by Philip Schafmayer
Hi Everyone! I am so excited to be the Public Relations Coordinator & Contributing Editor for The Poodle Network. For anyone who doesn’t know me, I am the crazy redhead that can usually be found behind the scenes at PCA with a comb in one hand, a can of hairspray (or six) in the other and copious amounts of switches strewn around me! When Amy asked me to come on board I jumped at the opportunity. Along with all the other amazing things I get to do with the magazine, I will also be writing this fabulous column in each issue. Here, you can expect to find an eclectic mix of topics ranging from interviews, coverage of grooming shows and any new breed news, to fun facts, juicy tidbits and everything in between! So grab a cup of tea, find a comfy spot, sit back and let’s get started.
For the first installment of my column I was lucky enough to have the chance to pick the brains of two of our very own, Paul and Chrystal Clas PHA. Both parts of this dynamic couple are second generation Poodle breeders. They own and operate Lakeside Kennels Boarding and Grooming facility in Hanover, Pa. In addition to running their boarding and grooming business, Paul and Chrystal are both PHA professional handlers operating Lakeside Professional Handling and working a full-time show schedule. Did I mention that they also have a gorgeous, vibrant seventeen-month-old baby boy, Aiden, who comes to all of the shows with them?
They are truly a remarkable couple, let’s get to know them a little better.
Philip: How long have you/your family been in Poodles? What is your family’s kennel prefix and are your parents still actively breeding?
Chrystal: My mother, Michelle Scott, has been in Poodles since 1986. Her kennel name is Brielle out of Canada. She still has a litter of standard Poodles every couple of years. My mother was also nominated to judge PCA next year.
Paul: Like Chrystal, I also grew up in Poodles. My mother, Joannie, has been breeding Poodles under the Clas Haus prefix since the late 70s, and she still breeds Miniatures. The first PCA that I attended was in 1985.
Philip: How did the two of you meet? How long have you known each other? How is it having two handlers in the same breed; do you find it easier? Do you have similar ideas about the breed and how it should be presented? How do the two of you decide who will campaign what dog?
Paul: We used to see each other at PCA every year. There is actually a video, that we recently saw, of us both competing at PCA in junior handling together. Neither of us won. However, we really met at the York Shows in 2010. We love that we are both Poodle people, it makes the shows more enjoyable because we can fully support and help each other, though we aren’t always nice to each other in the ring LOL. We can be very competitive! I think we both approach the breed in a very similar manner, putting the same emphasis on the things that we find to be important. At the end of the day we support each other and what each of us brings to the handling relationship. When it comes to who campaigns which dog, it really depends upon how each of the dogs relate to us, and who they work the best for. We usually just know.
Philip: So now that your family has grown with the addition of this beautiful little boy, Aiden, how do you guys manage being on the road, campaigning a top dog AND raising a baby? Will Aiden be the third generation of handlers?
Chrystal: It can be very challenging! Luckily we introduced Aiden to shows early and he has become quite the social butterfly. We are very lucky that we always have a lot of support when it comes to having help with watching him. We are not sure if he will follow in our footsteps or not, but I think he will have wonderful experiences growing up in the sport as did we. We want to make sure that he is exposed to a variety of other options in life, so that he can choose what best suits him as he gets older.
Philip: Did either of you apprentice under anyone in the breed? Who are some of the great breeders/handlers you look up to?
Chrystal: I apprenticed in Poodles under Taffe McFadden and Allison (Alexander) Foley. I wish I could have worked for Susan Hillman. Since both Taffe and Allison worked for her I was able to see the results of working for such a talented handler. There are too many great Poodle people that we admire to list them all, though I think anyone who loves Poodles would agree that Annie Rogers Clarke had so much to do with making it the breed that we all love today.
Paul: Outside of my family, I worked for several handlers who were not in Poodles. However, I grew up around many great Poodle handlers on the east coast. I enjoyed watching them and competing with them in the ring. I got to spend a lot of time with Jim Gerard, Alan Waterman and Lew Grello as they often traveled with us or setup with us at shows, even staying at our house at times. I wanted to be the “polite handler” and Alan and Jim were that. Lew kept me in line. My earliest memory of Lew was being yelled at by him for getting into trouble at the shows.
Philip: Who are some of your favorite dogs, past or current?
Chrystal: My favorite Poodle growing up was Rimskittle Ruffian. Her style and the way in which she was shown really influenced how I saw Poodles.
Paul: Being on the east coast, there were two Poodles that stood out to me. The first was the black standard bitch, CH Atalanta Pardon Me Boys “Patsy”. I saw her almost every weekend, she was very stylish and poodley. I also liked the white standard dog CH. Trelarkens Turn Back Time “Bama” that was shown by Alan Waterman. He was a stallion of a dog.
Philip: You guys have a Miniature breeding program of your own. How did you get into that variety? Do you have any promising youngsters coming up? What have been some of the most influential Miniature sires in the breed, in your opinion?
Chrystal: Paul and I were lucky enough that our client, William Lee (Madan) in Taiwan, approached us about breeding Miniature Poodles. He felt that with the quality in the variety here, that it would make more sense for the breeding program to be run here rather than over there. Since then we have had so much fun with the breed. I will be honest, it was not my favorite variety in the beginning, but we have grown to love them as much as the Toys and Standards. They definitely have their own personalities though. As far as promising youngsters go, our last breeding did not take, but we have some wonderful breedings planned in the new year. We are really looking forward to our next generation. In regards to influential stud dogs, when bred with our line, we have found that the Clarion stud dogs have resulted in beautiful puppies for us.
Philip: What features/characteristics do the two of you feel are most important in the breed?
Chrystal: We are really involved in many of our clients’ breeding programs. We are fortunate enough that we usually get to grade the litters and pick our next show dogs. We both put a lot of emphasis on fronts, while still trying to maintain the type and elegance that we like to see in the breed.
Philip: As of the writing of this interview, Siba is currently the Number One Non Sporting dog as well as the Number One Standard Poodle all breed. What are some of the most memorable moments for the two of you thus far in her career?
Chrystal: We have had a really great relationship with Siba’s breeder, Connie Unger (Stone Run). When she brought the litter to us we immediately fell in love with Siba. We have watched her grow up ever since, and she has surpassed all of our expectations! We don’t know what the future will bring but we are excited to be there for the journey. I’m sure I should say one of her wins is my favorite moment with Siba, but she has been with us since before Aiden was born. She was there when he took his first steps and said his first word. Watching the two of them grow up together are definitely my favorite moments.
Philip: Thank you both so much for letting me pick your brains and get a closer look into your beautiful family!