Interview with Working Group Judge Marcia Feld
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
Marcia Feld: I am a native of Washington D.C. I moved to the Midwest after my marriage and have been in Libertyville, Illinois, for many years. When I was little, my brother was a door-to-door mailman, and a dog on his route fell in love with him and repeatedly escaped to be with my brother. This continued to the point that the dog, “Pal,” was given to him. When my brother married, Pal (considered to be a German Shepherd/Boxer mix) was mine—and my best friend. I was only about five years old. Pal was always with me, and when I got in trouble we would hide under the bushes together. Thus, the beginning of my love for dogs.
When I married, my husband (who had never had a dog) refused to get one. Then one day, he was reading the newspaper and said, “If I ever had a dog, it would be one of these.” I looked over his shoulder and saw a dog described as a Miniature Schnauzer. The next day, when he got home from work, there was a Mini Schnauzer puppy (though I wanted a Great Dane). This was about 1977, and little did I know that this would be the beginning of a wonderful dog life for me.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Marcia Feld: I was home, raising my two sons, and reading about Minis. I found a reference to a “breed anchor,” Alice Downey, who, as luck would have it, also lived here in Libertyville. I called her to ask if I could breed my dog to her crew. She no longer had dogs, but sent me to another person nearby, Marilyn Laschinski Suelen. Marilyn did not throw me in the trash because I had a bitch from a pet store. Instead, she told me to bring the dog and her pedigree to her house, and she would work with me. My first champion came from that litter and it carried the Suelen kennel name. Marilyn then advised me to make my own kennel name. Thus, Feldmar was born.
Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or parent club titles?
Marcia Feld: That first litter produced Ch. Suelen Snow Flurry CD CG. He even qualified for lure coursing. (I went, by accident, when I saw it advertised, and the Hound people were very amused when they allowed him to run. I didn’t know until I got there that it was breed-specific.)
Another mistake that payed off well… With my first litter, I had no idea how to sell the puppies, so I put an ad in Dog World which resulted in a phone call from Johan Gallant in South Africa. Here, in the AKC, we can interbreed colors; elsewhere, in most countries, you cannot. I was fascinated with the black/silver and was working with the genetics puzzle to produce a good one. “Flurry” was, indeed, B/S. Johan was a well-respected Schnauzer person and the author of two Schnauzer books. His wife was from Belgium. Consequently, knowledge of my B/S line spread quickly. I have 17 B/S dog champion certificates from foreign countries hanging on my wall.
Top-producing sire, Ch. Feldmar Nightshade, produced a strong line of B/S. “Shady” himself hated showing, but his son, Ch. Feldmar Night Reveler, was finished by Priscilla Wells and then specialed by Joan Huber. “Reveler” was the first B/S to do well in the rankings. He (if I remember correctly) climbed the ranks to be Number Two Mini of the Year.
What are the qualities I most admire in the Working breeds?
Marcia Feld: I very much admire the generally stable personalities, and am fascinated by comparing their body structure to the jobs they were bred to do. Strong muscles and structure are heart-warming.
Have I judged any Working Group Specialties?
Marcia Feld: The only two I remember were fairly recent; Siberian Husky and Great Dane.
Do I find that size, proportion, and substance are correct in most Working breeds?
Marcia Feld: Yes. I find the Working Group to be one of the strongest.
Is breed-specific presentation important to me as a judge? Can I offer some examples?
Marcia Feld: I don’t think presentation is nearly as important as the dog itself. We are judging the gene pool, not the handler’s ability to hide errors. My bottom line is: If I had to take one home to breed, which one would it be?
What are my thoughts on cropping/docking the Working breeds? Again, cropping/docking is not part of the gene pool. I once was heavily chastised for putting up a dog with a natural tail (not a Mini). I loved the dog and found it to be the best on that day. I later found out that it was an import coming from a “natural tail country.”
The tail has a great deal to do with balance, and to dock a puppy arriving from overseas at four months or more is, IMO, just not doable
Are the Working breeds in good shape overall? Any concerns?
Marcia Feld: Generally, yes, they are in good shape, though there will never be a perfect dog of any breed. My only concern that comes to mind frequently are Danes that look like over-sized Hounds.
In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Working Dogs of the past?
Marcia Feld: Today they seem to be “prettier.” Is that right? In many breeds, no. A prime example is the Neapolitan Mastiff. I judged this breed before it was accepted into AKC. It was supposed to be so ugly that it frightened bad guys away from the territory it protected. Today, it is not nearly so scary.
Why do I think the Working breeds are so admired as family companions?
Marcia Feld: Personalities are generally stable. In addition, they are protective, and yet not aggressive. And, like my early dog, Pal, they can be warm cuddle buddies.
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Working Group?
Marcia Feld: Funny story? Not really.