Master Class series with Jason Lynn and Frank Sabella. And don’t forget to listen to my interview with Jason here on PureDogTalk if you haven’t already!

Be sure to listen to the end of the show for Allison Foley’s Tip of the Week from the Leading Edge Dog Show Academy about “making your own brand with your trimming.”,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

Andrew Brace Part 1…

194 — Andrew Brace “Totally Obsessed with Dogs” | Pure Dog Talk

“Totally Obsessed with Dogs” and Finding Quality

Born to a long tradition of dogmen from Wales, Andrew Brace acquired his first Boxer in 1963 and began judging in the UK while still a young man. A strong voice in the international purebred dog community today, Brace is a long-time breeder, Best in Show judge and author.

Andrew Brace about to judge the European Semi-Final of the Eukanuba World Challenge at the Split Summer Night Shows in Croatia

“I was totally obsessed with dogs ever since I can remember,” Brace said.

As a child he was immersed in the purebred dog scene, stewarding, traveling, reading dog books and joining dog clubs. One of his favorite early memories, after learning his beloved Bruce the Boxer was monorchid and couldn’t be shown, is being given the job of “Honorary Veterinary Steward” — holding the towel for the veterinarian who was checking dogs in for the ring.

Match shows create community

The UK today, Brace said, has 27 all-breeds championship shows, with only five have championship points available for every recognized breed. Many more matches and open shows, where championship points are not awarded, are available. Brace noted that these shows offer a “social exercise” for the exhibitors where they can enjoy a day out and meet up with their friends.

Mentors offer a step up

Andrew Brace with his “idol and mentor”,
Nigel Aubrey Jones, pictured at the dinner
that followed one the Kennel Review
Tournaments of Champions, held at the
Pontchartrain Hotel in Detroit.

“If people are honest,” Brace said, “they all will admit they had help, from their elders and betters. People who gave them a step up. I’m very conscious to try and help young people I see who have a spart, as other people helped me.”

Brace counts fellow Welshman and famed Pekingese breeder Nigel Aubrey Jones as the guiding influence in his life.

“Nigel was a genius. He was my idol and my mentor,” Brace said. “I learned so much from him. He was my biggest critic and greatest supporter. He and Bill Taylor were remarkable gentlemen. Their quest for perfection in breeding Pekingese changed the breed worldwide. To be honest there isn’t a day goes by I don’t miss Nigel.”

An eye for a dog

Andrew Brace judging Best in Breeders Sweepstakes at Santa Barbara Kennel Club.

Things were not very scientific in becoming a judge, Brace noted. “It was very much about being identified as having an eye for a dog and then refining it through careful study and experience,” Brace said.

The UK had many large kennels in those days, Brace added. “I would ask breeders if I could visit to learn about breed. People were always welcoming and keen to share their knowledge, being ruthlessly honest about (the dogs’) faults and virtues.”

“Quality is the difference between pottery and porcelain”

“Nigel drummed in to me the need to have quality in the dogs we reward,” Brace said. “You won’t find the word quality in any breed standard, but it is the one vital ingredient that we all need in our top winning dogs.”

Brace’s judging advice:

  • Always look at the overall picture when assessing a dog, rather than dissecting and evaluating individual details.
  • The secret is to find virtues.
  • Always stand back from a lineup of dogs and study silhouettes.

Join us next week when Mr. Brace shares his knowledge on successful dog breeding.