Welcome to Pure Dog Talk. Pat Trotter, thank you so much for joining us. I’m really excited. Would you be willing to give our audience just a little bit of background about your time and dogs?
P: Is time the operative word here?
PDT: Time? Yes!
P: Ok we’re gonna go back to the late 40’s, it was the heyday of the Cocker Spaniel, & I was a kid in love with all kinds of dogs. This lady that bred Cockers very successfully used to bring her dogs over to the Elementary School where we played kickball & so on, to get them socialized, & I fell in love with this buff bitch that she had. Followed her home after school & learned more about the Cockers. I’d always been into animals, but this was my 1st opportunity to be with a pure bred one, & the rest of the story is I got involved with Cockers. Got a black bitch from her, did fairly well, but like I said, it was the heyday of Cockers & it took a ton of them for a Major. I think I got 16 or 17 points on this little black bitch, but I couldn’t get the Majors. So, she was bred, & as time went on I worked at a lot kennels, Airedale kennels, Cocker kennels, & down the road from the Airedale kennel was a Doberman kennel. And I went down & I got into the Dobermans, but out back were these gray dogs, & I said what are those? And the owner said: “those, those Muuuu-d dogs!”, “those Muuu-d dogs!” Ok, what do they hunt? Bear. And he was using a mud bear out there in the dismal swamp of Virginia & North Carolina. I got a baby puppy that was part of a large litter that was gonna be unfortunately, in those days, “bucketed,” & she is behind every Elkhound I’ve ever had since.
PDT: Oh my God, I totally have goosebumps, that is awesome, that is amazing. As so, that was some time ago, & we’ve seen some things change, so talk to me a little bit.
P: Oh, ya, oh ya
PDT: Talk to me a little about some of the changes you’ve seen, the good ones & the bad ones
P: Well, for one thing, in those days on these rural roads, people that had some acreage could house dogs. They didn’t have anybody knocking on their doors to take the head count, they could raise dogs, & run dogs & do what they wanted to do. Today I think there are a lot of obstacles in the way of people having breeding stock, & housing sufficient numbers of dogs to make great improvements. So, I think that, the legislation, the cost of doing business, all of it, are, shall we say barriers we have to overcome if we’re going to keep the pure breed dog alive & well.
PDT: And ya know, a lot of people have said & talked about the idea of the big kennels, and that these people had over 100 dogs, a lot of them.
P: I went to a lot of kennels in my youth with 100 dogs. I went to the Dachshund, Dachshund Clinic, John Cook, he had over 100 dachshunds. Lina Baskett, famous old gal, wonderful show girl & handler & later judge, Lina housed 100 dames on her property in Chalfont PA. And each dame, it was previously a horse farm, each dame had its own box stall & run out.
PDT: And I think about that in today’s society, & if you say to someone today, oh, I have 100 dogs, they’re going to have a cow! Ya know, they’re not gonna know what to do with that, never mind the government, the people, the exhibitors. Ya know we have such a narrowed idea & so can we talk about what does that, just actual volume, what does the ability to maintain significant numbers like you said, what does that give you?
P: Well first of all you have to have the help to do it. So, that means you have to be well financed, & you have to have resources. And, secondly a lot of these kennels, we’re talking the late 40’s, early 50’s & maybe a little longer, a lot of those kennels were doing some wonderful things in that they were bringing in breeding stock from all over the world, for the new sport of dogs to really catch on. Dog showing was in the hands of the elite & the wealthy prior to Word War 2. Following World War 2 in the late 40’s & 50’s, & so on, people like me who came from modest means & a background were able to start breeding a few dogs & showing them. And the reason we could do that was these wealthier people had brought in stock & they made it available to all of us. In those days, you could look at your dog & if you were able to evaluate it properly, not rose colored glasses but ya know, the jaded glasses of an analyzer, evaluator, you could look at your dogs & you could say: ok I’ve got a line of dogs going here (this was by the time I graduated from College) they got great running gear, they’re beautifully made, but they’re light boned & they don’t have enough head. So, you could find the kennels in America, at that time the kennels were on the West Coast (maybe one of the reasons I ended up in California after starting in Virginia) & you could actually know where to go to provide the strengths your dogs lacked. And that was a tremendous asset to young breeders. Today, so many breedings are made randomly, it’s hard to find a line of dogs that you can count on to provide their strengths, maybe they don’t even have consistent strengths, you know, but when you find that, as we could in the 60’s & so on, it’s so valuable to help you help you move forward in your breeding program. In fact, there was a time that I’d been laying on genes for head & bone, & finally when Top of the Mark came along in the late 90’s, I said to myself you need to back off a little bit. This dog has almost too much head for the breed & almost too much bone. So being able to blend all those ingredients into 1 package, that’s the real thing. When I watch, Bobby Flay I say, he’s the real thing, he knows how to put all those ingredients into the recipe & out shine his competitors & challengers!
