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FEATURE INTERVIEW
MARSHALL STONER

LOST CREEK GREAT DANES
Conducted by Adam Protos
 
January 8, 2006


 

 

 






 


AP...Well Marsh, tell me a little about yourself;  where did you grow up,  something about your professional  life, your family and how did you become fond of Great Danes?

MS...Iím a retired teacher and basketball coach.  I fell in love with the game of basketball when I was in the 4th grade, and decided then to someday become a coach so I would never be found too far away from the game.  I enjoyed a fairly successful high school career, good enough to earn a scholarship to Western Illinois University.  With no father around, and a mother trying to raise 3 kids on waitress wages, this was absolutely the only chance I had for a college education.

My hometown of Henry Illinois is on the Illinois River.  As a youngster I spent a lot of time out of doors and gained a huge appreciation for nature and wildlife, especially of birds.  I still love bird watching, and am always aware of the bird activity going on around me, no matter where I am.

At Western, I played all four years for the basketball team and high jumped for the track team.  I became the schoolís leading career basketball scorer in 1956, and am still #5 on the list, after 50 years, with 1526 points.  We had some really good teams, probably some of the best in the Westernís history.

After graduation I became the coach and teacher I had promised myself.  Thatís how I made my living for the next 35 years.  I met my wife, June, at Western and she, too, is a retired teacher.  We have 4 children, who for the most part, followed us into the teaching profession.  They, in turn have produced for us 7 wonderful grandchildren.

Weíve always had a Great Dane in the family.  My brother bought us our first one, a fawn bitch.  Strictly a pet, she was the first of all five colors we have enjoyed during our 50 years together.

I always had in the back of my mind, the idea of becoming a breeder of Great Danes.  So when I retired from coaching, we became serious about raising quality Danes for competitive purposes.  I plead guilty to being somewhat over competitive, and this was one way to satisfy my competitive juices.  I just switched from dealing with referees to dealing with judges.

AP...Were you always an animal lover?

MS...Unquestionably!  Iíve always had pets, ranging from reptiles, raccoons, owls, and the usual array of dogs and cats. 

AP...How did your interest in dogs and specifically Danes develop?

MS...There is something mystical about the look of the Great Dane that strikes a chord in my inner being.  I nursed the idea of acquiring one for a long time before we finally brought one into our home.

 AP...Who first introduced you to Danes?

MS...My wife and I purchased our first show-potential Dane from Ralph & Mimi Graff of St. Louis, Missouri. Her name was Von Graffís Gingerbread Lady. She was a brindle. This came about after I retired from coaching and we decided to become more serious about the exhibiting of Great Danes.  We were such novices.  Ginger was her call name and in retrospect, we should have finished her. But we couldnít get one ear to stand and thought we were not allowed to show her without both ears up.  Thatís how little we knew.

However, we did breed her and produced a relatively successful litter.  There were three champions in the litter.  The sire was Ch. Rojonís Oh Boy v. Mecca Dane. 

AP...Do you remember your first dog show?

MS...We attended a show in St. Louis, in which Gingerís sire was going to be shown.  I remember how confusing the show itself was, not understanding the various classes and how the show progressed.  My selections rarely coincided with the judge. I thought the biggest dog in each class shouldíve won!

I do remember how shocked we were as we crossed the street after the show and found a 3rd
           place ribbon on the ground.  We couldnít believe someone had carelessly lost such a valuable award!

 AP...Discuss your early dog show life and your first show dog.

MS...In the process of placing Gingerís litter, we met Mr. Ray Cataldi, who owned the sire of her litter.
Ray was actively breeding Danes at that time and had several show-prospect male puppies available. Among them was a big, dark brindle youngster. His price was well above what our budget would allow, but common sense did not prevail and he found his way into my heartÖÖ.. and my van! Needless to say, the purchase price was just the beginning. BISS Ch. Rojonís Don-Sue LUKE v. Lost Creek was to become one of the top winners and producers of his era. During his show career we really became hooked on the dog show lifestyle.

AP.....Who guided you through these beginning times?

