The History of Smokey City Weimaraners
The following is an excerpt from an article printed in the November 2006 issue of the Weimaraner Magazine. It is a brief review of Tom Wilson’s history in Weimaraners and a few of his most accomplished dogs.
In his own words…
“ It began when I was a 19 year old Seaman Apprentice in the Navy, stationed at Quonset Point, RI. Late one Saturday night several of my barracks buddies were returning from a night on the town. They took me to meet Rex, a handsome male Weimaraner, and I was totally overwhelmed by his beauty. I checked his collar and got the name and number from his tag. It turned out he was owned by a Commander that lived on the base. We talked regularly and became good friends. Apparently our mutual admiration of Weimaraners superseded the large discrepancy in rank between us. Several months later he called to tell me about a litter in Wakefield, RI. I ended up moving out of the barracks and renting a house in Narrangansette so I could get a dog. Every day started with a three mile run on the beach at 5:30. Baron loved to jump the breakers and retrieve his dummy. Life was good, and I was forever hooked on Weimaraners. It’s been that way ever since through two failed marriages and so far, 14 years of the third, Weimaraners have always been there.
I began going to obedience class with Baron, mostly to get him under control. He turned out to be very talented, so we got his CD – with very high scores. The same was true of his field talent. I began training him under an American field pointer trainer at his shooting preserve in Peacedale, RI. For being a Pointer/Setter expert, he was impressed with Baron’s ability and encouraged me to run him in trials. The dog was a natural and always made me look good.
I joined the WCA in September of 1959, sponsored by Mrs. Overton W. Ogilivie of Cotuit, MA. She was one of the charter members of the WCA. I volunteered to be co- chair for the New England region, and haven’t seemed to get rid of that Field Trial Chairman job almost 48 years later.
My rude awakening came when I decided to enter Baron in a Specialty show, convinced that he and I could excel at anything. In a class of 8 open dogs, we came in dead last, and I got a very serious lesson about the difference in “back yard” bred and “show quality” dogs. I watched in awe as an exhibitor named Dorothy Remensnyder of Shadowmar fame won WD, RWB and BOB with three beautiful dogs that looked nothing like Baron. Right then, I made a commitment to do what ever it took to reach that level of competence as a breeder. It was a pivotal moment in my life, and I drove home fully aware that the wonderful dog laying on the seat beside me was not going to get me where I wanted to go. I realized that I did not know the difference between my dog and the dogs who won that day. I had to find someone to teach me that distinction and went on a mission to define and understand what was correct and what was not.
My first smart move was to secure a show puppy from Virginia Alexander. I found out quickly that the only way to get a really good one was to agree to a co-ownership. Little did I know, the best part of the agreement was gaining a mentor who has helped me for 45 years and is available at any time, even today – ‘priceless’ as they say. Ginny was extremely generous with her time and had patience with me beyond belief! I still consider her my trusted mentor and friend. She had a litter born out of what became a very important breeding and influenced many people’s breeding programs. It was sired by the very famous multiple BIS Ch Val Knight Ranck and out of her beautiful German import Bella v.d. Reiteralm. I was given the privilege of co-owning a bitch with Ginny. Her name was Gretel (note the originality). It was obvious that I knew little about this breed or naming them. Gretel finished with 3 – 5 point majors including 2 at Specialty shows. One major was with Peggy Roush’s mom, Ann Keppler, and the other two were with Jane Kemp Forsyth. Gretel had great field talent and produced excellent progeny to carry the pedigree well into the future. Her pedigree and Ginny’s guidance started me on my way. I did not realize it would take the next 25 years to get desired results on a reliable basis AND recognize it when it was present. It was a long, gradual learning curve in my case, and it involved mild success with a whole lot of losing. Yes, I said a LOT of losing.
I did a good deal of field work and always bred with the ultimate goal in mind: to breed a Weimaraner who could win both the National Field Championship and the National Specialty. I came very close with Am/Can Ch Norman’s Smokey City Heat Wave. Allie went with Peggy Roush and was #1 Weimaraner Pedigree award winner for two years. She then went with Jim Basham and Dan Long for field training and they both agreed that she was a National caliber field dog. Unfortunately, due to time spent growing up, showing and training, she was already 5, and needed to be bred. In three litters, she produced 14 Champions and was Top Producing dam in 1996. Another top producing bitch was Ch Smokey City Jedda Arokat. I got her back at 10 months. She finished in 5 shows and produced 17 champions. A very good reason to always take your dogs back.
