Interview with Working Group Breeders Stacy Pagel & Pam Brandau | BrandauRidge Saint Bernards
Where do we live? How many years in dog? How many years as a breeder?
Pam lives in Kendall, Wisconsin. This is where our current new kennel building is being built on 52 acres in the country on a beautiful ridge top. “I purchased my first Saint Bernard when I was 19 years old and, over the years, went from being a pet owner to a breeder. Family and children kept me out of the ring, but that changed when Stacy said, ‘Mom, what are we waiting for.’ The kids are grown and so has my love for the breed. We are breeding for health, temperament, and consistency to the breed standard. I love showing, but my heart is in the whelping box, and the new kennel will provide the environment I am looking for to continue our dream.”
Stacy lives in Sparta, Wisconsin, about 35 minutes from Kendall. She has been showing Saints for seven years. Until recently, Stacy would keep the dogs at her house and Pam would keep the bitches and do the whelping. Stacy’s town has a two-dog limit, unfortunately.
What is our kennel name? How many dogs do we currently keep?
Stacy Pagel & Pam Brandau: Our kennel name is BrandauRidge Saint Bernards. Collectively, at the moment, we have four dogs and three bitches. A smooth puppy bitch will be joining the crew the first week of February.
Which show dogs from the past have been our noteworthy winners?
Stacy Pagel & Pam Brandau: CH Large Paw Nika for Brandau Ridge CGCA THDN WP was our first show Saint. Right off the bat, we jumped in head first. In October of 2015, we drove to Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the SBCA National with an eight-month-old puppy (who won her class at a pre-show and at the National), all the while not knowing anyone or anything except our mentor who had to miss the National because of a medical emergency at home with one of his own dogs. Through the years, “Nika” taught us a lot; not only how to groom a Saint Bernard, but we’ve also found a love of weight pulling, therapy work, and of course, conformation. Nika had won the Highest Percentage Weight Pulled at the 2017 National in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She loved her retirement job with children in the reading program at local area schools. Our “Russian Princess” passed away in 2021.
Which have been our most influential sires and dams?
Stacy Pagel & Pam Brandau: Sire – CH Lasquite’s Orlando v Hans, HOF, bred by Tikki Smith. “Orlando” had beautiful proportions and head type, and he sired many litters with a beautiful temperament to boot. Dam – CH Kris’s Kountry Kretan Kat von D, bred by Kristi Libsack. “Kat” was a proven bitch who produced many champions in her litters. She was recognized as Brood Bitch of the Year in 2018.
The combination of Orlando and Kat produced our own beautiful foundation bitch, GCH Kris’s Kountry A League of Her Own v Orlando, who is tied for Brood Bitch for the Year for 2021.
Can we talk a bit about our facilities? Where are our puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Stacy Pagel & Pam Brandau: We raise all of our dogs as our pets, first and foremost, so they are whelped in-house and handled often. They are around children and we use enrichment toys to help in their development.
Our kennel is on its way to completion in the spring of 2022. It will be equipped with 10-12 runs with indoor and outdoor access, with a full view of the runs from the house; security cameras; in-floor heating and air conditioning; separate bathing, drying, grooming, whelping rooms; full bath and laundry room; RV and cargo van storage. To say that we are very excited is an understatement.
What is our “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do we make our decisions?
Stacy Pagel & Pam Brandau: We make our assessments at eight weeks. When possible, we have one or two of our mentors visit to give us their opinions and help us evaluate the pups. What you see at eight weeks, from a structural standpoint, tends to remain when the puppies grow into adults. If they look solid at eight weeks, they usually hold their structure. We like to see them move on their own, and all together, to see which pups catch our eye first. Then we begin our hands-on evaluation, comparing them to the breed standard, paying special attention to shoulder structure, rear angulation, tail set, proportions, and muzzle.
How do we prepare our pups for the show ring? Does our breed require any special preparation?
Stacy Pagel & Pam Brandau: The nearest conformation class is an hour away, and sometimes the weather and our jobs get in the way of that. In order to prepare our pups for the show ring, we practice a lot at home, stacking, crate training, and going to B matches when available at shows… getting them out to socialize as much as humanly possible. We bathe and trim nails early and often to get them used to the routine of being on the table and we introduce the dryers on low, working our way up to the high velocity dryers. Our breed doesn’t require certain preparations, but we make it our mission for our dogs to be comfortable around other dogs and people, in and out of their kennels. Saint Bernards are not supposed to eat people.
