Dawn Guth (OH)
I work for a company called Pneumatic Scale and I’m a Production and Inventory Control Planner. My product line is the Seamers. I started back in IL under Continental Can Company back in Jan. 1987 and I transferred to Stow, OH in 1992. My son Brandon was in kindergarten then but is now in college at ITT Tech and works full time. He’s the one who told me one day, ‘Mom, you need to do something else besides work on the house all the time’ and with Maya trying to convince me to go to a rabbit show at the same time, I went, caught the bunny bug and the rest is history. The house STILL isn’t finished!
I’ve had a pet rabbit since I was about five years old. My pet Pointed White Jersey Wooly had to be euthanized the summer of 2002 and I went on a search on the internet to find what breed I wanted next, for a pet. I discovered the Lionheads and started my search to find one. I went to the Ohio State Fair in August 2002 and brought home my first Fuzzy Lop. Not quite a Lionhead but she was adorable and she was a Smoke Pearl! Then in Sept 2002, a local gal by the name of Maya Jordan had an F2 SM Black Proven Sr. Lionhead Buck for sale! His name was Wetzel’s Hercules. When I went to pick him up, she asked what I planned to breed him to and before I could blink, she offered me Jordan’s Cumulus, a REW ND Doe to get me started and they were bred immediately. 31 days later, I had my first litter of Lionheads, all Siamese Sables! I picked up a Chestnut Doe in Nov. and that first cross gave me Bastet’s Starbuck, the 2003 NALRC National BOS Winner. The second Hercules x Cumulus cross gave me Bastet’s Princess Leia, the 2004 NALRC Best Senior. In Dec. 2002, I flew out to CA to see my Mom and arranged to purchase Richardson’s Alabaster Jr., a PB DM Sable Point Marten out of Prideland Lines that was line bred Esparanto (Swedish Import) and original Statler Lines.
Wetzel’s Hercules and Richardson’s Alabaster Jr. were bred to the dwarfs and then line bred back to their daughters. Hercules being a black could be bred to everything and was. He produced Blacks, Chestnut, Siamese Sables and REWs. Alabaster Jr. produced a rainbow of colors for me including Chocolate, Marten and Otter, but I stuck to my strict policy to keep and breed only COD colors. Later I bred one of his daughters, Bastet’s Annabelle to Bond’s Bond, a Himi ND Buck and that pulled some of the first Pointed Whites, along with Bastet’s Moka, the 2004 NALRC National BOB Winner. Unfortunately, the fire in Nov. 2004 claimed all but nineteen Lionheads. It was like starting all over again, but with time and patience … I managed.
In the early years, my main focus was on type. I line bred No Maned, Single Maned and Double Maned Lionheads. Today, I only have one SM and the rest are DMs. Some of the early SMs I produced had manes that compared to that of our long dense DMs of today, but not many. Manes were my next focus. There was a doe named Rainbow’s Teddy Bear, a Blue Point (aka Smoke Pearl Point) that I never ended up never owning but I have owned five daughters out of her over the years that was what I consider the key piece to my mane puzzle. Again, even though that doe was owned by more than one breeder, I’d follow her whereabouts and continue to bring ‘her’ line back in. Prideland’s and I also traded back and forth within the Alabaster Line.
Color came next. When Arden passed Tort in Indy 2005, I didn’t have a single Tort in the rabbitry. I made it a personal challenge the day he passed to produce competitive Torts. After all, it was only a color. Cathy Patrick and I traded Bastet’s Mokachino, a Siamese Sable Moka son and Wetzel’s Michelangelo, a Tort Sr. Buck for the winter. Michelangelo never produced any Torts with my does but he did produce carriers. Cathy later also gave me a Tort Doe out of Mokachino that got put back into the breeding program along with two torts I got with another trade with Prideland’s. I showed one Tort at Convention prior to Bastet’s Jira’s BIS at Nationals 2007. I’d met my goal and exceeded my expectations; just wish Cathy could’ve been there to see it. She had enough to say about it and about Athens selling for as much as she did when I went to see her a couple of weeks afterwards. That was the last time I saw her. Boy do I miss the old coot.
Life is short, so I finally give in and decide it’s time to play hard with a non COD color, Pointed Whites! I’d given Arden, Moka Locca; a PW Buck also out of Bastet’s Moka to work into his darker Sables back in 2004 and later ended up with a Black Doe out of Bastet’s Moke Locca that produced me nestboxes of Pointed Whites. Bastet’s Moka Latte’, Bastet’s Moka Locca’s sibling had left and come back and little Pointed Whites were soon popping up in almost all the nestboxes.
Now I have all these Pointed Whites that are equally as typey as the Blacks, REWs and Siamese Sables out there and that are so interesting to watch their color develop, so what do I do? After much consideration, I decide to pull a COD on the colors most prevalent in my rabbitry. I go back through my breeding records and the next most regular non COD colors that pops up is Smoke Pearl, so there’s the fifth color. I applied a few weeks before Convention and was informed by Mike Avesing at Convention that it was approved! I’d been seriously toying with the COD decision for two years, but in the end the final decision came down to whether or not I could continue to actively breed a non COD color. My rule had always been ‘no’ so the only way to allow the color to stay was to pull the COD. Just for the record, I have nothing against people who raise AOVs. We all have our passions. For me it all just comes down to space combined with my day job kicking in. I’m really counting on the COD holders ahead of me to get the breed passed. I know that even with as much love that I have for the Lionheads, I would not be able to part with all of my Fuzzy Lops or Holland Lops in order to have enough cage space to present all five varieties. I raise three competitive breeds and am limited to 150 holes. When it is my turn, I will cut back enough to allow cage space to present my two strongest varieties that have not yet been accepted.
The most frustrating part of my five year journey in Lionheads has been trying to be kept motivated to stay in a breed where each breeding at times can be like as Forrest Gump says, ‘is like a box of chocolates … you never know what you’re going to get’ and if I may add to that, what it’ll end up being like after a year or after it’s produced. The size, color, ear lengths and overall consistency of the breed has really come a long way since I started but we’re still struggling with keeping full dense manes on Sr. Bucks, ear wool off of does that have had multiple litters and getting that required break on juniors with any hope of them being able to have full dense manes as seniors. I vision a breed where we can show our juniors and the same juniors as seniors well into adulthood.
The Lionhead breed has come a long way in five years and I’ve personally learned so much in that time. I can only imagine of how far we’ll go in another five. Let all of us do our parts by breeding and standing together at the show tables, united by one standard and to not only continue to learn about this fascinating little breed, but to educate others.
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