Interview with Laureen Camisi, Breeder of Sapphire English Springer Spaniels
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Laureen Camisi: I live in Tabernacle, Burlington County, New Jersey. I have been involved with show Springers since 1995 and have been breeding show Springers since 1996.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Laureen Camisi: My kennel name is Sapphire English Springer Spaniels. I currently have four dogs at my house, which includes my oldest at 12 years of age. I also have about 10 dogs that I co-own, but live elsewhere.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
- My most noteworthy winner was CH Twin Oaks Sapphire Makin’ Waves, “Chessie.” She won our National Specialty in 2009, was a Top 20 placing bitch, and had notable Group and Best of Breed wins during her career.
- GCHB Sapphire n Twin Oaks Cabaret, “Eliza,” was WB/BOW at the prestigious Eastern ESS Club Specialty. She had numerous Owner-Handled Bests in Show to her name.
- GCH Sapphires Frequent Flier, “Miles,” was a wonderful boy with some notable wins to his name.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
- Holidays Blu Clarion,
- CH Twin Oaks Black Ice,
- CH Twin Oaks Sapphire Making Waves,
- GCHB Sapphire n Twin Oaks Cabaret,
- GCHB Sapphire n Twin Oaks Weep No More, Sapphires Tiger Lillie,
- CH Sapphire Sirakian Destiny.
- GCH Sapphires Frequent Flier,
- CH Sapphires Power Play,
- GCH CH Suncoast n Sapphires Great Scott!
Can I Talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Laureen Camisi: I do not have a separate outdoor kennel building; my dogs are kept in my home. They are crated at night and during the day when necessary. They have house time with us every day and run with the other dogs if they get along. My puppies are also whelped in a whelping room in my home.
They are never left unsupervised and are raised with human interaction constantly. I try hard to get my children and grandchildren to come and play with them as often as possible so that the puppies get used to children and other people.
What is my “process” for selecting Show puppies? Performance puppies? Field puppies?
Laureen Camisi: I have no experience with field training. I have chosen puppies that seem to be biddable, confident, friendly, structurally sound, and agile to move on to Agility homes. For show prospects, we obviously look at structure, head, general personality, and confidence of the dog. We usually choose a few that are show quality at about 6-7 weeks and re-evaluate those at 8-10 weeks.
Those that are still looking promising, which includes shoulder angle, forechest, topline, head planes, tail set, bite, personality, confidence, foot timing, and overall appearance, will be held out. We constantly evaluate them after that, as things can and do change. A once confident puppy can become frightened due to a bad experience. A once perfect scissors bite can change, etc. Eventually, the true stars will shine and go on to show careers.
Do I compete in Companion Events? Performance Events?
Laureen Camisi: I have dabbled in Rally and have a Rally title on one of my girls. I’ve also done Agility and have Agility titles on two of my dogs. Due to some health issues my Agility days are probably behind me, but I enjoyed it and miss it. The sad thing is that the Springers love Agility, and unless someone else will run them, without me, they can’t participate either.
Are Field Trials or parent club Hunt Tests Important to me?
Laureen Camisi: Although I do not compete in these events, they are very important to me and they should be important to everyone in the breed. This is what our Springers are bred to do. All of the Conformation competition is to ensure that the dogs we are showing maintain the ability to perform in the field, and the future breeding of those dogs will pass on the proper traits to continue to do so. It is an amazing thing to watch a Springer in the field, doing what they do. It takes my breath away.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed?
Laureen Camisi: Although this is not a breed that has huge, prominent muscle, they have to be in good condition and at a good weight to be able to do their job. Too much weight keeps the dog from moving properly, expending too much energy, and therefore, it cannot do its job in the field. Too little weight also keeps the dog from being able to work for long periods of time in the field, as the dog will tire. It is important for these dogs to be at a good weight and exercised enough to keep muscle and stamina.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Laureen Camisi: The normal health concerns for medium to large dogs is hip and elbow dysplasia. Also, there are issues with their eyes; PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) and RD (Retinal Dysplasia). We test the dogs we are breeding for the above-mentioned issues and will not breed if any potential problems are present. Epilepsy is a problem that crops up. Unfortunately, there isn’t a test that will indicate if the sire or dam can pass it on. There are a few other issues, but those are usually not that common.
As for nutritional needs, I feed my dogs very little dry dog food. Their diets consist mostly of meat, either raw freeze-dried or raw frozen, a good quality canned, or most of the time, meat that I’ve cooked for them. I supplement with a good quality vitamin, joint supplement, and a piece of cooked salmon daily. They are healthy, have great coats, and lots of energy.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Laureen Camisi: The answer to this is NO. The responsible breeders are dwindling due to a few factors. Many are old, unhealthy, or have passed on. So, there is a huge gap as not as many younger breeders are stepping in. Finances, veterinary care, and dog laws have severely impacted who is breeding and how often.
In years past, I remember New Jersey as having many responsible, ethical breeders of English Springer Spaniels. Currently, I think I am one of the few left in the state and I’m not young enough to foresee a long future of breeding.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Laureen Camisi: I’ve raised five children with English Springer Spaniels, and the children and dogs flourished and loved each other. Springers are fun, cuddly, loveable, friendly, and so attentive to what the children wanted to do that there was never an issue. My sons played soccer with the dogs and the little ones cuddled with them to watch TV. I would always recommend a well-bred Springer as a family dog and would always prefer a family as a pet home for my puppies, as they thrive with their people around them.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Laureen Camisi: Many people are of the misconception that Springers are nasty, which couldn’t be further from the truth. There are nasty dogs in every breed and I stress strongly to always get a dog of any breed from a reputable, ethical breeder. These dogs are so versatile and this is their draw. They can go from working in the field to the show ring and back to cuddling on the couch with your grandchildren. They excel in Performance Sports such as Agility, Rally, Obedience, and Nose Work, and they are also used for Search and Rescue. They’re happy and a joy to live with.
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Laureen Camisi: I don’t really want to tell judges how to do their job.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Laureen Camisi: Study your breed and study it again. The more you know about what a Springer should be, the better prepared you will be to take the breed into the future and make good breeding decisions.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Sporting Dog?
Laureen Camisi: I am constantly blown away by the intelligence and devotion of Sporting Dogs. I know that if I ask something of my Springer, he/she will always try to do it. I don’t think of this as amusing, but more humbling as to the heart of Sporting Dogs.
Are you looking for an English Springer Spaniel 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 English Springer Spaniel 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.
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