Breeder of the Year

NON-SPORTING: Wendell J. Sammet, Poodles, Ale Kai Kennel, Bryantville, Massachusetts

Wendell Sammet has spent over a half-century in purebred dogs. As a teenager, he trained a Dalmatian in obedience, and in 1950 he began breeding them. He finished and bred many champions, but soon found himself in the breed in which he has truly made his mark - Poodles -- establishing a breeding program under the Alekai banner with Mrs. Henry Kaiser. Through the decades, he has prided himself in breeding for health, temperament and breed type. Along the way, he has always found time to serve as a mentor for newcomers to the breed and the sport, as well as an advisor to his peers and in roles for both the Poodle Club of America and the Dalmatian Club of America. The 77-year-old is also a veteran of World War II, having fought at the Battle of the Bulge and being held as a POW for six months.


Karen LeFrak, 2002 Breeder of the Year Wendall Sammett and Ron Rella

SPORTING: Melissa D. Newman, English Setters, Setter Ridge Kennel, Clinton, Washington

Melissa started hunting upland game birds with her father when she was eight years old, and that turned into a life of dedication to pointing dogs. By the time she was 18, she knew that she wanted English Setters, and she knew that she wanted to make them dual field - and conformation - champions. She has more than attained her goal, having bred over 100 champions. Of the 12 Dual Champions ever produced in the history of the breed, Melissa is responsible for two of them - the most famous of those, Multi-BIS, SBIS, Dual Champion, Can. Ch. Set'r Ridge's Solid Gold, CDX, MH, HDX, CGC still reigns supreme in the breed. With eight all breed BIS, he leaves a legacy in his progeny of 124 American champions (including 17-all breed BIS winners), making him the top-producing English Setter of all time.

HOUND: Damara Bolté, Basenjis, Reveille Kennel, Leesburg, Virginia

The idea of obtaining native African Basenjis to enlarge the very limited gene pool lurked in the minds of a number of breeders. Jon Curby, former president of the Basenji Club of America (BCOF), made this a reality in 1987. The parent club voted in favor of accepting new African stock if obtainable as well as the brindle color. In 1988 Damara joined Jon Curby and Stan Carter, DVM in bringing back more Basenjis in hopes of having them accepted for registration. A lifetime of champions and Best in Show winners in the breed, dating back to 1955, coincided with her career as a supervisory animal husbandman at National Institutes of Health and also as a professional dog handler. Damara is a longtime board member of the BCOA and wrote the AKC Gazette breed column for three decades. She is a member of the AKC's Breeder's Committee, is on the Advisory Committee for the AKC Handler's program, is an AKC Registered Handler and is a member of the Professional Handlers Association.

WORKING: Peggy & Dave Helming, Newfoundlands, Pouch Cove Kennel, Flemington, New Jersey

Peggy and Dave Helming have truly done it all in their breed. Since establishing their kennel in 1968, they have bred and/or owned about 225 champions, many national specialty and all-breed Best in Show winners in the USA and around the world. Thirty-six of their dogs have achieved Newfoundland Club of America Register of Merit status. Their dogs have also been successful in Obedience and Working events, and 14 have earned their NCA Versatility titles in obtaining AKC championship, NCA Water Rescue, and NCA Draft Dog titles. They have spent a combined 24 years on the Board of Directors for the parent club, and are members and officers of a number of all-breed clubs.

TERRIER: Barbara Miller, Norfolk Terriers, Max-Well Kennel, Glen Head, New York

She calls her breed "...the little dog at the end of the terrier line..." but Barbara Miller has found her Norfolks at the front of the line quite often through the years. Her dogs have won many all-breed Bests in Show, and her breeding program has produced many champions. Her first serious breed was Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, but she soon found her place with the Norfolks. Through the years, she has been very active in the parent club, holding a number of offices and committee positions, including serving as the AKC Gazette columnist for the club. She has been a member of the Long Island Kennel Club for more than 20 years, and is currently president and show chairman.

TOY: Linda George, Chihuahuas, Ouachitah Kennel, Waukesha, Wisconsin

Linda George's dogs have left their pawprints all over the Chihuahua world. In over 30 years as a breeder, Linda has produced the top two sires in the history of the breed, Ch. Ouachitah Beau Chiene (105 champion offspring) and his litter brother, Ch. Ouachitah Kodiak (42). She has also bred the only Chihuahua to ever win the Toy Group at Westminster, Ch. Ouachitah For Your Eyes Only, and a number of Best in Show and national specialty winners. She has served many years as an officer and board member of the Chihuahua Club of America, and is a popular speaker at judges education seminars around the country. She works as a medical technologist at Waukesha Memorial Hospital, also serving as the laboratory safety officer and team leader.

HERDING: Janina Laurin, Belgian Tervuren, Chateau Blanc Kennel, Danbury, Connecticut

Janina is successfully carrying on a legacy begun by her mother, Edeltraud Laurin, in Belgian Tervuren. She competed with her first dog, a German Shepherd Dog, at a 4-H fair as a 6-year-old, and has been involved in the sport ever since. She made her mark as a breeder-owner-handler of Belgian Tervuren, with a number of Best in Show, Group and specialty winning dogs and bitches. On the performance front, her dogs have excelled in agility, obedience and herding, capturing top awards in each category. She is a past president and board member of the American Belgian Tervuren Club, where she was also a founding member of the Parent Club's Education committee.


Breeder of the Year finalists.