Interview with Gabriela Lovati • Interviewed by M. Ljutic & J. Danilovic
Published in Best in Show Annual 2015
BIS: When have you got involved in dogs and how did you first come across Aussies? Which thing about Aussies was (and still is) so special for you?
Gabriela: The love I feel toward the dogs was passed on to me by my family that never stood in the way of my passion for all animals. In fact, from the dogs to the cats to the horses, and to top it all, the cow! It is one crazy family! It all started back in 1986 when we were struck by the beauty and elegance of the Siberian Husky, a love for us all, and so it was that our first dog arrived.
In 1989 the affix DEL WHYMPER DELLE G. JORASSES was recognized by the FCI. Years of hard work passed by, during which I tried to understand the secrets of then great breeders, listening to their discussions and documenting information about various bloodlines, genetic sicknesses and the different breeding that the GURU of the dog world talked about. I had to learn everything!!!! It is definitely my greatest passion and love. I think it was back in 1996 when I saw the first Australian Shepherd imported from the USA to Italy, and it was love at first sight. I discovered myself as a shepherdess in heart and soul (though the nordic blood still runs in my veins). In 1999 my first aussie arrived, CH BAYSHOREíS OBAN imported from the USA, and shortly after in 2000 another Bayshore arrived, CH BAYSHOREíS AMERICAN PIE both from the USA. Thanks to the interest of my friend Richard, EUROPEAN WINNER BOB 2003 Multi CH PROPWASH NORTHERN DANCER Andy arrived, a very special and once in a lifetime dog whom I would give everything too!
So from the year 2000. a long list of amazing aussies began. It is impossible to list them all, there were so many of them, and Iím very proud of them all!!!
Aussies are a special breed; I love their temperament, the way they connect with people: an easygoing dog willing to please their owner every minute of their life. I love their soundness, their easy movement. There is nothing better that to watch an aussie in movement. It is so easy on the eyes!
BIS: Which dog do you consider the foundation of your own breeding program?
Gabriela: CH BAYSHOREíS AMERICAN PIE Cookie and Multi CH PROPWASH NORTHERN DANCER Andy are my foundation dogs. They were both born in the beginning of 2000. and Iím happy to say both of them are still with me! We have to mention also our GR CH AKC multi CH BAYSHOREíS AMERICAN IDOL Simon who produced many of our champions and the BEST OF WINNER 2014. USASA NATIONAL bitch within more than 300 aussies from the classes!
BIS: How many aussies do you have at home (living with you) and how many you co-own?
Gabriela: I have a large property and a big kennel where my husband and me spend all day. All my old dogs live with me and when I decide to keep a puppy, it surely stays with us forever! We have 14 aussies living with us at home, both boys and girls. They all differ in age, except for the three puppies we have that are 4 months old. I do not have many dogs in co-ownership because of the Italian law that forbids having a dog with an Italian pedigree in co-ownership. Strange but thatís Italy! I have dogs in co-ownership in the USA, the Czech Republic, France and Spain.
BIS: How many litters per year do you have approximately?
Gabriela: I do not breed very often. There are years when I have only one litter and on the other hand, there are years when I have 3 of them. It depends whether I find the right dog and the right combination. I insist on matching together male and female that will have the best puppies possible – genetically and conformational.
BIS: With how many kennels do you co-breed and what are they? How important was the cooperation between breeders through the time?
Gabriela: I work a lot with breeders in the USA and I have dogs in co-ownership with Bayshore Kennel – Frank Baylis and with Hightide kennel -Jillayne Karras that is also my handler in the US.
Cooperation is one of the most important things in breeding dogs , I was so lucky to find great people in the US that have helped me to develop and grow as a breeder. In almost all aussie pedigrees you can see cooperation between the biggest breeders. Some of the best dogs that make breed history came from important kennels like BAYSHORE, PROPWASH , BRIARBROOKS, HEATHERHILL and MC MATT!
BIS: Who has been your biggest inspiration and support? Did you have mentors and how important was mentoring through the time being a breeder?
Gabriela: I have to say thanks to my first mentor and forever friend Frank Baylis from Bayshore Kennel – a crazy man with infinite knowledge about the breed. He gave me the opportunity to learn from his breeding experience and introduced me to the American aussie fraternity.
