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Dog Willing, They'll Win It:
With an All-Consuming Drive, a Pennsylvania Family Is a Breed Apart

By Eli Saslow

HOMER CITY, Pa.

When the screeching of claws against metal fences becomes too much to bear, when they no longer can tolerate the cacophony of howling and whining that rumbles across this former coal-mining town, Bob Alexander's neighbors have been known to march up his gravel driveway, past 70 hound dogs and their luxury kennels, and bang on his door.

Alexander, very much an imposing family patriarch at 6 feet 4 and 350 pounds, rises from his leather chair and shuffles across the living room, slightly hunched from a bad back. He leans on the door frame and listens to his neighbors for about a minute, running calloused hands through his graying hair. Then he interrupts with the booming, gravelly baritone he often relies upon to holler above his dogs' barking.

"Well, how much do you want for your house?" says Bob, 62. "Because our dogs ain't leaving." Bob already has bought three houses from unhappy neighbors -- " 'Shut up' purchases," he calls them -- and he considers it some of the best money he ever has spent. Bob and his daughter, Amanda, refuse to let anything or anyone interfere with their effort to raise championship coonhounds, hunting dogs that have the pleading eyes and floppy ears of a beagle but the gangly legs of a greyhound.

[Photo Gallery]

Amanda, 27, spends all but two weekends each year driving to dog shows in places such as Brazil, Ind., and Saluda, N.C. Bob has spent more than $400,000 purchasing dogs and then lavishing them with accoutrements generally reserved for elite athletes: truckloads of performance-enhancing food; a heated indoor swimming pool for winter cross-training; personal drivers to shuttle dogs to distant appointments with nationally renowned veterinarians.

In return, the boisterous hounds have won 11 world dog show championships. The Alexanders are recognized by fans and featured on magazine covers in a coonhound community that's centered in backcountry America. When around their dogs at competitions, the Alexanders strut with a glow that makes peers wonder: Have they actually discovered fulfillment? Or are they simply addicted to the temporary high of success, chasing a competitive fix from one dog show to the next?

Late on a Thursday afternoon last month, Amanda collapsed into a desk chair at her pet grooming shop, the only business on her block of Rural Route 119 in Homer City, about an hour east of Pittsburgh. She wiped dog fur off her arms and wiped a blade of grass off her forehead. Her workday at the shop almost was over, but her day of work with dogs hardly had begun. Wearing jeans, tennis shoes and a purple zip-down shirt, Amanda sat in what once was her shop's waiting room. Now, it served only as a shrine.

More than 500 trophies were displayed on the floor, forming a sea of oak and metal that covered all but a four-foot-wide sliver of speckled tile in the middle of the room. The trophies ranged in height from six inches to six feet, and they all bore the names of dog shows held in the last eight years. More than 300 ribbons, plaques and certificates decorated the walls. A year earlier, Amanda had hired a cleaning crew to dust and shine each award.

Amanda cherished the prizes, but she also viewed them as relics of her own transformation. Each win had fortified Amanda's confidence. Once too shy to speak in front of her high school class, she now regularly sauntered into a dog show ring as 1,000 people watched. Because of her champion dogs, she had become a self-assured competitor and an assertive business owner.

"It's like I'm a different person now than I used to be," Amanda said. "I used to be shy, like afraid to tell anybody anything. Now I'm telling people what to do."

[Photo]
Amanda Alexander and her family raise 70 dogs in their kennels, including all six coonhound breeds. (Preston Keres - The Washington Post)

Amanda locked up her grooming shop just after 5 p.m. and drove a half-mile across town to her family's property. She toured through her three heated indoor-outdoor kennels and visited dozens of coonhounds. She checked the water temperature in the swimming pool. She took out one hound, Excalibur, and lifted him onto a show bench to practice his posing. She released Sissy, Faith, Babe and Storm into a fenced, four-acre field for 30 minutes of supervised exercise.

Finally, just before 8 p.m., Amanda walked into the home of her father and mother, Erma. Amanda lives next door with her boyfriend, Curt Willis, but spends much of her free time here. An oil pointing of Shoogs, a famous family coonhound, hung at the center of the living room wall. Four magazines, all with feature articles on Amanda, rested on a lamp stand. As Amanda leaned on the kitchen table, her mother's two small poodles sniffed her legs and clawed at her lap.

"You can't really get away from dogs around here," Amanda said. "But I guess we'd never really want to."

* * *

Bob never had allowed dogs in his house until the late 1990s, when Amanda graduated from high school and opened her shop. Amanda had kept spiders and rats as pets, and she told her father that she wanted dogs both at home and at work; Bob, who once gave her a Hummer for Christmas and then, a year later, a Cadillac DeVille for her birthday, relented.

In 1999, Bob bought four treeing walker coonhounds, choosing that breed because he wanted dogs that he could take raccoon hunting in the neighboring woods. A year later, on a whim, Amanda decided to show one of the hounds at a local dog show. She lost, badly. But watching from the wooden bleachers at a county fairground, Bob saw his youngest child and only daughter urge a dog into a stiff show pose -- its chin high, back flat and tail pointed skyward -- and decided Amanda had been blessed with a talent.

Since then, Bob has built a dog collection with the same limitless ambition he used to shape his trucking company, his equipment-leasing firm and his 40-employee garbage disposal business. Bob and Amanda wanted all of the best dogs in all six coonhound breeds. Bob, encumbered by his ailing back and a relentless work schedule, rarely traveled to competitions. He sent Amanda, Curt and occasionally Erma to dog shows with blank checks, and Amanda made offers for the hounds she liked as much or better than her own.

VIDEO | Breeding Brilliance

Amanda kept track of their purchases at first -- a 2-year-old black and tan that won a national title; a redbone; a couple of blueticks; three Plotts from the South -- but eventually lost track. They bought dogs, sometimes by the dozen, and never sold any. Amanda and Bob vowed to treat each hound the same as the next. Dogs with skin diseases, dogs without hair, old dogs, sick dogs, fat dogs -- all pampered like the world champion coonhound one cage over.

At the Alexanders', dogs became less like pets and more like accomplished family members, each with its personality. Shoogs couldn't sleep unless she was sprawled out on the couch. Storm drooled when anxious. Monday liked to sit in his crate when he traveled. Hawk only ate restaurant food -- McDonald's chicken sandwiches, preferably -- when on the road for competition.

Bob sometimes spoiled his dogs even more than Amanda or his two older boys, who live nearby. He boasted about the animals' latest successes at work and then left early, at 3 p.m., so he could get home and feed the dogs. In the 1980s, the Alexander children had begged Bob to build them a swimming pool, to no avail. In 2005, Amanda suggested the dogs would benefit from swimming. Within two weeks, Bob had hired a team of builders from New Jersey to construct a pool in the dead of winter.

"I don't care what it costs," Bob told Amanda. "Let's do it right now."

Financially, their investment in dogs has equated to almost a 100 percent loss. Dog shows reward negligible prize money, and the Alexanders almost never breed puppies and sell them. But both Bob and Amanda believe their reward is priceless. With each win, their dogs earn admiration, respect and envy.

And so do they.

One afternoon last month, Bob drove home from his office in nearby Indiana, Pa., and settled into the family living room. He unbuttoned his shirt and sank into his favorite leather chair. He had just turned on the news and heard the announcer start talking about Hillary Clinton -- God, that woman could ruin this country, Bob thought -- when a wolflike howl carried from the kennels and into the living room. At least 70 dogs roamed the yard that afternoon, and Bob couldn't see any of them from where he sat. But Bob knew that bark; he knew every bark. Thirty seconds into the howling, Bob turned to face the window.

