ShowSight Interviews Cindy Cooke, Anstamm Scottish Terriers
by Allan Reznik
From the May 2018 Issue of ShowSight. CLICK TO SUBSCRIBE
*PHOTO GALLERY 1) Ch. Anstamm Heatwave winning breed from the classes at Montgomery 1988 under breeder-judge James Reynolds, 2) Korea with two military working dogs and their handlers, 3) Bronze GCH Anstamm Tansy Takes Off and breeder-judge Laurie Herd. 4) GCh. Anstamm Wild West going BOS to Sadie at Montgomery
1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the Air Force. My dad was a pilot and we moved constantly. The longest place I lived in my childhood was four wonderful years
2. Do you come from a doggy family? And if not, how did the interest in breeding and showing dogs begin?
I grew up in a family where everyone loved dogs, and we always had a family dog. Our first was a black-and-tan Dachshund named “Jake.” Jake came down with distemper—the vaccine was only discovered in1950—and, despite my mother’s round-the-clock nursing, he suffered such terrible neurological damage that he had to be euthanized. When we moved to Germany, my young parents spent money we didn’t have to ship our second Dachshund overseas to join us. (Uncle Sam didn’t pay for luxuries like that in 1955.) “Herman” succumbed to a spinal issue and left our family
Luckily, there was a rare childless couple in our squadron who had the first Miniature Schnauzer I had ever seen. “Schatze” was so smart I could phone Mrs. Holiday and she would put the phone to the dog’s ear. In response to my “Come here!” command over the phone, Schatze would run out of her apartment and over to ours for an afternoon of play.
When we got back to America, my parents bought a Miniature Schnauzer from a classified ad in the newspaper. She was a great dog. I didn’t realize until decades later when I came across her registration certificate that she was a daughter of the great Miniature Schnauzer sire, Ch. Marwyck Pitt-Penn Pirate! When I was in law school, I put a deposit down on a Miniature Schnauzer puppy and waited for my new puppy to be old enough to come home.
3. Was it Scottish Terriers from the start for you, or were you involved in other breeds first?
It never occurred to me to buy a Scottish Terrier. The first Scottie I gave any thought to belonged to a family who lived across the street from my feisty, little dog-loving grandmother. She complained regularly about how “those people” let their puppy run loose. Shortly after my last visit to her, she called me and announced that she was sending the little dog to me. Apparently, her neighbor grew tired of her bringing the dog home almost daily and the accompanying lectures on proper dog care. “If you like the damned dog so much, Mrs. Hall, you can keep him,” were the owner’s last words to her before slamming the door.
The dog arrived on a flight from Tulsa and I had a problem. I thought he was the ugliest thing I had ever seen, plus I really wanted that Schnauzer puppy. Luckily, the Schnauzer lady kindly returned my deposit, and the little Scottie began to worm his way into my heart. Sadly, he died suddenly from an aneurism and I was devastated. Like most pet owners back then, I went straight to the classified ads and called a local Scottie breeder, Eleanor Ryan.
Eleanor was what many people would now call a “backyard” breeder. To me, though, she was unfailingly kind and shared everything she knew about the breed. I was to discover that there was much she didn’t know, but her errors came from ignorance, not malice. The litter was still nursing, but she let me come and visit until I was allowed to take him home at six weeks of age. His sire was a champion and his dam was a Doktor’s pet shop bitch.
The first thing that stood out about “Bobby” was his bad temper. When I put a collar on him, he went nuts. He growled and showed his little teeth, biting furiously at his neck. Eleanor assured me “that’s how Scotties act.” As he matured, grooming shop after grooming shop refused to take him. I joined a local Terrier club so I could learn to groom him myself. A very kind Wire Fox Terrier breeder, Fredda Rothlein, took me under her wing and taught me to strip him. She also taught me that if I didn’t take charge of him, he was on his way to becoming dangerous.
Fredda took me to a puppy match where my mean, ugly little dog, sporting a plaid show lead, won a ribbon from judge Harry Sebel. I was hooked. I showed Bobby for about a year without success.
