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An interview with....
Stephanie Steinbrecher of Southampton Toy Poodles
(This interview conducted at the home of Stephanie Steinbrecher in August of 2000 by Alona Robison. Permission to reprint granted by Stephanie Steinbrecher)

Tell me when and how you got started in dogs?

The way I got into Poodles was I was a refugee and my father and I left Germany in 1938. My mother stayed behind because my grandmother was dying. She was to join us later. Unfortunately, my grandmother died and by the time Mother was to join us, it was too late to get out of Germany. She ended up in a concentration camp and I never saw her again. Anyway, we left to live with my uncle and aunt in Portugal. They had no children but they had a little white male Toy Poodle that my uncle had given to my aunt. Before we left, my uncle said to my father, "Look for a little white Toy Poodle female and send her to me," and that's what he did. So by the time we got there, this little white Toy Poodle female had arrived and for two years nothing happened. All of sudden she became pregnant and she had two puppies. From the two puppies we had four puppies and five puppies and six puppies! By the time I got there, there were all fourteen of them. Fourteen little white Poodles running around the house. They weren't crated because they were my aunt's children. I had to walk them all. I said, "I'm never going to have Poodles," but I did love the dogs.

I came over to the United States with the Children's transport. I lived in different foster homes but nobody had any dogs. When I was married I always wanted a dog but couldn't afford one. We then moved to our second home. I called around and found a breeder, Mrs. Lovekin. She bred Toy Poodles and some other breeds, but mostly Toy Poodles. She gave me a dog on breeders terms. I loved that little dog! It was a beautiful little black female with a little bow around her neck. I had three children at the time and was living in a new development. Unfortunately, someone left the door open and she ran across the street and got killed. That was the end of my little puppy

For a long time I didn't have any dogs. I saved my money and ended up getting another Toy Poodle, but it was just a pet. I had a dance studio for 23 years and you really can't mix dancing with showing dogs because you have to concentrate on one first and then the other. I couldn't handle both of them at the same time. As I was going to sell my dance studio, I had acquired more dogs and I wanted to show. Of course, I had Poodles that weren't the greatest for the show ring, but I didn't know that, I was just starting out. I finally ended up with some white Toy Poodles from Joan McCallum's Jobre' line for breeding. In the beginning, I wasn't successful with showing anything. I purchased a male from the Jobre' line I called Romeo. Romeo became my first champion. Ch. Stoney Creek Scorpio was finished by Dennis McCoy.

After going to the dog shows a while, I had observed different types of Poodles in the ring. I always liked the Baliwick line. I loved their look. I always said that if I could afford it, I would buy a Baliwick bitch. It was really difficult because at that time I still didn't have much money to speak of and show dogs were very expensive. And if you tried to buy into some good dogs it was very difficult. I was just lucky one time. I called Ianthe Bloomquist, Baliwick Poodles, and I told her that I was looking for a show female. She said, "Oh, I know someone, Denise Hood is going out of breeding and maybe you can get her dogs." They checked me out. I couldn't just get them. Apparently they said, "Okay, we'll take a chance on her," and I got three females. One was five years old and the other two were two years old and they were good quality bitches. One was a little brown female and one was her mother. The younger bitch I called Pumpkin, Pendragon Plum Pretty, and she was the daughter of Top Producer Ch. Baliwick Belefonte. The five year old was Foxey, Pendragon Foxy Wench. As soon as I got these bitches they came into season so I bred them. I went to Fran Edwards, Kened, who had a beautiful black champion that was mostly Baliwick breeding called Ch. Kened's Black Gambit. He was her main stud dog. He was a beautiful dog. I remember seeing him at our club, the William Penn Poodle Club. I think he may have finished there. He was a gorgeous dog. I bred Pumpkin to Gambit and I had two bitch puppies and I kept one. I should have kept them both. I bred the other bitch to one of her other studs but the best puppy was the one that I kept. That bitch became my first black homebred champion, "Jessie," Ch. Southampton Esprit D'Amour. She was finished by Gail Wolaniuk.

