Hounds on the American Frontier with Custer
Author Brian Duggan’s journey to the publication of General Custer, Libbie Custer and Their Dogs: A Passion for Hounds, from the Civil War to Little Bighorn was launched by Hickory the Scottish Deerhound’s Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Club.
Editor Denise Flaim asked Duggan for an article about Custer’s Deerhounds for Sighthound Review as perspective on the breed’s history. As he wrote the magazine article, Duggan became aware of a vast trove of unwritten history on the topic of Custer’s passion for hounds.
Duggan’s meticulously researched historical biography examines the lives of General George Armstrong Custer and his wife, Libbie Custer, as wholehearted dog lovers. At the time of Custer’s death at Little Bighorn, they owned a rollicking pack of forty hunting dogs, including Scottish Deerhounds, Russian Wolfhounds, Greyhounds and Foxhounds.
Rich detail for dog lovers includes the Custers’ first dogs during the Civil
War and in Texas; hunting on the Kansas and Dakota frontiers; entertaining tourist buffalo hunters, including a Russian Archduke, English aristocrats and P. T. Barnum; Custer’s attack on the Washita village; and the 7th Cavalry’s march to Little Bighorn with an analysis of rumors about a Last Stand dog. Custer’s pack was re-homed after his death in the first national dog rescue effort. An appendix discusses depictions of the Custers’ dogs in art, literature and film.
Duggan is a Saluki fancier with a lifetime involvement with purebred dogs and hounds specifically. His previous book SALUKI: The Desert Hound and the English Travelers Who Brought It to the West was the winner of the Dog Writers Association of America award for Best Breed Book in 2009. Saluki tells the story of the English soldiers, travelers, and explorers who brought the elite hound of the Bedouin from the Middle East to England in the first half of the 20th century.
A prolific author of short stories and scholarly articles, Duggan’s collection is Fireside Dog Tales. He shares fun accounts from the San Francisco Opera to the Gulf War, and from ancient Persia to modern dog shows (with bored husbands).
Tibetan Spaniels: From Monastery Walls to the Back of the Sofa
Host Laura Reeves caught up with three longtime breeders of Tibetan Spaniels, Kay Dickeson, Mallory Driskill and Carol Tyte, at the 2019 National Specialty in Albany, Ore.
Tibbies, as their owners call them, are a small, low-maintenance, long-lived, affectionate but independent breed. The breed’s history takes shape from the mists of time. These were the alert watch dog that ran the along the thick walls of the monasteries in Tibet, alerting their much larger brethren, Tibetan Mastiffs, to any approaching danger.
Weighing in at 9 to 15 pounds, Tibbies require no trimming for the show ring, are easy to maintain with simple brushing and frequently live to 16 years of age.
The ancient breed is a big dog in a little dog body, Tyte noted. Their instincts still guide them to “be up high and watch things” Dickeson said.
“They will get on the back of the sofa to look out the window,” Driskill noted, adding that “off the furniture” isn’t really a concept Tibbies honor.
The first Tibetan Spaniels were imported to the U.S. from England in early 1970s. The breed was introduced to England in the early 1900s, Driskill said. Marlin Perkins, host of the Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom television show, imported Tibetan spaniels. Tyte, who owns descendants of these dogs, noted that in the second and third generation pedigrees of those imports, the dogs names were listed as “unknown.”
Believed to predate Pekingese and Lhasa Apso, our panelists recommend Tibbies as a welcoming and engaging breed for owner handlers.
Moderation in all things is the goal for the Tibetan Spaniel in the show ring. Driskill noted the breed is not extreme in any area – coat, head or bone. The characteristic hare foot is important for the “wash and wear” dogs.
Aloof with strangers but not aggressive, Tibbies are generally not good off-leash and have a mind of their own, the panelists agreed.
“You can do obedience,” Driskill said, “but be prepared to cry.”
Tyte observed that the dogs have long and accurate memories.
“They’re like small children,” Tyte said. “You can’t let them get away with anything even once.”
AKC Vet at the Junction of Tradition and the New Millennium
Jerry Klein, AKC’s Chief Veterinary Officer, is at the junction of tradition and the new millennium. AKC created the position in 2015 to serve as a focal point for outreach to fanciers, veterinarians and the general public. Klein shares his history and journey in purebred dogs.
Klein started as a kid in the ‘50s with a “pet store” Wire Fox Terrier that he showed at his local show three years running in the Novice class. “I learned a lot,” Klein said. After observing poor sportsmanship at the show, he noted that “Learning how not to be was as important as learning how to show the dog.”
