The Bad Breeder Strikes Again

Over the past 18 months, I’ve known of an ongoing rescue issue involving Alice and Rolo’s breeder. I was first alerted to the situation by someone involved in Foxhound rescue in the UK. I then alerted Hamiltonstovare breeders and owners that I trusted in the UK. They confirmed my worst fears that Rolo’s brother, Roland (Kilcavan Mr Jemmerley), and 2 older female Hamiltonstovare were dumped in a rescue shelter by their breeder/owner. The original rescue was also a boarding kennel and the three dogs were left there for boarding but the fees for boarding were never paid, nor was any update given for how long they would be staying there. After a year, the boarding kennel/rescue listed Roland as available on a public listing site. As soon as that listing was made public, the breed community got angry. Then magically, the past due boarding fees were paid and all three dogs were removed from that facility.

During that time, it was brought to my attention that this breeder was getting rid of all of her other dogs as fast as possible but refusing help of other breeders. Alice’s brother, Harry, was one of the first to go to his new home and it looks like he is in a great home. Shockingly, Rolo’s elderly mother, Betty was rehomed at around 10 years of age, very quickly and quietly. There are a few dogs that we have no clue what their status is namely, Mabel (Alice’s mother), William (Rolo’s father), Laura (young female), and possibly another young female. Alice’s father, Joshua is known to be still with the breeder and he is pushing 15 years old.

While all of this was going on, I was dealing with a re-homing situation here that the breeder didn’t want to deal with. Two dogs from the same breeder but desperately needed to be re-homed but the breeder hadn’t been heard from in years. These two dogs were from what I call “justifiable re-homing” in that the family circumstances suddenly changed leaving the new family dynamic unable to cope with the needs of the dogs. Thankfully, both dogs have amazing homes that will hopefully become more active in the breed community.

About a month ago, I searched for a social media hashtag search for Hamiltonstovare. I do this regularly to see what is going on via social media about the breed that I may not know about. When I did this, I noticed that Roland was back in another rescue, this time a rescue, not a boarding kennel/rescue. This place is nothing but a rescue and deal primarily in long-term owner surrenders, cruelty rehab cases, or dump cases. I alerted a breeder that I trust that he was there and they contacted the rescue. The rescue and the Kennel Club worked together closely and Roland was pulled into the breeder’s hands with transferring of KC registration. Roland will NEVER end up in that situation again. The down side is that the very same rescue also has two older girls from the same breeder, Annie and Katie still need new homes to live out the rest of their days. I know that they are both still very active and playful for 11 year olds. One girl recently went through surgery to have a large mass that needed to be removed.

The breeder that now has Roland has gone public and that is the only reason why I am saying anything now. The breeder of the Kilcavan line is the worst possible breeder imaginable, they pose as responsible but they dump their older dogs in rescues, on no level is that appropriate. It is classified as common practice for a breeder to place adult dogs that are no longer being used for breeding or showing in permanent homes, however in the majority of cases it is done before the dog is 8 years old. For a breeder to do that to a dog older than10, it is heartless and cruel. An elderly dog is going to be highly stressed by leaving the environment that they have lived in most of their lives and it takes a special kind of person to take in a highly stressed dog for only 2-3 years as the stress can shorten their lifespan. I am writing this post also because this breeder is now planning on co-breeding another litter, this should never happen. This breeder should never own or breed another dog if they cannot do what is responsible and ensure the health, safety and most importantly their welfare throughout each and every dog that they own or breed throughout the dog’s lifetime. 

Special Selene

It was something that I decided when Alice had her litter that we would keep the pick girl. Keeping both girls had never crossed my mind. That changed when Selene was born. I had hoped that we would be able to keep both girls and Selene made that mind up for us.

What a few people know is that within six months of Alice’s arrival, I had two people interested in an Alice puppy. One person now owns Griffin and her dream was realized. The other sadly passed away prior to Alice’s litter. The other, Amos, always asked about Alice as often as he could and expressed a desire to own his very own mini-Alice. I knew that it was like catching lightning in a bottle so we agreed that a co-ownership with an Alice daughter would be better. Amos was local and a co-worker of mine. When Amos passed away, I made it my personal mission to keep moving forward with the breed, no matter what.

Fast forward to nearly 4 years after Amos’ death, Alice’s litter was born. I remember seeing in the heated box a little girl puppy with a spot on the back of her neck, just like her mother. The first words out of my mouth were “she’s a mini-Alice..” With that utterance, Selene had a permanent place with me and a place in my heart. I did offer Selene to Alice’s breeder but I never heard anything from Alice’s breeder, thankfully. Others expressed an interest in her, experienced people who have shown and bred dogs before. However, none of them felt right. A few people may become Hamiltonstovare owners in the future but something in me told me to not let this little girl go.

I am so glad that I listened to my gut instincts. Selene lives life to the fullest at all possible moments. She is bonded so tightly with Michael that he is listed as her co-owner. Selene adores her daddy and wants to do just about anything with him. I truly feel that Amos is looking down on her with pride as she would have been his. Selene knew that her first daddy isn’t here so that she attached herself to Michael.

Selene is so very special and I am very pleased with her. She really is a mini-Alice in looks but a polar opposite in personality. Selene likes showing but really wants to do just about anything to keep her mind active. 

Alice Paints

I always like trying new things with my dogs and painting just seemed to be the next logical step. Many dogs have painted before her but she is the first Hamiltonstovare to do that. Alice's technique is a little bit different, she steps on paint and then steps on the surface to be painted. It may seem easy but some dogs will not do it. Alice also knows exactly what she is doing and if she is done then she will actively avoid the surface to be painted. Her paintings are abstract but oddly beautiful. I only use non-toxic and washable paint so that Alice is in absolutely no danger. 

Rest of this post is going to be devoted to admiring her works of art.

Alice's first painting

Alice's first painting

Alice's second painting

Alice's second painting

Alice's third painting

Alice's third painting

We have decided to put some of these for sale and offer custom painting for sale. All of the proceeds benefit the Hamiltonstovare Club of America.

Hamilton Dog Painting

Grooming Hamiltonstovare

It is widely assumed that all short-coated breeds of dog are low in grooming needs. In many cases, that is very true for the average pet but very different for the show dog. In my previous breed, Beagles, I was shocked to learn that the pet needs low grooming but the show dog needs on average about 45 minutes to an hour of grooming after bathing for entering the show ring. Thankfully, with Hamiltonstovare that is not the case. 

The main grooming needs with Hamiltonstovare is keeping the white feet very white. Alice broke me in easy because she is very dainty and actively avoids getting dirty at all costs. Rolo was the exact opposite, he is all boy and loves playing in mud puddles and rolls in the dirty as often as he can. Rolo has a regime with his feet and that regime has spread across all of the hounds. After going outside in the mud or rain, his feet are toweled off, they are then sprayed with a rinseless shampoo by Chris Christensen. Hamiltonstovare naturally have a LOT of hair between their toes and the pads of their feet. During the winter, I keep those furry feet to protect them from the cold ground. During the peak of the summer, I trim it down so that the pads of the feet can be cooled off by the cold floor after being outside. The other bits of trimming that I do are show dog specific and not needed for the average pet. I trim the tip of the tail so that it looks neat instead of forming a little curl. I also trim a bit of the areas of the chest that form points or swirls. 

Brushing is minimal and needed only every month or so during shedding season of fall and spring. I use a zoom groom tool to pull the dead hair out and give them a nice massage in the process. Generally a good brushing session can bring out enough coat to cover my terrier in a nice sweater, per dog. However, that's pretty much all they shed every six months or so. 

I do brush teeth about every other week, between brushing they are given raw bones and dental chews. Ear care is done monthly and I clean the ears with a nice cleanser with cotton pads. I hand pluck ear hair from time to time but it very minimal. 

The most invasive part of the grooming processes is the bath. Generally bathing each dog takes about 40 minutes for show dogs. First I apply Chris Christensen White on White on all of the white parts, let it sit for at least 10 minutes, then I apply Isle of Dogs No 50 on each color separately. The colors are rinsed separately as well. This method of bathing is time consuming but it makes the colors pop. Then at the end, I apply Isle of Dogs No 51 conditioner on the white feet, and the entire black saddle. Hamiltonstovare that spend a lot of time in the sun can see sun damage but the conditioner helps protect the black saddle from sun damage and even sun burn. After bathing, they are toweled dry and any stray hairs that mix in the colors are removed by a sculpting stone. 

All of this is what I do for each dog prior to a show or every two weeks, whichever comes first. The pets need a bath every month or so, but don't have to be so invasive. I start bathing puppies around 4 weeks old so that they enjoy the water and understand that a bath is a good thing. 