MS.....For obvious reasons, Ray Cataldi was very interested in the success of Luke, and he made many invaluable suggestions as to how we manage his career. In addition, prior to acquiring Ginger, I attended numerous dog shows, and especially enjoyed and learned from Lake Shoreís Daneorama. Before the National came along, Daneorama was the ďSuper BowlĒ of Great Dane competition. I was particularly interested in observing handlers. I think I became a fairly good connoisseur of handlers. One person who I was particularly impressed with at that time was John Stusek. John agreed to handle Luke and a whirlwind campaign began. Luke acquired his 15 points starting in April and finished in May. He went Winnerís Dog at the Lake Shore Specialty in April 1985 under one of my favorite judges, Claire Lincoln. He finished in May with another 5 point major under another of my favorite judges, Mr. Bob Gregory.

AP.....Do you have any mentors?

MS.....I guess itís rather obvious. I have spent hours listening to Ray Cataldi share his wisdom and expertise on all facets of breeding and exhibiting. There have been many others, but none that we took so much from.

AP.....How have they influenced you?

MS.....Itís difficult to put into words how a person is being influenced by his mentors. We learn by trial and error and we learn by applying principals established by others before us. My image of Great Danes changed considerably early on. I remember admiring at first the photos of Great Danes in the Great Dane Quarterly and The Reporter. Those old magazines always had photos of Danes in Europe. It took me a while to get away from the ďbigger is betterĒ syndrome. As I look back, I think I had a picture in my mind of what a Great Dane should look like, but it took a while to actually be able to fill in the parts. I still consider myself a beginner, and in that roll you continually soak in information from successful people around you (mentors) and add your own experiments (trial and error). Together you formulate the kind of breeding program, which gives you satisfaction.

AP.....How has your career as a coach aided you in competing with your dogs?

MS.....First of all, I enjoy competition immensely. My family would probably say too immensely. But, whether in athletics or dogs, there is something very fulfilling in preparing a plan, perfecting the plan with practice, and then seeing positive results. One huge similarity is that in athletics you have referees and in dogs you have judges. You rely rather heavily on their subjective decisions. Unfortunately, in both sports, there are some decision makers who really donít know their business. But to answer your question, my coaching background has helped me understand for one thing you canít win all the time. Sometimes there are better dogs out there than yours, and over the long run the good and bad decisions even out. One has to be satisfied with the occasional high from the big win and feed off that warm fuzzy until the next one comes along.

AP....What part do professionals play in the sport?


MS.....I learned very early that professionals dominate the sport of dogs. Whether is be in handling or breeding, the people who make their living in dogs are naturally going to be better at it than we amateurs. As I mentioned above, early on I studied handlers. I noted their styles. I learned some were better than others with different types of dogs. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. I learned that the more artist they had in them, the better handler they were. I consider myself a fairly good athlete, but that doesnít help much. Among other talents the good handlers mold their animal into a pretty picture and then get the judge to look at it at the right time. Needless to say, this requires much repetition to go along with artistic talent. Professionals take our sport to the highest level possible. Whether in presenting our dogs or breeding them, I hate to think where dog shows would be without them. They force us to lift our efforts to our very best or to forever sit on the sidelines in the loserís section.
If there is one aspect involving the professionals in the sport that I donít appreciate, it is on those occasions when they are rewarded by a judge who knows they are likely to bring more dogs to them in the future, than the owner-handler. Of course, that is not the fault of the pro, itís the judge.

AP.....Have you campaigned a special, and how did that influence your perspective of the dog show?


MS.....Campaigning a special has its good points, but it doesnít happen to be my favorite part of the game. Iím not sure the all out push to be number one, or even to just get into the Top 20 is good for the sport. For one thing, I would much rather win a specialty than a group placement. The reason being that chances are the specialty judge is judging their own breed and should know more about that breed than a group judge spending 2 or 3 minutes looking at 26 different breeds trying to pick the one that most closely fulfills the requirements of its own standard. For group judging to be completely fair, the judge would have to have an absolutely even knowledge of the standards of every animal in the group. I donít think there are too many of those people out there. So in my opinion, group and best in show judging is for the spectators.

