Posts by Mary Albee

159 – Dana Cline: 2018 Judge of the Year|Pure Dog Talk


AKC judge and Great Dane breeder, Dana Cline, was voted by the purebred dog fancy as Judge of the Year in the Dog News/Purina awards announced Feb. 10, 2018.


Cline fell in love with his breed as a child “when the Great Dane was taller than I was.”

As a young boy, gardening and fishing were his past times and he wasn’t sure dogs were something he wanted in his life. Then his step dad took him to see a litter of Great Danes.

“These two incredible creatures came trotting out of this back yard,” Cline said. “My life changed in that moment.

“We brought home a puppy. It wasn’t necessarily a show dog but I pretended like he was. I did 4-H with him. We practiced and I got better dogs. I was probably 11 or 12 years old. I’ve loved them ever since.

“4-H was so important as a young boy. (It) gave me the confidence to think I could go out and do something with this dog.”

Cline credits Ray Cataldi of Rojon Great Danes with having the most influence on him as a boy. Edd Bivin, Michelle Billings and Frank Sabella form the powerful trifecta that encouraged, mentored and supported Cline’s dreams of “having fabulous Great Danes.”

His passion for the beauty of his breed and the purebred dog world drove him early on to success handling Great Danes and eventually all-breeds for about 20 years.

Ch. Rojon's Mystify Me

Ch. Rojon’s Mystify Me



Cline feels that one of the most important lessons from his mentors is that “type is essential.”

“(In Great Danes) a dog has to be beautiful. It has to stimulate your senses. Otherwise I don’t find value in them,” Cline opined. “I feel that the artistic expression and technical merit is where you begin to judge. A Great Dane, without a proper head, will never achieve greatness.

Movement is only a tie breaker. I absolutely want them to be beautiful in motion, but it doesn’t define them. The Great Dane must fill your senses and must stimulate you in its beauty. Its purpose is absolutely in its beauty. That’s just what I’m committed to.”

He also acknowledges that this same standard applies differently in different breeds.

“(For example) the Brittany is different. The standard describes a medium sized dog and fancy is not encouraged. Each breed needs to be judged on its standard,” Cline said.


Judging dogs, for Cline, extends this understanding of looking for the “hallmarks of the breed.”

Ch. Rojon's Rumor Has It

Ch. Rojon’s Rumor Has It

“A judge has to open themselves to accept the limitations and expectations of the breed specific things,” Cline said. “(I use examples of) the Doberman and Great Dane. (Some) judges have expectations of a Great Dane that aren’t realistic. They don’t always stop square and perfect. A Doberman is watchful and aware of its surroundings. You should expect that from them. (You have to be) willing to accept that performances are not all the same based upon the nature of the breed. I can’t expect a Tibetan Mastiff to stand there and use his ears for a piece of liver. It’s not what the breed does. You cannot add showmanship as bonus (to a dog in the ring) unless they have the other elements to go with it.

“I tolerate misbehavior. They’re dogs. If the dog gives an adequate performance for you to judge it, for me, it still can be the winner. One of the lesson Mrs. Billings always taught me was to ‘make the best dog win, within reason.’”


On the question of level playing fields and the OH vs PH debate, Cline is very emphatic.

“There’s a clear path for (owner handlers) to be successful,” Cline said. “You have to want it enough. Hang in there. Keep the bar high. I came up through the ranks, not a real wealthy young man who had to spend every dime he had to be successful. I’m one of those stories that those folks should look at and say he did it. It can be done. I’m living proof.

“You don’t achieve high levels of success in anything without determined effort. I truly believe that it’s possible for anybody. It may not happen as often for one as another. But that does not exclude a person that works really hard and does it right. Especially in our sport. Everything is possible.

“There aren’t many sports that allow a 12 year old child to compete directly with a 35 year old professional in the sport. That alone is an opportunity to hobnob with those people all day long. There’s not a better opportunity if you are willing to learn. There are always people to learn from. You have to be willing to take advantage of it. That doesn’t mean go home after you lose your class of two dogs. Politics plays a very small part.

