02 12 05 1716 W, 1 I - + 103 - 104

THE CHA CHA CHRONICLES: PICKING A LITTER


Wendy with her puppies

PICKING A PUPPY

Anyone who has any experience at this (and my wife Stephanie will tell you that I have all too much experience in this area) knows that you donít pick a puppy, you pick a litter and you pick a breeder. After that, to a large extent whether you have a dog that will set the world ablaze is up to the Grace of God. You can raise a puppy perfectly, train it wonderfully, and if God has not blessed your puppy with the right stuff ... thatís all she wrote.

Still, as they say, God helps those who help themselves ... so it is important that you get the best raw material possible with which to begin.

I believe that begins with the litter. More specifically, it begins with the bitch.

It pains me to admit it, but in breeding ... (and my wife would say, in life) it is the girls who call the tune. The girls, not the boys, decide who will be dancing together. Most owners of good bitches know the score and spend a great deal of time thinking who would be a good match for their girls. Find a good bitch and you are likely to find what is - at least on paper - a good breeding.

FINDING A GOOD BITCH

What do I consider to be a good bitch? In order, I rank bitches as follows:

a) Proven producer
b) Proven performer
c) Great pedigree

The Proven Producer

I look first for the proven producer. By that I mean a bitch that has produced dogs that you know are good.

Typically, people look for a bitch that has produced titled dogs. For example, Ed and Judy Aycockís AFC Trumarcís Ms. Costalot was a proven producer - especially when paired with NAFC, CNAFC, FC Ebonstars Lean Mac. Ms. Costalotís offspring included the following titled dogs: AFC Greenbriars Centerfold, FC/AFC Honky Tonk Outlaw, FC/AFC Topbrass Roxx the Boat, FC/AFC Trumarcís Chubby Mac, FC Trumarcís Cruiser, FC/AFC Trumarcís Four Wheel Drive, FC/AFC Trumarcís In Pursuit Again, FC/AFC Trumarcís Pudgie Mac, FC Trumarcís Silver Lining, AFC Trumarcís Welterweight. .

But, this approach is not without its difficulties.

It takes time for a bitchís offspring to title. By the time you learn that a bitch has produced titled dogs, she may be too old to breed or even have passed. A bitch that has produced titled dogs will command top dollar for her puppies. It is not uncommon for breeders of a top producing bitch to demand upwards of $3000. Moreover, a newcomer to the sport may find it difficult to get a puppy from a proven producer. The breeder of the proven producer wants her puppies to go to proven competitors, who many believe will give the puppies their best opportunity to stand in the spotlight.

However, I believe people who focus on those bitches who have already produced titled dogs are unduly narrowing their search. For example, my professional trainer, Cherylon Loveland had Zowie, and four of his litter mates in for training. It was apparent to us at an early stage all had a great deal of talent. I would have immediately called the breeders, John and Liz Hollman and asked for another puppy from Zowieís dam, Jet - but, unfortunately, Jet was spayed after whelping Zowieís litter. Still, I am always scrutinizing the young dogs that come into Cherylonís kennel and looking for hot prospects produced by unknown bitches.

The Proven Performer

I look next for the proven performer. This is a bitch that I have observed in competition and in training and whose qualities in both I admire. I think it is important that you base your opinion on what you have seen or what friends you trust and respect have seen. It is all too easy in this game to get caught up in the hype about this bitch or that bitch.

Look for a bitch that has what you want. Dogs often come up for a trial, so I look for what a bitch is like in training. I am looking for a bitch that marks, is bright and willing, and has a lot of bottom. As I have mentioned earlier, I had seen Judy Aycockís bitch, FC/AFC Trumarcís Lean Cuisine (Kweezy) in competition and in training and was very impressed. So I told Judy that if she ever bred Kweezy, I wanted a puppy. Of course, that puppy became my Mootsie. (When Cherylon and I saw Mootsieís qualities - in our eyes - Kweezy was not only a proven performer, but a proven producer. Consequently, we told Judy that if Kweezy was bred again, we wanted another puppy. That puppy became my Mazzie.

