Tag Archives: ADBA

Skyy: Three Years Remembered

In less than twenty-four hours, we are making our almost annual pilgrimage to the Palmetto Pit Bull Club’s show.  This show, which is open to dogs registered with the American Dog Breeder’s Association (ADBA), has been part of our round of shows since we started travelling for the events that the ADBA put in so many years ago.  This show, however, has a far more significant meaning because of a tragedy that struck three years ago before the club moved their show from the Burke County Fairgrounds in Morganton, North Carolina to their current venue in Waynesville, North Carolina.

On April 9, 2011 a fast moving storm rolled into the fairgrounds just as the puppy classes were wrapping up – which I remember all too well since our then little Mika had JUST finished taking a 2nd place.  Dogs and humans were moved into what we thought was safety but not before a wicked blast of lightening reached out and struck a beautiful blue and white dog named Skyy, killing her instantly.  The lightning strike that took her life saved her owner who would have no doubt died if this beautiful girl hadn’t taken the brunt of its force.  The reverberating force from the storm sent nine other people to the hospital after other dog show patrons, utilizing tables as gurneys while paramedics were called, was a fierce reminder to all involved that life was too precious.

Seeing fellow dog show enthusiasts waste no time to help fellow man and dog alike despite mundane dislikes or friendships was a truly awe inspiring.  No able-bodied person failed to help in some way – even if it was as simple as making sure those injured were kept calm and as comfortable as possible while every living being was rounded up and brought into the building to ride out the rest of the storm – which included softball sized hail that damaged at least one vehicle seriously and dented many others.

Those of us who were there have formed a far closer bond and many friendships were formed because of the sacrifice of one dog’s life.  On April 9th every year, many people change their profile photos on Facebook to Skyy’s photo in remembrance for the life lost and the tragedy that was survived and healed from.  We will never forget.  Play hard at the bridge, beloved little girl.  Your memory carries on.

Perseverance Pays Off!

foxvalleyadba-august2013-1238Many folks who know me personally know how long and hard I have campaigned in the ADBA with Ryker, my brindle guy.  In a conformation ring where conditioning matters, a brindle dog is at a disadvantage under many judges because it’s a million times harder to see the muscle tone in the coat pattern unless it’s a really light brindle color.  To add insult to injury, I didn’t really get started in the ADBA ring until he was in one of the hardest classes around – the 2-3 year old class.

We had many shows where he didn’t even get looked at.  He was flashy, he was fiery and he was more than willing to show himself but he wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and in classes with 10-12 foxvalleyadba-august2013-0889males his own age doing just the same thing it was a hard pick.  We started to get noticed finally, though.  I got better at conditioning and handling in that venue and he learned how to conduct himself better and hold a free stack longer while running off at the mouth (which he enjoys doing at every corner!).

We didn’t travel often so he only got shown at a handful of shows a year (with a max of about 4 show weekends) so it was hard chasing those points.  We also were double committing and weight pulling at the same time for his Ace (which he still needs to earn!)  so we had to pick and choose but at the Fox Valley show under honorable judge Mary Cullifer we finally did it.  It was the 5 and Over class and there were some pretty darn nice dogs in his class but he pulled a first off and came home with 109 points – 9 points more than he needed to become an ADBA foxvalleyadba-august2013-0907conformation Champion.

It was a long road.  We had many, many people tell me he just wasn’t the right fit for the ADBA but I knew, in my heart of hearts that he was and he could do it.  I wouldn’t have traded the learning experience for all of the tea in China though.  He and I learned a lot with the help of many good friends and it will only lead to better chances available for future dogs with his legacy.

Congratulations, Ryker.  You earned this and you deserve it!

North Meets South ADBA Show

On the weekend of June 1st and 2nd was the Great Lakes Pit Bull Club’s annual show.  This year, the club was joined by the Southeastern APBT Club from North Carolina.  With four shows and two weight pulls, it was a long and grueling weekend since we worked the club being members of the Great Lakes club but it was absolutely amazing.

