The July/August 1997 issue of Akita World magazine featured an interview with me. Here are a few excerpts from this interview. It will tell you a great deal about me and my thoughts about Akitas, breeding, showing, judging and just plain enjoying Akitas.
The cover of the issue features one of my favorite photographs. The Akita pictured is Ch.Tamarlane's Mi-Magic ROM, the dam of Ch.Tamarlane's Veni Vidi Vici ROM., one of our top winning Akitas.
Akita World Talks with Dr.Sophia Kaluzniacki of TAMARLANE
Do you have a reason for each breeding?
There is always a reason for each breeding. I don't believe in breeding just for the sake of breeding. I don't breed for the market, I breed for myself, and I will sometimes go years before I have a litter of puppies. I have some puppies there now that are three months old and this is the first litter I've had in a year and a half. When it comes right down to it, the litters I've had myself come out to less than a litter a year.
In order to really keep a breeding program going and have some selectivity to develop a line of my own, I have felt I needed to co-own some of my best bitches and not have them here. I am not set up to have litters all the time and I don;t want to do that. I want to do what is best for the breed. some of my best dogs, including Ch.Tamarlane's Veni Vidi Vici ROM, "Victor" as we called him, were from litters that were co-bred. He was another one of my best dogs. He was the number one Akita in the country in 1986, but not by all systems. He was number one in Working Group points. He was in the top rankings for a couple of years. In 1986 he won an Award of Merit at our National Specialty and in 1987 he was Best of Breed at our National. Then he went to England for two years to a friend of mine, Mike Window, where he became England's first Akita champion, and was the Best of Breed Winner at Crufts the first year they were awarded tickets - they have to have these tickets, or challenge certificates, to earn their championships. He went Best in Show in England at the Welsh Kennel Club Show over 11,700 dogs. He was the first Akita to go Best in Show at a championship show in England. He came back to this country after two years because I had only leased him to mike, and in 1991 we went Best Veteran at our National Specialty and got another Award of Merit.
Was he your biggest Winner? (About "Victor")
Yes. But I've had others also. I seldom campaign dogs and when I place puppies or sell them to other people, I don't insist they be shown and campaigned. Obviously, I do like to have my best dogs shown and campaigned if the people choose to do so. I generally don't sell dogs to to other kennels. I like my dogs to be house pets whether they are show dogs or not. The doesn't care whether it is a show dog. It wants to be somebody's pet and companion. Victor was probably my biggest winner, although Star was the first bitch to be number one - not just the number one Bitch, but the number one Akita.
How have you used inbreeding, linebreeding, and outcrossing?
I am a firm believer n all three. I know that breeders who have been breeding or many years, who do much inbreeding and linebreeding, eventually breed themselves into a corner. I have seen that happen time and time again - breeders who were very prominent, with a very closed gene pool, who all of a sudden were not producing any thing of consequence, ............ For instance, my original breeding of Daimyo and Sarah was a complete outcross, and yet it produced fifteen champions and the champions went on to produce champions. A sensible breeder always has to be on the lookout for other lines to bring in.
..........I strongly believe that most of the traits in our dogs, whether physical or mental, are inherited, and you can only modify the genetic package to a small degree by the environment. Through more than 40 years of breeding, I have learned that genetics is the bigger part of what a dog ends up being, or a horse, or a person for that matter. I know there are people out there who will argue with that and say that environment is extremely important. It is important, but the basic qualities of both conformation and temperament are determined by the genes.
..............Most of these Akitas go into pet homes where people are not prepared to deal with some of these types of problems and they should not have to. I try to breed Akitas that can go into pet homes and be decent pets without becoming the boss of the family, which Akitas have a tendency to do anyway.
When talking to people who are getting an Akita, especially for the first time, I tell them the dog must be socialized and must understand that the owner is the boss, not the dog. Owners need to do a certain amount of dominance training with the dog to avoid problems later. Most of my Akitas do not require it, but every now and then you run into one and you have to be prepared for it.
How did you come up with your kennel name?
When I was about thirteen or fourteen years old I was heavily into horses, I always love Arabian horses. I still have horses and still show them. A horse that I fell in love with at the time was an Arabian stallion named Tamarlane. The original Tamarlane was a Mongolian chief during the time of Genghis Khan. So that is where it came from, a little girl's dreams.
How do you rate type, temperament and soundness in order of importance?
I don't think I can do that. Every one of those things is important. I have always tried to breed for a total dog. That dog has to be both mentally and physically sound and it has to be of good breed type. I will not tolerate mental unsoundness, and I will never breed to a dog that is either overly aggressive or too timid. Physical soundness is also extremely important. Akitas are a large breed with a variety of health problems. Every breed comes with its own package of undesirable traits and Akitas are no exception. It is therefore very important to test for physical unsoundness and predisposition as much as is possible and then only breed sound individuals. I never breed to unsound dogs no matter how wonderful they seem otherwise.
What is your long-range goal in breeding dogs?
Forty years has been fairly long-range already! I am not necessarily breeding dogs that perform in events, although when I had my German Shepherds they were all obedience trained and I had the number seven obedience dog in the nation one year. I am breeding dogs for the people to have as wonderful pets and because I happen to love the breed. At the same time I breed for the show ring. ....................
.........In the long run, I would probably want to make some kind of impact on the breed and be remembered as the person who had "those" wonderful Akitas with the great temperaments. I think I have made a good job of it so far. In 29 years I have produced over 80 champions, so I think that speaks for itself. I've had a number of top winners along the way and six Register of Merit stud dogs, which is more than anyone else has.
.........................there is a little bit of "Tamarlane" in many of today's winning dogs. I like that!
........From the very beginning I have liked a dog to look like a show dog. It has to go out there and say, "Here I am, I own the world, look a t me, I'm wonderful!" When you have a dog like that it can have minor faults and you are going to overlook them because the dog has such presence. That's fine. I like that kind of attitude and "I-own-the-world" presence, and brilliance...................
"Copyright 1997 by Hoflin Publishing, Inc.
Reprinted with permission of Akita World,
4401 Zephyr Street, Wheat Ridge, Colorado 80033-3299.
Reproduction in whole or in part
without express written permission from HPI is prohibited."
To be continued........................