Regarding the Top 20, we all know that the animals that end up in a given year with the most points are really not the 20 best Great Danes exhibited in a given year. They are merely the dogs whose owners were willing to shell out the thousands of dollars and many hours of time to have their animals out there weekend after weekend, no matter the distance/dollars involved. Add to that the expense of having their dog and handlerís picture all over the many dog publications, and youíve got a formula for eliminating the small budget individual who frequently has a deserving enough candidate, but not the dollars.

Iím as guilty as the next in playing this game. Call it ego or whatever. But, if the Top 20 competition was set up to contribute to the betterment of the breed, I donít think that is happening. For one thing, when you have three judges you have a committee. I believe that too often you have judges neutralizing each otherís opinions, and you end up with mediocrity rather than the best animal available. I do believe Top 20 judges should have to make their sheets available to the participants, and possibly to all the observers. Maybe the Top 20 should just be an exhibit. That way every one would still be able to get all dressed up and the animals on the list would have an opportunity to be honored and be presented in all their glory.
 
AP.....Do you feel the quality of judging has improved or declined in recent years?

MS.....Iím not sure. I know I feel, as Iíve learned more, I tend to be more critical, but as to whether judging has deteriorated over all, I donít know. The increased number of shows hasnít helped. More shows require more judges. More judges require clubs to reach deeper into the judge supply. There are not enough good judges to go around, as it is.
I really am disappointed in the judging by many of the all-rounders. I definitely believe there is a huge gap between what breeder judges and all-rounders regard as the ideal specimen. I think the area where non-breeder judges seem to lack knowledge is in the area of type. They, especially, struggle with heads. Many group judges really donít understand how important Great Dane type plays in the overall scheme of selecting our breeding stock, which is what they are supposed to be doing.


AP.....Do you think the standard sets a clear expectation of priorities in the judging of Danes?

MS.....Anytime you have two people hearing or reading a set of words, then interpreting what theyíve heard or read, you are going to get two different versions. No two people translate the meaning of our standard the same. We all have our prejudices as to what we think the most important ingredients for the make-up of the ideal Great Dane, so when weíre reading the standard we tend to give those parts we like, the most emphasis. We tend to favor qualities we have in our own breeding programs. For example, people who donít have good heads on their dogs, tend to discount the standardís emphasis on the head. Iíve heard more than one breeder claim they can get a good head in one generation. Thatís ridiculous, and is just an indication that the person doesnít really understand the finer nuances of what makes a good head.

AP.....How should movement be weighted in the ring?

M
S.....In the standard gait is described in the second to last paragraph. The description is fairly clear and easy to understand. The problem is that many judges, especially in the group ring, are not able to factor in the fact that the giant breeds are never going to be able to move like the smaller more compact breeds, especially those developed to pull sleds up north. Another problem when judging movement is that of all the facets in the standard, it is the most subjective. Itís easy for a judge to see light eyes, or straight hindquarters, or bad top-lines. The really good judges can determine whether a dog can move or not, even when he doesnít have a good down and back, more because the dog just doesnít want/like to do it at that moment. If the dog is put together correctly, chances are it can move well.
Judges who really donít know much about type are more likely to go over board on movement. I once over heard a breeder judge at a large mid-western specialty state she regarded herself as a movement judge. This was the day after she had awarded a BOB to a dog with the least type of all the dogs in her large Best of Breed class. I believe this was the dogís only specialty win in its career.

So to answer your question, movement should be given the same amount of consideration as all of the other parts of the standard. I love a statement I recently read on this web site that pointed out that a dog with no type is just as unsound as a dog that limps across the ring.

AP.....Do you feel there is a particular area of Danes which has deteriorated or improved?

MS.....I see far too many Great Danes lacking type attaining their championships. We have too many Danes being shown, that lack good angles. (Angulation). Top lines and croups could be better.


AP.....What can be done to educate judges properly?