Exhibitor, owner, breeder, judge and veterinarian, Klein brings well-rounded experience to his role. He works with Diane Brown at the Canine Health Foundation and with Mari-Beth O’Neil in her veterinary outreach work, as well as recording “Ask the Expert” episodes for AKC TV.
AKC is an organization steeped in tradition, Klein said, that is working hard to bring its message into the new millennium.
“The best times are not behind us, but hopefully ahead of us,” Klein said. “We need to think of the future with a positive attitude.”
One area that Klein emphasizes is the inclusive nature of the purebred dog community.
“I always felt welcome in the dog world,” Klein said. “It’s so inclusive. I knew I was gay from a very early age. I saw dog shows as my way out. We are judged by what we bring to the table. If we breed quality dogs, we’ll be respected.”
Klein also noted that veterinary medicine has changed a lot in recent years.
“They can do more, but it is more expensive,” Klein said. This leads Klein to advocate strongly for pet insurance. As veterinary medicine parallels the quality of human medicine, we can’t “be stuck with our heads in the ’50s,” he noted.
Type vs Style in the Saint Bernard: Breeders’ Discussion Panel
Host Laura Reeves moderated a Breeders’ Discussion Panel at the 2018 Saint Bernard Club of America National Specialty. Three long-time breeders talk type versus style in this fascinating conversation.
Type defines a breed. Style informs the breeders’ understanding of the standard. A conversation with successful breeders provides information that’s applicable across all breeds.
From descriptions of developing a breeding program that establishes a recognizable style, to addressing specific pieces of the standard, this wide-ranging conversation is inspiring, enlightening and entertaining.
Interpreting the standard from three different perspectives provides unending opportunities for learning. For example, the Saint Bernard standard has no description of correct movement or gait. By understanding the breed history, these breeders apply function to form to answer the question.
Listen to the Pure Dog Talk interview with breeder judge Joan Zelinski for more in-depth conversation about the breed.
The breed standard is included below for listeners to follow along.
Official Standard of the Saint Bernard
General Appearance: Powerful, proportionately tall figure, strong and muscular in every part, with powerful head and most intelligent expression. In dogs with a dark mask the expression appears more stern, but never ill-natured.
Head: Like the whole body, very powerful and imposing. The massive skull is wide, slightly arched and the sides slope in a gentle curve into the very strongly developed, high cheek bones. Occiput only moderately developed. The supra-orbital ridge is very strongly developed and forms nearly a right angle with the long axis of the head. Deeply imbedded between the eyes and starting at the root of the muzzle, a furrow runs over the whole skull. It is strongly marked in the first half, gradually disappearing toward the base of the occiput. The lines at the sides of the head diverge considerably from the outer corner of the eyes toward the back of the head. The skin of the forehead, above the eyes, forms rather noticeable wrinkles, more or less pronounced, which converge toward the furrow. Especially when the dog is alert or at attention the wrinkles are more visible without in the least giving the impression of morosity. Too strongly developed wrinkles are not desired. The slope from the skull to the muzzle is sudden and rather steep. The muzzle is short, does not taper, and the vertical depth at the root of the muzzle must be greater than the length of the muzzle. The bridge of the muzzle is not arched, but straight; in some dogs, occasionally, slightly broken. A rather wide, well-marked, shallow furrow runs from the root of the muzzle over the entire bridge of the muzzle to the nose. The flews of the upper jaw are strongly developed, not sharply cut, but turning in a beautiful curve into the lower edge, and slightly overhanging. The flews of the lower jaw must not be deeply pendant. The teeth should be sound and strong and should meet in either a scissors or an even bite; the scissors bite being preferable. The undershot bite, although sometimes found with good specimens, is not desirable. The overshot bite is a fault. A black roof to the mouth is desirable. Nose (Schwamm) – Very substantial, broad, with wide open nostrils, and, like the lips, always black.
Ears – Of medium size, rather high set, with very strongly developed burr (Muschel) at the base. They stand slightly away from the head at the base, then drop with a sharp bend to the side and cling to the head without a turn. The flap is tender and forms a rounded triangle, slightly elongated toward the point, the front edge lying firmly to the head, whereas the back edge may stand somewhat away from the head, especially when the dog is at attention. Lightly set ears, which at the base immediately cling to the head, give it an oval and too little marked exterior, whereas a strongly developed base gives the skull a squarer, broader and much more expressive appearance.
Eyes – Set more to the front than the sides, are of medium size, dark brown, with intelligent, friendly expression, set moderately deep. The lower eyelids, as a rule, do not close completely and, if that is the case, form an angular wrinkle toward the inner corner of the eye. Eyelids which are too deeply pendant and show conspicuously the lachrymal glands, or a very red, thick haw, and eyes that are too light, are objectionable.