Ch. Rojon's Oh Boy v MeccaDane

Ch. Rojon’s Oh Boy v MeccaDane

“I think the owner handler should reach for the top. Never think they can’t get there. Every person that walks in the door at 8 a.m. should be able to dream that they could be a Best In Show winner today. If anything interferes with that dream, there is something wrong with the dog show. My dream was always to go Best In Show, but I’m ok if I win my class.”

“The sport has certainly changed,” Cline noted. “There are those of us that lived in a time when the sport was greatness. Big kennels, big breeders, the opportunities were just endless. We have to try and share that with people. It’s not the same as living it, but something to bring forward.”

“It’s how important it is to you and much you’re willing to give, how much you’re willing to put into it. I can’t think of anything else that would drive anyone to do this crazy sport. Just a whole lot of passion.”

“That (passion) is what drove me from the very minute I stepped out of the car and saw those dogs (as a kid).”


Allison Foley of Leading Edge Academy is back with tips on what to watch for, and how to care properly for your dog’s feet in hot and cold conditions.


Allison Foley’s Leading Edge Dog Academy offers 25% off courses for Pure Dog Talk listeners.  Just use the code PureDogTalk25.Leadingedge Dog Show Academy

158 – Sioux Forsyth on Judging Dogs and Anne Rogers Clark|Pure Dog Talk


Sioux Forsyth, daughter of dog show royalty, handled dogs professionally herself and is now judging, following in the footsteps of her parents, Robert and Jane Forsyth. This is part two of our conversation with her.


“I started with six breeds,” Sioux said. “It’s not cheap to become a judge. My mother loved judging, she lived for it. Father said ‘you gotta be kidding me.’

“I wanted a little experience in different groups. To see if I like it. Turns out, I love judging. The people in my ring, they come in the ring, and we laugh at ourselves and each other. A lot of people take this or themselves entirely too seriously. It’s just a dog show. There’ll be another one tomorrow. If it’s not enjoyable and you’re not having fun, what’s the point? Take the dog seriously. Work your hardest, present the dogs at their best. But it’s not the end of the day if you lose. You’ll get somebody else’s opinion.”

While it took Sioux two and a half years to get a group, her memory is that her parents both acquired their all-breed status within about 10 years of their retirement. But it wasn’t without a small battle.

“We had a tiff with the AKC when (my parents) retired,” Sioux laughed. “(They) refused to move away from the kennel. The only dogs boarded there were pets, but AKC refused to give them a license for a year. Eventually, they each got a group. Mom got sporting, dad got working. Each got separate groups until they couldn’t anymore, then they started doubling up.”


Sioux’s best advice for folks who are just starting out in purebred dogs is to “talk to as many people in the breed you’re interested in as possible.”

“Do your homework,” Sioux noted. “Find out who’s been successful. Follow them. Talk to them, ask them questions. If you don’t understand something, ask it again. A lot of people that are in this for a year are suddenly experts. It really doesn’t work that way. To me, I always say, find somebody you admire that you want to resemble, to present yourself like, and watch them.

“I love to help new people. To mentor people. I was judging last year at a Boxer specialty and I asked a young lady to come talk to me because I wanted to know who was helping her, who had been guiding her. The young lady said no one. Two years this young lady had been showing her dog and no one tried to help her. I got ahold of a couple people and told them ‘I’m assigning you this young lady. She’s very interested and nobody is helping her.’ It is amazing she was still plugging away.”


Reflecting on the rising interest in performance events, Sioux noted that her mother, Jane, got started in dogs when she was 16 years old and took her Airedale to an obedience class. It was there Jane met her lifetime best friend, Anne Rogers Clark.

And who are the next Janey and Annie? Sioux observed that purebred dogs have some very talented women rising through the ranks.

“Katie Shepherd Bernardin, Angie Lloyd, Laura King, Laurie Jordan…. I don’t think it’s all about winning,” Sioux said. “It has a lot to do with the person you are. The way you help and teach and share your knowledge. If we don’t share our knowledge it’s going to be lost. I don’t understand not wanting to share knowledge. It helps everybody. It helps you to give it away. It helps others that look up to you.”

