Controversy Mars French Bulldog Group Win at Westminster

Bru showing at Wesminster

Bru showing at Wesminster, with handler Perry Payson

Bru (Ch Robobull Fabelhaft I’m on Fire) broke records by winning a non sporting group first at Monday night’s Westminster Kennel Club dog show, but it’s one of his co owners who is currently making headlines.

Bru’s win has been tarnished by revelations that his co owner, Marion Hulick, was involved in the notorious “Horse Murder” scandal of the Nineties.

From the New York Post

She’s known to Westminster Dog Show fans for her prized French bulldog — and to the equine set for her heinous role in the slaying of a valuable horse for insurance money.

Marion Hulick, 75, proudly watched as her adorable canine, I’m On Fire, made history at the Madison Square Garden dog competition Monday night, becoming the first of his breed to score top honors in the Non-Sporting Group.

But some onlookers said they were sickened after realizing that Hulick is the former horse trainer who helped a low-life, animal hit man kill one of her charges in the Putnam Country town of Brewster 20 years ago at the behest of her boss, cellphone heir George Lindemann Jr.

“I guarantee that if Michael Vick walked into the Westminster Dog Show, he would be chased out. And yet, there’s somebody famous for killing horses and everybody is smiling and clapping,” said a former local groom, referring to NFL star Vick, who did time for running a dogfighting club.

Witnesses at Hulick’s trial said she met with the killer, Tommy Burns, offering him a $35,000 cut of the $250,000insurance money to kill the show animal, Charisma, on Dec. 15, 1990. She led Burns to the horse’s stall, one witness recalled.

Burns then attached a metal clip to the horse’s ear and another to his hindquarters and plugged a wire from them to an outlet, electrocuting him.

Hulick landed a 21-month sentence for her role. She served six months in federal prison. Burns and Lindemann also were convicted and served time.

Last night at the dog show, she called the whole ordeal “a mistake of a young person I was working for.”

Read more:

On various French Bulldog discussion lists, friends and acquaintances of Marion’s have come forward to defend her as a good woman who did a bad thing, but regrets it. Marion’s own words paint the picture of a woman who was forced into an activity against her will. Court transcripts, however, paint a more chilling picture.

Ward told him to call “Cellular Farms,” the horse farm of the Lindemann family, and to speak to Marion Hulick, Lindemann’s horse trainer and a co-defen- dant in this action. Two sequential calls were then made by Burns to Hulick at Cellular Farms.

Hulick told Burns that “they had a horse which needed to be killed at their farm.” One of Ward’s employees drove Burns to Cellular Farms at around 4:00 p.m. where he was taken directly to Hulick’s apartment. In the apart- ment, Burns met Gerald Shepard, an acquaintance who was inquiring about a position at Cellular Farms. Out- side of Shepard’s hearing, Hulick told Burns that the killing had to be completed that day because “George” wanted it done while he was in Asia and because Charisma was scheduled to travel to Florida the next day. Hulick told Burns that the amount of the insurance policy was $250,000 and Burns demanded ten percent of the proceeds in ex- change for the killing. Hulick responded that “George” would pay whatever it took.

Burns, Hulick and Shepard then drove to a remote area of the farm so that Hulick could point out a back road by which Burns could enter the premises that night. The three then went to the stable area. To indicate which horse was to be killed, Hulick entered the stall of only one horse, whose name plate read “Charisma.” Prior to Burns’ departure, Hulick assured him that she would see to it that the staff was out that night and that she would lock up the dogs so that his presence would not be de- tected.

There’s a big difference between being forced, unwilling, into a crime you have no taste for, and voluntarily offering to lock up the dogs so that no one hears the screams of a horse being electrocuted.

The black mark that this paints across our breed, and across the well deserved glory of Bru’s win, has been damaging to the reputations of not just the parties involved, but to our breed as a whole.

I can’t see it blowing over any time soon.

