At the American Cesky Terrier annual meeting last year, it was asked what the club can do to promote the Cesky Terrier breed. First and foremost, the club needs to promote the people who breed. While not every dog is or should be a show dog, puppies should be evaluated and placed in homes with people who are going to dedicate themselves to showing their dogs and furthering the breed. These are people who are committed to sticking around after judging, and answering questions about the breed that come up from other exhibitors.
A great way to promote the breed is to find a Junior Handler who researches and decides that a Cesky Terrier is the breed they want. For example, a woman in Arizona posted on ACTFA Facebook saying that she had a young girl in her Junior Handling Class that would really like a Cesky Terrier. I saw thepost and messaged her to reach out to Tim Smith and Holly Million in Oklahoma. Things worked out, and Zena Cummard got “Great” as her Junior dog. She did quite well with him in over a year, even placing in a regular Group.
Last summer, Zena was at the Oklahoma Cluster for the ACTFA Specialty. She won Best of Breed on Friday. She showed Great to Best of Opposite at the ACTFA Specialty. When it was time to go home, Great was going to stay in Oklahoma to be used for breeding. Tim Smith had just finished “Hamilton” and decided to send a young, barely shown, seven-month-old puppy home with Zena to replace Great as her new Junior dog. This was a hard decision for both Tim and Zena, but it has been a fantastic decision for the Cesky breed.
Fast forward five months, to December 2021, Zena had worked hard and turned her new puppy into an outstanding show dog. Zena and Hamilton did the breed proud by winning an extremely large Junior Class the first day down in Orlando during the AKC National Championship. Hamilton won Breed on the second day with Zena at the end of the lead. She placed fourth with him the third day in Juniors. Hamilton and Zena won Breed in the AKC National Owner-Handled Series finals, but best of all, she is bringing attention to this breed in large venues.
Zena started showing Hamilton when she was 13 years old and shows this Cesky Terrier better than the pros. She understands that the most important thing is creating a bond with her dog and keeping him interested and happy in the ring. Zena has taken a breed that isn’t known for being a showy breed and turned this young dog into an outstanding ambassador for the Cesky Terrier. Through Zena’s hard work, people are taking notice of what a Cesky is and can do.
The purpose of AKC conformation events is to evaluate breeding stock. If we do not have numbers in conformation, we do not have dedicated breeders. Without serious dedicated breeders, the Cesky Terrier will die-out in the United States. It is that simple.
It is exciting that the Cesky Terrier has Zena. The AKC has featured Zena and her sister in videos about rare breeds. Westminster also featured Zena showing Hamilton during the live television coverage of the Terrier Group. Both girls have shown other breeds, but both girls have embraced the rare breeds. They are extremely articulate about why they have chosen a rare breed. They understand that without supporting the sport of conformation with a rare breed, conformation will go away, and with it, the rare purebred dogs.
Zena has specifically called out finding a good mentor in Cesky Terriers. She said a mentor will teach you how to groom and present your dog. A mentor will also help you to understand the structure as defined in the Breed Standard. A mentor will be there to cheer for you through the ups and downs of exhibiting.
Having a young woman actively showing her Cesky Terrier in both Juniors and in the Breed Classes is just one of many ways to promote the Cesky Terrier. Bluefire Ceskys has had great success in the conformation ring. With success comes responsibility to make certain that puppies are placed in homes that will help Bluefire Ceskys ensure that the breed grows and flourishes in the future.