MS.....Thatís a tough one. Our sport, as it now operates, is not very conducive toward educating Great Dane judges. Fortunately, there are a few people out there who work very hard at helping others learn about our breed. Dana Cline is consistent and persistent in doing this. I wish there were more like him. The GDCA needs to make more use of him in their education efforts.

AP.....You recently judged the Futurity, what did you learn from it?

MS.....Let me first answer the question by stating how appreciative I am for having been given that assignment. To those who voted for me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The experience will always be the highlight of my life in Great Danes. In addition, my thanks go out to the people that made the job so relaxing and relatively stress free. Those would be the ladies who made up the judges committee and my four wonderful stewards.
I learned that there are a lot of good breeders out there trying to do their best to improve the breed. And despite what some are trying to do to change the Futurity, it works very well the way that it is. I learned that some classes are easy, when you have an outstanding specimen in it; that some classes are difficult when youíve got more than one outstanding animal in it; and equally hard when you donít have a great one in it. I had all three of those kinds of classes. I was especially pleased with my final selections.


AP.....Do you have plans to become a fully licensed judge?


MS.....I really enjoy the breeding and exhibiting parts of the sport. I struggle with the idea of exhibiting and judging in the same breed, especially if you are specialing a dog. Any time you are judging a breed in which you are trying to campaign a dog into the Top 20, you are asking for negative thoughts and statements from the competition, no matter how honest and unpolitical you are. A few years ago we showed a bitch we were specialing to a judge who also was campaigning a bitch special. The two bitches were running neck and neck for the top bitch in the country. The judge gave the BOB that day to a class bitch. Makes you wonder! So as of now, Iíll stick to being an exhibitor only.

AP.....Speaking of the Futurity, how did you feel about the recent health testing initiative?

MS.....As I stated in my Futurity program biography, one of the reasons we get so heavily involved with this great breed, is because of the youngsters. The Futurity is most peopleís favorite part of the National. ďIf it ainít broke, donít fix itĒ.

AP.....Do you believe health screenings are used properly?

MS.....I know of a fairly well known breeder who tries to imply they are testing experts. I, also know when a dog of theirs being tested does not have high enough results, they donít send them in. On at least one occasion, they still bred the bitch, finished a male pup out of the litter, and then used him frequently to produce more pups.

I wish it were so simple that health tests would eliminate health problems. But, when you can breed two
dysplastic animals itís possible to get no dysphasic pups, and then breed two high scoring animals and get a box full of dysplasia. One has to wonder if testing is the answer.

I really believe that careful monitoring of all pups a breeder produces is a much better way to go.

AP.....Have you noticed any changes in the structure and function of the Parent Club?

The people who serve as officers, chairmen, and board members for the Parent Club should be commended for all the financial and time sacrifices they make. You have to be a person of some means just to be able to afford to be on the board or an officer. However many meetings they are required to attend, at locations all over the country makes participating very expensive. I know I couldnít handle it financially. From that standpoint, the people who serve are to be applauded.

However, and I donít know if these comments falls under the heading of structure and function, but there is a perception out there that there is too much distance between the GDCA leadership and the rank and file.
It doesnít help that the last 3 or 4 presidents of the GDCA are not actively involved in breeding. To my knowledge, they may not even have Great Danes living in/at their homes. Maybe they donít need to. The ďnuts and boltsĒ of our avocation are the breeders. Somehow some way there has to be a closer relationship between breeders and the GDCA hierarchy.

Then there is the ďgood old boyĒ syndrome. There are a lot of judges who serve as officers and on the board of directors. When judging, if one board member awards another board member or officer, past or present, a win, then they are just asking for an increased amount of ringside negativity, even when the award was a deserving one. Itís sort of like judging and specialing at the same time. We already have too much gossip at ringside.

AP.....How do you feel about the state of the National?

MS.....I look forward to the National every year. The National is a huge undertaking. There are some underlying causes that make its management somewhat cumbersome. It may be moving toward an impossible financial situation. Some are predicting its demise, as we now know it.  I know there are those who feel the National has become too much of a social event; that many enter and attend, just to have a good time. I donít see anything wrong with that as long as they take home with them a better idea of how to breed, exhibit, train, and care for our breed.