“One thing my father always taught me,” Sioux reminisced, “is that you’re no better than anyone else, you’re just you. You may be different, but you’re not any better.”


157 – Sioux Forsyth: On Legends Robert and Jane Forsyth|Pure Dog Talk


Sioux Forsyth is the modern day “keeper of the flame” in the memory of her parents, the late, great, Robert and Jane Forsyth. The only husband and wife team to this day to both win Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Club, the Forsyth’s were formidable handlers in the Golden Era of large kennels owned and operated by wealthy benefactors. In the 1980s, they both retired and turned to judging, eventually each acquiring the coveted “all-breed” status.

“I was lucky,” Sioux said. “The things I learned on a daily basis that I took for granted, I probably shouldn’t have. Because not everyone had those opportunities. I saw amazingly good dogs that people today never got to see. And I saw them on a daily basis.”


Her favorite, though, of all of those famous and fabulous dogs was a Whippet her father imported from England, Charmoll Clansman. A dog who hated the show ring, but sired the famous Ch. Sporting Field Clansman, who was a two-time group winner at the Garden.

“Leonard hated everyone in the kennel including my mother,” Sioux said. “He hated to show. He was one of the few who lived in the house. They gave him to me because I was the only one he liked. Mom forgot him in the house twice. It was that unusual to have a dog live in the house. They were kennel dogs. When they retired, they went home to be a pet. Until then they needed to know their job, and their job was to be show dog.”


Sioux related a story about her parents, who were assisted by George Alston at that time, and George Ward, the famous terrier man, taking a dog show trip to Texas “uninvited,” as they say. “They had 12 Best in Show dogs on the truck. They left after 10 shows with one group win,” Sioux marveled. “They laughed about it. But, really, today, how many handlers have 12 best in show dogs on the truck? Most of us are lucky to have one or even a group winner.”

“It was very different for me than for my parents (as a handler),” Sioux noted. “Part of that was personality. Part of that was also the era. When you hired my parents, you hired them because they were professionals and the best at what they did. When I started showing dogs, I would have people hire me and tell me where I needed to go show their dog. Trust me, no one ever told mother where to show their dog. Very few people told my mother anything, never mind how to do her job. To me it’s a lack of respect. That when you hire a professional that’s exactly what you’re doing. Just like hiring your personal doctor or the person who cleans your house. You hire a person, it’s because they’re good at what they do. When you hire a handler you should be hiring them because you respect them and you believe they will do the best job for you and your dog. And that seems to be lost.”


Those of us who didn’t encounter Mr. and Mrs. Forsyth until later in their careers were under a misconception that “Janey’s” unwillingness to suffer fools came with an advanced age, Sioux laughed outright.

“Don’t ask unless you want the truth,” Sioux said. “My mother was brutally honest. An amazing dog person. Someone that, she’d judge a class and I’d ask her why did you put that one up. She’d say something like ‘did you see those feet? Those were the best feet in the class. You can’t build a great big house on a faulty foundation.’ That was one thing, she always looked at some things that we may pass over. I cannot tell you how many people come to me with hilarious stories of my mother…. how many of them have to do with toenails… I have got to tell you the best Janey story… my mother was judging standard poodles in the midwest. She called out to this handler by name, ‘you know you probably have the best one here, but I can’t stand those dead baby hands’…. What are dead baby hands? Flat feet…”


Sioux talked about the quality of dogs in her parents day and today, noting that, in her opinion, the loss of the large breeding kennels has led to an overall decline in depth of quality in breeds.

“First of all, when my parents were showing dogs, especially in the ‘50s and ‘60s, …. they both worked for these huge kennels before they went out on their own. They’d have 50 head of greyhounds, 100 head of whippets. We don’t have that any more. That’s one big reason we have lost a lot of depth of quality. We don’t have huge breeders anymore. We don’t have kennels of 100-200 dogs anymore that are just breeding kennels.

