Breeder of the Year


WORKING: Mary M. Rodgers, Marienburg [pronounced Marie-enburg] Doberman Pinschers, Hamilton, MT.

Mary was denied a pet as a child but has been making up for it since 1963 when she purchased a Doberman that went on to break the breed's Best-in Show record and become the top Working dog. Over the years Marienburg has produced over 100 champions, including the Number One Dog of 1978, the Number One Working Dog of 2002, and a two-year Number One winner who alone sired over 85 American champions. A testament to Mary's success as a breeder is her seven Best of Breed wins at the Doberman Pinscher Club of America's national with four different dogs.


2003 Breeder of the Year Mary Rodgers **


SPORTING: Helen K. Szostak [Z is silent], Grousemoor Flat-Coated Retrievers, Plymouth, MI.**

The first time Helen saw a Flat-Coated Retriever it was love at first sight. Her 30-year love affair with the breed has produced numerous champions, and Group winners, winning every major National Specialty award multiple times. One of her dogs remains the top-producing dam in the breed's history, with 20 champion offspring. Grousemoor is synonymous with multipurpose and its champions have earned numerous performance titles in every area of competition. A member of the Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America, she has served as National Specialty show chair, board member, and Breed Standard chair. Helen is a veterinarian in private practice.


HOUND: Patricia Craige Trotter, Vin-Melca Norwegian Elkhounds, Antioch, TN.

Patricia's Vin-Melca Norwegian Elkhounds are internationally famous as both show dogs and producers. She bred the top sire and dam in the breed's history and an incredible ten Group firsts at Westminster. Patricia is the recipient of numerous awards including multiple Kennel Review Breeder of the Year awards, two Fido awards, and her breeding column for the AKC Gazette won a 1997 Maxwell Medallion from the Dog Writers Association of America. Patricia became an AKC judge in 1994, and has since judged several national specialty shows, the 1999 Westminster show, the 2000 Morris & Essex revival, and the 2002 AKC/Eukanuba National Invitational Championship.


TERRIER: Capt. Jean L. Heath & William H. Cosby, Jr., Black Watch Lakeland Terriers, Pleasanton, CA

Jean and Bill first met at a naval hospital in the late 50s when he was her patient. He later served as a physical therapy technician on her staff where Jean's Miniature Schnauzer was a therapy dog. Their mutual love of dogs soon became evident. Years later, when Bill learned that Jean had begun breeding under the prefix, Black Watch, he suggested that they become partners. Their 23 years of breeding Lakeland Terriers has resulted in 144 Black Watch champions and a record-setting 11 consecutive generations of Best in Show Lakelands. A recent breeding has produced a multiple all-breed Best in Show winner who holds 27 Agility titles. Jean and Bill are past recipients of Breeder of the Year awards from Kennel Review and DOGS USA magazines.


TOY: Thomas O'Neal, Dreamridge English Toy Spaniels, Genoa City, WI.

Attending dog shows as a boy convinced Tom that someday he wanted a life with show dogs. He began his breeding career with Cocker Spaniels, producing 88 Cocker champions along with his late partner, professional handler Ron Fabis. In 1975 they purchased their first English Toy Spaniel and were soon in love with the breed. By bringing together the progeny of two esteemed kennels, the "Dreamridge" lines were developed. Tom has had over 70 Dreamridge champions, including the top producing English Toy Spaniel in the history of the breed. A seven-time winner of the English Toy Spaniel Club of America, Tom currently serves as the club's president.


NON-SPORTING: Joseph D. Vergnetti, Dassin Poodles, Medina, OH.

Joseph has been breeding all three varieties of Poodles since 1972, but is best known for his distinctive type of Miniature and Standards. Dassin has had more than 130 champions, including the top-producing Miniature bitch of all time. Her daughter is the top winning Miniature in history, breaking a record which had been held for some 30 years. Dassin Poodles are among the top producing sires and dams in the breed's history and have won Best of Breed at the Poodle Club of America's National and Regional Specialties a grand total of 9 times, while winning the Variety a total of 21 times with 12 different Poodles.


HERDING: Jeré Marder, Lambluv Old English Sheepdogs, Chicago, IL.

Jeré is the third generation in her family devoted to the sport of pure bred dogs, but it was when the diamond earrings she was expecting from her husband for Christmas turned out to be an Old English Sheepdog puppy that her passion for the breed began. After campaigning the top-winning dog in 1979 and 1980, and the then, top-winning bitch in the history of the breed, Jeré bred them as the foundation for Lambluv. She has been responsible for producing many of the most illustrious dogs in the breed, both here and abroad, including the number one dog in the history of the breed with and incredible 64 Best in Shows.


2003 Breeder of the Year finalists.


Breeder of the Year

Sponsored by K9 Advantix(tm) flea, tick and mosquito control, the award honors breeders who have dedicated their lives to improving the health, temperament and quality of purebred dogs.

"Breeders are the backbone of the sport of purebred dogs. Their lifelong dedication and commitment to preserving a breed's unique heritage and promoting its future makes them unique and honored among the dog fancy," said Ron Menaker, AKC's Chairman of the Board. "We congratulate these role models and mentors in their efforts to produce quality breeding stock, showcase their dogs in show competition and share their knowledge with novice and experienced fanciers alike."

A breeder is chosen from each of the seven groups: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. The individual group recipients received a medallion in recognition of their achievements at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. At the end of the presentation, the AKC Breeder of the Year was announced and presented with a specially commissioned award (original artwork by Originals By Springer). Additionally, a canine portraitist will be commissioned to memorialize a prominent dog from the recipient's kennel, and their name will be inscribed on a perpetual trophy on permanent display at the AKC headquarters in New York City.

The 2004 Breeder of the Year is Catherine B. Nelson of Potomac, Maryland.

The group winners are:

  • Sporting: Sandra Bell, Statesboro, GA, San-Jo Cocker Spaniels
  • Hound: Gayle Bontecou, Clinton Corners, NY, Gayleward Scottish Deerhounds
  • Working: Patricia Turner and Anna M. Quigley, Chehalis, WA, Lajosmegyi Komondorok
  • Terrier: Catherine B. Nelson, Potomac, MD, Pennywise Dandie Dinmont Terriers
  • Toy: Dale Adams, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, Chindale Japanese Chins
  • Non-Sporting: Cody T. Sickle, Oyster Bay Cove, NY, Cherokee Bulldogs
  • Herding: Thomas W. and Nioma S. Coen, Alford, MA, Macdega Shetland Sheepdogs


The 2004 Breeder of the Year - Catherine B. Nelson


The Breeder of the Year line up with winner Catherine Nelson.

Dennis Sprung, Ron Menaker and Patti Strand presented.