Posts by Laura Reeves

313 — Falconry: Relationship of Human, Dog, Bird of Prey | Pure Dog Talk

Falconry: Historic Relationship of Human, Dog and Bird of Prey


Steve Layman with a Siberian Goshawk.

Steve Layman, raptor expert, shares the fascinating history of falconry and its symbiotic relationship between man, dog and bird of prey.

Natural history

Layman, a zoologist who has worked with raptors and dogs for nearly 60 years, said that the teamwork between bird, handler and dog bridges the mists of time.

“It’s a natural history moment,” said Layman, a noted speaker on the training of raptors. He uses operant conditioning methods to train the birds of prey to return to him. But he said the birds often help train the dogs.

From Medieval Falconry:

“Records of  …taking prey with a trained raptor…. have been found from as early as 2000BC. It is generally accepted that the origins of falconry began in China and Mongolia and then came to Europe later on.

In the records of the Spanish Conquistadors, evidence was found to suggest that the Aztecs used trained hawks and falcons although whether this was for hunting no one knows. Aristotle also mentioned falconry twice between 384 and 322 BC. Falconry UK and the rest of Europe began in around 400 AD and quickly became extremely popular.

At the time, falconry was less of a sport and more of a necessity than it is nowadays. The art of falconry was taken very seriously as birds of prey were one of the most sophisticated and highly sought after means of hunting for food.

The techniques of falconry have stayed the same since the very early years. Medieval Falconry was much the same in practice as it is now and if you look at the picture from the 1240s you may well see that the perches, leashes, swivels and jesses are almost identical to the ones we use today.”

More information:


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312 — Susan Giles on the Lhasa Apso, Grooming and Breeding | Pure Dog Talk

Susan Giles on the Lhasa Apso, Grooming Secrets and Breeding

Susan Giles, Lhasa Apso breeder for 45 years, shares her grooming and breeding secrets, as well as the history of this ancient breed.

The Lhasa Apso is thought to have been the alert dogs in Tibetan monastaries, where they would bark to alert their larger brethren, the Tibetan Mastiff.

“These dogs are extremely intelligent,” Giles said. “They’ll make you think they don’t know anything. They are aloof with strangers. An independent breed, they’re not sitting on you or demanding.”

Hair not fur

Apsos have hair not fur, Giles noted, so owners don’t have hair shedding, or dander. Dogs kept in coat require maintenance, but she says brushing the coat is calming.

“The important part is to stay on top of it,” Giles said. “They need to be brushed a couple times a week and, bathed each week. Texture and hardness of the coat depends how much brushing you’ll do. Clean coats are easy. Dirty coats mat.”

The Lhasa Apso temperament, although aloof, can be sweet, Giles observed.

“It’s all a matter of breeding,” Giles said. “A sharp temperament will take over in a pet home with growling and biting, if it’s sweet, it takes over by being cute.”

A proper Lhasa Apso expression is like “looking into the eyes of a very old soul,” Giles said.

311 – Rescue Overreach: Prevention Best Recourse | Pure Dog Talk

Rescue Overreach: Ounce of Prevention Worth a Pound of Cure

Jen Amundsen, Clumber Spaniel breeder and exhibitor, is the Dog Savvy Lawyer.

Dog Savvy Lawyer Jen Amundsen joins host Laura Reeves for a frank and, frankly, frightening conversation about what recourse we have as breeders if one of our dogs lands in a shelter or rescue which refuses to return it to us.

What happens when a dog you bred or co-own winds up in a shelter or rescue, despite all your best efforts? It happens more often than many realize. Whether it is death of the owner, an escaped dog or any other series of events, shelters and rescues *should* return the dog to the breeder or co-owner but they are not necessarily legally required to do so.

“If you don’t own the dog, you don’t have much legal recourse,” Amundsen said. “Assuming your contract requires a dog be returned to you, the contract is with the owner and is not enforceable against the shelter.”