In the meantime, I sent a list of all the books ever written about Scottish Terriers to a “book finder” in New York City. His job was to prowl antique book stores and buy books requested by clients. I read every book thoroughly so I was a font of book learning when I first saw “Sadie.” Sadie was an 8-month-old bitch named Dunbar’s Southern Dancer, shown by Rick and Debbie Fowler. She took my breath away. She was sired by Miriam “Buffy” Stamm’s Ch. Anstamm Happy Venture, then the breed’s leading sire. I announced to my friends in the Terrier club that I was going to buy a Happy Venture daughter of my own. Their response was, “Don’t get your hopes up.”
4. Who were your mentors in the sport? How did your partnership with “Buffy” begin?
I called Buffy on the phone and told her who I was and said that I wanted to buy a brindle, show-quality Happy Venture daughter. Buffy was lovely on the phone, but the conversation was mostly me babbling and her politely trying to say that she didn’t have anything for me. “That’s OK. I can’t pay $1,000 right now anyway, so I’ll send you $100 a month.” She was still saying, “I don’t think so,” when I hung up.
I sent her a check and a chatty letter each month until in February of 1978, she asked if I could meet her in Kansas City at the Heart of America Scottie specialty. Wearing a plaid pant suit (sadly, there are pictures of me in that ghastly outfit), I met Buffy and my first Anstamm Scottish Terrier, Anstamm Happy Adventuress. “Fanny” won the Sweeps and Buffy and I talked all day. The next day, she asked me if I had a kennel name. “Oh yes,” I told her. “Well,” she said, “my husband and I had no children and I’ve been looking for someone I could teach to eventually take over the ‘Anstamm’ name. Would you be interested in that?” I agreed on the spot. (I subsequently offered my original kennel name to my friend, Polly O’Neal, who now uses it on her Belfire Norwich Terriers.)
5. The Anstamm Scottish Terriers are known and admired around the world. What breeding philosophies do you adhere to?
Anstamm was that rare kennel based on stud dogs instead of brood bitches. Buffy offered her clients access to her winning and top-producing sires in return for a stud fee or a second-pick puppy. Many, particularly new breeders, were happy to give her a second-pick puppy because they knew that she would finish the dog if it was worthy. Those second-pick puppies consistently provided enough genetic diversity that we could safely do half-brother/half-sister or grandparent/
Changing times, however, forced us to make some drastic changes. In 2000, a new genetic disorder, cerebellar abiotrophy (CA), was discovered in Scottish Terriers. Just about the time that “Sadie” (Ch. Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot) was starting her rise to the top, her sire, Ch. Anstamm Like A Rock (“Chevy”), produced a puppy affected with CA. At that time, our stud force included Chevy (much in demand because of Sadie’s success), and three of his sons, who had all finished with important specialty wins. Following the recommendation of Dr. Jerold Bell, the
geneticist who was advising our parent club on how to reduce the incidences of CA until a DNA test became available, we posted Chevy’s name on a registry of known carriers and removed him from our breeding program. Just that fast, we were essentially out of the stud dog game because people were too frightened to use Chevy’s sons and grandsons. There were even breeders who wouldn’t let us breed Sadie’s sisters to their dogs.
At the same time we were dealing with this new genetic issue, the Scottish Terrier breed was facing an even worse problem. Our numbers were plummeting. Since the 1970s, the number of Scottish Terriers registered with the AKC had plummeted from more than 10,000 dogs a year to about 1,300—a 90% drop. If we were going to keep going, we had to make some changes. We could no longer depend on nearby or even US-located breeders to have outcross sires available with the specific traits and overall quality we needed. I can also no longer linebreed as much as we did before because we no longer have as many out-crossed bitches—those wonderful second-pick girls—that we had in the past to keep a healthy level of genetic diversity.
The first major outcross I did was to a young stud dog belonging to Deborah Brookes, Ch. Deblin’s Just Talkin’. He produced a number of
specialty winners and good-producing offspring. I have also had wonderful success using an outstanding Filisite Brash dog from Valentina Popova in Russia, and two excellent stud dogs from Al and Jeanie Jennings in California. My bitches include Hillview (Janet Bartholomew), Benscot (Elizabeth Hernandez), and of course, Maryscot
(Mary O’Neal) bloodlines.
