Palm's Hillside Kennels overlooks a rich valley of Wisconsin farmland. At the bottom of a steep drive is the farm which has been in the Palm family for almost 100 years. Surrounding the house are huge flower and vegetable gardens. Earl and Mae Palm, longtime members of the Wisconsin Chow Chow Club, married 46 years until Earl passed away in 1990, raised 6 children and many champion Chows on this dairy farm. A little further down the hill is the tidy air-conditioned 8 run kennel and grassy exercise yard. Only five dogs occupy the kennel now with two more up at the house. With 8 grand-children and 1 great-grandchild to keep her busy, Mae still found time to answer a few questions and browse through pictures of favorite dogs.
CL: How did you become interested in Chow Chows?
Mae: We found one! Earl and I were out hunting and came across a bitch that was running loose. We kept her a few days until we found the owner. She was pregnant and we were given one of the pups. That was in October, 1945. She was our first "Miss Chubby". Never registered her. Earl used to take her hunting. I remember people making fun of her - "What kind of hunting dog is THAT?" until she'd bring in the first bird of the day.
CL: When did you start your present breeding program?
Mae: Miss Chubby died around 14 or 15 years old. I wanted another Chow, a "good" one. The kids raised and sold cucumbers to buy the second "Miss Chubby" for me. She came from Beulah Chapman, in Indiana I think, and was shipped here on a train. That was around 1963 or '64.
CL: How did you get started in showing?
Mae: Winifred Kasten talked me into it, I guess, around the mid-1960's. Palm's Sue Ling was the first Chow we showed and the kids took her through the 4-H Obedience project, too. CH. Palm's Lucy of Chia Hsi and CH. Kan King's CharlieWong were our first champions but they weren't homebreds.
CL: Are dog shows much different today than back then?
Mae: Yes. When I started, there were fewer professional handlers. The dogs were more important to the judge than who was showing them. But some things are better now, too. Back when I was showing "Bear" (CH. Jen-Sen's China Bear of Palm) in the classes, you didn't get any extra points for going over specials for Best of Breed like you do now. He had several breed wins from the classes with no points to show for them.
CL: Who would you say had the most influence on your thinking and breeding program?
Mae: Winifred Kasten would be my first influence and I'd say she had the most influence on me, too. She taught me what to look for in my breeding stock. Adie Toudt showed me the importance of xraying for hip dysplasia before most people
even knew what it was. Sam Draper made me see and understand more in a dog's conformation than I did before.
CL: Are your breeding goals much different today than when you started?
Mae: No. My goal has always been to breed healthy Chows with good temperaments. I want well-structured dogs that are still capable of doing the things they were bred for.
CL: You do a lot of line-breeding and in-breeding. Why?
Mae: I do it to try to maintain the type I like and to try to eliminate faults I don't like. When I do go outside the line, it's to breed to dogs that will correct faults I have. When I go out to buy a dog, I want one that's strong in the areas where mine are weak. I want to buy from a breeder who's honest about the dog's background and the problems that I may be bringing in.
CL: Has this type of breeding been successful for you?
Mae: In maintaining type, yes, but problems I thought I'd licked still pop up sometimes. Finding "new" problems after 10 or 20 generations can be pretty hard to handle, too.
CL: You were one of the first Chow breeders to x-ray and OFA certify hips over 20 years ago and you still continue today. You must think that's important?
Mae: Yes! I think hip dysplasia is at least 90% inherited. I don't want to sell dysplastic dogs to people who'll have heartbreak although it can't always be foreseen. Other parts of the dog's structure are important, too. Actually, any part of the structure is important and must be sound so that the dog is always comfortable.
CL: When evaluating dogs as potential breeding stock, what do you look for?
Mae: Good conformation and temperament. Overall balance is what's important to me - I don't like them overdone or underdone! In bitches, I prefer daughters from natural breeders and whelpers who produced good-sized litters. In males, I want them to have enough leg. They don't necessarily have to be that masculine-looking or overdone. Pedigree is a big influence in my decision. A dog can only give what he's gotten from those before him. I think the bitch has more influence on a breeding than the male.
CL: Your line has a definite "look". Did you intend for it to be that way or did it just happen?
Mae: After looking at and trying different things, I decided I liked "Louie's" (CH Eastward Liontamer of Elster) look the best. My breeding has always been in that direction.
CL: What common problems do you see in the breed today?
Mae: I used to complain about short-legged, overdone, poor breathers but we're getting away from that now. I think the Chow is improving in general. If I could only pick one problem that bothers me, it would be the loose hocks I see in the ring.
CL: What are your plans for the future?
Mae: Well, I'm getting older and it's more work than it used to be. I guess I'm winding down my career in dogs. I don't really plan to keep any new young stock anymore. I've been selling puppies to younger people who want to keep the line
up. After this many years, it may be time to quit.
CL: Are you thinking of judging?
Mae: No, [laughing] I have enough enemies already! I have done some sweepstakes and I'll be doing the Midstates club's sweeps in April. But judging regularly, no, I don't care to.
CL: Do you have a dog that's your personal favorite or one that was the most influential in your breeding program?
Mae: I'd have to say "Mister", CH. Liontamer Sunrise of Palm. He was my first homebred champion and a real sweetheart. He was the foundation of the line I have today. He's behind everything I have so he'd be the most influential, too. He was a son of CH. Ah Sid Liontamer Jamboree and a grandson of Louie. Mister is the grandsire of both my Best in Show winners, CH. Jen-Sen's China Bear of Palm and CH. Charkay's Grand Marnier O'Palm.
CL: Were there any bitches that were influential?
Mae: Oh, yes. Sam co-owned Starcrest Liontamer Memoire with me. She was Mister's dam. Joel Marston sent me the cinnamon, Starcrest Fros-Tee, who we finished. She was Memoire's sister. They were by Prophet out of CH. Starcrest Bewitched of Ho-San. Along with my Sue Ling, these bitches are behind all my dogs.
CL: Do you have advice for breeders starting out today?
Mae: Make sure you start with good, healthy specimens to begin with. Breed to the dogs who already produce the look you like, rather than just breeding to a pretty dog. You have to consider the bitch's influence on those progeny, too.
CL: Do you have any advice for judges?
Mae: Read the standard!
CH. Jen-Sen's China Bear of Palm, ROM 1982 CCCI Supreme Chow
CH. Charkay's Grand Marnier O'Palm multi-Best in Show,
Int.CH. Liontamer Alexander de Palm, ROM
CH. Palm's Boogie Woogie Boy multi-Best in Specialty
CH. Palm's Liontamer Jack
CH. Palm's Blockbuster
CH. Liontamer Sunrise of Palm, ROM
CH. Palm's Little Faith
CH. Charkay's Creme Chablis O'Palm, ROM
CH. Charkay's Daisy May Palm
CH. Charkay's Ruby Chablis O'Palm
CH. Charkay's Lord Calvert O'Palm
CH. Mang Ao Babee Doll D'Palm
CH. Mang Ao Ringmaster Of Palm
CH. Palm's Coquette
CH. Palm's One In A Billion
CH. Palm's Pacemaker O'Charkay
CH. Palm's Raygo of B and B
CH. Palm's Ginger Snap of B and B
CH. Woolee Bulley Bimbo O'Palm
CH. Kamodan's Black Bart O'Palm
CH. Earl's Pride of Palm
CH. Palm's Personality Kid
This interview was conducted in 1993 and published in
CHOW LIFE Magazine, the official publication
of the Chow Chow Club, Inc.
For pictures and pedigrees of the Palm champions,
visit the Pedigree Search portion
of the http://chowhealth.org website.