Now I needed a male to breed to my bitches. I went to Maureen Wyndham, Laurelbury Poodles, to see if she would sell me one of her males. Every year she used to come to the Poodle Club of America show which was at Ludwig's Corner at the time. That was when all the mobile homes were there and you would visit. It was really very nice. Of course the weather was not the greatest all the time but we had a lot of fun. We could sit and talk with each other, everybody was there, they brought their puppies, you could see what everybody had and it was a very homey atmosphere. Everybody had a good time. So Maureen brought this litter of puppies and I said, "Can I have this one?" She said, "No, you can't have that one, that's sold." I would say, "That one?" She would say, "No, you can't have that one, that's sold." So finally she got to this smaller puppy that wasn't spoken for. She let me purchase this little male that I named Charley. Charley was my first black male champion. Ch. Laurelbury Cheers Fo' Charley was finished by Gail Wolaniuk. Charley bred to Foxy produced Kor. Ch. Southampton Dear T' My Heart and Am. Ch. Southampton Jewel of D' Nile. Charley bred to Jessie produced "Ace," Am. Ch. Southampton Ace In Spades (TP sire of fifteen American champions before being sold to Japan), and a repeat breeding, Southampton Royal Flush, (champion producer and sire of the top Poodle in France). Charley became a Top Producer, sire of seven champions. Other Charley champions include Ch. Paperbirch Five Fo' Phylicia, Ch. Branca's Hagimaki Samurai, Ch. Blue Ribbon Midnight Jamboree and Can. Ch. Southampton Hershey's Kiss.

Unfortunately, I made so many mistakes; I should have kept some of these dogs but I didn't. I sold Dear to My Heart, I think he went to Asia and became top dog there. But before he left, I bred him to Esprit D'Amour, Jessie, and I got Ch. Southampton Bali-Hi ToJour, TP dam of six champions and my Swedish Ch. Southampton Kiss N'Tell, sore of over 60 champions in Europe. Kiss N'Tell, "KT," is probably one of my most successful dogs. He became one of the most influential sires in Europe. In fact, at PCA this past year they had speakers. One of the speakers was from Sweden, Anders Rosell who puts out a Norwegian Poodle magazine. He talked about the top dogs in general and KT was one of them. It was just on a chance that he went to Sweden. It was funny because I liked him a lot when he was born, he and his brother. I tried to finish him. I gave him to Dennis McCoy. Well, he was a little big so Dennis showed him and everybody was measured because of him so we stopped showing him. I knew that in Europe you could show dogs that were bigger and I'm thinking, "What could I do? How could I get in touch with somebody who might want this dog? He's such a nice dog!" So at PCA that year, he was only one year old, somebody said, "Why don't you go to the Swedish contention? They're here, why don't you talk to them?" I had my dog with me and I went up to this guy who was a Swedish handler, Tommy Ostman, I said, "Would you be interested in my dog?" And he said, "Well, let me see your dog." He watched him and he said, "Yes, I would be interested in your dog. I have to go back to Sweden first and arrange for a quarantine," because Sweden has a four-month quarantine. So he went back to Sweden and he wrote me and told me that he was terminally ill. On his trip to the United States he was saying good-bye to all his friends he made while studying with Michael Pawasarat. After a few months KT went to Sweden and lived with Tommy's client, Gun Hallberg and he became a Swedish and International champion. Before KT went to Sweden he was bred to Pumpkin and produced Ch. Southampton Able To Succeed, "Abey", and his brother Caine. Caine went to Thailand and became a top dog in that country. Abey became a Top Producer in this country, sire of eight champions.

