Interview with Mrs. Bitta Wohliche • Interviewed by M. Ljutic & J. Danilovic
Published in Best in Show Annual 2015
BIS: When did you get involved with dogs and how did you first come across Aussies?
What is it about Aussies that made and still makes the breed special for you?
Bitte: My first dog was a Pekingese and later I got a French Bulldog. Both of these breeds were not easy to work with and I started looking for a bigger dog with a more work appreciative attitude. At this time point I was working as an animal behaviorist and dog trainer and one of my colleagues has a big blue merle Aussie bitch with a long tail. The way those two were working together was just outstanding and I knew then that my next dog were going to be an Aussie.
For me the one most special thing about an Aussie is the way an Aussie can look directly into your soul and demand you to become a better person and a better trainer.
BIS: Which dog do you consider the foundation of your own breeding program?
Bitte: Even though he was not my first Aussie the foundation of my breeding is without a doubt the legendary MultiCh MultiBIS Thornapple Aftershock also known as Diablo.
BIS: How many aussies do you have at home (living with you) and how many do you co-own?
Bitte: At present I have two males and five bitches sharing my home with me. In co-ownership I have at present 9 dogs living with their devoted servants.
BIS: How many litters do you have a year approximately?
Bitte: I have been involved with the Aussies for twelve years and in that time I have had four litters. I do not breed for producing puppies for others ñ I breed for producing a new good dog for myself. Having a litter is hard on a bitch and I personally do not want my bitches to have that many litters. Therefore I only mate when I canít help myself ñ I have to have the feeling inside that this specific combination of dogs has to be made.
BIS: How many and which kennels do you breed with? How important was this cooperation between you and other breeders over time?
Bitte: I have been so fortunate that Kennel Thornapple (Ellen Brandenburg and Amy Garrison) has sent me some of their best dogs to start my breeding from. They have went beyond what in any way could be expected when it comes to sharing their knowledge on breeding in general, the different lines within the Aussie breed and also grooming and handling of the Aussie. Later I was so fortunate to come into contact with Terri Collins from Kennel Collinwoods and Jessica Plourde (Professional Handler) who sent me a superb stud dog in Collinwoods House Rules (Greg) and who have been supporting me with information and guidance in both grooming and handling. They have also provided me with valuable information on the – for me – new bloodlines behind Greg. Obviously I would not in any way be where I am today if it hadnít been for these cooperationís and I am all of them forever grateful for taking me under their wings at a very early time in my Aussie career.
BIS: Who has been your biggest inspiration and support? Did you have mentors and how important was mentoring for you when it comes to breeding?
Bitte: Naturally all the people mentioned above, but also Hugo Quevedo (Professional Handler). They have all taught me many, many things about how the dog show world works, and how to succeed in it. Also, Birgitte Schj¯th (owner of CaniCold) who has given me advice on breeding and whelping.
And last but not least allìthe grand old ladiesîof the Aussie breed who I have met at the Nationals and have been fortunate enough to talk to and learn from.
BIS: What would be the main characteristics of the dogs you breed? What are your goals in your breeding program?
Bitte: It may be a bit early to talk about characteristics on the dogs I have bred. I have only had four litters and have only been involved in Aussie for twelve years. I am in no way an expert now.
However what I try to breed for when I make a mating is ìthe eye of an eagle, the courage of a bearî in my Aussies. I want a dog that looks like he can actually move a bull ñ but still looking good doing it. If I wanted a cute dog I would have stayed with the Pekingese breed.
BIS: Did you change the style of the dogs you breed through the years and if yes why? How many lines did you use by now? How many generations of your own kennel name do you have in your pedigrees? How many dogs have you bred by now?
Bitte: Again I am still a new breeder but my dogs have become more original in type over the years.
In the four litters I have made I have only combined three different blood lines.
So far I have only had one generation in the pedigree of my litters because my four litters have all been out of American imports (both Sire and Dam). But in the winter I hope to produce my first litter by a Dam bred by me.
The four litters have given me in total 36 wonderful puppies. Out of these puppies 17 are by now national champions in one or more countries and there are three more who I hope will finish this year. And yes I am a very proud breeder.
BIS: How did the Aussies change over the time since you first got involved with the breed?
Bitte: Fortunately there are many good breeders of Aussies however I have observed a tendency towards more Aussies bred to first of all look good in the show ring forgetting the original purpose of the Aussie as a working dog. This is seen in more coat, too much angulation and ìneed for speedî which is not ñ in my opinion ñ becoming for the breed. To me the Aussie is very much a working dog ñ this cannot and should not be forgotten even though you are also breeding dogs who can win BIS. I love seeing an Aussie groomed for show looking like a million dollars, however this dog also has to have a coat and a body suitable for work Monday to Friday.
