Interview with Sheila Wymore, Breeder of Coachlight Affenpinschers
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Sheila Wymore: We moved from the Chicago area in 1979 and have been living in the Verde Valley of northern Arizona since that time. We started with our first show dog, a Dalmatian, in 1972 and have been involved with dogs since then. While Dalmatians were our original breed, we did keep a couple of Affenpinschers around the house over a 25-year span, finally deciding to downsize and concentrate on breeding/showing them.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Sheila Wymore: Our kennel name of Coachlight came from our original breed, Dalmatians. We have since gone to registering the Affs as Coachlight Aff-ter such and such. At the moment, we have eight, ranging in age from 14-½ years to 11 months, and three rescue Affens that will be going to new homes.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Sheila Wymore: We are extremely lucky to have bred a litter of four pups early in our Affen involvement, two males and two females. All finished their titles and topped their careers with one going BOS, one going Select, and one going RWD at the National Specialty in Greeley, Colorado, in 2011. All had good health test results as well.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Sheila Wymore: GCH Coachlight Aff-ter A Bad Hair Day (Fizzy – BOS at the National in 2011) has put her stamp on her children, grandchildren, and on down. GCH Coachlight Aff-ter The Man In Black, her Group-placing son, has continued that “look” on the male side of things. We are hopeful that our BIS GCHS Coachlight Aff-ter Blowin’ In The Wind (Dylan) will keep up the tradition of passing along solid genes.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Sheila Wymore: We have never developed a special whelping room in the house. Pups are whelped on the living room couch, in a small den-like box, where they can be monitored 24/7 for at least two weeks. Once they are up on their feet they are moved to a 4×4 pen, also in the living room for maximum exposure to normal family noises. As they grow, they are moved to a larger pen in the dining room that allows for more exercise and continued socializing.
What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?
Sheila Wymore: We watch temperaments as the pups age, looking for the outgoing, assertive pups while also testing intelligence with puzzle toys, etc. At 8 weeks, and then again at 16 weeks, we set them up on a grooming table to take stock of body measurements, coat, head, and expression. It is our feeling that this breed is versatile enough to be suitable for both the show and performance rings.
How important are Breed Specialties to me? How important are Group Shows?
Sheila Wymore: We have attended every National Specialty with the exception of two since we started breeding Affens, and prior to that, rarely missed a Dalmatian National Specialty. Attending and showing at Nationals/Regionals allows you to see whether your own stock is competitive and properly bred to the Breed Standard. In addition, we have also entered Group shows when available on a given show weekend, but do not necessarily seek them out.
What are my priorities when it comes to breeding? What are the drawbacks?
Sheila Wymore: Our sires and dams are always health tested and results registered with OFA. We prefer to breed from solid temperaments as well, choosing those sires/dams who are “comfortable in their own skins,” so to speak.
While Affens are a Toy Breed, with pups at birth ranging from 3 to 6 ounces, they are a sturdy breed overall. We would encourage potential breeders to choose their stock carefully and then not be afraid to whelp and raise this breed.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed? How important is coat care?
Sheila Wymore: The Affen is a working ratter/mouser and should be slim, muscled, and agile. Running in a yard, accompanying you on a jog or walk outside, and just general playing will keep them in good health. For serious Breed/Group competition, you may want to start using a treadmill for building up muscle.
As with any of the terrier-type breeds, coats are grown, not groomed, into condition. A nutritious diet of good-quality food with perhaps the addition of omega-3 supplements is a proper start. The Affen has a mixture of coat textures which are groomed differently per texture. The national club’s website has an instructional booklet available online to consult for hints and tips. Brushing with a gentle boars-hair brush keeps most coats looking good, but for show, hand stripping to the proper lengths for each section of the dog is a must.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Sheila Wymore: Hip dysplasia does crop up in the breed, so health screening and sharing of results publicly is important. The basic cardiac exam is useful for screening out potential problems.
Caution should be used in feeding a diet too high in protein. Larger Working/Sporting breeds may burn up that protein with no harm done, but smaller, less physically active breeds can incur damaged liver and kidneys on a diet too high in protein.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Sheila Wymore: All rare breeds share the same problem of not enough preservation breeders, and we are no exception. A national club whose members are welcoming and supportive of new breeders is an absolute necessity to keep a rare breed going strong.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Sheila Wymore: Definitely suited for family life. With proper supervision, even young children can enjoy this breed. Affens love to be right in the middle of family events, so you should be ready to have a furry sidekick wherever you go. If you are looking for something that doesn’t need attention, you need to look elsewhere.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Sheila Wymore: Many people equate Toy Dogs with “delicate.” This breed should be sturdy in bone and substance while staying small in stature. And our best-kept secret? Once you are owned by one you just need to get another, and another, and another…
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Sheila Wymore: Please, please, please read the Standard, even if you think you know what to look for. Too many judges are rewarding extremes in the ring when the Affen is moderate in all things—shape, size, movement.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Sheila Wymore: Please show your Affens to various judges in the show rings to get their opinions as to the worth of your stock. Then, prior to breeding, please get your health tests done. You should be checking patellas, hips, hearts, and eyes. If you start your breeding program with one or two good champion bitches with good healthy stock in their pedigree, and who also have had their health clearances, you are already ahead of the game. This is a delightful, intelligent breed to own, and with proper health tests preparatory to breeding, you should have success in the whelping box.
If you start your breeding program with one or two good champion bitches with good healthy stock in their pedigree, and who also have had their health clearances, you are already ahead of the game.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Toy Dog?
Sheila Wymore: Our foundation bitch, “Poppit,” was an extremely intelligent Affen who delighted in making up games that she wished us to play. Her favorite was to sit on her dad’s face to wake him up in the morning when she thought breakfast was a little slow in coming. This came in handy on weekends when all I had to say was “go wake Daddy up.” Never failed.