The most important part of grooming is proper nail care. I dremmel my dogs' nails because it gets them shorter much faster and safer than clippers. Nails should be done every two weeks at an absolute minimum, but every week is ideal. Keeping nails short not only decreases damage to flooring but it is safer for dogs and people. Nails kept at an appropriate length keep dogs fit and healthy because it causes less stress on the dogs' feet. Less stress on the feet, transitions upward for the rest of the dog.

Grooming is an important part of keeping Hamiltonstovare happy and healthy. Hamiltonstovare should ALWAYS have a vibrant coat that shines. Dull coats are a sign of poor care and even poor nutrition.  

Wishing for the spotlight

As with many FSS (Foundation Stock Service) breeds, most are looking for and longing for the spotlight. I am no different, I feel that the media would greatly help be the greatest advocates for the breed in America. To my knowledge, no American camera crew or film production company has ever used a Hamiltonstovare in a TV show, commercial or movie. I wish that they would. Hamiltonstovare are easily trainable and ideal for movie making, most of the breed looks very similar and they are strikingly gorgeous. 

At one point, Alice had an agent to hopefully launch her into print and screen, nothing came out of it. I spent hundreds of dollars on listing services that went nowhere. I would love to have my guys featured in something at some point.. In Richmond, we have film shoots and TV shoots on a regular basis. 

The breed in America is at a crossroads, only myself and maybe one other person is even interested in showing. Most owners of the breed are strictly pet owners, not that it is a bad thing. However, pet owners don't advance the breed, breeders and fanciers do. At my current estimation, it will be at least 2035 before the breed is even remotely close to being fully recognized by the AKC. Some say that the wait is part of it but it isn't, it is a numbers game. The AKC has requirements for numbers registered with the FSS before we can go up to the next level to Miscellaneous. As you move up in the levels, the publicity done and promoted by the AKC goes up. Currently, every time a "new" breed is recognized there are press junkets and loads of media items that focus on that breed for at least a year. It is a wild ride by those that I know who have gone through it or are going through it now. One new breed in particular, the Berger Picard, has been tremendously helped by the media. Without the features that they have had in various movies, the breed would have very little popularity here as most of the breeders of the breed now were heavily influenced by those movies. 

So if anybody in any sort of media reads my blog or comes across it, please consider using Hamiltonstovare in any media outlet possible!! I know that myself and the handful of current US owners would greatly thank you and appreciate everything that you want to do.   

Bullies and Bullying

Recently, online bullying has become a hot-button issue for children and teenagers. However, online bullying happens to adults, by adults. Bullying happens within the dog show world as well. As with any competitive sport, tensions run high and it tends to draw those with a competitive spirit. Some people can take things too far, especially in dog shows because it is one of the few sports where professionals and novices compete against each other on an equal playing field. When I first started showing dogs in 1998 as a precocious youngster with Westminster dreams, bullying was the furthest from my mind. To be able to compete against my heroes in Beagles was a dream come true and I still view it like that. When I showed Beagles, I never dealt with bullying mainly because there seems to be an unspoken rule in that adults never bully a child.

I showed in Junior Showmanship as a teenager with my mentor's Great Danes. I never dealt with bullying then, when you would think that it would happen with competitive teenagers competing against each other. Sure, I saw dirty tactics like trying to close in on me, other handlers intentionally stepping forward or stacking their dogs in a way to block the judge's view. However, that is all part of being competitive in my mind. Is it dirty? Sure it is, and it can be a sign of poor sportsmanship. When I showed semi-professionally, I never dealt with bullying either. I think it was because I was still very young and it showed. I still had this juvenile look about me in my late teens and early twenties that seemed to be an armor against that.

The bullying to me started when I got my first Hamiltonstovare, Alice, and started winning. Unlike most, my bully was the very person who should be the last person to bully me, my dog's breeder. Her tactics started out subtly by trying to take credit for a win or in some cases a title. It would be harmless statements like “My Alice won a group today” or “My Alice got her Championship” within Facebook, with no reference to me or that I did anything to guide Alice to those wins. I started to subtly fight back by commenting that I handled Alice and that Alice lived with me.

Things got worse when I got Rolo. Rolo was highly admired by a person in Australia. This person was nice and rarely said anything to me prior to me getting Rolo. When I got Rolo, this person commented on nearly everything I did on Facebook. This person lulled me into a sense of false security and even tried to convince me to allow her to get an Alice puppy when Alice was bred. I was very vague regarding Alice's litter as Alice's breeder kept on trying to lead me on and make me believe that I had some sense of control with Alice's reproductive life. Plus, I had doubts that Alice would ever be bred because of her erratic heat cycles. As with any serious puppy inquiry, I did my due diligence and gave her a quote for import costs and consulted with her town council regarding her eligibility to obtain another dog. I have a friend who is now a vet in Australia and she went through a struggle when she was younger to obtain another dog as Australia has very strict dog ownership laws. I remembered that and made sure to follow through. I informed the person of the quote and asked her if she had clearance to violate the dog limit. I never got an answer and I refused her request to get an Alice puppy. At that point, things changed dramatically between her, my dogs' breeder and myself. My dogs' breeder was already distant to begin with in regards to giving me information and paperwork, let alone communicating with me. After that, it was next to impossible.

Things ramped up when Alice's litter was born. Alice and Rolo's breeder was very silent, the Australian woman was not however, and she brought another Australian Hamiltonstovare owner/breeder this time. I naively bought a puppycam and allowed public viewing prior to the puppies' birth. Those people decided that it would be a prime opportunity to view the camera and message me. At first they seemed concerned and when I assured them that Alice's best interests were at heart or when I cut off the camera during her emergency c-section, things died down. Then when I cut the camera on, things changed, badly. When it appeared that Alice and her puppies would live they took every chance they could to privately and publicly harass me. To anybody who has bred a litter that had complications, it is a stressful time. I kept Alice and her puppies as priority from day 1. As somebody who has had a surgery before (recently multiple), keeping the incision clean and free from debris is priority and comfort is secondary. As such, I made the decision for the first few days while Alice was nursing to have Alice nurse on highly absorbent surgical pads and cloths. The Australians as I began to call them, thought that it was cruel and took the time to bash me publicly on Facebook saying that Alice was dying, suffering and in pain. Their evidence was the “gross bits of paper” they saw in the whelping box. So let me set the record straight, NEVER was Alice on soiled surgical pads or cloths for long. I did this at the advice and recommendation of Alice's reproductive specialist who is highly respected in this area. Thanks to that care, Alice recovered quickly and no scarring from the c-section. After her sutures came out, she was on comfortable bedding.

After that public bullying and harassment, I blocked both of them. However, I did keep screenshots and evidence of what they said, that included comments hoping for Alice's death, the death of her puppies and that I would “permanently go away so the breed isn't harmed”. I also noticed that Alice and Rolo's breeder supported the public bullying and harassment by “liking” their posts. So, after just 2 days, I was forced to make the puppcam completely private to everyone, including the future puppy owners (who had every right to view it but was denied that chance thanks to those horribly spiteful people). Thankfully, things died down and I was able to enjoy the puppies and help raise them in a manner that I approved of, with attention and love.

As the puppies grew, I started to notice some strange comments from a few that support Alice and Rolo's breeder. Those comments seemed to be overly critical of how the puppies were being raised. Finally one couple decided to send me a private message that said that they hoped that Raven would die so it would “teach me a lesson”. That couple was blocked and reported.

Again things got quiet, until I decided to start a blog on this site. My decision to start a blog was because of my desire to clear my name in certain circles and give my full and complete side of the story. At the advise of my attorney, I have and will continue to keep names out of it. Even though I have evidence of the harassment and bullying, I wish to protect myself. I posted Alice and Rolo's stories and never heard anything. Then I decided to post a harmless post regarding Popular Sire Syndrome and once more things changed again. I briefly mentioned that epilepsy is in the breed, specifically in Australia. That fact is true, yet again I have a screenshot from the owner who describes their dog's diagnosis as epilepsy, publicly. The Australians planned a coordinated attack while I was at this year's Westminster Kennel Club dog show, participating in Meet the Breeds and educating the public about the Hamiltonstovare. They posted on the group “Hamiltonstovare Dog Lovers” a grossly false post about me. I went to the admin of that group who instead of removing the harassers, they blocked me and my fiance from the group. The admin of that group then proceeded to belittle me and what happened to me, she then belittled my very real diagnosis of PTSD and what that does to a person. No group admin should EVER belittle a person with a legitimate issue, especially if they mention that the behavior of these individuals were actively triggering a person's disability. Thanks to what happened, I had multiple panic attacks while I was at Westminster, in NYC and on my way home. That group is a hotbed of Hamiltonstovare gossip across the board and I am actually glad to be away from the drama. The harassment did not stop at the Facebook group, they tried to flood my private inbox with emails, they also falsified a contact form and posed as an American. They then tried to comment on multiple blog posts.

