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PART I

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The Rottweiler Chronicle had a rare opportunity to interview Ms. Felicia Luburich of Srigo Rottweilers, breeder of countless champions and one of the great pioneers of the breed here in the United States.

The Rottweiler Chronicle (TRC): Thanks, for taking the time to do this interview. Let me start by letting the reader know about your background in the breed. When did you get started in Rottweilers?

Felicia Luburich (FL): Well, I joined the ADRK (German Rottweiler Club) and the Colonial Rottweiler Club (CRC) in 1955 and got my first Rottweiler that same year.

TRC: Weren�t you a Doberman person before Rottweilers?

FL: Yes, I had Dobermans for 25 years. I bred my first litter when I was 12 years old.

TRC: Were you successful with Dobermans?

FL: I believe so. One of my dogs was at one time the top winning blue Dobe in the world. He went Best in Show three times in Canada. American/Canadian Champion Srigo�s Kimmel. He was a son of the great Felix von Artal, who was also a blue Doberman and one of the most magnificent animal specimens that I have ever seen.

TRC: What prompted you to make the switch to Rottweilers?

FL: Dobermans are not really outside dogs. I was looking for a dog that could swim, pull carts, and would go in the snow, etc. Also, Dobermans had become the #1 dog registered with the American Kennel Club. They just became too popular. Breeding dogs is very involving and I couldn�t find quality owners who would pay the price. And decades later the Rottweiler became one of the most popular breeds. The popularity has hurt both breeds tremendously. 

TRC: Was Ch. Missy von Stahl your first Rottweiler and your foundation bitch?

FL: No, Missy wasn�t the first. My first dog was Reidtadt's Helissend. I had two litters from her but nothing seemed to work out right. I have nothing from her. I got Missy as an adult dog. She was my foundation. All of my dogs go back to her.

TRC: What generation of dogs are you on now?

FL: I'm on my 10th generation.

TRC: That's incredible. 10 generation? When you look at a pedigree of one of your current dogs, do you remember the ancestors in the pedigree all the way back to the Missy?

FL: Certainly, I remember all of the dogs. I have visual pictures of them in my mind and have photographs of all of them also.

TRC: How many champions have you bred and what other big show accomplishment can you mention to the reader?

FL: I have bred a little over 50 champions. Too be honest I don't really keep good track of the other accomplishments. You have to understand, I never specialed my dogs or took out all of the big ads. I didn't really have the money for all of that. And I didn't bred to win ribbons, but to produce the very best.

TRC: One dog that I have heard much about is Srigo's Madchen von Kurtz. I have heard her some say she was one of the best bitches of all time. Retired and very much respected breeder/judge Muriel Freeman said she was "one of the loveliest bitches ever to grace the Rottweiler ring in America".  What can you tell us about Madchen?

FL: She was indeed a lovely girl. She was out of International Ch. Erno von Wellesweiler (imported and owned by Muriel Freeman) and a dog I bred Ch. Srigo's Econnie v Lorac, who was Best of Opposite Sex at the Colonial Rottweiler Club Specialty (CRC) in 1966 and 1967. Econnie and Madchen were both owned by Lucille and Donald Kurtz. Mrs. Kurtz was a tremendous help to my breeding program. I was able to lease Econnie and Madchen and whelp and raise their litters. Madchen finished in just 3 shows. Each five (5) point majors. She followed in her mother's footsteps and even surpassed her. She won Best of Opposite (BOS) at CRC in 1970, 1971 and 1972. Then in 1973 Madchen went Best of Breed (BOB) at CRC. (Editors note: CRC records show that Madchen also won BOS in 1975, out of the Veteran�s class. Ms. Luburich�s first CRC win was with Arno von Kafluzu, a German import, co-owned with Gladys Swenson, who went on to win his American Championship). 

TRC: You have pretty much dominated the CRC show. Didn't you even have some years where your dogs have swept the BOB and BOS?

FL: In 1972 when Madchen won BOS, Ch. Srigo's Garret v Zahn won BOB and in 1975 when Madchen won BOS, Ch.Srigo's Viking Spirit won BOB. Then Bronco won BOB in May 1983. (FCI  International/American/ Canadian Champion Bronco von Rauberfeld SchH III)

TRC: The famous Bronco von Rauberfeld! Since you brought Bronco up, let's talk about him. Maybe you can start by telling us how you came to import and own him?

