Interview with Stacy McWilliams, Breeder of River Ridge Rat 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?
Stacy McWilliams: I live in Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. My breed is the Rat Terrier and River Ridge Rat Terriers is my kennel name: RiverRidgeRatTerriers.com. I have been in dogs for 28 years, 23 years as a breeder. Specials we have promoted throughout the time the breed has moved in from the Miscellaneous Class include “Marti,” “Hunter,” Flyer,” and “Beesley.”
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?
Stacy McWilliams: I think the breeders who are dedicated to the breed have really moved the breed along. I am seeing more consistency in the rings and at the Nationals. Rat Terriers are a rare breed and this makes it harder to bring a breed along. Since the number of dogs available is lower and widely spread across the US, it adds challenges. I do think we are heading in a positive direction. I feel breed type is there in a lot of the dogs, more than when the breed first moved into full recognition with AKC, but we have some more growth to do. I do a lot of breed education, comparing the breed to the Basenji. There are many differences! Often it is just about education so that you can see the breed type between the two.
Fronts are a concern. We want to see dogs with sound fronts and clean movement. Watch for sidewinding and lifting. The gait should be a smooth, efficient, ground-covering trot. You do not need to run the Rat Terrier around the ring if it is well-built. There are a few health-related issues: primary lens luxation and patella issues can arise. Our breed is not recognized overseas (no FCI recognition), though I hope someday that we are; I would love to go to Crufts and showcase the breed. And yes, we find there are a lot of pet homes embracing the Rat Terrier.
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?
Stacy McWilliams: Lately, the entries for Rat Terriers in the shows I have attended have been the first or second highest entry in the Terrier Group. Majors can be available, as the exhibitors work nicely to try and help build them for each other. They are incredible in Companion and Performance events! If you are looking for a dual prospect, look no further. The Rat Terrier fits the bill! We, as breeders, should be doing all we can to pair the right puppies with the right home, and mentor, support, and encourage them!
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?
Stacy McWilliams: The biggest challenges are judges being impatient with exhibitors, and exhibitors being respectful to each other. Stop parent club infighting. A positive change is that I am seeing more Rat Terrier breeders coming together to work together. Thus, seeing the gene pool open up a bit so that the breed’s growth is heading forward.