This page is supported by and created using squarespace. Squarespace is a lovely service that allows me to see IP addresses, the country of origin and the website that they viewed to access my site. I know that this was a coordinated attack against me because IP addresses from 2 locations in the UK (one from the couple I blocked and one from Alice and Rolo's breeder) and 2 locations from Australia weeks prior to Westminster and on the day(s) of the attack. It also showed that these people used private Facebook messenger to send my website link back and forth to each other. To this day at least one of those IP addresses has been monitoring my site on a weekly and sometime daily basis. Also, any comments to my blog must be approved prior to them being posted, so I have screenshots of that. I also have screenshots and emails (which falsifying emails is classified as a federal crime in the US) of what was sent to me. With that, I went to the US authorities, UK authorities and the Australian government. The Australian government has an online harassment and bullying special unit and they are monitoring those that I reported if anything happens further.

Every one of those people were members of the Hamiltonstovare Club of America and since this is a parent club that is regulated by the American Kennel Club and its bylaws, those members were removed and reported to their local kennel clubs.

I have decided to make this post after I read a blog post from a person that I admire within the dog world. My bullying story is in no way unique in the dog world. The sport of purebred dogs is declining fast and this behavior from grown adults has to stop. If we want the next generation to be able to enjoy purebred dogs on any level, we have to be accepting and decent people. We have to encourage and promote our Junior Handlers, novice handlers, novice breeders, etc. I honestly believe that is why the United Kennel Club is growing by leaps and bounds yearly, because it is the most welcoming dog registry I have ever seen. The drama that I have seen in the UKC is from petty people and those people generally don't stay around UKC events very long.

So every person who has been involved in the sport of dogs in any outlet, be nice to each other, help out new people, be nice to spectators, and always encourage the next generation of our wonderful sport.

Thoughts on Hunting and Instinct Preservation within Hamiltonstovare

Hamiltonstovare are bred to hunt hare and fox, never deer or any other game. I take that stance very seriously and want to make that my mission to keep that instinct very much alive within my line and within the breed in America. I do not hunt animals at all but I was brought up with the idea that hunting is never done for a sport. Hunting should serve a purpose and every part of the animal should be used as much as possible.

Hunting with dogs is a touchy subject for me as it may sound slightly hypocritical. I do not like the way that most hounds are kept that are strictly hunting dogs in America. Most hounds that are strictly hunting dogs, not MFHA registered packs, are kept in horrible conditions, receive very little human contact, rarely if ever socialized, most never know what it is like to live in a home or sleep on a sofa. I do NOT support that care ever. I will never allow any of my dogs, be it bred by me or a rescue, go to a home where they will be kept in a kennel environment and not kept inside primarily. I do support the way that some of the sporting breeds are kept in that they are treasured family companions and go out to the field to work but come home to a home environment where they are loved, socialized, and treated like members of the family. The reason that I have heard from hunters who keep hounds in deplorable conditions is that there is a myth that a dog who does not have human contact will hunt better and a dog that has human contact will never hunt and just hang around the hunter. That is false, no other way around that, it is completely and 100% false. Hounds that are loved and treated with dignity and respect will hunt for their owner because they want to do it. Loving a hound will not do a thing to change their instincts to hunt. Loving a hound will actually help them return to the hunter after a long day of hunting.

Alice at an AKC Lure Coursing Trial, photo by The Davis Studio

Alice at an AKC Lure Coursing Trial, photo by The Davis Studio

At least weekly, I work my guys on rabbit skin and scent both visually and in a drag scent. I view that a dog bred to do a job is happiest when doing a job that triggers those deeply bred in instincts. I rarely discipline a dog for showing hunting instincts. The times that I do discipline them is when safety is more important than hunting or if they are doing something where they have been trained to not react to those distractions, like conformation shows, service dog work and other performance activities. I encourage my puppy owners to take part in activities such as lure coursing, barn hunts and tracking.

Alice doing scent work on a family farm in NC

Alice doing scent work on a family farm in NC

This stance of instinct preservation is viewed as very important for the Swedish and Norwegian breeders. When I talk with a Swedish or Norwegian breeder/owner one of the first questions that I get is “Do you hunt?” I have to explain what I do instead of hunting to preserve the hunting instincts as that is viewed as a very important breed trait. The main reason why I do not do field trials or other things like that is because Hamiltonstovare are not allowed to do field trials in America as the UKC only offers hunting programs for Beagles and Coonhounds, not foxhounds or any other scent hound of any kind. The AKC has expressed interest in allowing the Hamiltonstovare Club of America to host our own field trials and doing a parent club title recognition program. That is something that I am very interested in doing but it can only be done if there is enough interest to organize field trials to pay for the fenced in hunting grounds and to fly a judge over from Sweden or Norway.

Rolo scenting in a local park, photo by Mandi Heath

Rolo scenting in a local park, photo by Mandi Heath

I am not a hunter as I said before so the idea of taking my treasured dogs out in a hunting environment that isn't safe and their safety is paramount then I won't do it. I live in a relatively rural area but I am relatively close to a few busy roads where dogs get hit a LOT during hunting season. Also, there are several poorly cared for hunting packs in my area and I do not want to expose my guys to dogs that aren't properly cared for and could be transmitting parasites and communicable diseases. For that reason, I do not allow hunting or hunting dogs on my property. If the dogs are on a trail that is fine as long as they leave and no animal is killed on my property. I do not allow hunters to drop off or pick up hounds on my property, unless the hound is clearly lost from the pack then I will contact the hunter to pick up the dog. Those hounds that wander on my property are in terrible condition, dull coats, fearful, infested with fleas and ticks, and some of them have been treated with illegal pest control methods like using motor oil on their coats. When the hunters pick up their hounds, they are given a stern talking to about proper animal care and I also advise them of a better and cheaper method of pest control.  

Hamiltonstovare and dog allergies

My focus on this will be on if Hamiltonstovare are hypoallergenic. As a general rule there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog breed. Some individual dogs are less reactive than others but those factors are varied and can change from different dogs of the same breed and even the same litter.

Myself and my fiancé suffer from dog allergies but they are far less severe than others. Each dog causes a different reaction to me but the constant is that the two male dogs in my house, Rolo and Kemper, cause me to react more than the four females, Alice, Penny, Raven and Selene. Hamiltonstovare are a breed that are NOT classified as traditionally hypoallergenic. The main reason for that is that Hamiltonstovare have fur and fur tends to have more dander than hair.

However, each dog produces dander differently and some people react to saliva and not to dander. Dander is linked to shedding and the thought process is that a low shedding breed would be less allergenic.

Hamiltonstovare are a very low shedding breed if fed and properly maintained. My Hamiltonstovare shed less combined than one of my fiance’s terriers. They are a very clean breed in general and some have been known to be very cat-like in their cleanliness. However, that may increase the allergy risk.

Hamiltonstovare are considered to be a dry-mouth breed in that they do not drool. They may drool slightly at the sight of food or if heavily stressed but not constantly. The most mess I see with my Hamiltons is at the water-bowl as my guys tend to be messy drinkers.

If thinking about Hamiltonstovare in an allergen scale they would be classified as a low-risk breed for people allergic to saliva and a low to medium risk for those suffering from dander allergies. If you have mild allergies, some Hamiltons might be the right fit. If you are concerned about a reaction please consult a breeder, a breeder will be able to provide a location to test and evaluate each dog on an individual basis.  

Judging the Hamiltonstovare

As with any rare breed, judges education is essential. Judge education should always come from the national parent club or registry and never from an individual kennel. A judge's education presentation should be approved by a committee and biases removed from the presentation. The dogs used as an example should be able to show both the good and the bad. My goal with this blog is NOT to educate judges about the breed because there is a great judge's education tool available from the Hamiltonstovare Club of America that has been around for years. It is approved by the club, it is a word document file so that judges can easily print it out for their use at any time. I will post a link to it at the end of this post.

In my opinion there are a few rules that should be kept clear when judging this breed. The first is does it look like it can survive in a colder climate? Hamiltonstovare are a Swedish breed and they are expected to survive in every type of climate. The dog must have bone, substance, muscle tone and a correct coat to survive. A dog that does not have bone and substance in equal parts will never survive. This breed is not bred for speed so it should never look thin or racy. They should embody and give the impression of great power and strength. This breed needs to look like it has the endurance and power to run, not walk or trot, all day. That requires a lot of muscle and is only achieved by proper daily conditioning. The coat type, not the color, is needed to survive, the coat must have an outer harsh layer and a very short plush layer. The coat should be very dense and no hair should come off in the judge's hands during examination.

The next thing is make sure to check over items that are eliminating faults in the FCI standard, such as height. Height is an eliminating fault in the breed because it is a breed defining trait to distinguish it from other breeds native to the region, such as, the Finnish Hound. When a Hamiltonstovare and a Finnish Hound are placed next to each other, they should look related but distinctively separate from each other. Hamiltonstovare are smaller and more refined than the Finnish Hound. When in doubt, use a wicket, over or under of the prescribed height ranges is grounds for elimination. Please note that the height ranges for dogs and bitches are different.

