StarBright Raisin Bagel
CD, TD, Can TD, HIC
note: dam developed epilepsy years after this litter was born|
Our first show quality Tervuren was a daughter of two of the top showdogs in America in 1974. Kay Maves, who was to become a mentor and dear lifelong friend, helped me obtain Ch Brillance de Mont-Cenis CDX. 'Bria' was a long legged, loooong necked, giraffe of a Tervuren with a simply fantastic character. Now I know what you are thinking - long legs on an Americanbred Belgian? The answer then, and now is YES. Bria was bred the first time (1976) to the Ch Lancer de Chateau Blanc. I can still recall sitting in the whelping box at 2 am after Bria had been dramatically digging and panting and worrying for 14 hours. Ed had Kay on the telephone in North Carolina (an 18-hour drive away). Suddenly Bria was having those pups we had so carefully planned for - Kay was giving Ed instructions who was relaying them to me...not the least of which was "Get Sharon out of the whelping box, there won't be any room for mama and babies." Somehow we all got through the first whelping. The puppies were sound in structure, had temperaments to die for - no shrinking violets there. Two went on to become Champions, including Ch StarBright Allez Bleu who was Reserve Winners Bitch at the American and Canadian National Specialties as a puppy, and Debra Dawe's first Tervuren, Ch StarBright Amianne CDX, a group placer. Debbie has gone on to incorporate English dogs into her de Faire la Faire breeding program.
I thought I had the world on a string...healthy, outgoing, beautiful dogs who were winning in the show and obedience ring. Then something profound happened.
Understand that back in the 70s in the USA, Belgians in general certainly did not resemble the continental dogs of today. While they were handsome animals, powerful, smoothly moving, full of life and noted for their intelligence and trainability...they were rather more rectangular in shape than square, and the heads had less length and were wider in the backskull. I had flown to the National Specialty Show in California, hoping to find the perfect match for Bria's second litter. I had quietly selected a fabulous American bred dog when I saw the dog that changed my vision of Belgians forever! I was walking by ringside and actually stopped dead in my tracks - there on a grooming table in front of me was a Belgian that looked like no other Belgian I had EVER seen - Ch Yamin van't Hof Melyn. I was simply amazed. He was so beautiful - square body, elegant long head, full flowing black mane, and the sweetest Belgian expression I had ever seen. I thought...aha so this is what they are supposed to look like!
Bred in Belgium, 'Koning' was a son of the famous European dog, Tarass de la Pouroffe. I had found my next mate for Bria. I just knew that if I could produce puppies that looked like this dog, I would be moving in the right direction. It was a fateful litter for me. Bria whelped eight puppies (1978). They were soooooo different from the first litter. Six of the eight became Champions, and three of the six earned the American Belgian Tervuren Club's highest recognition for a breeder - the BAR - Breeder Achievement Record, awarded for producing excellent offspring in both conformationa and performance trials. Ch StarBright Bonne Chance CDX TD BAR became foundation stud for Dana Mackonis' Cachet Noir kennel. Ch StarBright Black Brocade BAR (Best in Sweepstakes at our National Specialty) became foundation bitch for Lara Deckert's Yessit kennel. Ch StarBright Bacho Noir UD TX introduced now nationally known tracking judge Maureen Foley to the world of Tervs. Most importantly, I got my 'Boo' - Ch StarBright Bouquetiere CD TD BARX.
Just about the time I began to think "I've got this breeder thing down pat" Mother Nature stepped in and dealt us quite a blow. Bria, at age six, had a Grand Mal seiure. I was devastated. I, like many other Americans, knew that there had been seizures in the breed, but ignorantly thought it was pretty much contained in one line of dogs. Never one to hide a problem, I called Bria's breeder and the owner of her sire. They, too, were clueless as to where this may have come from. I called or wrote a number of people who had bred dogs in my bitch's pedigree. God Bless Barbara Krohn, de Fauve Charbonne kennel. She was honest and forthright in her response, and helped me to gather more information. Its funny, when you tell your troubles out loud, many people will share what they thought was just their own little secret problem. I began hanging pedigrees of Tervuren with seizures on large butcher-paper sheets on the walls of our study. I kept telling Kay, then the columnist for the National Club in the AKC Gazette, that we had a big problem in the breed...I showed her my notes and postings. Kay went on to courageously write an article in the Gazette about seizures, asking the Terv readers to send information to her. She was censured by some ABTC members who felt she was 'washing our dirty linen in public' by opening up this discussion in a National magazine read by literally every serious breeder of dogs in the USA.
The letters rolled in from both American and Canadian Terv owners sharing names and pedigrees of dogs with one seizure, or two episodes, or a lifetime of problems. There was no longer any question. American Tervs did have a prblem and it was out in the open. I took heat too - some spiteful people spread rumors that every dog I bred seizured. I adopted the attitude that I have carried through with to this day. If you want to know the truth about my dogs, just ask. If you wish to gossip and spread rumors, have at it, I cannot chase after every rumor and correct or confirm it. I believe that there is no great sin in producing a dog with epilepsy, or hip dysplasia or cataracts...if you breed Tervuren long enough you will probably prduce a bit of everything - it is your share of the gene pool. But it is unconscionable to hide it, or to withhold information that would help another breeder make informed decisions.
One of the most difficult duties was to call everyone owning Bria's puppies and tell them that the mother of their dog had seizured. That experience moved the Health objective to the top of my list of 'must have's'.
(Ed & Sharon Redmer, StarBright) 1999 YB p102-106
Courtesy of: dhuckestein