In recent years, many clubs have seen a massive decline in entries due to a variety of reasons with the largest one being economic and financial setbacks.  The ‘North Meets South’ event, however, didn’t seem to have much of that concern with well over 100 entries in conformation alone for each show.  Weight pull was no different with record numbers coming to pull.  We had some Class A pullers from all across the US who rocked it out on a less-than-favorable track and had two dogs finish their Ace titles as well!  (Congratulations are in order to Clay of Team No Fear with Boogieman and Dave with Bende.)

Our own personal crew did pretty well despite the fact that my husband and I were both running around like chickens with our heads cut off.  Ryker took three 3rd place ribbons and a 2nd which gave him the elusive 99 points – one point shy of finishing his ADBA Champion title.  Mika was shut out all weekend and Lyric made her debut as an ADBA pull dog and landed a 2nd place (and first 5 points of 100) toward her Ace title.

All in all, the show was a huge success.  Both hosting clubs did exceptionally well and the exhibitors all seemed to have a good time (I know we sure did!) and many said they can’t wait for our next one.  Here’s to many more phenomenal shows and  a fantastic rest of the show season.


Road Trip!


It’s hard to believe I’ve not take a dog event road trip in a little over a year.  I’ve stayed local for the most part because of work and personal obligations but finally had a chance to take some much deserve time off and go to a faraway place known as Waynesville, North Carolina for the Palmetto State APBT Club show with my buddy, Ryker.  It was three days of fun with one of my best buddies doing what we do best – working together and having a good time.

We went down hoping to try and get those last 18 points we need to finish Ryker’s ADBA conformation Championship.  (Because the last points are a PAIN to chase down – especially if one has a brindle dog.  They do NOT show conditioning well at ALL!)  We managed to eek out three with a third place under honorable judge Frank Rocca out of a class of ELEVEN(!!!!!!) 5 and Over Males.  It was insane.  I was constantly trying to move Ryker so he had the best vantage since he was more preoccupied on being a brat.  It was insane.

Quite honestly, I almost died and went to heaven when the judge came over with the 3rd place ribbon.  To be picked among so many nice older boys still vying for the same thing we were.  It truly was an honor and I’m pleased to have placed in the top three and believe many of those dogs deserved the honors of being in the top three as well.


Photo Credit: Laurie Jane

We also puttered around in weight pull that weekend for Saturday and squeaked another 3rd place there before pulling him out to go show in the first show.  He pulled 1,300# that weekend on a very hard track with the top pulling dog (who weighed 82#) pulling just about 3,400# and six dogs in his class (45-55# males).  I was pleased with what we did.  Should I have kept him in longer and forfeited my conformation entries?  Maybe but I didn’t really feel like pushing for much more beyond that.  We’ll get our Ace in due time.  He’s still a young man after all.  It’s not like he’s turning seven years in July.  (Which he actually is, but try telling him that!)

Overall, I had a good time.  It was nice to return to the ADBA circuit.  It gave me a chance to see old friends and meet some new ones.  I got to spend time with my Ryker-man and work that bond that we’ve been so blessed to have for all of these years.  The break did us good.  It gave me a new perspective and reminded that at the end of the day, I still have my wonderful boy and win or lose, he’s still #1 with me and we will just have to put the work in to show everyone else how awesome I already know he is.  Now…to get those last darn points!

The Good, Bad and Ugly: Puppy Hunting

When I finally made the leap into hunting for a dog from a breeder, I knew it would be a long and tedious process.  I made myself a list of things I wanted to do with the dog as it grew up, what characteristics I wanted and what look I wanted the dog to have.  Looking back, that was the easy part.  The two years that followed were agony because I couldn’t have my puppy right then and because there was so much that I had to do to find “the one.”  Ultimately, it was worth all of the headaches, sleepless nights and research because I got not only the dog I wanted but the dog I needed.   (And yes, I still made a ton of mistakes but those mistakes still blessed me with some very wonderful dogs despite my naive and ideal thoughts.)

Since I took the leap 6 years ago, I’ve gotten two more dogs from breeders and have learned to fine tune my requirements and limits to what I won’t put up with.  Admittedly, I’ve become even pickier as I’ve grown from experience.

