Broken Hearted Founder
Written by Tina M. Barber
reprinted from the March/July 1998 Newsletter
During my drive to this show, nostalgia flooded my soul; images of
the dogs I judged nearly 8 years ago danced in my mind. Korcha, what a magnificent smooth
coat! Dozens for me to remember, putting a smile in my heart! No, they were not perfect,
but their shortcomings were certainly overpowered by much more crucial qualities! Captain
was a bit short coupled, but his magnificent head, movement, and huge bone, could not be
denied, even by the least experienced novice. He drew huge adoring crowds wherever he
went. It gave me such a feeling of satisfaction to watch these beautiful dogs in, and out
of the ring! All the years of sacrifice and disappointments were well worth the effort,
now that the cream could rise to the top for the whole world to see!
I was getting old, and could not breed dozens of litters any longer. I
felt that if future breeders devoted their time, while I provide them with all of my
knowledge and experience, these magnificent creatures would certainly flourish! The demand
for these "Shilohs" had far outweighed the availability.
Without any regard for "politics" I poured myself into this
new goal. Naively I was convinced that others were as dedicated to the future of this
"breed" as I was. NOT! I soon learned that "people" are not at
all like these dogs! They have egos that replace loyalty. Instead of trust, they
prefer rumors and gossip. When I was involved in SAR, I always told my students to
"trust your dog." We have to depend on his sense and instinct, because we can
not smell what he can. Yet over and over I kept watching the novice "handlers"
throw their dogs off the right trails, because they thought they knew more than their
partners! What a shame! Human nature can be very strange indeed.
This morning I was looking at what "politics" created, and it
broke my heart! Watching pet quality dogs competing for championships, how depressing! Did
these dogs at least carry the genetic probability of producing dogs like the ones shown 7
not! Their gene pool was already starting to overflow with all sorts
of faults, that I had worked so hard to eliminate.
I realize that people love their pets, and think they are beautiful,
but should that be enough reason to mass produce such specimens? Worse yet, selling them
to the poor unsuspecting public with GOLD papers, for thousands of dollars. I had one
member approach me requesting that I stop "so & so" from selling such
puppies (If I went to this person and insisted on some changes, it would only infuriate
that breeder and send him/her running to the "new club" registry!) The shows
were designed to "pick out" only those that best resemble the breed standard. At
best, some of the dogs that I have seen this weekend make a mockery of it.
While watching these dogs, I had a flash back to Canada, several years
ago. During a break I went over to the AKC rings to watch the GSD. I was appalled at the
needle nosed, fine boned, little creatures
.then I spotted him! A dog with presence,
heavy bone, and a beautifully sculptured head! Ok this I had to see! He moved with a
beautiful easy floating trot, not as "flashy" as the high flyers, but certainly
a trot that oozed with endurance. He was clean "going away," not like the cow
hocked (egg beaters) in front of him. I sat there "rooting" for this majestic
fellow. My heart sank to my toes as I watched the others being placed in front of him. As
he walked out of the ring, with his head held down, I could not stop myself from rushing
over to his owner, to tell her what a beautiful dog she had. Come to find out, she had
been breeding these dogs for nearly 40 years. The male I liked so much traced his lines
back to my "Ria" line. He had some of the greatest (and most beautiful
GSDs Id ever known) in his pedigree! What a shame, when a dog with such
qualities, can be overshadowed by "politics." As I left this heavy hearted
breeder, I thought, THANK GOD for the Shilohs, this will NEVER happen to us!
Seven years later, as I sit ringside watching the Shilohs, that same
feeling of hopelessness I felt in Canada is overwhelming me again. This time it is even
worse, because I am watching my "breed" being destroyed. A new "type"
seems to be emerging that looks very much like those GSDs I saw in Canada, only with
longer hair. Most of those dogs should have been sold as "pets" since they
BARELY make the MINIMUM size requirements, much less the other qualities that made this
breed so special to begin with.
As I sit under this cloud of depression, suddenly my heart leaps, when
I noticed a beautiful heavy boned bitch enter the ring. I watch her fluent movement, my
eyes examining every inch of this regal lady, as check marks go off in my mind
YES, front YES, top line YES, length of body YES, stifle
YES, etc, etc. My excitement is starting to mount, for a fleeting moment, until the
judge puts up a small short coupled hook tail instead! HORROR sets in my
heart, no way, how can this be? Thank God the bitch started "acting up" in the
last class and did not place as winners bitch, but this was a close one! After the show I
approached the judge with our breed standard, she admitted that she had NOT had time to
read it! She thought that our dogs were supposed to be "just like German Shepherds
with long hair," thats why she rejected the "oversized" ones! NO,
this is NOT an isolated case!
IF YOU PAY TO BE "JUDGED" make sure that the
"judge" has taken the time to READ our breed standard!! YOU HAVE THE RIGHT!
Dont expect me to be at every show to do this for you!
How could such a poor quality "pet" bitch even enter the
ring? POLITICS! Breeders are selling their pet quality puppies for big bucks, to people
that WANT to show, and are willing to spend large sums on "professional"
handlers to get a championship. They are in it for the sport and are willing to do
whatever it takes to win. As a result, many others that own the REAL giants are content to
stay home and just enjoy their dog, because they dont want to "try
showing" and lose.
I see the handwriting on the wall! Twenty-four years ago I saw this
scenario coming to the GSD, in less then a decade the entire breed was on a path, like a
runaway train, heading toward the "show type" we see today. Let me assure you
that the MINI-SHILOHS will reach their end even quicker! I spent 7 years of my life
practically dragging people (or their dogs) to the shows, doing all in my power to teach
them everything I could, for what? Yes, I know many people "out there" that are
thankful that they own a champion. They are proud of their dog, but for various reasons
(CLUB SPLITS/PERSONALITY CONFLICTS/ETC) dont want to "get involved." Most
of these dogs will probably never be bred, or even seen by the public, and the gene-pool
will inevitably suffer a great loss.
Personally I cant stand to watch those beautiful "gentle
giants" fall by the wayside, therefore I am determined to continue breeding toward
the standard. I am confident that theres still a few good people left that feel the
same way, and will do likewise. The final outcome for these dogs will depend on the
public. Will future buyers INSIST on a guarantee that their bitch will reach a minimum of
28" and the male pups at least 30"? If you insist on these size requirements for
a good show/breeding prospect, and only buy from breeders that HAVE produced such dogs in
the past, then this breed may survive, otherwise the minis will win by default!
I really miss seeing those big beautiful GSDs that used to be
practically everywhere. They have been replaced by those "powder puffed
minis!" I have heard many an old GSD lover call them much worse. What will they
be calling the "Shiloh" seven years from now?
* FLASH UPDATE *