Another very important thing to take into consideration is muscle tone. Hamiltonstovare should have clearly visible muscles especially in the front and rear. The front and rear muscles should be equal. Hamiltonstovare are an ideal dog to use the “Structure In Action” method as described by the great judge and dog breeder, Pat Hastings. If you are interested in canine structure, movement and why they do the things they do, please go to her seminar and/or buy the book “Structure In Action”. The main rule about dogs and canine structure is balance should always be your guide. If a dog isn't balanced in both front and rear angles then it will not be efficient in the job that it was bred to do.

When watching a Hamiltonstovare move around the ring, the gait should be smooth and efficient. It should cover a lot of ground with the least amount of effort. The legs should track effortlessly in 2 separate lines with only slight convergence to the center as the dog picks up speed. Limbs that cross, paddle, cow-hock out, appear choppy or have high lifting front action will never be able to survive in the field. The ultimate goal when judging this breed should always be: can this dog survive all day in the field with snow on the ground? If that answer is yes, then put it up, if no then do not award it at all. Hamiltonstovare are a scent hound and should never look like a sight hound at all. They should look like they came from scent hounds, a dog that is lacking in bone, muscle tone, substance, and have exaggerated front and rear angles goes against breed type and needs to be excused from the ring.

Hamiltonstovare have a different proportion, they are built on a series of rectangles, not squares. They should be slightly longer in the body than they are tall. They need to be rectangular because it allows them to be more flexible in negotiating rough terrain. The breed is bred to run, climb and push through a forest. They cannot do that job if they are square. Square dogs are more for running in flat fields, that is not like this breed at all.

Hamiltonstovare are a markings breed but it is also a working scent hound that still hunts in its native country. If the dog cannot do its job due to a structural fault then that should be the over-riding rule instead of awarding a pretty color. Hamiltonstovare should always be tricolor with very specific locations for the white, tan and black. If a judge is looking at a beautifully marked dog that is not structurally sound and a structurally sound dog with a markings fault then the judge should award the dog with the markings fault instead of the dog that is not structurally sound.

Which outline would you choose?

The answer is the outline on the right. If you chose the outline on the left, please re-read the Hamiltonstovare FCI breed standard. If in doubt, please visit the Hamiltonstovare Club of America Judge's Education document, here.

 

Benefits of Socialization in Hamiltonstovare

Hamiltonstovare are not an at-risk breed of developing serious temperament issues but like every breed they thrive on socialization. Socialization is the controlled act to introduce a dog to new and stimulating things. Socialization should always be a positive thing and corrections should be kept to a minimum. Socialization is something that should never stop and needs to be worked on all the time.

Hamiltonstovare are an at-risk breed for developing anxiety related issues, especially separation anxiety. Generally separation anxiety has a trigger and is related to an excessive response to change. Separation anxiety is most commonly seen in dogs adopted from a shelter but it has been seen in dogs that have never been in a shelter. Some theories are that separation anxiety comes from not being properly socialized from a young puppy through adolescence. Some theories that it is partially genetic based but not fully.

Typical symptoms of separation anxiety within the breed are: destructive behavior, urinating and defecating in the house, excessive whining, excessive barking, exclusive attachment to one person in a multi-person home, excessive licking, and escaping or attempting to escape from crates, kennels or homes . If your dog has a majority of these symptoms then they probably have separation anxiety.

My journey with separation anxiety in the breed started February 12, 2010, the day of Alice’s arrival. The first few days, she was great and really absorbed everything. I took a several days off from work and my first day back was when it all started. She became extremely destructive and even attempted to bend the bars of her wire crate. I thought that it might have been related to her not being used to the crate, so I left her out the next day, big mistake. Within the span of just 2 hours, she destroyed over $400 worth of electronics, books, bed sheets and other miscellaneous items. Each day after that she got progressively worse. It got so bad that I was asked to move out from 2 different places. After that, I took her to her vet and he prescribed Reconcile, the dog version of Prozac. Her first very visit when she arrived showed that she was healthy and not suffering from any medical issue, so it was very easy to determine that the issue was separation anxiety. Within 2 weeks of being on Reconicle, I noticed a huge difference. She stayed on that medication for 4 months and the behavior modification training that I was doing started to work.

Rolo has never been formally diagnosed as having separation anxiety but he does have some of the same symptoms as Alice. However, his big one is stress licking. He has some abnormal responses to stress and separation but they are not as bad as Alice.

When my first litter was born, I made it my personal mission to socialize these puppies in the same manner that other at-risk breeds are socialized. I started early neurological stimulation at 3 days old and started introducing people 10 days after that. The results were dramatic, these puppies looked to people for guidance but nothing phased them. The girls that we kept are now at the same age Alice was when she was starting to show signs of separation anxiety. Raven has no symptoms of separation anxiety at all. Selene was difficult to house break and seems to be a bit more needy than her sister but she is also not exhibiting any symptoms of separation anxiety.

My socialization plan for the litter was far and away more aggressive than what others do but I think that they benefitted immensely from it. From the time they received their first vaccinations, I allowed outside exploration. At 6 weeks old, they started going to PetCo, Petsmart, and Lowes all while riding in the shopping cart. Any person that wished to touch them had to use hand sanitizer but the more people the better. At 8 weeks, they started going to PetCo and similar places on leash. The first puppy left home at 10 weeks old and that is the earliest that I will allow them to leave. New evidence is showing that the puppies really benefit from being with their mother up to 10-12 weeks in age. The other puppy left home around 14 weeks of age. He went to a therapy dog home so I did even more socialization with him. After the brothers left, the girls went out with an adult hound at least once a week until they were 6 months old. They still go out on socialization adventures at least once a month.

For the adult hounds, I still socialize them, that never stops. From training classes, to service dog trips, to shopping at dog friendly placed, they are out with me at least once a week. They are on a rotation and I alternate who goes out and when. Raven and Selene are going in different paths based on their temperaments. Selene will be shown until her UKC CH and mainly be an agility/performance dog. Raven on the other-hand will be shown a lot in conformation, may try some performance sports and become a service dog for me. Alice is nearly at retirement age for service dog work, so Rolo is prepped to pick up where she left off but Raven just started her training to replace Rolo in a few years. Raven’s training trips are more often and she is slightly more socialized than Selene.

The ultimate benefits of socialization are numerous but the main one is a better reaction to stressful situations. Raven and Selene show that in spades, they are not stressed in any way and generally only whine when they need to go outside to relieve themselves. Another benefit is a better reaction to people, my well socialized girls approach people instead of mistrust, like Alice. Another is that they are much easier to handle be it on a walk or taking them to the vet.

So take them everywhere, they will be better for it. 

The incredible perception of Hamiltonstovare

Over the past few months, I have been suffering through a mysterious illness. I started showing symptoms just after I arrived homes from Westminster. I tried to chalk it up to just a stomach bug. The symptoms that I had just wouldn't quit. I started losing weight rapidly, over 30lbs in 2 months. I sought the care of multiple doctors, visited the ER multiple times had every scan and treatment known to man kind, nothing worked. 

The one constant was that Alice would want to be at my side, at all times. As my symptoms got worse, I became unable to sit and unable to go to work. Alice stayed by my side no mater what, even after each test came up normal. Finally there was a clue, my ct scan showed that something was abnormal with my appendix. About 10 days ago, I started getting extreme lower right abdominal pain and Alice knew it. She would come up to me and put her nose on my lower right abdomen. She knew something was wrong. What was even more incredible was that the other 3 Hamiltons in the house knew it too. Rolo acted more subdued around me. Raven and Selene wouldn't jump up on more or if they did, they would aim for other areas than my lower abdomen. 

Well, I was admitted to the hospital on May 30th and was operated on to remove my appendix the next day. Within hours of me waking up from the surgery, I felt better. I was discharged on June 1st and returned home that evening. Alice saw me and her behavior changed, it was like she instantly relaxed. She's been sleeping primarily since I got home. Just a few days after my discharge, I got the full report and it turns out there was a small pocket of infection that was trapped in my appendix that caused all of my symptoms. Alice, Rolo, Raven and Selene all knew it. 

I have long suspected that Hamiltonstovare are much more perceptive than the average dog. I've had anecdotal evidence of stories where Hamiltons instantly change their behavior around people who aren't as able bodied, small children, elderly and disabled. Alice started exhibiting something from the time I got her that surprised me and made me consider her for a service dog. Alice can sense my limits when on my feet, I don't know how she does it but it is like she picks up on my pain and can sense it coming minutes before I can. Her alerts were subtle at first and that's why I didn't pick up on it. Alice and I used to take walks when I lived with my mother and she would gently tap her nose on my leg while on these walks, within minutes of that tap, my pain would start. I didn't catch on at first because it was so gentle and it seemed like she was just doing it at random, until I picked up on the pattern. 

