Interview with Patricia L. Watts, Breeder of Hollow Creek Kennel
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Patricia L. Watts: I am blessed to live on Lake Murray in Leesville, South Carolina. My son introduced me to the Boykin Spaniel breed in 1983, and thus, my passion for them came to fruition in 1987… moving me to purchase a little over two acres for them to enjoy right on the lake. Neighborhoods were just too confining for these Sporting Dogs.
Hollow Creek Kennel has been producing excellence for almost 40 years. I am proud to have produced over 25 titled dogs in the AKC alone… adding on those holding multi-titles, it’s three digits of titles. Then, I equally consider my accomplished dogs with UKC titles and the placements in the BSS. I feel that, as a breeder, mentor, and steward of the Boykin Spaniel, I have done my best.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Patricia L. Watts: I soon established Hollow Creek Kennel, which has housed many exceptional Boykin Spaniels over the decades and is currently home to a baker’s dozen.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Patricia L. Watts: I have personally shown in Conformation and Field/Hunt Tests, but I have many Hollow Creek Boykins titling and multi-titling in every venue offered in both AKC and UKC. Many are also champions in the Boykin Spaniel Society Registry, which hosts National Field Trials for the breed. One of my pups won their coveted prize in 2022 as First Place in the Open Division.
To win Best of Breed at an all-breed show is something that every breeder desires. My Hollow Creek’s Gus is the only Boykin Spaniel to accomplish this to date. He was a top performer in the UKC before we were recognized as a breed by the AKC. He was also an amazing hunting companion for me personally.
Hollow Creek’s Rosey was an outstanding field dog in the days of the Bird Dog Challenge events.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Patricia L. Watts: Many fabulous dogs have come from Hollow Creek’s Gus, Hollow Creek’s Gallient, Hollow Creek’s Miss Dixie, Hollow Creek’s Mouse, Hollow Creek’ s Great Santeenee, Hollow Creek’ Emma, and Hollow Creek’s Frogmore. All have consistently produced accomplished offspring.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Patricia L. Watts: I have a lovely barn kennel, which can accommodate just about any situation. My being a nurse greatly influenced its design, from flooring to the septic system. Actually, one could live in it… like a tiny home.
However, all of my litters are whelped inside my home, specifically in my bedroom and even on my bed. (It can be a long event and we both need to be comfortable!) They reside inside my home until three weeks. From there, they go to the garage nursery so that they can be challenged with all sorts of toys in a very large area. At six weeks, and having their first shots, they are moved to a 10×10 area in the outside kennel housed next door to their mother. The entire yard and lake are opened up to recess time. It’s an adventure of exploration, scenting, different sounds, and more good manners with the adult dogs.
What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies? Field Puppies?
Patricia L. Watts: I color tag everyone at two weeks and start keeping notes on their progress, personalities, and growth. I take note of which ones are scenting well for the possible hunters. I have everyone come to “puppy pick up day” at the same time. It’s only fair that each client gets to meet all the puppies and spend as much time as needed to discuss each pup’s conformation, personality, and “fit” into their plans. Puppies pick their new owners smartly.
Do I compete in Companion Events? Performance Events?
Patricia L. Watts: I have clients who are very versatile, competing in several different venues with their dogs. Personally, I enjoyed Hunting and Conformation Events. By the time my breed was fully approved for all events, I was slowing down on events and focusing on judges education, breeding, and mentoring.
Are Field Trials or parent club Hunt Tests important to me?
Patricia L. Watts: As Boykins are first and foremost a hunting breed, we must keep them proficient in that venue but never limit them to it, for they are a multi-talented breed. They have also titled in Conformation, Rally, Agility, Tracking, Dock Diving, and Obedience. They are the perfect all-purpose dog of the 21st century.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed?
Patricia L. Watts: Because I am a registered nurse, the Breed Standards, general health, and proper conditioning of my dogs are “number one” with me. The main reason I bought lake property was for the dogs. Dogs, like humans, greatly benefit from swimming. Mine stay in top condition because they swim, retrieve, and run several times a day.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Patricia L. Watts: At one time, our breed was in third place for hip dysplasia for all recognized breeds. I was one of the first to push hard for health testing, DNA testing, and selective breeding way back in the 1980s. This was not a popular soapbox at the time with many hunters, but it was loud enough to benefit the breed. As breeders were educated and made aware that this and other issues that came later could be fixed with health testing and selective breeding, our breed’s health status greatly improved.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Patricia L. Watts: Personally, I don’t think so. We are still the “new” kid in the Sporting Group, and as a breed becomes popular, “breeders” pop up everywhere. These dogs are often sold at prices as high or higher than what dedicated breeders charge for puppies with well-established and accomplished bloodlines for decades. Those seeking “instant gratification” are seldom prepared to wait for a well-bred pup.
The Boykin Spaniel is a compact retriever. It must be small enough to get under brush to retrieve game, yet big enough to retrieve many game species. Too big erases its niche in the hunting world.
The Boykin Spaniel serves as both a spaniel and a retriever for its hunter-owner. Many of these pop-up breeders are producing large Boykins.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Patricia L. Watts: Boykin Spaniels are the ultimate family dog. They love people. They are not kennel dogs… they must be a part of your family in your house. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you don’t have time for love and great care, please don’t get any pet.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Patricia L. Watts: The biggest misconception is that they are “just” hunting dogs. Nope! They are intelligent beyond many other breeds and are capable of training for anything YOU like to do.
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Patricia L. Watts: I do appreciate judges who have really studied a breed and make comment in the ring to help us humans do better in any venue. I also appreciate the level playing field for competition with the professional handlers. I have seen outstanding Boykins overlooked for a lesser specimen handled by well-known handlers. Place the dog, please.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Patricia L. Watts: I would counsel to first find a worthy, knowledgeable mentor who has actually been successful at breeding and exhibiting the breed. One who has knowledge of the breed’s history. One who has whelped pups and realizes the heartbreak and expenses incurred. The best interest of the breed must come first! Breeding should never be a “cash cow” for the inexperienced. It should be fun and fulfilling.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Sporting Dog?
Patricia L. Watts: At hunting tests, watching dogs outthink their handlers… very well!
Are you looking for a Boykin Spaniel puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder?
Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Boykin Spaniel dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
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