|Copyright 2006-2019, Russet Leather Vizslas, All rights reserved.
|The Russet Leather Tribe
POSTED JANUARY 2010
When she was pointed to the San Francisco Bay area for a Vizsla puppy, Beverley had no goal of developing a lifelong love for the breed or becoming
the top Vizsla breeder-owner-handler in history.
In 1962, it began, strangely enough, with Beverley's interest in finding a German Shorthaired Pointer. When a breeder of German Shorthaired Pointers
guided Beverley to a Vizsla breeder because she had no puppies herself, Beverley would fall in love with what she saw.
"I went to see the breeder, and I'll never forget the moment I saw the dogs," Beverley says. "There were two Vizslas sitting there. They looked like
statues — so regal, so beautiful."
"I hadn't ever heard of Vizslas. Nobody had heard of Vizslas," she continues. "That's why the woman couldn't sell them. She had them in a classified
ad in the San Francisco Chronicle."
Unable to pay the $350 the breeder was asking, Beverley apologized for only having $75. The woman told her to go ahead and choose her puppy.
"I picked one and the woman said, 'You have a good eye. You just selected the pick bitch,'" Beverley says as she recalls that conversation. "My face
turned red when I heard her say 'bitch.' I'd never heard the expression used like that before. I was embarrassed, and I told her, 'I'll pick another one
instead.' She said, 'No, It's good. You selected a good one.' It took me years to be able to use that word."
But the "good eye" that brought Beverley together with "Csitri" (Csitri Mihalyi Povazia) has created and sustained almost 45 years of breeder-owner-
handler success. Initially purchased to be a hunting dog, Csitri never would go on to hunt, instead becoming Beverley's foundation bitch for the Russet
"Everybody would tell me Csitri was so gorgeous and that I should show her," Beverley says. "I said, 'No, I just want a puppy from her.' I looked at her
and knew what I liked about her: She had sound conformation, a level topline, and she was true. I didn't even know why I knew those things, but I just
had an eye. When I decided to breed her, I contacted the Los Angeles Times, because I didn't know who else to call. The Times put me in touch with
the late Harvey Warholm, who became my mentor."
Warholm owned CH Miclos Schloss Loosdorf, HOF, who became the first Vizsla conformation champion in the United States in 1961. Warholm was
known for his prowess with the Hungarian breed, and he had even campaigned a Vizsla for noted Hungarian actress Zsa Zsa Gabor. When Beverley
met Warholm, he encouraged her not only to breed Csitri, but to show her too.
After Beverley bred Csitri to CH Warhorse Sammy in 1965, based on Warholm's guidance, Csitri competed in her first show, and won a 5-point major.
"I remember that all 12 of her puppies sold that day, and a Hungarian woman pleaded with me to sell Csitri to her. I told her Csitri was not for sale."
Beverley speaks fondly of Warholm's role in jumpstarting her education, but adds, "I learned a lot on my own. Once Harvey got me started with Csitri,
I studied everything others did at the shows and I just knew I could do it. Harvey was always proud of me and how quickly I took to it."
Vizslas in her Veins A female out of Csitri, Burnt Gold Becket of Randan, was bred to BIS AM/ CAN/ MEX/INT CH Napkelte Vadaz Dalos, CD.
"Danny," the first Vizsla to win a Best in Show, and "Becket" produced the first litter of puppies to carry the Russet Leather name. Among that litter
was "Chulo" (BISS/NBISS CH Totton's Jo-B Russet Leather), who would win the Vizsla Club of America (VCA) National Specialty in 1974 and
become a foundation sire for Russet Leather.
At the time, Beverley was still learning and didn't handle her dogs at shows. "I would count out restaurant tips at night to pay the handling fees for
Chulo, "she says." It was cheap enough to do that at the time; you couldn't do that now. And Chulo kept winning. He was the top-winning Vizsla on
the West Coast at the time. He was an extraordinary dog."
It was while campaigning Chulo that Beverley realized breeding, owning and handling Vizslas was in her veins to stay. "It's when I knew:
'I love doing this. This is it.' "And Chulo produced some very nice dogs," Beverley adds. "I was really fortunate that I started out with such high-quality
dogs. I was blessed with Csitri and Chulo. Great dogs, fabulous show dogs."
Chulo sired BISS CH Russet Leather Candelite, who produced BIS/NBISS CH Russet Leather Proud Warrior, the National Specialty winner in 1989.
"Candelite" also produced CH Russet Leather Indian Giver, ROM, HOF, the all-time top-producing Vizsla dam with 21 champion offspring.
Through the years, Beverley has bred more than 150 litters and more than 200 Champions. At any given time, she typically has about 30 dogs. She
and her husband, Ed Wanjon, live on five acres north of Los Angeles.
Ed has been a significant partner in Russet Leather for 33 years, sharing the myriad responsibilities — training and showing dogs, traveling,
maintaining the kennel — that go into breeding, owning and handling.
