My 'Mom', Surely Rawlings, Would Like to Tell You a Little About Herself
Welcome to Starman's website, he is my "once in a lifetime dog". I'd like to share a bit of my relationship with animals in which the last 35 years has been almost exclusively with purebred dogs.|
As a child and throughout two years of college, I could not get enough time with horses. We moved around a lot, though I never personally owned a horse. I always managed to scout out a pony, horse, horse farms, pony farms that allowed me the opportunity to ride, groom, clean stables and be around horses throughout my Junior and college years. In Junior High school I would ride my bicycle over a mile in Illinois in the cold cold winters going against the lake wind, to go in a field and saddle or ride bareback on one particular pony, name Boston Blackie. I would ride until I was freezing and go into the barn and snuggle with the pony while I brushed him out. When I was too cold to ride home, I would go into the barn and lay in the fresh straw to get warmed up. Finally I would get on my bike and ride home. It was worth it!
While a Senior in high school and while earning my Associate Degree, I was employed by two sister's father and it just so happened that their father owned some of the BEST registered cutting Quarter horses. I began to ride three hours everyday and was responsible for the barn that stabled about 5-6 beautiful horses. I kept the ones being shown in top condition. I also traveled to the horse shows and got to compete on world class Cutting horses. I was in heaven. I even considered making a career of riding and showing horses, however, ultimately, I was discouraged from that field and took the advice seriously.
After two years in college in Suburban Philadelphia, I decided to travel the US. I summered in Florida, wintered in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming. Spring and fall would find me in Lawrence, KS. While I was in Miami, Florida, I attended shows at the Miami Seaquarium, and I became enchanted with marine mammals. So one winter, I applied for work, AND GOT THE JOB! After a time learning about and working with the marine mammals, I found I had to leave my dream job and head back to Kansas.
While in Kansas, circumstances then took me back to my family's home in Pennsylvania, and as I had kept in touch with my friends at the Seaquarium, I found that there was an opening so I re-applied, and was hired. I packed up all my things, and moved to Miami, Florida, and started my new job at the Seaquarium. As fate would have it, things had changed in just a few short months, and the girls were running the Flipper set (that's right, where the Flipper tv series and Flipper movies were shot) with the same little rangers' house as our office. I had a sensational mentor, Kathy Kreeger-Streeter, who taught me well. We were using operant conditioning and behavior modification with whistles to bridge behaviors (way before dog trainers ever thought of a clicker-training!)
I was the only other person, besides Kathy, to train a blind dolphin named Demon who was marvelous. Demon could do about fifty behaviors. She responded to either tactile and/or verbal commands. We had to develop a different manner to train her as she could not see our hand signals or the tools with which we used with the sighted dolphins.
I also assisted with STARTING the water sequences in a water ballet, which Sea World trainers came down to watch. The next thing we knew the Sea World trainers were adding water ballet work with their Killer Whales. I also had the pleasure of working with the Killer Whales at the Seaquariam, whose names were Hugo and Toki-Ta. Hugo was a male and Toki-Ta, also known as Lolita, was a female, they both came from the Puget Sound. In the tank with the Killer Whales were 2 Pacific White Sided dolphins, commonly referred to as Lags. I even taught one of the "Lags" as they were called, short for their Latin name, to vocalize on command, before anyone realized that they could or would vocalize!
Seaquarium was approached by Sears, Roebuck & Co. to train the dolphins on the Flipper set to wear a T-Shirt. They had been turned down by every aquatic facility that they had asked and we responded, "Why not?" We trained two dolphins to wear custom made T-Shirts (Called the Sears Wash & Wear T-Shirt). The funniest thing was that after the dolphins had done their behavior (usually a backwards tailwalk)...and before they would come back to their stations(where they were rewarded), they would take the T-Shirts off and bring them to us on their rostrums (commonly referred to as their noses)! As if to say, we don't have to wear these T-shirts if we don't want to! Everyone was amazed at the amount of behaviors our dolphins learned and how well they behaved. We free-swam with them, after shows and training, without the use of food rewards, however if they showed any dislike for us in the water, we would slowly swim out. They were never rewarded for our fun swimming. I do not agree with the policy of commercial facilities that allow people to pay in order to swim with and feed the dolphins. Marine mammals can get sick from our virus' and they can also be aggressive. Remember they are wild animals. I have many bite marks on my hands and many bruises from being pushed around.
Finally after many years and due to personal reasons, I was unable to continue my work with the marine-mammals, It was a painful decision to leave as I loved them all and I know that I made their lives better, however, they were still in captivity.
