Amazing Joe Bellyss
Q: Who are you? Tell about your background with dogs.
A: I grew up in Switzerland with a dachshund as best friend. My parents adopted her two months before my birth, she was a real soulmate during all my childhood. After her death my mother has bought a chihuahua, a lovely red and white long coat male. He was our family pet for one year until his breeder motivated me to show him.
First show, first victory.
I was 14 years old and I followed his breeder in many shows in Switzerland, France, Belgium and Luxembourg. Next to this I’ve started to practice Junior Handling in Switzerland.
At 18 years old I immediately passed my driving license to be more independent and free to go and show where I want. I have shown in 17 countries and the dogs I’ve handled have won more than 40 official champion titles. I’m really proud to show happy and healthy chihuahuas, they are the best ambassadors for the breed.
Q: Why Chihuahuas?
A: When my mother decided to have a Chihuahua I wasn’t so enthusiastic. My dream was to have a nice Boxer; but in apartment it was impossible. When our first Chihuahua « Virgil » came in our lives it was the most unexpected feeling we had.
I felt in love for him and for the breed. He was so small, but so intelligent and has changed our daily routine. It was incredible to see how a small « 800 grams-package » could brought so much joy and happiness in a family.
My Chihuahuas are real dogs; they love to swim, they love to run on the snow, they love to walk. I never use clothes. I treat them like any others dogs. They are perfect companions for traveling as well.
They are dogs, they are humans, they are clowns, they are monsters, they are angels, they are obedient, they are stubborn, they are discreet, they are extravagant.
I couldn’t imagine my life without this amazing breed.
Q: What has been most challenging in breeding?
A: Until now I had only 3 litters in my life. Actually I consider myself as a real passionate for the breed and a serious exhibitor more than a breeder.
At the moment, I have a lovely female at home and I plan to mate her soon. It will be my 4th litter after a long break of eight years. I’m already very excited. In breeding I always try to do my best. I’m very critic and objective with my dogs. I know what I want to improve, I know what I want to fix. First of all I want to breed typical Chihuahuas. The breed type is essential. I always keep in mind that the Chihuahua is and must stay the smallest breed in the world. I look for a correct size dog with a well constructed and balanced body, not over angulated and not over coated for the long coats. The temperament is a significant point, it is innate but can improve and strengthen himself. I like to have happy and stable dogs at home and in the rings.
Q: Most rewarding?
A: The most rewarding thing is to enjoy the relationship we build with our dogs. I’m even more proud and happy about a result if I know the dog enjoys it and has a real pleasure being shown.
I always show without expectation of results but with a real expectation about how I want to spend the moment with my dog.
Sometimes I win without real pleasure because I wasn’t ready – the dog wasn’t at his advantage because of a mistake I made – for example: coming in a hurry and not having time to prepare the dog, waking him up and connecting with him.
And sometimes the result is not the best but I have no regrets because I know we had a beautiful instant in the ring and I accept the judge’s decision. When both parts are combined : an excellent result and a presentation full of satisfaction; it is there that we live intense and indelible emotions.
I was lucky to show a Chihuahua who has won a « Best In Show » in an international dog shows; I won’t forget these tears of joy during my entire life. I keep in mind the results of major exhibitions such as Crufts, WorldDogShow, EuropeanDogShow, Groups and Best In Show placements but I cannot forget the equally gratifying and sentimental results of a puppy at his first exhibition.
Q: How do you see the dog world now and in 10 years if you could decide?
A: I see it as a jewel we should protect. As any other words, this dog world has his positive and negative sides. I try to see and keep only the positive. We should protect it because we are lucky to be crazy. Crazy to have a real passion. How sad to speak with someone having no passion. Maybe we don’t have a normal life, but what is normal ? We are lucky to have a healthy hobby surrounded by the presence of animals. I respect a lot the work done by previous breeders and I’m proud if I can contribute of it.
Many people say that we should improve the dogs breeds; but I think we should protect them before improving them.
We must know why we breed and why we attend to dog shows before starting it. The goal should be healthy and benevolent.
In ten years, I hope to see it quite similar. I could only wish people having more interactions together and more open-mindedness. We must think of the pride and persistence of a breed before the glory of its personal affix.
Q: You are also a great handler. What makes you such?
A: Without pretension, I think I have a real feeling with dogs. I understand them very quickly and i can feel what is possible to do or not. I train them since they are puppies but it’s not a mechanical training. I adapt the training for each dog. I use the word training but it will be more correct to say « fun-session ». I’d like to have them confident with me and confident in various situations. I never show a dog without knowing him personally or having him at home for a while before. The dog must know me, he must not be afraid when I try to catch him, he must be relax when I place him on a table, he must be playful and secure.
This individual understanding of each dog is essential. In a ring you have to know how to observe and adapt while knowing what to do. An enlightened handler will lead his dog to a fluid and enjoyable presentation.
Respect, politeness, courtesy and fair play are also keys to success.
Q: Tell a joke which you have heard from a dog person.
A: Unfortunately, I do not remember who shared this story.
An exhibitor wrote the city of his next dog-show in his car’s navigation system without paying more attention. The distance to drive seemed correct, except that there were two cities of the same name in two different countries. He realized it only when he arrived in the wrong city of the wrong country !
Q: What else do you want to share with us?
A: I think that we have to keep in mind that we are « only » showing and breeding dogs. I don’t want to use the word « only » to denigrate what we do, quite the contrary! We must be awake of the impact we generate. It must be done both conscientiously and at the same time with hindsight and humility.