Interview with Susan Link, Breeder of St. James Japanese Chin
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Susan Link: I live way out in the country, about an hour northeast of Charlotte, North Carolina. My husband and I both have been involved in dogs for 45 years. He is a veterinarian, still busy running a single-man practice. I am a vet tech, mom and grandmother and I show dogs. My involvement with Japanese Chin began around 15 years ago.
What is my kennel name?
Susan Link: My kennel is named St. James, named after my saint of a husband, Jim, who has shouldered more than his share of the work associated with my endeavors in dogs. It’s also the name of the church where we were married 43 years ago.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Susan Link: My sires would be CH Yama Secret Agent (Danny) and his son, CH St. James Dorset Dreams (Dino). They both produced outstanding puppies that went on to have very successful show careers and are now themselves wonderful sires and dams.
For dams, CH Yama Tomosiki (Dottie) and CH Choya Konarmi Midwood (Nova). Both are gorgeous girls that Scott Toney and I purchased from Sheila Vincent and Rhonda Banks, both in England. Dottie and Nova produced beautiful type which continues today through their various offspring.
What are some of the unique challenges to breeding a Toy Breed?
Susan Link: I think it starts with a thoughtful consideration of goals. Imagine your future and the plans toward achieving those goals. Specifically, for a Japanese Chin, you are dealing with one of the smallest brachycephalic breeds and considerations must be made early for natural or C-section births.
Small litters and small birth weights mean careful, constant monitoring of whelping box temperatures, feedings, and puppy growth. Challenges include paying particular attention to the mother’s needs of hydration and proper nourishment for nursing.
I’m sure every dedicated breeder has a very similar list of care, but the challenge presented with breeding and raising Japanese Chin puppies is one of intensity—with not much room for error. I have also found that with these tiny puppies, sometimes it’s often a combination of the individual fortitude of a puppy to thrive, matched with an equal amount of fortitude from the breeder.
Do I have specific regimens for feeding, immunizations, health and wellness?
Susan Link: My dogs are interesting in their pack behavior of eating. They like to eat together, rotating around each other, almost like they are discussing a buffet put before them. I like glucosamine and probiotic supplements. I’ve always followed my husband’s recommendations for preventative treatments like Bravecto, heartworm preventative, and vaccines with special consideration of the Bordetella and Influenza vaccines to protect traveling show dogs. Also important are various OFA health certifications, GM2-cleared, eyes, heart, and patellas and any new testing available.
Are there specific challenges inherent to traveling with a Toy Breed? Any tips I can share?
Susan Link: You always need to be aware of the temperature. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of never letting a Chin get too hot. I carry syringes that I use to draw up water to give orally if I don’t witness them drinking from bottles or bowls. Sometimes a dog might not be the best eater on the road. I bring their food from home and make it a point in a hotel to settle down and eat in front of them because they seem to enjoy us all eating together. I always have Nutri-Cal as a supplement.
Is my breed suitable as a Performance competitor? Are there any advantages? Any disadvantages?
Is there a reason to be optimistic about my breed’s future? Any words of caution?
Susan Link: I’m always optimistic. The Japanese Chin is an ancient breed. We are their stewards for a short time. My only word of caution would be to not give up. Be proud of the challenge to continue this beautiful breed. That challenge is a gift.
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Susan Link: Absolutely! There are legends in this breed who are still hard at work producing beautiful breed type. One such legend whom I was very fortunate to meet years ago was Sheila Vincent of Yama Kennels fame. We became good friends and she allowed me to purchase my lovely male, CH Yama Secret Agent (I called him “Danny” after Daniel Craig), who became my foundation. I continue to be inspired by her. Sheila was introduced to me at a JCCA National Specialty by my dear friend and show partner, Scott Toney.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Susan Link: The two who come to mind immediately are GCH Rakuchin Cashmoor at Midwood who won the Breed at Westminster. To hear the booming voice of the announcer in Madison Square Garden say, “May we have the Toy Group” and see our dog come down the hallway, under the sure and steady lead of my partner, Scott, and into the bright lights of The Garden is a special moment of time you never forget.
And to be on the lead of my sweet girl, GCHB St James Felicity, who just recently, in October, won the JCCA National Specialty was another one of those dreams come true.
How is showing a Toy Breed different than showing breeds from the other Groups?
Susan Link: I did start my show career in the Working Group with a Samoyed, and later, a Rottweiler in Conformation and Obedience. The obvious difference is the size, but I think breeds within the same Group can be completely different. I think it’s an individual relationship that you develop with every dog you show. You ask them to trust you, and when they do, it’s magic.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with one of my Toy Dogs?
Susan Link: My beautiful boy, Danny, loved to show off and get attention. But he was the only dog I’ve ever known who actually seemed to get embarrassed. If he had a favorite toy, he would march back and forth in front of the TV until we all said, “Ooooooh, Danny.” But, he would get flustered and trip while he was strutting around, and then become self-conscience and have to go collect himself before trying it all again.
Once, I was conditioning one of my Chin on the treadmill and Danny was convinced that he should try it. So, I let him get on, with the treadmill barely moving, and it was as if he was attempting to walk with boots on. We laughed so hard and I swear I could see him blush. He got off the treadmill and forgave us for laughing. He was the dearest boy.
Are you looking for a Japanese Chin 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 a Japanese Chin 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.
Japanese Chin Dog Breed Magazine
Read and learn more about the charming Japanese Chin dog breed with articles and information in our Japanese Chin Dog Breed Magazine.
Japanese Chin Breed Magazine - Showsight