Advice from the Breeder: Luv Story
Unconventional kennel or beautiful tapestry? Lambluv's Jeré Marder discusses grocery-cart pups, backstairs workouts, and the girl from Argentina.
When I was first asked to write about Lambluv Old English Sheepdogs being an “unconventional kennel,” I was unsure what would be of interest.
Courtesy Jeré Marder
I asked a friend for her thoughts. She said she would want to know how Lambluv had achieved its many accomplishments and awards: number-one OES dog in breed history (Ch. Lambluv’s Desert Dancer 1993–2005), with 64 Bests in Show, and the number-one OES bitch in breed history, Ch. Rholenwood’s Taylor Maid (1981–1991), with 22 BIS; the top OES in the U.S. for 20 years; a Quaker Oats Award from the Working Group, with Am./Can. Ch. Bahlambs Beachboy, and the same award from the Herding Group, with Ch. Lambluv’s Desert Dancer; two Westminster Group I wins, Ch. Lambluv Moptop Show Stopper (1991) and Ch. Lambluv’s Desert Dancer (1998); AKC/Eukanuba National Championship Group III and Herding Group wins with Ch. Lambluv’s Last Tango in B.A. and Ch. Lambluv’s Desdemona, respectively; winner of the 2005 OESCA National Centennial Celebration (Ch. Lambluv’s The Divine Miss M); four national specialty BOB; and four national specialty BOS.
From 2000 through 2004, Lambluv was the top-producing kennel in the country. Lambluv has produced over 60 champions and has either owned or bred 15 Best in Show winners, totaling over 200 BIS and 30 Bests in Specialty Show, including BIS in Argentina, Canada, and Germany. In 2003, I was named AKC Herding Group Breeder of the Year.
My Kind of Town
All this was accomplished while living in an apartment in downtown Chicago. I have also whelped six litters in the apartment over the years. It was always fun putting the puppies in a grocery cart, taking them down the back elevator, and rolling them out to my van to go wherever. It wasn’t easy, but the puppies were well socialized in the big city.
My breeding program and show career are intertwined because I would campaign a dog knowing that I had to plan a breeding in order to have the next dog in the wings, ready to show. If you add up the dogs in the apartment and the walking and exercising, I did about 12 walks a day. This is when being in good shape from my dancing days, and my health-club membership, paid off.
My husband bought me my first OES in 1969 because he liked the breed. I grew to love the breed very quickly. The OES is not a kennel dog; they want to be with people, so having OES in the apartment was never difficult, and they had the best of all worlds.
I exercised my dogs four to five times a day, doing two at a time (two together weighed much more than I do). The dog that I would be showing was road-worked alone along the lakeshore, and up and down the stairs when it was raining. I have never had a dog that was not in excellent physical condition.
In 1977, I bought my first show dog from Caj Haakansson (Bahlambs OES). He was my mentor and dear friend. Though he has passed away, he is still my mentor in many ways. He taught me well.
My first big-winning dog was Beachboy; he was shown by handler Jack Funk to 19 Bests in Show and number-one working dog in 1980. I took up the lead and put two more Bests in Show on him to break the old BIS record of 19. I thought so highly of Beachboy that I wanted to have his offspring and perhaps start my own breeding program.
I couldn’t have a lot of dogs, so each one had to really count. Like a tree, to grow a line you need a lot of time—which I didn’t have. Nor did I have kennel facilities, so I bought a wonderful bitch that was doubled up on Beachboy, Ch. Rholenwoods Taylor Maid. This was a shortcut, skipping over the years necessary to do the breedings myself.
I also bought a bitch (Ch. Noblee’s Necessarily Nice) who went back to Beachboy on the sire’s side. She was the granddam of Ch. Lambluv’s Desert Dancer (Yoshi), thus evolving into Lambluv’s foundation. Yoshi became my focal point, and I worked with bitches coming down from him. Even though my line began with Beachboy, a breeder’s foundation is in the bitches, and I feel the dogs bring the finishing touches to make the offspring great.
Yoshi produced wonderful bitches. Again, buying time, I leased a bitch with Gail Radke to produce Ch. Lambluv Gambolon Diamond Diva, co-owned with Lynne Levine, and her sister Ch. Gamolon Lambluv Diamond Aura, co-owned with Ron Szekeres.