When the breeder has an ownership interest, she has some recourse, Amundsen noted, but it takes a *lot* of time, energy and money.

Common sense steps

  • Microchip puppies before they leave. Register the microchips to yourself.
  • Co-own dogs – This requires thought about the balance of being seen as micromanaging new owners as well as questions of “ownership” numbers.
  • Contractual recommendations – include a clause that the owner must take steps to include ownership transfer back to breeder as part of will.
  • Talk puppy buyers through contract – it’s only as good as the party’s understanding of it.
  • Have a “read if dead or incapacitated” folder in case of emergency – keep *updated*.
  • Add a copy of the MAAP plan to puppy kit with every litter.
  • Talk to your neighbors and friends to make sure they know that there is a plan for the dogs. They don’t have to wind up in a shelter.
  • Follow up with previous puppy owners.
  • Preservation breeders provide lifetime support to owners.

“It gives us peace of mind knowing we’ve done something, that we’ve done the maximum we can to be sure our dogs wind up where we want them to be,” Amundsen said.

310 – Vet Voice: Breed Specific Anesthesia Fact and Fiction | Pure Dog Talk

Breed Specific Anesthesia Fact and Fiction

Dr. Marty Greer brings us information about breed specific anesthesia myths and realities to provide peace of mind and knowledge.

“Everyone has an opinion and an experience,” Greer said. “Anesthesia is controlled death. We have to be respectful and appreciative of the advances in medicine. Your vet wants to know that you have the facts to have an informed conversation.”

Modern anesthesia drugs are “So impactful in the ability to wander through the body surgically in a way we can cure things we never could before. It’s amazing,” Greer said.

Breakthroughs in new drugs and monitoring equipment make today’s anesthetic procedures safer for all dogs. Nonetheless, certain groups of dogs have specific needs.


Sighthounds, athletes that they are, boast only 17% body fat vs 35% body fat in most dogs, Greer said. This means the anesthesia drugs metabolize slower in their systems. Higher red blood cel count and lower albumin also changes the metabolism of drugs in sighthound breeds. The low body fat also means they can become hypothermic more easily.

Toy breeds

Greer noted that veterinary staff work harder at keeping toy dogs warm. They go so far as to use bubble wrap on the dogs legs, to help keep them warmer without a risk of thermal burns. The toy dogs’ small size can also mean a concern about blood sugar dropping during surgery. This means owners are encouraged to not withhold food for as long and staff carefully monitors glucose levels during surgery.


The airways in brachycephalic dogs are constructed differently, Greer said. They often have a narrow airway and a smaller trachea. The goal of the veterinary staff will be to get the  airway under control as soon as possible. Greer also recommends medications to dry up oral secretions so the dogs don’t aspirate.

Giant breeds

Greer’s recommendation for giant breed dogs is to give a lower dose of sedative before anesthesia. By using a combination of drugs, she is able to ensure that each drug can be administered at lower dose.

309 — Breeding for type, consistency while keeping a low COI | Pure Dog Talk

Breeding for type, consistency while keeping a low COI

Dr. Victor Stora, veterinary medical geneticist, with some of his Shetland Sheepdogs.

Victor Stora, Shetland Sheepdog breeder, AKC/CHF Residency Recipient and Veterinary Geneticist at University of Pennsylvania, shares concrete information on breeding for type and consistency of style while keeping a low COI (Coefficient of Inbreeding).

Stora observed that many breeders fall in to one of two categories.

“People might fall in to health testing too much and losing type, or you have people ignoring health because they’re getting the type they want. The happy medium is where people should be,” Stora said.

Health test all you want, Stora noted, but keep in mind it doesn’t mean the dogs are free of disease… just all the ones you can test for. What are the really bad diseases that affect a breed, he queried, adding that the more “lethal” diseases get higher priority.