BIS: Is there something which you would like to change/improve in the breed in general?
Bitte: I like the original look of the Aussie and I sincerely hope that I will be able to find this type in the years to come. We have to keep working towards this original look and not for the faster, bigger and more flashy look. The original Aussie is a very beautiful and sound dog and we should do our best to keep it that way.
BIS: What do you consider your greatest achievement as a breeder?
Bitte: I am without a doubt most proud of my home bred MultiCh MultiBIS Leading Angels Pure Thornapple (Summer) who took BOB at the World Dog Show in Salzburg in 2012 and was BOS at Crufts the same year – only 3 years old. I am also very proud of her brother Leading Angelís Esteemed Thornapple (Travis) who achieved the AKC championship title at less than two years old. He is still the youngest Danish bred Aussie to obtain that title. Last but not least I am very proud of placing third in Breeder of the Year (All Breed) of the Danish Kennel Club in 2013.
BIS: Are there any specific stud dogs/brood bitches in your variety, in your country, or globally, that you think have had an important impact on the breed?
Bitte: Legendary Bayoulandís CrËme Brulee (Sire of many, many champions) is in my opinion hard to overlook in this connection.
Also Bluestems Man-O-Firethorne has had a major impact on the breed and it is hard to come by any pedigrees without him being in it.
BIS: Please mention 2 to 3 Aussies which are not owned, bred or shown by yourself, that you particularly admired, and tell us what you most admired about each.
Bitte: In my opinion the following dogs have all in their own right had a huge impact on the Aussie breed: Thornapple King of Diamonds (Dog of the year in Brazil in 2004), Vinelake Collinwoods Yablon (BOG at Westminster 2008; the first Aussie and only Aussie to win the group at Westminster), and Mysharaís Dream Girl (BOB at the Nationals 2009 and 2010).
BIS: Every breed has some common problems. Which is the most common problem in your variety seen from a breederís point of view?
Bitte: I have not yet really observed any major problems but I could be afraid that the breed becomes something people buy to get a show dog forgetting the working dog in every Aussie. The result of this will either become under stimulated dogs with behavioral problems or an Aussie with a not breed- like temperament suitable for being coach potatoes satisfied with only being brought out on the weekends for shows. I would hate to see either!
BIS: What has been the biggest disappointment in breeding and showing for you so far?
Bitte: When it comes to breeding my greatest disappointment so far with my four litters has been how difficult it is toìcontrolîgenes even when one has done a lot of preparation and research beforehand. I think every breeder will agree that successful breeding is very difficult.
In the show ring I never get disappointed with my dogs. They all work hard for me and I never enter a show with a dog not fit to be shown. Even though the good results not always come my way I have never been disappointed with my own or my dogsí performance.
BIS: What do you think is the most problematic about the Aussie FCI or AKC Standard?
Bitte: The biggest problem is that the word moderate is placed before almost every word in the Aussie breed standard (FCI and AKC alike). This makes it a standard very much open for interpretation and personal bias.
DOG SHOWS AND JUDGING THE BREED
BIS: What is the most important feature of which you would like a judge of your breed to be aware?
Bitte: In one sentence the question a judge should ask themselves is: Is this dog suitable for the work intended for the breed?
BIS: What qualities do you admire most in a judge?
Bitte: I love to show under a judge who loves his job! This means a judge who appreciates the well prepared dogs entered under him and who has ñ if needed – brushed up on the standard before judging. I am well prepared and I respect and admire a judge who is the same.
BIS: What are the most important characteristics to keep in mind for anyone wanting to become a good Aussie judge?
Bitte: Look for the dog which is slightly longer than tall, moves like it can trot all day long (and here I do not mean fast but efficient), and with a coat that is suitable for living and working in the great Outdoors. Last but not least the dog should have the ìattitudeî of a bull moving and guarding working dog. An Aussie should not be ìcuteî to look at.
BIS: If you were in charge of everything regarding the dog shows what change would you make first?
Bitte: No main ring competitions! Not that I do not think it is an honor to enter the main ring, but the main ring competition has ruined many breeds. Need for speed and flash has not done much good for any breed so far. It seems crazy to me to have the different breeds compete for the best of one group in light of all their obvious differences ñ differences we should embrace and cherish rather than making all breeds look good for the main ring. The main ring could instead be used for more of a Breed Presentation Ring ñ still making it an honor to be BOB and therefore be chosen to represent your breed in the main ring.
BIS: What would be the most important single piece of advice you would give to all serious young breeders?
Bitte: Get yourself a good mentor and do not be in such a hurry to become a breeder. It takes many, many years to get to know your breed and this is not necessarily something you achieve before your first Aussie is too old to have a litter. Remember also to look outside your own country ñ there are many things to learn from that.