Newtown resident Joy Brewster sums up her life’s work this this statement, "Animals have always been in my life.”
Raised on a farm to a family of show-dog breeders, Brewster has truly carried on the family tradition over the past four decades.
She began her own dog show career as a junior handler, moving on to become a professional dog handler after apprenticing under the renowned handler, Anne Rogers Clark. (Professional dog handlers show dogs in the conformation or obedience ring for other breeders or as owner–handlers.)
Brewster achieved national recognition as an all-breed professional dog handler, was the winner of the Best Female Handler Award in 1974 and 1977, received the FIDO award as Handler of the Year in 1979 and was a FIDO nominee in 1989. She also has trained numeous junior handlers who have also gone on to national recogniiton.
Retiring from her professional handling career in 2002, Brewster still believed there was another avenue to approach in her “animal world” and embarked on her current career as a nationally known, AKC conformation judge.
Becoming an AKC judge is no easy feat. It requires an individual to exhibit in conformation for 12 or more years in at least one breed; breed and raise five or more litters of one breed on your premises; and to breed four or more champions in one breed.
If that wasn’t difficult enough, you must then participate in six stewarding assignments at AKC shows within three years of your application, complete six judging assignments at AKC-sanctioned matches and attend AKC Basic Judges’ Institute within two years of application. Then its onto an open-book exam on canine anatomy and judging procedures, followed by an interview with AKC staff.
If you make it that far, there’s yet another open book test given on the standard for the breed(s) applied for and another interview with AKC staff. You are then graded on five provisional judging assignments.
If you pass all that, you become an accredited AKC judge!
Concurrent with these extraordinary achievements and becoming an AKC judge, Brewster purchased a piece of property on Mt. Pleasant Road in Newtown in 1965.
The property was originally built as a show kennel and had just enough runs for Brewster’s personal dogs and dogs she was handling at the time for other breeders.
In 1990, Brewster took another step, completely renovating the property, opening Cassio Kennels, now known as Cassio Pet Resort and Training Center.
Over the last 20 years, Brewster has upgraded and added to the facility and it has become a state of-the-art, all-around boarding and training facility for dogs and cats, affectionately known as Camp Cassio.
The kennel now boasts a spring-fed pond with jumping dock, complete indoor and outdoor training centers as well as extensive “guest suites” allowing resort guests the luxury of the pond for swimming, jumping and retrieving and an outdoor, fenced play yard for her single guests or guests who board together. There also are outdoor insulated “cabana” accommodations for dogs that like to spend their time outdoors.
Enlarging the training center allowed Cassio to offer an extensive array of training options for family pets from Puppy Preschool, Basic Household Obedience, K-9 Good Citizen to more advanced skills including rally and agility.
Brewster firmly believes most dogs should go through at least a basic obedience program.
“Pet dogs are members of the family,” Brewster said. “In order to have a rewarding relationship with your pet, you have to learn to communicate through proper training techniques. In that way you can build the proper rapport and enjoy and appreciate each other.”
Brewster does not agree with the concept of large dog play groups and, although she will board dogs on a “day” basis, she will allow only two dogs that “know each other” to play together in the large outdoor play yard so no large doggie day-care groups at play at Cassio.
Brewster is really looking forward to this year’s Westminster Kennel Dog Show when once again she will be judging several breeds including Bouviers, Cardigans , Basenjis, Bassets and, Harriers and a new breed to the AKC this year, American Coonhounds. Check with the Westminster Kennel Club Show schedule at www.westminsterkennelclub.org for a complete list of Brewster’s judging assignments or at http://www.infodog.com/judges/5904/juddat.htm for all of Brewster’s AKC approved breeds.
Joining Brewster judging at Westminster this year will be two other female AKC judges hailing from our small town. Newtown residents Pat Laurens and Terry Hunt will both be judging Westminster this year – an amazing statistic for Newtown. Another female Westminster connection – Brewster’s sister, Sari Tietjen judged the 2009 Westminster competition, naming “Stump,” a Sussex Spaniel, as Best in Show.
Now there’s only that one more step for Brewster in the world of dog “showdom” and that would be for her to judge Best in Show judge at Westminster.
Perhaps in 2013.