"Quiet, Hank!" Bob shouted. "I can't hear the TV with all your yapping."

* * *

A little before 10 p.m. on a Thursday night, Amanda and Curt walked out to their truck looking like coal miners. Curt wore jeans, hiking boots and a red hard hat adorned with a headlamp. Amanda hung one flashlight around a belt and strapped another over her shoulder. The couple planned to spend the next three hours secluded, hiking and climbing the hills near their home in midnight darkness.

[Graphic]
GRAPHIC | These Dogs Have It Made

They typically followed this routine at least four nights each week, because judges favored dogs that upheld the origins of the breed. Coonhounds traditionally chased raccoons up trees, essentially trapping them for an owner to shoot and kill. They developed strong hind muscles and sturdy backs from hunting, and Amanda and Curt wanted dogs that looked like raccoon hunters, even though the couple rarely shot the raccoons.

Curt lifted two dogs into the back of the truck. He drove past the Sheetz gas station, the town's teenage hangout on Friday nights, past a few abandoned shops and small ranch houses surrounded by acres of meadows. A few minutes later, they were gone from Homer City, a town yet to recover from the closing of the local mine more than a decade ago. Three miles down a rolling country road, Curt pulled over and attached a florescent light and tracking device to the collar of each dog. Then, against every natural instinct of a dog owner, he released them into the woods.

Curt, an agreeable, wisecracking type from Hickory, N.C., had met Amanda four years earlier. Back then, he had a few dogs competing on the hunting portion of the coonhound circuit, which consists of about 150 shows run by either the American Kennel Club or the United Kennel Club. The hunts and dog shows often took place at the same venues, and Curt had noticed Amanda. Curt eventually asked Amanda to dinner and, a few years later, moved to Homer City to live with her and help take care of the dogs. He still entered a few dozen hunting competitions each year with Amanda's hounds.

As the two dogs splashed through creeks and raced through cornfields on a humid night, Curt stood by his truck, waved away fireflies and listened for the dogs' progress. Now almost a mile away, they communicated back to Curt with a series of specific barks. They unleashed high-pitched screams when they located the scent of a raccoon, and they howled with increased frequency as they chased the animal and closed the gap. When the scared raccoon finally ran up a tree about an hour later, the dogs stood on their hind legs and clawed at the bark as they howled. They had been trained to circle the tree, barking, until Curt walked over and found them. Sometimes, that took several hours.

Expert

Curt shone his flashlight and walked toward the barking, unsure of what he might find. Adrenaline always compelled him to follow his dogs into the night -- despite the darkness, the deep forest and the animals that roamed through it.

The Alexander's hounds sometimes chased down possum, deer, bobcats or bears. Other times, like tired athletes, Curt said the dogs gave up and barked at the base of a random tree, just so the hunt would end and they could go home. On the worst nights, the hounds injured themselves while tearing through the woods at 15 mph. A dog once ran out of the woods with a porcupine quill poking into the center of his eyeball -- a wound fixed, by veterinarian recommendation, with Krazy Glue. Another dog tripped and slipped a disk in his back, necessitating 12 trips to a specialist in Columbus, Ohio.

"I think they got a [raccoon] treed tonight," Curt said. "Sounds like they're getting after it." "They're out of shape," Amanda said, a sweat line developing on her gray baseball cap. "They might be tricking us."

After 10 minutes of bushwhacking, Curt and Amanda found their dogs jumping three feet off the ground at the base of a 40-foot tree. The dogs wagged their tails and tilted their faces backward, as if searching the branches for their raccoon. Curt pulled the dogs away and pointed his spotlight at the tree, hoping to spot a raccoon just for confirmation. Dense leaves and darkness covered the branches, and Curt found nothing.

"I'm sure there's one there," Curt said. "We just can't see it."

Amanda leashed the dogs, and the couple walked back toward the truck. Raccoon or no raccoon, it hardly mattered tonight. It was just past midnight and starting to drizzle, and this hunt already registered as a success. The coonhounds walked out of the woods a few steps closer to dog show condition. Their hind muscles bulged. Their backs looked fortified. They probably had lost a pound of fat each, Amanda said. For the first time in a while, the exhausted dogs rode back to their kennel in silence.

* * *

On the first morning of a weekend dog show last month, Amanda and Curt woke up at 4 a.m. and used flashlights to load four Plott coonhounds into the back of a camper. They drove about two hours southwest of Homer City and exited the highway in Waynesburg, near the West Virginia border. At daybreak, Curt and Amanda parked their camper on the infield of a dusty harness-racing track at the Greene County Fairgrounds. More than 1,000 dogs and 100 recreational vehicles surrounded them.

To Amanda, it looked the same as any other all-breed American Kennel Club show in any other town on any other weekend. Vendors set up underneath a grandstand, and one sold fried apple dumplings and vanilla ice cream for breakfast. A woman at the next stand hocked breed-specific shower curtains, Rottweiler cutting boards and dog-shaped silverware. For hundreds of yards in every direction, dogs lounged in the sun or stretched out their muscles before the show. The animals strutted like superstars, and owners bustled around them like a supporting entourage.

In her grooming shop a few days earlier, Amanda spent 90 minutes readying the four Plott coonhounds. She trimmed and filed their nails, shaved surplus hair from their underbellies and rubbed the inside of their ears with Q-tips. But as she stepped out of her camper and looked around the infield, Amanda wondered if she'd prepared enough. All around her, groomers sprayed dogs with hair color, lined their eyes with mascara, whitened their toenails with chalk and smoothed their coats with flat irons.

Until recently, Amanda had competed almost exclusively in the United Kennel Club, a less formal, less prestigious organization popular among coonhound owners. At UKC events, she said dog feces blanketed the ground and hound owners spat chewing tobacco in the show ring. At AKC events, including the renowned Westminster Kennel Club dog show, professional handlers wear three-piece suits in the show ring.

[Photo]
Six-month-old Capone enjoys a runs in the field. Amanda will start showing him next year. (Preston Keres - The Washington Post)

Amanda had decided to become one of the first owners to show coonhounds in the AKC because she believed that organization better fit her competitive makeup. Once happy to win any ribbon, she now dismissed anything but first place. She recognized imperfections in her dogs that she never had before noticed: a droopy left eye, or dangling skin below the neck, or oversize feet.

"I kind of wish I could still just be happy with anything," Amanda said.

She was momentarily satisfied when Storm won the Plott competition in the morning. Twenty minutes before the all-hound show in the afternoon, Amanda stepped out of the camper in a green suit jacket, khaki pants and a purple blouse. She attached a leash to Storm and walked her to a barn on the corner of the fairgrounds. There, Amanda and Storm entered a small ring and stood next to 17 other hounds and their owners.

While other owners manipulated their hounds into position by offering a succession of treats, Amanda had practiced with Storm so often that the dog instinctually obeyed her. Amanda used only one word with her dogs, varying the decibel and pitch when necessary. As she lined up Storm's legs to match evenly with her hips and lifted her tail, Amanda whispered in the dog's ear.

"Whoa," Amanda said. "Whoa! Whooooaa. Whoa! That's it. Whoa. Good girl."

Words

A judge came over to Storm and examined her. He checked her teeth, squeezed her thigh muscles and felt her legs. The dog remained motionless, like a sculpture, until the judge commanded Amanda and Storm to run around the ring in a circle. They took a brisk lap and returned to the judge, who looked over Storm again and then dismissed the dog. Ten minutes later, the judge picked four hounds as winners. Storm was not one of them.