“These kennels were owned by very wealthy people. Mrs. Dodge for example. We always had 45-50 Smooth Fox Terriers for Mrs. Ferrell of Ferrell shipping lines. They would hire someone like my parents to run their breeding program and their kennel. (The handlers) would take these people’s dogs to the show and show them. Instead of having to go out on your own and have 10-20 clients to pay bills, you’d work with one kennel to gain experience breeding, whelping, raising and taking them to dog shows. It was these people’s golf or their tennis. That was their identity. When Peter Green first came to this country, he worked for individuals with very large kennels. That’s how a lot of our professional handlers earned enough money to go out on their own and show dogs for multiple clients. We’re losing quality and depth of quality because we don’t have those kennels anymore.”


The two most famous of the dogs her parents showed, Sioux added were the ones they each won with at the Garden.

“Dad won in 1964 with the Whippet Ch. Fleetfoot of Pennyworth. Mom won with the Boxer bitch Susie in 1970 (Ch. Arriba’s Prima Donna),” Sioux said. “I sat with mom for a lot of hours before she passed. I asked her what was the best boxer you ever showed. She said it would have to be barrage (Ch Barrage of Quality Hill).

“We carried 10-15 boxers to every show. There were two in every class. They would switch off which one they showed every day.”


Enjoy these amazing memories and more during Laura’s interview with Sioux today.

Join us for part two of the interview when Sioux talks about showing dogs in proper condition, her mom’s lifetime friendship with Anne Rogers Clark and, spoiler alert, her thoughts on the future “legends” of the sport.



Perfect for our Jane Forsyth Day!!! Jane was a stickler on toenails… so listen up folks…

Leadingedge Dog Show Academy

SPECIAL: Who to Watch to Win Westminster|Laura Reeves|Allison Foley


Recorded TODAY in NYC: Laura Reeves and Allison Foley Talk Who to Watch to Win Westminster Kennel Club the night before the show.

Allison Foley, Professional Handler and Pure Dog Talk’s Tips of the Week host, gives the Canadian perspective and rumors from the hotels and piers.

Laura Reeves, PHA handler, and host of Pure Dog Talk tosses some good ones in too.

Let us know who you think will win!!!

Leave a comment

156 – David Helming – At The Helm of Westminster|Pure Dog Talk


Westminster Kennel Club’s newest show chair, David Helming, has certainly experienced this prestigious events from all ends of the spectrum. Helming took over as show chair for Tom Bradley last year. But he has judged his breed, Newfoundlands, there and, he and his wife, Peggy, bred and owned Josh, the 2004 BIS winner, shown by Michelle (Ostermiller) Scott.

Westminster Kennel Club

The Helmings whelped their first litter of Newfoundlands 50 years ago. Their Pouchcove dogs are iconic in the breed, earning AKC Breeder of the Year accolades in 2005.

“I’m very excited for this year,” Helming said. “I got an email from Tom Bradley the year we moved to the piers asking if I’d be the grounds chair.” From that point, Helming transitioned to several years as assistant show chair to Bradley before taking the wheel last year.

“This is a show of many people,” Helming noted. “We have tremendous staff working on it. It’s a true production.”


Helming noted that this year’s 3200 total entry include 201 of the 202 possible breeds and varieties, 95 junior handlers and a conformation entry that reached its limits for the first time in several years.

“This is the second year televising with Fox,” Helming added. “This is a great group to work with. These are experienced sports people. This year we’ll have new coverages, better camera shots and interviews.”

Westminster Week will air on three parts of the network: Agility Finals, recorded Saturday night, will air on the main Fox channel Sunday afternoon. NatGeoWild will offer *live* coverage of breed judging at the Piers from 1 to 4 p.m. Eastern. And FS1 will return with live showing of the groups and best in show at Madison Square Garden on Monday and Tuesday evenings.