PDT: Well & I think that you speak there to something that other people have mentioned, & has always been part of what I grew up hearing in dogs, is that its part art & part science. Truly
PDT: And so, take the science piece for me for a minute because your book is where I learned a lot of what I know (sorry but there it is)
P: What do you mean sorry?
PDT: Well, ya know I feel like I’m kinda bowing just a little bit!
P: Talk to us a little bit about breeding on the tail female line, because that’s essentially what I’ve done. I just placed a litter of puppies that is generation 7 all on the tail female breeding line.
P: Well I’ve been doing that for a lot of years, a lot more than 7 generations.
PDT: More than me!
P: That’s ok! Now having said that talk to you on the tail female line….
PDT: Give us some really concrete direction, just 2 or 3 simple…
P: Let’s describe what it is 1st
PDT: Ok, beautiful
P: Alright there’s the tail male line which is always the sire, his sire, his grand-sire all these sires at the top of the pedigree. The tail female line is the female at the bottom-most part of the pedigree. The dam, her dam, her dam’s dam & so on. We have received guidance from the world of thoroughbred horses on this, because those people have really studied to get where they are today with these beautiful animals that can run so fast, & we always want ‘em sound too, & those people have published a lot of things on that. I used a lot of that in my youth to help me move forward in deciding my breeding decisions, ok. Now, 1st of all, let’s just look at it. Every dog has an X chromosome, alright. That comes from the egg of his dam, or her dam. Not every dog has a Y chromosome, only the males have the Y chromosome. It’s my personal belief that the X chromosome carries significantly more information on it than the Y chromosome, & then when you consider the condition of the bitch when you breed her, the nurturing of her puppies & so on, I think it’s safe to say that the bitch gives a lot more to the progeny than the sire. In fact, I joke sometimes: what’s the sire good for? Producing the sperm that wiggles its way up to the egg, that’s what he’s good for! He’s good for the next generation! Chuck gets a little out of shape with me sometimes when I mention this! But, anyhow, & then there’s another wild card in the mix which is called Mitochondria, only the female carries it but she can give it to both her sons & her daughters. Now the Mitochondria is what you might call the energy battery of the whole entity. It’s what makes Sammie run, alright. And having said that, what I’m gonna say here might be controversial, I don’t know, but we don’t think we know scientifically its passed to the sons of the bitch, but he can’t pass it on. It’s a dead end there. But, it’s also passed to the daughters of a producing dam, & she can pass it on to her own daughters & so on. So, when you get to the next generation that’s your valid reason for treasuring the tail female line right up the way. And for example, in her female line she’s got a bitch called Margarite & Margarite’s out of a Marquetta daughter, & Marquetta and Sara & so on. All of those bitches were strong, they were active. What do we think the bitch gives her puppies? We don’t know if it comes through the X Chromosome aside from Mitochondria but we think that the bitch puts heart & temperament & so on into the progeny. When I was doing that book I interviewed some people that do have big kennels, there are some people with big kennels, but they’re hound people. They’re the people that have a kennel of Fox Hounds with 100 dogs in them, wealthy people in the Atlanta area & so on. And when I did this research I also was able to work with a Pointer breeder, Bill Waley & he housed a lot of dogs. And so, I interviewed these gentleman & said what do you think that the bitches put into the progeny that the sires don’t? Heart. Run. Endurance. Stamina. And when you put all of those things in a package of a working animal, obviously, the tail female line has a lot to give. What do you think the dog gives, the sire? Well he may give plushness, he may give brilliance, he may get in the world of horses or hounds…speed. But we don’t want so much speed that the hounds are out- running the horse you know what I’m saying? When they’re at the chase on a Fox hunt, so they’re all these things that go into the final package. But I treasure my bitches, I treasure them. They’re the heroes of the breeding program.
PDT: I completely agree with you & you’re advise to breeders on that, I took entirely to heart! Moving forward then, giving again, we’re trying to always give specific goals & ideas for people to work with. Talk to people about your shopping for a foundation bitch.
P: I didn’t shop!
PDT: No, I’m saying a person shopping for a foundation bitch!