Breeder Code of Ethics

Every responsible breeder should have a strong set of ethics and morals when they breed or plan a litter.  These two things are what separate these individuals from the puppy peddlers in the world and set the offspring they produce apart from every other “breeder” advertising puppies on Craigslist or the local street corner.  For the American Pit Bull Terrier, these should be fine tuned because of the state that this breed is in because of over breeding and the breeding of sub par animals that should have been altered in the first place.

Some of the things that I personally look for when I start looking at breeders for a new prospect are as follows:

1.)  Health Testing – This breed is prone to a lot of health concerns from cardiac issues, luxating patellas, hip dysplasia and so forth.  When picking a breeder I would prefer to see some level of health testing on the stud dog and the bitch with a minimum of hips and heart tested through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and/or PennHip.

Health Testing Available for the APBT: Hips (OFA/PennHip), Cardiac, Elbows, Patellas, Thyroid, Ataxia, CRD2 (Dayblindness), CERF (Eyes – annual test).  Hips and elbows are done at 24 months through the OFA and hips can be done as young as 16 weeks through PennHip.  The rest of the above health tests can be done at 12 months.

2.)  Conformation and Performance Titles – While I personally put more strength in performance titles overlooking conformation would do the breed an injustice since form must follow function, in theory.  Since the original function is no longer valid for the APBT, performance venues like weight pull, agility, obedience, rally, dock diving, etc. have been birthed to fulfill the need to showcase the versatility of the breed.  The ideal minimum, in my opinion, is a conformation Champion title in the dog’s respective registry and a working title of some variety – preferably not an entry level title.

3.)  Temperament – Let’s face it, these are terriers and terriers are supposed exude confidence.  A shy or reserved dog around people is not supposed to be a common trait in this breed but it is becoming more and more common coming from certain bloodlines and breeders. (The scary thing is some of these breeders seem to try and justify this behavior and continue to breed offspring from siblings of dogs who have shown temperament flaws like shyness.)

4.)  Knowledge of the Breed – You want to go to a breeder who knows these dogs, their traits and behavior traits – like the common occurrence of dog/animal aggression that is common in most terrier types and especially true in the APBT because of its founding history as a canine gladiator.  This doesn’t mean that you discount someone because they haven’t been breeding for X number of years or have only produced X number of litters in so many years.  Most good breeders breed infrequently and typically when they want to hold something back for themselves. Be very wary of breeders who have an excessive number of litters a year.

There are so many more things you can nitpick for when you look for a breeder but the ones mentioned above are the critical ones.  There is a premade Code of Ethics out on the web that gives more in-depth criteria.  It can be found here.

We will say, for theory’s sake, that you’ve picked your ideal parents and now it is down to the nitty gritty with the breeder.  (Contracts, co-owns, pricing…oh, my!)

We’ll start with co-ownership and what it entails.

Co-ownership is the process of two (or more) people sharing ‘ownership’ of a dog.  Co-owning a dog can at varying levels.  It can be for the purposes of retaining breeding rights, ability to show the dog in the bred by class or even just outright controlling behavior.  If your breeder wants to do a co-ownership make sure that you get everything in writing that is expected of you, the breeder and the dog.  Often times co-owning a dog comes at a reduced price for a show quality dog so this may be a bonus if you can live with the intrusion of the breeder into your plans with the dog.

Now, since I mentioned getting everything in writing we’ll get into the contract.  There are some breeders that will sell (or even give) you a dog without a contract but they are few and far between.  A contract is almost a staple when purchasing a show/sport puppy.  A contract should protect the buyer and the seller but most importantly, the puppy.  A contract will let you know what you should get/expect from the breeder and what you, the buyer, are required to do or maintain, co-ownership requirements from both parties and finally the clauses designed to keep the puppy from harm.  When you purchase a puppy and a contract is to be involved make sure you have a copy of it with the breeder’s signature and yours and keep your copy in a safe spot.

Finally, what are you willing to pay for your puppy? Price is a relative choice.  For many show breeders, $1,000 is the standard price for a show quality dog but it can go much lower or higher depending on who you talk to.  Personally, I think anything above a grand for a show-quality puppy is asking a bit much since the puppy is unproven even if his/her parents are titled up the ying-yang.  The personal preference is yours there and what you feel you can afford but remember that a puppy is a gamble and that puppy may or may not turn out.