AP.....When did you first become involved in the breeding of Great Danes?

MS.....Iíve always believed that exhibiting and breeding go hand in hand. I didnít always want to be showing animals that I bought from someone else. You have to start with someone elseís dogs, hopefully good stock, and then start breeding on your own. Breeding was definitely an outgrowth of my showing activities. Fortunately, I got lucky with some early acquisitions and some good advice. I selected my foundation dogs from successful breeders who produced animals that I liked, and went from there. My priorities were fairly simple-----to produce beautiful, healthy and sound Great Danes. Iím sure every breeder believes this, but Iím proud of the Great Danes we have produced, and rank some of them up there with the best.

To me, itís just as important to be able to look out in my back yard at beautiful healthy Great Danes during the week, as it is to earn a win on the weekend.


AP.....How does type play into all of this?

A Great Dane should have a distinctive look. Our hobby likes to call it ďThe Look of EaglesĒ. There should be no hint of common. No snipey muzzles, no short thick necks, and no doubt as to what breed it is. Elegance personified. I see too many mastiff looking Danes and on the other side of the spectrum, too many Doberman looking Danes. Those breeders who donít have good heads like to say ďthey donít run on their heads.Ē But, if they donít have a good head, they donít have breed type.

AP.....Describe your ideal dog.

Well surprise, surprise, you have to start with a great head. This is a must. It should be rectangular, long, distinguished, expressive and finely chiseled, just like the standard suggests. The planes of the skull and muzzle must be parallel. The length of the muzzle from the nose to the stop is equal to the distance from the stop to the occiput. The muzzle from the top should be wide at the bridge and flat on the sides. The head should be angular, not rounded, from all sides. The eyes give the head its expression. They should be almond shaped, dark, and tight. There should be no doubt as to the dogís sex. The maleís head leaves no question as to his masculinity, and the bitch is more delicate.
I love a long, muscular, well-arched neck with a correct set. It should flow into the back smoothly with no hint of dips or roachiness. In other words, the back is flat and it too, flows into a croup, which is broad and slightly sloping. The tail, broad at the base, falls straight and reaches the hock. When the dog gaits, the tail should not be raised above the level of the back.

The front and hindquarters should be well angulated. We have far too many straight fronts and rears in our breed today. Front angulation is probably the most difficult part of structure for observers to discern, but the shoulder blade should form a right angle with the upper armÖThey should be equal in length. A full chest and brisket should reach to the elbow. At the other end, I love a well let down hock that is perfectly straight with the other leg. Well-arched toes on all four feet are desirable.


Temperament wise, the dog should fit your personality. My favorite home companion is a dog that when you want him near you, heís always there, and when you want him out of your hair he knows it and goes and lays down.

AP.....How do you formulate your breedings to try and achieve this, in other words, what do you take into account when contemplating a breeding?

MS......I have found that the characteristics I really wish to maintain can best be produced in a litter by doubling up on it. In other words, if I want to be sure I donít lose a long arched neck connected to a good/great head, I breed two animals that have that attribute. If I am attempting to acquire a feature, you must do your homework and breed to an animal which fairly consistently produces the trait you are attempting to acquire. Usually you wonít get a litter box full of what youíre attempting to acquire, but youíll get some of it. If your base animal is good enough, youíll still have a quality litter.

AP.....What weight do you give the pedigree?

MS.....Almost, if not all, our breedings are line-bred. So obviously, we pay close attention to pedigrees. I think this is especially important when dealing with health issues. The line that we have been dealing with has been amazingly free of major health problems.

AP.....Give an example of something you feel you have improved upon in your dogs, and explain your thought process in accomplishing this.

I like to think my dogs are fairly consistent in exhibiting breed type. Our fronts have gotten better and angulation has improved. We continue to be concerned about just about all our parts and temperaments.


AP.....What are the qualities of a good brood bitch?

