This interview was published in Finnish Dog Breeder Club´s magazine ”Kasvattaja” (The Breeder) in June 2004.
Tell us a little about yourself!
My name is Jetta Tschokkinen, and I am an editor and a photographer from Lohja. My first Irish Terrier came to me when I was studying in university.
Are you the first dog enthusiast in your family?
Yes, you could say so. In my childhood we had a Karelian Bear Dog in our family but after him we could not get a dog, no matter how many times we asked. That´s why I have more than one at the moment. My sister Anne is also a breeder of the same breed.
What is the breeder´s position in Finland?
In my opinion it is a bit problematic that The Finnish Kennel Club wants to be a friend of every dog owner and step on the breeder´s toes while doing so. Membership fees are reasonable but the registration fees are being raised every once in a while. When the most part of the Kennel Club´s income comes as memebership fees and registration fees it looks like a small group of breeders is responsible for the biggest part of the money. It is good to have FDBC because our Kennel Club is not putting much effort on the education of breeders. I have to wonder why so many breeders decide to stay away from so many chances to gain information but maybe passivity is typical for our time. Many clubs share the same situation.
What are the rights and duties of a breeder?
I have a right to protect my puppies from a pack (family) who has a weak leader and bad pack dynamics. In my opinion I don´t have to produce pet dogs to people, I must concentrate on quality, not quantity. Although I cannot ask too much from my puppies´families I am happy if I can lure them to have a hobby with their dog. My hat goes off to many young new dog owners who like to find a suitable hobby for their dog. About the duties, I think it goes without saying that I support the puppy owners and I am always available when they have problems, I help with the trimming and guide them through the secrets of competing in conformation. If a person buys a puppy from me he can count on user support.
What do you think are the most important criteria in choosing a stud dog or a brood bitch?
I´m glad that our breed is almost always open and friendly with people. You don´t have to look far to find nice temperaments. Of course I go for the right type and size in a stud dog or a brood bitch as well as good health, typical conformation, good coat and easy trimming.
What is the influence of dog shows in the breeding?How do you see the responsibility of judges in a breed´s development?
There are great experts in judges – and then, not so great ones. Someone who is judging for the first times and puts the dogs in line only by their ear setting, ignoring their anatomy and movement, cannot be a great leader. People can quite well place these judges where they belong. Sometimes it happens in our breed that a quite plain dog wins highly once and then disappears totally. Of course it is nice for the owner but for the breed it has little significance and the dog itself is not getting any better. In my opinion in Finland or the Nordic countries the breeders are not so keen on using the latest winners as it seems to be in England, for example. If someone imports a dog and he wins, he is at once bred to a lot and almost all puppies that are born in a year are half sisters. We seem to have more variation here although I must admit that the decisions some breeders make sometimes astonish me. Unfortunately borrowing stud dogs to Finland from abroad – for instance from a significant country like the U.S. – is almost impossbile nowadays when we cannot show a docked dog.
What is the responsibility of breeders in the development of a breed?
My point of view must be quite unorthodox but nowadays I see those people who have a few litters as no threat. Very few of the dogs in those litters will ever be used in breeding so for the breed they have no effect. However, a breeder who doesn´t take proper care of his puppies´ user support leaves his puppies on their own. They often get a lot of negative attention around so they have influence on the breed´s reputaion. Breeders who make long-term plans and who make their plans true, no matter the cost, are the ones that the real dog breeding is based on. We must remember that they can breed from only the dogs that they have, they can not make influence on a breed as a whole.
How important are the show merits for a stud dog or a brood bitch?
Show merits don´t inherit but if there is a top tog of the breed in the neighbouring country, it would be stupid tnot to use him. Usually my brood bitches have been at least champions, but sometimes the CC´s just have not come for one reason or another. And still their litters have showed a way to go forward. You just have to make sure to combine dogs that match. I put more emphasis on the stud dog. It is hard to see from a half-grown how he will be so I would like the stud to ge fully grown.
