ShowSight Interview: Maureen Lucas, Lochinvar Greyhounds.


  • July 01, 2019
  • By Allan Reznik

From the June 2019 issue of ShowSight.  Click to subscribe.   Pictured above: Maureen Lucas.

 

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Chicago. I’ve lived in a rural place most of my life now, but I really love big cities with museums, restaurants, architecture, theater—all those things were part of my childhood.

 

Do you come from a doggy family? And if not, how did the interest in breeding and showing begin?

Our family was doggy, and was not doggy. We did so many things, from traveling, to going to watch ski jumping competitions, to trying every ethnic restaurant Chicago had, to going deep-sea fishing. We also had an Irish Setter from Miss Emily Schweitzer, and Ch. Verbu Kerry went on to take Best in Shows and specialty wins. But going to dog shows was something we did for fun, mixed in with all the other things we did. I showed Kerry in Junior Showmanship, so I’ve been showing dogs since I was 12 years old.

 

Who were your mentors in the sport? Please elaborate on their influence.

Pictured to the right: Gloria and me at the Garden when Reba won the breed in 1992. 

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have great mentors. Our first three Greyhounds came from Judie Donaldson. Two were Kingsmark dogs and the third was bred by Luc Boileau and Ed Jenner. Judie taught me so much about Greyhounds. She would take figurines off her shelves and have me judge them, always making me quote the standard to back up my placements. She would pluck a stack of old photos out of a box and have me judge the dogs, and tell her how they would move based on their structure when standing. She taught me how to see the dog through the lens of the standard and how to always support an opinion with a base in the standard. Those three Greyhounds all finished easily with Group placements, and our Kingsmark Gunmetal Blue won an owner-handled BIS. They all coursed and did obedience, so they were great dogs to start with and learn from. Hi Petter has been an important mentor to me. We often don’t agree, but I have so much respect for Hi’s experience and his eye. Göran Bodegård has been perhaps my most important mentor. Perhaps it’s his professional training, but Göran always has the perfect question that cuts right to the core. Göran never taught me what to think, but really helped me learn how to think about Greyhounds. His own breeding has been the foundation of my breeding program, culminating most recently in the fine hound, Ch. Atlantic, who he bred using my stud dog. Gloria Reese was not really a mentor, but my friendship and partnership with her were always instructive. We’d talk about Greyhounds for hours and hours at a time. Good conversations can be really good mentors as we force our thoughts to take form. And the daily mentors are my dogs themselves. Living with them each day, walking at least an hour a day with them as a pack, watching them grow and age, seeing them gallop and hunt, experiencing how proper temperament lets me have up to 11 Greyhounds in the house, living as a functional pack—the dogs are the best and most enduring mentors.

 

The Lochinvar Greyhounds are widely known, highly successful and well respected. What breeding philosophies do you adhere to?

I always want to breed Greyhounds that are a balance of strength and beauty in equal measure. I want to breed Greyhounds that are extremely beautiful without ever being extreme. Muscle is called for more than anything else in our standard—how can anyone ignore that mandate as a breeder or a judge? And yet, the working gait of the breed is the gallop, so the strength must be tempered by grace, nobility and the look of speed—more Thoroughbred than Quarter Horse. We won’t see the Greyhounds gallop in the show ring, but they must look like they could! I want my dogs to have no extremes: not too low, too high, too long, too short, too flat, too arched, too heavy, too slight. I don’t care if I have the biggest dog in the ring, or the smallest dog in the ring. This is not a prey-specific breed, so size is less of an issue than quality. It’s a breed of make and shape—that classic silhouette simply must be present. I want a Greyhound with the core of a purposeful athlete, then covered in chrome for fanciness and the look of the “companion of kings.” That said, I also really want vitality. The dogs should have long, healthy, active lives with optimistic and social minds.

How many Greyhounds do you typically house? Tell us about your current facilities and how the dogs are maintained.

I have six adult Greyhounds now, from age two to age 11, four girls and two boys. We’ve had up to 11 adults. Our dogs have always been companions, living in the house with us, sharing our lives. I can’t imagine them in a kennel—I’d miss them too much. The most important part of my “facility” is the 15 perimeter fenced acres that are the Greyhounds’ playground. We walk at least an hour a day, the dogs loose to run, trot, hunt, play or walk at my side. In the winter, we are in the woods and the dogs explore and jump over fallen trees. In the summer, we’re in the large open pasture. Forty years on, nothing thrills me like watching them 
gallop together.

Below: Litter sisters Reba and Leah, winning WB and RWB at the GCA Specialty in 1991. Ch. Lochinvar Leaps & Bounds and Ch. Lochinvar Lasting Impression—slightly different variations in length and scope, but with such femininity and fanciness, and both very good with their legs. (Ch. My-Adventure X Ch. Lochinvar Light the Way, Fld. Ch.)

Who were/are some of your most significant dogs, both in the whelping box and in the show ring?

