Reflections on 2014 National

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Toni and I decided to take a quick road trip down to the Peek 'N Peak resort in September and catch the 2014 National. We were glad we did. The drive itself was lovely with Indian Summer weather. We put the top down on the Mustang and roared along from Northern Ontario to Northwestern New York. Unlike past decades, this was truly a holiday National. No dogs to look after and no stress of any kind. I sat ringside and took notes while Toni took lots of photographs.

We had not been at the previous two Nationals so we were keen to get a sense of the state of the breed.

Now let me say that at various times in the past forty years, I have shared my thoughts of Nationals and World Union shows in a similar fashion, publishing articles in The Fancier. Invariably, I have managed to irritate a number of people by doing so. "Who the hell asked for your stupid opinion?" was often the response. I suppose that any response is a good response in these situations.

So how is the breed doing? The decline in registrations since the 1960s and 70s has been long and steep; from over 30,000 per year to under 3,000 per year. A drop of over 90%! Nearly all breed numbers have been in decline and the AKC is but a shadow of its former self. The era of the purebred dog sport has declined as the era of cross-breed designer dogs has risen. Welcome to the world of CockaLabaDoddlePoos!

Be that as it may, the St Bernard in North America is still a breed of sufficient quality to command respect.

 

This lovely 9-12 Month class bitch is evidence that quality still exists. She is Sandcastle's Indecent Proposal, sired by National BOB Ch Lasquite's Denver V Lucas and her mother is Mahogany's Lucy In The Skyz. She was bred by Deb and Bruno Denis.

Her owners are Brandy Mead and Martin Glover, and Marty is one of the best handlers in the breed today. The judges loved this girl throughout the week and why not! Look at her outline, the way the pieces fit together so well, at such a young age. Lovely.

What about the young males? Here too, we have reason to be optimistic.

From the 15-18 Month class comes Lasquite's Cooper V Keeper, bred and owned by Tikki Smith and shown to Best In Sweepstakes and Best of Winners by Marty Glover (I said he was good.) Cooper was sired by Lasquite's Keeper of Lucas and his dam is Lasquite's Zetta of Lucas. Wait a minute! Wouldn't that be a half-brother-half-sister breeding? OMG, an inbreeding! This dog has a Coefficient of Inbreeding (COI) of at least 12.5 and probably higher because of other common dogs in his pedigree. If you have read other articles on this website, you will understand that we used inbreeding intentionally to develop and fix our Benbaron line. We got our own Yondo from exactly the same combination. Take the time to understand before you condemm.

Another of my pet peeves of Nationals past has been the low entry of shorthaired Saints. I am happy to report that such is no longer the case. The shorthaired classes this year were as large as the longhaired classes. There were quality smooth dogs to be found from the Puppy Sweeps to the Best of Breed judging. So I thank breeders and exhibitors for finally making me shut up about this.

 

One smooth that caught my eye was Ch Belle Isle's Cookie V Cretan, sired by Scandia's Eros ex Belle Isle's Casandra. I liked his substance, his movement, and his elegance. As long as we have dogs like the ones above, the breed will endure.

The official results of the 2014 National will be fully reported in the Saint Fancier complete with gorgeous photographs. Congratulations to all the winners and their fine dogs. A special thank you to the breeders of these dogs. Without breeders willing to make the effort, take the risk, and do the work of producing litters, there can be no future for the breed.

As a final observation, I would like to acknowledge the ongoing success of two "younger generation" kennels: Lasquite and Alpine Mtn. Tikki Smith and her Lasquite dogs from British Columbia have become very competitive at the National level and, likewise, so too have the Whiting's Alpine Mtn dogs from Utah. As our generation of breeders sail into the sunset, it is very reassuring that there is a generation of young breeders coming along with the talent and energy to keep the breed in good shape. Hooray to that!