Tue, July 23

Dog Day Afternoon<br><i>Valley dog breeders have love affair with man's best friend</i>

Photo by Kellie Shelton

Arizona Benedict Shepherds owner Judy Dominguez has done extensive research on all aspets of German shepherds in order to produce a better dog in temperament and working ability.

When Judy Dominguez bought a German Shepherd puppy for her daughter, she had no idea that it would some day lead her to the business of dog breeding.

"I enjoyed working with and training the dog so much I decided I wanted to become a breeder," she says.

Her first lesson was to not buy dogs from just any backyard breeder.

"You get what you pay for," she says.

She bought a couple of dogs from a breeder that did not have much interest in their pedigree. She found good homes for them and decided to try again, this time getting excellent dogs with a good foundation and pedigree.

She first bought Maya, a beautiful black-and-tan German Shepard. She has the American Kennel Club registration as well as the required Orthopedic Foundation hip stamp for animals.

Now with 14 German Shepherds, she has quite a business.

"The German Shepherd is extremely intelligent and exceptionally trainable," Dominguez says. "It is extremely versatile. It can be trained for police, guide, search-and-rescue dog, Shutzhund, obedience, agility or just a good companion. They are naturally territorial and protective of their home and family."

Dominguez has done strong research on all aspects of German Shepherds in order to produce a better dog in temperament and working ability.

When she came in direct contact with a German dog importer, she was able to buy seven dogs with the Shutzhund title.

"In Germany, all aspects of breeding the German Shepherd dogs are governed by the SV (Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde) started in 1899 by Max Von Stephanitz," she says. "In Germany, there exists a panel of judges who assess a dog's fitness for breeding. The Korung (the blue paper), which assesses a dog from temperament to its teeth, they decide whether a dog is barred from breeding altogether, has only limited suitability or is recommended to improve the breed.

"Then the owner of a female must enlist a proper (blue papered Koer rated) stud. Then the panel must sanction this particular breed making sure that the dogs complement each other. At eight weeks, the breed warden inspects the litter The dogs have their hips X-rayed at 1 year of age and are given a hip rating ... In recent years, the SV has implemented DNA testing."

All of Dominguez's imported dogs have passed the rigorous testing and have all come with extensive paperwork. She keeps the dogs' pedigrees and paperwork in a spiral binder, along with photos of the dogs, the female's cycles, and family history.

Dominguez has named her dog breeding business Arizona Benedict Shepherds. To learn more about her dogs, you can contact Judy Dominguez at (928) 300-2263 or log onto The prices of her dogs can range anywhere from $600 a puppy to $1,500, depending on the dog.

You can't help but smile when you see Mary Williams talking to her two little Havenese dogs. Her purebreed Havenese dog, Peppi V. has become quite popular among the patients at the Verde Valley Medical Center where Williams volunteers.

Williams and Peppi V. visit the patients and staff regularly "just to make them feel happy and for a moment forget about their problems or work." Williams enjoys this, but not nearly as much as Peppi V., who gets so excited every time they pull up to the hospital.

When asked to take photos of Mary's dogs, she replied, "Oh wait, I need to brush and mousse Peppi's hair." Just when you think that her dog could not get any cuter, Peppi V. hits the fashion runway with his bangs in a ponytail.

Her new addition, Jenny C., a little Havenese puppy, is going to be bred to the suave Peppi V.

"She first needs to be at least 2 years of age and have her eyes and hips tested," Williams explained.

Both dogs are from championship stock, but for now they are "just friends" fighting over chew toys.

Williams used to breed pups for years. When her husband's job sent them moving around quite a bit, she decided it would be too difficult to continue breeding. One of her male puppies made it on the cover of American Kennel Club Magazine, which she calls the Bible for dog breeders.

Once settled, she went to a dog show to look for another breed, one that didn't shed, smell and had a lot of personality. When she found the Havenese. She knew that was the dog she wanted.

"They are wonderful dogs. Absolute lovers," she said. Williams loves going to dog shows and recommends any one looking for a certain breed should go to learn and see for themselves.

The whole Havenese population in America started with only 11 dogs. She likes the idea of improving the breed. Her puppies can sell from anywhere to $1,200 to $3,000 a puppy for show-quality dogs.