When describing what has attracted them to the Vizsla breed, the Wanjons talk about the dogs' high degree of intelligence, among other things.
As Ed says, "They aren't like little robots. They're thinking all the time. That makes them really fun dogs to live with."
Helping to guide the future of the breed, Ed has served on various boards, including the Vizsla Club of America (VCA) and the Kennel Club of
Beverley Hills. "I like being on those boards to stay involved with the breed," Ed explains. "I was president of the Vizsla Club of Southern California
for 15 years. We both like to be really involved."
Ed and Beverley Wanjon also both serve from time to time as sweepstakes judges.
Naming Russet Leather Vizslas Part Native American, Beverley grew up in North Dakota but spent many summers with her grandmother in Minnesota.
She has always been interested in Indian culture, and that background has inspired the names she has given to many of the dogs she has bred. The
names, she explains, come from a broad Indian culture, and not from any specific tribe.
"Not ever knowing I'd be so successful in breeding and showing dogs, I remember once thinking that if I did breed dogs, I'd like to use Indian names
for them," Beverley says. "Everybody has always complimented me on the names."
The name "Russet Leather" came about with the help of Beverley's mother, Edna Ling, and a handy dictionary. Beverley just knew she wanted a word
that would indicate the breed's reddish coat. "One afternoon, we were looking through the dictionary for a word that had something to do with being
red-colored. Mom found the word 'russet,' and it evolved from there," Beverley says. "Then she found the word 'leather' and I said, 'Oh, Mom, that's it.'
I loved that it had the sound of strength, if that makes sense. I loved the combination of the strength of leather and the color of russet."
The sound of strength was intended to signify the breed's powerful, muscular conformation, but it could also refer to Russet Leather Vizslas' strength
through longevity and consistency. A veteran breeder-owner-handler, Beverley has witnessed — and participated in — a great majority of the breed's
official existence in the United States.
Having nearly become extinct after World War I, the Vizsla survived, mostly in Central Europe. Breeders began to import Vizslas to the United States
in the 1950s, and the organization that would become the Vizsla Club of America began meeting in 1954. The American Kennel Club (AKC) first
recognized Vizslas in its Stud Book in 1960, the year before Warholm collected honors for that first Vizsla champion "Count" and just two years before
Beverley acquired Csitri.
In her early years with the breed, Beverley used that eye to choose puppies in now-considered unorthodox ways. "At the Nationals way back when,"
Beverley recalls, "I was running dogs in a field when I spotted a truck with a bunch of Vizsla puppies in the back. I told the man they were beautiful
and asked if they had pedigrees, which they did. I reviewed the pedigrees, recognizing some nice dogs within the pedigree."
Beverley took a chance, purchased a beautiful female and named her Russet Leather Warbonet Bess. "Bess" was bred to BISS CH Rotkopf Russet
Leather Rival, producing a litter that resulted in six champions. An outstanding sire, "Rival" would become the No. 3 top-producing sire with 66
champion offspring and the grandsire of BISS CH Russet Leather Son of Satiao, who sired 52 champions.
Among the Vizslas from the Bess-Rival litter was "Jake" (BISS CH Russet Leather Satiao Dawn, CDX,) who himself would sire 34 champions,
including "Satiao" (CH Russet Leather Son of Satiao, ROM) and "Calla" (7XBIS/Multi-BISS CH Russet Leather Caveat Calla, ROM.)
"Calla" was a phenomenal bitch who recorded multiple Bests in Show, multiple Bests in Specialty Show and nearly 300 Bests of Breed, including
the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1991, 1992 and 1993. She also would become a top-producing bitch. One of her offspring, "Kiowa"
(CH Russet Leather Caveat Kiowa, JH), was a Top 10 sire with 51 champion offspring.
Another of Beverley's gambles — or confident decisions, depending on perspective — was when she acquired "Squaw" (CH Wayne's Dainty Lady)
in the early 1970s for $25 through a classified advertisement in a newspaper. "My employer saw an ad for an adolescent Vizsla available for adoption.
I told my son, Danny, to go look and her. He came home, yelling, 'Mom, she's beautiful!'
"Squaw wasn't a perfect Vizsla," Beverley concedes. "But I knew that if I bred her right, I could produce something better. Still, she won Best in Match
at her first show. She finished her championship and became a Specialty winner, too. She produced 11 champions with four different sires."
Throughout her career with Vizslas, Beverley has noted changes that define the breed's characteristics today. "When Vizslas were new in the U.S.,
they had a small gene pool," she says. "They weren't as elegant as they are now. They've evolved so much in eye color, coat color and temperament
over the years."
The culmination of success in producing top-performing Vizslas came in 2007 when the Wanjons were awarded the AKC Sporting Group Breeders
of the Year. Beverley describes that honor as an unparalleled highlight in her life.