Neck: Set high, very strong and when alert or at attention is carried erect. Otherwise horizontally or slightly downward. The junction of head and neck is distinctly marked by an indentation. The nape of the neck is very muscular and rounded at the sides which makes the neck appear rather short. The dewlap of throat and neck is well pronounced: too strong development, however, is not desirable.
Shoulders: Sloping and broad, very muscular and powerful. The withers are strongly pronounced.
Chest: Very well arched, moderately deep, not reaching below the elbows.
Back: Very broad, perfectly straight as far as the haunches, from there gently sloping to the rump, and merging imperceptibly into the root of the tail.
Hindquarters: Well-developed. Legs very muscular.
Belly: Distinctly set off from the very powerful loin section, only little drawn up.
Tail: Starting broad and powerful directly from the rump is long, very heavy, ending in a powerful tip. In repose it hangs straight down, turning gently upward in the lower third only, which is not considered a fault. In a great many specimens the tail is carried with the end slightly bent and therefore hangs down in the shape of an “f”. In action all dogs carry the tail more or less turned upward. However it may not be carried too erect or by any means rolled over the back. A slight curling of the tip is sooner admissible.
Upper Arms: Very powerful and extraordinarily muscular.
Lower Leg: Straight, strong.
Hind legs: Hocks of moderate angulation. Dewclaws are not desired; if present, they must not obstruct gait.
Feet: Broad, with strong toes, moderately closed, and with rather high knuckles. The so-called dewclaws which sometimes occur on the inside of the hind legs are imperfectly developed toes. They are of no use to the dog and are not taken into consideration in judging. They may be removed by surgery.
Coat: Very dense, short-haired (stockhaarig), lying smooth, tough, without however feeling rough to the touch. The thighs are slightly bushy. The tail at the root has longer and denser hair which gradually becomes shorter toward the tip. The tail appears bushy, not forming a flag.
Color: White with red or red with white, the red in its various shades; brindle patches with white markings. The colors red and brown-yellow are of entirely equal value. Necessary markings are: white chest, feet and tip of tail, noseband, collar or spot on the nape; the latter and blaze are very desirable. Never of one color or without white. Faulty are all other colors, except the favorite dark shadings on the head (mask) and ears. One distinguishes between mantle dogs and splashcoated dogs.
Height at Shoulder: Of the dog should be 27½ inches minimum, of the bitch 25½ inches. Female animals are of finer and more delicate build.
Considered as Faults: Are all deviations from the Standard, as for instance a swayback and a disproportionately long back, hocks too much bent, straight hindquarters, upward growing hair in spaces between the toes, out at elbows, cowhocks and weak pasterns.
Longhaired: The longhaired type completely resembles the shorthaired type except for the coat which is not shorthaired (stockhaarig) but of medium length plain to slightly wavy, never rolled or curly and not shaggy either. Usually, on the back, especially from the region of the haunches to the rump, the hair is more wavy, a condition, by the way, that is slightly indicated in the shorthaired dogs. The tail is bushy with dense hair of moderate length. Rolled or curly hair, or a flag tail, is faulty. Face and ears are covered with short and soft hair; longer hair at the base of the ear is permissible. Forelegs only slightly feathered; thighs very bushy.
Veterinary Ethics and Building a Relationship with Your Vet
Dr. Marty Greer, DVM, JD, president of the Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics visits with Host Laura Reeves about how breeders and veterinarians can work together for a positive outcome.
“Vets are not held in as high esteem as they have been in the past,” Greer said. “And that’s concerning to me. As veterinarians, we touch so many people in a positive way. It’s truly a calling. It’s not just a job that you get in your car and drive there. It has to be a passion, people don’t get rich doing this.”
Too much Dr. Google
“Communication is a really important piece,” Greer said. “Many vets and staff are introverts by nature. Honest open frank communication is the best way to handle any situation.”
Greer recommends that if owners have a particular opinion on diet, vaccines, etc they need to interview vets to find someone they enjoy working with, even if it means driving further.
“Bring ideas but listen to what vet has to say,” Greer said. “Start a conversation that is a give and take.”
Greer noted that up to 30 percent of dogs going to an emergency clinic don’t have good outcomes. She adds that while a client may not have the relationship with the doctor at an emergency or specialty clinic, but these hospitals can do amazing things with new medical procedures.
“Develop a relationship with your vet, even the staff at a local emergency clinic, before you have a crisis,” Greer recommended.