I travel more to the UK and Europe to see what lines I might like to incorporate in the future. The primary problem with shopping out of the country is that the dog culture outside of the United States is, for the most part, much less inclined to openly address genetic health issues. There is still a tendency for foreign breeders to attack anyone who acknowledges a problem, so few are brave enough to speak out. Last year, just before Crufts, there was a wonderful international conference of Scottie breeders and I believe that events like these will help the overseas breeders see that there is life after acknowledging a health problem in your dogs.
6. How many Scottish Terriers do you typically keep at Anstamm? Tell us about your current facilities and how the dogs are maintained.
We normally keep between 15 and 25 dogs. Buffy Stamm and her husband Anthony built the house/kennel in 1952. Buffy insisted that she did not want a separate kennel building. Being very short-statured, Buffy told her husband that she did not intend to trudge back and forth to the kennel through deep snow in the winter. As a result, they built a quad-level house with a basement below ground, a partially earth-sheltered kennel above that, the great room and kitchen on the third
level, and finally, the bedrooms upstairs. The kennel consists of 12 indoor/outdoor runs. The covered outdoor runs are concrete and canted downward to a drain so they dry quickly. The floors of the indoor runs are elevated so that you don’t have to reach down to your feet in order to pick up a dog. The males and visiting bitches are kept in the kennel. Grooming and bathing and treadmill workouts (dogs, not me) are done in
The kitchen and great room have slate floors and, after weaning, puppies grow up in pens scattered throughout the living area. Puppies are whelped in the upstairs guest bedroom.
The back yard consists of a fenced acre where the house dogs can exercise. Beyond that are 22 acres of woodland that serves as a sound barrier.
7. Who were some of your most significant dogs, both in the whelping box and in the show ring?
Anstamm kennels had a multitude of great dogs in the three decades before I came on the scene, so I will limit my list to the significant dogs after 1977. My first truly great dog was Ch. Anstamm Heat Wave. After winning the Montgomery sweeps in 1987 at six months of age, she finished in 1988 by going BOW at the Chicago and New York specialties, and Best of Breed from the classes at Montgomery County under breeder-judge Jim Reynolds. Thirty years later, this was still the best day of my life. Tempest went on to be the No. 1 Scottie all systems in 1989, winning my first Best in Show and two more national specialty Bests of Breed. She was my first all-systems No. 1 Scottish Terrier.
Ch. Anstamm Low Commotion was my next big special and my second No. 1 all-systems Scottie. To give you some idea of what that means in my breed, since 1969, only two owner-handlers have earned that status—Buffy Stamm and me.
Both Heat Wave and Low Commotion won the STCA’s most prominent trophy, the Lloyd Memorial Trophy. In 1994, I won the Lloyd again with Ch. Anstamm Back to the Future.
Sadly, none of those top winners went on to become great producers. Our top sire during those years was Ch. Anstamm Summer Lightning with 51 champions, almost all of which
Our top-producing bitch of this time was one that we co-owned with Mary O’Neal of Maryscot. Mary worked for George Ward and she positively hated to step in the show ring. She bred almost exclusively with Anstamm dogs and we agreed to co-own her dogs and that I would show them for her. I saw a young brindle dog at a show in Maryland and suggested that Mary breed her bitch to him. Together, Helen Prince’s Ch. Princescot High and Mighty and Mary’s Ch. Anstamm On The Rebound produced five champions. One of them would become our top-producing bitch, Ch. Maryscot Painted Black. “Clarise” produced 13 champions. Most of them finished with specialty wins, but the most famous of her offspring was the great Ch. Roundtown Mercedes
At the time Sadie was born, Mary was working for Amelia Musser and Amelia spotted Sadie’s potential at an early age. After finishing her championship, Sadie moved to California to be shown by Gabriel Rangel. Sadie won 112 Bests in Show, the second highest in breed history. She closed out her career by winning Best at Montgomery County Kennel Club in 2009, the National Dog Show in November, the Eukanuba Invitational in December, and Westminster Kennel Club in February 2010.
