“Do not make excuses, whether it's your fault or not.” ~ George S. Patton, Jr.
Many of you are probably wondering why I have not written lately. The main reason is that not a lot is happening Lhasa-wise at our house. I have no puppies so have no photos to show readers. We have not been to any shows lately so there is no news on that front. We are hoping to do a breeding next month if nature cooperates with our plans, but that hasn't happened yet. Given all that, I thought I'd share an article with you that I wrote about puppies.
When people call me to ask questions about the Lhasa Apso or to inquire about puppies Joyslyn's might have for sale, I am often asked to explain the difference between "show" and "pet" quality puppies. I find the difference often hard to explain without leaving the impression that "show" means "good" and "pet" means "bad." I have many times heard breeders (myself included) refer to a puppy in a litter as "just a pet", inferring that there's something wrong with him. What qualities are necessary for a puppy to be labeled a "show quality puppy?" And what lack of qualities cause a puppy to be "just a pet?"
There is often a fine line between what is considered "show" or "pet" quality, and two breeders evaluating the same puppy may come up with different answers, depending on what they value in a dog. Some people like a refined Lhasa and will sell more heavily-boned puppies to pet homes. Some like a Lhasa with a longer muzzle, so if there happens to be a shorter-muzzled puppy in the litter, it gets sold to a pet home. I could go on and on in this vein. The point is, for every quality one breeder values, another breeder may decide that it is an undesirable trait, and label the puppy "just a pet." These qualities do not necessarily have to be structural. Many a breeder has agonized over the "absolutely breathtaking" puppy that is a shy violet that could never withstand the rigors of the show circuit.
Usually, to a person with little knowledge of canine structure or the Lhasa Apso standard, there is no difference between the classifications "show" and "pet" unless the puppy in question has some obvious flaw, such as a pink nose, a parrot mouth, a grossly undershot bite, or a poor topline.
What it boils down to is this: if you want a Lhasa Apso as your family pet, and you have no intentions of ever showing, then don't feel that your potential puppy is being downgraded by breeders' jargon, the reference to "pet" quality. More important to you than a straight front, lovely movement, level bite or all those other things "show" people might admire is that your Lhasa puppy have a great dispostion and fit in with your family's lifestyle. And don't apologize to people for having "just a pet." Showing is definitely NOT for everyone!
However, if you are looking for a Lhasa to show, keep in mind that dog showing is expensive and you want as high a quality puppy as possible to be competitive. If you buy an older puppy or young adult, you have more of an idea of structure and "show quality" than if you buy a young puppy. Many breeders will advertise their older puppies as "show quality" and their younger ones as having "show potential," simply because there are times when even an experienced breeder finds it hard to predict exactly how a young puppy will develop.
Sometimes a buyer will ask, "If I buy this 'show puppy' will you guarantee that it will get a championship?" My answer? NO! Why? Because so much depends on the buyer and what he/she does with the puppy after it leaves my house. Will the puppy be socialized, taken places to get used to different people, sounds, and smells? Will the buyer train the puppy correctly? Will the puppy's coat be groomed and conditioned properly? There are many aspects to showing a dog that go far beyond the dog's structure.
Concerned breeders carefully evaluate puppies before choosing a show potential puppy for themselves or their puppy buyers. They want the Lhasas in the ring with their kennel prefixes to be as outstanding as possible. They want what they consider the best of what they have produced out there speaking well of their breeding programs.
Also keep in mind that show quality includes attitude as well as structure and movement. An average Lhasa that has that "look at me! I'm special!" attitude often has a competitive edge over the more structurally sound dog that is not excited about being in the ring.
And don't forget that "there is no perfect dog." There is something about every Lhasa that someone would like to change: "He's got a great profile, but he holds his tail on the wrong side." "He has a lovely head, but I'd like to see a little less muzzle." "His movement is to die for, but I wish he were an inch shorter!" "He has lovely straight forelegs but lacks shoulder layback." etc...
Even when a breeder keeps a show potential puppy for himself it's usually a matter of trade-offs. He decides what quality or qualities he really wants (or needs) in his line and what traits he's willing to overlook to get them. He might say, for example, "I don't mind a bite that's a little undershot but cannot tolerate a bad topline." or "I don't mind that slight curve to his upper foreleg because he has the rear I've been looking for." or "This dog has the neck I'm looking for; I can live with his soft coat."
Each Lhasa was born to love and be loved, and whether that Lhasa is a family pet or top dog in the country, he deserves to be "Best of Breed" in the hearts of his owners.
That said, here are some lovely Lhasas that are certainly "Best of Breed" in their owners' hearts:
First we have Hilo, whose sire is our Breaker and whose mother, Dancer, is also Rafe's mother. Hilo lives with Raquel and her husband and with China, Raquel's black Lhasa who was there first!
|Hilo's pal, China|
|Hurry up, Mom. Elliot's ahead of us!|
Next, we have Lola, who, along with owners Stacy and Lisa, was enjoying the great fall weather on a walk with her "brother," Elliot. Lola is the daughter of our Connor and Secret.
|Time for a rest - Elliot and Lola|
This week was sort of bittersweet for me. The ALAC National Specialty took place October 21-25, and for the first time in a long time, I was not there. I'm sure they all managed just fine without me! It's always a good time to visit with people I get to see only once or twice a year. However, I had a good reason to stay home. Our daughter and son-in-law came to Macomb from Florida for a visit. You may remember from a July post that they were married in Miami in July. We hosted an Open House/Reception for them on October 19 so our family and friends from around here who could not travel to Miami for the wedding could wish them well. We had a great visit and all too soon it was time for them to leave. Given how cold the weather turned, I'm sure they were glad to be back in the warm Florida sun!
We were especially happy to have relatives visit from Nebraska and Indiana. Our lives are so busy that we never seem to have time to get together as often as we like.
One amusing story that came from the family visit: You might recall me writing about our youngest son who is the guitarist in the metal band, Black Fast. He is tall and thin and has long brown hair. On the Friday before the reception, my husband and I, along with our daughter, son-in-law, and youngest son were invited by our 7-year old granddaughter to her school's "Special People Day." The day started with a children's mass, then a visit to tour our granddaughter's 2nd grade classroom, and ended with a meal. The next day at the reception, I was talking to the kindergarten teacher who told me that one of the 2nd graders ran up to his teacher all excited saying, "Jesus is here!" Later, when I asked our granddaughter who that might have been, she was stumped that anyone would mistake her uncle for Jesus. I said, "Well, he is tall and thin, and has the right hair." "But," she countered, "he doesn't have a robe!"
Next week I am (finally) headed to a dog show with Windy and Duncan. Lila misses being eligible for the show by one day, so she is staying home.
Life is better when you have a Lhasa to love you!