AKC Breeder of Merit Oksana Fagenboym, of Rock ’n Rolla Poodles, was born in Ukraine and has lived with dogs all her life. As a little girl, she picked up puppies and kittens from the street and brought them home. Unfortunately, her family could not keep them because they lived in a hostel. So, they fostered them until they could be adopted. “I think my destiny started there,” said Fagenboym. “Today, I am a breeder of the most beautiful, intelligent dogs in the world -- Standard Poodles -- and to grow and prepare puppies for their future families delivers to me the greatest pleasure of my life.”
AKC: How did you get started in breeding dogs?
Fagenboym: My family and I immigrated to the United States in 1997. At that time, I had already become a breeder and owner/handler of a Black Russian Terrier. My dog, Reta, was a Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) Champion and had two litters of puppies in Ukraine. Immediately, I started working as a groomer, and as soon as I met my first Standard Poodle there, I knew for sure this would be my next dog.
After Reta died at 13, I started looking for a well-defined and established bloodline of high quality from which to get a show puppy. But instead of a young puppy, an adult dog came into my life. Her name was Hailey, and she was 2-½ years old. Because of sad circumstances, she was looking for a new home. She came from a very well-established breeder who gave me permission to show her and breed her in the future. My mentors, who I was lucky to find at that time, told me that she was not the best bitch to start my line. But I think challenge is what I like in my life. I picked a stud dog for her from the bloodline from which I had planned to get my first puppy. I needed to improve her faults, and a puppy from that breeding became my first AKC Champion.
In 2012 at the Poodle Club of America show in Maryland, I met Joseph Vergnetti of Dassin poodles. I fell in love with his dogs, and I was lucky when he entrusted me with one of his puppy girls. She became the start of my beautiful white-and-black line of Rock 'n Rolla Standard Poodles.
My breeding is based on the hard work of selecting sires for my girls. I always have a goal of what I want to achieve with each breeding. I combined several different bloodlines for different things and now have a type of dog that will represent my own line in the ring.
AKC: What is the most important thing to know about your breed?
Fagenboym: This is not a “poufy” dog. Standard Poodles are active, intelligent, smart, and large. They need lots of time for grooming and attention, and potential owners must be prepared financially and time-wise to care for them.
AKC: How has AKC Marketplace helped you find puppy buyers?
Fagenboym: AKC Marketplace helps me to find a good owner for my puppies. I listed there as an AKC Breeder of Merit, and it helps buyers to determine a good breeder.
AKC: What is your favorite question to ask of potential puppy buyers?
Fagenboym: When people come to me for a puppy, I always ask “Why a Standard Poodle?” The answer is always the same: This is the smartest, most intelligent breed. And I always add, "Every mother’s dream is to have a perfect child," so when you get a Poodle your dream comes true.
AKC: What are the main qualities you look for in potential owners?
Fagenboym: I like to meet people who are ready to raise another child in their family, not get the dog as an accessory. They must be serious “parents” because these dogs require lots of attention and work.
AKC: What is the best advice you’d give to novice breeders?
Fagenboym: Study the breed . . . including all potential genetic diseases. Breeders should work only to improve the breed. I am a groomer and see people every day whose dogs have genetic problems. They love their dogs, but they wish their breeders had been responsible breeders.
AKC: Do your dogs participate in AKC sports?
Fagenboym: I compete in conformation, and dogs I have sold have performed in all kinds of sports, and a lot of them are service dogs or therapy dogs.
AKC: What do you like best about breeding dogs?
Fagenboym: If I could raise puppies every day of my life, I would. What motivates me is knowing that I raise each puppy for an individual family. I know the family about two months before puppies are born, and I see the joy I bring to the family when they get their puppy. I put much effort in making a perfect match. It can be difficult to find a show home for a puppy, and I once sold a beautiful show prospect to a companion home because I didn’t want him to leave the country and be so far from me. My puppy buyers stay in touch with me; every week I receive pictures from them.
AKC: Do you have a favorite breeding story?
Fagenboym: Valentine’s two daughters each had their own litters. Valentine was such a perfect grandmother. She would go into her daughters’ whelping boxes and help care for the puppies as if they were her own. It is a true dog family.
At the end, I must say what once was sent to me from another breeder and now it is my manifest:
I am a dog breeder. I spend a lifetime learning pedigrees, going over dogs, talking, and learning from those in my breed and those outside it. I raise each litter as if I gave birth to them, and spend an equal amount of time finding them loving forever homes. I only put puppies on this planet that I think will be the nicest examples of their breed.
I support each family who chose one of my puppies, and let them know they are now a part of our extended family.
I share my knowledge, so that they will be an advertisement for my dedication. I don't keep track of the money and time I put into my love of dogs; it would not be a true measure of how I feel. The price I charge for my puppies is never profit, but investment in the next generation.
I am not ashamed of who I am . . . I work hard at being a good dog person and encouraging others to be the same. I am a breeder, and I am proud of it.