Interview with Valerie & Klayton Yarber & Makya Blake, Breeders of Paramount Australian Shepherds
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live? What is your breed? What is your kennel name? Do you have a website? How long have you been in dogs? How long have you been breeding dogs? Who are some of your best-known dogs?
My name is Valerie Yarber. I have owned Australian Shepherds since 1996 and have been showing/breeding since 2004. I am a USASA Approved Breed Mentor, AKC Breeder of Merit Silver, and an ASCA Breeder-Judge. My kennel name is Paramount. Klayton Yarber and myself live in Glade Spring, Virginia, and our kennel partner, Makya Blake, resides in Buckhannon, West Virginia. Both Klayton and Makya are AKC Breeders of Merit. Some of our best-known dogs are ASCA HOF BISS AOM GCH AKC/ASCA CH Dreamstreets Goin’ For Gold ROMXII ROMCI (Richie) who won our breed’s National Specialty in 2017, BISS RBIS AOM GCHB AKC/ASCA CH Paramount Firelight Summer Breeze (Summer), and AOM GCHS AKC/ASCA CH Elite Paramount Crime Spree (Caper). Our website is: www.paramountaussies.com.
As a Breeder, can you share your thoughts on your breed today? Is breed type strong? Are there things to be concerned about? Are there any health-related issues? Have you worked with breeders overseas? Are pet homes typically available for your breed?
I feel like our breed has type overall. As our USASA Judges Education Coordinator says, if you can look at it and tell it is an Aussie, it has type. Type is often confused with style by some. Breeders and judges alike should be concerned with sound structure and movement. This breed needs both of these things to be able to do the job the dogs were bred for, and both should be essential when evaluating breeding stock in the ring and out. Our breed does have health issues people should be aware of, such as hip dysplasia and cataracts. Yes, we have worked with several people overseas. Pet homes are available for our breed; however, with the influx of COVID puppy buyers, it is not quite as easy to place pet puppies as it has been.
As an Exhibitor, can you comment on recent entries in your breed? Are majors available in your area? Does your breed often participate in Companion and Performance events? How can newcomers in your breed be encouraged to join the sport of dogs?
Majors are hit or miss in our area. Our breed is extremely versatile and are very competitive in a plethora of performance and companion events such as Herding, Agility, Rally, Obedience, Dock Diving, Lure Coursing, etc. Having “Meet the Breeds” events is a wonderful way to introduce newcomers to the world of purebred dogs and sports. Having information on the breed readily available to people, and fun events that owners can participate in, will spark interest. Also, a friendly, inviting nature on our part goes a long way to make newcomers feel welcome.
What are the biggest challenges facing the dog show community as a whole and how can we address them? And finally, what are some of the positive changes you’ve seen in your breed and in the dog show community as a whole over the past decade?
I have heard much concern lately about the increase of show-related costs, such as grooming space costs and travel expenses, post-pandemic, that are making it more difficult for people to afford to attend events. As an officer on multiple clubs, we have found ourselves cutting back in certain areas to try to make it more affordable for our exhibitors. Some clubs are having to look for alternate places to hold events, as they were being priced out of places that they had used for many years. Many people who are relatively new in my breed, whom I have spoken with, are sincerely trying to understand the Breed Standard and apply that knowledge to their programs.
One of the reasons I have been successful is because I had some amazing mentors (Reggie and Susan Moorehead) to help teach, guide, and cheer me on. Seeing other people actively seek help and mentorship from successful, knowledgeable people in our breed gives me optimism that we are headed in the right direction.