During Yoshi’s last couple of years in the ring, I started working with a co-owner, Lynne Levine, who is as obsessed as I am with conditioning and grooming. After four years of campaigning Yoshi, I welcomed the opportunity to campaign a dog that did not live with me, thus freeing myself from show grooming and conditioning. It was a wonderful experience that again taught me the value of co-ownership.
Diva also had two litters, producing more show puppies placed with wonderful people in co-ownerships. Now my new role as a “grandmother” evolved. Diva has produced dogs that have continued to be ranked number one in the U.S. and Canada for the past 10 years. I now work with many co-owners, and this arrangement has been wonderful for me as I have received puppies back to show and continue my line.
I always try to deliver the puppies to their new owners; I stay for a few days, perhaps exhibiting at nearby shows, and spend quite a bit of time with the new owners, showing them how to groom and what equipment they will need. I love mentoring the new co-owners for grooming, showing, and breeding, and since 1995 they, in turn, are mentoring people who have obtained puppies from them, and so the “family” continues.
I am especially proud of one young lady who received a puppy from Diva in 1997. She quickly finished her Ch. Lambluv’s Escada and had the time of her life doing it. Heather and her mother, Denise Bass, fulfilled their contract with us by having two lovely litters. A few months ago I was at a show where a dog she had bred and sold to a family in my area won its championship; what a thrill it was for this young lady, and for Lambluv. These are partnerships in every sense, and we have lots of fun along the way; how quickly I went from six puppies in 13 years to many, many more.
I am blessed to be working with Maggi Lougee, a handler in Arizona. She loves to work with the dogs—training, grooming, conditioning, and showing them to their championships. This gives me the luxury of not having to decide at 3 to 4 months of age where to place a puppy.
With the emergence of the Internet and e-mail, I’m selling top-quality show prospects overseas. Some of these buyers are then able to start their own breeding program and show quality dogs. Many times these people want a finished champion, and Maggi has been invaluable to this end.
I have also co-owned dogs with breeders all over the world. I continue to find these relationships to be most rewarding and successful. Most recently I sold a puppy to a family in Korea, and I just received an e-mail saying she had won Reserve Best in Show—we are all thrilled.
So, I do not consider Lambluv to be a conventional or unconventional “kennel.” I consider Lambluv to be a beautifully constructed tapestry that succeeds with each and every piece to create the whole. As the years go by, all of my co-owners and co-breeders are providing wonderful homes for their aging OESs. Some have decided to do it all over again. Lynne’s strength is in grooming, and as recently her health has not permitted her to have litters in her home, she is now growing show coats for the up-and-coming stars. Even though our roles are changing, Lambluv continues to flourish.
It has been my good fortune to have collaborated with exceptional co-owners and co-breeders who, through their efforts, have allowed Lamlbluv to not only continue, but to grow both in the U.S. and overseas. Without each and every one of them, I would never have been able to do the showing and breeding I have done.
Now I am facing a new and exciting challenge. I have imported a dog and a bitch from Argentina—it is time to bring in some new blood, and I am looking forward to integrating this new pedigree into my breeding program. The bitch has already received a BIS and has produced a lovely litter of seven, and we are showing them now.
I haven’t shown as often the last two years, concentrating rather on moving to five acres in the “country” and hoping to continue my breeding program. I am certainly not ready to stop showing and hope I, with my four-footed partners, still have some excitement left to discover in the ring.
I would like to take all the credit for making Lambluv Old English Sheepdogs the success it is, but I cannot. It was happenstance from the very beginning. I was mentored by wonderful breeders who became lifelong friends, and I had the support of my husband. I was fortunate to meet wonderful co-owners who became part of the Lambluv family. Would I do it this way again? In a heartbeat. Am I glad my husband brought home an OES instead of a Labrador? Absolutely!
It has been and continues to be a wonderful experience, and I am grateful each and every day for the paths I have chosen and the ones chosen for me by fate.
Jeré Marder has been breeding and exhibiting top Old English Sheepdogs for 30 years. She was the 2003 AKC Herding Group Breeder of the Year.