Having a mentor (someone that really knows the breed) is basic, our breed is not easy, and we have many genetic issues and color problems that you can discover only talking with ˝old˝ American breeders and spending hours reading and understanding pedigrees!
This is not something you learn quickly. It can take forever to get to know bloodlines and to know what you are doing!
BIS: How did the aussies change over the time since you first got involved with the breed?
Gabriela: I think that my dogs can be recognized in the show ring thanks to their soundness, type and effortless movement. It means that a dog that can move is properly constructed!
For a herding breed – movement is basic. I can accept some head faults but the construction and health must be the first goal in a breeding program.
All breeds during the years changed, aussies are ˝new˝ breed compared to others, but you can see them changing over time. Dogs are becoming more elegant, bigger boned; heads are developing into more pleasing ones with sweeter and more endearing expressions. I think the reason for this transformations lays in the fact that our breed is used more for pet dogs and show dogs than it is for its original origin of a working dog.
This is why people that breed and own aussies need something more pleasant to live with. I think temperament has changed too, aussies have become more quiet, less anxious in comparison on what they were before when they were used only for herding.
Only a few people really need them for herding, to move hundreds of sheep or cows everyday on their ranch! We do not. Anyway, we should not forget the true nature of the aussie -they are herding dogs!
In my aussie pedigrees almost 4 generations of bred by dogs can be found by now and the most important blood line areas I mentioned before. Bayshore/Propwash some Briarbrooks and of course Heaterhill dogs that can be found in all my pedigrees!
I started breeding aussies with my first litter at the end of 2001. As I mentioned before, I do not breed often because breeding is my passion and not my livelihood, Every litter from my kennel starts on different alphabetical letter, so it is easy to know how many puppies weíve had. We are now at letter Y and we still have not finished the whole alphabet!
I have bred more than 180 dogs with champion titles and won more than 250 titles with all my aussies!
BIS: What do you consider your greatest achievement as a breeder?
Gabriela: The success will arrive step by step and day by day, so I think Iím still working for my biggest one! Well, I hope so because I donít want to stop breeding. Iím still striving forward for that next big winner!
Iím happy when breeders ask me for a puppy for their breeding programs and this makes me proud because I am breeding something helpful! Iím happy when breeders/ owners call me just to share their success with my home bred dogs! It makes me happy and pushes me to continue with my passion.
I would like to mention something Iím very proud of: in the last 2 years I have a 4 home bred aussies who have achieved their AKC championship! This is a great success for any European breeder with an American breed!
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 the breed?
Gabriela: Yes, most of the old Heatherhill dogs you can find in our pedigree like CH My Main Man Of Heatherhill , Heatherhill you talk too much or CH BayshoreÌs Flapjack or CH BayshoreÌs Propwash Balderdash. More recently CH McmattÌs EZ Goingor Ch Paradox Propaganda had an important impact on our breed. There is so many of them! But unfortunately for Europe all of them are from the United States!
BIS: Please mention 2 to 3 Aussies which are not owned, bred or shown by yourself, that you particularly admired, and tell us what you most admired about each.
Gabriela: The bitch I really loved and had the pleasure to see from the beginning of her show career to the last days of her life is CH. Bayshore Russian Roulette ˝Judy˝- Number 1 Australian Shepherd 2003 and 2004, Top Winning Aussie of All Time in Canada, Top Winning Aussie Bitch Worldwide (27 All Breed Best in Shows), 2003/2004 USASA National Specialty Best of Breed, 2004 Westminster Best of Breed, 2004 Crufts Best of Breed and Pastoral Group 1.
Judy was the first and only Australian Shepherd to win back to back National Specialties. She was the first to win the Pastoral (herding) Group at the Worldís Largest Dog Show (Crufts). She was the first dog of any breed to win Best of Breed at Westminster and Crufts in the same year.
A moderate bitch that best expresses the characteristics of an Australian shepherd!
The another dog I admire is CH. Bayshore Flapjack
Flapjack was the very first #1 rated Australian Shepherd in the American Kennel Club, an honor he kept for three years (1993, 1994, 1996). He was the first and only Australian Shepherd to have won the Heinz Pet Products Show dog of the Year Award for winning the most herding groups (98) during the year. He was the oldest dog of any breed to receive this Award at 8 years old.
