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Connie S. Unger | Stone Run Standard Poodles

Connie Unger

Interview with Connie S. Unger, Breeder of Stone Run Standard Poodles

Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?

Connie Unger: I am a retired professor from Moravian University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I live near there in Northampton, Pennsylvania. I have had dogs all my life. For a number of years, I had Komondors. I still love that breed, but my heart is with Standard Poodles. I have had Standard Poodles for about 25 years and really started to seriously breed about 20 years ago.

What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?

Connie Unger: The Stone Run breeding program is not complicated. I study pedigrees, health records, and the potential dog. I try to meet all the stud dogs because I am looking for calm, confident boys that are AKC Champions. I also depend on the co-operation of the stud dog owner. It is a tense time and when my girl is ready, she is ready. I have no control over that.

Which have been my most influential sires and dams?

Connie Unger: I actually had a number of bitches that I thought I wanted to start my program, but for a number of reasons, rehomed them. My foundation bitch came from Jenny Lester, Longleat Black No Sugar. I bred “Tessa” to “London,” whom I believe has had the greatest influence on my line. Tessa and London gave me “Ruby,” mother of “Siba.” I also feel Boxwood Brisbane (Brisbane), Alaman All About Me (Jordan), Dassin Hillwood Lazarus (Lazarus), and Stone Run A Gift From Oscar (Chance) have all influenced my line and gave me Best in Show winners, plus fantastic companions.

Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?

Connie Unger: I live in Pennsylvania in an old stone farm house. I have selected not to have a kennel. Every puppy is born and raised in my home with big play areas inside and outside. I really do live in a dog house with all my lovely AKC Champions.

What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? Performance puppies?

Connie Unger: Each puppy receives individual care and love. I use some of the ideas from the Monks of New Skete method of raising puppies. As I watch and interact with the puppies, I begin my evaluation, structure, personality, and movement. At four weeks old, my groomer, Jessica Cabezas, and I do their first grooming and formal evaluation. At six weeks, my Poodle partner, Gloria Boyle, and I again evaluate them. At 8 weeks and after a trip to the vet, they have a long trip to my handler, Chrystal Clas. Together we select the best puppy for me. I try to keep a girl from every litter as I search for another Westminster Best in Show. Stone Run has won Westminster Best of Variety four years in a row. I was thrilled when “Siba” won Best of Breed and “Skye” won Best of Variety at our National Poodle Club of America.As my new puppy joins my family, she prepares for her show career. Other puppies from the litter will find their futures as companion dogs. The same traits that make a good show dog make a good family dog.My Standards tend to be calm, happy, healthy dogs with beautiful structure and movement.

Does my breed require any special preparation for competing in Conformance?

Connie Unger: In the show ring, a Poodle has to be groomed to meet the Breed Standard. I do like the modified continental because more owner-handlers can participate. It is really an art to do up a Poodle in a continental. Grooming is important in the show ring, but I like it when judges actually evaluate the whole dog; structure, angles, tail set, movement, etc. The winner should have more than a pretty face and a gorgeous “do.” Some judges even overlook the novice handling and judge just the dog.

In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?

Connie Unger: As a person who is dedicated to the Preservation of Purebred Dogs, I am concerned about the popularity of all the doodles. I love Standard Poodles.

Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?

Connie Unger: Poodles are happy to sit and watch television and go for walks or hikes, as long as it is with the family. They love people. Often, people say that their Poodles think they are human. They are so smart that they can learn almost anything you want them to do. They are very athletic and hardy. Nice thing about a Poodle is they don’t leave hair everywhere. They do take grooming, but most people love the way their Poodles smell after a spa day. What is fun about a Poodle is that he can be groomed the way you want him to look.

What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?

Connie Unger: The biggest misconception about Standard Poodles is that they are a foo-foo dog. They are very athletic and can be taught to do almost anything, from hunting, biking, running, and swimming to sitting on the couch watching television. Their coats do need grooming, but you can keep them bathed and trimmed yourself.

As a Preservation Breeder, can I share my thoughts on the sport today? How’s the judging these days? What do I think about the number of shows?

Connie Unger: I am encouraged that there are more owner-handlers in the classes and that judges are looking at their dogs, even if they might not be groomed professionally.

In my opinion, is social media good for the sport? Is it harmful?

Connie Unger: I think social media can be a positive thing because more people can see the dog shows and it is a way for dog people to interact with one another.

What are the biggest challenges facing the dog show community as a whole today and how can these be addressed?

Connie Unger: Today, I think our biggest challenge is to get more people into the show ring. We need more owner-handlers to have fun in the ring with their Standard Poodles. The change to accept modified continental clips is a move in the right direction.

What are some of the positive changes I’ve seen in the dog show community over the past decade?

Connie Unger: In the dog show community, I have seen more modified continental clipped dogs win. It is so much easier for a non-professional to handle the modified clip.

If I could share one suggestion with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them about my breed?

Connie Unger: To the judges, overall, I think they are doing a good job. I like it when judges feel the structure of the dog and not just on how the dog is groomed.

For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Non-Sporting Dog?

Connie Unger: One of the most amusing things to me was the Siba bow. She has done that “bow” since she was a puppy. Then when she was in the ring, it was her stretch before the big competition. She is a true athlete. These are just a few of my thoughts and I have gone over the word limit. I am happy to talk to anyone about Poodles, so don’t hesitate to call, text, or email. THANK YOU!