Phone #: 601-573-3449
H. Lee Robinson, M.S.
I believe in freedom and the pursuit of happiness...as well as the right to protect it. The goal of our American Sentinel K9 program is to produce the finest performance oriented family companion guardian K-9 in existence today for civilian use. To get a better understanding of what this means, one should read our page about the family companion guardian, but basically it means this...
Requirements from our dogs before they become part of our program.
About the breeder at Chimera Kennels, H. Lee Robinson, M.S.
Raising, conditioning, training, and breeding quality canines are passions of mine. I have had dogs nearly all my life. To me, canines truly are one of man's best friends, and I don't take this lightly. Before giving a little background about me, let me openly say I am greatly disappointed how our society distorts the truth to our own likings...often times creating the illusion of ourselves being gods when we are not. You may ask what exactly do I mean by this, so let me explain.
I have studied canines and animals in general since I was a small child. For as long as I can remember, I have had an interest in gaining more knowledge about animals, especially canines. My interests in canines and animals in general have stimulated me to pursue accurate information in the various philosophies, theories, and experiences pertaining to animal behavior, anatomy, physiology, husbandry, nutrition, genetics, reproduction, and other aspects within the various animal communities. This eventually led me to more studies at a professional level, and it was during the year 1990 that I began learning about John B. Swinford's (DVM) work and the Swinford Bandog. Eventually I obtained a B. S. from the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois with emphasis on the scientific aspects of breeding, training, animal psychology, and general husbandry. After finishing my B.S., I furthered my education in Animal Sciences...focusing on Reproductive Physiology and eventually obtained a M. S. and AI breeder's certification again from the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois. While at the University of Illinois, one of my advisers owned and operated a K9 training facility, at which I was fortunate enough to gain personal experience from while working and training with many rescue dogs. Later, I was fortunate enough to work with the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens (Center of Reproduction of Endangered Wildlife, CREW). Since we founded Chimera Kennels in the year 2000, we have developed our own program with several multiple generation lines of what we believe to be the finest canine breed in existence to function as a family companion guardian for civilian use. We refer to our dogs as the American Sentinel K9.
Over the years, our program has grown into professional quality kennel and is based upon the 9 acres of land on which we reside. We have obtained thousands of dollars worth of professional grade training equipment, obtained a 4 dog stainless steel air conditioned dog trailer that we can use to travel with, continued our education in canine training, have hosted several decoy seminars flying in professional life long dog trainers, and have developed a quality training field area. I have learned both experience and education are necessary to begin a true understanding. Quality equipment and other resources are an important components to gaining experience. Remember this following statement before continuing your pursuit of knowledge (and read it over until you get it).
Animals don't define behavior or genetics, they display behavior and genetics (being displayed within the parameters defined by God). We have to take what we see the animals display, and then we define these observations with words in accordance to how they are displayed. Experience provides the "display" component. Education provides the "definitions" component. By doing this, we are able to build upon the knowledge acquired by those that came before us. By combining both education and experience, one begins obtaining a true understanding...and only after this true understanding begins to occur is the proper application of true knowledge possible. (For more details on animal behavior, click here.)
In my private and professional studies, I began to realize the best performing domesticated animals were produced by people that 1. accepted limitations of man's abilities and 2. removed delusional mindset often created by wishful thinkers. Instead, the best breeders out there are people who yielded to reality and accepted the practices of natural selection. Natural selection is based on the concepts of survival of the fittest. What I mean by this is...Simply because we want something to be so, doesn't make it true. We can't be kennel blind or wish something into existence. Producing quality takes work...and a lot of it. Simply because we desire the best, doesn't mean we will have the best. To get the best, we have to select for the best performing individuals in a given area, then we have to place the performance to a desired task above all other criteria.
People have purposefully mutated many breeds of dogs and then try to justify it by stating they are "breeding to the standard." These same people often say they are breeding "working dogs" but very few actually get out and actually work their dogs on a regular basis. So, this claim often puzzled me. In fact, I have come to realize, it is delusional to think one can produce working dogs without actually working them. One can't speak performance into existence just by claiming it. Like I stated above, we are not gods here. Sure, many breeders hope their dogs are healthy and often hope they can perform, but hoping isn't going to cut it. When breeding dogs (especially working dogs) we should put health and ability over all else. Dogs should at least be able to live functional lives to some minimal degree, but when breeders purposefully produce dogs towards a mutated standard (knowing the dogs are unable to perform the most basic aspects of life) or breed dogs plagued with genetic diseases that are actually caused by chasing a standard...it becomes obvious that breeders are not considering the overall well being of our canine companions. Dogs obviously do not wish to be imprisoned within mutated bodies and genetic disorders. If you think I am exaggerating look at breeds like the English Bulldog, Neapolitan Mastiff, Chinese Shar-pei, Chinese Crested, and many others. People have also continually tried to find short cuts to replace performance testing, but the truth lies in what works. There are no short cuts to replace performance testing...not looks, not love, not availability, not lab tests, nor any other measure. Be it milk production in dairy cows or the speed of a greyhound, actual performance testing for the desired task is the only way to truly and objectively measure performance. If you want to include other tests, such as some lab tests, fine...but don't let those tests replace good old fashion health testing via performance selection.
