We're at ease in the living room of Sealark III this winter day on the Eastern shore. It's comfortable: old clothes, the phone's only rung twice, she's not rushing to make a plane, nor are there a half-dozen people waiting to speak with her. What a great opportunity to talk with Anne Rogers Clark about our beloved Norfolk Terriers! I'm so appreciative of the moment that I'm mentally prioritizing Norfolk subject matter, knowing time will run out before we've covered all I'd like.
After notable success as a handler, Anne Clark has gone on to win widespread admiration and respect as a judge. But to me, as a Norfolk breeder, most impressive is the important line of Surrey Norfolk Terriers that she and her husband James Edward Clark established and which contributed to so many breeding programs in this country. And how they did it.
To examine the Surrey pedigrees is a study in line breeding. Ch. Nanfan Corricle was a special bitch to both of us so we talk about her and her qualities, and then Ch. King's Prevention Ahoy, her daughter, bred by Constance Larrabee, and the Clarks' foundation bitch. Bred to Corricle's grandson, King's Prevention Jolly Roger, Ahoy produced Ch. Surrey Sink or Swim, the most influential American-bred sire to date. "Following the line of greatest strength" cannot be done, Anne Clark states, unless you know about the bone, teeth, attitude behind the dogs. "You must know the family." With the most careful line breeding, however, she cautions about "losing hybrid vigor, substance and size."
Increasing popularity brings the usual perils to breed type. Anne Clark is strong about this threat to the Norfolk Terrier. "I would hate to see this become a toy breed. They are a hardy, tough, delightful, rugged 'stable' terrier." Of concern are too-short muzzles seen so often today and bodies with refined bone and faulty fronts. She points out the difficulty understanding the words of the standard which describe the length of face. "The clumsy wording regarding the length of back skull in comparison to muzzle is deduce by most new people (judges included) incorrectly. The standard says, 'muzzle is strong and wedge-shaped. Its length is one-third less than a measurement from the occiput to the well-defined stop.'"
This does not mean, she explains, "that the proportion between muzzle and back skull is as one is to two (one part muzzle - two parts back skull). In fact, the measurement is as two to three (two parts muzzle - three parts back skull). In other words, according to the standard in both the UK and the USA, the muzzle is one third less long than the back skull."
What are her concerns about fronts? "Fronts that lack length of forearm," she quickly replies. "While they have adequately laid-back shoulders, many have short, straight forearms which detracts from the robust front and chest which is part of the Norfolk heritage."
The standard today states that the length of back from point of withers to base of tail should be slightly longer than the height at the withers. Anne Clark observes that, "it was very difficult to go from breeding good drop ear Norwich as per the 1949 standard (body moderately short, compact and deep with level top line with ribs well-sprung) and then overnight to try to breed to the standard for the newly recognized Norfolk Terrier."
"I believe the change in balance and proportion according to the standard occurred when the ear carriages were separated into the Norwich and Norfolk and was caused by erroneous conclusions:
One ... that the drop ear moved better than the prick ear because it possessed a longer body -- not realizing that as a generalization the good drop ears moved better than many of the prick ears because they had more angulation at both ends. To wit, laid back shoulders (scapula) and forearms (humerus) of equal length forming nearly a 90-degree angle in front and well-bent stifles in rear for good driving power. This construction gives a well-defined forechest and a projection of body behind the tail set. This construction may have been perceived as length when in fact it was an illusion.
Two ... not realizing that the drop ear looks longer because the ear carriage of the drop ear prevents it from being baited 'up' in the show ring, as the prick ear is shown, which makes the prick ear look shorter. For instance, which breed do you think of as longer, the Sealyham or the Scottish Terrier? Both breeds should have the same length of back, but the Scotty looks shorter than the Sealy for just the reason set forth about the Norfolk and Norwich."
It's clear to me that Anne Clark feels strongly about protecting and changing the breed. And I'm feeling strongly that we need to correctly interpret the standard and review it with each contemplated breeding more stringently than ever. The contributions that a breeder judge with the fine-tuned eye for structure and personal affection for Norfolk Terriers possessed by this lady with her "Surrey red" dogs, are to be highly valued by everyone who delights in this breed.
Driving home to Virginia, I realized that our Norfolks in the United States are fortunate as a breed to have captured Anne Clark's heart, for her philosophy never fails to keep in mind the origins of a breed: "I feel that each and every breed, while it will evolve in soundness and health, should mirror its beginnings and its use. I will strive to improve, but not change, the Norfolk."
ANTIC, June 1997
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