P: Well I mean I just looked into this bitch for hunting stock, & it took me a lot of…. I wouldn’t advise anyone to do what I did because it took me like 20yrs to move forward from her. But she’s still in all their pedigrees. So, want to know what someone that has studied & really knows where they want to go? Alright the question is how do they shop for a bitch?
PDT: What are they looking for, when they’re buying a foundation bitch what types of things are they looking for in a foundation bitch, both for a breeder of the foundation bitch, what’s being that bitch, consistency, all those things.
P: Well they gotta do a lot of homework. They gotta know the soundness factor, the health issues, the balance of soundness & type…which is that old argument: which is more important, soundness or type they are? Form & function. Form is the type the breed evolved into to do the job it was desired for it to do. And function is the ability to do it…. call it soundness, call it what you want. In my personal opinion, I think that pedigree, health records, temperament, quality of type. And then, has this been a producing family, or is this bitch I’m looking at hoping to buy for a foundation bitch, is she a sport different than her family? So, I think several of those things would factor in, & you just have to weigh them. But you also have to let whatever breeder you’re seeking this foundation bitch, know you’re for real. You’re not going to come along & breed her to this dog you’ve had that isn’t to her quality. And you don’t want to breed her down, and bottom line is you have to convince the breeders that you’re for real. And that you want to protect this breed & keep it pure in the future, so future generations will have the same right & privilege to enjoy the breed that you’ve had.
PDT: That’s excellent. Ok so moving on, we’re gonna switch from breeding onto the next topic for you which is gonna be talking about owner handling. You know, certainly you judge now, but you are still showing…
P: Some would question that!
PDT: Well, I didn’t say judge good or bad, I said you are judging, but I think it’s really important that you are also continuing to show your dogs.
P: I get a lot of criticism for that
PDT: People who disagree with it. But nonetheless you were very successful as an owner/handler for a lot of years, and I think that you offer people, kind of an idol. I think that for a lot of owner/handlers they should look at you as an idol. As so I want you to give them some ideas, some suggestions, some encouragement to how to be a really incredibly successful owner/handler.
P: Well one of the 1st things that I always notice, you have 2 minutes plus for your dog to be evaluated, & yet some owners/handlers will kind of not get into the ring in a timely fashion, which is already taking time away from their allotted slot in the ring. So, always be ready to be ready to get in the ring on time. Always, ok? Learn how to use bait, not abuse bait. When you scatter & bait all over the ring, when your dog is not, let say, your dog isn’t trained. Lots of times we see these dogs in the ring & the owner or handler or whatever, exhibitor, the exhibitor is shoving food down their throat because that’s the only way they can keep their attention so the dog will accept the examination. So, I say try to avoid that. School your dog. Train your dog. School your dog. Many times, when it’s a close call, the best schooled dog that’s prepared & understands its job description gets the call. Having said that, those are a couple of things I would say. Now, over the years I used to hear people… this is long before I ever judged, I probably wouldn’t have judged if I hadn’t had married Chuck Trotter, ok?
and having said that, over the years I heard people say they always get beat by the pros, they can’t beat the pros, truly, handling dogs is a learned skill. You don’t have to be a natural world class athlete to handle a dog. no if you go to classes, if you get the right training, you go to the right people, you read the right books, etc., you can learn to do a creditable job of showing your dog. You have a lot of advantages over the pros. You have all this time you can spend with one dog, or two or whatever. They have to spread their time over several dogs. And I’ve always felt that some of the animosity on the part of owner/handlers against professionals is not fair. Some of the people that helped me the most when I was young were professional handlers. When my vagabond dog was Top Dog Of All Breeds in 1970, the two people that helped me the most in determining things I should do to improve, were Frank Cebella & Ricky Cazootian & of course, they were competing against me every weekend. So, I don’t think we should think of it as “them & us” as owner/handlers. We’re all in it together & that’s we should do. We should learn how to groom our breed properly, we should learn how to present it properly & so on, and go from there, ya know.
PDT: I agree 100%, thank you. And so then, the next piece of the puzzle for you because you’re an accomplished lady, is talking about judging & I’ve heard you say before that judging was not really your calling, that that was something you came to with Chuck. But, I think you enjoy it, you seem to enjoy it….
P: I do. Oh, I love it when I get good dogs, it’s so fun.
PDT: Yes, right. And so, talk to us about that, talk to us about the joy of judging, where do you find your joy as a judge?
