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Mallory Driskill | Ambrier Tibetan Spaniels

Mallory Driskill

Interview with Mallory Driskill, Breeder of Ambrier Tibetan Spaniels

Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?

Mallory Driskill: I have had dogs all my life. My parents loved dogs, and there were always one or two dogs with me. We had Beagles, mainly, and the occasional dog from the Humane Society. Since I loved dogs so much, when I was in middle school my father took me to an Obedience club meeting and signed me up as a member. I did not really get serious until 1972 when I got a Norwegian Elkhound from a friend. I began training “Rex” and that led me to becoming a trainer myself. I went to classes with the Pearsalls. I was teaching a class when a Tibetan Spaniel owner brought their puppy to the class and I ended up getting my own Tibetan Spaniel in 1974, and later, had my first litter from “Natasha.” I joined the Tibetan Spaniel Club also in 1974. I live in Goode, Virginia.

What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?

Mallory Driskill: My kennel name is Ambrier, and I currently have eight dogs living with me.

Which have been my most influential sires and dams?

Mallory Driskill: Pedigree Award winner Am./Mex. CH Ambrier’s Amazing Pumpkin, ROMX. He held the position as Top Sire in the breed for years. He can be found in most American pedigrees.

Two of my bitches: “Pumpkin’s” dam, CH Bim’s Twin Socks Kamla, ROMX, “Kamie.” She was the great-granddaughter of my foundation bitch, “Natasha.” She won the last TSCA Specialty before AKC reorganization. Her grandson is multiple BIS winner CH Jo’Jevon’s Distant Thunder who held the position for 23 years as the only multiple BIS winner.

The other was a descendant of Kamie: “Zima,” BIS CH Ambrier’s Zelicious Zima, ROMX. A National Specialty winner and dam of the first Tibetan Spaniel to place in the Group at “The Garden,” and multiple National Special winner, CH Ambrier’s Nothing Gets Past Zeke, ROMX. Grandmother of BISS CH Ambrier’s Nanda Devi, ROMX.

Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?

Mallory Driskill: I have an indoor/outdoor kennel with two large exercise yards. I leave the kennel runs open, and so the dogs can run all day in the yards. I currently still work full-time, so my friend and co-owner of several of my dogs, Carol Tyte, White Acres Kennels, whelps the litters at her home in North Carolina. Carol raises the puppies in her den area.

What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? Performance puppies?

Mallory Driskill: Carol and I usually start getting an idea on which of the puppies we feel are show potential at eight weeks. We do not make a final decision until around sixteen weeks.

Does my breed require any special preparation for competing in Conformance? In Performance Events?

Mallory Driskill: Tibetan Spaniels do not need extensive grooming for show; bathing and conditioning, and brushing out again at the show. Trimming underneath their pads and grinding their nails is all that is necessary for a Tibetan Spaniel. We pride ourselves on having a dog that should not be trimmed.

In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?

Mallory Driskill: Yes, I would say the breed is in good condition overall. The only trend I worry about is the few who feel it is necessary to dye/trim their dogs for show.

Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?

Mallory Driskill: Tibetan Spaniels make a great family dog. They love children, and are just as happy in an apartment as they are in a house. They do like to run, so it is emphasized that unless in a fenced yard, they must be on a leash. They are a great breed for a newcomer in showing Tibetan Spaniels. I recently sold a puppy to a person who had never shown a dog. She went to her first show and took a 5-pt major.

What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?

Mallory Driskill: It is a misconception that Tibetan Spaniels need a lot of coat; it ruins the outline of the dog. I think the breed itself is the best-kept secret. I have had many a newcomer say to me, “Why are they not better-known?

As a Preservation Breeder, can I share my thoughts on the sport today? How’s the judging these days? What do I think about the number of shows?

Mallory Driskill: It bothers me that there is no recognition from the AKC for the Preservation Breeder. Inconsistent would be the word for the judging. I think judges are missing the point when it comes to Tibetan Spaniels. Please read our Standard! The number of shows does not really bother me.

In my opinion, is social media good for the sport?

Mallory Driskill: Is it harmful? Social media is not going away. I do not like a lot of what is going on with social media. It can be harmful and hurtful.

What are the biggest challenges facing the dog show community as a whole today and how can these be addressed?

Mallory Driskill: We need to reach out to the younger generation. Encourage them. Try and connect with a 4H program in your state. We are losing hotels and show grounds due to exhibitors who are “trashing” hotels and show grounds. Exhibitors need to be held responsible for the damage.

What are some of the positive changes I’ve seen in the dog show community over the past decade?

Mallory Driskill: I think the Grand Championship was a good program. It encourages us not to retire a dog after getting a championship. I also feel positive about the change that, at a Specialty, the Reserve can get a major, if the entry supports this.

If I could share one suggestion with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them about my breed?

Mallory Driskill: Remember that we are a breed that is not—or should not—be trimmed. I would like judges not to always overlook a Tibetan Spaniel in the Groups! It is very frustrating that you win the National Specialty, and have a wonderful example of the breed, but don’t even get respect in the Group.

For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Non-Sporting Dog?

Mallory Driskill: One time, I tripped in the ring and then crashed out of the end of the ring, and my dog just kept on going around the ring to the judge and free-stacked.