Is ours a cropped and/or docked breed? Can we share our thoughts on cropping and docking?
Stacy Pagel & Pam Brandau: Saints are not a cropped or docked breed.
Are performance and companion titles important to us as breeders? Are parent club titles?
Stacy Pagel & Pam Brandau: Another female we bred is “Spiritt,” BrandauRidge Takn a Walk Thru Ur Heart BN, RN, TKN, TKI, NAP, NJP, OJP, NFP, SCN, SHDN, SBN, SIN, SEN, SWN, SCNE, SINE, SCA, SIA, SBNE, SENE, SWNE, SBA, SCAE, SEA, SIAE, SWA, SCE, SIE, SBAE, SEAE, SWAE, SEE, SBE, SWE, SEM, CGC, RATN, RATO, RATS, BCAT, DCAT.
We could not be more proud of Spiritt and her partner in crime, owner and friend, Shari Hoffman. Spiritt has earned 44 AKC titles which makes her the Most-Titled-Female Saint Bernard. Thirty-one of those titles are firsts for the breed. Spiritt has paved the way for other Saints in the Scentwork field. She is known as the Saint with the “Million Dollar Nose!” Spiritt has also lead the way in Fast CAT, and many other Saints are playing too. We are now offering Fast CAT at our National Specialty this year.
Spiritt has been recognized by the SBCA as well; SBCA Achievement in Agility Award in 2018 and 2019, SBCA Achievement in Obedience Award in 2020, SBCA Plateau of Excellence more than 20 times, as well as an SBCA Hall of Fame.
The rest of Spiritt’s resume includes: eighteen UKC titles in Scentwork, all firsts for the breed; nine NACSW titles, five of which are firsts for the breed; eleven CPE titles between Agility and Nosework, all of which are firsts for the breed; seven C-WAGS titles. In all, Spiritt has a total of 92 titles—and still the list is growing!!
In our opinion, is our breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Pam: If you look back at pictures of Saints from the past, Saints (as well as other breeds) have changed. I do believe most breeders strive for breeding to the written standard. I believe that trying your best to make each litter better than the one before is important. That is our goal.
Stacy: I think Saints are evolving in the right direction. When we first started, a lot of our time was spent observing, learning, and asking so many questions. Some things that we noticed were the dogs that were very heavy-lipped and short-muzzled, and rears that were overdone. There was so much focus on breeding a huge head for some, yet the dog could barely get around the ring because of the over-angulation in the rear. As more and more breeders have been getting back to basics, a lot of the dogs have been bred with moderate angulation in the rear, better fronts, and less overdone heads. There are also more breeders, us included, for whom health testing has become the norm and are transparent about the results. I’m confident that our breed is headed in the right direction.
Is our breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own our own breed?
Stacy Pagel & Pam Brandau: Our breed is known to be a lovely family companion with the correct training. Saints are large and do not realize it most of the time. People who are the best candidates to own a Saint are people who have already had a large breed dog, or those who do their research and understand the grooming, feeding, and training expected of them.
Do you feel that our breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Stacy Pagel & Pam Brandau: We truly hope so. It is so important to continue to strive for health, temperament, and the breed standard.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing we’ve ever experienced with a Working Dog?
Pam: I loved my time outside of the ring with Nika. After she finished her championship, I trained her in Obedience and she was a registered therapy dog with Therapy Dog International. We did a reading program where children read to her. One of my greatest joys was when I had twin sisters come in to read with Nika. One of the girls was deathly afraid of her, but by the end of the school year she loved reading to Nika and would even lay on her side to make sure Nika could see the pictures. This memory will forever touch my heart. We lost Nika in 2021 and she took a big chunk of my heart with her.
Stacy: For me, it is always the weight pulls. For a qualifying pull, you can do anything under the sun except touch the dog. This includes, but is not limited to, crawling, running away, rolling on the ground, pretending you’re hurt, barking, and my personal favorite, getting down on all fours face-to-face with your dog, “willing” them to get their head in the game. It’s just you and your dog. Everyone is cheering the dogs on, wanting them to succeed. The pure strength in these dogs is amazing.
BrandauRidge Saint Bernards | Stacy Pagel & Pam Brandau