Health testing and COI are tools

“Once you get to the point that you have the animals that you’ve screened, choose the ones that have the least problems health testing wise and are most like the type you desire,” Stora recommended. “Health testing is a tool, not a meter to eliminate animals because they don’t pass the bar.”

He also strongly recommends incorporating carriers of some diseases in a breeding program. “If you eliminate carriers, assuming the carrier has no disease, you’re removing dogs that are healthy. You can zoom in *too* much on health testing, and lose what you had in the beginning.”

We don’t have all the answers yet

Stora also noted that the primary diseases we want to know about, epilepsy, cancer etc, we don’t have an answer and that they are likely environmental, plus genetic.

When it comes to autoimmune disease, Stora said the breeder’s goal is to have more genetic variation to combat it.

“Outcross to a point, line breed to a point. Watch what’s happening. If you don’t choose for fertility, you’re choosing against it. Fertility is a heritable trait,” Stora said. “Nobody got into this because it’s easy. It’s not.”

Finally, Stora counseled to stop breeding affected dogs once the breed or line has started making headway against that disease.

“If the disease is rare within a breed, never breed affected because you don’t have to. If it is common within the breed, you have to use affected,” Stora said.

Our goals as breeders, Stora noted, should be to breed with knowledge, move with testing, breed away from disease state, lower the frequency you see the disease causative allele. Move toward a goal of no disease.

Genetic Counseling link:

308 – Bill Shelton, chapter 3: bottlenecks, marketing, adaptability | Pure Dog Talk

Bill Shelton, chapter 3: Genetic bottlenecks, marketing, adaptability

Renowned breeder and judge Bill Shelton and host Laura Reeves finish up their wide-ranging conversation on dog breeding and marketing in the 21st century.

“How do we move the bar from healthier to typier to sounder? We have to breed,” Shelton said. “We have to be accountable for what we produce. But we have to breed. And we have to get the message out about how what we’re doing is producing healthier and happier dogs. How our ‘commodity’ is predictable.”

Bottlenecks are something we may all have to deal with at some point, Shelton noted. He references the Dalmation outcross project in which Pointers were incorporated to eliminate a deadly disease. He also talks about the Basenji project, in which native dogs from Africa are incorporated in the gene pool, again to eliminate a heritable disease. Listen to my interview with Damara Bolte on this topic here.

“It’s a heretic idea to many people, but it’s going to be something we all have to do at some point, because our dogs exist in closed gene pools,” Shelton said. “It goes back to the weaving of genes. You don’t eliminate bad genes, you introduce new good genes.”

Additional resources:

Doodles offer a lesson

Shelton talks about the development of new breeds, including the Australian Shepherd.

“How many people dislike labradoodles. Think back in the ‘70s when there were those dogs called Australian shepherds,” Shelton noted wryly. “People get upset because doodle breeders can sell their cross-bred dogs, when they (show breeders) can hardly sell dogs. Why? Because (show breeders) exist in a vacuum. They don’t advertise, they don’t promote their breeds, they don’t promote themselves, they don’t know how to do it. And then they say how bad AKC marketplace is. We want to show our dogs. But we don’t want to share them or market them.”

No dog left behind

Shelton espoused several outstanding marketing concepts, including making a dog’s microchip number its registration number. The public finds more value in the microchip than the registration number, he said. This plan would enable AKC to sell both more registrations and microchips and promote a campaign of “no dog left behind” because all purebred dogs would be registered and microchipped.

The entire series

If you missed the first two installments of this series, you can find them here and here.

307 – Bill Shelton, part 2: Breeding for Genetic Diversity | Pure Dog Talk

Bill Shelton on Breeding for Genetic Diversity, Breeding Up and More

Bill Shelton: breeder, judge, activist.

In part two of our series, Bill Shelton, leading advocate for preservation dog breeders, and host Laura Reeves have a spirited conversation about how to improve the health of our breeds while maintaining genetic diversity.