When I got Rolo, the incredible thing is that he started doing it too, with no training or prompting. I was shocked. I couldn't believe it. When Alice and Rolo's puppies were born, I had this thought in the back of my head wondering if they would be able to do it too. That opportunity came  a few weeks ago. I was feeling fairly decent and we decided to take Alice out at a veteran service dog and Raven as a service dog in training. I had Raven the entire time and within an hour or so, Raven alerted. I was stunned. I have taught Raven some basic skills needed but never the alert. She did it just like her parents, a subtle tap on my leg. She got so much praise for it and I turned into the crying lady in Lowe's. 

This just proves to me that Hamiltonstovare are really the best dogs on the planet and need to be cherished at all times. 

Training Hamiltonstovare Do's and Don't's

Training a dog is a personal choice as always but there are some methods that work much better with Hamiltonstovare than others. I have trained my guys mainly at home but I do work in a formalized way with them from time to time. The first key component of any well trained dog is socialization. Take your dog everywhere and as often as possible from as early an age as possible. A good breeder should start that process for you, they should easily be able to tell you where they take their dogs and how often. If they can't do that, run away as fast as you can. True, Hamiltonstovare aren't an at risk breed for aggression but a breeder should try their best to better the temperament as often as possible. 

The first thing you should do when bringing your new puppy home at 10-14 weeks, any earlier is a huge no-no, is enroll them in a puppy manners class that focuses on crate training, socialization, manners, and some introduction to obedience. The puppy manners class should focus on letting the puppy make good choices and enforcing those positive choices. After the puppy manners class, they should start a basic obedience class that puts emphasis on sit, stay, come, down, heel, and using those skills at will. Hamiltonstovare that are trained well from a good trainer should never need a prong choke collar or a gentle leader. Gentle leaders have become very popular as a training tool recently and almost every single person I have seen use them, use them incorrectly. Gentle leaders are designed for one purpose, to discourage pulling on the leash as a last resort. It is not a training tool to be kept on during a training exercise, a hike, or anything after the dog is properly trained. Gentle Leaders are only to be used on adult dogs that are done maturing, for Hamiltonstovare that is over 2 years of age. If you have trained your dog properly then you should NEVER need to use one. Hamiltonstovare have long necks and the possibility for injury using a Gentle Leader is great. Gentle Leaders can cause neck injuries, muzzle phobia issues, and if put on incorrectly permanent nerve and spinal damage. 

Training a Hamiltonstovare is actually remarkably easy if you have one key component, food. Hamiltonstovare are highly food motivated and will do practically anything for food. I have trained 2 dogs to a CGC and one to a CGCA using food. At home I train tasks 100% off leash using food. Alice is my trickster and she knows several tricks that we all taught while having her wait for dinner. Alice knows sit, down, wait, speak, roll over, sit-up, shake, wave, high five, back-up, and touch. Rolo is learning but he knows sit, down, wait, speak, say his name (he goes Ro Ro), sit-up, back-up and touch. Rolo is in training for agility and is progressing very well with that training thanks to food and an item called a Lotus Ball. 

Rolo doing some DIY agility jumps

Rolo doing some DIY agility jumps

With Raven and Selene, we are doing things much earlier and the results have been incredible. Raven has started some Rally-O training recently and she is loving it. Raven is being trained using the clicker. Clicker training has really helped her understand the importance of good choices, immediately. Selene is highly toy driven, the most toy driven dog I have ever seen, and she has started some agility training. She adores it. 

The main key to training a Hamiltonstovare is finding the thing that motivates them and exploiting it to do things that you want them to do. Hamiltonstovare, like most scent hounds, respond horribly to negative reinforcement. Anything from yelling, prong collars, gentle leaders, some types of choke chains; can actually do more harm than good. Trust is key with Hamiltonstovare, they respond best to an owner that allows them to work and progress at their own pace. 

Here are some key Do's when training Hamiltonstovare:
Work with them daily using positive reinforcement
Challenge their brain on a regular basis, Hamiltons are very bright, use it to your advantage
Use food as a reinforcement
Take them everywhere possible
Try anything with them from weight pull, lure coursing, rally, agility, etc.
Find a trainer that understands how to train a hound

Here are some key Don't's when training Hamiltonstovare:
Use a gentle leader on a dog under 2 years of age
Yell, hit, or any form of negative reinforcement
Make them do something they they don't want to do
Expect more out of them than what is realistically possible
Use a prong collar or gentle leader unless it is an absolute last resort for the dog's safety

The most important thing to remember when training Hamiltonstovare is to have fun. If you are having fun then that will travel down the leash to them and they will have fun. Hamiltonstovare are incredibly versatile and have the ability to excel in agility, dock diving, lure coursing, weight pull, rally-o, obedience, fly ball, trick training, service dog work, therapy dog work and pretty much anything you can think of, they can do it. 

Alice waving

Alice waving


Breed Community

When an experienced dog show exhibitor even thinks about getting a new breed, one of the first questions asked of the breed that they are interested in is "what is the breed community like?" Thankfully, the Hamiltonstovare breed community in America is wonderful, we all support each other and offer advice when needed. The global community is less than great. I am glad to be over 3,000 miles away from the majority of it. 

The UK breed community is factioned, badly. There are very few people that are willing to put their personal biases aside and benefit the breed as a whole. Recently, I received word of 2 dogs dumped in a boarding kennel/shelter in the UK that were bred by Alice and Rolo's breeder. Immediately, I contacted the RSPCA and another UK Hamilton breeder. The contact that I received was from an independent rescue group that knew I have dealt with rescue Hamiltonstovare before. My chief concern is for those 2 dogs that are away from everything that they are familiar with and kept in a kennel environment for six months and counting. The UK breeder that I contacted has offered to pay the outstanding fees for the dogs and take them in as long as the KC registration is transferred over. If I was in that situation, I would GLADLY accept that for the well-being of the dogs. However, that could be further from the truth, the "owner" of the dogs is doing everything to stonewall the dogs from receiving the love and care that they need. Now that the majority of the breed community knows about it, the ones who are genuinely concerned have expressed it. Those associated with the "owner" are doing everything in their power to suppress any of this knowledge coming forward. This is doing more harm than good, please put differences aside and help these dogs. This is NOT a private matter, this is a matter that needs to be resolved as soon as possible. The dogs' lives should be the paramount concern instead of reputation, bad feelings, etc. At this point, I do not care who put them in there as long as they get out to somebody who knows how to rehabilitate them in a manner appropriate for the breed. Unfortunately, that is just one example of factions within the breed. 

Every person is absolutely entitled to their own opinion and that opinion should be respected. However, the breed is incredibly splintered in the UK, that I am sure it does alienate owners and future owners. Most UK owners that I have talked to have expressed this to me at some point. Some differences are mild and opinion based, others are rotten. Poor sportsmanship is something that should never be tolerated in a breed community, but it happens. Jealously is a nasty green monster and some people give into that monster. When a dog wins the breed at Crufts, congratulate them instead of criticizing the dog, owner, handler, breeder on a very public forum. When people hear of dogs needing rescuing move mountains to help them instead of making excusing for the owner's horrific actions. When a dog gets injured, express your sympathies instead of blaming the owner who is already going through enough as it is. When a new breeder is proud of a litter of puppies who had a tumultuous birth, wish the breeder luck, offer educated advice and do not publicly ridicule them when you don't know half of the the story, do not wish their beloved dog's death, dog not wish terrible diseases on the puppies. When a new owner asks for paperwork that has not been delivered as promised, do not run away and hide, deliver on your promise. When an owner has gone well above and beyond expectations, it is the breeder's job to be incredibly proud of the dog and the owner, NEVER take credit for their successes that they put countless hours of work on, always encourage and motivate the owner to constantly succeed. When at a show, if you lose, graciously congratulate the winner, hug your dog and chalk it up to maybe it will be your turn the next show. Never make a winner feel so bad about winning that they are in tears and nearly shaking so bad that they can hardly compete in groups later on in the day. If your dog didn't win the breed, still stay and cheer for that breed in group competition. If a new exhibitor shows up, embrace them and treat them like old friends, instead of enemies that deserve to be destroyed. I can promise you, the Hamiltonstovare breed community is not the only breed community dealing with similar issues. If every exhibitor treated each other in a manner of respect, good sportsmanship, and in a way that they wish to be treated in return then I bet this sport would start growing again, the public perception of purebred dogs would change and our beloved breeds would be better than ever.  

Imports and Immunological Concerns

Importing dogs is a decision that needs to be made with care and concern. Importing dogs from countries with clear veterinary standards, the risks are very low. Most Hamiltonstovare in America have to be imported well over 3,000 miles from the place of their birth. In almost every single case, the climate is different and the types of disease to be exposed to is different. Generally speaking most European imports to America have very little exposure to tick borne illnesses but are otherwise immunologically healthy.