My other famous dog is Ch. Southampton Ace In Spades. Ace was shown at Ludwig's Corner PCA in the Puppy classes by Gail Wolaniuk. Sandra Collins, Franco Poodles, was at the show that year from California. Sandra bought Ace thinking he would be good to breed to her line. The dog went back to California. I thought he was going to be shown. I kept saying to Sandra, "When are you going to show this dog?" Then he had an accident and broke his leg. The dog was being used at stud and producing very well. He became a popular stud in the area. It was around this time that Sharon Stevens, Sharbelle, had been using Ace. She liked the dog a lot. Finally what happened was that Ace already had three or four champions and Sharon said to Sandra, "Look, give me the dog. I will grow coat on him again and I will show him and we will co-own the dog," so that's what she did. She grew coat on him and I think he was finished in about a month. The show where I think he finished was back at PCA, Ludwig's Corner, Pennsylvania. He was shown by Art Montoya and went WD for a five-point major. That was really a big thrill for me to see! But what they did is that as soon as he was finished, the Japanese snapped him up. He was only here six months after he finished. He could have been one of the top dogs in this country. He had fifteen champions before he left.

Another dog that did well for me was Ch. Southampton One Touch O'Class, "Ramona." Kaz Hosaka was my primary handler and he finished Romona. He said to me when she was a puppy, "You know, she's got specials possibilities." I couldn't afford to put her out full-time so I had to put her out part-time like a filler and she did really well with him. But then Brenda Elmer wanted her really badly and said, "Let me have her! Let me have her!" Since Kaz was getting another special, I let Brenda have Ramona. Ramona stayed with her for several years and she did very well. I think, at the PCA regionals was was Best Of Opposite one day and she got Variety the next day. She got Best In Show wins, I believe, in Canada and she did a lot of winning. She also got Best Of Opposite at PCA. She was also at Westminster three times. The first time she got Award of Merit and then she got two Bests of Opposite. Ramona stayed with Brenda for quite awhile and Brenda bred her to Ch. Foxmore Billy Royal. Brenda co-owns Ramona with me but she's the one who showed her and has had most of the experiences. From the first breeding only one little bitch puppy survived. That little girl became Ch. Southampton One Touch O'Venus, "Laura". We repeated that breeding and the second time we had two puppies. Brenda kept the girl and finished her, Ch. Southampton Touched By A Star. I got the boy and he finished His name is Ch. Southampton One Touch O'Magic. He's now just two years old and producing really nice puppies.

There was a little brown bitch I thought was going to be a teacup that Ch. Fantasy Wild Card, an Ace son and Jessie, Espirit D'Amour produced. I sold her as a pet. The lady who bought her wasn't able to keep her and returned her to me. I really liked this little bitch. She got bigger than I thought. She got normal sized. I thought she was show quality and she could finish. I was able to make her an American and Canadian champion. Her full name was Am/Can Ch. Southampton Chocolate Joy and her call name was "Chloe." I bred her several times to Ch. Kened's Cartier, who is owned by Pete Phillips. Fran Edwards sold Pete Phillips this dog. Claude was a Gambit son. I send my bitches up there. This little Chloe was sent to Claude. I think she had one puppy and that was a big puppy! I remember she couldn't pass it. I had to rush her to the vet and I said, "That puppy has to be dead, absolutely must be dead!" They pulled it out and he was alive! That puppy was so adorable, it was a darling puppy, I loved him dearly! I said, "I'm showing this dog!" Kaz Hosaka finished him as a puppy really fast. His name was Ch. Southampton Special Blend, "Noah." Brenda Elmer showed Noah to his Canadian championship and specialed him for a short time. I had an offer to sell him to Japan. Noah was shown at PCA and the buyers saw him and liked him. Before he left I was able to breed him to two bitches. They were "Abey" daughters. I was also able to collect sperm, which is still in the sperm bank. The one bitch Pheobe had four puppies. Out of those four puppies I was obligated to sell two as pets but the other two became champions. I kept one puppy. He became Ch. Southampton Notorious Rake. He was finished as an American champion with Kaz and then I sent him to Canada and he finished there, all as a puppy. I have him now. He's only two years old. He already produced two champions. Ch. Southampton Carolyn Dakota and Ch. Southampton Flirt'N at Kays. The other puppy was sold to Kay Volpe. He got all his points at the regionals in one weekend and only needed four singles. Ch. Southampton Image of Noah at Kays, finished like hotcakes! From the other bitch Sable there were two puppies. One of which became Ch. Southampton Bonnie Bedelia. I also forgot to mention that fact that there were two dogs that I sold to Ruthanne Plain in Texas. Ch. Southampton Classic Gambler and Ch. Southampton Trail Blazer, both Abey sons. I think they are also Top Producers.

