10.01.2017 - This weekend in New York Bran finished his Grand Championship, Desi picked up two big majors and Prue won a 5 pt major!

09.25.2017 - Bran won back to back group placements his first weekend entered as a special!

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Elizabeth Heckert
silhouettepoms@silhouettepoms.com
Hampton, VA

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2006 Pom Reader Kennel Visit - Silhouette Pomeranians

Am/Can Ch. Chriscendo Communicado ROMX at 2 1/2 yrs

Silhouette is very much a "work in progress" – as am I! I have been working at studying the breed since I was 15 years old, which was over 7 years ago now. At this point, I have accomplished only a very small fraction of what I hope to over the rest of my lifetime. Despite that, I hope I still have something meaningful to say. In particular, I hope I can help out some of the newer people in the breed with my story. I consider myself a rather "new" person too, but I like to think over the past 7 years I have at the very least become pretty good at being a "new person". So if I can be of any help to my peers that would be gratifying and make this article worth writing.

The Silhouette poms, and their person, me, Elizabeth Heckert, just recently relocated to Virginia Beach, VA, from Williamsburg, where I had been attending The College of William & Mary for the past 4 years, so I could accept a position as a web developer at the Trader Publishing Company. Basically I do some programming for their website, Automart.com, which showcases the inventory of car dealerships all over the country.

I really think of myself more as a small breeder/exhibitor than a kennel, as I keep only 4 or 5 dogs with me and haven't had a litter in almost 2 years! But the dogs I have now will hopefully become a solid foundation for a small breeding program in the future. Through observation I have decided that it is most important to go for quality rather than quantity. So I am not concerned that I only have 5 dogs nor that I've only had one litter. I noticed early on that a lot of new people burn out early in dogs because they buy more dogs than they are ready to deal with, before they know what really makes a good dog, and get in over their head by being overambitious, eager to breed lots of litters right away, and a lot of times, supply OTHER new people with their "show prospects". This more often than not ends badly, for the dogs AND the newbie. So, I've always focused just on building my program slowly, bit by bit, breeding by breeding, and haven't bought very many dogs at all. What I have bought, was carefully considered. Everything is a learning experience for me, and I think every year I am in poms helps me to be a better breeder.

Part of this philosophy was influenced by Judy Green, my good friend and mentor of 7 years. I met Judy when I was 15, and it was just happenstance that she lived 5 minutes from my parents' house in Delaware. Judy has always kept only a few dogs in the house, yet has produced some really quality dogs, such as BIS Am/Can Ch. Chriscendo Classica (who she co-bred with Chris & John Heartz), BISS Ch. Razzle Dazzle Texas Hoedown (owned by Greg and Charlene Waters), Ch. Razzle Dazzle Hat Dance "Stetson" (her newest group placing champion) and his son Razzle Dazzle Heavenly Choir "Vicar" (also a group placer and BISS winner). Judy in turn, got her start from Chris and John Heartz of Chriscendo, who also keep a rather small number of dogs yet have consistently produced quality year after year. I not only liked the philosophy of these two breeders (as well as several others) but I loved their dogs too – typey, beautiful, and sound, were three things I noticed every time I saw a dog with strong ties to Chriscendo, whether in a magazine or in person. And these traits tended to carry down in the dogs of several other kennels who had incorporated her line over the years, including, of course, Judy's. So I decided that was what I wanted to do also – start my line with dogs out of Chris's breeding and that of others who consistently produced dogs of a similar look and quality.

I got my first pet pom in 2000, from the humane society, but my parents didn't want me collecting dogs at their house, so I couldn't get a dog to show until I had my own place at school in 2002. When that time finally came though, I knew I wanted a NICE male to show. I figured if I could get my feet wet by showing a nice boy, people might be more inclined to offer me a nice bitch to start my breeding program. The catch was, I could only have one dog at the time, so I couldn't mess around with "show prospects" at 9-10 weeks old that didn't work out. So, I started corresponding by email with Doug Stratton of Sunterra poms, who had some very nice dogs many of whom went back to Am/Can Ch. Chriscendo Classico, who was a son of Doug's foundation bitch Am/Can Ch. Chriscendo Classica. Doug and I have since become very good friends. I told him what I needed was a nice boy, that was "easily finishable" by a newbie. A tall order maybe, but I felt if anyone could fill it, it would be Doug.