I had moved into a new home when one night and while attending an AUTOSHOW, my house was robbed. I was raising parrots and cockatiels at the time. The investigative detective told me that a dog was the best deterrent to a robber, I said, OK, a dog it is. A friend highly recommended a Rottweiler, and after research, I liked their look and what I had read about them, particularly their temperament.
I bought my first Rottie from a 'less than desirable' breeder and though a love, she was not a good show potential. I showed her in the breed ring & obedience. She did well in obedience, however, she looked nothing like the other Rotts in the ring.
I met a very friendly breeder who suggested I buy another Rottweiler from a reputable breeder. After doing my homework by spending hours on the phone and searching through books, I found a pick female available from a breeder in Cleveland. The breeders' breeder picked out a little 8 week old puppy for me. Her name was Erdelied Astraea (Greek mythology for "Star maiden") and it meant Star in Spanish, so her call name was Star.
Star did not win any puppy classes, but she was Futurity nominated at the FIRST Futurity in the US at Medallion Rottweiler Club, so off we went to DuPage County, Chicago. The Futurity was being judged by a breeder-judge, Margareta McIntyre from Sweden, Star won the 9-12 month class over about thirty bitches. Margareta's former handler approached me and said, "You are going to win this whole thing! Your bitch looks just like Margareta's favorite bitch, CH Asa von Kleinholtz, whom I handled." Guess what, Star went on to win Grand Prize Futurity at the ripe age of 10 1/2 months! She also won her class the next day under the head breed warden, Heinz Friedrick Berger, with a wonderful critique! I think I floated home!
Star finished her Championship with FOUR MAJORS in SEVEN shows always going Best of Winners by the age of 15 months, she became Ch Erdelied Astraea, CD. Always owner-handled. Star competed against the other Champions and began winning Best of Opposite Sex & Bests of Breed over top ranked dogs and bitches. Within 5 months, Ch Erdelied Astraea, CD was ranked #1 American Rottweiler Club bitch in the US, and still holds the record for the most Bests of Breed & Group placements of any bitch OWNER-HANDLED.
With such success handling Star, people started asking me to handle their dogs. I slowly became a professional handler and handled breeds from every group to their Championships. I finished Rottweilers in SEVEN shows or less, and campaigned another bitch to #6 after I finished her. The next year this same bitch was #1 in the US. She won all three Specialties in the same year, Colonial Rottweiler Club, American Rottweiler Club & Medallion Rottweiler Club. No other bitch has done that before or since. Her name was CH Royal von Meadow, CD.
I had great plans to breed Star and had many people wanting a puppy from her...however, her xrays revealed that she was SEVERELY DYSPLASTIC, consequently she was never bred. I was heartbroken and wondered where was I ever going to get another "Star" like her?
Fast forward over 20 years...I had been very successful with my client and co-breeder, Fred Bunn in breeding Whippets and Miniature Pinschers...however, never found another Star. Finally, I leased a bitch, finished her Championship and bred her. I then finished several of her offspring, however, nothing compared to my Star-baby.
Since I knew I would never find another bitch like Star, I began looking for a male Rottie. I became aware of a litter of pups and realized that many of the dogs and bitches on the sire's side I knew and handled. Some of the better known Rottweilers were Ch Disco vh Brabantpark along with Ch Gamegard's Half Moon who won BOS at the Garden and won Select awards under Muriel Freeman. I was the first one to handle Ch Ironwood's Cade, CH Gamegard's Image de Femme and finished her brother, Ch Gamegard's Imagemaker.
I went to see this litter, and my eyes were caught by the runt. He had attitude and charisma and that "look at me" movement. I picked him the first day and made the breeder promise he was mine, although she was a bit skeptical of my choice. Well, he became my once in a lifetime dog. I finished Starman with several BOB's over Specials, won his Rally Excellent title (after winning his Rally Novice & Rally Advanced titles in three shows with class placements) and was ranked in only a few months of "specialing".
I had offers from some very good handlers to campaign Star for me, but I could not send him out, because Starman would never have understood why he was not with his "Mommy". Muriel LOVED him and many of the real icons of the breed LOVE him. He is my joy. Thankfully, I have frozen semen on him...so, perhaps there will be THE bitch that will be perfect for him in the future.
Oh and how did he get his name? When his breeder took him out of the litter box to give him to me, she said, "Come on little man". I told her he was going to be my "STARMAN" Hence his name, CH Von Riddle's Starman, RE, CGC, TDI.
If you would like information about Star please send an email to Surely Rawlings
OR ME AT