Interview with Judy Manley, Breeder of Vistah English Springer Spaniels
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Judy Manley: I live in Saybrook, Ohio. I have been in dogs for 44 yrs, breeding for 40 years.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Judy Manley: My kennel name is Vistah. I generally keep between 8 and 12 English Springer Spaniels.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Judy Manley: My noteworthy winners include CH Vistah’s Jovan Musk and CH Bear Majic Vistah’s Enjoli.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Influential sires and dams include:
- CH Vistah’s Cool Water (sire)
- CH Bear Majic Vistah’s Enjoli (dam)
- CH Siobhan N Vistah’s Inis Arose (dam).
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Judy Manley: I used to own a large boarding/grooming facility with my home on the property. Now I live on several acres with an in-law suite that has become my kennel area. Since I live in the snowbelt, I have covered outside runs and two fenced-in yards for the dogs to run. Puppies are whelped and raised in my office. They have general house time in a limited area that includes a dog door for them to access the outside area.
What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?
Judy Manley: My puppies live under my feet from birth. This gives me an opportunity to watch them from the moment they first stand up. I watch their behavior with the other puppies for temperament evaluations. We do many sessions of stacking and photos. I like taking photos to evaluate them closely. I spend an enormous number of hours watching the puppies’ movement.
Performance dogs are selected by their activity levels and how responsive they are while giving Basic Obedience training. After so many years, you develop an eye and a talent to select puppies based on their abilities and qualities.
Do I compete in Companion Events? Performance Events?
Judy Manley: Yes, to both. I used to do Obedience Trials and now I do some limited Rally competition. My knees won’t let me do Agility. I still give Obedience classes for our local kennel club.
Are Field Trials or parent club Hunt Tests important to me?
Judy Manley: Absolutely, YES!
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed?
Judy Manley: There are so many aspects to conditioning. First, it is the training. This breed hinges on a lot of coat quality and your grooming skills. I try to give bi-weekly baths and maintain their coats from matting. Some need weekly baths to keep their coats in condition. I am always searching for products to help improve my dogs’ coat quality, but the bottom line is not what goes on the dog but what goes into the dog. Genetics is a big factor in coats on Springers. The other aspect of conditioning is a dog that can run and is physically muscled.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Judy Manley: Yes. This breed has a history of dogs with aggression and epilepsy issues. Another big issue with spaniels is auto-immune deficiencies. I take these things into consideration first when deciding on a breeding pair, and these decisions should not be made just on the first generation of dogs. I research at least eight generations in a pedigree. In my own experience, I have no notable nutritional needs for a Springer other than a high-quality food and salmon oil for their coat and skin.
Do I think your breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Judy Manley: Absolutely. I highly believe we have preservation breeders for English Springers and there is a wonderful balance in this breed between bench and field-bred Springers. We have some phenomenal breeders who are passionately devoted to this breed. Sadly, I do see the numbers dwindling.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Judy Manley: Yes, Springers are well suited, as it should be. People with active to semi-active lifestyles are the best candidates. Most of us know Springers as “velcro” dogs because they are so attached to their owners. One of the things that intrigues me about this breed is how they can go from outside romping and making chaos to laying on a sofa, napping within a minute’s time.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Judy Manley: The breed has had a history of aggression. So, many who have experienced these dogs are cautious about handling or being with a Springer because of their perceived threatening behavior. The breeders are trying to repair this, and make soft and loving family members. Be careful and do your homework when selecting a dog. The best-kept secret is that they can be clowns and they like to talk back.
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Judy Manley: Take note of how the breed is being changed. They are not supposed to be “settery” and many have lost their “spanieliness.” Watch head planes and do not evaluate on markings.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Judy Manley: Dig deep to find the honest breeders. Try to evaluate pedigrees and sit ringside with different mentors for different viewpoints.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Sporting Dog?
Judy Manley: One weekend out with some field dogs was followed by being at a bench show the following weekend at a fairground. My dog was just sitting without restraint on his grooming table at the show when I noticed a pigeon walking on the floor. The bird walked right past my bird dog, which sat watching the bird walk by without even standing up. I knew instantly that he was not a field dog candidate.
Are you looking for a English Springer 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 English Springer 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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