At that time Doug was growing out a few young litters, but his brother Robert (Windmist) did have a nice male available who was 5 ˝ mos old. He was a grandson of the lovely Ch. Chriscendo Classico. This boy became "Dallas", Can Ch. Windmist By Invitation Only, and he came to the US in the summer of 2002. He was a beautiful little boy – short backed, beautiful head, wonderful coat, and very sound. Doug and Robert lived up to their promise and Dallas did very well in the ring, even with a clueless newbie on the end of the lead! He won his first points by going BOB over a group winning special his second weekend out and even won a 5 point major over 15 other dogs 3 months later. He was a dream to show and is such a beautiful boy. I will always be grateful to Robert for letting me have such a super show dog as my first experience in the ring. He got me hooked for sure, if I wasn't already. Dallas will always be my "heart dog" and sleeps on my bed at night. I take delight daily in his silly antics and we're hardly ever apart.

Can Ch. Windmist By Invitation Only, my first show pom. Photo by Robert Stratton.

In 2002, while I showed Dallas, I was living in Williamsburg, VA and was attending school. There I met some other local pom people, who have since become good friends of mine, such as Becky Johnson (Stealurheart poms), Ellen Parkin, Elyse Iverson, and Jennifer Munn of Achilles Poms. Jen emailed me out of nowhere in 2002 after seeing Dallas in the Pom Reader. It turned out she lived just 30 min from me. To this day we often travel to shows, groom dogs, evaluate and socialize puppies together, as well as go on innumerable midnight (sometimes literally) rides to airports to ship bitches in and out of the country! We are both small breeders with similar philosophies, so we get along well. Becky is usually in on our mischief also! Jen and I even survived a 10-day trek from Virginia to Nova Scotia, Canada in 2004 when we went to visit Chris and John Heartz and their Chriscendo poms in person. What an experience!! I had seen some of their dogs at the Nationals, but seeing the rest of their small kennel in person was a real treat. If anyone ever wonders if the dogs they take to the National are representative of the dogs at home, let me tell you, they sure are! That trip was really an inspiration to both of us and I know I speak for us both when I thank Chris for her hospitality during our five day visit.

Well, now I had gotten my feet wet in the ring and I knew I was hooked. But I had no poms other than Dallas (Foxy, my first pet pom, was still living with my parents). However in the spring of 2003, Judy decided she was going to let go of "Meadow", Razzle Dazzle Bluegrass Music, the littermate to her beautiful (now) Ch. Razzle Dazzle Hat Dance. She had a couple other girl puppies coming up and thought I might benefit from having a nice brood. Meadow is a very sound 5 lb bitch, out of a mother who had free whelped several litters of 3, which were of superb quality. Her sire is Ch. Traditions Legend of Oakridge ROM and her mother is Can Ch. Chriscendo Call Girl, better known as the dam of Am/Can Ch. Chriscendo Call to Arms "Colt". So having her as a foundation bitch was a real boon to me! I'm very lucky that Judy decided to let me have her.

Razzle Dazzle Bluegrass Music "Meadow" at 3 ˝ yrs old, my foundation bitch. Photo by Becky Johnson.

