Interview with Patricia Harbison, Breeder of Clifftops Lakeland Terriers
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?
Patricia Harbison: I’m a long-retired lawyer and stay-at-home mom living in Nashville, Tennessee. My breed is the Lakeland Terrier, having changed from my initial breed of Sealyham Terriers after losing two dogs to breed-related disease. My kennel name is “Clifftops,” named after our mountain cabin. I have no website.
I’ve had dogs my entire life, but the serious involvement with purebred dogs is a mid-life, empty nest hobby! I’ve only been breeding for 13 years. I was fortunate to start with a great foundation bitch, GCH Delzar Cookie Cutter, bred by Tracy Szaras, so I had immediate success in the whelping box. Probably my best-known dog is GCH Well-Red Clifftops Sweet Calpurnia, bred and co-owned with Demonica Baker, who won Group 3 at Westminster in 2018, but her son, GCH Clifftops Haiku D’État, is doing great right now! No litters at home right now, but I co-own/co-breed with Jeff Braddy and the talented newcomer Alissa Gonzalez Crane.
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?
Patricia Harbison: The breed is in pretty good shape right now. No serious health issues, but there are ongoing temperament issues in some lines. Type? We suffer from “Dominant Dog Syndrome.” Judges often think the current big winner is perfect and, of course, they never are. Finding pet homes is a challenge, as this isn’t a breed that can be left alone all day without getting into SERIOUS mischief. I haven’t yet worked with overseas breeders, but I am considering it as I can’t find an available bitch in the States that I really like who’s not too closely related to Haiku.
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?
Patricia Harbison: Recent entries are not very strong, and finding majors can be a challenge. In my opinion, a big part of the problem is the increasingly stylized grooming requirements for Lakies in the show ring, and the corresponding dominance of pro handlers. It’s very difficult to find an amateur newcomer who’s willing to give it a try.
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?
Patricia Harbison: The biggest challenges are declining entries and the lack of expert breeder-judges. On the positive side, I love the NOHS, for all its faults.