Interview with Carol Howell

Page 4.

Q: What do you feel is your biggest responsibility to the breed?

I think that it is to breed as closely to the breed standard as possible. To test for genetic diseases, and to screen hips and eyes in all breeding animals. (There are good hips and eyes in our breed, and we do not have to breed to grades of "poor" like in some breeds.) To always sell pets with a spay/neuter contract, or on Limited Registration. To always take a dog back from the buyer, no matter how much time has passed, regardless of the reason.
(The rescues are busy enough without dogs from "good" breeders.) To be very careful where I sell any show/breeding dogs, so that they are not used indiscriminately, or end up in a poor situation. To do my best to match pet puppies to buyers, so that they have a "forever home."

Q: What do you feel is the most rewarding aspect of breeding Shelties?  What  do you enjoy most about it?

The most rewarding aspect of the actual breeding, is to have the outcome be what you had envisioned when you planned the breeding. Then to have this validated by winning with what you have bred, and then, later, to have this dog produce even better puppies for you, or for others in the case of a stud.

The most rewarding aspect of "being in" the breed, is meeting the people who are as devoted to the Sheltie as I am. The friends that I have made over the years are innumerable. Some of these are casual friendships, that might just involve a quick "hi" at the National, and some are the closer ones that involve meeting or talking on the phone on a regular basis. We have the love of the breed in common, and many of us have similar goals. I enjoy these friendships immeasurably. I have been so blessed with friends, both long-term, and new, casual and close. I think these friendships are the biggest reward of all. It never ceases to amaze me just how loyal and giving these friends can be.

Q: What do you enjoy the least about it?

Losing the old dogs. The ones who have been my constant friend for years, and have enriched my life. This is always so hard. Losing newborn puppies when I try so hard to save them, is always sad. Disappointing my friends by something I have unintentionally said or done. Having bitches sent to me "miss," when I know how much the litter is anticipated. The gossip and the rumors. It seems as if the use of computers has greatly increased this. I've seen people and dogs unjustly accused of many things. I've seen this almost totally destroy lives and breeding programs. We are all probably guilty of spreading casual gossip. I know I am. But, when it is malicious with the intent to do harm, or without basis just to be hurtful, we all need to think more carefully about the end results.

Q: If you had to start over, would you do anything differently?

There are a few things. One is to have bred some of my first good bitches more. Many Champion-producing bitches only had one litter, and that was by our choice. Another is that I wish I had started using a good handler earlier, for at least some of the dogs. I was very set in wanting to do it myself, and I know I could have finished many more dogs with professional help. All in all, I have very few regrets. I have had more than my share of success in the ring, and in the whelping box. I have had the wonderful experience of owning one of the breed's top-producing sires. I have made innumerable friends. I have traveled to places I would have never gone otherwise. And, most of all, I have had a great deal of fun.

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