Interview with Toy Group Breeders Sharon & Jim Utych
Where do we live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Sharon & Jim Utych: We live in Alpharetta, Georgia, a northern suburb of Atlanta. We have been “in Cavaliers” since 2008, with our first Cavaliers, “Finn” and “Skye.” Up until February 2022, we only had males and stud dogs. We welcomed our first bitch, Harana Harvest Moon, “Vera,” in February in hopes to breed her and continue the Finnickyskye name.
What is our kennel name? How many dogs do we currently keep?
Sharon & Jim Utych: Our kennel name is Finnickyskye, named after our beloved boys, Finn and Skye. Finn was our first and the consummate show dog. He lived to be thirteen years old and we miss him and our sweet Skye every day.
We currently have five Cavaliers as a part of our Finnickyskye brood. Four dogs and one very bossy puppy bitch (lol)! Our dogs range from almost eight years old to our youngest, “Vera,” who is seven months old.
Which show dogs from the past have been our noteworthy winners?
Sharon & Jim Utych: Our boy Edgar, (MBIS CKCSC USA & Group-Placing MRBISOH MBISS AKC GCHS CH Brookhaven The Dream Lives On AW CGCA), has done us proud as owner-handlers! In 2018, Edgar was the No. 1 NOHS Cavalier and the No. 24 overall Cavalier. In 2019, Edgar was the No. 1 Dog in the CKCSC, US, and No. 3 overall Cavalier in the CKCSC USA, and the No. 1 ranked CKCSC USA Top Twenty. In 2021, he was awarded an Award of Excellence at the AKC National.
Our first boy, Finn (MBVIS MBVISS Karvale Brookhaven Finn CGCA THDA C-TCX), was Edgar’s half-brother (same sire) and was a dream to show; 61 Best Veteran in Show wins, multiple AOMs, BOBOH, and multiple National Sweeps BOS wins. He was also one of the very first Cavalier AKC Achiever Dogs and a titled Therapy Dog.
Which have been our most influential sires and dams?
Sharon & Jim Utych: Edgar currently has, with very limited breeding, two champions that he has sired. He is the sire of our boy “Catcher” (RBIS CKCSC USA & Group-Placing MBISOH MRBISOH AKC GCHS CH Legendcrest Finnickyskye Dream Catcher, JW AW CGC). Catcher is a platinum level NOHS Cavalier, was the 2019 CKCSC USA No. 4 Dog, and has won multiple owner-handled BIS.
Can we talk a bit about our facilities? Where are our puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Sharon & Jim Utych: Our “facility” is our home. Our Cavaliers live with us and are a part of our family. We currently do not breed, but when we will begin to breed in a few years they will be whelped here at our home and raised in our home with love and attention.
What is our “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do we make our decisions?
Sharon & Jim Utych: Again, we do not currently breed. However, when we selected our boys, we looked for those Cavalier qualities… temperament, first and foremost. We do have a “type” of Cavalier we prefer and strive for, and we have this in our Edgar. We like to see the puppies at around 6 weeks, to see their heads, shape, etc., then again at 12 weeks to make a determination.
How do we prepare your pups for the show ring? Does our breed require any special preparation?
Sharon & Jim Utych: Our boys are bathed and groomed for every show. The Standard specifically states NO TRIMMING, so, of course, we do not have to worry about trimming or sculpting our Cavaliers.
Can we share our thoughts on how our breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Sharon & Jim Utych: For us, personally, we see several Cavaliers that have been trimmed or have had their ears sculpted, which is “a no-no” per the Breed Standard.
Are there any health-related concerns within our breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Sharon & Jim Utych: Cavaliers are susceptible to mitral valve disease. It is always prudent to take advantage of the heart health clinics at shows to have a cardiologist listen to your Cavalier’s heart. Great strides have been made in supporting their heart health with medications and supplements. We feed a raw diet supplemented with home-cooked organic veggies, supplements, and goat’s milk.
In our opinion, is our breed in good condition overall. Any trends that warrant concern?
Sharon & Jim Utych: Overall, the Cavalier is in good hands with our multiple preservation breeders who take care to breed healthy, happy Cavaliers and who actively participate in the ACKCSC and CKCSC for the betterment of the breed. I think we all can do better on front assembly of the Cavalier and on the rears. Additionally, the Standard calls for moderate, moderate, moderate. The trend seems to be over-coated, which is not in the Standard, along with a long cast, slightly bigger Cavalier rather than the compact, cobby Cavalier.
Is our breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own our breed?
Sharon & Jim Utych: This breed is known as the “companion” breed. Cavaliers are “love sponges,” wanting to please and be loved. They are happy-go-lucky and want to snuggle ninety percent of the time! We feel the best owners are the ones who can give the Cavalier the TIME and LOVE the breed needs. If he will be home alone the majority of the time, I would suggest getting another dog.
Do we feel that our breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Sharon & Jim Utych: Yes. In the UK, in particular, and here in the States, there are several preservation breeders who breed exceptional Cavaliers; in health, in temperament, and to the Standard. They breed selectively and with care. They place their pups selectively and with care. I commend them.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing we’ve ever experienced with a Toy Dog?
Sharon was helping a handler friend show Chihuahuas for the very first time. Sharon was told, “Don’t look her in the eye” and “Don’t bend down in front of her, pick her up from the side.” Needless to say, she was initially a whirling dervish going around, but she finally settled. She ended up going Breed under Steve Keating, and our handler friend got BOS. He looked at Sharon and said, “You weren’t supposed to do that, I needed to win Breed!”
Cavaliers are “love sponges,” wanting to please and be loved. They are happy-go-lucky and want to snuggle ninety percent of the time! We feel the best owners are the ones who can give the Cavalier the TIME and LOVE the breed needs. If he will be home alone the majority of the time, I would suggest getting another dog.