A really lucky dog breeder or professional handler had great mentors and was smart enough to listen to them...
Being Lucky In Dogs
by Barbara "BJ" Andrews, Publisher TheDogPlace.org & ShowDogs O'BJ
In the early 60s our first litter produced ten healthy Doberman puppies. Everyone said how lucky we were to get the famous Warlock genes but I had yet to meet Luck because I had no mentor.
We got lucky when I showed for Paul and Norma Harris and my first Rottie bitch finished her championship in only five shows and then, from just one litter, became the #1 Rottweiler dam in 1968. When in 1972, we got our first Akita, luck stayed with us. I take no credit for any of that because our biggest break was what I wish for every beginner - the world's greatest mentors.
It was through dogs that we met the most significant people in our lives but indeed, we were lucky to meet the right people at the right moment. We were even luckier to realize how fortunate were were to have their counsel...
It was only by chance that Bill and I met Wayne and Dorothy Gooch, Skyraider Dobermans, and that it happened when their own luck was in a terrible downturn. Wayne was a recovering alcoholic who had just lost over a million dollars for the second time. At one point, we took in 20 of their 27 Dobermans. Caring for those dogs and the opportunity to love Wayne and Dorothy wasn't just luck, it was meant to be.
Through Dorothy, I re-lived the moment when Ch. Skyraider's The Caravel won at the Garden. That was back when even a class ribbon at Westminster took a lot more than luck. I relished the success of Ch. Skyraider's Top Flight as I sat at Dorothy's feet with Topper's head in my lap. I was even fortunate enough to know George Rood as a great dog man, not just as a "famous handler."
I learned about Peggy Adamson (Damasyn) and Tess Hensler (Ahrtal), both of whom were already legends. But most of all, I learned what made them foundations in the Doberman world. When I breeder-owner-handled Widow-Maker to a 2,000+ dog Best In Show under Judge Adamson, it wasn't luck. It was Fate.
Luckily, Dorothy had taught me how to "read" a pedigree. Wayne (former DPCA Delegate to the AKC) taught Bill how to get a difficult bitch bred, and why there are times when Luck looks out for breeders and getting her bred just shouldn't happen.
Bill and I had both grown up with dogs, hunted over them or behind them, but we were sooooo lucky to realize how little we really knew about dogs! I shudder to think where our first Doberman litter would have led us had it not been for Dorothy's wise and patient counsel.
There were other mentors. Most of them will never know how grateful I was to be able to learn from them. Mike Billings fascinated me as a handler and later, as a judge of unerring skill. My "dog show mother" was Lina Basquette. That wasn't luck, it was a blessing. We were pretty lucky to have the counsel of people like All Breed judges E.W. "Tip" Tipton and Heywood Hartley.
But y'know, it wasn't luck that enabled us to breed Akitas that caught the eye of Lou Harris, Ginny Hampton, Roy Ayers, Doc Greathouse, and other judges of their stature at a time when Akitas were considered a "trash breed" by less discerning judges. We had listened to our mentors and applied the genetic knowledge they shared.
But winning under judges whose opinions were so respected was not luck. It was the measure of our mentors.
So here's the guideline. Luck is about applying the lessons you learned, even when it would be more convenient to do otherwise. You get lucky by burning the midnight oil and phone lines, not just asking to be asking, but to learn.
Luck is using your brain and shipping a Rottie bitch from Florida to Washington state at a time when very few people flew! Her multi-champion litter wasn't a gamble, it was putting into play that which we had learned about genetics. Earning her Register Of Merit from that one litter had nothing to do with luck although the breeding was indeed a gamble.
A phone call to Sam Rivkin resulting in our first Akita was luck but the really lucky part was realizing that she wasn't what we wanted to start breeding. We finished her, sold her, and were lucky enough to find Bob Campbell. Luck was probably at the steering wheel as we made all those learning trips from Florida to Georgia.
Everyone encounters Opportunity and Obstacles. It may take a stroke of luck to understand which is which. Sometimes they are the same thing. Good luck is the ability to learn from the bad luck. But the greatest good fortune of all is in knowing that not much in our lives is only happenstance.
This incredible film work was a surprise gift from Moretto Film Company in Chile, So. America. It was done before anyone knew what "digital" was. We were lucky that Maurizio called us and that he was a stubbornly lucky breeder who overcame language barriers to achieve the highest levels of success for his Akitas ACE.
The dogs in the composite are Ch. Okii Yubi's Sachmo Of Makoto, ROMXP, sire of 101 AKC Chs. (breeder Bob Campbell) Ch. O'BJ BigSon Of Sachmo, ROMPX, sire of 48 AKC Chs. and Ch. The Widow-Maker O'BJ, ROMPX, sire of 76 AKC Chs. All three were top winning show dogs, each sired many ROM progeny and each sire produced foundation champions on four continents.
Luck. Fate. Destiny. Call it what you will but recognize, welcome, and respect it.
reprinted from SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE
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