Interview with Mechele Thacker, Breeder of MyTime Irish Terriers
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Mechele Thacker: I live in Scott Depot, West Virgina. I’ve owned dogs all of my life, but got my first Irish Terrier in 2012, which was when I started showing as well. I bred my first litter in 2017.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Mechele Thacker: My kennel name is MyTime Irish Terriers. I have two Irish Terriers living in my home at the moment. I do not have an actual kennel, my dogs live in my house, sleep on the furniture, and have a big exercise area. Because two male or two female Irish Terriers can come to blows easily as they mature, I have to be very picky with what I choose to keep to move forward with breeding. My motto when choosing a puppy to keep for show/breeding stock is that it must be as good as or better than what I currently have in order for me to keep two males or two females together. It is a lot of work, but it also keeps me where I want to be as a breeder, which is only keeping “the best of the best” to promote MyTime Irish Terriers.
Which breeders have provided the greatest influence on my decision to breed dogs?
Mechele Thacker: Well, as far as influence for breeding, John Childers of Baystone Irish Terriers was the person I sought out to become my mentor. After getting my first Irish Terrier, I was going through his pedigrees and came across a bitch that I found a photo of and my eyes at that moment lit up and I knew that she was the direction I wanted to go when I started breeding.
Her name was CH Rhiannon Baystone Firebug. She was bred by John Childers whom I finally met at a dog show in April 2013. We connected pretty quickly and he brought my foundation bitch to me at Montgomery, October 2013. Her name is GCH Baystone Jitterbug Fire (aka Jitterbug). She is the granddaughter of Rhiannon Baystone Firebug. John has spent countless hours educating me and really went over the top when he placed such a nicely bred bitch with a “newbie.” Some people were very upset with him for that.
Other influences would be Ellis West whose Gloccomara line flows heavy within the pedigree of my foundation bitch. Dan Sackos (Geordan Irish Terriers) who is a co-breeder of my foundation girl, and Kelly Edwards of Ceallach Irish Terriers, who also started with Baystone.
Can I talk a bit about my foundation dogs? How have they influenced my breeding program?
Mechele Thacker: Well, as above, my foundation bitch is the granddaughter of my all-time favorite Irish Terrier, Rhiannon Baystone Firebug. I also have Jitterbug’s full brother, GCH Baystone Great Ballz of Fire! (aka Jerry Lee), who has now sired quite a few champions himself. Their mother was CH Baystone Fire Fly O’Geordan who was a full sister to the biggest-winning Best in Show Irish Terrier of all time, CH Geordan Tiger Lily. So, you can see where I’m going with influence, lol…
What about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Mechele Thacker: As far as my whelping set-up, I have a room in my house that I set up during whelping and puppy rearing time. The puppies are raised in my home with constant human interaction. I perform all of the exercises on them as written in the book Another Piece of the Puzzle: Puppy Development by Pat Hastings and Erin Ann Rouse. My puppies go to their new homes crate-trained and leash-trained, and with sound minds. I’m very proud to see puppies go to their forever homes and I enjoy keeping in touch with their owners and learning how pleased they are with their new family member.
Do I have a “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Mechele Thacker: We grade puppies at 10 weeks of age. I always include John Childers and usually Kelly Edwards as well when we go over them, because they have far more “puppy” experience than I do. The process is a head-to-toe evaluation, starting with the headpiece which is a very important part of the Irish Terrier.
We also like to see a nice long rib with no less than 60/40% ratio between rib and loin length. A flat pelvis is very important, but at 10 weeks it can still be too early to determine if that will stay. Shoulder layback and lay-in, and rear angulation, are also important parts of the evaluation as they can give you an idea of how movement will develop. Coat is very important, but there are a variety of coats these days and, if all of the other parts are present and the coat may not be the best attribute, it can be forgiven.
There are a multitude of things that we look for when these evaluations take place, too much to go into in writing. I personally don’t think we really know how good a puppy is going to be until at least a year old, but we have to start earlier than that to decide what to keep.
How do I choose the homes for my puppies? Is puppy placement important to me as a breeder?
Mechele Thacker: Placing my puppies in their forever homes is the most important thing of all to me. I usually talk to people via message/email then follow that up with a good phone interview. I stay in touch with people throughout the development of the puppies as they are growing, which helps me decide where a puppy will fit best into a family. If I do not get a good feeling about a person, they do not get a puppy from me and I have no problem telling someone that. Although that puppy may be going to live elsewhere, it is still my responsibility and, should that home not work out, the puppy comes back to me—period. Although I show my dogs, I still consider them pets.
My preference is to place all of my puppies as pets. I have only placed two that have been shown other than my own, and one was to someone I had known since I started in Irish Terriers and who waited four years to get a puppy from Jitterbug. The other was someone I got to know well and trusted that the dog would be well cared for.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Mechele Thacker: I think Irish Terriers being shown, as a whole, have a lot of inconsistencies. Many may have one or two nice attributes, but overall, virtue can be weak. I also think that our Breed Standard is so vague that interpretation is different for everyone.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Mechele Thacker: Overall, Irish Terriers are a relatively healthy breed. Cystinuria has become an increasing concern, but this really has to do with breeding decisions and can be avoided. My dogs eat Purina Pro Plan Sport and do fine on it. They do get a little boiled chicken or something good on top of the dinner portion, but that’s just because I spoil them a little. No “extra special” food regimen is necessary.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Mechele Thacker: As I mentioned previously, we have a lot of inconsistencies. Overall balance is an issue—front heavy, refined heads. Our standard reads, “More than the sum of its parts.” This is what we want, but it requires a clear understanding of what that means. Height is also an issue; we are losing to oversized dogs. We are Irish Terriers, not Airedales. So, do I think our breed’s overall condition is good? Probably not. But for the breeders who care… kudos.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Mechele Thacker: I think Irish Terriers are a fantastic family dog. They love children. Irish Terriers also need to be in a family that includes them as a family member. They want to be a family member. I think they also do well with active owners who like to do outdoor activities like hiking, etc. They like to learn and keep busy.
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Mechele Thacker: Irish Terriers, in general, are a rare breed. I think there are a handful of people out there who are preservation breeders, and then there are those who are just breeders. Ours is a breed that could easily become extinct, in my opinion.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with my breed?
Mechele Thacker: The thing that I find amusing is how intelligent Irish Terriers are and how unintelligent they think we are. I was at a dog show in Columbus, Ohio, one time and had “Jerry Lee” in the ring. He was the only entry. As I was finishing the class, I was talking to the judge who was someone I have a great deal of respect for. As I was talking, I was walking backwards and Jerry Lee was standing in front of me. The back of my knee hit the ramp and I fell over the ramp as the lead slipped out of my hand. The dog could’ve run, but instead, he stood there with such a look of disdain on his face that both me and the judge couldn’t help but crack up laughing. Irish Terriers are, indeed, loads of entertainment.
Are you looking for an Irish Terrier 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 an Irish Terrier 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.
Irish Terrier Dog Breed Magazine
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