Once you have that squared away and figured out, you only have to wait until your puppy is born and ready to go home.  The eight weeks following the birth of your puppy will drive you batty and you will probably call (or visit if you’re lucky!) your breeder a million and one times and beg, grovel and hunt for photos of the puppies – I know I did!  It is well worth it once you have found the right breeder for you.

Good luck and happy puppy hunting to those who choose to go the breeder route.  Please remember when you do find the breeding of your dreams that the likeliness of your breeder turning into a total witch can happen. Don’t buy from a breeder that you wouldn’t want as a friend because they are typically with you for 15+ years. Buying from a good breeder is like expanding your human family.

The Dog Show Thing

I get asked occasionally by friends who have “pet only” dogs why I got into showing purebred dogs when I am an incredibly staunch rescue and spay/neuter advocate.  Truthfully, I have no real heroic, save-canine-kind answers.  I honestly just wanted to.  It’s a rather selfish reason but it is my reasoning.  I wanted for myself and I vowed that I would never become one of the people who gave purebred ownership (and breeding) such a derogatory name and feeling amongst the rescue community.

Getting into the dog show community was the easy part.  I attended a few shows and talked to people for a few months before the puppy search began.  Most of the people I was blessed to speak with were friendly, down-to-earth and realistic about the work that lay ahead of me. (I did meet a few not-so-nice people, but they were definitely the minority!)  I knew and fully expected the work (and the rewards that went with it!) ahead of me but these kind individuals really put it into perspective and helped me make my first baby steps into the conformation ring just a tiny bit less frightening.

Once I had my questions on what to expect when I finally found the “dog of my dreams,” the search began for just such a mythical puppy.  It took nearly two long years of breeder hunting, researching, asking questions and pulling out wads of hair in frustration to find my first real show dog but it was well worth the wait (though I could have gone well past the puppy messes, chewed furniture and lost sleep!).

The tale doesn’t end here, though.  This is just the tip of the iceberg that set my experience and time in the conformation ring across three registries.


Health Testing: Tools of the Dog Breeding Trade

When you bring up health testing amongst pit bull breeder’s you’ll hear an entire range of reasons for and against the practice.  Unfortunately for our breed, we need to be utilizing every available resource to help maintain and improve upon the absolute travesty that keeps occurring.

In OFA hip scores, from January 1974 until December 2011, only 733 dogs have been tested – of those tested, we had 24.1% dysplastic.  That’s atrocious for a working breed like the American Pit Bull Terrier.  Why aren’t more people testing these dogs?  Out of 733 dogs tested there were 177 that are considered dysplastic. Considering the number of APBTs that are registered yearly with the ADBA and UKC, the number of dogs tested is incredibly low.

The overall cost of health testing a breeding dog or bitch truthfully isn’t much in the long run – especially if a breeder plans to utilize the stud or bitch more than once.  It should also give the puppy buyers AND the breeder piece of mind knowing that they did everything possible to reduce the potential of throwing a genetic disease.

Unfortunately, not all breeders believe this and give reasons like, “It’s too expensive” or “My dog works just fine.  There aren’t any problems in the line.  It would show.”  Those of us who do health test know this is complete and total baloney.

A dog who is dysplastic, has cardiac or thyroid issues can and still do work through it more often than not without showing any symptoms.  That being said, they eventually do get to the point when they’re showing and then what happens?  If it’s a cardiac issue the dog could fall over and die on a walk or if it’s dysplastic the dog’s quality of life could diminish immensely as a young dog.  Neither of which is fair to the dog or the people who have to see the animal suffer – especially if it’s a puppy buyer.

No, health testing doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a puppy that doesn’t have a health condition since it takes ninety-two chromosomes to match in every puppy and the good matches aren’t always going to be possible.  That being said, it doesn’t mean it won’t significantly reduce the chances of a problem in an unborn puppy.  The risks associated with not health testing far outweigh those of testing and getting a puppy with a genetic condition that reduces the quality and quantity of that dog’s life and the time they will spend in the loving hands of their owner.  To me, personally, it doesn’t add up as to why more and more people AREN’T testing for the betterment of the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Ryker’s OFA X-rays.  He came back OFA Good.