Finding Your Foundation Bitch

Looking back on thirty-plus years in the company of Lakeland Terriers, I remember well my foundation bitch, Jokyl The Witch. I was lucky. Katie came into my life by circuitous chance and rewarded me well. She was my first champion and she was my introduction to a wonderful breed and many new friends and acquaintances. She gave me some beautiful babies and I can still find her name on current pedigrees some more than ten generations back). There are lots of guidelines and recommendations when it comes to choosing and procuring that foundation bitch. They sound great in theory, but the dog game is only part science. There is more than a bit of artistic intuition with a sizeable dash of luck in the mix.

Lakeland Terriers must be considered a rare breed. It can be hard to find a puppy and even harder to find a quality bitch puppy or better yet, promising adolescent, of good breeding. The next challenge is to convince or coerce the breeder into parting with her. I can offer some practical advice that might be helpful.

  1. At the top of the list is PATIENCE, PATIENCE, and more PATIENCE. Impulse is not the same as intuition and it is seldom rewarded.
  2. Do your homework. While you are being patient go to dog shows-Montgomery County is terrier Mecca every October, and will give the novice an overview of the breed and a chance to meet breeders from far and near. Read, study, and ask questions. Listen with a discerning ear and begin to develop a picture in your mind’s eye of the perfect Lakeland.
  3. Try to find a mentor who is knowledgeable about the dog game in general and Lakelands in particular. If you can establish some “contacts” before you purchase a puppy you will improve your chances that she will live up to your expectations.
  4. If possible, avoid complicated “breeder’s terms.” This is an expression of my own bias, I admit. There is a difference between working with a breeder / mentor who will help you launch your own breeding program and a breeder who wants you to serve as an addendum to their own agenda. Breeder’s terms can offer an opportunity for the novice and protection for the conscientious breeder, but beware. Can you honor a contract and still pursue your own goals? Keep encumbrances to a minimum.
  5. The old adage goes, “Start with the best, breed to the best, and hope for the best.” If your initial efforts do not fulfill your expectations, don’t be afraid to admit it, cut your losses, and start again. That original bitch carries your hopes and dreams, it is a heavy load. If you are committed to breeding quality dogs you must be clear-headed and realistic. Sometimes you need to regroup and start again.
  6. Last, but not least, enjoy the challenge and most of all, enjoy the dogs. If it isn’t fun, despite temporary setbacks and disappointments, don’t play the game. The dogs are first and foremost companions and friends.

— Patricia Peters

Reprinted from The Lakelander, Fall 2005. · © USLTC