Fear Free Medicine
Greer also suggested that clients check in to some of the methods to condition dogs to quietly accept treatment and handling for a better outcome in any situation, emergent or standard practice.
Telemedicine is a huge, up and coming service, Greer said. While it inherently has some draw backs, she noted that this is the next frontier of veterinary medicine.
“There are multiple services where vets can do real-time, long-distance consultation,” Greer said. “Seismic changes will be happening in the next couple years, with the AVMA releasing new policies recently.”
Other resources referenced in this podcast:
Debra Hamilton’s mediation services: https://puredogtalk.com/finding-common-ground-to-grow-the-purebred-dog-fancy-pure-dog-talk/
Dachshund Field Trials and Earthdog Tests Preserve Instinct
Dachshund breeder and field judge Jennifer Milosavljevic shares the excitement of Dachshund field trials and Earthdog tests.
The Dachshund is first and foremost a hunting breed. Hunters created the breed and by competing in Dachshund field trials, breeders and owners work to preserve the breed.
Dachshund field trials have the objective to “track the game,” meaning to follow a scent trail that a rabbit or hare has left behind. The goal is not to actually catch any prey and no animals are harmed in field trials.
“The gallery lines up and in a line walks forward beating the brush,” Milosavljevic said. “Once a hare is spotted you yell “Tally Ho.””
Dogs run in packs of two (called a “brace”) and are judged on their ability to search and explore; to pursue and keep control of a trail; the accuracy in trailing; obedience to commands; their “willingness to go to earth” (into a tunnel or underground); courage; and more.
“… aggression was utilized back in the day when the Dachshund was created to fight the badger and any other critters that burrowed underground in the farmers’ fields,” Milosavljevic said. “When you think about it, it takes a lot of courage to go down a tunnel or flush out game that may be larger than you. That type of aggression is no longer desired or needed in any ethical breeding program. However, the ability to hunt or find game is a sought-after trait in many breeding programs.”
“I have learned to identify early the dogs that I want in my breeding program,” Milosavljevic said. “Those that have the natural hunting ability. As a breeder and an exhibitor, I have found that keeping the form and function of the dog along with conformation is where I want to be. Conformationally, sound dogs are the building blocks of a breeding program, however, failing to breed in or keep natural instincts may be a disservice to the breed, no matter what breed.”
Jennifer Milosavljevic is an AKC Field Trial and Earthdog judge. She resides in Kalama, WA. She owned her first Dachshund at 11 years old. She breeds, owns and shows miniature smooth Dachshund and occasionally a standard or miniature longhair. She is a member of the Dachshund Club of America, the Cascade Dachshund club and the Dachshund Fanciers of Southwestern Washington.
John Reeve-Newson: Be Kind and Show Good Manners
John Reeve-Newson graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1964 and soon after that returned to Toronto to establish The Animal Clinics One and Two, where he is still in active practice. He was also the founder of the Veterinary Emergency and Referral Clinic Partnership of Toronto, the first veterinary emergency clinic established in Canada.
In 2006, Reeve-Newson founded the Companion Animal Wellness Foundation, a registered charity that provides funding assistance for the treatment of the critically ill or injured pets of those financially disadvantaged. In 2014, he was made a Companion of the Order of Caring Canadians by the Governor-General.
With Dr. Richard Meen, they established Kishniga Kennels in 1971. In 1977 Ch. Kishniga’s Desert Song, a Borzoi, bred by Reeve-Newson and Meen, and shown by Meen, was Canada’s top dog all breeds. The following year “Moustache,” as he was called, was exhibited in the USA and was number two hound in the USA. He is still the record holder for the breed with forty-seven all breed BIS in Canada and the USA to his credit. His brother “Dalgarth” was the youngest of his breed to win a BIS, which he did at nine months of age.
As a judge, Reeve-Newson remembers how he was treated as a newcomer and endeavors always to be polite and respectful of all exhibitors and dogs.
“Even if a dog isn’t good, (the dogs) don’t know it,” Reeve-Newson said. “They deserve as much of your attention as a great dog. They deserve to be treated with manners and politeness.”
Reeve-Newson will be judging at the World Dog Show in China next week. While the show venue has received criticism, Reeve-Newson believes in leading by example.
“You’re not going to change anything unless you go and show them a good example,” Reeve-Newson said. “Staying home yapping your mouth off isn’t going to do any good.
Karelian Bear Dogs Saving Lives in Washington
Nick Jorg is an officer in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife who works with Karelian Bear Dogs to manage bears and large predators in a non-lethal way.
The Wildlife Service Dog (WSD) Program was established to provide an additional non-lethal option for resolving conflicts between humans and potentially dangerous wildlife. WSDs and their handlers respond to such conflicts. They also educate and assist citizens to reduce future conflicts.