Judy and I co-own Meadow, and in 2004 we decided it was time to breed her. After much discussion she and I decided to use Am/Can Ch. Foxworth Fast Lane "Cruise". Cruise was bred and owned by Pam Dodsworth and Larry Fox of New Brunswick, Canada (who were also kind enough to let Jennifer Munn and I visit their beautiful dogs in 2004 when we were visiting Chris). Pam and Larry have a very consistently nice line of dogs themselves, which I have always admired. Cruise is ALSO a grandson of Ch. Chriscendo Classico. Also, Cruise's brother Can Ch. Foxworth Frontier Spirit had produced really well with Meadow's mother, so we decided to try her with Cruise. That breeding produced my Ch. Silhouette's Slow Dance "Cady". Cady was my first homebred champion, she finished very quickly, winning her first points at her first show, followed by a BOB at a supported entry for a major the next weekend, and singled out at exactly 7 months of age. She finished in July 2004 after being out of the ring awhile to coat back up, by going BOS over a group placing special for her last major. She finished entirely out of the bred by class. So we are really pleased with how Meadow's first litter turned out! Cady is also co-owned with Judy.

Ch. Silhouette's Slow Dance "Cady" at 16mos old, my first bred by champion from my first litter.

Silhouette's Superhighway "Corbin" – Cady's littermate, in a wonderful pet home in Michigan.

2005 has brought two exciting new additions to my small group of dogs. The first is a new girl from Doug Stratton. Doug had been showing a lovely little boy for Toby from Thailand, named "Dutchy" Am/Can/Thai Ch. Tokie The Legend Continues ROM. He was also a grandson of Ch. Chriscendo Classico, and I had loved the pictures I'd seen of his sire, Am/Thai Ch. Tokie's Mercury. I fell in love with the photos of Dutchy I saw online and I liked his pedigree, so I decided I'd love to have something out of him. Doug, bless his heart, knew how very much it meant to me, so decided to let me have one of the girls from the one and only litter of 3 puppies he had out of Dutchy while he was visiting. Sunterra Sweet Surrender "Adia" arrived here this fall, and I hope she will make a nice addition to my breeding program when she is old enough. Her mother Can Ch. Sunterra Sugar Fix is out of some of Doug's breeding, which of course I've always loved too. I'd like to thank Dutchy's breeder Toby, also, for putting up with all my questions about Dutchy and his relatives over in Thailand. I'm very glad to have a piece of him here.

Sunterra Sweet Surrender "Adia" at 7mos old

The most recent addition to Silhouette is a joint effort between myself and my friend Jennifer Munn. After visiting Chris in 2004 we told her we would really love to have a boy from her kennel here to breed to. Jen had sent two girls up there to breed to Colt and her other male, Am/Can Ch. Chriscendo Communicado ROMX "Chad", and Becky Johnson had sent a girl to Colt, and of course I had sent Meadow up to Cruise, and Judy had been sending girls up to Chris's boys for years, so we thought having a nice boy out of her line here in Virginia would be very convenient for all of us, especially as both Judy and Jen have daughters of Judy's lovely stud "Stetson" that will soon be old enough to breed. Jen and I thought perhaps we could borrow a boy temporarily, or maybe buy one of her promising upcoming puppies. However much to our surprise and pleasure, in fall 2005 Chris and John offered us none other than "Chad" himself! Chad is now the fourth grandson of Ch. Chriscendo Classico ("Gable") to touch my dogs in some way, as he is a son of Can Ch. Peppipoms Classically Yours ROM, a top producing Gable son. His dam is Chriscendo Cameo Rose, one of Chris's best producers, as she is the dam of BIS Am/Can Ch. Chriscendo Chunky Monkey (WB at the 2003 APC National), BIS Am/Can Ch. Chriscendo Career Girl (Chad's litter sister and WB at the 2004 APC National), and Can Ch. Chriscendo Copper Rose.