“Leading theriogenologists say breeders are suppressing genetic diversity,” Shelton said. “Only testing phenotype not genotype in hip x-rays for example, removes dogs from the gene pool without understanding the genotype. When we eliminate genes for one thing we don’t know what genes we’re removing that are positive.”

Lethal genes must be removed, but until we have a DNA genetic marker we don’t really know, Shelton noted. We need to breed carriers and potentially affected as well in order to preserve a variety of genes for the future.

Weaving genes to make a healthier dog

“We are asking more of our dog breeding programs than we are for our own humanity,” Shelton said. “We’re actually holding dogs to a higher standard than ourselves and the future of humans.”

Taking the conversation full circle, Shelton noted that legislators are listening to extremists rather than experts in animal husbandry.

Messaging… Again!

“We need to get our message out there,” Shelton said. “We need to have more advocacy for purebred dogs. We need to step outside this circle of dog shows.”

In an outside the box idea, Shelton suggested that AKC needs to consider rebranding as an option, to call themselves a conservancy of heritage breeds.

“How we talk about what we do is what’s important,” Shelton said.

In the “other great ideas department,” Shelton asked rhetorically, “Where is the breeder’s committee in the delegates? Where is the VP of breeders at AKC?”

“We need to take the focus away from showing and put our focus on breeding dogs,” Shelton said. “We are at the point that an amateur delegate body is running what has become a professional industry. Everyone makes money. Who doesn’t make money? Dog breeders.”

If you missed part 1, listen here.

306 – Bill Shelton on Positive Messaging in Purebred Dogs | Pure Dog Talk

Bill Shelton on Positive Messaging in Purebred Dogs

This three part series was recorded at Woofstock, where Bill Shelton judged a Best in Show.

Bill Shelton imparts his wisdom in part one of a three-part series from a wide-ranging conversation about positive messaging in purebred dogs.

People respond to positive messages, Shelton said, which will allow us to change perceptions within the general public. Words like preservation and purpose bred dogs change the paradigm of purebred that can have negative connotation.

“Look what shelters have done,” Shelton said. “They used to be known as the dog pound and mongrels. Look at it today, shelter, rescue, adoption. What fabulous words they use. We still use all these draconian words like kennel, breeders and purebred. They are accurate, but we need to move past them. Even the boarding industry has recognized the anthropomorphized words and have day care and stylists instead of kennel runs and groomers.”

We as breeders and exhibitors have the responsibility to take back the conversation and can’t rely exclusively on the American Kennel Club to do the work for us, Shelton noted.

“I don’t use the word responsible any more because 30 people have a different understanding of what that means,” Shelton said. “Purpose bred means that not only are the dogs bred for intellect and the way they look and predictability, they are bred intentionally by people who care about them.”

The term preservation breeder opens up the opportunity for conversation in the community, Shelton said.

“The paradigm has to change,” Shelton said. “We’ve focused so much on dog shows, that we began to believe that is the most important thing. What’s really important is that you and I as dog breeders supply the demand of happy, healthy family companions.”


“As breeders we are taking accountability,” Shelton said. “We are the ones taking responsibility from cradle to grave. Rescue started in the halls of the AKC and parent clubs. This is one of the reasons we find only five percent identifiable purebreds in shelters.”

We have to assimilate different perspectives rather than pushing against them, Shelton said. We need not to demean people but rather encourage them to understand what preservation breeders are doing, including producing a quantitative predictability of health.

Learn more: 23 – Our Breeds are Endangered: Preservation Breeding-Bill Shelton

305 — Anne Katona on judging, retirement, owner handlers | Pure Dog Talk

Anne Katona on judging, retirement, owner handlers

Anne Katona in 2005 awarding a Kerry Blue Terrier in the group.

Long time judge Anne Katona shares her insights about judging, announces her planned retirement in January 2021 and offers encouragement for owner handlers.