Back at her camper five minutes later, Amanda called her dad to tell him the bad news and patted Storm's forehead with her right hand. Amanda's shoulders sagged, and she leaned up against the side of her camper, exhausted. She planned to drive two hours back to Homer City to take care of her other dogs that night. Then, after a few hours of sleep, she would wake up again at 4 a.m. to drive back to Waynesburg for another show the next morning. Curt walked up and put his hand on Amanda's shoulder.

"You okay?" he said.

"It's just a little disappointing," Amanda said. "We did great. Storm did great. I'm not sure why they didn't like us."

"Maybe they'll like us tomorrow," Curt said.

Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out two small ribbons that Storm had won during the morning competition.

"Hey," Curt said, holding the ribbons in front of his chest, "at least we're not leaving here totally empty-handed."

Transcript: Monday, July 2
» Eli Saslow, the writer for this series, was online to answer questions about this installment.

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They grow 'em dense as a post in that part of PA from what I hear.

Figures someone that buys his kid a Hummer would hate Hillary Clinton. Tell this bozo that his pal Bush has already ruined the US, there is not much left of it to destroy.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:06 AM

I believe the story is about dogs, dog owners, and competition. Must we judge everyone based on their political leanings and car they drive? They also grow very intelligent people in rural PA and dumb people in DC. I've lived both places and can assure you nothing is so convenient as to fit any stereotype.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:53 AM

Actually, I like the commentary about cars and political leanings. People tell a reporter/person about themselves so that their opinions will be known. A good reporter can give a reader a feeling that they've met the person or at least been an onlooker at the meeting. And that's what I got from this article. It's nice to know these people are showing these hounds. Though I tend to believe that people should be breeding a better dog, not just showing them.

Yours,
Jackie Aldridge

Posted by: Jackie Aldridge | July 2, 2007 05:22 AM

I loved this article. It reminded me of my youth with a black and tan, a redbone and a blue tick. Good dogs all, with beautiful voices. I only wonder why they don't also go to field trials.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 06:06 AM

"A woman at the next stand hocked breed-specific shower curtains"

Hocked??? I believe the word is correctly spelled "hawked" - homonyms are so confusing to spell-checkers...

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 07:20 AM

Interesting.

You've managed to drag politics into dog shows and, of course, the yammerheads respond like sharks to blood.

I'll point out that most of the carpetbaggers in DC haven't the brains to breed rats successfully, much less Plott hounds.

I know, I grew up there, I was born there and left as soon as possible.

Pity the Brits and Canadians won't come back and burn it again.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 07:22 AM

Awesome story....I have a Plott hound and in 3 years only one person has ever correctly identified it, and that includes quite a few vets. Great writing, thanks.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 07:42 AM

So, these people are rude to their neighbors, and obsessive about dogs. What a great story. Glad I don't live anywhere near them. Wish you had chosen to write something inspiring.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 08:17 AM

It sounds like they are trying to breed a better dog. They are not just showing in conformation, but working the dogs too. You can win some and lose some under the same judge on different days, but you should always have fun.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 08:28 AM

It sounds like they are trying to breed a better dog. They are not just showing in conformation, but working the dogs too. You can win some and lose some under the same judge on different days, but you should always have fun.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 08:28 AM

It sounds like they are trying to breed a better dog. They are not just showing in conformation, but working the dogs too. You can win some and lose some under the same judge on different days, but you (and the dog) should always have fun.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 08:30 AM

outstanding all american story-excellent writing too

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 09:05 AM

Interesting article....I enjoyed the video more. It is clear these folks love the dogs and are celebrating a particular breed. These are well taken care of animals who are the hobby of a wealthy self-made man and his family. The kennels and dogs are probably all written off as business expenses on their taxes, including the pool. These may even represent legitimate business expenses for dog breeders and groomers-I am not a tax accountant.

They are an Appalachian family, self-made through hard work and trying to bring national recognition and respect to the coonhound as a regional breed. And success does bring self-confidence, which seems deserved. I didn't come away feeling their participation in dog shows was all that wierdly competitive. Its a contest and they want to be the best.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 09:10 AM

This is an interesting article. Coonhounds are uniquely American. Dr. Thomas Walker was one of the first breeders of coonhounds in this country. Hence the name, Treeing Walker Coonhound. Walker also introduced horse racing and was one of the first settlers of Kentucky to go through the Cumberland Gap. For more information on this breed see: http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/treeingwalkercoonhound.htm or http://www.coondawgs.com/breeds.html Unfortunately there are also many coonhounds which have been abandoned. Several organizations work tirelessly to rescue and find homes for these dogs. One of these is the American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue at: http://www.coonhoundrescue.com/ They are seeking permanent homes for a number of rescued coonhounds.

Posted by: Nancy Ehlke | July 2, 2007 09:20 AM

Coonhounds are wonderful dogs. I owned a Bluetick English and she was the best dog that one could ask for. What was interesting -- at least I thought so -- is that the coonhound was extremely well bred (out of Berton Oney's Vanzant's Sam), yet only cost me $80 as a pup. A few years later I bought a well bred Black Labrador; that one set me back $750 -- and that was a "reduced price" since I was friends with the breeder! I enjoyed the story and the video.

Posted by: Tom V. | July 2, 2007 09:26 AM

"They grow 'em dense as a post in that part of PA from what I hear. Figures someone that buys his kid a Hummer would hate Hillary Clinton. Tell this bozo that his pal Bush has already ruined the US, there is not much left of it to destroy."

Hey, congrats, way to be "kill any enjoyment with his/her own personal politican hangups" guy / gal.

It's a cute story about dogs. Enjoy it or not. But please, next time you feel like spouting off any more of your drivel, think twice before doing so. Not all of us care about YOUR opinion.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 09:54 AM

The growth and confidence in Amanda is inspiring because it comes from where her heart is and a supportive father as well. (She found a way to enter her Dad's world and take it where he hadn't.) The article is a nice little piece of social psychology. All motives are mixed. It's good to remember there are other worlds out there. This isn't mine in any respect except passion for what I do. Let's hope these folks take a moment to notice other worlds as well. Then we will all grow closer.
WLF

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 10:06 AM

Did the author use "raccoon" in brackets to obscure what Curt really said, which was almost certailnly "'coon?" Wow. When 'coon is used by a man describing a racoon, there is nothing remotely offensive or racist being said. To restate the obvious, we have plunged into a twisted wonderland of political correctness. Ask David Howard, former head of DC's Office of the Public Advocate, who used the word "niggardly" (stingy) in a 1/15/99 conversation about funding. He was savaged by the uneducated and P.C. public and asked to resign by Anthony Williams.
coon niggardly coon niggardly coon niggardly coon niggardly.
Come and get me.

Posted by: Cameron Taylor | July 2, 2007 10:11 AM

By my calculation 70 dogs would produce about 6 tons of feces per year (0.5 pounds per dog per day)

If this was a hog operation, the disposal of those feces would be strictly regulated because of potential threats to ground and surface waters.

I have to wonder how they are disposing of their dog waste.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 10:24 AM

I take my 17 yr old Australian Shepard to Amanda for grooming. She treats this nearly blind, nearly deaf old gal with the same love and attention as her show dogs. I am lucky to have Amenda nearby.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 10:41 AM

This was an excellent story about an interesting family and one of the most competitive but fun activities in the world, dog shows.

I did not object to the inclusion of the remark about Sen. Clinton as it was also meant to show how Bob recognized each dog's individual bark. He's quite a dog man. And I'd let Amanda and Curt handle any dog in the ring, not just coon hounds.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 10:41 AM

Why was the animal's name in the following quote edited? "I think they got a [raccoon] treed tonight."

What did he actually say?