How do you choose the pick of the litter?
When looking at the puppies usually one of them strikes your eyes at an early age. A certain puppy is selected from the whelping box time after another. After the age of 3 weeks when the puppies can stand up I sometimes look at them on the table. Usually the impression from the box is getting stronger on the table. i look at the shape of the head, neck, shoulders and rear angulation. A good Irish puppy stands firmly on his legs and at 5 weeks of age his proportions are very similar to those of an adult so at this stage you can make conclusions of the future development. I haven´t often picked the wrong puppy for myself from my own litter box, but it is a lot more difficult to tell from other breeders´ litter that you can look at only for a short time. I try to avoid evaluating other people´s puppies if I have seen them only for a little time.
How important are the hereditary diseases and how do you fight them yourself?
There has been a research going on for years ito find the hyperkeratosis gene. It seems unlikely that the gene test for the disease will ever be available with the survey material they have. As a young breeder I tried to study how the disease inherits, which dogs and lines give it and aftyer that I just avoided them. The last Irish with corny feet in Finland were born in the beginning of the 1980´s. I have never bred a dog with corny feet. We have had cystinuria (bladders stones) in a few dogs, the problem seems to be in control compared to many other countries. Irish Terriers are healthy dogs when you look at the ey anomalies and hip and elbow dysplasia, though I am aware there will be more cases as soon as people start to get their dogs examined. However I don´t see why they should be x-rayed and examined in a large scale.
Do your dogs live at home or in the kennel, what do they eat and how do you train them?
Our dogs live at home and sleep in their own beds or the armchairs. They have arun where they can stretch their legs if the weather allows. Also the yard is fenced. We go on a promenade three times a day, rain or shine. I like to take small puppies to the woods because they learn to follow humans that way. Our dogs eat commercial dog food plus a little minced meat and vegetables. They are trained a little outside with a show lead and a pocket full of goodies. Having field tracking as a hobby of course means practising with a few tracks. Young dogs get to follow short and easy tracks, more experienced dogs have more difficult tracks. While practising I never let my dogs do as long tracks as they do in the tests, I rather try practise new things.
Do you cooperate with other breeders?
Of course, mostly with Swedish breeders. I also try to keep close connections to USA. As a whole following the international arenas in a small breed like ours is of outmost importance. The effective population in Scandinavia is scaringly limited but with cooperation, wise imports and borrowing dogs help us survive. Breeders in Finland are in quite good terms and we get by, even though I´d like there to be more openness and planning.
What dogs are worth mentioning from your breeding and why?
Of course the first international champion is memorable: INT & FIN & N Ch Fardarrigh Cloak´n´Dagger (Photo 1) was born in my first litter in 1986. FIN & EST CH Fardarraigh Heatwave Beat was the best male in a quite pleasing litter. The offspring of my American dog INT, FIN, EST & PORT CH Braemoor´s Finn Again (photo 2) was pleasing, and it included, among others:
FIN CH Fardarrigh Lethal Weapon (Photo 3, as a 9 week old puppy).
FIN & F CH Fardarrigh Just A Must (photo 4) was Top Irish In Finland in 1992. Her daughter FIN & S CH Fardarrigh Northern Xposure was in my opinion just divine, unfortunately I lost her at early age (photo 5).
Of the younger stock I appreciate my own stud dog FIN & DK CH Fardarrigh Spiked Soda (photo 6) who was the most winning Irish in Finland in the beginning of the new millennium.
I also consider my T-litter very succesful, there are three International champions at the moment, Ch Fardarrigh Twin Cam (photo 7) and Tawny Teague (photo 8 ) in Finland –
and Fardarrigh Tomahawk in Moscow. Twin Cam was the Top Irish in 2003 in Finland. After the T litter there was a break of two years – the V litter w as born in 2003.
My breeding has always been bruised by my studies, too much work or being my own employer. I have never been able to put enough effort on dogs.