Chad is a true gem and if I could produce even one like him in the next 10 years I will be thrilled. He is 4lbs, has a huge, profuse, correct coat, a beautiful head, nice bone, a short short back, a great front and rear and he is clean coming and going. Jen and I can't express our appreciation to Chris enough for letting us have him not temporarily, but for forever. We can hardly believe it! Chad made an appearance at the shows near the end of the year in Maryland and was WD/BOW for his first American point. Jen and I hope to have him back out in 2006 to work on the rest of his championship. I hope to breed him to each of my girls at some point as well, but with settling in to a new job and moving, it will probably be a little ways off. Judy and I often collaborate with our breeding plans, and we have some interesting things in mind for the girls that we co-own together in the future. As always, I'm glad to have her as a friend and mentor, and will always be grateful to her for letting me have "Meadow" who has produced well for me. A truly dedicated mentor is worth their weight in gold.

So, those are all the dogs I have right now, and I hope my "kennel" continues to stay small, but full of quality dogs, for years to come. My main goal is to produce excellent dogs for myself to show. I've had a lot of fun in the ring so far, and a lot of success. In addition to showing Dallas and Cady, I also handled Judy Green's Ch. Razzle Dazzle Hat Dance "Stetson" to his last 4 singles. I'd like to thank Judy for letting me have the opportunity to show such a nice boy. Stetson didn't disappoint, he took WD/BOW/BOB over a top 10 ranked special and a GROUP 4 the first day we walked into the ring together!! You can hardly beat that. He finished his championship by going WD the next two days, and then took BOB his first time out as a special. Judy is lucky to have such a nice boy, who is also producing very well for her to boot. Stetson has already sired a group placing, BISS winning son "Vicar" Razzle Dazzle Heavenly Choir, in only his third litter. I am glad she let me play a small part in Stetson earning his championship. Jen was also an important part of that adventure, as she did all the grooming and trimming before he went in the ring and he looked smashing. She is a wizard with the scissors. I've been blessed to have several friends that work together to help each other succeed in this hobby, Jen and Judy of course are two of them. We try to do what we can to help each other prep dogs for the ring, take dogs in for each other, help each other get bitches bred, whelp litters, and cheer each other on when we win. Such camaraderie makes all the difference.

I said I hoped this article would be helpful to new people. So far, I have done nothing but talk about myself! So I'll try and put a few useful tidbits in here. First of all I want to stress that RESEARCH should be first on the list of things to do as a new person… well before buying a dog and especially before breeding a litter. Doing thorough research can help you avoid a multitude of heartaches. Learn what to look for in a promising puppy yourself before taking someone else's word on it. Too many people prey on newbies by selling them puppies that are obvious washouts from the start—either out of malice or out of their own ignorance (or simply their own personal taste, which may not be your own!). In fact, don't buy puppies – buy older prospects (6mos+) or adults where you can. These dogs you are less apt to fall in love with due to their puppy cuteness, and you can't be disappointed by how they mature, because they are already more grown-up. They may be expensive but they are worth their weight in gold if you buy the right ones … which is where research, again, is key. Pay attention to the different breeders you come into contact with. Get to know for yourself firsthand who is generally considered "trustworthy" and who seems to get into a few too many scuffles with unhappy puppy buyers.

Secondly, study pedigrees! I use The Breeder's Standard software to collect pedigrees. I've been doing this for 7 years and I now have 80,000 dogs in it. You don't need that many yourself – don't worry! I'm an addict – but do pay attention to what sort of pedigrees produce the type of dogs you like. What dogs appear in them most often? Do you see a pattern? Type and soundness are not things that happen by accident – consistent quality is the product of a careful breeding plan. Look at the breeders who seem to have achieved that and look at their pedigrees – or better yet ask them – to determine what their approach is.

Thirdly, study DOGS. The more poms you can get your hands on, the better. Learn structure and movement, as well as develop your eye for type. Remember that you will have a favorite "style" but you must always make sure as best you can to reconcile this with correct breed type. The more dogs you can see and feel, the better your eye will get. It also pays to be familiar with the ancestors of your dogs, up close and personal – not just in photos. This isn't always easy, but wherever possible, try to get your hands on your dogs' close relatives. A great deal can be learned through these observations. Fourthly – write those observations down!! I am very guilty of never doing that.