“We’ve expanded this quite a bit over last year,” Helming said. “It’s exciting for exhibitors and adds a twist that at some point exhibitors and judges at the Piers might be on live television. It’s great coverage for our sport and the event.”


Another program Helming touts is Dog Show 101, designed to educate the public and spectators about what they are seeing in the ring. The program, debuted last year to rave reviews. It features judges such as Jim Reynolds, Bradley, Dottie Collier and David Haddock talking to groups of spectators to explain ring procedures, judging criteria and more. Exhibitors receive educational materials along with their personal guidance from some of the sports luminaries.

Helming added that the junior showmanship participants are going to be put to work helping with the Dog Show 101 programs and even the live filming at MSG.

“Cliff Steele (best junior showmanship judge) is going to have a lot of fun and very tough choices,” Helming said.

Listen to Helming talk about the memories of the Garden, the mystique, the essence of what it means to “get out there on that green carpet, get your dog set up and start looking around. The excitement is incredible.”

“It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have a story”


Join David and Laura as they talk about the intense, exclusive experience that is “The Garden.”

155 – Claire Ctibor – Junior Versatility Award|Road to Westminster|Pure Dog Talk


Claire Ctibor started showing dogs when she was just 8 years old, with a six month old Chinese Crested. At 12 years old, Claire decided she didn’t want a “little dog” anymore, so she took over the training and exhibiting duties for one of the family’s Brittanies.

Five years later, Claire is headed for her first Westminster Kennel Club show and was one of the first kids honored under AKC’s brand new Junior Versatility Award program.

“Dog shows have been a part of my life since I was 8,” Claire said. “So that’s something I never want to give up. I know I’ll have to age out of juniors in six months and it’s really sad. It’s a huge part of my life. I’m really proud of this. It’s something unique that I get to have that not many other people have. I love my dogs more than anything. Doing the versatile stuff with Sailor… he’s so smart, can pick up on anything so quickly. I trained him when he was a puppy. It’s something I got to do with him, something I get to treasure the rest of my life. We accomplished that together.”


Claire said she started doing field work with Sailor because he was so energetic and the dog show really wasn’t his happy place. “This dog gives me so much, does everything I ask for in the show ring. But it isn’t what he wants to do. He would much rather be running like a lunatic finding birds. So this gives him a chance to do what he wants to do also,” Claire said.

“I’m really proud of the what Sailor and I have accomplished because I did it all myself. And I bred him. He’s even got an Achiever Dog award from AKC,” Claire added.

As she preps for her first trip to the Garden, Claire is “super excited” and making up for lost time. “I qualified a couple times before. This is a really sad story. I qualified two years ago but missed entries. I missed qualifying by one point the next year.”

While Claire can’t miss much school, she and her family are driving up and have plans for a day of sight-seeing on Sunday.

Her partner in crime, so to speak? Her old reliable, Captain.

“Captain will be 12. It’s like brushing my teeth in the morning. I know him and he knows me. He’s my old man. He sleeps in my bed every night. I take him everywhere and put him in his pajamas when it’s cold. He’s spoiled rotten,” Claire said. “I know what he’s going to do. I can trust him. I know every move he’s going to make. Sailor, I was worried he wouldn’t be able to calm down enough.”


Junior showmanship and purebred dogs, Claire said, are great teachers.

“If you have a dog when you’re 8 or 9 yrs old, that’s a ton of responsibility. It teaches good sportsmanship. You’re not going to win every time you walk in the ring. I certainly have been humbled more than once by that,” Claire said.

“If you love it, it’s going to pay off in the end. You have to be willing to do some things you may not want to do. Wake up at 4 in the morning, drive all night. Do what you have to do to make it work,” Claire noted.

The opportunity to work with dogs in multiple venues is especially rewarding, she added.

“When you’ve got dogs, young dogs especially, you need to have something to give them an out. We ask dogs to do a lot for us. They weren’t bred to be show dogs,” Claire said. “It’s good to build a relationship outside the show ring with your dog. Do something maybe he likes. You build a different relationship, it teaches you something new. It’s breathtaking to see him out there in the field.”