Caramela's Saga Continues
By Sandy Herzon
It is now May 21, 2006 and the Sporting Group Best Puppy winners enter the ring and there is Caramela, seemingly gliding around the ring with my daughter, Jessie at the helm. She has won the Best Labrador Puppy at the Ft Myers Dog Show and now will compete for a possible group placement with the other sporting breed puppies that have likewise won the same distinction from their own breed competition.
I take a deep breath and savor the moment as I feel that sense of euphoria of living up to our working credo of "for the Betterment of the Breed" can only bring. I sigh that deep breath out and know that the "mission is accomplished"!!!!!!!! She is everything I envisioned she would be when I evaluated her at 7 weeks of age from the first breeding between Ty and Molly.
Standing now directly before me are my two angels, Jessie masterfully embracing Caramela as her ordained handler and Caramela displaying those great attributes that "qualify" her to be in that position to begin with.
Not all dogs are created equal for the show environment and getting one to fit the bill does not come by every day, nor every year and in this case it has been 18 years since a chocolate of this quality made its way into our program. To produce Caramela, it took culling out 12 other potential chocolate dams to find the one that I felt would get us to the promised land.
That number is not a typo, there were 12 other chocolate bitches that were purchased as puppies from some of the best known chocolate breeders in the country, each brought into the Partners Program by 5 different partners and none of those would make the high standards that are set up by the credo "Betterment of the Breed". Each would be rejected for various reason having to due with lack of conformation, temperament or soundness.
Then came Molly, eureka, the one on 13! Chucklebrook Brown Molly to be precise, was purchased by partner Andy Gonzalez of Greenhead Labradors to become a co-owned venture for showing and eventually breeding. Molly turned out to be a perfect 10!!!!!!!! She has it all, type, depth, looks, you name it quality she has it several times over. She is a breeder's dream come true, however she is not show inclined.
Give her a bumper and she will retrieve all day, shoot over her and she holds steady as a rock, bring the kids out and she will follow them around her 3-acre property, however put a show leash around her neck and she mopes to no end. So her show career ended at our training facility with her dragging-around attitude. NO amount of coaxing nor baiting could get her to present that "pretty picture" that is necessary for success with the judges. so, the decision was made to breed Molly and co-own a puppy.
For our co-breeding venture, I chose BISS Ch Grandquest Family Ties and that produced that one puppy that did reach the high standards that will perpetuate the next generation, Caramela. Now watching her in the ring I see tremendous potential for her as a show dog and if all the clearances work out, she will be our prime (and only) chocolate brood bitch.
Although watching her fulfill her destiny in the show ring was a real big treat, the real big news for Caramela has been a wonderful, yet totally unexpected change in her lifestyle and this in itself is the big story.
A very special person came into our Labrador World life a couple of years ago. Her name is Maki Nieto-Menendez. Our original encounter was at my Basic Obedience Training Classes with her black Labrador, Ronnie. She had been referred to our classes by one of our existing Partners, Coach Bobby Harris. Soon enough, the "small world syndrome" would take hold and other partners would make our connection stronger. It seems that Maki has been a life-long friend of longtime partner Martha Chisholm and even distantly related to another partner, Alan Criado.
In a relatively short period of time, Maki had engrained herself into our many dog-related activities, including connecting our Partners Program with the Paws With A Cause Inc. Organization, as Maki volunteered to become a "puppy raiser" for the organization. Today, due to Maki's connection, Chambray Labradors and the Partners Program officially sponsors all PAWS puppies placed in South Florida with free training, both classes and private sessions as needed.
Maki now also offers her services to Therapy Dogs and has become an evaluator for one of the organizations here. In addition, she is now taking dogs into her home from our other Partners for conditioning. This last activity is what has led to Caramela's new way of life.
Caramela needed some muscling and firming up of the rear quarters and Maki was given the task of swimming her everyday to get her conditioned and fit for show. After 2 weeks with Maki conditioning her, the improvement was very apparent and Caramela was to return to Chambray.
That return is what triggered the next series of events, as Caramela became very withdrawn and I knew that she was missing the individualized attention she was receiving at Maki's home. In addition, Maki's "raiser puppy" Zelda, the Paws With A Cause Labrador was due to be returned to the Michigan organization for her next level of training and I knew that it was going to really be a very emotional time for Maki and the rest of her family to part with Zelda.
Those two events convinced me that I should offer Maki a partnership with Caramela and have her live with her full time. There was one obstacle that needed to be overcome, I co-owned Caramela with partner Andy Gonzalez and he needed to approve of the re-location. Upon mentioning to Andy about my plans, he immediately approved as he knew that this was something that I really wanted to do. So, now we have a 3-way partnership with Caramela and all parties are super happy with the arrangements, however the biggest winner is the gorgeous chocolate puppy flashing around with my daughter Jessie in the puppy sporting group. Although she did not receive a placement on this particular day, we are all winners by having Caramela and Maki in the Partners Program for the Betterment of the Breed.
I really look forward to our co-venture with Caramela and feel that she will make great contributions to the breed and to those that come in contact with her. Maki is using her as the demo dog at some of the puppy classes she teaches and Caramela will be testing for her Therapy Dog certificate as soon as she turns a year old. Because of her easy going nature and fast learning abilities, she already has become Matthews (Maki's son) training dog at our training facility.
Like I said above, a super win-win situation for all involved!
Stay tuned for further developments with Caramela in the future.
Below you will find Chapters 1 & 2 of Caramela's story.
NEWS FLASH: November 2006 Caro is now Int Jr Int Ch Chambrays Greenhead Caramela CGC TDI SARA
NEWS FLASH: December 2006 Caro wins back to back Winners Bitch at the Miami Dog Show and she is now AKC-pointed
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