Interview with Working Group Breeder Terrie Strom | R Pyr
I have had Great Pyrenees for 25 years and have been breeding since 2001. I live on the Central Coast of California on 2.5 acres. It was my late husband’s idea to start our breeding program. I found my joy in showing my dog. I had the first litter in 2001 and there was no turning back. Raising puppies is hard work, but I find it rewarding to share my breed with other families. After the passing of my husband in 2007, I have continued our breeding program. I have produced over 75 AKC Champions and have shown most of them myself. As a breeder, I try to preserve my breed and select breeding stock that I think will improve the Great Pyrenees’ health, temperament, and conformation.
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Terrie Strom: I live in Pismo Beach, California. I have 24 years in dogs, and 21 years breeding Great Pyrenees.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Terrie Strom: My kennel name is R Pyr and I currently have nine dogs.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Terrie Strom: Noteworthy winners are GCHS R Pyr Jail House Rock!, GCHS R Pyr Lone Star Gambler!, GCHS R Pyr Strongsky Apache Sage!, and GCHS R Pyr Sugarland Express!
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Terrie Strom: The most influential are GCHS R Pyr Jail House Rock! and GCH R Pyr Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum!
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Terrie Strom: I have 2.5 acres where my husband and I built our house. The property is dog-friendly with secure fencing. We have coyotes and mountain lion, so the dogs have the opportunity to do their job. I do not have kennel runs, but big yard areas instead so that they have plenty of room to run and play at full speeds. Because of foxtails here in California, I have three goats that are the weed eaters. The dogs and goats live together.
The pups are whelped in my bedroom, so I can keep a close eye on them. At about four weeks of age, I introduce them to the outside world. Within days, they spend all day outside in a secure, covered area. Then I introduce them to the yard outside of the pen. They meet the other dogs on the property. They learn to walk on different surfaces. They play in the dirt. They get to be dogs. All of these introductions are made with their mom at their side. They spend the next few weeks learning and exploring their yard area, but they are in their secure pen at night, with adults outside on guard.
What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Terrie Strom: I spend a lot of time interacting with each pup, so I can get to know their personalities. This helps me to place the pups in the right homes for each family’s lifestyle. I am always on the lookout for that show puppy. I do my formal evaluations around eight weeks of age. I look for show prospects and the puppy that I want to move forward with in my breeding program.
How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation?
Terrie Strom: I have a grooming table that is always set up in the yard. I put each pup on the table almost every day and stack them. I do this from the moment they are outside at four weeks of age. All of my dogs know that if they want to get petted and loved, they run to the grooming table; this has been a part of my show training. They are used to being stacked and showing their bites. When I am “training” for a show, I have to get them used to a leash. I tend to walk an older dog with the young pup. Then it is just a matter of the pup following the older dogs and, “voila,” the pup is leash-trained. Then I practice the ring pattern. During this process, we have been grooming and crate training. I find it easiest, however, to crate train at the show because the pup is set up with the other dogs and they accept the crate much easier.
Is mine a cropped and/or docked breed? Can I share my thoughts on cropping and docking?
Terrie Strom: No docking or cropping.
Are Performance and Companion titles important to me as a breeder? Are parent club titles?
Terrie Strom: Yes, performance and companion titles are important to me because the owners are doing something with their dog. It is rewarding to succeed; the owners are so proud of their dog. The same with parent club titles. I always try to encourage my puppy clients if they are interested in these kinds of activities.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall. Any trends that warrant concern?
Terrie Strom: Yes. It is always heartbreaking when I see my breed in a shelter, and I’m appalled at some of the reasons why. I have spent over 20 years preserving my breed, and the trend of designer dogs (Great Pyrenees mixing with some other breed) is concerning. Also, limiting a breeding program because of a fault; I think breeders are limiting the gene pool due to some unwanted conditions. I believe you need to see the big picture and learn to pick a puppy that doesn’t have the unwanted condition of that particular parent.
I believe you need to see the big picture and learn to pick a puppy that doesn’t have the unwanted condition of that particular parent.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Terrie Strom: The Great Pyrenees is, absolutely, a great family dog! My best candidates for my puppies are family ranches. This is where the dog has a job to do and interacts with the family. I have found that during the COVID pandemic, many young families are trying to live more “off the land,” so they are buying homes with property and want to raise some farm animals. So, now they are looking for a guardian dog to protect their children and their animals from coyotes and mountain lions. This is my perfect home. Other great homes are with people who do therapy work. This breed is perfect for that. However, it is not a breed
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Terrie Strom: Not really. We need more responsible breeders. I am always willing to help or mentor someone. I think some people are willing, but our society is not willing; too many rules and regulations. The biggest challenge for my breed is neighbors complaining about the barking. Even if you are on property outside the city limits, neighbors can still complain—and the dogs will ALWAYS lose.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Working Dog?
Terrie Strom: There are a couple of dogs that I have bred that smile when they see me. It can be scary, if you don’t realize they are big dogs smiling by wrinkling their noses and showing all their teeth! I am told they only smile at me, and this makes my heart glad.