French Bulldog Takes Group First at Westminster

Robobull Fabelhaft Im On Fire

Robobull Fabelhaft Im On Fire wins Group First

Congratulations to Bru – aka American/Canadian Champion Robobull Fabelhaft Im On Fire – for his incredible wins at the Gardens yesterday.

Bru, who was bred in Canada by Shelley St. John, took Best of Breed at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show yesterday, and then went on take a stunning First Place win in the Non Sporting Group. This is the first time in my memory that a French Bulldog has taken a Group First at Westminster, although I can’t confirm that for sure just yet.

Frenchies were out in full force at the Gardens, with a total breed entry of 36 making them one of the best represented breeds at the show.

French Bulldogs were also one of Westminster’s most popular breeds – as group was taking place, announcer Michael J. LaFave mentioned that the French Bulldog breed judging video was the most watched video on the Westminster Kennel Club website.

Tonight, the final groups are judged, followed by Best in Show. Seeing a French Bulldog in the ‘big ring’ is a thrill – and even more so, a Canadian bred French Bulldog. I’m not even going to discuss the mixed feeling about possible surges in popularity that this might bring – for now, let’s just enjoy the show, and root for Bru.

Go team Canada!

Here’s the breed judging video from Westminster – take a look, and make your own choice for best of breed in the comments.

Westminster Handler Gives Ultimate Gift

Westminster handler gives owner ultimate gift

Westminster handler gives owner ultimate gift

It’s Westminster Week (and congrats to Canadian bred dog Ch Robobull Fabelhaft I’m On Fire, who took Best of Breed in French Bulldogs). Westminster week is a big, big deal for dog show people in North America, and we’ve all gotten rather reluctantly used to the spotlight that this inevitably shines on our sport.

Stories about dogs in diamond collars, handlers who fly first class with their ‘clients’ sitting on the seat next to them, and articles about how much money it can cost to make it to the Gardens are rampant, and leave all of us feeling (and usually looking) a little bit silly.

In amongst it all, one story illustrates the real reason why most of do this, weekend after weekend – the friendships we make. If donating a kidney to one of your owners doesn’t illustrate that, I don’t know what does.

From the New York Daily News

Sandy McCabe would love for dog handler Wade Koistinen to lead her fluffy black-and-white Havanese to victory in Madison Square Garden.

But for McCabe, even a Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club show would pale next to what Koistinen has already given her – one of his kidneys.

“I’m just happy to be alive for this,” McCabe said Friday at the Pennsylvania Hotel, surrounded by borzois, bloodhounds and scores of other dogs and owners, all checking in before the show begins on Monday.

McCabe, 49, who breeds Havanese with her husband, Kevin, in rural Iowa, has diabetes and was facing renal failure last summer before her friend Koistinen told her he would help.

“I could just see her getting sicker and sicker. I had to,” said Koistinen, 51, holding McCabe’s entry in the show, Rumor, an outgoing little 4-year-old whose full name is Ch. Heartland’s Rumor Has It.

“I couldn’t walk more than 10 feet,” said McCabe, who was told that it would be four to six years before she climbed to the top of a national waiting list for kidneys. None of her family members was healthy enough to donate one.

But Koistinen, who lives in Kansas City, volunteered. “He stepped forward and said, ‘I will give my kidney,'” McCabe said.

Read more:

Friday Zen – Little Old Lady French Bulldogs

Friday French Bulldog Zen

I love puppies – I love watching them play, I love smelling puppy breath, I love their little pink feet and their little pink ears. My truest love, however, will always be my senior citizens. Sure, they’re not as playful as puppies, but they’re not as high maintenance, either. They’re content to hang out, have a nap, enjoy the warmth from the fireplace. The older I get, the more I appreciate my old dogs.

Tessa and her daughter Sailor have had a tumultuous relationship. Even now, in old age, they’ll still occasionally try to kick each others asses, but more often they just snuggle up together, forming Frenchie bunk beds and cleaning each others faces.

This was one of those moments.

French Bulldog Coat Color Genetics – Brindle

Dexter is a brindle French Bulldog with a black mask


Brindle is, in the most simplistic terms, a pattern of stripes overlaying the coat of a dog.