For example, when I imported Alice, her first vet did a full blood test to test for various communicable diseases that are common here. Alice tested completely negative, no trace ever, of antibodies of any tick borne illness. While that is awesome, it can be very bad. The very bad side is that Alice’s body does not know how to respond to low doses of tick borne illnesses, so that means that the possibility of a bad reaction is much higher than other dogs born in America. So every year, I run a tick panel on Alice and Rolo to make sure that everything stays as it should. Most dogs born in America have some trace antibodies of some tick borne illnesses, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, the theory is that those trace antibodies help prevent the disease from being bad. As Alice and Rolo don’t have those good antibodies, the potential for a lethal reaction is much greater.

Dogs that are imported to America by individuals are generally incredibly healthy and well cared for. The owners know what to look for, know how to prevent the spread of disease and understand the inherent risks associated with importing dogs.

What is incredibly shocking is that rescues import dogs from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Russia, China and South Korea at a staggering number. Those dogs are generally feral or farmed and in horrible condition. Most of those dogs have not had appropriate veterinary care that is in line with standard American practices. These dogs are brought over to meet the ever increasing demand of shelter dogs. The problem is that most of the general public has no clue of the needs of an import. Another issue is that these imports are completely unregulated, most requirements are just a need to be vaccinated against rabies. Quarantine is NOT required to any imported dog in America, regardless of country of origin. As long as the person or organization has a “health” certificate that declares them healthy at the time of import then everything is ok. Rescues do not understand that importing these incredibly hardy dogs poses a risk to dogs here. Some evidence is showing that excessive vaccination and use of monthly pesticides have weakened the immune systems of our native dogs. So to bring over a very hardy group of dogs that had to live Darwin’s laws of survival of the fittest means that some of these imports can and are carriers of disease that can be transmitted to other dogs here with ease.

The main case in point is the dog flu outbreak in the Midwest right now. The variety of the flu is of Asian origin and the theory is that it was brought over by rescues/shelters importing dogs that are visibly healthy. Those visibly healthy dogs are potentially patient zero of this outbreak that has caused thousands of dogs to be sick, lost revenue for boarding and training facilities, and in some cases the death of an innocent dog. I am all for saving dogs and rescue but never at the risk of others. Importing street dogs and meat farm dogs is dangerous and walks a tightrope.

To me the main solution is to regulate the import of rescue dogs, the new USDA APHIS laws apply to rescues but it only requires rabies, standard vaccinations and a visual health certificate. There is absolutely no requirement that dogs be isolated and in a quarantine situation even though some street and farmed dogs have been exposed to highly communicable diseases. I personally believe that no rescue should import dogs from another country until their local rescue problems are solved. Imports require special care and as a stop-gap measure, all adoptive owners should be informed where their dog was born so that appropriate care can be made. 

Views on Intentional Mixed Breeds

Recently there was a discussion that I was a part of that was kind of shocking. It was regarding crossing rare hounds to popular hounds in the states in order to improve one aspect. I was so terribly against on so many levels that it shocked me. I feel that intentionally breeding 2 purebreds together of different breeds should be avoided at all costs, no matter the reason.

When the Australian Labradoodle experiment started, it had the best intentions but now it has been twisted beyond belief. The founder of the labradoodle has even regretted doing it. The reasons are vast and profound. The main reason is that hybrid vigor is nothing more than a myth. If you breed 2 unhealthy dogs together, their resulting offspring will not be magically healthy just because they are different breeds, they will be unhealthy. Another reason is that most people doing these breedings don’t have a clue about genetics or the intent beyond one litter of puppies.

The genetics of diseases are complex and should be the over-ruling factor in a breeding. Hip displaysia is the big one that people have tried for year to eradicate but simple phenotypical testing has done nothing to prevent the spread of the disease. The main reason that has been discovered is that there are multiple genes that control hip displaysia and environment plays a huge factor in the spread of the disease. Some experiments have taken a litter of puppies from tested parents and changed one thing, weight, and the rates of hip displaysia were shocking. Other diseases such as epilepsy also have a genetic component but the genes are unknown.

Breeding two dogs together should have the intention of bettering the next generation as a whole, instead of one part. Mother nature is rarely so kind to even grant a simple wish of a certain color, let alone an improved sense of smell or a better front angle. Most of those changes take multiple generations because those improvements happen gradually. Mixing two different breeds together that both have superb noses but have hip displaysia, weak front angles, eye issues, and weak pasterns will probably produce incredibly unhealthy puppies that can smell no better than their parents.

In this day, we do not have the ability to treat breeds the very real ways that breed founders did. If a breeding wasn’t up to par then the breed founders would cull them or the puppies that didn’t make the cut. It was eugenics at its absolute worst. Thankfully, culling is banned. However, that means that every single breeding must be done with care because the puppies that the breeder doesn’t keep will go on to other things. No breeder should be allowed to knowingly sell a puppy that is riddled with disease, ever. No breeder should also be allowed to dump a litter of puppies that didn’t turn out to a shelter or on the side of the road either.

Unfortunately, when I hear of breeders experimenting with cross-breeding, my opinion of them dramatically changes. The main reason is that on some level they either have to be willing to tell future owners that the puppies that they are selling are not worthy or have to be cruel and get rid of the “unworthy” ones. As a breeder, I never say that any of my dogs are unworthy. I also feel that a breeder who is selling mixed breed dogs are no better than the retail rescue that does the exact same thing but hates everything about breeders. Mixed bred dogs make amazing pets but they should come spayed/neutered and from a shelter. They should never be intentionally bred to be a mixed breed and then sold for thousands. No matter which way you look at it, a mixed breed is a mixed breed no matter if you spent $100 at the shelter or $2500 from a backyard breeder. So if you want a mixed breed, save a life instead of lining some misinformed person’s pocket. 

What do I feed my guys?

When I am standing ringside at shows I get so many questions about what I feed my guys because their coats are always shiny and their eyes are full of life. What I choose to feed is a very critical choice to me and my guys love meal time. I also ask my puppy owners to follow a similar diet because it was what they started with but what I think does best with the breed for the value for money.

I feed grain-free Canidae PureSea as my main base kibble for the adults and the puppies get Orijen Large Breed Puppy. Orijen can be very difficult to find so the puppies that don’t live with me, I recommend Canidae PureFoundations. I encourage raw feeding as well. We also add in a spoonful of Merrick canned food. I also supplement with Kefir and Coconut Oil. I do need to preface that I am a member of Canidae’s breeder program and that program is one of the best breeder programs I have ever seen.

I do feed partial raw every night for all of my dogs that are currently showing in conformation, service dog work and/or performance. Raw is a great source of readily available nutrients and if I could afford to feed it fully, I would.

Proper nutrition is very important to Hamiltonstovare, any dog for that matter. I have tried a lower quality of food and food with grain and the results were terrible. The first brand that I tried was Bil-Jac at the advice of Alice’s breeder, and Alice hated it and I hated what it did. Alice didn’t lose weight nor did it help her coat. The next brand that I tried was Purina ProPlan Sport 30/20. I was very hopeful with this brand because it is the food that a lot of show people feed. I had already had my dogs on Canidae PureSea at the time but the distributors stopped sending it to my local stores. So I had to change and when I changed to ProPlan the results were terrible. Purina ProPlan Sport 30/20 is not a grain-free food and it shows. For the first time, my dogs started to get yeast rashes. Rolo’s yeast reaction is just now getting under control.

Hamiltonstovare should be fed in a manner that is similar to other cold weather breeds, they require high protein and react badly to grain. Raw feeding is highly encouraged with cold weather breeds. When I supplement with raw feeding, I use raw chicken necks and prepared raw either by Instinct, Primal, Northwest Naturals or Stella & Cheweys. With the raw that I feed, I tend to vary the protein sources on a regular basis. Feeding multiple protein sources can actually prevent the development of food allergies.

When I have a pregnant female, she is fed an appropriate amount of kibble, raw, supplements of coconut oil, kefir, Adams Laboratory’s “Bitch Heat” and a spoonful of low-fat vanilla yogurt. She is also fed that while nursing.

For my puppy owners, I go over some of the basics with them regarding nutrition. I also make sure that they understand how to read a dog food label and make smart choices. If there is an emergency and they cannot find their usual food then they can make choices that won’t upset their diet too much. The general rules of thumb that I use in a pinch are:
1. Is it grain-free?
2. Are the first 3 ingredients meat and not meat by-products?
3. Is the protein percentage over 30%?
4. Is it listed as natural, holistic, organic, etc.?

The Waiting Game

The most common thing that most of my puppy inquiries fail to understand is that they are expected to wait. I do not breed often and I do not pander to the impulse buys, ever. If I get a message for even a dog that I may be fostering, saying “My child has a birthday and I want this dog/puppy for a present…”, then I will refuse. A dog is not a present but a well thought out decision that on a good case can last 13+ years with Hamiltons.