Could it be that The Washington Post was afraid to print the word "coon," meaning raccoon? How weak.

Also, I'm sure Amanda when telling her show dog to stand still, was saying,"Whoa" not Woe."

Ahh, city folk. Interesting article, but I've been defending the Wash. Post for years against it's detractors, but this a) appalling political correctness, and b) verbal ignorance is inexcusable.

Posted by: Anne | July 2, 2007 11:41 AM

This would have been a great story if it had been about saving and rescuing dogs instead of adding even more to the pet overpopulation plight.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 11:43 AM

To one who is very familar with the "dog people", the story is quite simple. Father loves daughter and wants her to do what makes her happy - and has the checkbook to do it. She loves her dogs (and contrary to the whining poster above, her dogs DO not lack for homes, love and care and she is not adding to the unwanted pet population.)

I began showing AKC obedience over 40 years ago at the age of 9. This young lady has a long way to go to catch up in knowledge. At this point she is merely buying her way into competetion. (In the dog show world, they are known as "more money than knowledge amateurs who are trying to buy their way into winning." ) Someday she will know enough to produce her own performance animals. That can take many years - try like around 15-20. I wish her well and hope she wil also love her dogs wehter they win , lose or refuse to set foot in the ring.

Dozing at my feet is an AKC Champion who is a full-brother to a dog who is the winner of Westminster in their Breed and a champion in 2 countries (and both boys are the sons of a dog who finished in the top 24 at Westminster). Nearby is the nephew of the older dog and the son & grandson of the Westminster winners - and his breeder/co-owner is as proud of him as his illustrious uncle, father, aunt (top 10 of all AKC show dogs), mom (AKC Ch.) and his siblings who have won their championships because he is a real working Service Dog.

Money can't buy everything. Not even the father in this story has a checkbook large enough to buy a single one of the dogs I have mentioned. If they wanted to wait for 2-3 years, they might be able to get on the list for a show-prospect puppy.

Not everyone sells their dogs because someone waves a checkbook.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 12:01 PM

paeaafr

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 12:27 PM

paeaafr

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 12:28 PM

This is the best part of this story:
"Amanda and Bob vowed to treat each hound the same as the next. Dogs with skin diseases, dogs without hair, old dogs, sick dogs, fat dogs -- all pampered like the world champion coonhound one cage over." Can the individual with the AKC champion dogs say the same thing about dogs he/she has purchased? Has he/she taken in any rescue pups? The money spent on one of the showdogs this individual mentioned could save and care for thousands of rescue dogs. Take a look around and see the degree to which the AKC has contributed to this national tragedy. Please, if you know someone who is looking for a dog, tell them to start with petfinder.org; NOT a breeder. I applaude Bob and Amanda for what they have done out of love for the dogs -- and a father's love for his daughter.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 12:57 PM

"blah blah blah akc ch blah blah blah more verbal diarrhea about uncles cousins mothers brothers wah wah wah"

Seriously? You're going to sit there and pontificate about dog pedigrees? Way to sound unbearably exclusionary and pompous.

I bet you one of those kids in school/real life that quoted SAT/LSAT scores so people would be impressed.

How utterly self-important, useless and unhelpful you are. Sounds to me like your dogs have more purpose.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 01:01 PM

I have to laugh at Anne, above, who decries verbal ignorance yet has been defending the Post for years against "it's" detractors. People in glass houses shouldn't throw apostrophes...

Posted by: Lynne | July 2, 2007 01:06 PM


With the enormous companion animal overpopulation problem and the skyrocketing euthanasia rates at animal shelters, I am appalled at this story. Thousands upon thousands of unwanted dogs, many of them purebreds, end up in shelters every year, and most do not find homes. This article merely glorifies ownership of breed dogs, rather than promoting the companionship of a shelter dog.

Posted by: Laura F. | July 2, 2007 01:44 PM

It is beyond me why some people cannot accept that others do not embrace their personal causes and by not doing so somehow make them "bad." The fact that there are many unwanted pets out there does not make it wrong that someone doesn't want to "save" them all. These people take care of their animals. They enjoy them and are doing their part by being responsible for those THEY have chosen to own. This does not make them "bad" people. If you want to save every animal out there, it's your right - but if I chose not to, it's my right and there is not a thing wrong with that.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 02:27 PM

I agree with the posters who are dismayed by this article's glorification of a massive dog breeding enterprise. American taxpayers spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year sheltering and euthanizing excess dogs and cats. It's time to start looking at that expense as a publicly-funded subsidy to people like these breeders. They profit from overbreeding while the rest of us are left footing the bill for the "externality" from these breeding practices -- excess animals who are killed because there are more people trying to make a buck and gratify their own ego than there are loving homes.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:07 PM

I happen to be from the same area of western PA and I currently run a national investigation agency not far from D.C. Yeah, D.C., the murder capital of the world. I choose to follow my passion, much like Amanda in the article did Oh yeah, I strted my business after I got my second BA degree and had an employment offer from the FBI. My SAT score was 1130 for those of you who may be interested. If any of you could buy your kid a Hummer, you would too, you're just jealous and you hate to see people follow their dreams. Just because you negative-minded people are afraid to pursue what truly makes you happy, it makes you feel better to try to belittle others when they do. If you don't like the article or the Washington Post, DON'T READ IT! Get a life, and get back to your unfulfilling lives.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:09 PM

WAY TO GO AMANDA!!!! CONGATS!!! I am happy for you and your wonderful success. I wish you a very promising and successful future. Anything you need me to do to help out...please let me know, agian CONGRATS!! John -OCI

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:17 PM


Whoever posted this...
"A woman at the next stand hocked breed-specific shower curtains"

Hocked??? I believe the word is correctly spelled "hawked" - homonyms are so confusing to spell-checkers...

hocked means to pawn...hawked means...attacked by a hawk? Try the dictionary next time it isgood for your vocabulary.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:18 PM

Ok, someone with the approach to dogs (above, the person blathering about the AKC champions [which does not in the least impress me]) may not be "bad." ("These people . . . enjoy [their dogs] and are doing their part by being responsible for those THEY have chosen to own. This does not make them 'bad' people.") But,come on. If someone has the kind of cash to purchase an ultra-pedigreed dog and is willing to wait 2-3 years to get one, we are talking about something other than -- or rather, in addition to -- the love of dogs. I choose to fill in the blanks as to what I think their motivation is, but that would be my values entering into the equation. So, basically, we're talking values -- not "badness" or goodness.

Anyone who loves dogs can send $10 to the local humane society; they don't have to adopt a dog or volunteer with a rescue group. Just do it. While you're at it, tell everyone you know to stay away from pet stores and to be very cautious about the source of breed-specific animals. Let's put puppymills out of business.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:20 PM

I happen to be from the same area of western PA and I currently run a national investigation agency not far from D.C. Yeah, D.C., the murder capital of the world. I choose to follow my passion, much like Amanda in the article did Oh yeah, I strted my business after I got my second BA degree and had an employment offer from the FBI. My SAT score was 1130 for those of you who may be interested. If any of you could buy your kid a Hummer, you would too, you're just jealous and you hate to see people follow their dreams. Just because you negative-minded people are afraid to pursue what truly makes you happy, it makes you feel better to try to belittle others when they do. If you don't like the article or the Washington Post, DON'T READ IT! Get a life, and get back to your unfulfilling lives.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:20 PM

This says a lot about the culture right here.
"At UKC events, she said dog feces blanketed the ground and hound owners spat chewing tobacco in the show ring."

I was raised in a family of highly ethical hunters who rejected the use of coon dogs as barbaric and cruel to raccoon and dog alike.

