Foxfield Jack Russell Terriers
Interview with Mrs. Sue Sobels • Interviewed by Jovana Danilovic
Published in Best in Show Summer 2014
BIS: When and how did you first come across Jack Russells?
S.S.: I saw my first Jack Russell Terrier at a horse show in 1975. Back then you only saw them at racetracks and horse farms. I got my first one in 1980 and had my first litter in 1982. I wasn’t thinking about being a breeder I just wanted a litter for friends and family.
BIS: What makes the Jack Russells so special for you?
S.S.: I love this breed because they are extremely people oriented and loving. They come from a fox hunting background and so do I. I think horse people love them because they are confident and feisty just like their owners!
BIS: Which dog do you consider the foundation of your breeding program?
S.S.: Although I have had them for over 30 years I would have to say that Madison is my foundation because she is the first generation that was bred for the show ring. Keep in mind we are a newly recognized breed here in the U.S.
She was bred by my good friend Patti Bradford and we used my stud dog Rolling Hill Paddington. Madison carries the old bloodline on her mothers side that goes back to my original dogs.
BIS: What do you consider your greatest achievement as a breeder?
S.S.: 2012 was my first year showing in the AKC. I was new to dog shows and showing. I showed GCH Foxfield Pepper Patch to her championship in the Bred- By division. Pepper went on to receive her Grand Championship and was one of two bitches we showed at Westminster that first year we were recognized in the Terrier Group. I have 9 Champions here now but she means the most to me because I did it myself as a beginner. I showed horses for 30 years and it was an easy transition. I love starting and showing the puppies.
BIS: Who has been your greatest influence in breeding and in what way?
S.S.: Instead of one person I would like to say it has been a combination of people, world class dogs, and shows. Because this is a newly recognized breed here I learn a lot by seeing and competing with other dogs at the big shows like Montgomery and Westminster. So many nice dogs from around the world come here for those shows and there is nothing like seeing them in person!
BIS: Did you have mentor when you first started out, who was that and in which way did that person help you?
S.S.: I did not have a mentor. However I am extremely grateful to people like Kao Miichi, Andrew Green, Christina Areskough, Monica Fonzo, Simon Mills, Kelly Scott and others who have been generous with their knowledge and allowing me to use their wonderful stud dogs.
BIS: Are there any other people who have been instrumental in your career as a breeder that you have looked up to and admired?
S.S.: Greg Strong is my professional handler and is a good friend of mine. I look up to him as a person and real dog lover. I admire his honesty and integrity. He has a good eye for conformation and has helped me evaluate my puppies. I have learned a lot from him.
BIS: How did the Jack Russells change over time since you first got involved with the breed?
S.S.: When I got my first Jack Russell they were small and old fashioned. Short legged. About 10” tall. That was the only kind I ever saw here on Long Island for a long time. The last 10 years have been quite a change for me. Once I knew we were on a path to AKC recognition I moved more in that direction as far as type and size was concerned. I concentrated on slightly longer legs and better conformation. It wasn’t easy because I did not have easy access to FCI type stud dogs. In the past couple years that has changed. There have been numerous imports that were available and it has made a world of differance. I am very grateful for those opportunities.
BIS: Are there any specific stud dogs/brood bitches in your variety, in your country, or globally, that you think have had an important impact on your variety and if so, why?
S.S.: In 2011 I went to Montgomery for the first time. I got to see Multi CH Lemosa Mr. Energizer. I fell in love instantly. He was the new world Champion then. I saw that I had my work cut out for me if I wanted to strive to breed that quality. He is a fabulous mover and has so much presence.
In 2012 I got to meet GCH Goldsand’s Columbus at Montgomery. There is no substitute for seeing wonderful dogs in person. He was always fun to watch because he loves showing.
BIS: Is there something which you would like to change/improve in the breed?
S.S.: I would like to see more consistency here in the U.S. but that will come in time.
BIS: Every breed has some common problems. Which is the most common problem in your variety seen from a breeder’s point of view?
S.S.: I’ve talked to breeders all over the world and we all complain about consistency in litters. Unless you are line breeding you can have a litter that is all over the place. M personal challenge and pet peeve is a long back.
BIS: What is your opinion regarding to heavy and round shaped chest?
S.S.: The chest should not be heavy or round. It must be spannable. I am happy to say that most judges here do span them now.
BIS: What has been the biggest disappointment in breeding and showing for you so far?
S.S.: Honestly I try not to be negative or disappointed. I try to learn from every experience and keep moving forward. I learned while showing horses that sometimes you win when you shouldn’t and don’t win when you should. I try to never forget that.
BIS: What do you think is the most problematic about Jack Russell FCI or AKC Standard?
S.S.: One thing that really bothers me in our own AKC standard is that I have seen young puppies disqualified for being under sized. A 6 month old puppy is not mature. The problem is in how our standard is written. As far as FCI dogs, I find that some in Europe are getting really big. I know that a big dog can be useful in breeding but over here they will get disqualified. I would not like to see them get bigger and bigger.
BIS: Please mention 2 to 3 Jack Russell which are not owned, bred or shown by yourself, that you particularly admired, and tell us what you most admired about each.
S.S.: I admire Multi CH Lemosa Mr. Energizer. He is beautiful and a wonderful mover. He has passed that along to his offspring. Another dog I admire is GCH Goldsand’s Columbus. I never saw a dog love to show more. He has a lot of presence.
GCH Monamour Part Time Lover, “Yukkio” was here in the USA and at a lot of the same shows I was at. He is a beautiful dog who is a great mover and passes it
along to his offspring. I have 2 of his daughters. They are both very close to getting their Grand Championships now.
BIS: What is the most important point of which you would like a judge of your breed to be aware?
S.S.: I would like them to read the standard and then see as many of them as possible before judging a class. Our country is big and they are concentrated in a few area’s so some judges have not seen them in person yet.
BIS: What qualities do you admire most in a judge?
S.S.: Honesty and Integrity. I love it when a judge takes his time to really look at each and every dog. Its a matter of respect.
BIS: What are the most important characteristics to keep in mind for anyone wanting to become a good Jack Russell judge?
S.S.: They are a working terrier and bred to hunt. They are not Mini Parsons. They are very different in a lot of ways.
BIS: If you were in charge of everything regarding dog shows what change would you make first?
S.S.: It will never happen but I would love to get a written critique from the judge on every dog shown. I think that would keep them honest and they might go to more trouble to understand the breed.
BIS: What would be the most important single piece of advice you would give to all serious young breeders?
S.S.: Stay true to yourself. Don’t jump on the bandwagon for the latest fad.
Breed the best to the best. And then only keep the best! Lastly, don’t do it unless you really enjoy it. Its truly a labor of love.