P: Well you have to understand that when you’re a breeder, you’re evaluating dogs all the time. Every time you decide this bitch is worthy to put in my gene pool & you pick a sire to take her to, and then you evaluate the litter to decide which ones, if any, should be kept for the next for the next generation… you’re judging dogs. Now having said that, you want me to tell you what I look for as a judge?
PDT: No I want you to talk about what you enjoy. What you enjoy when you go in that ring.
P: I enjoy people that bring dogs into the ring & they’re enjoying it, cuz that’s contagious, it’s really contagious. I enjoy the fact that maybe I can help in some small way, to get a novice exhibitor hooked & help them so they can make one step forward, & then another. So, those are some of the things I enjoy.
PDT: I’m gonna tell a story on you now that you may not even remember but it has stayed with me for years. You were judging in the Northwest, you were judging a ring of Vizsla’s & I was standing there waiting for my turn to go in the ring next, so I watched all of this. And you were very frustrated with this young lady who couldn’t get her dog to gate properly without pacing. And in complete violation of all the rules, you took the dog away from her & ran it around the ring to show her how to make it go properly!!
P: Please don’t tell that to AKC
PDT: I don’t think they care at this point it was many years ago! And then you saw me standing there & you said “you come in here & show this dog for this lady!” I said: OK!!! But I think that is one of the things that stand out in my mind because it’s what made me love you. Because you do care about the dogs, & you do care about the exhibitors, & so that’s the kind of thing that I would like to talk a little more about.
P: Well sometimes when I get a dog in there, & I can see this is a potentially great one, & it’s being mis-handled & so on, & it’s pacing like you say & I never get to see it move, I will make that exhibitor move that dog til I’m satisfied that it’s doing it right. And one lady one time said to me I can’t do this again, & I said why not? She said cause my baby’s due next week! I hadn’t even noticed that she was pregnant… I was so busy looking at the dog!
PDT: Oops that’s terrible!
P: I said Oh my God why didn’t you say something? She said I was trying to be a good sport!
PDT: So, finding those great dogs, can you think of some over the years that have stayed with you? Some of the dogs that you judged.
P: You want to know some of the great dogs I’ve judged.
PDT: That you saw early on & said: that one.
P: Well I don’t know if I always know which dogs I saw early on that I loved are the ones that come on later.
PDT: Right, I didn’t know if you remembered any of them.
P: Ya, well I do a few. One of the best dogs I ever judged I got early on in my career I guess, as a judge, if I’ve had a career as a judge, was an English Setter bitch from Canada & I did their National, & um oh wow, this bitch just bowled me over. And I had already seen, and this was an orange & white bitch, Orange Belton, and I’d already seen a Blue Belton that a famous handler from Canada had, seen her at Westminster & I loved her. And I just ended up with these two bitches, & the bitches name, I’ll never forget it: Poetry In Motion, & I loved that bitch. I want to say: I grew up in the days of Rock Falls Colonel. And Bill Holt, the owner/breeder/handler of Rock Falls Colonel, one of the 1st two dogs to win 100 Best in Shows in the days when nobody showed a dog more than 30-40 times a year, were Colonel & Bangale the Boxer. Anyhow, Mr. Holt was a Virginian gentleman, he was just the most beautiful man, he was just fabulous. And I’ll never forget when I was about 16 or 18, whatever, one day he said: I’m really busy, would you Foo-Foo Colonel for me? Now Foo-Foo was a powder that you put on the dogs to clean them, it’s not around today… & was, that was the biggest role I ever had, getting to Foo-Foo this dog.
PDT: I love that!
P: And anyhow, I don’t know for sure if Poetry in Motion was any kin to that dog, probably if you went back far enough it would have been, but when I saw that bitch I got this, Wow! this you know, electricity went through me like the little tingles or something. Oh my God it’s almost the female version of Colonel!
P: Ya. I put her Best Breed & I put the other one 1st Award of Merit, I just loved them. That’s a bitch, that, she’s always remained with me. So, you know, I’ve seen a lot of great dogs over the years, & I think there’s some really top animals out right now. Another dog that thrilled me when I judged it was Mick, the Kerry Blue, & a Soft Coated Wheaton, oh boy what was his name? the Carusi gal had him, ya, that dog I loved that dog, I loved him,
PDT: I can’t remember its name, pretty dog. Pretty dog
P: They had the running gear, they had the length & neck to shoulder the front assembly return of upper arm, strong rib cage short loin, so you know all those things in a package, I really loved those two dogs. So those are just a few that jump out at me.
PDT: That is spectacular. So Pat, today we don’t have the 100- dog kennels.