If these dogs catch the coon before it gets up a tree, the dogs rip it to shreds. Sometimes the coon gets a few punches in, mangling a dog when it gets the chance. If it gets the dog in deep water, it may drown the dog. If it does get tree'd the "sportsman" shoots it out of the tree.
Sometimes a culture dies out not because of indifference to tradition but rather to outright rejection via evolution of societal standards.

Posted by: sky island | July 2, 2007 03:22 PM

apparently, you did not read the article close enough - they do not breed dogs - they buy them and then take very good care of them. There aren't unwanted dogs because of these people, or people like them and no, it's not time to look at the cost as a publicly funded subsidy. My Gawd!!!! I am sick to death of someone's passionate cause costing me money. I've had it with holier than thou guilt trips and manipulations - these people don't owe you or me or anyone else ANYTHING!

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:25 PM

"I agree with the posters who are dismayed by this article's glorification of a massive dog breeding enterprise." You must not have read the entire article. They aren't breeding the dogs; they are just buying them and taking care of them. Granted, they take care of them in a extravagant manner. They aren't, however, discriminating in whether they buy champions or just furbags like my dogs, who are breed-specific rescues. If I had the means, I'd probably do the same thing.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:26 PM

OH YEAH AND FOR ALL THOSE PEOPLE THAT LIKE TO TRASH TALK ON THE KEY BOARD..GROW UP..I KNOW WE ALL THE HAVE THE FREEDOM OF SPEACH AND CAN EXPREESS OUT OPINIONS..BUT HOW ABOUT SHOWING A LITTLE CLASS WHILE DOING SO. THIS FAMILY IS BY FAR THE NICEST FAMILY AND VERY RESPECTIABLE PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY. THESE DOGS MEAN THE WORLD TO THEM AND THEY LOVE EACH OF THEM VERY MUCH. I KNOW THIS FAMILY AND I WOULD TRUST MY DOGS WITH THEM ANY DAY.
SO UNLESS YOU "THE TRASH TALKERS" KNOW WHAT IT IS YOU ARE REALLY TALKING ABOUT, I SUGGEST GETTING YOU FACTS STRAIT AND LEARN TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS YOU READ BEFORE YOU RUN OFF WITH YOU MOUTHS...ALL IT DOES IS MAKE YOU SEEM UNEDUCATED AND UNHAPPY WITH YOUR OWN LIFE THAT YOU FEEL IT IS NECESSARY TO PUT OTHERS DOWN TO BRING YOUR SELF UP.

WAY TO GO AMANDA...PROUD OF YOU!!!
JOHN- OCI

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:31 PM

WAY TO GO AMANDA!!!! CONGATS!!! I am happy for you and your wonderful success. I wish you a very promising and successful future. Anything you need me to do to help out...please let me know, agian CONGRATS!! John -OCI

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:33 PM

I show UKC all the time and have to admit that I have never seen the show grounds covered in feces nor someone spit tobacco in the show ring. As a member of a UKC club that puts on all breed shows, my club members and I try very hard to make sure that the show site is nice and clean. Anyone seen not cleaning up after their dog is asked to leave and their registration fee is not refunded. I love UKC - and really take exception to the description in this article.

Posted by: cji | July 2, 2007 03:36 PM

this article is about a small-town young lady succeding through dedication and hard work. Get over yourselves....she loves dogs and enjoys her work with a passion. How many of you have, or would be willing to commit as much as she has to your work?

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:40 PM

Good Story. Maybe more people should be involved with DOGS, CATS etc. rather than DRUGS.
Some complain about how much it costs for shelters, etc, What about the medical costs for people on Drugs and the costs of rehabilitation of these people, let alone the costs of incarserating these people and the costs to the court systems.
To me it seems working with animals is a better and more rewarding way to go.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 03:54 PM

I've been to many UKC shows to compete with my terriers. I've never seen dog feces carpeting the ground or people spitting in the ring.

I don't know what Amanda really said, often quotes get turned inside out by a writer or an editor. But that description of UKC events is untrue.

Yvonne, terrier owner and hunter

And to everyone who disapproves of Amanda, her father, the vehicles they drive, their disposable income, coonhounds, coon hunting, the word "coon", hunting in general, UKC, AKC, dog shows in general, and people who compete with their dogs, I have this to say: "Get over it! Thank God this is a free country!"

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 04:17 PM

I'm not impressed with dog breeders, particularly ones who "show" dogs. Until we find homes for the strays born of dogs and cats that careless people have refused to get spayed and neutered, breeders are only contributing to the problem.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 04:21 PM

Good post Yvonne - I have participated in many UKC shows and hunts with my hounds. I have never seen a show ring "carpeted with feces," or "people spitting" either. And for that individual that said coonhunters shoot the "coon" thier dogs tree - may I suggest you participate in a "coon hunt" at least once in your life before you post incorrect facts. It is not an objective of the sport to kill coon.

Cheryl

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 04:26 PM

Hey Cheryl 4:26 PM
1) reread my post
2) go to this link http://www.rockdove.com/coonhunt.html
3) eat crow

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 04:34 PM

What a shame that someone spreading AKC propaganda has to denigrate the UKC. UKC is a less competitive, family-friendly organization that focuses on dogs that can work. UKC exhibitors like our dogs to look nice--hence, the conformation shows--but they need to be structurally sound, too. I have seen too many roach-backed, clown-footed, hock-walking German Shepherd dogs in the AKC recently to think that the professionals in that association care about anything other than breeding a "distinctive" done a good 90% of the time.

Having just returned from a four-day AKC show weekend, I can also say that there were plenty of feces on the ground there, as well, and more than a few people let their dogs urinate on the building. It is not a UKC problem, it is not a UKC prolem, it is not even a dog owner problem: it is a "I'm a big shot so the rules don't apply to me" problem.

It's a shame that the Washington Post had to feature an atypical kennel given to excess instead of focusing on a more ordinary kennel that treats their dogs like dogs, contributes time to their local kennel club and money to Take the Lead, and who is selective about their small kennel of dogs that they breed themselves and make part of their lives. Instead we get a glossy feature on people that keep their commodities (dogs) for self-aggrandizement.

What a waste.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 04:34 PM

Stop laughing, Lynne. You're not that superior. I incorrectly typed "it's" indeed, but you missed the point, which is that I have been defending the Post against those who think the Post is far too frightened and politically correct to be accurate. Sadly, this story proved me wrong. The "coon" example is sufficient, and using "hocks" for "hawks" and "woe" for "whoa" reveals an ignorance far greater than one solitary "it's."

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 04:35 PM

"I'm not impressed with dog breeders, particularly ones who 'show' dogs. Until we find homes for the strays born of dogs and cats that careless people have refused to get spayed and neutered, breeders are only contributing to the problem."

Don't forget to include the puppies from dogs who are treated as nothing more than a commodity to produce more puppies... Dogs who spend their entire lives in cages and in their own filth. Those cute puppies listed in the "pet4u" websites come from such places. Buying puppies from cruel breeders perpetuates the problem.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 04:40 PM

"Hey Cheryl 4:26 PM
1) reread my post
2) go to this link http://www.rockdove.com/coonhunt.html
3) eat crow"

Your point would be what exactly?

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 04:41 PM

RE:


Posted by: | July 2, 2007 04:41 PM

"Your point would be what exactly?"

that this coonhunter has 9 raccoons who must be sleeping because Cheryl thinks coonhunters don't kill raccoons!

Posted by: skyisland | July 2, 2007 04:46 PM

I saw no where on the page that said they would show you how to shoot coon. They did mention they would help you teach your dog to track and tree..which, of course, is what coonhunting is all about. The pictures were dated, probably back quite a few years ago when hide hunters used dogs to kill coon. However, as hides aren't worth much anymore and the fact that the sport has evolved as most sports do, that is no longer the objective. How many coonhunts have you been on? I've been on hundreds. Do you Shine Deer before you shoot them, most deer hunters do you know. And that comment is just as ignorant as the one you made. Stop while your behind.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 04:52 PM

How many people here are aware that some shelters import small and medium-sized dogs from other countries because the spay/neuter laws actually work well? Many shelters are "overcrowded" with dogs that are imported to meet the demand for such dogs. Fewer than 25% of the dogs in shelters are purebred and only 4% of them are from hobby breeders (breeders who show).

Hobby breeders breed their dogs sparingly and only to benefit the breed. They do not treat their dogs as commodities; most of the time their dogs live in their homes and are part of the family. They are not super-competitive; rather, they have one or two show dogs at a time that they pamper and primp and focus on until the dogs have "finished" their championship, at which time the dogs retire to be much-loved pets. Hobby breeders are not the same as puppy mills or commercial breeders, either of whom really need to be shut down.

Posted by: Kim | July 2, 2007 05:01 PM

this show that killing coons is alive and well whether you yourself do it or not

http://www.coonhuntinginfo.com/

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 05:03 PM

And people hunt deer, bear and bobcat, people fish...turkey hunt, etc. all of which have limits and seasons. Regardless, the objective of coonhunting and competition coonhunts is not to kill a coon and anyone who says so is ill informed. Hunting a coon in season is no different than hunting deer in season. The only difference is killing coon happens far, far less than...lets say - DEER, FISH, TURKEYS, DOVES, QUAIL - all of which I might add, I will fight to preserve an individuals right to do, as long as they do it legally.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 05:13 PM

Hot-Doggin' So that is what I am doing wrong, HUH.. I need to get my chewing tobacco, spit it out into the ring. Make sure my dogs spread their feces all over..

First of all, UKC events are VERY family oriented and alot of fun.
Second of all, the people that compete in bench, water and field trials and the hunts are super awesome nice and always willing to help you out.
Third of all, Every time I have seen Alexanders they have been snooty and act better than anyone else.
Better do more research, go and observe a UKC event local and national.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 05:26 PM

It's all about the dogs. Period. Whether you like to show them, hunt with them (including coonhunting) or rescue them, it is about loving and enjoying the companionship of a dog. Period.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 05:40 PM

useful websites on Plott Hounds

www.plottdogs.com

www.akccoonhounds.com

www.ukcdogs.com

www.prohound.com

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 07:22 PM

So, these people are criticized for spending an outrageous amount of money on dogs? The money should have gone to charity, at least a significatnt portion of that money!
The journalist took the middle of the road when this criticism was voiced in the online discussion. Grow a pair, sir!
Who knows what these people give to charity? If it is nothing, something, or all, I think that's something between Amanda's father and his accountant.
Were this some 14 year old prodigy living in Brooklyn and his father spent all their money on recordings that never sold, it would be a cute story, wouldn't it? If Amanda simply named her kennel-like surroundings 'Hound dog RESCUE', readers would fall all over themselves nominating her for sainthood - and her father.
This criticism of a working-class entrepreneur indulging his daughter's penchant for adoptiing and training hound dogs is so elitist and I find it tiresome. And very predictable.
I live not far from horse country. Tell me about indulgent hobbies and elitism.

Posted by: kathywi | July 2, 2007 07:26 PM

The Alexander's live in a modest home in a modest, "coal mine, company home setting" As a friend of the family, I know that the Alexander's donated many thousands of dollars to support local and national youth hound events. They have donated TONS of dogfood to area shelters and have numerous rescued hounds in their kennel. Amanda has been very successful in her endeavors which brings with it jealousy from many of her peers. I look forward to reading their comments on her soon. Some are here already. Hotdoggin', Cheryl et al

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 07:34 PM

The UKC all-breed events are very similar to the AKC all-breed events that is true. For the most part, each are clean. The AKC events have a significantly higher entry, and are featured more often on televison etc. To me, that makes winning at them more time-honored thus prestigious. The UKC coonhound events are an entirely different story. They do not require exhibiters to police up after their dogs. The larger events typically have dog traders on the grounds selling dogs and the UKC does little to police these patrons. It is an entirely different scene and ANYONE who says otherwise either does not know or not being honest. Autumn Oaks, the most prestigious of ALL UKC coonhound events even had puppies left in a trash bin after the event last year. Thankfully they were discovered by locals club supporters. I have also seen people with chew in while showing dogs, while judging dogs and while spectating. This includes women. I don't care one way or another as is does not offend me in anyway. For all the evils of tobacco, many universities were built from that plant, many a home was built on that plant and many a family/community was supported by that plant. With that said, I still prefer the non-smoking section of the restaurant.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 07:37 PM

Awesome job you guys! ive been arund coonhounds all my life and theres nothin better than listening to a hound on a full mooned still night doing what it loves to do best. I know curt but havent met Amanda yet..but they r good ppl. Keep up the good work u guys!

Tracy in VA

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 08:53 PM

While I am glad to see an article on coonhunting and hounds in a mainstream media newspaper, it really is sad to see Amanda give the impression that UKC events are backwoods and not clean. As the other posters have posted, UKC events are not characterized as Amanda is making it appear.

I invite each and everyone of you to attend a UKC event to see that what Amanda stated in the article is far from the truth.

The official UKC website is www.UKCDOGS.com There you can find listings for events in your area and states.

But please do not base your opinion on UKC and it's members on Amanda's comment about UKC, attend an event with your family and see for yourself.

Posted by: | July 2, 2007 10:05 PM

To Maryland who asked about what the dog show retirement age is, death is probably the most popular answer. If you ever go to a dog show you'll notice plenty of elderly women and men, especially the judges. Not only does it take years and years to become a fully vested judge, it seems that they never retire once getting there. I've been to a handful of shows and at more than half of them one of the judges has needed medical attention. In that respect, there is certainly a lot of ego involved, and what can feed the ego more than being the king maker? Getting to judge and not be judged in return. That's a power trip, I'm sure.

Posted by: Cherry Hills, CO | July 3, 2007 04:20 AM

To Arlington, who blabs about charity, I'd ask him what his own insecurity is that he feels the need to lecture others. His argument regarding why "people like this invest all their life and their time and their money on something NOBODY cares about" is easily defeated by noting that they are investing THEIR time, THEIR money, and THEIR life on something THEY care about. That is freedom and the American dream.

There'd be less of a need for charity if more people lived the way Larry Ellison and the Alexanders do. The hundreds of thousands of dollars they spend aren't burned in a fire, those dollars are spent on workers and planners and builders and inventors and service suppliers. Many people put food on the table by servicing the needs of Larry and Amanda. The people who built her pool, groom her dogs, supply food, fencing, leashes, pooper scoopers, medical care, her cars, the gas in the tank, the maps she uses to get to her competitions. The products she buys there and all the taxes that make communities she lives, works, and competes in run.

Larry and Amanda are even so interesting that people make money informing the rest of us about them and what they are doing. It says a lot about the Alexanders that even when their activities create negative externalities (noise in the neighborhood) they have actually gone above and beyond to rectify that and allow their neighbors to pursue their own version of happiness.

Is it better to throw money at charities or is it better to participate in an economy that empowers others to put food on lots of tables?

Posted by: Cherry Hills, CO | July 3, 2007 04:21 AM

Regarding "Center of the Universe" who claims to be "the most non-competitive person in the whole world," I'd point out that being the MOST non-competitive is actually claiming to win the competition to be non-competitive, and on the whole-world-stage none-the-less. Does that come with a ribbon?

"I'm non-competitive" would be stating a simple observation, which might be true as long as "Center of the Universe" wasn't saying it to win an argument. But Debate is competitive, and CotU has not only given himself a superlative title, he's staked out the supposed center of the universe. I'd say "ego" would better fit that poster than the lady in your article.

Posted by: Cherry Hills, CO | July 3, 2007 04:22 AM

Eli -

Your grammar went out the window in your reply to W.F. Whence; "build" and "your" would make your editor happy. It must have been a momentary lapse, because unlike the internet generation, you used "your" and "you're" correctly numerous times.

And I agree with your financee and Cleveland Park: ego is a complex word and the manner it's most often used regarding competitive people doesn't really fit this woman or her family, or even the dogs. Self-esteem seems to fit, and if you are using ego as a proxy for self-esteem, why not just say self-esteem. Ego in competition is more like abundant self-worth or even inflated self-worth. This story seems like the spoiled woman is buying and working for and even earning an accomplishment instead of going from accomplishement to inflated self worth.

In my view, her attitude is superior to considering inheriting wealth an accomplishment, or even worse considering inherited wealth as justification for an inflated ego.

Granted, much of this woman's success has to do with writing checks. The dogs were bought, she didn't develop her lines with a designed breeding program, so her wins aren't celebrating her success in that endevour, they are celebrating her taste in other people's "art." But like a realtor selling a mansion that was designed and built by other people, she is playing her part and that is a talent and she shares in the win.

Her success is fueled by her father's gifts, but many a high school athlete, middle school ice skater, or preschool pageanteer can say the same.

If you wanted to find a very similar story that I think moves from this lady's situation into true Ego, I'd say that Larry Ellison as sailing competitor fits. The man built an empire of a company from his own talents and earned his own fortune. So he doesn't have the listless guilt of inheritance that plagues many people in Amanda's situation. But he too has written many checks to buy his talent (in this case sailors instead of dogs) and their technology (sails and a boat instead of groomers and an RV). And he too has worked his own talent to try and bring those pieces together to win.

But this is clearly feeding an already immense Ego. It's not, as I take it in Amanda, finding a sense of identity or raison d'etre. Her operation is certainly excessive, but is her ego?

Posted by: Cherry Hills, CO | July 3, 2007 04:26 AM

All of you that have negative comments about the Alexanders obviously do not know them personally. We all have the same opportunities in life. Wether you were born into money or not, the world is out there. You can sit an complain about how great other people have it (financially) or you can do something about your own situation. You can draw comparisons bewtween the "Haves" and the "Have Nots." I myslf came from a small coal-mining town in western PA and grew up with no money. We had enough to eat everyday and that is it! I know it makes small-minded people feel better about themselves to put others down...that's the same logic school yard bullies embrace, but they usually get taught a tough lesson. What business do any of you have to decide how the Alexanders spend THEIR money? Get off your ass*s and go make your own money and you can spend it however you want!

Posted by: | July 3, 2007 08:55 AM

I mean jesus christ people..come on already...why are there still negative comments being left and small minded childish arguments taking place on something that was suppose to be enjoyable and what I thought was intended for mature individuals...not 12 year olds fighting back and forth. I know everyone is intitled to their opinion, but like i mentioned previously express it with some sort of class.

John-OCI

Posted by: | July 3, 2007 10:01 AM

Yes they grow intelligent people in rural PA, I know many. These folks aren't amongst them. UGH. I pity their neighbors.

Posted by: | July 3, 2007 10:26 AM

Obviously you do not have an understanding of what intelligence is. I have two degrees, run a nationwide business, help children with autism learn to speak, teach CPR/AED to hundreds of people and scored 1130 on my SAT's, but I have no understanding of dog breeding or showing dogs. Just because someone has 'intelligence' in a different area of expertise and in a wider spectrum than your own, does not make them less intelligent, just that they have a wider knowledge base than you. People who equate intelligence with academics and a geographical area show their lack of exactly that, intelligence. Stop being jealous and learn to open your eyes and your mind before your mouth!

Posted by: | July 3, 2007 11:25 AM

I thought this was a great story, and showed some good humor. I love the part where he could understand which dog was howling.

I did take offense to the reader who posted:

They grow 'em dense as a post in that part of PA from what I hear.

It's a sad life they must lead where they have enough free time to relate story about raising dogs into a policial statement.

Posted by: Mark DiPierro | July 3, 2007 01:19 PM

I am very sad to see that UKC is spoken of in a negative tone. This organization is very professional and supports breeding GREAT dogs to the standard. All shows I have ever attended or hosted, the exhibitors are very respectful and dress VERY nice. A while back it used to be less "dressy" but UKC has really brought competiton and showing as well as keeping it fun up a notch.
See for yourself .. go to www.ukcdogs.com and look up events close to you and see how many AKC folks you see at UKC shows.

Ask around at UKC shows and see where folks have fun, can relax yet see outstanding showmanship by non-professional handlers. (Yes professional are allowed to handle their dogs only). Take a look at the junior program? Want to get your childeren into something fun, rewarding and way cool? Junior handling is awesome!

Posted by: | July 3, 2007 02:25 PM

I have seen Amanada at several events in Indiana. She is as nice a person as one could ask for. Maybe it's the money that has her doing this. She has to work hard to get her dogs in shape and teach them how to stand. Money is not going to buy her a win. That she gets all on her own. Keep it up Amanada.

Posted by: | July 3, 2007 07:44 PM

I am real curious about the puppies in trash bins at Autumn Oaks-I WAS THERE!!! Were you????

I saw the puppies, and "dog tradin'", and guess what-many of those people arranged previous to the event to deliver a dog, and others specifically attended to look for a pup.

I am a coonhunter-and have yet to shoot a coon. That is not to say some hunters don't-but competition hunts are NO GUNS!! And most coons that are shot are near farmer's fields, and damaging crops that are meant to sustain human life. So forgive me for NOT FEELING A BIT GUILTY when I DO shoot a coon.

As far as all you "don't breed when dogs are in need" folk-if your child is lost in the woods, who do you want looking for it...my coonhound or your neighbor's chihuahua? There is a reason for breeding, and it is to keep the integrity of a breed for it's intended purpose. Not to make money-ask any reputable breeder, and you will know we lose more money in a year than we make in ten!!

Erica Slomka
Jumpin JACS Kennels
American Breeds-American Bred
Working dogs only need apply!!!

Posted by: Erica | July 3, 2007 10:52 PM

I would like to hock a hound dog.

Posted by: | July 4, 2007 11:40 AM

I have two graduate degrees and have been coonhunting for thirty some years. I train registered coonhounds and compete in licensed coonhunts, where no guns are present nor are coons touched. For 7-8 months of the year my dogs do not touch live raccoons. The beauty of coonhunting is that we can do it at night, when many people are frittering away their free time in front of a tv or video game. During the month of November, during actual hunting seasons I shoot a few coons down to my dogs. I and my friends are lucky if we shoot ten coons a year; that is not the objective in our version of this sport. We love to be in the outdoors, watching young coonhounds develop to their genetic potential. Two of the most irritating questions I am asked about coonhunting are "What are the coonhides worth?" and "Isn't it bad for dogs to be led away from trees and not shoot the coon down to them?" I could care less what coonhides are worth and only sell a very few each year; this is a dog centered sport. Moreover, treehounds today have intense genetic abilities to tree, and do not need coons shot down to them. I live in a very rural area of upstate New York and probably run some of the same coons dozens of times over the course of the summer and early fall.

Posted by: | July 5, 2007 08:02 AM

The above comment was submitted by Rich Taber, a central New York coonhunter and professional educator.

Posted by: | July 5, 2007 08:05 AM

That this young lady spends her time loving and caring for her dogs is wonderful. She could be out drinking and drugging instead. As a verteran 911 dispatcher, I will say that we never have calls on this sort of youth activity to the center. "Coonhounds" are wonderful, American born and Breed...very suiting for an article on the Celebration of our County. And I will add that I saw no mention here at all of her breeding them to add to the stagering problem of over population of uncared for animals.Thank you Washington Post for a timely article.

Posted by: Lynda Dillon-Silver, Washington State | July 5, 2007 07:30 PM

Erica Slomka - great post! I couldn't have said it better myself. I challenge any critic above to visit Richmond, IN over Labor Day weekend for one of the most rewarding coonhound events that is affiliated with UKC: Autumn Oaks. I have made some of the greatest friendships over the last few years attending that event. I have also learned to appreciate the sport of coonhunting because of people like you.

I understand this article isn't about AKC versus UKC, but about one individual and their love for hounds. I just hate that UKC's name was dunked in the mud because some reporter experienced one specific registry's dog event and built their opinion off of that one registry. There's a whole lot more to hounds than AKC. Last I knew, AKC didn't even recognize the majority of the coonhound breeds until the last two years or so.

This article is only a small portion of what coonhounds are all about. I know many coonhunters and coonhound owners who put their heart and souls into their dogs, just like Amanda. I've had the pleasure of watching their children participate at the UKC Youth National, where the UKC awards continuing education scholarships. For someone to say that UKC is "a less formal, less prestigious organization" is a slap in the face to these folks who have participated in UKC events and worked hard to have the "Total Dog", as UKC puts it.

What I have enjoyed about UKC events is that the organization promotes the working dog - not just the pretty dog. UKC seems to thrive on getting back to the roots of what dogs were bred to do.

I encourage anyone to attend a UKC event. UKC events are just like family reunions and the family gets a little bigger every year. UKC has been around over 100 years. They must be doing something right.

http://www.ukcdogs.com/


Posted by: rrj | July 5, 2007 11:35 PM

Why do people always make something out of nothing? Jealousy, envy greed.
I don't know the Alexanders that well but know they always present themselves with class and thier dogs are very well cared for at the events. I would say the reporter on this article had a hidden agenda, because several things seem to be sarcastic and twisted.
I am so sick of all these people who complain about strays and unwanted pets. What about all the abused and unwanted children? Isn't a human life more important? What about all the unmarried, drug addicted woman crack addicted babies on welfare? Why don't you people get together and try to solve those problems. I used to work with our local Humane Society and there are some good people local, but do your research the HSUS & Peta together have one agenda and its not saving animals anymore. They don't give a damn about the animals you people need to wake up. They are against agriculture and hunters thats their main agenda. I wish the Washington post would expose the truth about Peta & HUSU. Heres a good site to start with then there are many more links on this site with more stories the medie just doesn't care to report. http://www.thehiddenenemy.com/

I too compete in UKC events and enjoy the people and my dogs. What you see is what you get, no phonies there. As for some of you AKC people who have commented on here your true colors show thru. Why should a person start at the bottom when you can start at the top? It seems like one just used their post as a bragging tool. I have no desire to ever show in AKC although I own a couple of AKC registered dogs. I once wanted to but the Snobby better than anyone attitude of most turned me off. Does anyone realize that AKC show people are breeding & promoting several breeds that have serious defects and faults. Then ask huge prices for their puppies because their parents have titles. Contradictions are everywhere. I vented enough.

Good luck to the Alexanders in their future ventures.

Posted by: | July 8, 2007 04:41 PM

After reading this article a second time, it seems that the Washington Post did have a hidden agenda. The way the article begins is a slap in the face to the Mr. Alexander. This entire article seems to be making a mockery of everything they do or don't do, thier material things and thier love of dogs.
Why don't you write something about all the tax dollars being given away to foreigners who pick up and leave their home land to live in USA because they can get $100,000+ a year for married couple, and so much per child for the first 3 - 5 years they live here and pay not taxes. We have communities of foreigners buying acreages and creating thier own communities with government free money. Something in the constitution is what I was told that we offered settlers to come her and settle. Please research and report on this subject. They are living alot better off then those who have worked all their lives, paid taxes and never got anythinh for free. Please WP let us know why our government keeps giving money away but won't help our own people.

Posted by: | July 12, 2007 12:40 AM

I worked for Amanda for years and she is kind and caring with all dogs. She and her father are generous and have given generous donations of labor, time, money, and material items to local animal rescues and shelters, including the one I work for and the animal rescue that I founded over a year ago. The story was about her show career, though, and didn't touch on everything the family has done in the 8 years they've been working in coon dogs so there's no point in everyone jumping to conclusions.

While I do not support mass "breeding", these dogs (as clearly stated in the article, mind you) are not bred by Amanda- they are bought by her family, some saved from horrible places. I don't think Amanda wanted to imply that the UKC as a whole is a bad organization and I sort of feel the reporter included that part and omitted some of the rest to stir up conversation. However, I really believe it when Amanda says she has seen some bad things at some coonhound shows- I'd believe it because I've seen the condition that some of her hounds came to her in that she bought to rescue while waiting outside the ring. They are not contributing to pet overpopulation because they are not selling their dogs, they take care of them. It's a shame they can't all be pampered house pets but better to live in heated, air conditioned kennels and receive vet care and good food than to live on a chain in someone's back yard with inadequate food, water, and shelter. Bob in particular feels that each of his dogs are family. After getting to know all of them for years, those dogs have been my family too. Congratulations to Amanda on breaking through to AKC and to her dogs for giving their best every time.

Posted by: | July 13, 2007 12:48 AM

You know there's such an infantile analysis being performed by some of the posters: "either you adopt from shelters or you are contributing to overpopulation." Not every dog breeder is a puppymill! Not every breeder is irresponsible. Most show breeders sell their puppies under contract after carefully screening potential homes. These same breeders work to screen out genetic defects. What's more - there's some basic ignorance of facts here. Do you know where most of the dogs that find their way into shelters come from? No, not even puppymillers - they come from backyard breeders! Check your statistics before you condemn anyone who breeds a dog!

Pet owners who think that just because they CAN they SHOULD breed their dogs are the individuals who are responsible for sending so many dogs to animal shelters. Second to them are the spur-of the moment pet shop purchases (compare that to the person who has to wait a year or more to buy a puppy from a breeder AFTER being screened and forced to put down a hefty down payment. Who do you think is more likely to abandon their dog?)

Do you know how many people are breeding Yorkies right now - just because they have a dog with papers that say that it is a Yorkie (or even if the dog just looks like a Yorkie?)? The problem is that people think that breeding "just this once" with any dog who happens to be what is in demand (and that included designer mix breeders), don't seem to understand that every drop in the bucket can equal a ground swell. It is the throwaway dogs, the dogs bred for profit, the dogs bred out of ignorance that cause the pet overpopulation problem. Stop vilifying everyone who breeds dogs. If no one bred dogs, there would be no dogs to share our lives with. What we want is dedicated breeders who love their animals and want to do what's best for them. Careful breeding with an end-goal of healthy, sound, and true (to breed type) should be applauded. We should laud the efforts of these people and rein in the rest!

Posted by: Samantha | July 13, 2007 03:08 PM

Could the person who keeps touting their 1130 SAT score get a grip please? That is not a terribly high score. It might beat the national average but not by so much.

Posted by: | August 15, 2007 05:58 PM

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