When I first went to shows Len Brumby and Jimmy Butler were my mentors. The two of them really put me through it. We’d go into a Specials class and Jimmy Butler would be ahead of me and Len Brumby behind me and Len would say “Oh, I hope the judge doesn’t look at those awful hindquarters” and I would say “what’s wrong with them?” and then Jimmy would say “Hold that tail up!” They would have me in a sweat over this thing, but they always brought me an extra sandwich and a water pail and one would hold my dog if I had two. They were wonderful to me. I was always a nut on temperament. Some of them were difficult, especially some of the grown up dogs I imported from England. They just didn’t seem to acclimate. You always had to have everything just right for Miss Perfect.
But the puppies — the show ring didn’t impress me that much. The whole fun for me was raising the puppies – housetraining, socializing them, having them around people, taking them out to see their reaction to things, and then at about 8 to 9 weeks picking that puppy that would carry you forward and THEN finding the right homes for the others. My criteria for puppy owners – off main roads, people without too many children, who didn’t have too many other dogs, people who would take them everywhere, people who wanted something just for their own.
I never lost a puppy, never had a fader, except for Tulip’s last litter. She was very hard to breed and had been bred artificially to Ch. Badgewood’s Monty Collins. For some unknown reason she whelped six days early and they were in incubators, but there was no hope. Sometimes coats were a problem. I once bred a bitch to Mt. Paul Anderson and got three beautiful “wooly bears”. They had coats like a Yorkie. Miss Macfie always warned me not to toy with black and tans. Apparently the black and tan gene carries the Yorkie coat and it will be soft and flowing.
I’ll never forget Henry Bixby – he judged the Match Show at Alden Blodgett’s one year. I brought in this beautiful puppy, Mt. Paul Davy and he said “He is a handsome dog in conformation, but I never touch a terrier with a soft eye.” It wasn’t yellow or light it was just soft and mellow. “Never touch a terrier with a soft eye because a soft eye goes with a soft temperament” and then I could see. Bixby said every terrier should have a hard eye, a crisp, hard eye. Mouths have been a big problem, in Norfolk at least. The thing that bothers me is that judges do not count teeth and missing teeth are so very, very hereditary.
When I started judging I decided that you had to look for type and temperament. It is the breed type you have to have. I think conformation – if they are bred right they can move right – conformation is the same in almost any animal. And you have to have breed characteristics. The trouble is everybody has their own preferences and breed what they like. You can read the Standard and always figure out some way your dog conforms. I must say though that the last time I went to a show I was delighted at how much uniformity there was in the Norfolk, all of a sudden. I once worked on a line breeding with Joy Taylor and out of that came Tulip. She was a very special little girl and I was always trying to reproduce her in every litter that came. There was Terracotta, Priscilla Mallory’s, who won the Specialty at seven months, just like Tulip. They came and you just knew, with the diagonal breeding, up and back line breeding. Type and temperament — you see I am so hipped on their being able to go to ground and do something. They have to be built to maneuver the earth and have the temperament that goes with it. One must never forget what they were bred for.