During my learning period prior to these great dogs, I was hell bent on breeding that Dual Champion capable of winning both Nationals. I took one of my top champion show bitches to what many people believed was one of the best field champions this breed has - every had – NFC AFC Algers May Day, SDX and the results were disasterous – everybody was dysplastic.
I had four kids in college so I took several years off. To the rescue came Lou Schnegelberger, who sold me a proven brood bitch named Windfalls Raindrop. Ginny Alexander consented to breed her to Ch Ranah’s Raja v.d. Reiteralm. Through that foundation breeding came the present Smokey City dogs who have excelled and taken their place in the record books.
Another huge break happened with Joan Valdez decided to breed her beautiful Ch Valmar’s Serenade v. Wustenwind CD to Smokey City EZ Does It. I had finished him myself with 3-5 point majors at Specialty shows, including one at the National. Joan was so great to work with and she chose the right dog for me. His name was Am/Can Ch Valmar Smokey City Ultra Easy, JH. (shown at left) He was #1 Weimaraner for two years and only missing in his first year of competition by 10 points. His breeding record was incredible, producing champions in almost every litter. Easy was my first dog to go with a handler, and he and Peggy Roush were inseparable in his three year career.
Here is a brief list of some of the great dogs coming from the Smokey City line: Am/Can Ch Valmar Smokey City Ultra Easy, JH (BIS, 148 Ch progeny; Top Producer ’90-’95) AM/Can Ch Norman’s Smokey City Heat Wave, JH (2x National Specialty Winner, Top Producing Dam 1996 AM/Can Ch Norman’s Smokey City Chill Factor (#1 Weimaraner) Ch Smokey City K-Line Tradewins (BIS, National Specialty Winner) Ch Smokycity D’Nunder Lazer Beam (3x BIS, National Specialty Winner) Ch Smokey City El Nino (Sire 55 champions) Ch Smokycity Riverboat Gambler (BIS, National winner, Sire of National winner) Ch K-Line’s Smokycity N’Style (BIS) AM/Can CH Smokeycity Hail Mary (National Specialty Winner, 6x BIS, #1 Weimaraner ’03-‘04) Ch Smokycity Simpatico (National Specialty Winner from Open Bitch Class) Ch Smokycity Devil May Care (4x BIS)
These great dogs have amassed a total of 18 Best in Shows and 10 National Specialty wins in the US and Canada, 5 Westminster breed wins, 5 BOS and 9 AOM’s at the Garden.
I am grateful to have served the Weimaraner fancy in the following capacities: President 6 years, National committee chair, Board member and other positions 20 years, WCA member 47 years, Greater Pittsburgh charter member 45 years.
This retrospective could not be written without including the wonderful people who helped me so much along the way. I hope I can remember them all… I will start with handlers: Ann Kepler, Dorothy Remensnyder, Peggy Roush, Keith Pautz, Kelly Photopoulos, Cindy Long, Jennifer Martin, Bob Double and Rusty Howard.
I have enjoyed working with Juniors, especially when I see how many have made it as Professional Handlers: Jennifer (Miller) Howard, Shannon Leymann, Veronica Valentine, Christina Carr and Dustin Brunning.
The most important list I have is the list of financial backers who have made it possible for great dogs to reach their potential. Without the support and sponsorship of the following people, this would have never been possible: Albert Greenfield, Ronna Katzin, Monika Hood, Anne Cullen-Tormey, Bob Double & Jim Martin, Jan Logan, Kelly Photopoulos, John & Jeannette White, Cindy & Bruce Cassidy, Cindy & Dan Long, Steve Siegel, Jennifer & Curtis Martin
I particularly want to thank Kelly Photopoulos and Jennifer Martin for their outstanding unselfish commitment to helping me show so many dogs when I became unable to do it myself. Without this list of helpers and sponsors, most of these great dogs would have faded into obscurity. Thanks to all of you from the bottom of my heart.
A very grateful Tom Wilson”