FL: Well, I was looking for a really nice male. I had a friendship with Inga Leon who was a German Breed Warden.  I told Inga that I wanted a dog with a top rate, super pedigree. I didn't necessarily need a dog with all the titles but I didn't want one failed the tests. I had seen Bronco when he won the ADRK Klubsieger show in 1982. The following March of 1983 I got a call from Inga that Bronco was for sale, �come now and bring cash.� I mortgaged my house to purchase him and the rest is history. 

TRC: What was so special about him?

FL: His movement was like none I have ever seen in a Rottweiler. Bronco was not a big dog, he weighed about 100-105 pounds, and wasn�t leggy or long. He was short in the back, great topline with no breaks, had a deep chest and again super, super movement.

TRC: He must have been a very popular dog in his day, here in the US?

FL: Not really. You had to really know what an excellent Rottweiler looked like to appreciate him. He received all of his points, except one under breeder judges. He wasn�t used that much at stud. Some well-known breeders used him. Other breeders ignored him in droves until he was dead and then they saw what he was producing and what his children and grandchildren were producing. After he was old and then dead everybody was trying to get Bronco in their pedigrees.

TRC: I have seen a lot of linebreeding on Bronco in your pedigrees and many other dog�s pedigrees. Is linebreeding an important part of your breeding program?

FL: I do it. But when a breeder linebreeds it has to be on a dog that can produce consistently with no major problems. It has to be a mentally and physically sound dog, with very good movement and very good health. Bronco is the only dog I know of personally that you can do a lot of linebreeding on without having to deal with any major problems.

TRC: I know that you have and have seen some of your Bronco progency at your kennel. Which dogs do you have now who are the closest Bronco lineage?

FL: Srigo�s Too Flashy For Words, Srigo�s Visions of Victory and Srigo�s Vanilla Fields are all great grand children. They are all about 7 years old. I have a dog Srigo�s Press Your Luck that many people, including myself, think looks very much like Bronco.

TRC: Please tell us the dog you bred who brought you the greatest sense of accomplisment?

FL: It�s too hard too just say one. Srigo�s Viking Spirit was a very nice dog, Srigo�s Zarras von Kurtz... I still remember him well�very typey, short back, iron topline�and of course Madchen. There were some others that I was proud of and could have done very well but they went to non-show people 

TRC: Does that happen a lot? I mean, dogs that had great potential but were never shown by their owners?

FL: Are you kidding? It happens MOST of the time. Almost all of the dogs that I bred, that were champions, were dogs that I either owned or handled. Most people don�t show or they show and then breed their dogs to the wrong stuff so no progress is ever made.

TRC: What is the best measure of a progress or success in a breeding program? Is it show records? Working titles? Other?

FL: It is partially by recognizable titles and achievements. But it is also personal. It depends on what people want to do, what you want to breed for and how one defines success.

TRC: How many dogs do you have presently and do you still show and breed?

FL: I have twelve dogs. The last dog I sent out was Srigo's Visions of Victory (Hal). Carol Laskey, of Rainbow Kennels in Ohio, handled him. He is a Canadian Champion and went Best of Winners at the 2000 Canadian Rottweiler Club National. I don�t show anymore due to physical limitations. I�d show again if I could either get a good dog intern or win the lottery. I can�t due the socializing, training, bending, running, etc, all the other things that showing requires. And if you sell your best puppies, 9 out of 10 of the people don�t ever even take the dog in the ring one time, let alone finish it. And there are so many costs involved. You need money if you want to do it right. 20 years ago breeders were getting $1500 a puppy. You don�t breed for the money but it did help defray some of the many expenses. I breed occasionally. I sell mostly to previous buyers. Every once in a while a buyer comes along that appreciates quality.

TRC: You mentioned quality buyers, what about the state of the breed, do you see a lot of quality dogs?

FL: Most Rotts are not being bred by anyone who knows what they are doing. Hence, the dogs can�t be of great quality. You see a lot of ordinary dogs, not dogs that are gifts. 

TRC: What advice would you give to breeders whose aim is to breed quality Rottweilers?

FL: Be ready for the long haul or don�t start at all. There is a lot of disappointment, a huge downside. You have to be dedicated to stay in this breed. Breeding is not just a pastime or a hobby. You are dealing with a life. Because it is a dog�s life doesn�t make it any less serious.

Everyone makes mistakes in the beginning. Most people don�t want to listen to this because so many people want to make fast money. If you are serious, don�t just take my word, read books on animal husbandry, talk to breeders of other animals, cats, horses, etc. We are dabbling with nature. And nature has its own selection process. Do you know it takes thousands of years to create a species that�s uniform and produces itself in type, color, behavior, etc.

Interview by Karim Camara

Past Interviews

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