Tuesday, June 15, 2010
ON THE SPOT - WITMER'S GERMAN SHEPHERDS
I think when one thinks of the Witmer German Shepherd Dogs they immediately think of beautiful breed type. I know I do. It seems that Suzie Witmer has strived for a certain “look” in her animals. I know when I see one of her dogs, I say to myself, “Wow what a pretty dog that is!” Her dogs are very easy on the eyes. They also have been consistently good moving animals having won many Futurities and Select titles to their credit. (See the above dog: Ch. Witmer's Hale of Vanderwerth OFA).
I asked Suzie if she would consent doing an interview with me about her breeding program and I’m happy she consented to share her ideas with us.
1. WHEN DID YOUR LOVE AFFAIR BEGIN WITH THE GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG?
I always had a love for animals. Horses came first and then dogs, and mostly German shepherd dogs. My aunt raised a couple litters of German Shepherd puppies when I was a kid. There was one in particular (male) that I became very attached to while my aunt lived with us. She took him with her when she moved out, and broke my heart... I saved my allowance, $5 a week, and bought a purebred unregistered German Shepherd puppy for $75.00.
2. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR KENNEL NAME?
My kennel name is Witmer, which is of course my last name. A German name!
3. DID YOU HAVE ANY MENTORS WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED OUT IN THE BREED?
Nancy Towns, Bob Vanwinkle, the Dancosse family, and Rose Quigley. Nancy had a great eye for motion/side gait. She sat with me for hours looking at puppies and teaching me correct movement. . Bob taught me how to groom and condition.
4. WHAT HAVE YOU NOTICED TO BE THE BIGGEST CHANGES IN THE BREED SINCE YOU STARTED?
The folding of specialty clubs, and lack of exhibitors…
My dogs are known for a dominant breed type, correct shoulders, and that they’re good moving dogs. (See the above dog: Am Select Excellent Can Select Ch Witmer's Jamiroquai OFA H & E ROM).
6. WHAT DO YOU SEE AS SOME OF THE STRENGTHS OF THE BREED TODAY?
Intelligence, trainability, and their loyalty.
7. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR CONCERNS WITH THE BREED TODAY?
Too many short upper arms and moving from the elbows. Also running too fast and too many steps to cover ground.
8. WHEN BREEDING WHERE HAS SOME OF YOUR BEST STOCK COME FROM? LINE BREEDING, IN BREEDING, OUT CROSS?
Line breeding, and inbreeding.
9. A VERY WELL KNOWN BREEDER ONCE TOLD ME TO BREED TYPE TO TYPE. HE SAID FORGET ABOUT PEDIGREES. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT STATEMENT?
I think type to type can work. However I do feel pedigrees are very important. Looking at a pedigree gives you a lot of knowledge including health issues and their pheno and geno type. I'm a pedigree person!
10. AT WHAT AGE DO YOU PICK YOUR TOP SHOW PUPPIES AND WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR?
5 wks 7 wks, 12 wks. If I like them, then I grow them out. Teenage stage (8 months to 14 months)is not a good time for my dogs. I look for forehand, type, presence/showmanship, and character.
11. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE PARENT CLUB (THE GERMAN SHEPHERD DOGS CLUB OF AMERICA) DO THAT THEY’RE NOT DOING NOW?
I would like the parent club to be more open to the membership. Too many hush secrets have hurt us badly..
12. YOU HAVE BEEN VERY FORTUNATE HAVING PRODUCED SOME OF THE TOP WINNING FUTURITY/MATURITY WINNERS. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE FUTURITIES? HOW IMPORTANT ARE THEY?
I feel futurities are important. I enjoy seeing what breeders are producing. Futurities enable us to make educated decisions in our breeding program. Unfortunately entries are very low.
13. WHAT FOOD DO YOU FEED YOUR DOGS?
I feed Costco's, Kirkland chicken & Rice. It does a very nice job, and is a good quality food at an affordable price. I feed it with meat. I also feed a few raw.
14. DO YOU USE SUPPLEMENTS FOR YOUR DOGS?
I use Dr Kruger’s supplement show coat formula.
I do have favorites, and all my favorites are my heart dogs... Wilmer’s Angel, my Hawkeye dtr, her 2 inbred Hawkeye sons Witmer's Expresso, and Witmer's Executive, both passed with 12 pts all majors. My Andretti son, CH Ramhaus Eros of Nordlicht, Sel Ex CH, Can Sel CH Witmer's Jamiroquai "Jerry", CH Witmer's Angelina, and of course my current heart dog, Sel Exc CH Karizma's Nicaragua "Neeko"... One of the sweetest/kindest dogs I have owned. He has his 10 qualifiers, and it will be anytime now he receives his Rom.. (See the above dog: Select Excellent Ch Karizma's Nicaragua OFA).
16. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST PROUD MOMENT IN THE BREED?
Watching Jantar's China Lake of Witmer go Grand Victrix in Canada...enjoying it with my best friends!! We also had a great party that night! A lot of good laughs.
17. ARE ANY OF YOUR DOGS INVOLVED IN RESCUE WORK, POLICE WORK, THERAPY WORK, OBEDIENCE TITLED, ETC?
Not dogs I personally own, but dogs by or out of my dogs are in all venues. Many therapy, search, and Rescue, herding, and obedience. My passion has always been in the ring. I have never had the desire for anything else.
18. WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR PEOPLE JUST STARTING OUT IN THIS BREED THAT WANT TO SHOW THEIR DOGS?
Join a breed club, and hopefully find a good mentor.
19. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT OWNING A GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG?
Their companionship and loyalty.. They are so smart they amaze me. They are always
a step ahead of me, especially now!
20. IS THERE STILL SOMETHING IN THE BREED THAT YOU WANT TO DO AND YOU HAVEN’T ACCOMPLISHED IT YET?
I am content with the accomplishments to date. However adding more would be just fine with me....
21. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR IN THIS BREED?
Beautiful breed type, fronts, dogs that can side gait and are always competitive.
My rating: Witmer's producing consistently beautiful moving animals: (4)