I also liked the reds very much. I bought a little red male from Rosalind Pierce who was finished by Gail Wolaniuk. His name was Ch. Rosalines Red Oliver. My friends, Ma\e Dennison and Pat Lorenz, and I bought a red Pamper's dog from Janet Rider that was finished by Kaz Hosakea. He is Ch. Rider's Lil Bit O'Fire. He is still standing at stud. He's nine years old now an lives with Mae Dennison. He's still producing very well but I am still looking for a red male that I can put in the ring.

You have dogs all around the world.

That's true. There are dogs in Sweden, Norway, France Thailand, Japan, and Hungary.

So then who would you figure was your best show dog? Or most famous?

My best show dog in the United States probably was Southampton One Touch of Class, Ramona. Ch. Southampton Ace In Spades is probably the best known here in the states. He had fifteen champions in the short time he was here. The next dog I would say is Ch. Southampton Able To Succeed who also is a Top Producer. You can't discount Kiss N'Tell who had 60! That's unheard of! He's never going to be forgotten but he was never finished in the States.

What do you think was your best litter?

It's hard to say but I think my best litters were from (Candy) Bali Hi ToJour and (Abey) Able To Succeed. That combination produced six champions together.

Let's talk a little bit about breeding. Do you do hands-on breeding when you breed your bitch?

Yes, I do hands-on breeding.

What about whelping? Do you help the bitches whelp?

Yes, I definitely like to be there.

Do you use any kind of supplements on the bitch to get her ready to be bred?

No, I don't use any supplements on the bitch.

Do you use any supplementation on your puppies?

Oh yes, I do. Sometimes the milk doesn't come in right away and you have to supplement. I've been really successful about supplementing my puppies.

At what age can you start to differentiate between your pets and your shows?

I can usually tell about eight weeks of age if a puppy has potential.

What do you look for?

I look for size, I look for conformation. Most of my dogs are short-backed and have good tailsets, decent heads, good fronts, good rears and good movement.

How do you start getting them ready for the ring?

You need proper coat care. Take them to handling class and make sure they are socialized. My puppies are all outgoing so I don't have a problem with that. They're also sound puppies. Occasionally you have a problem but I've been lucky.

You mentioned proper coat care. Could you explain what the care is?

You should really bathe a coat every week and brush and comb every day. That's basically all I do.

You don't have to wrap?

In the beginning there's not much to wrap, but I do if I have to. I'm not good at scissoring show coats. Usually when I have a show puppy at six months old it goes to the handler.

And they do that for you?

Yes, they are fabulous!

At what age do you let your puppies go home?

That depends. I would say that my puppies are usually ready to go when they are eating well, have two shots and wormed and examined by my vet.

Do you sell with spay-neuter or limited registration on your contract?

Yes, I do.

What advice would you have for novice exhibitors or novice breeders?

The only advice that I can think of is to make sure that you buy from a reputable breeder. If possible take your handler along or have the option to take the puppy to be evaluated.

That's a good point! So you've always used handlers? Have you ever shown them yourself?

In the beginning I tried but it was a total disaster!

What's your advice then for somebody with their first show dog who is going to go and find a handler? You have good handlers. How should they do it?

If you go to dog shows I think you pretty much can tell who the good handlers are. The ones who are good handlers usually always win. I mean all you have to do is look at the dogs and what he shows and how he shows them. The dogs should always be in fabulous condition! You can always talk to someone who has been in it for a long time. I wouldn't use just anybody. It's a big mistake! You try to use the best you can because in the long run it will be worth it to you, to do it that way. If you use somebody that's not reputable then you spend a lot of money and they may not take proper care of your dog, they may keep the dog out forever, so it's really important to find a good handler.