MS.....She produces fairly consistent get. By that I mean, she almost always produces the qualities you do not want to lose. Hopefully, she allows the attributes you are attempting to glean from the male. The get are as good as or better than she is. We have been very fortunate in this regard, as we now have living with us a bitch, which has produced 11 champions, and still counting.

AP.....Stud dog?

The same as for the brood bitch.


AP.....You have managed several stud dogs successfully, how did you accomplish this?

MS.....I really enjoy seeing Great Danes produced by my dogs compete. I get as much of a charge seeing one of those, owned by someone else winning, as I get when my own have success. Iíve been very fortunate to have acquired and produce some very prepotent males. Then itís a matter of being willing to deal with the stress, time, and work that a good breeding requires. No two breedings are the same. Bitches cooperate at different levels/degrees. Stud dogs all have different levels of expertise. All bitch owners bring differences to the table. Some times everything goes very smoothly. Some times they donít.

When you have a really good stud dog, which Iíve been fortunate to own, they can really make the whole business go more smoothly. Those are the ones who know much better than the bitchís vet, the bitchís owner, and you, when the bitch is really ready to be bred.


AP.....Do you feel you have developed Lost Creek into a bloodline?

MS.....No. However, I would like to think of Lost Creek as an extension of Rojon.

AP.....What is a bloodline and how has its roll changed in the breed.

MS.....A long time ago I heard a prominent breeder refer to the need for large numbers of uteruses as a means of moving their breeding forward. That was just their way of saying that in some ways, breeding a bloodline is a numbers game. Each individual breeding can only accomplish so much. So that in order to take a bloodline from point A to point B, there has to be a lot of animals involved. The day of the huge kennel with a hundred dogs or more is long gone. So today, in order for a bloodline to be developed or to exist, several breeders with similar likes and beliefs have got to coordinate their efforts, so that at the end their partnership produces dogs that can qualify as a bloodline. I think Mary Anne Zanetos, Paula Heller, the Texas connection, the Lynns, Sue Mahany, Lost Creek and some others, come fairly close to fulfilling those requirements for the Rojon bloodline.

AP.....How does the mentality of building a bloodline differ from simply breeding?

MS.....The main difference is that the bloodline breeder is looking at 2, 3, or more generations down the line, to acquire exactly what the want in a dog. Too many of todayís breeders do convenience breedings. They breed two animals just because they have both dogs in their home, or nearby. Or one of the animals belongs to a friend. Or they just want to see what Specimen A will produce. Theyíre hoping for a miracle, and those donít happen very often.

AP.....Do you believe there is a correlation between cropping, color and rescue?

MS.....Yes I do. Itís not rocket science to do the percentages. Too many rescues are either uncropped or of color or both.

AP.....Who do you admire?

MS.....There are a lot of people in Great Danes that I admire. I still consider myself a novice, and I look up to a lot of people. A breeder that I donít know that well, but am an admirer of her work is Pat Ciampa. Her dogs just keep getting better and better. She has especially improved her heads in recent years. She had several entered in the recent Futurity and the pup she had in the 5-7 month puppy dog class I would have loved to have taken home. He was Reserve Winners Dog in the Specialty the next day and I believe has since finished. He has a sister who is now being specialed and is doing a lot of winning, even though she is still very young.

Hardly a year goes by that Pat doesnít win some of the breeding awards at the National. Her breeding comes as close to producing a bloodline as anyone.

I admire Dana Cline. Despite his having some serious health problems recently, Dana has not missed a beat in his tireless efforts to educate judges about Great Danes. Iíve seen him on numerous occasions take an all-rounder or a provisional aside, with someoneís dog as a subject, and try to explain the strengths and weaknesses of the animal. With his background, he brings much more to the table than this, but that is one example. He frequently speaks out on what makes a good Great Dane. What a great handler he was.
I admire Jeff and Patrice Lawrence. Not surprisingly, their early lives growing up in families with lots of Great Danes around them, has given them invaluable insights regarding the breed. They run their business of caring for and handling Danes with great expertise. After spending enough time with a dog, I believe they both can get inside the dogís head and bring out its best performance as well or better than anyone. They are impeccably honest and will tell an owner when the owner is wasting their money. They have very enviable records. Together, at the National they have won either Winners Dog or Winners Bitch or Best of Breed more times than anyone, including the last several in succession. Jeff, also, has won a Top 20, as well as two Best of Breeds and a group placement at Westminster. They do all this without being political. They are first class in every way. They have a good working knowledge of judges, and wonít take a clientís dog to a judge where it canít win.