My best-known dog has been Ch. Lochinvar Light the Way. Reba won two National Specialties, breeder/owner-handled, and numerous Group placements, as well as Best of Breed at The Garden. She changed my life in so many ways. She loved showing and traveling, but her friends know what a fabulous mind she had and how much fun she was. Ch. Lochinvar Fluorescent Sonata, SC was not very well known, but he has been very important in my breeding program. He finished easily as a puppy in a handful of shows but he was not a show dog. He loved to run and was a terrific athlete, courser and hunting dog. He was the grandson of my first Greyhound, Ch. Kingsmark Spitfire, and he had both Punky and Guld in his pedigree. I most often use old dogs, so their pedigrees can go back in time pretty quickly, especially through frozen semen. Flurry produced two Group winners for Ellen Lowdermilk, and then 16 years after he was gone, Sari Rantanen used him in Finland on her BIS bitch, Muusa. Flurry was also the grandsire of Kris Coralluzo’s great top-winning dog in Australia, Rantalaukan Jattilaisboa, bred by Sari. Boa is the sire of the last two litters I’ve had here at home. As much as it’s more common to have one’s breeding program go forward through the bitches, my own breedings have been more focused on the dogs. I breed so infrequently that the luxury of using a 12-year-old male, or very old frozen semen, has made it possible to maintain a bloodline through the males more than through my girls. When my husband was ill with Parkinson’s Disease, there was a long gap in breeding here at home. I was so lucky to get Flurry’s daughter, Rantalaukan Oselotti, from Sari. And from Göran and Berit Peterson, I got Ch. Atlantic (Ch. Lochinvar Look No Further, SC x Eikica Hotfoot Hella), with BIS winners in the litter, and high praise from Göran in his assessment of Quinn (Atlantic) as a paragon of type.

Right: Ch. Atlantic finished in a handful of shows, all specialties and supported entries, shown by Cindy Kelly. Bred by Göran Bodegård and Berit Peterson in Sweden (Ch. Lochinvar Look No Further, SC X Ch. Eikica Hotfoot Hella) 

 

Please comment positively on your breed’s present condition and what trends might bear watching.

The only positive comment I can make about trends in the breed would be the beginning of the World Congress. The first one in Norway in 2017 was a fabulous experience, bringing together fanciers from around the world to discuss the breed. And now there is to be a second one in England in 2021. Perhaps having the chance to meet each other in person, to listen to other breeders and to hear the latest science can all be positives for the breed in new practices and ensure that the Congress is not just a social event.

Below: It’s crucial to how I think my Greyhounds should live to have at least an hour a day to be outside together as a pack. They develop their minds, their bodies, their manners and their relationships. The old dogs teach the young dogs what our pack culture is.

 

The sport has changed greatly since you began as a breeder-exhibitor. What are your thoughts on the state of the fancy and the declining number of breeders? How do we encourage newcomers to join us and remain in the sport?

I wish I could be more optimistic about the changes in the breed over the 45 years I’ve been in it. Entries are down. Specialties are smaller and no longer as “special.” Our 2019 National had only about 40 entries. Fewer individual breeders are still involved, with fewer prefixes forming the entries and the breeding stock. This is a dangerous and disturbing trend. Dr. Barbara Kessler presented an important talk at the Congress about “Matador Sires”; the damage that can come from having genetic bottlenecks because people gravitate to the same few prefixes, the same big winners, and overlook good choices for their bitches in favor of prominent dogs. Recently people have explained to me that they chose a popular sire for their bitch so it would be easier to sell her puppies than if the sire were lesser known. When we look at 10 generations of a pedigree and see how many times the same dogs appear, and how many different pedigrees have the same dogs over and over, it’s no wonder why we have new health problems confronting the breed. I don’t personally see the racing population as a solution for breeding predictable classic type, and without introducing new health problems we may not imagine. How many show breeders can truly know the dogs in a racing pedigree, or truly know their health? On a more superficial level, what on earth is going on with ears? Suddenly so many Greyhounds have ears that hang like wet washcloths from the side of the skull. Large, heavy ears that don’t rose at all. I don’t remember this until the last few years and now it’s common.

Below:  Ch. Lochinvar Fluorescent Sonata was one of the best athletes I’ve had. He could run forever and was a great hunter, with or without the pack. Flurry finished as a puppy and was almost never shown. His strength was as a sire, with his pedigree full of Markus, Punky, Kingsmark Bittersweet and their quality came through. (Ch. Lochinvar Living Well, Fld. Ch. X Ch. El-Aur Bright Adventure.)

 

Where do you see your breeding program in the next decade or two?

It’s a hard thing not to become addicted to breeding dogs. I love thinking about Greyhounds and raising puppies is my absolute favorite joy in the world. However, I’m determined to be realistic about how much an old lady with two artificial hips can do for active baby puppies, or for dogs I’ve bred who may find their circumstances change through no fault of their own. I hope to have one final litter and then ask my friends to promise to do an intervention if I talk about breeding ever again!

Below: Old friends, Gloria and Göran in Lompoc.

Finally, tell us a little about Maureen outside of dogs… your profession, your hobbies.

Dog shows have never been my focus, but living with my dogs has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life. I love to read, to travel, and to hear live music. We had season tickets to Duke basketball for 30 years and I’m a college hoophead. If friends let me near a museum they know they’ll have to drag me back out. I retired to take care of my husband Bob when he got ill, and sold my business. Walking my dogs, thinking about Greyhounds, writing the occasional article about Greyhounds, and visiting friends all over the country and the world who share the passion for Greyhounds—those are my favorite ways to enjoy the passage of time. 

 

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