Flapjack defined showman and was truly a great ambassador for the breed.
BIS: Every breed has some common problems. Which is the most common problem in your variety seen from a breederís point of view?
Gabriela: One that reflects more in the show ring is that some dogs do not look like an aussie! They are too squared, too big with too many bad shoulders. Some are really flashy thanks to a nice coat color but these are not aussies!
Aussie is a moderate dog with good substance and is not squared. It is slightly longer than tall! A square dog cannot move properly!
The most common fault in aussies are bad shoulders and front, too long in hocks and bad movement that make our breed unsound and movement untypical.
BIS: What has been the biggest disappointment in breeding and showing for you so far?
Gabriela: I am very lucky because I didnít have any big disappointments in my breeding. I think I had the same problems as everyone. I have had some litters where I expected better and only got good dogs without a ˝wow˝factor. A breeder has to take some risks in breeding – sometimes it turns grate and sometimes it does not. That is the game! I breed always and only with DNA tested dogs. Our breed has some genetic issues like cataracts HSF4, Collie Eyes disease, PRA, MDR1-Drugs allergy, Hips & Elbows dysplasia that breeders cannot forget! Anyway, sometimes you can have bad surprises too!
Disappointment can accure more in dog shows than in breeding. Sometimes a dog politics can have greater effect on getting a title than faultless dog! And it really makes me feel helpless, I know thatís part of the dog world and if you want to play the game you have to be aware of it, but sometimes it is really hard!
JUDGING THE BREED AND THE DOG SHOWS
BIS: What is the most important point of which you would like a judge of your breed to be aware? BIS: What are the most important characteristics to keep in mind for anyone wanting to become a good aussie judge?
Gabriela: First I would like a judge to be really interested in my breed. Unfortunately, sometimes, they are obliged to judge them without really paying attention! This is just my breedersí opinion. I do not feel in a position to make judgments or teach you how to judge but some consider Australian shepherds like a secondary breed of little importance! This is not true. Aussies are winning groups or are group placed everywhere and also in biggest competitions! I think it is important to remember when judging the Australian shepherd that it is a herding breed, born to work all day, so, bad constructions, too long hocks, bad front & shoulders must be considered as faults! I would like judges that do not judge a head or beautiful white collar or flashy coat color!
Expression is important but not the most important, sound and balanced is the key! Merle dogs are difficult to judge, sometimes the color hides white spot that you can consider merle but they are not! White splashes on the body are a fault! A predominance of white on the head and eyes not surrounded by color are considered a fault! So please read the standard where it is clearly explained. This will gain you respect! I donít want to be rude but this is what exhibitors sometimes think about some judges.
BIS: What qualities do you admire most in a judge?
Gabriela: Humility. I admire judges that explain and talk with exhibitors about their judgments , and that look for a comparison with breeders, talk about issues with breeders which helps them to understand and judge the breed better.
BIS: If you were in charge of everything regarding the dog shows what change would you make first?
Gabriela: First I will try to make dog show more suitable for dogs and exhibitors. Some dog shows are crazy, no parking or impossible parking price, no room for dogs and owners, small rings and too hot or too cold temperature! Exhibitors pay a lot of money for entries and trips and they deserve to be treated well! Despite these, the exhibitors have to be more friendly and I know itís really hard when you spend all day at cold venue and being squeezed in the middle of two thousand screaming people!
In addition, I have a message to exhibitors too ñ please do not forget to pick up after your dog…it is only polite!
BIS: What would be the most important single piece of advice you would give to all serious young breeders?
Gabriela: Same like for judges -humility is the basic. It is not so difficult to buy a good dog, the problem is to breed good and healthy dogs! Listen to people that know more than you about the breed, capture the hints of their discussions. Do not be shy to ask! Look for the comparison, visit breeders and dog shows overseas! It is awesome how American breeders could help you and introduce you in the aussie world!
Too many new ˝breeders˝ start buying 5 or 6 dogs at the same time. They just come in the breed and they own 15 dogs in less than 1 year. They are not breeders, they are just buyers. They never had a litter but just expect to make money when it will be the time to breed their new dogs!
No passion and no interest in the breed. Aussies are now a fashion breed, but this in the near future will change – too many puppies and not enough buyers, so what will they do with their dogs?
So please do not destroy our breed. We love it so much!