"I was amazed when we got the call," she says. "I don't even know how to explain it. It was like being a celebrity, like being queen for a day. It was
the most exciting thing that ever happened in my whole life, except maybe for my first Best in Show."
The Wanjons consider themselves like a family with dogs. "When the puppies are whelped, they're born right in our living room, right by the TV,"
Beverley says, adding they breed about three litters each year.
"We start handling puppies when they're really young. We hold them in our laps so they get socialized. We take the puppies to all the shows as much
The Wanjons use what works best when it comes to feeding their dogs. They feed both Purina Pro Plan and Purina ONE Lamb & Rice and Chicken &
Rice Formulas. "We've done well with these top Purina foods because the dogs look great and they like eating them," Ed says. Beverley adds, "Such
an active breed needs a high-energy food, and ours do really well. We've tried lots of food, but we think Purina Pro Plan and Purina ONE are perfect."
'Bismark' Is All-Time Favorite Recognized as the go-to-gal for Vizslas, Beverley got the call when a certain pop music star, Seal Samuel, better known
as Seal, took a liking to the breed. Seal was topping music charts and won Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year around that
time. Upon request, Beverley delivered to Seal an exceptionally talented dog in "Bismark" (14XBIS/Multi-NBISS/Multi-BISS CH Russet Leather
Warrior's Mark, JH).
Bismark, whose grandsire Rival crossed through his pedigree three times, was whelped in 1995. He would become a star of the dog fancy and the
top-winning Vizsla in history, not to mention Beverley's favorite dog.
"Bismark was my heart dog," she says. "He was so special. We were so successful together. No Vizsla was more successful than he. He was a
National Specialty winner twice."
Bismark also tallied multiple Bests in Show and 315 Bests of Breed. Among Bismark's list of accomplishments was a Junior Hunter title that Beverley
and Ed put on him. Bismark also achieved two legs toward the Master Hunter title. He won his first VCA National Specialty in 2001, with the second
coming from the Veterans Class in 2003.
That last Specialty win was bittersweet for the Wanjons. Beverley was anxious about Bismark's career being over, thinking Seal would finally take her
heart dog home to stay, but he didn't. Seal allowed Bismark to live out his retirement with Beverley.
"I think he did that for me — and for Bismark," she says. "I think Seal just didn't want to take him from me."
Bismark was a favorite, not only winning over the Wanjons and judges at dog shows, but also gaining the hearts of dog lovers everywhere. "He was
a character and so smart, too. The dog was absolutely human," Beverley says.
Bismark was a crowd-pleaser with his tricks — barking as many times as the number of fingers Beverley raised, performing double high-fives on the
winner's podium and comically playing dead. He also sired more than 25 champions.
Following in Bismark's steps today is one of his male offspring, BISS CH Storm Winds Namaste Warrior, whom the Wanjons are campaigning as a
Special. Bred by Kirsten Davis, "Tookie" is co-owned by Beverley and Ed, and Alis Smith and her husband, Doug Stewart.
Another up-and-coming male that Bismark sired is "Gedeon" (CH Kezdet's Grand Mark Gedeon, JH). Owned by Natalie Russo, Gedeon was bred
by Barry Golob and Judy Saddlemire, the co-owners. Bismark is the grandsire of "Tecate" (Kezdet's Russet Leather River Whisper), a Vizsla whom
Beverley sees great potential in and plans to handle.
Another male sired by Bismark, CH Russet Leather Plains Warrior ("Cochise"), was never a huge star in the show ring, but, like Bismark, has proved
to be a fabulous producer. His progeny, such as BIS/BISS CH Tamaron's Red Diamond, JH ("Briseis"), have made a mark in the show ring.
The Russet Leather line boasts versatility, as well as show success, in producing a Dual Champion and several Master Agility Champions. Among
them are: DC/AFC Russet Leather Pretty Pawnee, MACH2 Russet Leather Anasazi, JH ("Necka"), and BIS/BISS/MACH Russet Leather Sacajawea,
SH, MX, MXJ ("Geli").
Geli was not only a great show and agility dog, but she produced an all-champion litter of nine, some of which have gone on to make their statement
in the show ring as well. This includes 3XBIS/Multi-BISS CH Russet Leather Wild Bill Cody ("Cody") and BISS CH Russet Leather Boulder's Wild Tok,
Many people in the dog fancy readily recognize Bismark's legacy in these Vizslas that share his bloodline. "Judges around the country tell me they can
spot Russet Leather dogs anywhere," Beverley says.
Russet Leather has had a decisive impact on the breed, and that's bound to continue. The Wanjons sometimes think of retiring from their main jobs —
Beverley manages the restaurant where she used to count tips for Chulo's handling — and moving away from California to maybe Oregon or South
"But," Beverley says, "that won't stop what we do with Vizslas. Life with the dogs won't ever end. It's a labor of love. If I could go back and change
anything, I wouldn't. I've loved it all."
|Beverley Wanjon's quest started simply enough: buy a hunting dog.