Go to every dog show you can – and if you can manage it, go to as many National Specialties as you can. There you can see what the breed has to offer from all over the country and in some parts of the world. If a local dog show is a dinner, then the National is a 7 course meal!! A lot of local stars shine less bright in the face of some truly special dogs from out of the area. And if the dogs you like are from somewhere else, I say go for it. No sense settling for what is convenient if that is not your cup of tea. If you try your hardest nothing is impossible. Trust me.

Once you have done those things, then think about buying a dog. It will probably take you at least a year to get to the point where you're beginning to be prepared for this – and even then you might regret your first purchases. But hopefully after doing some thorough research you'll have some contacts that breed the kind of dog you like and are willing to sell a dedicated newbie something to get their feet wet in the ring. Sound hard? Well, nothing worth doing is ever easy. Of course most of us fall in love with a fuzzy puppy and don't wait nearly as long as we should – for those, I still recommend the above, it's never too late to add to your knowledge so you're better prepared for the next purchase or next litter you breed. We're all here to "better the breed" and the only way to do better is to always keep in mind what you're striving for – and, most of the time, that is not what's already on your couch. If it is, you are either very fortunate—or not thinking BIG enough! Think globally! These days, almost any dog is just a plane ride away. There is no excuse for using mediocre stud dogs in your breeding program. In my opinion, it is cheaper in the long run to scrimp and save to do one really GREAT breeding than waste time and energy on five mediocre but convenient breedings. You'll tend to get better results and more consistently.

End of speech! Now, I know I will get slapped on the wrist by a few people if I didn't mention at least one more thing. One of my biggest passions with the dogs is photography. I've been fine-tuning this talent (from a VERY rough start!) ever since I got my first pom. I've become notorious for always toting my Kodak DX6490 digital camera around to every show, club meeting, match, or visit to the home of anyone who owns a pom! I've found photos to be very helpful to me in several ways. For one, it helped me develop my eye to pick out what an "ideal" pom should look like in a photo, and trying to present that idea in the photo of a particular dog, in order to capture it at its best. For another it often helps me spot my own grooming mistakes!! As some things stick out in a photograph that don't when you're looking at the dog in person. It's also been helpful to me in training my dogs to bait, as most of them become trained to follow a hand with their eyes, and stand in a stack and bait while I perform acrobatics to snap a photo one-handed all by myself!!! Fortunately, Becky Johnson has become a de facto assistant to me and such acrobatics are no longer necessary, as I usually am able to get her to either bait the dog or take the picture. Over time I think I've gotten pretty good at it, and I've become rather picky about what photos I'll use on my website and ads. In fact you'll notice almost no show photos in this article – I just tend not to like them! Nearly every photo in this article was taken by myself. I'd like to thank Doug Stratton and Chris and John Heartz for giving me pointers on photography as well as encouraging me to be as picky as humanly possible about my photos. As well as Judy, Becky, Jennifer, and most of the members of the Pom Club of Central Virginia for allowing me to use their dogs as "guinea pigs"! You can see more photos that I have taken as well as pedigrees of my dogs on my website, www.silhouettepoms.com

Well, that is my story, and like I said, it's a work in progress. Hopefully someday soon I'll be able to share my second litter, my next champion, and maybe some more useful advice. But for now, this is where I am. I'd like to thank Sharon and Benson for inviting me to write this article. And in addition to those who I have already mentioned (sometimes repeatedly!) in this article, I'd like to also thank the following people for their support and/or friendship: Alane Levinsohn (Showcase), Pam Dodsworth & Larry Fox (Foxworth), Nady Godbout (Mythical), Daniel Yona (Velocity), Chaivat Tangkaravakun "Toby" (Tokie), Renee Suppe (De Marco), Elyse Iverson, Shelley Weimer-Martin (Poetry), and any others who have assisted in this journey, in no matter how small a way.

So that is it, for now. Maybe I should say, "To be continued…" ?

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