cover.gif (3565 bytes)
advertisers.gif (3538 bytes)
breed.gif (3719 bytes)
news.gif (3505 bytes)
interview.gif (3523 bytes)
veterinary.gif (3474 bytes)
training.gif (3511 bytes)
show.gif (3826 bytes)
top10.gif (3469 bytes)
judges.gif (3769 bytes)

titles.gif (3448 bytes)
brag.gif (3528 bytes)
whelp.gif (3787 bytes)
stud.gif (3748 bytes)
classified.gif (3514 bytes)
business.gif (3511 bytes)
breeder.gif (3773 bytes)
links.gif (3496 bytes)
contact.gif (3857 bytes)

 

 

INTERVIEW WITH
KAREN BILLINGS

OF VON BRUKA ROTTWEILERS

TRC: When did you discover your first Rottweiler?
KB: My late husband, Bruce Sr. and I owned a boarding and training kennel. We had rescued a dog, which we thought was a Doberman and Bullmastiffs cross. It wasn't until one of our clients boarded a Rottweiler with us some years later that we realized we had been introduced to a breed called Rottweiler. My husband took particular interest in this breed and recognized its intelligence and courage. He just had to own one. So we researched the breed and found that there were quite a few breeders advertised in the DOG WORLD magazine. Many were members of the Colonial Rottweiler Club and it was suggested to us to attend a dog show, get to know the breed and talk to breeders that were attending the show. So, off we went to Princeton NJ and observed. At that time (1970�s) most shows were out of doors, it was pouring, cold and damp, and the dogs were grumbling, and so was I. We took a few names of well-known breeders and went home and started writing letters to those breeders. 

Unfortunately due to the new interest, and popularity of the breed, we were not able to obtain a Rottweiler from any breeders as there was a long waiting list Fortunately for us, our friends Joe and Rita Benson had a litter a couple of towns over, and we purchased 2 females in 1978. We decided to use our first names in part and thus we came up with the kennel name, Von Bruka. Both dogs were bitches, one named Shasta and the other named Flax. We ended up spaying Flax and placing her in a loving home, because she had a cruciate ligament injury. Our veterinarian informed us, that it was a weakness, hereditary, and not something we would want to deal with in our future breeding program. 

TRC: So you really had the bug? 
KB: Both my husband and I were professional dog trainers and our interest in competition obedience was sparked after attending a dog show and seeing the poor performance of another Rottweiler in the area. We both believed that a Rottweiler, a dog so intelligent, could do much better. We trained our dogs and competed and we were very successful. We also showed Shasta in Breed, She only needed 1 major to finish, but we never did put those last points on her. Being new to the breed, we got discouraged. The only clearances in the 70�s were that a dog have an OFA number. Shasta was certified, we bred her and the rest is History. Von Bruka�s Shasta was our foundation bitch. We put a Utility title on Von Bruka�s Shasta, quite a few placements, and a number of high in trials

TRC: Please tell us how your first Rottweiler became your kennel?
KB: The Rottweiler was not a common breed, and I wanted to learn all I could about these magnificent dogs. Both my husband and I started a dog club in 1980; know as THE NEW ENGLAND ROTTWEILER FANCIERS. Together with other Rottweiler enthusiast we formed a charter membership. We exchanged information, and found the best books to buy and some of the old timers to talk to. (I think I may be an old timer now) I joined the Parent Club, the American Rottweiler Club, which I have been a member of for 27 years. We really picked everyone�s brain, studied pedigree�s and observed many Rottweilers. We traveled from dog show to dog show, meeting new people from the East coast to the West coast, North to Canada and south to Texas. We started competing in German style shows, and training our dogs for Schutzhund competition. I started handling our own dogs in the AKC Breed ring. I loved it, win or loose I enjoyed the competition and must admit, the fame. Our Rottweiler travels took us to Germany, Holland, Italy and Belgium as well. On one trip, while in Germany, my late husband purchased Ch. Eiko vom Schwaiger Wappen CDX Schutzhund III Gold Sire. I must admit, he was a great dog for my husband, our family and our breeding program. Eiko enhanced the breed, contributing many good qualities. To this day, I still see his name in many pedigrees. When we retired Eiko from dog shows, Bruce would take him duck hunting, and he would retrieve the ducks. He was a fine dog. 

TRC: Who helped you along the way? 
KB: Of course, everyone has a mentor. My first was Andria Vrana-Ternus. When I had questions, Andria was only a phone call away. My friends in the New England Rottweiler Fanciers Club were also good mentors, as we learned from each other, through observation and discussion at ringside. I attended the American Rottweiler Club National every year since 1980. I rarely missed the Colonial Rottweiler Specialty, which is and always has been my favorite show to attend. My favorite dogs that I owned were Select 1 Am/Can Ch Von Bruka Fiona CDX, Silver Dam. I was proud of her because I bred, owned and handled her to her Titles. She was fun to handle and very willing to work. Fiona & I won the 1985 National Championship handled by myself, a goal that I set and achieved. That was during the year that the IFR was held in PA, in conjunction with the National. Her daughter, Ch. Von Bruka Venturous Ayla CDX owned by my daughter Robin, was a lovely bitch, and my daughter Robin established her lines from there on, and she continues to show and breed Rottweilers and Boston Terriers. Another favorite bitch was the 1980 German Siegerin Babette von Magdeberg Schutzhund I. Although I didn�t breed her, and I only owned her for her last three years of her 12 years of life that she spent here in the U. S., I couldn�t have had a dog that was more stable, and with a good sense of humor. She was a great companion, and I bonded with her at the age of 8 when she arrived in the US. 

