Interview with Sporting Group Breeder Lynda Gall
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Along with my husband, Bob, and our son, Robert, we live in Newbury Park, California.
In 1976, we purchased our first English Setter, and in 1978, our first English Cocker Spaniel. We did breed English Setters for about twelve years and then decided, because of the dog limit for our area, to concentrate on the English Cockers. We do love the English Setter breed and watch them at the shows whenever we have a chance.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Our kennel name is Lynann, which is a combination of my first and middle name. We currently have four dogs, two males and two females.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
We are very proud of many of our dogs, but the three that have made a significant contribution to our breed are: BISS CH Lynann’s Precious Image ECM, “Muffitt,” our first home-bred champion and our first specialty winner. Muffitt can be found behind many top winners today; National BISS BISS CH Lynann’s Telesis ECM, our first National Specialty Best of Breed winner and an English Cocker of Merit through the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America. The judge on this occasion was breeder-judge Mary Ann Alston. “Telesis” also contributed as a sire to many breeding programs; and National BISS BISS CH Lynann’s Timeless Image, “Emma,” another National Specialty Best of Breed winner for Lynann. This time the award was under breeder-judge Bonnie Threlfall. Emma was an influential dam for Lynann and is behind all the current Lynann dogs.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
The dogs listed below have contributed to many breeding programs and have helped to move the Lynann English Cockers forward in temperament, health, and type; English Cockers of Merits through the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America: BISS CH Lyann’s Precious Image ECM, National BISS BISS CH Lynann’s Telesis ECM, CH Glenwood Sierra Echo ECM, BISS CH Lynann’s Never Ending Story ECM, CH Lynann’s Risky Business ECM, National BISS BISS CH Lynann’s Timeless Image, CH Lynann’s Timeless Essence, BISS CH Lynann’s Forever ECM.
Can I talk about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Our dogs are raised in the home, as we do not have a kennel set-up. Puppies are whelped and raised in our TV room, where they get constant exposure to people, sounds, and new experiences. Once they are old enough, they get socialized with the adult dogs. Our yard is almost one-third of an acre and is separated into three yards; the pool yard, the dog area, and my garden. I love working out in the yard. (I have my own secret garden.) The dog yard has ample room for the dogs to be able to run and get lots of exercise. English Cockers need to have lots of exercise to keep them happy.
What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decision?
I think you can see the exceptional puppy the moment it is born, but on occasion there is that puppy that takes a while to show promise. I have had some show pups that did not mature as promised, and others that matured into the swan. So, as a breeder, it can just be a waiting game. Most often, however, the one that I select as a puppy is the one that I move forward with. The puppy must have all the essential hallmarks of the breed. Watching them run and play is important too. You can see a lot by watching the pups move. At nine weeks of age, I look for those things that I feel my breeding program needs improving on. If they don’t have that essential improvement, I do not keep him or her. Each generation should be an improvement.
How do I prepare my pups for the show ring?
We make it fun for the pups, with lots of treats while standing on the table. Eventually, they do learn to stand still and then we start with the show stack. I find that the puppy that stands naturally and moves correctly is the puppy that is most likely to be the one that matures into the correct English Cocker.
Are Performance and Companion titles important to me as a breeder?
Yes, all of them are important. English Cockers do excel in all areas of performance and companion titles. Nose Work is something they all love to do. If they are using their noses, they are happy. I do feel that not enough emphasis is put on using our dogs for what they are bred to do; that is being a gentlemen’s hunting companion.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
The English Cocker is in great shape, with breeders paying attention to what their breeding programs need to improve on. There are things, like in any breed, that we need to pay close attention to; first and foremost, health and temperament. Some breeders are trending on using only clear to clear health-tested dogs and excluding dogs that may be carriers or affected for health concerns. In my opinion, if we have clear animals and a carrier or affected dog—that is the correct dog for your girl or boy—we should use that dog and then test all the pups. That’s why we have the genetic tests. We never have to produce an affected puppy again and we can still maintain correct breed type. Straight fronts and fine bone are also still a concern.
The English Cocker Spaniel is a merry breed, and we all need to remember that. There are many good English Cockers (no matter what part of the country you are in) and I think that this speaks volumes for all of our breeders.
Do I feel that my breed has a promising future as a family companion?
Most definitely! They are a happy breed and love everyone they meet. Sometimes they can be a little reserved with new people, but they warm up to them almost immediately. They can have too much coat for the pet family to deal with, so keeping them short is a way to keep the dog, and the owner, happy.
Do I have any thoughts I’d like to share about the sport of dogs in general?
My family was not originally “dog people.” Yes, we had dogs all my life, but I came into this sport knowing nothing about showing, breeding or anything else that comes with our fancy. There are so many people who have been so generous with their knowledge and expertise. We have a wonderful community, and my family and I are truly thankful for every friend and mentor we have had. We try to give back by being kind and helpful wherever we can.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing experience I’ve ever experienced with a Sporting Dog?
While at a field trial with our English Setters, our girl decided that it was much more fun to take a swim in the lake. There were ducks out there! We called her and called her back, but to no avail. I thought that I was going to have to take a swim myself. I finally yelled “cookie” and she came back in. Instinct or food? Food won.