I admire Ray Cataldi Jr. I truly believe Ray knows more about the Great Dane than anyone in the country. His Lynn Lowy interview, which appeared in the Great Dane Reporter several years ago, ought to be required reading for any person starting their exhibiting and breeding careers. It still appears on the Rojon Great Dane web site. I go back and read it every so often.

There are others I admire. These are just a few, and Iíve learned from all of them. The list would go on forever.

AP.....Who are some of the dogs which you thought were exemplary?

MS.....Thatís a tough one because there are so many. With my terrible memory for names, Iím sure to goof up on some of them. Anyhow, here are my ďFab 5Ē dogs and bitches not in any particular order. Dogs: Ch. Rojonís Captain Fowler, Ch. Shannonís Tycho Brahe, Ch. Temple Dellís Odin v Branstock, Ch. Rojonís Oh Boy v Mecca Dane, and Ch. Lost Creekís Joseph Dane Lane. Bitches: Ch. Rojonís Rachel Rachel, Ch. Brierdaneís Indian Amber, Ch. Rojonís Rumor Has It, Rojonís Daiquiri O Mango, and Ch Lost Creekís Candle N The Wind. Oh, and I would have to add Ch. Tinkerís Tulip Time v Brislyn to my bitch list.

As I consider the list, one characteristic that they really jumps out, is they all have tons of type.

AP.....Looking back what are some of your most memorable times in dogs?

Iíll give two. The first one was finishing our first champion. The dog was Ch Rojonís Don-Sue Luke v Lost Creek and the show was in Collinsville, Illinois. John Stusek handled Luke, who had accumulated 10 points starting with a 5 point major under Clare Lincoln at the Lake Shore Specialty in April. So Luke needed 5 points to finish and one of my all time favorites, Bob Gregory was the judge. The show was a 5-point major and Luke won to finish in two months, before his 18-month birthday. The thing that made it so very memorable was the fact that my wife and all my kids and their spouses were there to witness the event. Thatís the only time in our exhibiting career that they were all there at the same time.

The second memory is being selected to judge the 2005 Futurity. As I said before, I will always be thankful to those who made it possible.

AP.....Reflecting back, if you could start over, what would you do differently?

MS.....Wow, thatís a tough one, too. Really, I wouldnít change much. It has really been a great ride with lots of highs and some lows. The lows just make you appreciate the highs that much more.

AP.....How about your pet peeves?

Any time some one implies that their way of doing things is the only way. The BARF people tend to be a little that way, but this applies to anyone who tries to suggest that their method of feeding or inoculating or training or any other method of dealing with their dogs is the only way.

Advertisers who include in their ads the statement ďas close to the standard as you can getĒ.

Advertisers who touch up their photos to eliminate obvious faults.

Owners of uncropped dogs, who when they win, feel obligated to announce that the dog is uncropped. So what. Can you imagine what would happen if every time a cropped dog won the owner announced Ďíand itís cropped!!Ē

Judges who try to pimp for entries.

Exhibitors who go back to the same judge with the same dog an excessive number of times. Iím talking 5 or 6 times.


AP.....Most appreciated?

At the very top of this list go the rescue people. Pookie Kostuk has a leg up in Heaven for all the time and effort she has give to this very important undertaking. There are many like her all over the country that do a fabulous job and we need to help them all we can. After a long period of service, I understand Pookie is stepping down and will be replaced by Mary Barnett.

I am really impressed with the obedience and agility people, also. Iím jealous of the level of rapport they must develop with their dogs in order to get them to execute all those complicated maneuvers.
And finally, all the great Great Dane people we have metÖpeople who we consider family and would never have known were it not for this wonderful breed of dog---The Great Dane.


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