TRC: What came next for you and Von Bruka?
KB: Most of my goals were achieved and I retired from breeding & showing. With encouragement from my dear friends, the Piusz�s, I pursued a judging career. As a judge, I am still connected with the sport, only now I have set a new collection of goals that I hope to accomplish. My son Bruce is instrumental in keeping our Boarding & Training facility, Canine College in operation. He also enjoys the competition & challenge of handling his dogs in obedience and Schutzhund. Both of my children have had success in competing, and continue to show their dogs. Now I have grandchildren, whom are very interested in the care, training, and competition of Dogs. Hopefully they will enjoy the sport as much as I do.

TRC: Where is the breed today? 
KB: It is in serious trouble if we breeders do not make and attempt to improve our breeding program. Some breeders have no clue, and are still breeding the same mediocre dogs. Just because a dog has no disqualifying faults and finishes its Championship, is not a reason to reproduce. The biggest weakness I see today is the lack of Breed type, and lack of temperament. A dog with good temperament is a dog that is sure of him or herself. They are relaxed, not jittery; they do not need to challenge other dogs or humans because they are secure. It is a dog that is relaxed and yet ready to alert and protect us in need. I see it in their eyes when they sparkle with enthusiasm; I think to myself, this dog has the look of intelligence and willingness to please. The attempt to improve Temperament was interpreted incorrectly. 
I think several breeders thought if they bred milder, more passive dogs, Rottweilers would be more acceptable in the community. I do believe that in order to make a difference, it takes a lot of convincing to have people accept Rottweilers. The community needs to see our dogs engaged at work, obedient, in control, stable, helpful and not a nuisance or be the frightening dog that people imagine. We need to breed dogs with, courage, stamina, and protective instincts. A Rottweiler lacks character, who could not endure the stress of everyday life, working on the Schutzhund field, the show ring, or on the farm. The attempt to improve the breed type of the Rottweiler will take a lot of honesty. We must not breed dogs or bitches that lack quality.

TRC: How do you define breed type?
KB: Type is a Rottweiler that comes closest to the description of the standard. Specific measurements, color, stamina, and temperament are all the components that make a Rottweiler, a Rottweiler. Keep in mind; a Rottweiler is a medium large, robust & powerful dog. The day I saw my first Rottweiler, I was truly impressed by the grandeur of the breed. I thought all the dogs were wonderful specimens. So what did I have to compare it to, except for pictures of famous dogs of years past.

TRC: Why is it so important for dogs to comply with the standard? 
KB: Well the original standard was developed by the Germans, and is very specific. We developed our standard from theirs. It is what distinguishes the Rottweiler from other breeds. 15 years ago or more, the Rottweiler became a very popular breed, everyone saw it as a breed to make money. The supply and demand was so great that backyard breeders couldn�t keep up with the demand. Dogs were bred at a fast rate, only to produce dogs that were oversized, lacked substance of bone, with light, round eyes, pink mouths, overshot and undershot, narrow Doberman style heads, weak backs, soft top lines and lack of stamina. This was very distressing, as a lot of dogs were born with many deformities hip problems, eye problems, and a lot of heart deformities. Some breeders are still breeding the same type and have not improved on their lines. Other breeders are desperately trying to improve on specific areas and they will succeed because of their love of the Breed. They will succeed because they have already started producing a selection of dogs that are particularly more outstanding than their original foundation dogs.

TRC: Where is the breed headed? 
KB: If we all take a long hard look at our breeding stock, and honestly evaluate our dogs, I think we will go forward. We need to spend more time with people who want to learn more about our breed, than to be stuck in our old ways. I respect Rottweiler owner breeders who will not breed a dog without all its clearances, and that is a hard thing to do. Sometimes we have a great dog, that shouldn�t be bred because of the deformities that he or she passes on to their get. That is where the sacrifice comes, what is more important in our lives? A ribbon, a trophy, notoriety, our egos? We, here in our state of Massachusetts, are desperately trying to hold on to the privilege to own a Rottweiler. City by city, town by town we are losing our rights to own a breed I can never be without. With or without a tail, it is still a Rottweiler. I hope I never see the day when someone tells me what breed of dog that I can or cannot own. 

As a Judge, I evaluate and judge dogs according to the current standard and have had the privilege of seeing and touching many fine specimens. I would like to see better breed type, more bone, and more development of mental stability. Someone once told me that a bitch gives more to a litter, than the sire. More like 60/40. In my opinion, I think it is time to start breeding bitches of superior quality

TRC: Karen, Thank you so much. I really appreciate what you have contributed to the breed.

Interview by Lynn Lopez

Past Interviews

Website & Graphic Design by Cindy