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Teacher has passion for purebreds

By: Danelle Wacker The Press Tribune
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While most English teachers spend all day grading essays, Kelly Kerns of Oakmont High School has a passion for puppies. Apart from teaching daily, Kerns breeds and showcases pure bred dogs. Q: How did you first get into dog breeding and showcasing? A: I dragged my parents to a dog show when I was 9 — they thought it was crazy. I loved the beautiful dogs and the people who knew so much about them. It took me 15 years before I had the time and money to get involved with showing dogs, but have now been doing so for 10 years. Q: Tell me about the Tibetan spaniel breed. A: They are small, intelligent, independent dogs — very curious and very fun. Not terribly obedient though! I just love going to shows on the weekends with my dogs: packing the car, taking a picnic and spending the day with other people who know and love dogs. They make me laugh — every day. Tibetan spaniels are an old breed. For thousands of years they have guarded the walls and rooftops of Tibetan monasteries. They are alert, independent, intelligent and loyal Though they are small, they have the hearts of lions. And enough curiosity to get into plenty of trouble! Q: Why do you show dogs? A: Showing allows me to meet many people and to learn from them. Breeding healthy, sound dogs is not an easy task. I am learning all the time. Showing and breeding go hand in hand. If you are just breeding puppies for the “experience” or “to make money”— you are in it for the wrong reasons. In fact, it can take up to $300,000 a year to seriously campaign a top show dog. There are too many unwanted shelter dogs to justify breeding for those reasons. Q: Are there any unlikable aspects to breeding and showcasing? A: No matter how careful I am to bring healthy dogs into the world, Mother Nature has a way of reminding me that she is in charge. Sometimes puppies and dogs become ill or have health problems, despite all my best efforts. That can be heartbreaking. Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a breeder? A: The moment I first hold that new life in my hand, when that puppy takes her first breath. It is awesome and humbling at the same time. And I am grateful, every time that I am finally able to do this thing that I love so much.