Welcome to our beautiful first issue of 2020.
As the old saying goes about every year “It comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion” always rings true with me. And 2019 was no exception. The Lion, of course, being the biggest show of the year ~ the A.K.C. National Championship held in Orlando. This amazing event just keeps getting bigger and better every year. The biggest surprise was the return of the Giant Schnauzer “Ty” who was only shown the last day winning a very strong group. I was sorry to hear his entry did not make it into Westminster before the limit was reached.
2020 began with the unexpected passing of some of the best in our sport, leaving the many friends of these great people with a hole in our hearts that will take quite a bit of time to heal.
Mel Holloman was honest, opinionated, generous, talented, gifted gentleman with a great eye for a dog. Everyone is not good at EVERYTHING. As a Publisher I take great pride in being one of the best, however, as a handler I do come up short on more occasions than even I care to admit. On more than a few occasions, I would come out of the Akita ring and Mel would follow me back to my set up to tell me all the things I had done wrong. Of course, I would get my overly sensitive feelings in the way and try to explain...”I’m NOT a handler!”...Mel would just smile and say “You have good dogs, don’t mess them up!” He then would give me tip after tip and I would try to remember his words of wisdom the next time. I have feelings of guilt as the last time I saw him was in Orlando when he came up to me asking that I buy raffle tickets to help support his Central Florida Working Dog Club. I told him I would go get some money and find him later, I never saw him again. How I so wish I could have a chance to thank him for all he did and his great support of so many people over so, so many years.
Anya Vasilis-Dobratz was truly a one of a kind. I have always considered myself a talent scout of sorts,forever looking for the next great handler,the next great Working or Herding Dog .One who kept coming up on my radar in the normally male dominated ring of German Shepherd Dogs was a young lady from Pittsburgh with the uncommon name of “Anya” with a breathtaking dog named “Cowboy”. I was intrigued how this salt of the earth individual would make posts about how she didn’t take her expensive St. John suits to the Dry Cleaners but did them at home. Her brutal honesty intrigued me. At Westminster one year I spotted her coming down the aisle and as she passed me I said “Hi Anya!”, she stopped dead in her tracks and smiled and said “Hi James, I didn’t know you knew who I was” I just laughed and said “Everybody knows you Anya!”. Very driven,very passionate,very loyal and very, very funny! I really enjoyed getting to know her better. So wish we could have shared a cold beer and some good food at some point.
I have a few questions I must ask “the powers that be” at the American Kennel Club? This is a family sport, yes? The dogs should come first, yes? Then why, why, why do you approve Kennel Clubs to have dog shows on Tuesdays and Wednesdays? Really what purpose does it serve? I will not sugar coat this by saying “Asking for a friend?” I am asking for us all.
A change must come.
I grew up in this sport and what a great upbringing it was. I worked for a few handlers but the one who had the biggest influence on me was without a doubt Wood Wornall . I went to work for Woody when I was 16. Unfortunately, the age for driving by yourself in California had just changed from 16 up to 18 a year before my 16th birthday. So I would take the long bus ride from Los Angeles to Sun Valley. The first weekend I went to the kennel after I arrived Woody asked “I didn’t see a car, did your dad drop you off?” I told him no, I took the bus, he looked at me with utter disbelief and asked “you mean to tell me you walked all those miles from the bus stop to the kennel in this Summer heat?!?”. The great boss that he was, he never allowed that again. Woody also taught me to drive...practicing in this big old blue box truck that fellow assistants Richard Powell and Chris Steele referred to as “The War Wagon”, A great lesson of respect he taught me was during one of our many long road trips one evening as I was talking and talking ...and talking, I brought up a particular judge, saying Babbie Tongren this, and Babbie Tongren that...Woody finally cut me off and asked “James, do you KNOW Babbie Tongren?”....I was slightly taken aback and said “Well, no, I don’t”...he then said...”Well, I do know Babbie Tongren...and I call her Mrs. Tongren”.
He will never know all the life lessons he unselfishly shared with me. Well, maybe he will now as he does get this magazine.
Thank You Wood!
If you have a Working Dog, please consider this a formal invitation to come to Atlanta in April for the BIG Peach Blossom Circuit. The North Georgia Working Group Assoc. is having our show on Friday evening on April 10th. Come enjoy some great Southern hospitality,big rings, lots of grooming space,huge beautiful fairgrounds and great hotels close by. The closing date is March 25th. I look forward to seeing you there.
I wish all of my clients the best Westminster ever! Do not forget....New York, New York, If You Can Make It There, You Can Make It Anywhere. The deadline for our next issue where we are doing special features on The Westminster Winners,Boxer, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, Miniature American Shepherds and Shetland Sheepdogs~Please, help us spread the word.
That’s All For Now, I’ll See You At The Shows.