In French Bulldogs, these stripes are generally black, and can vary in width from extremely thick, resulting in a dog who appears to be almost completely black ( a coat color which in French Bulldogs is referred to as “seal brindle”) to extremely thin, resulting in a dog who is almost completely fawn, with a few thin stripes of black overlaying their coat (in French Bulldogs, this is usually called “reverse brindle”).

The genetics of brindling are much more complex than early research had assumed them to be.  Almost fifty years later, C.C. Little’s early research into canine coat color genetics is just now beginning to be over turned, thanks to developments into DNA based coat color research. Little believed that brindling was a simple dominant/recessive allele carried along with the “E” locus for coat color. New DNA research indicates that the allele brindle is actually part of the “K” series.

So, here we have a simple break down of the genetics of brindle. Most of this is taken from the very excellent coat color genetics website maintained by Dr. Sheila M. Schmutz, of the University of Saskatchewan.

For a French Bulldog to be brindle, a few other genes have to come into play.

First of all, French Bulldogs have to have the “KB” allele, which allows for the formation of black pigment.

The K allele has the following modifiers —

KB, as noted above, allows for the formation of black.

K br is the exact modifier which allows for the formation of brindling patterns

However, we’re not done yet.

A dog can ONLY be brindle if they also have an E or Em allele. Dogs which have the E allele are not masked, dogs with the Em allele are masked (this can be hidden by the brindling pattern, and not visible to the eye, but is still genetically present). If the dog is e/e, they can NOT be brindle, and can not have a mask.

Dwight, a dark or 'seal' brindle French Bulldog

Dark or 'seal' brindle French Bulldog

So, a dog such as the one to our left, which looks, to the eye of a layperson, to be a simple “black” dog, is in actual fact a fawn dog (because of the e or E allele) with brindle patterning (because of the K br allele), with or without a black mask (Em).

As well, this dog might also be carrying the gene for large areas of white markings – better known to us as ‘pied’ (sp), or the gene for ‘Irish Spotting’ – better known to us as “Boston Marked” French Bulldogs (si).

Bullmarket Versace - Brindle Pied French Bulldog

Bullmarket Versace - Brindle Pied French Bulldog

A dog carrying both the Kbr allele and two copies of the spallele will be a brindle pied dog, as illustrated by the dog to the left.

Because I know the coat colors of both of this dog’s parents, and because I know that he has produced variously colored and/or patterned offspring, from breedings to variously colored/patterned bitches, I can speculate that Rebel was a non dominant brindle dog with the masking gene, and the genes for both pied and Irish Spotting –

Kbr/K EM/E si/ssp

All of this is what makes me personally find Brindle dogs to be the most fascinating and useful color for dog breeders. They have the potential for so much hidden genetics! Your run of the mill brindle dog (which so many novices pass over as ‘boring’) can also be carrying the masking gene, the pied gene or both the genes for white marking patterns.

Genetically, a brindle dog could be any of the following:

E/EM kbr/kbr Si/Si
– this is a brindle dominant dog (two brindle genes) with a black mask, who is also pied

E/EM kbr/kbr S/Si
– this is a brindle dominant dog (two brindle genes) with a black mask who carries the gene for pied (but is not pied themselves)

E/e k/kbr S/S
– this is a brindle dog carrying only one brindle gene, without a black mask, and not carrying the gene for pied or irish spotting

…. etc

Knowing, with a reasonable guess, the coat color genetics of both of the dog’s parents will help you to determine his hidden color genetics, but you won’t really ever know for sure what he is carrying until he has produced several litters, from several bitches of several colors.

Note that there are also possibilities for many of the alleles mentioned above – K can be Ky/Ky, which gives possible expression to the ‘Black and Tan’ phenotype, depending on the interactions with the agouti allele, dogs can be e/e, with no brindling or masking possible, etc… Some of these have been skipped as I plan to discuss them in other coat color postings.