DaDane of DaWeek
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— CH VZTop Amber N Onyx —
8, 2004 – This week's
DaDane features an elegant white-faced lady named Amber (CH VZTop
Amber N Onyx) who was owned and loved by Cindy & Glenn Niske, and
Rainwater. I photographed Amber shortly before her ninth birthday.
At the time she was suffering from osteosarcoma. She died just two
days later. Her regal bearing and obvious dignity, plus her willingness
to pose so gracefully for the camera during her last remaining days
is a testament to her good breeding and her devotion to Cindy and
Glenn, with whom she lived.
Last month at the annual
GDCA National Specialty, Amber – who was bred by Lorraine
Rainwater – was named the Great Dane Club of America's
2003 Top Brood Bitch. This highly
because six of her puppies obtained their AKC Championship titles
during 2003. Six champions in one year is no easy feat. Indeed, from
a breeder's standpoint, it's pretty awesome. (Hence the award.) Perhaps
even more impressive is this: During
her breeding career Amber bore twelve puppies, and of those twelve,
nine are finished champions. A tenth puppy needs one last 3-point
major to finish his championship. After he finishes,
N Onyx will be named to the Great Dane Club of
America's Hall of Fame. Furthermore, Amber's
son Traveler (CH VZTop He's Going Places) holds
the record as the youngest Great Dane in history to complete
his championship, which was accomplished when he was just six months
and 23 days old.
As mentioned earlier, Amber was bred by Lorraine Rainwater, a well-respected
breeder in the Great Dane community. Amber spent her early years with
Suzie Caldwell, who
in the conformation
shared her home with Suzie and several other Danes until
a move forced Suzie to downsize her household. Amber was returned
to Lorraine who placed her with Cindy and Glenn Niske because she
trusted them to love and care for Amber in the manner
to which she'd become accustomed. Amber quickly settled into her new
According to Cindy:
Elaina Heckman from next door quickly became Amber's best friend.
spend hours dressing Amber up in old ballet and Halloween costumes
elaborate dance productions. Amber tolerated
these costume sessions because she was usually rewarded
with homemade brownies and cookies, many of which were passed to her
they just kept falling out of her
hand. Elaina would look at Amber with a mouth full of cookies and exclaim,
'Hamburger, you're a berry good goggie!" And that she was.
While Amber was very
good with two-legged kids, she was even better with the four-legged
kind. As mother to her pups, Amber was without flaw. She always
right where to put her feet in a crowded whelping box, so as not to
step on anyone. When visitors would peer through the French doors
to peek at her new Dane babies, she'd stand up over the pups
and bark her message loud and clear – NO VISITORS PLEASE!!! She took
job very seriously. Nothing was more important to her than those
consistently produced beautiful puppies that were structurally correct
according to the AKC standard for the breed. How did this come about?
Certainly not by accident. By carefully evaluating
dam (her strengths and weaknesses) and by doing the
same for the potential sire, by studying the
on both sides to ensure the match isn't too close or too far
apart, a careful breeder will increase the odds that the 'right'
genetics will be present on both sides and result in a winning combination.
Then, with a little bit of luck thrown in, nature works its magic.
In Amber's case, Lorraine Rainwater drew upon her years of experience
to select what she considered to be the best possible studs. Over
she was rewarded with twelve beautiful puppies, all of which continue
to do her credit.
I feel privileged
and honored that Lorraine and Chip chose Glenn and me to own and care
for Amber. Amber, with Lorraine's guidance, taught us about proper
breeding practices, care of the mother during pregnancy, and the ins-and-outs
of whelping and raising of litters. Amber's legacy will live on through
for years to come."
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