Interview with Julie L. Mueller, Breeder of Aurora Kennel
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and have been in dogs for 60 years. My mother, Arlene, built the first Aurora Kennel in 1968 and we bred Poodles, mostly Miniatures and Toys, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
I built the Aurora Kennel in Tulsa in 1990. Both kennels are grooming, boarding, and pet supplies. Our last Miniature finished in 1979 at Westminster Kennel Club, shown by Eugene Blake, and the judge was the iconic Mr. Frank Sabella. (If you are reading this and you do not know who he is, please educate yourself on the greatness of this man.) I have continued to carry on the kennel name of Aurora for our Salukis.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
You never own a Saluki—they own you. The Saluki is a very specialized breed of dog, not really conducive to being a family house pet unless someone is home all the time. We’ve only bred for ourselves, since this is not a “pet home” breed unless the home is wanting a dog that will encompass their whole world.
My first Saluki was Am. and Can. Ch. Karim Zahab Al Bokay. “Karim” was the top Best in Show winning Saluki for several decades. He was born January 3, 1979. Eugene Blake acquired him when Karim was 13 months old and gifted him to me as an incentive. I had been in a near-fatal car accident and Gene thought Karim would be the best medicine for me to regain my will to move again—and he was correct.
I believe in giving credit where credit is due. If I started to name all of the great breeders who have provided the foundation for so many top-producing and top-winning dogs, I would not have enough space to write. To these great breeders who built this foundation, I am eternally grateful, for many of them stand behind the top-producing and top-winning Salukis of Aurora. These being:
- Am. and Can. Ch. Karim Zahab Al Bokay (Karim);
- GCHG Aurora’s Walk This Way THDX CGC (Tyler Joe);
- GCHG Aurora’s The Song and Dance Man (Sammy D);
- GCHP Aurora’s Rhythm Of My Heart (Stewart) who is the All-Time Top-Winning Best in Show Saluki.
Can I talk a bit about your facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
My facility is an acre of land with divided running areas, some gravel with pavers, and the rest is grass.
Do I compete in Companion Events? Performance Events?
For me personally, Therapy Dog work has a special place in my heart. Stewart is a Certified Therapy Dog, and Tyler Joe and I performed over 450 therapy dog visits. He was awarded The American Kennel Club Therapy Dog of Distinction Award. Tyler Joe did not have a typical Saluki personality. He was extraordinary and could sense people’s needs, be it as comedian or with a soft hug and paw shake. He was one of a kind. He touched so many lives with his love, humor, and empathy.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed?
Conditioning starts from the moment of conception, and is an everyday devotion.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
There are several health concerns in our breed and it is prudent as a preservation breeder that you do everything in your power to produce healthy puppies from health-tested breeding stock.
I cook for my dogs, if needed, and provide an array of nutritional supplements, depending on the dog. They eat a variety of dry kibble with meat and/or freeze-dried meat.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
The majority of our breed’s top winners have been breeder/owner-handled, which is such an amazing accomplishment. I would say that our breed has a level of dedication from preservation breeders that has been in existence forever, all over the world. We cherish the essence of our breed, and will do everything to protect our breed moving forward.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Our breed is somewhat unique in the respect that it is not really a breed that thrives outside their small circle of “family.” Early socialization is extremely important along with positive training.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
The Saluki’s best-kept secret? There are Salukis that excel in Rally, Agility, Obedience, and Performance Events, and they have the temperament to excel at these events. Their owners have a special set of skills to train these dogs to reach amazing heights. It is quite impressive and I applaud them for their accomplishments.
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
As far as commenting on judging Salukis, again, they are sighthounds, and as with other sighthounds, approaching them from the front is helpful, especially with young dogs.
I will share with your readers something a great sighthound breeder judge said to me after judging Stewart. She said, “I love the way he looks at me; his eyes tell me, ‘I don’t want you to touch me, but I will let you.’” And another great, world-renowned sighthound breeder-judge said, “Just the way he looks at me, I have to give him Best in Show.” These are judges who are sighthound experts and wildly successful breeders who understand how the Saluki thinks, which is so important when judging.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders? Words of wisdom for newer breeders?
First, learn the AKC Breed Standard. Second, find a good mentor, not necessarily in your breed but someone who is a successful breeder. In other words, sit next to the smartest kid in your class and copy off their paper. Go to the dog show and stay all day! Watch and learn from successful breeders, owners, judges, and handlers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Hound?
Most amusing thing with a Hound? That would be an entire book! But I will give you one: When I was conditioning Karim for the National Specialty as a Veteran (he won three National Specialties, two from the Veterans Class), I would take him running on a baseball field; early mornings, no one ever around, cool weather… you get the picture, right?
So, on this morning we go, and they are laying the white lines around the bases for the night game. I ask the man, “Would it be alright if I let my dog run?” He responded, “Yes, but I don’t want him running through my lines.” I said, “No problem, he always runs the perimeter, never on the diamond.” Yep, you guessed it right. Karim started “doing donuts” on the diamond—on this man’s newly laid lines! This dog had understood everything we’d said and just made a fool out of me, and this man is screaming at me, “Get that dog out of here!” Karim trotted back to me with the biggest smile on his face. True story.
Thank you to SHOWSIGHT for this invitation to share with your readers. I wish everyone continued success and good luck to everyone.
Are you looking for a Saluki 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 Saluki 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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