PDT: So we got smaller people working with a whole lot smaller footprint. What are some of your ideas or recommendations for breeders today, average regular run of the mill breeders today, who are trying to make forward progress with their breeding program with fewer numbers, & still be able to be able to put a stamp of type & excellence on their dogs?
P: It requires you to do a lot of homework because these dogs are scattered all over, & don’t go thinking every 100-dog kennels produced the greatest dogs. The ladies of the English Countryside with their small programs have breed some of the great dogs of the world for the last 100 years. There weren’t any Elk Hound kennel, there was one Elk Hound kennel that had a lot of dogs, but the other Elk Hound kennels were small, & you just have to go seek out. First you have to make it your business to learn. You know, if you don’t learn how to evaluate a dog through your mentor & so on in your studies, how’re you ever gonna know what to correct, & what to try to try to keep. So that’s a large part of it. As far as the big kennels go, yes, I think their disappearance, and lines of dogs per say, mean that strengths are more scattered in the gene pools, as are weaknesses. So, I think the numbers of consistent type are more difficult to find in many instances. I guess I could say in my lifetime & in my breed, the high point of this show career thing, & breeding quality animals was probably the 60’s & 70’s, & into the 80’s. And then in the last, say 1989-90, whatever, we have seen a weakening of the strength of the dogs in the ring. One year on the Cal-Or circuit, the old Cal-Or circuit we used to call the death march,
PDT: I lived in Roseburg, I went to it every year.
P: Ah ya! We had what were to become 3 Best In Show dogs in the Norwegian Elkhound Open dog class. And when you think about that, ya know, those were great dogs. So, as far as the loss of the big kennels I mourn them, but I don’t think they necessarily mean we can’t progress. There are a lot of intelligent, well learned & wise breeders in a lot of breeds. It’s just your job to seek them out, & you have to be sure that you don’t let people that are negative talk you out of these good dogs because they resent them winning, or you know, emotional things that go on with people that own dogs. I mean, I’ve know people that I loved, & you could say anything against their spouse & they didn’t care. But if you raise a “what do you think of my dog” & you tell them, they go bonkers. You know, you should never ask a person what they think of your dog unless your prepared to work with that opinion.
PDT: And hear the answer!
P: Yes. So, you know I try not to encourage that negativity part, I like the positive. Tell me what you like about this dog.
PDT: So as a wrap up, talk to us a little bit about any, & I ask every guest this, everybody talks about this. I’m looking for everyone to talk about what are ideas for the future, what can we do to keep this sport positive.
P: We do not reach out to the public. We’re putting on dog shows for ourselves for each other. Two good examples of that, one in the West, Vallejo, one in the East, Springfield. And they have dogs shows over, & over & over & over. Kennels grew up in the old days in a town, & people in that town that had dogs & loved dogs, got involved in kennel clubs, they went to the dog shows, they brought in the public. I mean, let’s take Springfield as an example, how many people do you think in Springfield would go to dog shows anymore, they have them every weekend just about. So, it’s very hard to get local people to buy into it. So we’ve lost the local people that might be willing to come to dog shows because we’re not making it possible to reach out to them & bring em in. And I think in many ways we dropped the ball on that. In the old days when I had more time available, I used to take litters of puppies to all the Elementary schools, & my principle, I was teaching, you know Jr. High, they would give me time off to do that because it was considered an educational experience for the kids. And the teachers loved it, the kids loved it, in fact whenever we had one that didn’t make it but it was a wonderful dog & it you know, made its championship but it needed to be moved on, I had a constant, ever changing source of potential owners of pets.
P: One time Derrick Rain said to me, you know what, they’re more Elkhounds in Carmel than there are in Oslo! But anyhow, the bottom line is we need to reach out to the public, & you know who’s reaching out to the public? People developing commercials. We see dogs on commercials all the time, & many of them are pure bred, but yet we’re not reaching out to the communities. Maybe we could send a free coupon to admit you & your family to the Dog Show. Maybe we could have a day: hey, bring your teenager over & we’ll have something similar to your $2 in the ring idea. We can give them a well-schooled trained dog, & let them try & show it in the ring, give them a ribbon. Think about this, if you get on a horse that’s been trained & you’ve never been on a horse, & they give you a comfortable ride & you have a positive experience, you might want to get into horse. I just think we’re not doing enough to bring the public in.
PDT: I love that!
P: And we need to reach out. We really do before it’s too late.
PDT: I definitely think that you have a really good idea right there. Ok, well that’s all the time we have for today, thank you so very, very much for spending time with us.
P: Thank you Laura
PDT: Have a great day