The selection within the breeding gene pool (wild animals) in nature is controlled by "natural selection." Although breeding animals within captivity is technically called "artificial selection," by using performance criteria to select breeding stock we are able to model the performance selection or "tool" that nature uses in "natural selection" and achieve our goals...even if our goals are different than what would be best in nature. What is this tool one might ask? Well, the tool is performance selection towards a desired goal. In the wild, the selected task is survival in nature, but in captivity the selected tasks are often set by the breeder. If you are a breeder, you have to determine "What is your goal?" If you desire performance, you have to breed for it! "Beat'em in the brood box" so to speak. If you desire to produce performance animals, don't select for head size. Selecting for head size will get you head size. Selecting for blue will get you blue. Selecting for hip scores will get you hip scores. Selecting for loose skin will get you loose skin (and likely skin disease as well). All the above methods are selecting for a form or a type, but not a function. The answer to producing quality living beings is very simple...To get performance, you have to start by selecting for performance. This the practice at Chimera Kennels! Our dogs perform as family companions and as guardians...hence the reference to "family companion guardian."
One of the finest lessons I learned runs parallel with the thoughts of a great dog man, Bert Sorrells, who for decades produced of one of the finest lines of APBT that existed. Bert Sorrells' knowledge of working dogs is extensive, and he is well known for producing dogs that excel in truly competitive performance measures. According to Mr. Sorrells (this is not word for word, but printed here in a summary form)...
If you want to produce dogs that perform, you breed dogs that perform. You can't make excuses for why a dog fails, and then try to justify breeding it. This will only produce more dogs that fail. If a dog is consistently a strong performer though, you can make allowances for things you don't really like if you wish to breed this dog. The difference between "excuses" and "allowances" is determined by performance. Excuses are made for losers. Allowances are made for winners.
For a breeder that desires performance, it doesn't matter how the dog over comes the challenges to perform. All that really matters is if the dog is a consistent performer or not. Breeders that consistently produce dogs that consistently perform do not make excuses for dogs that consistently fail. Dogs that don't perform have to be removed from the breeding program (gene pool) regardless of how much we like certain things about them. And, dogs that consistently perform well can be bred (given they have appropriate temperaments) if we wish to breed them regardless of if we like everything about them or not. Breeders have to decide what traits they are going to select for. If a breeder measures performance as a trait, and selects on this basis, then the breeder is more likely to produce dogs that perform.
This is what we strive to do at Chimera Kennels, as I agree with Mr. Sorrells completely. He also stated that you have to decide what performance features you desire to obtain and be clear about that goal. During our discussion he referenced to desired selection measures being set by the "traits," and for performance dogs the expression of these traits are to be measured by performance criteria in order to maintain objectivity just as if we are doing scientific experiments. Sure we should see and observe...and we know what we know...but we shouldn't let our knowledge lead to speculation...and we should accept the performance truths as they present themselves (assuming data is fairly represented). Bert knows dogs and knows what he is talking about. The use of this thinking though shouldn't be used just because he stated it though...it should be used because he is right.
The pressures placed upon a species by natural selection determines how a species "evolves." If a dog fails the test, it is "not breed worthy"...and it doesn't matter why the dog fails. Don't excuse the failure. If a dog does perform and it doesn't matter why the dogs succeeds, then the dog "is breed worthy" if you choose to breed it. If you select for non-performance goals (blue coat, head size, hip scores, etc), don't expect to produce performance dogs as these traits don't ensure performance. And, if you want performance, then performance measures need to be your selection pressures...not anything else. Would you breed a dog for a "big head" or a "blue coat?" Although there is nothing wrong with these traits per say, balance must be maintained and measured by performance. If these traits exist in your performing dog, that is fine, but to produce performance dogs you can't select a dog just because a dog expresses a particular physical feature within its phenotype. And if we start looking for "other traits" besides performance then we will often loose our objectivity into accepting the truth as it is presented. This type of thinking is why many show breeders have ruined or are ruining so many working dogs. It is happening today because the strong voices of ignorant show breeders influence many uninformed people...and without in depth thinking on such issues the blind quickly follow the blind assuming that if these things are popular they must be correct.
Performance selection will remove for any reason of failure...be it temperament, angulation, tendons, ligaments, muscles, drives, cardiovascular, respiratory, and the most important nervous system. Performance is obtained by a combination of features. To "test" for all of the needed features for performance we would first have to be able to... 1. recognize all of the contributing factors of performance instead of simply looking at the performance results (the sum result) AND 2. Have a test for ALL (hundreds, if not thousands) of each individual component. Obviously, this is not only impractical, but it is impossible. Instead just select for performance and you will end up combining working gene pools together and improve the dogs rather than "improving" the paper work.
"What is a Chimera?" - The "Chimera" fire-breathing beast pictured above is obviously a mystical creature which is a combination of the lion, goat, and snake; however, this is not where I first became aware of the term. In the early 1990's, while studying Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois, I learned of "chimeras" as used in genetic research. Modern geneticists use the term to refer to genetically engineered organisms that contains tissues from diverse genetic constitution (unrelated individuals).
All domesticated canines are technically the same species (Canis domesticus/Canis familiaris); never-the-less, the term was somewhat relative for the Swinford being that all foundational Swinford canines are derived from diverse genetic constitution being from 1. the celebrated "Bull-n-Terrier" and 2. performance selected individuals of Mastiff type. Also, as one would imagine upon viewing the mystical Chimera beast, the Swinford K-9 too should be a formidable guardian!