For me, I rate puppies as show, breeding or pet and there are waiting periods and trust periods for each. If somebody wants a show puppy or a breeding puppy from me then I want them to start contacting me NOW for any upcoming litters. I want to build a relationship with those people because ultimately my contracts dictate it on some level. My show contracts require that the dog obtain its UKC Championship and pointed toward AKC CM title. The only difference between my show and breeding level dogs is that the breeding quality dogs are dogs that have a superficial fault, primarily color, but are structurally sound and meet the breed standard in all other respects. I encourage the breeding quality dogs to participate in dog sports from conformation, agility, nosework, etc. The breeding quality dogs may take longer to finish a conformation title because of the color fault but it isn’t impossible. For those two levels of contracts, I expect a regular two-way conversation for the dog’s lifetime.

The pet quality dogs are sold with the understanding that they will be spayed/neutered after 18 months old (NEVER before) and that I still want a two-way communication relationship with the owners but it isn’t that pivotal, just out of common courtesy. I encourage my pet quality owners to try altered conformation and other dog sports. Part of my goal with this breed is to show as many people as possible that this is a versatile breed.

The main thing is do not expect a puppy to magically appear within 30 days or less. One of my puppy owners waited YEARS before getting their puppy. They had very specific requirements and thankfully I had a puppy that met those needs.

I do have an application for every single inquiry that I receive and there is a rating system that I have. I generally do NOT accept deposits because I breed for me and my line, if something should happen that is upsetting, I don’t want to feel obligated to give people their money back when I have high vet bills. Deposits also tend to put a lot of pressure on a breeder to deliver enough puppies and that is undue stress that I don’t need. My puppies are never first come, first serve. I match my puppies to the owners’ needs. I will place applications higher if they have intentions of being involved in dog sports or any sort of dog related activity (therapy dog, service dog, etc.). I also do not co-own dogs that I bred, I have a contract that dictate some breeding control but not a lot. I have been through a lot with co-ownership things but never again unless I have a clear contract in place.

The main thing that I want is to build a relationship with my future puppy owners. I am not the type of breeder that is going to blindly trust just anybody with my dogs. I want to know pet history, the type of home they will live in, the other pets in the home and each one of those things are very important in my decision. I will ship dogs all over but I want to make sure that the dog is going to the best home possible. The one thing that I will not do is export, unless it is pre-negotiated by a future stud dog. The breed population is so low in the states that each and every dog is valuable to the recognition efforts of the breed in the states. If maybe after the breed is fully recognized, I may export but then I will have to evaluate and create a customized contract. The future of the dog is the most important thing and building a relationship with the owner is the best way to make that happen.

So, as I am starting to plan for future litters, I want inquiries from people now so that I can start building a relationship. I want people eagerly anticipating puppies and wanting their dreams to come true. Waiting and patience is critical in this though, I cannot make miracles happen. Generally if I get an inquiry from somebody about the breed and they want something quickly, I will direct them to a rescue that may be available. Most pet owners welcome a rescue dog but I know that the show and dog sport people will wait, they research and they wait. To those people interested in getting a show dog or a dog for performance sports, waiting is crucial. 

Owning a Scenthound

Since Miss P's incredible win at Westminster on Tuesday there will be a huge up-swing in people thinking that a Beagle is the perfect breed for them. Scenthounds in general are not for everybody. If you only have experience with a generic mutt, retriever, or terrier, then the moment you bring your hound home will be an adjustment.

Miss P is from show lines of Beagles which means that they are bred responsibly, there is a screening process involved and contracts. If you want a Beagle just like Miss P, go to a show breeder. Beagles in shelters or advertised in the newspaper or on craigslist won't even be closely related to Miss P. Hunting Beagles are not good pets at all. My first experience with Beagles was with hunting Beagles and it takes a special type of person to be willing to look at a hunting Beagle and want to take it home for a pet. Most hunting Beagles in the south are kennel raised for generations and the concept of housebreaking is incredibly foreign to them. My very first experience with a Beagle was the exception when it came from hunting lines, I called her Shiloh. She was quiet, sweet, loveable, and hated to hunt. So she spent a lot of her time in my arms when I was around. She would only bark if somebody was on the phone with me and she couldn't see me. She was kennel raised and I knew that she would never warm my bed every night because it would be too stressful for her. Regardless, she was my inspiration to get involved in hounds (Oceania kennel name is taken from letters of animals that I have had, she was the I and O, Simba was an A, Nala was the N and A and Alice is the C and E).

Show line Beagles are completely different than the pet and hunting line Beagles. Show line Beagles are health tested, raised in the home, incredibly well socialized and most breeders even start housebreaking from the time they are old enough to walk. Show Beagle puppies are taught how to walk on a leash, have started learning what showing is all about and various other things that set them up for success in a home. Most people will never qualify for one though because show Beagle breeders have applications and most future owners aren't willing to wait for their perfect puppy to be born. Most future Beagle owners will go to their local rescue and pick up the Beagle—like dog in a kennel with no idea of their history.

Scenthounds in general, even Hamiltonstovare, follow a few universal truths and the main one is stubborn. Most scenthounds will look at you like you have completely gone insane if you are standing on the deck in the freezing cold asking them to come inside. Most scenthounds are perfectly happy to sleep on a dog bed all day and not truly care what sort of housework you are doing. They are not dogs that will say “what can I do for you?” They are also not dogs that will say “you are the best person ever, how can I help?” Hamiltonstovare will generally say “I see you and I are in the same room, cool.” They will also say “You feel bad, come over here and give me a cuddle, let's hug it out.” My Hamiltonstovare puppies are more in your face than their parents but they are still stubborn and love a cuddle.

Rescue hounds are a different issue all together, and you can probably lump rescue Beagles, Foxhounds, Coonhounds, generic hounds and Hamiltonstovare all into one package. Most rescue hounds are hounds that were hunted and either didn't return to the hunter or was intentionally dumped. Rescue hounds probably do not come housebroken and are probably used to being kenneled a majority of the time. They probably have never slept on a sofa or stretched out on a cool floor in the summer. Rescue hounds should probably be rehabbed like retired racing greyhounds but that isn't done. Rescue hounds are marketed as a sad, sweet face that needs to be adopted as fast as possible because more sad, sweet faces need homes. If you go to any rescue in the south now, probably a majority of those dogs for adoption will be hound mixes of some sort. Most look very workman-like and tend to be hard to adopt because their reputation proceeds them. The reputation of a rescue hound is different than that of any other breed in a shelter. That reputation is that you are in for a struggle, so most people walk right by them and go for the breeds that are probably way too much dog for them.

Owning a scenthound be it from a rescue, backyard breeder, responsible breeder, etc. take a few things. The main one is a very gentle hand. Hounds do things at their own pace and trying to force a hound to do something that they don't want to do can cause them to shut down. Hounds do not respond well to harsh punishment, gentleness and patience are key. Gaining the trust of a scenthound is one of the most fulfilling things in life, if you gain the trust of a hound then you will have a dog that is so loyal that they will do anything for you. If you have ever wondered how foxhunters rarely lose hounds, most of the time it comes from mutual trust of the hounds and the huntsman. There is an old expression that applies to all hounds “if you don't trust your hound, don't hunt it.” A lot of rescue hound owners have been told by the shelter and the rescue to be on guard for a lot of things but instead of being on guard, accept them. If you accept the fact that a scenthound is gong to be stubborn, that they have a mind of their own and that they won't ask you for guidance, then you will see a huge change.

Overall owning a scenthound is a wonderful experience to those who have the patience to do it. Those who go to a shelter because they don't want to wait for a responsibly bred hound, regardless of breed, to be born are NOT suited to be hound owners. Owning a hound takes time, energy and research. If you aren't a patient person then a scenthound is not right for you. Most of my inquiries fail not because I turn people down, but because people aren't willing to wait. If a future owner waits for what they want then they will be rewarded in spades with the dog that they get. 

Meet the Breeds 2015

We have returned from another Meet the Breeds and this one was a blend of incredible highs to attempts to drag me down. I will get the bad out of the way right now and never talk about it again.