Five working Karelian Bear Dogs are helping investigate poaching cases, providing a deterrent to bears growing a little too comfortable with civilization, and even assisting police in a homicide investigation.
The Karelian bear dog has been bred and used for centuries by hunters and farmers in Finland and Russia, but today they fill a unique role with the department. Among their many jobs:
- Responding to complaints of problem bears and mountain lions throughout Washington.
- Assisting in “hard releases,” a non-lethal process designed to restore a bear’s natural fear of humans.
- Detecting and locating poached wildlife and other evidence.
- Visiting schools and public events around the state to help share WDFW’s mission.
“The Karelian Bear Dog Program is 100 percent supported by private donations. Because this is a budget-neutral program, no funds are paid from the WDFW agency budget. By donating today, you can help support the mission of these hardworking dogs.”
To make a donation, send a check or money order to:
WDFW – KBD Fund
16018 Mill Creek Boulevard
Mill Creek, WA 98012
For more information:
Richard Lopaschuk on Form and Function, Education and Judging
Richard Lopaschuk, an all-breeds judge from Canada, said his priority in the ring is form and function.
“All these breeds have a specific function,” Lopaschuk said. “If the form doesn’t match what they’re supposed to do, that’s how I assess what I have in the ring.”
Lopaschuk and his wife Nancy started in dogs 54 years ago with a German Shepherd Dog they showed in obedience. Like many other breeders, they competed in their first fun match, won a ribbon and were hooked for life. They bred GSD for 25 years, later moving in to Miniature Schnauzers, Cairn Terriers and most recently Papillons.
The Lopaschuk family stayed deeply involved in breeding, showing, judging, founding kennel clubs and competing in performance events with their dogs. Health testing, Lopaschuk said, was always a priority for their dogs in breeding programs. One of their first Papillons participated in initial testing to develop a marker for PRA in the breed.
Don’t be a drive-by dog enthusiast
“If you want to get in to show dog scene,” Lopaschuk said, “sit around the ring from 8 a.m. til best in show. Observe as many breeds as you possibly can. Watch the breed you like for several days. Get a perspective. Decide whether you’re going to be compatible with that breed.”
The difficulty with people today, Lopaschuk noted, is that when the breed is finished, they go home. They have no idea of perspective regarding other dogs in the ring.
“Novice handlers often have excellent dogs,” Lopaschuk said. “I don’t care how it’s handled. I sometimes see younger dogs that need to be trained. But I won’t *not* put up just because of the training, if the conformation is better.”
Education is the key
Lopaschuk said long time breeders and clubs need to educate anybody that’s interested in owning a dog, make sure they buy the right dog, and know what they have to do to develop a great pet.
Brian Cordova on Poodles, PCA and the Definition of “Poodly”
Miniature Poodle breeder Brian Cordova visits with host Laura Reeves about all things “poodly,” PCA (hint, Christmas in April!) and meeting “god.”
Poodle Club of America, currently hosted at Purina Farms in Missouri, in the early days was an outdoor event on the East Coast, for many years in Maryland. Cordova said the decorations at Purina Farms will make it seem like the dogs are being shown at a park, but with the convenience of being indoors.
Poodles, while attracting luminaries of purebred dogs, can be controversial, Cordova said, because of the trim. The continental clip, which served a function for the breed when retrieving waterfowl, is just window dressing he added.
“Ignore the trim and look at the legs and bones and what you’d judge on any other dog,” Cordova said. “The dog has to be sound. The rest of it is just fancy. When you say ‘poodly,’ people know what that means. It’s carriage and distinction.”
Cordova remembers his singular visit to the home of Anne Rogers Clark, while he was an apprentice for legendary handler Tim Brazier. The team was showing Clark’s Poodles at the time. There, on “god’s” refrigerator, was a picture of Cordova with Mrs. Clark’s dog.
“It was spine tingling,” Cordova said.
Much of the excitement in Poodles today surrounds the Standard variety, but Cordova said miniatures used to be the popular variety.
“There would be hundreds of (miniatures) entered everywhere,” Cordova said. “But PRA blindness decimated the variety. They really took a tough turn.” Fortunately, he said miniatures had largely separate gene pools for black/brown and white colors. Breeders were able to cross the color gene pools to help clear the problems and build back. When testing for PRA became available, Cordova said that made a huge difference for the variety.
Cordova shared PCA memories going back 30 years of dogs and people. He vividly describes a memory of standing on a field dripping in sweat, watching miniatures, while the judge ran two outstanding bitches of the day against each other.