Interview with Hound Group Breeder Phillip Martin – Symphony Ibizan Hounds
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Phillip Martin: I live in Sterling, Connecticut, a small town in the Northeastern corner of the state, with a population of about four thousand. I serve in the United States Navy as a musician; this is my job by day, and the dogs are my life outside of the Navy.
I have been in Ibizan Hound dogs for a little over 11 years now. I joined the Ibizan Hound Club of the United States (IHCUS) about 10 years ago and have been serving on the Board of the Directors with IHCUS for about a year. I’ve been a breeder for five years. I am an AKC Breeder of Merit with two litters currently on the ground.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Phillip Martin: My husband and I are the owners of our kennel, Symphony Ibizan Hounds. We keep six Ibizan dogs currently. We always say that we want less, but end up with more! Sound familiar? We keep the picks from each litter that are not only the most promising prospects but also those that conform best with our pack. Multiple Ibizan dogs are easy keepers when there’s harmony among the pack; and most people who own Ibizans, let alone breed them, can never have just one!
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Phillip Martin: I am in no way a longtime breeder; however, a few of my dogs have done remarkably well in the show ring, and I am always incredibly honored when we receive recognition from those judges who award us.
MBIF BVIF BISS GCH DC Loco Motion’s Dancin’ Barefoot MC LCX FCH HOF (Kalos), my first Ibizan Hound dog, bred by Cathy Hjelm of Loco Motion Ibizan Hounds, has been my most noteworthy winner. He epitomizes form following function. He has had extreme success not only in the show ring but also in the field at Lure Coursing Trials. He is a Best in Specialty winner, Multiple Best in Field winner, and was my first show dog. He is built impeccably, with superb shoulder construction (long and straighter upper arm into a well-laid-back shoulder) and he exuded confidence when he was shown, even with a novice like myself at the other end of his lead. We had some of the grandest experiences showing.
GCHB Symphony’s Party In The USA at Marwyn (Spencer), his first time in the ring, went on to win Best of Breed over five Specials and then went on to a Group Three from the 6-9 Puppy Class. He was awarded his Bronze Grand Championship at one year old, and in his first year of showing was the No. 1 Ibizan Hound Dog in 2021 in CC Breed Points. Always Owner-Handled by his mom, Meg Smith, Spencer is bred/co-owned by myself, and co-owned with Meegan Pierotti-Tietje and Heidi Clevenstine.
Which have been your most influential sires and dams?
Phillip Martin: Most influential Sires: Paradise-Ahram Lose Yourself In Me (Hunter), bred by Lisa Puskas, is a multiple Best in Show winner, Multiple Group winner, AM/MEX/ARG champion, and a sire of Multiple Best in Show winners. He has not only influenced my kennel in profound ways but has influenced so many Ibizan kennels in the US.
Most Influencial Dams: Rosita De Can Poca Roba (Rosita) was bred by Spanish breeder Rafa Serra. I strongly believe that every American breeder should be seeking to incorporate pedigree influences from our country of origin where our breed does its work. I am honored to have such influences in my lines through Rosita. MBIF DC Symphony’s Magical Snowy One SC (Hedwig) has produced six champions, three of which are dual champions. Many of her puppies, which are now only two years old, have significant accolades. Hedwig has qualified for IHCUS’s Register of Merit with her first litter out of MBISS GCHB Wirtu’s Thunder On The Right JC BCAT (Murfee). She will be bred again in 2023, as we are so pleased with her get.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Phillip Martin: Puppies are whelped in the basement of our home. We have a dedicated whelping room, with a run leading to our backyard, for our whelping mothers. The room is well-insulated, and we use a 6 ft. x 6 ft. custom whelping box made by my husband who is a carpenter. I sleep with the puppies for about a week, at which point we then set up monitors until Week 3.
Once the puppies are about 3 weeks old, we move the weaning area into the living room of our house, where our family spends most of our time. At about 3 weeks is also when we start litterbox training. The puppies are exposed to their first sights and sounds here, in the living room, and they receive their first experiences with other Ibizan dogs in our home in this area. This lasts until about Week 5, at which point we raise them outdoors until they go to their homes.
Puppies spend a majority of their day outdoors at about Week 5. They spend evenings in the weaning area that we set up in the living room. We have a dedicated puppy yard inside our one-acre fenced yard. We enclose the “puppy yard” with 5 ft. garden fencing, and they receive all sorts of stimulation to encourage their development in confidence and independence.
We raise our puppies using Puppy Culture. I am a huge advocate for the program in that it has given our puppies the best start, and we see the fruits of our efforts using the program well into maturity of our dogs. I really believe that there is no better program for establishing and reinforcing their confidence.
What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Phillip Martin: I do not make any final decisions until Week 8. At this point, the puppies have received OFA hearing and eyes testing. However, I have known the puppy that I “want” as my pick, usually at about Week 5, once they’re moving around the yard. There’s always the puppy that just shines in confidence and sound movement.