Do you have any interesting or funny stories about any of your dogs? Or any of your friends and their dogs? Do you have a dog that was your biggest character?

I can't actually say that. All my dogs that I've put out, they just did their thing and I can't think of any funny things.

Is there an AKC video on the Poodle?

I have several videos. I have the ones from the Poodle Club of America shows and I also have the ones from Sweden and Norway that are very interesting. Most of the people in Sweden who own dogs also show and groom their dogs. Very seldom do they actually have handlers.

Is there an official AKC Poodle Video?

Yes. I would think that's the AKC video approved by Poodle Club of America on the Poodle standard.

Do you think the parent club or AKC are doing all they can to train the new judges in the breed?

I'm not sure because I've never actually talked to a judge or was really friendly with a judge to see what kind of training they're doing. Most judges do a good job but I don't feel that every judge is a fair judge.

Who do you think goes on to make a better judge, a breeder or a handler?

I would say, maybe, a breeder would. That's my opinion. Because if you breed the dogs maybe you would have a perspective about things.

Do you think that only breeders should judge at specialties? Or does it matter to you? For instance, should a Poodle breeder judge a Poodle specialty?

It would be a good thing if a Poodle breeder judged a specialty show. I would say maybe if the judge has been in it long enough and sees a lot of different Poodles, maybe he would be as knowledgeable as a breeder-judge.

That's probably true, I would agree with you. Do you think the Poodle standard is a good one or does it need to be improved on anywhere?

The standard for the Poodle is not bad. The only thing I don't like is the tail at the angle, I'd rather see the tail up at 12 o'clock.

Would you describe what the right Poodle looks like?

Maybe there's no such thing as a right Poodle! Usually the long face comes with the longer body and Kaz always says to me, "Poodles don't walk on their heads," but it's nice to have a longer muzzle with a smaller eye and a nice compact body. I don't like to feel the backbone. I like a nicely round dog, a really compact dog. I like a good front. Also I like a square look. Not ultra-short but balanced. I also like a good angulated rear. But nothing is perfect.

Which breeders have contributed a lot to the Poodles over the years? Or who were mentors of yours?

Ianthe Bloomquist started the Baliwick line and I love that line. Maureen Wyndham, Laurelbury, certainly is going strong with whatever she does and she has great-looking dogs; I still like her dogs a lot. I can thank both of them for my good fortune in breeding black Toys. I know that Sharon Stevens has magnificent Standards and has done a lot in the Toys, too. She has some beautiful Toys! Janet Reed, Foxmore, has very nice dogs. I also like Gloria Catalino's Excell dogs. She has part of my breeding but I like her dogs. Another one I just thought of is Cin-Don. She has very nice dogs.

Have you ever done any judging or thought of doing any judging?

No. I don't think I would want to. First of all, I'm not thrilled about traveling from one place to another like you do. I couldn't do that. Maybe I would have done it if I were younger.

Is there anything in Poodles today you think is either an improvement over before or is going the other direction that you need to watch?

If you look at the pictures of the Poodles years ago and now, it's a big improvement. I love the Poodles that we breed now. It's a totally different look especially the coat and the grooming.

Is there anything in Poodles now that we need to keep an eye on or improve on?

You always have to keep an eye on things like PRA.

Is that a problem?

Yes, very bad!

I wasn't aware of that.

That's what everybody's afraid of. Truly I would say that you don't come across it as much now, at least not to my knowledge like you did years ago. You don't hear about it that much. It must be there. Also people don't talk about it. If you have it you try not to say anything about it because it's not something that you really want to spread around. I'm always afraid. Every year I get my dogs' eyes checked. Knock wood so far, I've been very lucky, but it could happen to anyone at any time because they haven't yet perfected the test that will show who are the carriers.

Are there any other particular health problems that Poodles have?

Yes, there are the autoimmune diseases, as always, skin problems, stifles, Legg-Perthe's disease, and those kinds of things.

As far as advertising, do you think advertising influences judges?

