Interview with Hound Group Breeder Zoe Bolin – Jazzman Black and Tans
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Zoe Bolin: I live in Palmdale, California, a high desert community about 60 miles north of Los Angeles. I got my first show dog in 2006 and bred my first litter in 2010.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Zoe Bolin: My first true special was GCHG Jazzman Comebacker. “Baxter” was from the second litter that I bred. He completed many firsts in my dog show career, accomplishing goals set and allowing me to continue to set higher goals. He was my first BBE champion, my first Hound Group placement, my first notable win (Eukanuba 2014 Breed Winner), and my first Hound Group win.
In 2015, I was gifted a 12-month-old dog, GCHG Oak Hills Heart of Gold, from another breeder-friend. “Booker” set the bar even higher. He was a multiple Group winner, an all-breed BIS winner, the all-time leading NOHS dog (Platinum NOHS), and an inductee in the American Black and Tan Coonhound Club Hall of Fame.
My current special is just shy of three years old, GCHS Jazzman Armoured Vehicle. “Brinks” is already a multiple Group winner, an all-breed BIS winner, and the No. 2 lifetime NOHS dog (Platinum NOHS). I’m looking forward to him doing great things in our breed.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Zoe Bolin: CH Southchase’s Girl’s Night Out produced both Baxter and “Train,” GCHS Jazzman Southern Pacific Big Boy, a multiple Group winner and ABTCC HOF inductee. “Brooke” is an ABTCC Dam of Merit.
CH Jazzman Miss B Haven, an ABTCC Dam of Merit, was sired by Booker. “Haven” produced Brinks and three other pups that are currently in the show ring. Brinks has just started his career as a sire and his first pups are already winning.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Zoe Bolin: My house is on 2.5 acres in the unincorporated county section of Palmdale. It is zoned A2 (heavy agriculture), which allows me to have a kennel license for up to 20 dogs. I have indoor kennels in my climate-controlled garage, with access to one of three yards.
My puppies are whelped in a spare bedroom in the house. I spend at least the first two weeks sleeping in the puppy room. The puppies stay in the house until they’re about five weeks old. I leave the TV on during the day to provide noise and voices for the pups to hear. (My kids are grown, so it’s just my husband and I in the house… way too quiet.) At around five weeks, the pups move out to the garage kennel and will go outside during the day if the weather is good. Once the pups are living in the kennel, they are introduced to crates, dog doors, and a potty area filled with shavings.
What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Zoe Bolin: The Coonhound litters are evaluated at 8 weeks. I also usually take some stacked photos at 6 and 7 weeks. I start keeping notes as soon as the pups are born, and I generally have a good idea of what I’m going to do, sometimes right from the beginning. It’s important to be as methodical and unemotional as possible when evaluating pups. There’s always that one pup that captures your heart, but he may not be the pup that will benefit the breed.
How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation?
Zoe Bolin: My “keeper” pups start going to dog shows with me as early as 9 or 10 weeks old. At that age they stay in the set-up and don’t use the public potty area. My local kennel club offers a handling class during the warmer months, and I try to take advantage of that.
Coonhounds can be reserved, so they require enough socialization to allow them to successfully handle a judge’s examination and to navigate around the ring, hopefully carrying their tail where it’s supposed to be.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring? From our Breed Standard: “He immediately impresses one with his ability to cover the ground with powerful, rhythmic strides.” When you see a dog being raced around the ring you should question why, but this is nothing new and certainly not limited to our breed.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Zoe Bolin: Black and Tan Coonhounds are generally considered to be a very healthy breed. As with most large breeds, hip dysplasia is always a concern. Most of today’s breeders are very conscientious about getting their breeding stock’s hips done. We see a very small percentage of heart disease, cancer, kidney disease, and thyroid disease. We see a larger percentage of bloat and allergies. However, in the larger scheme of things, the Black and Tan is a generally healthy breed. There are no special nutritional needs that affect the whole breed. Individual needs vary.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Zoe Bolin: Overall, I think we’re doing just okay. In 15 years, I’ve watched different trends come and go. From my perspective, we seem to identify a problem that we need to improve, work to improve that issue, but then lose something else in the process. I think we need to be particularly conscious of losing bone and substance. The Black and Tan is the largest of the six Coonhound breeds and will only stay that way through careful selection. A successful longtime breeder once told me: “We need those 30-inch dogs in our gene pool or we’ll end up with a bunch of undersize trash.” Our Breed Standard allows for oversize dogs as long as “general soundness and proportion are in favor.”
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Zoe Bolin: Yes, the Black and Tan makes an excellent family dog. Black and Tans are very versatile and adaptable. Choosing a pup with the right disposition for what a family wants to do with their dog is essential. Most Black and Tans want to do whatever you want to do. They’ll go for a hike or sit on the couch and watch TV, as long as they’re with their person.
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Zoe Bolin: I think we are losing serious breeders faster than we are gaining new breeders. Fifteen years ago, the breed entry at our National was in the 50s. This year, the breed entry at our National was 18.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Hound?
Zoe Bolin: Showing Black and Tan puppies is always good for a few laughs. They’re clowns and they can turn you inside out. Years ago, I was showing a six-month-old puppy bitch to Christopher Neale. She was a wild thing and was having a great time in the ring. The judge asked me to show the bite, and the puppy responded by throwing her head back and yawning—with the obligatory squeaking noise. Totally deadpan, the judge said, “ That’s not what I meant.” I thought the ring steward was going to hurt herself, she was laughing so hard.