Our top-winning male in recent years is Ch. Anstamm Wild West, winner of 11 Specialty Bests of Breed and Best of Opposite Sex at three
8. Please comment positively on your breed’s present condition and what trends might bear watching.
One of the biggest problems we have today is that so many of our judges don’t have a strong background in Terriers. Too many are rewarding grooming and showmanship instead of breed type. Worse, those that come from square breeds are rewarding Scotties with backs too short, shoulders too upright and heads way too short.
Most American Scottish Terriers still demonstrate correct temperament, but a growing number of judges neglect or even refuse to spar Scotties in the ring. Without including this important test of temperament, our dogs could lose this essential element of breed type.
9. 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?
Clubs must develop active recruiting programs. I think the place to start is with the home breeders who are already breeding Scotties for the pet market. Many of these people would be breeding better-quality dogs but until very recently, show people pretty much cut them dead. We called them “backyard breeders” and shared nothing with them—not our breeding stock, not our knowledge of good breeding practices and not our knowledge of health issues. They can’t breed better dogs if we don’t help and encourage them. Once we get someone interested in breeding, it’s a little easier to get them excited
When novices enter the ring, we all need to be helpful and encouraging. The first all-breed kennel club that I joined was the Okaloosa Kennel Club in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. Three women took me under their wings there: Charlotte Patterson (Pugs), Tish Keating (Schipperkes) and Barbara Bush (Cocker Spaniels). They gave me jobs to do, they encouraged me and they made me feel so welcome in that club. Most of all, they shared their dog knowledge with me.
New Scottish Terrier exhibitors not only have to learn difficult handling skills with a not-always-cooperative dog, but they also have to master the complex art of Terrier grooming. Judges can be a big help by giving useful feedback to struggling novices and by remembering that our shows are not grooming competitions!
My biggest concern for the future is the gradual disappearance of owner-handlers in my breed. In some cases, they are aging out but the ones who concern me are the ones who no longer believe that the sport has a level playing field. As the oldest owner-handler in Scotties, I’m afraid I have to agree with them. While the situation may be different in the other Groups, owner-handlers rarely win or even place in today’s Terrier Groups. I would say that this trend started in the 1990s, partly, I suspect, due to the rise of advertising in dog publications. The AKC NOHS program may be exacerbating this. To be truthful, many Scottish Terrier owner-handlers feel like judges are throwing them a bone with “Best Owner-Handled” and “Select” ribbons. Just recently, two very successful owner-handlers threw in the towel and put their specials out with handlers. These people breed good dogs and they present them beautifully, but they no longer believe that their dogs are getting a fair shake. Breeders who cannot afford handlers and expensive ads will eventually be squeezed out of the game.
10. What are your plans for Anstamm in the next decade or two?
I just turned 71, so I hope to still be showing dogs in a “decade or two.”
11. Finally, tell us a little about Cindy Cooke outside of dogs... your profession, your hobbies.
I’m a retired Air Force officer. I started as an administrative officer in the bomb “dump” of a tactical fighter wing. The men in my unit were responsible for maintaining the bombs and other munitions regularly carried by fighter aircraft. My next job was as the first Equal Opportunity Officer at Craig AFB in Selma, Alabama—I think of that as my combat tour since Selma was still pretty dangerous for us “outside agitators.” The Air Force sent me to law school and I served as a Judge Advocate for the remainder of my time in service. When I retired, I moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan to work more closely with Buffy. I worked in the Probate Court and then took a job with the United Kennel Club. That was a great learning experience for me. I went hunting with Coonhounds, drove a sled team, designed a weight pull program, wrote breed standards and learned the ins and outs of lobbying on behalf of dog owners. My hobby used to be reading, but once I got into dogs, I found I had almost no time to read. Thank God for audible books that I can listen to while doing my dog work and driving to shows. If you see me at a dog show, I’m nearly always wearing headphones and listening to a book. Please remind me to take the headphones off before I go into the ring!