When I run field trials, or, even better, when I judge field trials, I am looking for young bitches who exhibit the qualities I want. After the trial is over, I check the program, look at the pedigree and if it interests me, I contact the owner.

I am always looking for the hot young bitches in competition.

The Great Pedigree

When I first started this game, I was an unknown, and no breeder with a proven producer would give me a second glance. Because I was in the derby and rarely spent time at the big dog stakes, I was unfamiliar with who the proven performers were.

As a result, I spent a lot of time researching pedigrees. I examined Field Trial statistics and tried to get a good sense on who the proven competitors were.

I remain fascinated by the study of pedigrees. However, after many puppies, I now only consider pedigrees in conjunction with known production and known performance. To me, pedigrees alone - without more - are worthless.


FINDING A GOOD BREEDER

I donít do business with people I donít like. Period. Life is too short for that brain damage.

When I find a bitch I like, I call the breeder and talk about stuff - and not just dogs. I am trying to get a feel for the breeder as a person.

Is this someone I trust? Is this someone who is interested in producing a great litter of dogs or simply interested in making a quick buck? Is this someone who will stand behind the puppies? Is this someone I want to give my money? All of these questions - and more - go through my mind whenever I speak to a breeder.

Although many of my puppies have not grown into the fire breathers I had once hoped they would be, all of them have grown to be great citizens and great companions. And I have had the pleasure of developing lasting relationships with many of those breeders from whom I have bought puppies. Folks like Julie Anderson, Patsy Martin, Lorri Oliver, and Judy Aycock. I like to think that is because I choose not only the bitch, but the breeder.

THE SEARCH FOR CHA CHA

When a big case of mine settled, I found I had a hole in my calendar. Of course, my personality demanded that I fill it.

So I began looking for a bitch puppy. My investigation was hampered by the fact that the hole in my schedule existed NOW and that puppy arriving two - three months from now would not have the attention I could offer to the puppy now. So my search was limited to litters on the ground.

Once litter immediately caught my eye - NFC/AFC Five Star General Patton to Waterdogís Trida Stop Me, MH.

Why? Because Allie was a proven producer. In breedings with Lean Mac, Allie has produced a Field Champion, several dogs with All Age places, including wins, several dogs with JAMs in the All Age Stakes or Qualifying wins, and several dogs with derby points. Her offspring were performing in competition.

Because I am a compulsive sort, I was not satisfied with reading about the performance of Allieís offspring. So I called pros who trained her offspring - Bill Sargenti. I called owners of Allieís offspring. I called friends of mine who had judged and/or competed against Allieís offspring. All of the reports I heard were good.

I would have been most happy if the breeder - Kristie Wilder - had bred Allie to Lean Mac who was the sire of all of Allieís previous litters.

However, the sire was not Lean Mac, but Patton. So, I dug around and tried to find out more about him. Fortunately, I had seen Patton run several series of the 2004 National Amateur Championship in Batavia when I was running Ace, so I had first hand knowledge of his performance in the field. As with Allie, I called friends I knew who had judged and/or competed against Patton. Reports were uniformly excellent. We donít know much about Patton as a sire, but several owners of young Patton puppies were reporting good things.

So far, the results of my investigation were good.

Moreover, because of my work on this website, I felt quite comfortable with Kristie as a breeder. I asked Kristie to help me design this website long before my work schedule changed and I began thinking about another puppy. In preparing this site, Kristie and I worked closely together - over the internet and by telephone. It was our mutual goal to make this site something special - and well above the ordinary. I think that is due in large part to her efforts. As we worked together, I found her work ethic admirable, her creativity impressive, and her prices quite reasonable.

In short, I thought Kristie was a breeder I could trust. You already know that I thought Kristieís bitch was a proven producer. So, I called Kristie and told her I wanted a puppy.

Everything is still up in the air, but presently the plan is for Cha Cha to arrive on Monday evening.

The Cha Cha Chronicles will continue with her arrival in Denver on Monday.

See you then.

Ted

OK, another Freeridin puppy! Have fun Ted.
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I’m looking forward to following Cha Cha’s adventures (and the rest of the Freeridin’ Pack! The website looks great.
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