I never talked to a judge about these things but when I was showing my special, Brenda always used to feel that it does. You have to advertise. You have to have your picture in front of the judges because they are going to look at these pictures and I would think that it definitely makes a difference. The more that the picture of your dog is out there in front of the judges the better the chance the judge will remember your dog in the ring.

So now you have eight-week-old puppies. Any show potentials?

Yes, there are but I won't be showing them. I'm really sorry about that.

Do you have any children?

Yes, I have three children and ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Oh my gosh! Are any of them interested in Poodles or show dogs?

You know, not one! In fact, they resent my dogs because they say, "The dogs are more important to you than we are." Well, I do love my dogs. I enjoyed all the time I have spent with them. I made a lot of good friends and I've enjoyed showing my dogs. It has been a very exciting and informative life.

Any pet peeves that you want to talk about? Any soapboxes that you want to climb on?

Not really. I think we pretty much covered everything.

The following are some of my dogs and their get:

Ch. Laurelbury Cheers Fo' Charley:--Ch. Southampton Ace In Spades, Kor. Ch. Southampton Dear T' My Heart, Ch. Southampton Jewel Of D'Nile, Ch. Paperbirch Five Fo' Phylicia, Ch. Branca's Hagimake Samurai, Ch. Blue Ribbon Midnight Jamboree, Can. Ch. Southampton Hershey Kiss, Southampton Royal Flush.

Ch. Kened's Black Gambit:--Ch. Southampton Esprit D' Amour (Ch. Southampton Ace In Spades, Ch. Southampton Bali-Hi ToJour, Sw. Ch. Southampton Kiss N' Tell, Ch. Southampton Chocolate Joy).

Pendragon Plum Pretty:--Ch. Southampton Esprit D' Amour, Ch. Southampton Able To Succeed.

Pendragon Foxy Wench:--Kor. Ch. Southampton Dear T'My Heart (Sw. Ch. Southampton Kiss 'N Tell, Ch. Southampton Bali-Hi ToJour), Ch. Southampton Jewel Of The Nile.

Ch. Southampton Esprit D' Amour:--Ch. Southampton Chocolate Joy.

Ch. Southampton Able To Succeed (son of Sw. Ch. Southampton Kiss 'N Tell):--Ch. Southampton Classic Gambler, Ch. Southampton's Hot To Trot, Ch. Southampton's Trail Blazer, Ch. Southampton Bronze Medallion, Ch. Southampton One Touch O'Class, Ch. Southampton Dynamic Dynamo, Ch. Paperbirch Success Story.

Ch. Southampton Bali-Hi ToJour:--Ch. Southampton Classic Gambler, Ch. Southampton's Hot to Trot, Ch. Southampton's Trail Blazer, Ch. Southampton Bronze Medallion, Ch. Southampton One Touch O'Class, Ch. Southampton Dynamic Dynamo.

Ch. Southampton Hot To Trot:--Ch. Southampton La Femme Nikkita, Ch. Southampton's Black Miracle.

Ch. Kened's Cartier:--Ch. Southampton Special Blend, Ch. Southampton La Femme Nikkita, Ch. Southampton's Black Miracle, Ch. Southampton Special Blend II, Ch. Southampton Unique Monique.

Ch. Fantasy's Wild Card (Ace son):--Ch. Southampton Chocolate Joy.

Ch. Southampton Chocolate Joy:--CH. Southampton Special Blend, Ch. Southampton Special Blend II, Ch. Southampton Unique Monique.

Ch. Southampton Special blend:--Ch. Southampton Image of Noah At Kays, Ch. Southampton Notorious Rake.

Southampton Little Dividend (Abey daughter):--Ch. Southampton Image of Noah At Kays, Ch. Southampton Notorious Rake.

Ch. Southampton One Touch O'Class:--Ch. Southampton One Touch O'Magic, Ch. Southampton One Touch O'Venus, Ch. Southampton Touched By A Star.

Thank you very much for your time.

You're welcome.

(I prefer phone calls!)