Famous for her greetings in the ring, where she reminds every exhibitor that “wiggles are allowed,” the perennially cheerful Katona noted that she’s “never known a wiggle to hurt bone structure. Why do they have to be little robots?”

“I want everybody who walks out of my ring to say, I didn’t win, but it’s ok, I had a good time” Katona said.

Tips for Owner Handlers

Katona’s history as a breeder and owner-handler of Kerry Blue Terriers leaves her with an affinity for new folks and owner handlers. Her tips for them:

  • New people in the ring: Stand up straight, take a deep breath, and realize every person in this ring has been in your place.
  • In the group – take care of your dog, play with your dog, have fun, don’t just stand there with the dog on the end of the lead and hand on your hip
  • Take a couple seconds, go to corner of ring and then go around after the down and back. You’re cheating yourselves out of 30-50 feet of the dog being seen. And judges need to see how do the dogs take off and how they get their feet under them.
  • Owner handlers can be competitive if they take the time to train the dog.
  • Most important thing an owner handler can own, other than their dog, is a mirror… buy a full length mirror, put it on the wall horizontally at the level of your dog’s height, watch the dog in a free stack.
  • People with table breeds, work with them, let them walk forward, don’t just pick them up and plop them down. Not judging dogs on the table, just examining.
  • Don’t suffocate your dogs by stacking and leaning over them. Hand stack, stand back, don’t bend over the dog.
  • Do you want the truth? A lot of people don’t want to hear the truth because their ego is attached to that dog.

304 – Bulldogs, professionals and imprinting type with Jay Serion | Pure Dog Talk

Bulldogs, professionals and imprinting type with Jay Serion

Jay Serion and Brix… Photo by Ryan Estrada Photography

Specialist Jay Serion talks about bulldogs, having pride as a handler, starting in the trenches and establishing a vision of type from understanding the standard.

“At my first dog show, my dog was third out of three,” Serion said. “I came out of the ring thinking, ‘we need to remedy this.’ Cuz I was competitive. I learned a lot.”

Serion’s recipe for success:

  • Do the work outside the ring.
  • Fix it in the whelping box not the tack box
  • Start in the trenches. Success is not an overnight thing

“My mentors were honest,” Serion said. “They told me to read the standard. Learn the standard. Study pedigrees. Ask people. Ten people will give you 10 answers. There will be a common denominator, that’s your truth.”

Professional handlers all have a bar set of the quality they want to present, Serion noted.

“Especially if you are a specialist, it is part of your responsibility to campaign a good one,” he added. “I don’t want to waste money and time. And it takes a lot of both. I’d rather wait for a great one than push one that people that know *know* isn’t.”

A Bulldog Club of America approved mentor, Serion shares his knowledge about the breed’s outline and appearance.

“They’re supposed to be athletic. In my breed, the standard was written to save the breed from an influx of “Spanish dogs” that were huge,” Serion said. “The perfect bulldog must be of medium size. This was not arbitrary.”

Layback isn’t just for shoulders

The Bulldog standard is unique in that the term “layback” refers to the head structure.  Serion describes this very specific construction as being from the tip of the lower jaw, tip of the nose, through the forehead to the occiput, should be a 45 degree angle in a straight line.

Illustration of the Bulldog then and now courtesy of the Bulldog Club of America.

“The dogs were used in bull baiting. The jaw needed to be strong enough to grab on to a bull and hang on, while the nose was pushed back so they could hold on and still breathe,” Serion siad.


“Our dogs are just as healthy as other breeds,” Serion said. “We’ve created an Ambassador of Health program in the national club encouraging health clearances.”

The program was created to provide proof of healthy dogs, testing everything from tracheas, to cardio, patella, spine, hips, elbows and more, Serion noted.


Bulldogs originally were an aggressive animal to do the job, Serion observed. The original breeders wanted to keep the type features but eliminate aggression. “I’d never breed an aggressive animal no matter how pretty it is.”

For more on the genetics of temperament: