S'Dandi Shih Tzu
All Rights Reserved
2000 - 2008
Sally and Dick Watkeys
8235 Outer Drive South
Traverse City, MI 49684
Graphics courtesy of:
S'Dandi Shih Tzu
Just BePaws . . .
STR: What was your most memorable win?

SW: There have been several. The biggest one was when Orie finished in Wisconsin. Greg Larson was supposed to show him for his majors. At that time, I wasn’t confident enough to think I could do it myself. But…Greg had a dog in front of Orie that didn’t finish the weekend before. So, he had to stay on the other dog. I just happened to be in Wisconsin for a school seminar that extended through Saturday. Tammie told me to make the flight home to include a dog as she just had a feeling. Well, I showed Orie that Saturday myself and finished him with a 4 point major. So, the flight home was an amazing one. The judge was also on my flight and told me what a lovely boy Orie was. We were thrilled.

Rush’s championship happened another weekend. We went to Pennsylvania for the Memorial Day shows. He took back to back majors and became a champion at 13 months old. That was the youngest dog I had finished back then. He followed that the next weekend as a move-up by taking a Group 4 and two weeks later, a Group 1.

Another moment came when the 10-month-old puppy I was showing for a friend got a 4 point major by going Best of Breed over 3 specials. That was one win I could hardly believe.

And, then there was the Best Puppy In Show awarded to our Cole. That was truly exciting.

STR: We all have done silly things and have embarrassing moments, please tell us one of yours.

SW: Well, there have been several, I suppose. The most recent was when Gabriel got WD for 2 points but needed the crossover major to finish. I got so excited that I told the judge, as he handed me the purple ribbon, that it finished the dog. Gads! What a big mistake! Luckily, he awarded him BOW anyway, so Gabriel got that last major in spite of me.

STR: Do you prefer breeder judges or all-rounders?

SW: I have no preference here except that the judges are fair and consistent in their judging. Judge the dog not the handler. I have no problem when another dog that is of equal or better quality wins over my dog. But…when I see some of them that are really poor examples of the breed becoming champions, it does none of us any good. Our breed is being compromised. The owner of the new champion gets it home, thinks it’s wonderful and breeds it only to contribute bad qualities back into our breed. Our gene pool is limited even though our breed is a popular one. We need to concentrate on quality and not on just the latest champion.

STR: Name a couple of Shih Tzu, not owned or shown by yourself, that you feel were/are particularly outstanding, and why they were/are good in your opinion.

SW: There are several that I can think of. Ch Lainee Sigmund Floyd was very influential in the breed. He had those gorgeous eyestripes and structure. He was before my time, but my Mowgli was a great grandchild of his and was prepotent for many of Siggie’s characteristics.

Ch. Shente’s Brandy Alexander was still awesome at 11 or 12 when he took the breed at Westminster. His progeny, Ch. Shente’s Christian Dior was another really fantastic dog that is behind my dogs as well.

Then, there is Ch. Tojo Midnight Max. The first time I saw him, at about 2 years of age at a National, he took my breath away watching him move. He has certainly made Joan and Tom McGee proud with all his accomplishments. We are very proud to have Max’s last, naturally bred son, Ch. S’Dandi Wotehsin After Midnight. “Cole,” now 3 years old, has shown his prowess as a stud boy.
STR: How did you become interested in Shih Tzu, and how long have you been in the breed?

SW: When our youngest son became a teenager, he wanted a dog. I was still working full-time and was not convinced. He persisted, so I said the dog had to be small, non-shedding with no doggie odor. We went to a pet shop, (horror of horrors) and saw a Lhaso puppy. I told a friend about the puppy and she told me she had been investigating breeds, and the Shih Tzu was the way to go. That was in 1986. We bought a Tzu puppy from a not so reputable breeder, as I was to find out later, and fell in love. The puppy was really quite cute and grew to be a beautiful dog with bad temperament problems. The groomer called him “Mr. Wonderful” with tongue in cheek. Even so, my heart was broken when he died.
I did my homework the next time and found Joyce DeVoll of Chang Tang Shih Tzu who sold me the best little Tzu in the world. Lili would become my girl until the day she died.

That was the beginning. As Joyce and I became good friends, she encouraged me to take a little show puppy and start showing.
That was the impetus of how this S’Dandi thing began and how it has evolved into what has become “us.” Both my husband, Dick, and I are very much involved in all aspects of this breed that has given so much meaning to our lives.

STR: Have you ever shown any other breeds? Or currently do so?

SW: Occasionally, I have taken other small breeds into the ring for friends. The Shih Tzu is and will always be my favorite. It is also hard for me to add the additional stress of different ring times along with showing my own dogs. I admire all the handlers for their ability to do this every weekend.
Joyce and Sally
STR: How did you come up with your kennel name?

SW: Years ago when we bought a boat, we couldn’t think of a name for it. Finally, I thought of putting parts of our names together, S for Sally, Dan for our son, Dana, and Di for Dick. The boat’s name was supposed to mean, “It’s Dandi. When we started having our own litters and needed a name, it was automatic to use the same name. Besides, we were showing our first showgirl, Chang Tang Shih’s Dandi, and it incorporated her name as well.

STR: Who were your early mentors? What advise did they give you?

SW: Joyce was my first mentor. She has always been there for encouragement, even today, and in the beginning, helping me fill out my first entry form. Her best advice was to “always follow your heart.” Joyce, Thom Harvey and David Sokolowski trusted me with Soha’s Jungle Gym Chang Tang who became my first champion.
Sally and Mowgli
The guys also mentored me through my first litter. Dollias Musselman of Chi-Nees Shih Tzu mentored me through topknots and show expertise. Losing her a few years ago to Cancer has left a big hole in my heart. Dollias’ advise was to “Go Get Um!”

STR: Where did you get your foundation dogs?

SW: As I already said, Thom, David and Joyce provided Mowgli, my first champion. Most of his points were at the end of my lead. Thom put a few singles on him as well as his finishing major. My foundation bitch came from Pat Waters. Though Betsy didn’t like the show-ring, she proved to be a wonderful brood bitch, producing puppies better than she was. Most of my champions have Betsy as a Gramma, Great Gramma or Great, Great Gramma. Betsy, who was 13 in September, is still going strong.

STR: Why did you choose those particular dogs?
Four generations:
Betsy, Annie, Abbey and Glitz
SW: Mowgli was a beautiful example of the breed with a look that resembled the big dogs in his background. He had a wonderful pedigree which included Ch. Hodari Lord of the Rings, Ch. Chang Tang Elusive Jeffery and Ch. Lainee Sigmund Floyd. I bought Betsy for her structure, ie. leg and neck as in the Canadian dogs. I thought I needed that and was correct in my decision.

STR: What were your earliest key breedings?

SW: Using Mowgli with Ann Bromley’s girls of AmaDandi Shih Tzu, who went back to Chang Tang, produced our first Bred By Champions, Orie and Hunter.

The Mowgli/Betsy combination produced a bitch I called Annie. Though Annie showed a bit, she didn’t finish. Bred to Ch. Chi-Nees Zohio I’m So Sexy, a Christian son, she became the dam of my Am/Can Ch. S’Dandi’s On Loan From God, “Rush,” and litter sister Ch. S’Dandi’s Kylemore Abbey. The rest is history.
Dick and Orie
STR: How many times would you breed a bitch in her lifetime?

SW: That all depends on the bitch. If the bitch is an easy whelper, I have done several litters. Sometimes, they just have much too much trouble and get spayed after only one litter. My Aurora could probably do six or seven as easily as she has puppies and recovers from them. However, she is getting spayed at 5 ½ years old and going to live as an only dog with a wonderful lady who lives in our area. I think when a bitch reaches 6 years of age, she deserves a life without having to be a “working” girl.

STR: Do you have dogs at public stud and if so what are your requirements for the bitches?

SW: My boys have been used at stud with trusted friends. Several folks asked about one of my males a couple of years ago. He hadn’t been proven then, so it didn’t happen. I would expect at least a 5 generation pedigree, blood and Brucillosis testing and a working relationship with the bitch’s owner.

STR: What do you feed and do you supplement at any time?

SW: We feed a product called Quality Care Plus manufactured now in Ohio. It used to be a small Michigan company producing a quality food. We began using it about 15 years ago and have been pleased with the results.

I only supplement when my girls have been bred. They get a PetTab daily during pregnancy and a Calcium pill twice a day while nursing. I use Osteo Form but have also used Pet Cal when not able to get the other.

STR: Of all the dogs you have owned, which are your personal favorites and why?

SW: Although I love them all, Rush will always be my most favorite dog. He did more for us than all the other dogs combined so far. He was the first S’Dandi Bred By Champion, the first one that finished really fast, the first one to move up and get group placements and a Group 1, the first Canadian Champion and Group placer, thanks to Marg Brown of Shente, (who by the way is considered Rush’s Great Gramma since she bred his Grampa, Ch. Shentes’s Christian Dior,) the first to receive an invitation to the Eukanuba show, the first to place in the top 20 two years in a row, my first CGC title and then a TDI title, cover dog for Dog World Magazine, Jan. 01, along with being my constant companion and bed dog. A wonderful plus is that Marg and I became good friends because of Rush. Rush has always produced consistently for my friends and me. He was the special dog that was God’s gift to me during some very unpleasant years in our lives. I have Dollias to thank for him when she permitted me to use Ch. Chi-Nees Zohio I’m So Sexy, and Rush for keeping me sane during those 5 years.

My second favorite dog is Nugget, Ch. S’Dandi’s Strike It Rich. His incredibly black face on his golden body is awesome. He is also a really sweet boy. I truly love showing the solid colors.
STR: Who were the first progeny that you felt were the type you wanted your kennel to stand for?

SW: Rush and his litter sister, Abbey, just had that look that said S’Dandi to me. I was working for structure, nice heads, those beautiful big eyes with natural eyestripes, floating movement and wonderful temperament. I finished them both owner/handled very quickly. Both of them have been good producers. I am working on a Rush daughter now who, when finished, will make Rush ROM eligible. She needs 4 singles.
STR: Who was your first Champion?

SW: Mowgli, Ch. Soha’s Jungle Gym Chang Tang.

STR: How many other Champions have you owned/bred?

SW: 21-all owner/handled
STR: Do you sell to others or just breed for your own needs?

SW: Mostly, I breed to show my own dogs. I have carefully shared a few puppies with good friends that I can trust. I have just placed my first "show potential" puppy with a lady in Michigan who wants to get started in the breed.

STR: At what age do you consider a puppy show quality, and sell them as such?
SW: This is such a hard decision to make. I evaluate the puppies at birth for markings, of course. Then, the next step is to watch the nicely marked puppies as they grow and develop. I look at them carefully at 8 weeks and again at 12 weeks. After that, I choose the one I like the best to watch until about 6 months. Puppies develop and change so it’s better just to love them, teach them some manners ie. grooming, table skills, lead training and crate training and then make a decision a little later. The best part of being an owner/handler is that I have all the time I want to make my decisions.

STR: What are your thoughts on training puppies to get them ready for the ring?

SW: Do all of the above in getting puppies ready for the ring plus taking them either to a handling class or puppy matches so they get used to the sounds, smells, other dogs and excitement of a show.

STR: Can a Shih Tzu be both a house dog and show dog?

SW: I truly think they can be as all my dogs live in my house and have the run of our kitchen and back hall. I do separate the show kids and puppies from the older dogs if they start to play too roughly and chew on each other too much.

STR: Do you have a preference between dogs and bitches?

SW: I love my boys. They are just so wonderful. I think the difference between the sexes is that the boys say, “I love you,” while the girls say, “Love me.” Think about it. It’s really true.
STR: Do you use handler or show the dogs yourself?

SW: I handle my own dogs. It is the biggest achievement an owner/handler can have when the judge points to you, and you know the dog is a finished champion.

STR: What do you think is the biggest mistake owner-handlers make?

SW: Not presenting their dogs as well as the handlers. That means…the dog being immaculately clean, groomed to the best of your ability and trained to do just what they should do in the ring. It isn’t an easy thing to do but can be done.

STR: What is your favorite dog show class to enter and why?

SW: The Bred By Exhibitor Class. I like showing off the dogs that come from S’Dandi. I think all breeders should be really proud of their quality dogs. What better way to exhibit that than in the BBE class?
Breeder Forum Sally Watkeys
STR: What do you think are the most common faults in Shih Tzu today?

SW: The thing that upsets me the most is the head and face. The Shih Tzu is a face breed. The heads need to have correct structure or we will lose that beautiful expression. The eyes need to stay large and dark with no eyewhite. I have also observed many dogs with poor rears being shown lately. That causes faulty movement. Our breed is supposed to float, not bounce around the ring.

STR: What is the fault you just can’t live with?

SW: Bad temperament. Whether the dog is show quality or pet quality, it must have that happy, outgoing personality to be the companion it was bred to be.

STR: How would you rate type, temperament, and soundness in order of importance?
SW: It’s hard to rate these characteristics for importance. If we have bad temperament, it’s not a good dog. If we don’t have type, we lose the look of our breed. If soundness is a problem, we have a dog that can’t move and is not healthy. They are all of equal importance to me. The idea of breeding should always be to improve the breed with each litter. As I look back over all my breedings and show dogs, I think we have accomplished that goal. Another of my favorite sayings is that “I’ll take home my loser dogs anyday.” Maybe that best describes how I feel about their quality.

STR: Which three words best describe the breed?

SW: Loving, animated and family oriented.

STR: Do you have any family members that show or are interested in getting involved in the sport?

SW: Other than my husband, Dick, who is my avid supporter, no. I thought I was going to entice one of my granddaughters to show, but it didn’t come to fruition. It was disappointing as they seemed to be naturals.

STR: Do you have a resident house mouse?

SW: I guess we have about 7 of them as they are the bed dogs.

STR: What other hobbies do you have that are not dog related?

When we are traveling in the RV, I like to read, knit or write articles on the computer. I used to enjoy snow skiing, but Dick isn’t really a winter guy so we travel south for the cold months.

He entices me with all the shows we can do while on our winter trips.

  1. What are your plans for the future?

Much more of the same, I guess. I keep saying, I’ll be happy if we can do this for 10 more years. I’ve been saying that for 10 years. So, hopefully, God willing, we will stay healthy enough to continue doing this thing that we love. We have met some wonderful people through the dogs, who have become really good friends. We have seen a great deal of the country going from show to show, have many wonderful memories and have learned and grown from each experience.

It’s been lots of work but well worth the effort.