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Darle Heck – A Life Dedicated to Terriers

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70 – August, 2017

by Amy Fernandez

We’re closing in on ten years since our sport went over the cliff and it’s getting kinda hard to blame the 2008 financial crisis for dwindling entries, revolving door exhibitors, and all the rest. No breed has been spared but those that were already strug- gling have definitely taken the hardest hit. “Terriers used to be the main force of dog shows and that’s not true anymore. As the numbers have fallen off and we’ve lost many of our old time, powerhouse breeders they have cycled into becoming a less im- portant group.” Breeder, judge, and artist, Darle Heck has watched this for a lifetime. Em- phasizing her point she adds, “There are more Terriers on Britain’s endangered list than in any of the other breeds.”

Darle might also qualify as an endangered species in our mod- ern dog world. As a second gen- eration fancier, learning dogs came with growing up. And not just any dogs, she jumped in at the deep end, grooming and han- dling Scotties for her parents. She’s bred and shown them under her Beinnein prefix ever since. “I think we need to be aware that we are in trouble and start trying to encourage people to continue to move into Terri- ers.” The Terrier ring is no place for novices and dilettantes, but maybe it’s harder than it needs to be. “The original breed standards didn’t encourage profuse fur- nishings because that normally comes with softer coats. But we liked those showy furnishings, so that’s what gets rewarded. But those true, hard wire coats are much easier to maintain. And maybe that’s something we need to consider and perhaps encour- age judges to think about in terms of making these breeds more user-friendly and popular.”

Still, it’s complicated under the best circumstances. Heck says, “Maintaining wire coats requires hours of weekly effort and that takes a certain kind of person.” It’s a labor of love. “At Green- wich, I gave BIS to a Giant Schnauzer and it was the first Giant I ever touched that has a true wire coat. It’s a beautiful dog but the work and the effort to pull that coat,” she says. And perhaps those rare achievements aren’t getting the respect they deserve. “Not many judges come from wire-coated Terriers and I know it’s diffi- cult for people outside these breeds to identify good coats. It’s the most frequent question I get when they start judging Terriers.”

Click here to read the complete article
70 – August, 2017

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