Sweetbay Announces Its
Ellis and Judi Adler started their
breeding program with specific goals in mind. Since Newfoundlands
were plagued with orthopedic issues, the Adlers wanted to improve
the soundness in their chosen breed. That was the crucial goal.
But they were also having fun training their dogs, and they
wanted to inspire others to experience the joy of training and
exhibiting. Newfoundlands are versatile, and the Adlers
envisioned Sweetbay owners earning a variety of titles. That
would be a fine achievement for any kennel.
One hundred titles was a high mountain to climb. Most kennels never come anywhere near that number. But Sweetbay dogs are bred for work. They love to work. The Adlers produced and placed puppies very carefully, and one by one - . those titles began to pile up. That goal (of 100 titles) was met in 1984, ten years after they began breeding. So the Adlers set the bar a bit higher. And then higher. And then higher still. Neither can remember who first spoke the impossible thought: Do you think wed ever reach a thousand? Well, in January of 2012, Lois Apfel and her Sweetbay girl Neela earned the one-thousandth title. It is an amazing accomplishment for a small kennel in Oregon but no more amazing than the dog and her owner. The Adlers would like to share a bit of their story.
Lois and Neela
First, you need to know Lois
turned seventy-seven in May, 2012. The most ardent Newfie
fanciers usually give up owning Newfs long before this, switching
to the little guys like papillons and pugs and poms. Not Lois.
Second, Lois earned that one-thousandth title in agility, a sport
that demands the utmost in speed and athleticism. The typical
agility competitor is several decades younger and almost always
works a border collie or an aussie. Certainly not a Newfoundland!
But then, Lois is far from your typical owner/handler. She has always loved dogs, yet came late to Newfies. The first dog she remembers, a bulldog, slept beside Loiss crib and tolerated her poking toddler fingers. Other family dogs followed. A terrier (who pulled a gleeful roller-skating Lois down the streets until a rather spectacular crash put the kibosh on that fun game). A black miniature poodle (who ate everything in the house that wasnt nailed down). A cocker/terrier mix (who was a master escape artist and could usually be found miles away). No one in Loiss family knew or cared about training; the dogs pretty much did as they liked.
It wasnt until Lois reached middle age that dog training caught her attention. At the time, she was competing with her horse TG in hunter/jumper classes. She and TG were meant for each other. Lois was already a grandmother, and TG came up for sale (and at an affordable price) because he was too old for competition.
During her horse years, Lois acquired a Rhodesian ridgeback named Sunny. Lois knew she needed an obedient dog, and Sunny was amenable to training. At the time, Loiss daughter was competing in obedience, so Lois began training her ridgeback as well (although they never entered trials). Then a new sport appeared on the horizon: agility. She and Sunny gave it a try. The sport was exciting and challenging, and they did well, but Lois chose not to compete.
If you ask Lois what prompted her to get into Newfoundlands, she will chuckle as she relates the tale. It seems a group of Newfie owners were training their dogs for another relatively new sport: water rescue. One of the folks put out an S.O.S. They needed volunteers to swim out and pretend to drown. Lois is always happy to help others. She showed up, week after week, with her ridgeback in tow. The Newfie training looked like fun, so Lois began teaching the ridgeback the various water tasks in her own time. Sunny could swim, and enjoyed the exercises but she wasnt a Newfoundland. Watching the Newfoundlands work in the water, Lois found herself drawn to this amazing breed.
Lois did her research, took her time, and acquired her first Newfie puppy, a Sweetbay male she named Cimi, in 1995. By now, Lois knew that Newfs were very versatile, and she and Cimi happily embraced many training venues.
The very first title Lois ever
earned was a CGC on Cimi. She had no intention of ever having an
unruly dog like those in her childhood, and this was her way of
proving it to herself. The first competitive title Lois earned
was a TD a tracking dog title on Cimi. Thats
exactly what youd expect of Lois, that she would fall in
love with a rare sport, not to mention one that takes enormous
commitment. But tracking appealed to Lois for all sorts of
reasons. As Lois says, I love that tracking takes place
outdoors. Its a very active sport. And, best of all, it
allows the dog to work in its own way. Tracking has unlimited
variables, and it is never boring. I love to watch a dog figure
out each new situation.
Lois introduced Cimi to a wide variety of dog activities. Along with tracking, Cimi did water rescue, obedience, draft (carting), and musical freestyle, as well as therapy work. Lois also did agility with Cimi, primarily out of perversity. Agility was a new sport, and everyone said the giant breeds couldnt do it. The necessary skills came naturally to a border collie, not a dog three times its height and weight. Conventional wisdom was that a Newf couldnt even fit in a tunnel, let alone race through one. In addition, no one knew how to train a giant breed. So Lois and her friends began teaching agility classes for the unconventional breeds. Among their first students were a Great Dane and a bulldog.
Lois enjoyed doing agility with Cimi, but it was clear that that was not his strong suit. But Loiss second Newfoundland, Sweetbays Lyric, was born to be an agility dog. She and Lois made a great team, competing against (and frequently beating) the fastest border collies and Aussies.
Cimi and Lyric contributed quite a few titles to the growing Sweetbay tally. But it was Neela, Loiss third (and current) Newf, who was in the right trial at the right time, and brought in that 1000th title.And yes, it was in agility. With Lois handling her.
Chat with Lois about training and competing, and shell quietly share her feelings. I was never competitive, and Im still not. Its the training thats fun for me, watching a dog catch on and give back what you ask. I do compete, because earning the title lets me prove to myself that I can do it. When I go to an agility trial, I am well aware that the high-competitive people think Im crazy to still be competing at my age. They think Im even crazier to be doing it with a Newfoundland. But I didnt have the time when I was younger. I do have the time now. And its true that I cant run nearly as fast as my dog. That just means I have to train differently. When other people bring up my age, I just tell them, I may not be able to run fast, but Im still out there.