My rule of thumb for selecting show puppies is: If I would want to show the puppy myself, it then goes to a show home. I have a checklist that I use at my final puppy evaluation at Week 8. The checklist covers health, conformational traits as well as temperament checks, and an assessment of their “gameness.” The show puppies are those that excel in all four areas. As a breeder, I believe that any puppy I put in the show ring should also have the ability to excel on the field. As an Ibizan breeder, I believe that performance ability goes hand-in-hand with show ability. Form follows
How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation?
Phillip Martin: The success that I’ve had with my Ibizan Hound dogs has come through positive reinforcement throughout their puppyhood. Yes, they are so silly and naughty! I tell my owners that if you can make it past two years, you’re golden because this is when the Ibizan “magic” begins. But also, it is our job as owners to ensure that they are safe and receive an upbringing that nurtures their ability and encourages them to be fearless.
How does this relate to preparing them for the show ring?
Phillip Martin: I believe that puppies should be receiving positive experiences every day to be best prepared for the show ring and the lure coursing field. Every. Single. Day.
We enter puppy matches as often as possible, and I attend at least one conformation class prior to their first real show at six months. Lots of hands-on for Ibizan Hound dogs is important; touching them with care. My husband and I do fun activities with our kids where we get them used to gently touching our Ibizans’ muzzles as puppies; good socialization not only for the puppies but for our kids as well. We desensitize them to loud, shocking noises; dropping pots or pans, and praising them when they don’t react. We take them into well-populated areas or into a busy city. Always positive. This is so important, and contributes so much toward preparing them for the show ring.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Phillip Martin: We are seeing more lovely wires in our breed as the years go on. I feel that it is important to stress that our breed is a natural breed and should not be overly groomed, outside of plucking to achieve a neat presentation. They should not appear heavily groomed or trimmed, but with at least one weekly brushing.
Ibizan movement is so unique. The joint flexion, followed by balanced reach and drive when viewed from the side gait, and the converging of all legs in a single-tracking movement when viewed from the front and rear, are all imperative characteristics of Ibizan movement. Our breed is a hunting breed. Correct movement should be paramount to how they are presented and, thereby, evaluated in the ring.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Phillip Martin: I feel our breeders are currently doing a good job of containing health issues. I would like to say that it would be great if we had more participation by publishing public information through the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC). I also look forward to more IHCUS involvement with the Canine Health Foundation.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Phillip Martin: In my humble opinion, I do feel that we are in good condition overall. IHCUS has recently seen a refinement in our Breed Standard, which offers a great deal of valuable clarity to some of our more vague conformational descriptions within the Standard. Our Standard is written in a way that encourages a beautiful and colorful interpretation across our breeds experts.
I do feel that, as breeders, we need to ensure that we don’t lose the essence of Ibizan movement; joint flexion, with balanced reach and drive. All of our Ibizan dogs should be sound, balanced single-trackers. We can hold ourselves accountable to this and refuse to cut corners. Movement is the cornerstone of our breed.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Phillip Martin: Short answer – yes! All of my Ibizan Hound dogs are great around children. That being said, it is important that the Ibizan be socialized as well. Not every dog is the same, and there are some Ibizans that may have too much energy for children. I have Ibizans that let children tug on their ears, and will just roll over and submit or sit there and endure the humiliation. LOL! The best candidates for our breed need to have a sense of humor and be willing to lose a few valuables while owning an Ibizan. A perfect dog they are not, but their imperfections are what make them so infectious (and lovable) and, at times, necessary in large quantities!
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Phillip Martin: Yes. I feel we have a great variety of preservation breeders with a lot of important and valuable information to share to keep our breed thriving into the future.
However, I feel that those who want to breed really need to take the time to learn about the breed as a whole; to include learning about pedigrees, learning what it takes to be ethically responsible to and for Ibizan owners (this is important because there are a lot of folks who want an Ibizan Hound dog but don’t necessarily fit the lifestyle of an Ibizan), and being financially prepared, etc. If someone is reading this and wants to breed Ibizans, I highly encourage also getting a mentor whom you admire (in AND out of dogs) and asking many questions as often as possible. Patience goes a long way with breeding. Be willing to wait for the right time. Our dogs deserve that.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with a Hound?
Phillip Martin: Have you seen the Ibizan bounce? Seeing it gives us the greatest joy, and it can be hilarious to boot. Our Maestro is very respectful of fencing, but he likes to take “scenic” views of what goes on outside our fence; specifically when my husband is gardening. I guess he likes to smell the flowering breeze as well. He literally bounces back and forth like Tigger on his tail! How can one not love that?
Hound Group Breeder Phillip Martin – Symphony Ibizan Hounds