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Nancy Smith | Hekan Yorkshire Terriers

Nancy Smith

Interview with Nancy Smith, Breeder of Hekan Yorkshire Terriers

  1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder? What is your kennel name?
  2. What is your “process” for selecting show puppies? Performance puppies?
  3. In your opinion, is your breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
  4. As a Preservation Breeder, can you share your thoughts on the sport today? How’s the judging these days? What do you think about the number of shows?
  5. In your opinion, is social media good for the sport? Is it harmful?
  6. What are the biggest challenges facing the dog show community as a whole today and how can these be addressed?
  7. What are some of the positive changes you’ve seen in the sport over the past decade

Nancy Smith

1. My husband and I have been passionate dog breeders for nearly 40 years. Our journey began in Central Oregon, where we bred Labrador Retrievers. My husband trained them for hunting, while my Labrador was my loyal running partner. After moving to Illinois, we shifted our focus to breeding Yorkshire Terriers. We named our kennel “Hekan,” inspired by our faith and the belief that while I may not be able to do something, I know who can. This reflects our conviction that God has a way of bringing the right people together. It takes a village.

2. Being a breeder is incredibly fulfilling. I particularly enjoy observing the puppies, noting which one steps out of the nest with fearless curiosity. Watching them develop strong fronts and rears, l look for the one that exudes confidence, saying, “Here I am.” Ideally, these desirable traits manifest in the same puppy. For performance, strong knees are crucial.

3. Through rigorous testing and careful selection, our breed club has significantly improved the quality of our dogs.

4. Of course, like any organization, the world of dog breeding has its challenges. However, our experience with AKC dog shows has been overwhelmingly positive. We are active members of our kennel club and are proud to be hosting the Saturday show at the Louisville Cluster, an event recognized as the 2024 Dog Show of the Year.

We are fortunate to have many knowledgeable AKC judges, and the addition of new judges brings diversity to our dog shows. I believe kennel clubs should have the option to remain small if they wish. To keep our sport vibrant, we must cater to both novices and professional handlers. Having numerous shows provides choices, which I see as a positive. Small, local shows can also attract participation from youth clubs, fostering community involvement.

5. Social media is simply a tool that can be used for both good and bad purposes. The nature of the content largely depends on the motives of the creator and the interpretation by the audience.

6. The biggest challenge our dog show community faces today is irresponsible dog ownership. Legislators often try to regulate our practices because of bad breeders and animal overpopulation. It’s essential that we set the standard. As preservation breeders, we must also mentor newcomers and inspire passion and interest in the sport.

7. There have been many positive changes over the years in our sport. I believe that education in all aspects of the sport and dog husbandry has made us better breeders and, in turn, better competitors. Post-COVID, the AKC has developed new programs to engage a wide range of interests, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

Thank you for including us in this interview.