 

Within 2 hours of me posting via Facebook about our Meet the Breeds event, a person who has a history of harassing me posted an intentionally harsh post with the intent to discredit me and drag me down in my moment of glory. It was remarking about my recent blog post that Epilepsy is in the breed in Australia. Let me make something perfectly clear, at the time that I wrote the blog, I had (and still do) think that Epilepsy is in the breed, period. I have reports from the dog's breeder that the dog in question had suspected epilepsy and was treated with a nutritional change. That by definition is a form of epilepsy. Epilepsy is a neurological condition that has many different things and not every single case will be dramatic nor debilitating, it is noted by abnormal neurological process to stimuli, generally by resulting in a seizure but that is not always the case. Epilepsy is a HARD diagnosis to make for those blurred line cases but when the breeder mentions treatments common to mild epilepsy then my belief is that it is probably a mild epileptic disorder, by true AVMA definition. My experience with epilepsy is guarded because my fiance's dog has a possible case of mild epilepsy. Kemper is a dog that was obtained from a backyard breeder and was not properly socialized. As such, his temperament is not the best. What makes him a possible epilepsy case is his abnormal response to excessive stimuli. Kemper responds with pure aggression and then mild shaking. He has tested clear for everything except epilepsy because the only true definitive way to diagnose is to witness a full seizure. Mini-seizures are almost completely undetectable. So until I hear otherwise, Epilepsy is in Australia within the breed, just like the genetic markers are in the breed EVERYWHERE. If a breeder takes it personally regarding epilepsy then they have no business breeding purebred dogs. Epilepsy by nature is known to be in a vast majority of all breeds, so it is a reality that every single dog owner should take into account and never take it personally. I know that the markers are in my line, so I watch and monitor. If any of my dogs ever show signs of it then they will be removed from the breeding population.

My intention for mentioning Australia had very little to do with health and everything to do with the fact that by the nature of the Australian government that it makes it almost impossible to not have popular sire syndrome. In Australia to bring in a new dog, the process is extremely long and expensive. No new Hamiltonstovare have been brought in and all Hamiltonstovare in the country are altered, so by nature that is a breed population in complete genetic ruin. There is no bias to it, that is fact, those genes are done and won't be passed on, so the only way for the breed to exist in Australia within the next 10 years is new blood. So instead of the Australian breeder and owners taking it for what it is, they started attacking me when I am in the pinnacle of purebred dogs, Westminster Kennel Club.

 

Raven taking it all in

Raven taking it all in

Meet the Breeds was an incredible experience. We had a few celebrity encounters (I won't mention by name on a blog out of respect for their private lives), lots of press interviews and photographers. I was also interviewed by members of the NY government and AKC. The biggest surprise of the event was Miss Raven being featured in The Daily Beast photo feature of the event. We had incredible public encounters and even met a great-great grandson of Count Adolf Patrick Hamilton, who had no idea that his ancestor created this amazing breed.

 

Photo by The Daily Beast

Photo by The Daily Beast

I am already starting to receive positive feedback from inquiries, photos and interviews getting published. This event is designed to bring public awareness to the breed and give them a moment to shine. Shine they did, Rolo was a wonderful greeter and the puppies did not disappoint. The puppies absorbed everything in around them and really showed the crowds what responsibly bred puppies are like as pets. Alice was and still is on light duty right now because she had to have part of her tail amputated just 4 days before we left for NYC. Those moments where she was out, she did great. She hopped up in her chair and was the typical diva that she has always been.

 

Photo by Sarah Beaupre

Photo by Sarah Beaupre

After the event, Alice and Rolo went to roam the breed rings at Piers 92 and 94 on Monday. They were a huge hit there and got even more press because they are active service dogs. Alice is winding down her service dog career so we are starting some mild service work with her and training her to alert to scent triggered asthma. Rolo is now in the peak of his service dog career, especially now that he is fit. He is really getting the mobility assistance thing down but the most impressive thing has been his help with my recovery from PTSD. As they are both active show dogs, they were a little confused as to why they weren't entering the ring.

All in all, it was a worthwhile trip and we hope to get a lot of responses from people interested in the breed. Yes there are factions within the breed community and a small faction of the breed community is very angry with me for being brave enough to tell the truth. That is the nature of it sometimes though. We will push through this because nothing will ever stop me from promoting this amazing breed.

We are now home and are preparing for our next show in April. This show will be the debut of Raven and Selene, so hopefully we will come home with a new UKC Champion.  

PETA, a Tidewater perspective

Again, I do try my absolute best to make sure that every post is Hamiltonstovare related as possible but I just can’t with this post at all, on any level. This is going to be a tough topic to write about because it is dangerous, very dangerous. Most people who have written about PETA have a legal team, now live outside of the US, or can afford constant personal security. I do have personal security at my home and monitor my house remotely when I am not there.

I was born and lived the first twelve years of my life in the Tidewater, Va area. I went to elementary and most of middle school there. Why is this important? Well, PETA is based there, their headquarters are not in New York City or LA, but in Norfolk, Va. Norfolk, Va is an odd location for PETA’s headquarters until you break down the surrounding area, in the surrounding area you have 7 LARGE cities with lots of impressionable children. You also have sympathetic local governments that adore them. The first time I ever heard of PETA, I was in elementary school. From what I remember, PETA never came to my elementary school to do an assembly but it is possible. What I do remember is the posters and pamphlets, they deliver them to local schools. These posters were specifically geared toward kids and at the time was not as radicalized as they are now. The literature featured appropriate pet care and how you could join PETA and almost be an involved citizen to stop animal abuse.

While that sounds innocent enough, but what they were doing was grooming the next generation of activists. I remember once that I found a lovely hound roaming my neighborhood street, I proudly helped the dog into my backyard and tried to help it out, basically doing what those posters told me to do. The dog had a collar and what happened next imprinted upon me how I should trust PETA. I happened to have a poster with a phone number, I called it and asked them what I should do. The nice person said to me that I should take the collar off the dog, don’t call the owner because they didn’t care enough to keep their own dog, and either keep the dog myself or let it go. I couldn’t do that, so a friend of mine said that they would help me. They told me that they called the owner but nobody answered, and their grandmother would allow them to keep the dog so they dumped it somewhere. I was so upset that I cried. The worse part was the owners came to me asking questions and I told them what I was told to do by a trusted name in the area, that posed as a shelter. I was just 10 years old, very much a latchkey kid, and had to think on my feet. I never knew what happened to the dog but sometimes I think about that moment and how defining it was to me. How could PETA tell a child to do such a thing? This was in the late 90’s well before internet and cell phones, so I trusted what my school gave me. At that moment, I stopped trusting in PETA.

As I grew up showing dogs and loving dogs in a way that felt right to me, I learned more and more about PETA. I learned from the internet that PETA is a monster, not to be trusted. They are a “shelter” that has the highest kill percentage in all of Virginia. I never realized how bad they were until college. I attended a show in the Tidewater area where members of PETA would routinely point at dogs’ testicles and say “you are killing your dog because he isn’t neutered…”, thankfully I have a mentor that knew how to behave and kept her mouth shut. Other more quipy people would make retorts like “thanks for looking at my dog’s nuts.”

The next experience that I am about to tell was done by somebody that is a supporter of PETA and extremist animal rights, I do not know if they were employed by PETA, regardless it is shocking. In college I showed Clumber Spaniels, and this time we were showing in a series of shows in Baltimore, MD, right around this time of year actually. It was February and cold, I was traveling with the Clumber Spaniel’s owner, her handler, the handler’s mother and a string of dogs all are coated dogs. We checked into the hotel and began the process of taking dogs out to go potty. While myself and the daughter of the client was walking a few dogs, we noticed that a car kept on circling the hotel parking lot. Finally, they stopped and asked us why kind of dogs they were. We told them and kept on our business. We put the Clumber in the hotel room and loaded up the other dogs in the van (which is designed for housing multiple dogs at all temperatures). We got ready for bed and didn’t think anything about the encounter in the parking lot. That was until the handler got a knock at the door saying that one of the dogs was “near death” in the van. We went out to the van and the dogs were sleeping soundly and were in no distress at all. We made the decision to move the dogs into the two hotel rooms just to be on the safe side. The next morning we went to the show and then went out to dinner. While we were at dinner, we were told that the Baltimore Police Department had surrounded our vehicles. So we went to the police and explained the situation. Unfortunately, we did not know that it is illegal in Maryland to leave a dog unattended in a vehicle regardless of the weather or if the dogs were in any danger. The dogs were fine and the officer gave us a warning. The final day of the show, I just happened to look over my shoulder and noticed the same person that asked me a question at the hotel just standing at the show site. We alerted the show board who escorted them off the site. It was later determined that the person was an animal rights extremist looking to “rescue” dogs (meaning steal) that they thought were in danger. There is no way to know if the person was affiliated with PETA at all but we do know that they were cut from the same cloth.

PETA is a horrible organization and I am appalled by any celebrity that endorses them for any reason (I’m talking to you P!NK right now). PETA is subject to new legislation that will hopefully stop their killing practices at their headquarters but it does not stop them from stealing animals, like poor Maya, and killing them in a van somewhere. The Maya case is so shocking because no charges have been filed and PETA was caught on camera trespassing then returned later with a fruit basket instead of the dog. The dog’s body has yet to be returned to her owners, and never will be. PETA has doctored video footage to show carriage horses in danger, they have even caused NYC carriage horses to get injured. No animal lover should support PETA.

If you are an animal lover, please support your local kennel club. Please come talk to breeders and owners at Meet the Breeds on Saturday, education is the most powerful tool.