(Best viewed in Internet Explorer for Midi, "Dixie".)


Meet Sunstag(Reg.) In Person...

...Breeder, Owner, Exhibitor of Functional Sighthounds and Internationally Recognized Sighthound Breeder-Judge

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The "Official" Version

          Dixie Howell-Hirsch’s lifelong association with purebred dogs began with Irish Setters and her family’s interest in game bird hunting while she was still a young girl in Idaho. The family began traveling extensively during Mrs. Howell-Hirsch’s high school years and she had to be content with a family pet rather than a field dog until she began raising her own family years later. While married to her first husband, Dixie began breeding Doberman Pinchers for the guard dog industry and Toy Poodles for the society crowd; both breeds were quite sought after in the mid-1960's Divorce and subsequent relocation and remarriage brought Mrs. Howell-Hirsch to the Irish Wolfhound breed and lure coursing. Her success in breeding, showing, and coursing since the late 1970's has garnered over 60 home-bred conformation champions, over 30 coursing champions and motivated her to become a Lure Field Trial Judge in 1978 for the American Sighthound Field Association. Her license was grandfathered into the AKC Lure Coursing program (1988) at that program’s inception. Two of her home-bred hounds have the distinction of being the first Irish Wolfhound to earn an AKC Field Champion title and the first bitch to earn an AKC Dual Championship -- field and bench. Many others have subsequently followed to Dual Championships.
          Mrs. Howell-Hirsch is a Charter member of the AKC Lure Coursing Advisory Committee; National Chairman of the highly acclaimed AKC National Lure Coursing Championship in 1995; founder of the South Counties Irish Wolfhound Fanciers Society, a social organization for the breed;  member and Breed Referral Chairman for the Inland Empire Hound Group Club, since 1984; member and Hospitality Chairman for the Irish Wolfhound Association of the West Coast, 1994-95-96; 1999-2000 Delegate to the AKC; Junior Showmanship judge; symposium speaker, author and lecturer on the Sighthound Conditioning for Coursing and Conformation; author of numerous articles on Coursing and Conditioning for such magazines as Dogs International. Mrs. Howell-Hirsch has produced top winning sighthounds for exhibitors in many countries around the world, and bred, owned and exhibited one of her hounds to 12 international titles in  9 countries (besides the U.S.), who became the world’s most Internationally titled Irish Wolfhound PLUS holding a lure coursing championship, and another home-bred hound had  9 titles from 5 countries PLUS an AKC Dual Championship. She became an AKC licensed judge eventually and has judged Internationally.
          Mrs. Howell-Hirsch promotes a strong commitment to functionality in the sighthound and the duality of purpose where the form follows the function in a natural evolution. It is this commitment which motivates her in applying for a license to judge the twelve sighthounds. Her more than 30 years of field experience, from the required hands-on inspection process to the judging and scoring procedures, proves Mrs. Howell-Hirsch to be eminently qualified in the field. Her numerous assignments as Sweepstakes judge for most of the sighthounds, sporting, terriers and working breeds attests to her knowledge, experience and peer acceptance. She is currently fully licensed to judge Basenjis, Borzoi, Irish Wolfhounds, Pharaoh Hounds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Border Terriers, as well as Junior Showmanship, and Provisional License applied for in Rottweilers, Bassets, Greyhounds, Scottish Deerhounds, Whippets and Ibizan Hounds, for AKC sanctioned conformation shows. Mrs. Howell-Hirsch is a recognized breeder-judge in five of her chosen licensed sighthound breeds and has the distinction of being breeder-handler on her Champion Irish Wolfhounds, Borzoi, Basenjis and Rhodesians in three countries (US, Canada, Mexico). As such an authority, Mrs. Howell-Hirsch judged at the 1999 World Show in Mexico City, along with 60 other eminent International judges.
          SUNSTAG is a registered kennel name with Canada (CKC Permanent), the United States (AKC Renewable), and is recognized world-wide as the prefix of sound, functional sighthounds. In January 2011, AKC recognized and awarded Dixie Howell-Hirsch as a Breeder of Merit. 

The "Personal" Version
          I was once asked how I had become interested in the Irish Wolfhound. My answer is a long one so please bear with me. My husband, Dick, was "City" raised (as in Manhattan, New York) and had once had a Saint Bernard for a pet. His toddler memory of that dog was of huge masses of hair and body and a wet chin. We eventually moved to our five acre ranch in Southern California in the late 60's and he commented that we now had the space for a Saint Bernard or an Irish Wolfhound. To which I said: "Over my dead body will you get a Saint into my house, but what's an Irish Wolfhound?" A few months later I had my first introduction to a magnificent male IW at a dog show. I was in LOVE!!
          In less than a year we had a couple of wonderful pet Irish Wolfhounds and they brought such pleasure to all of us--we've 7 kids between us (6 boys and a girl), so there were lots of  people to be cuddled and cared for by our first hounds. We lost Bonnie to a fall off the mountain; Clyde was inconsolable for months. We did not then know of the bonds and attachments these hounds make, our lifestyle had sped up and we just did not think about getting Clyde a playmate...we were enough for him, I believed. In retrospect, however, he was not his "old" self after Bonnie's death. He was 7 when his frailties and spinal paralysis necessitated that he be released to The Rainbow Bridge.
          Now, we were inconsolable. Children were in high school or off to colleges, Dick's job was as much social as it was work, my job kept me on the road 4 days a week, so there simply was no time to research for another hound. Finally, I discovered the Irish Wolfhound Rescue Trust, thinking I might adopt an older hound and not be "burdened" with puppyhood. I got on the list and I waited... and I waited... and I waited. I can smile at my frustrations now, but not then. Finally, I retired from the 8: to 5: workforce and could concentrate on getting us a dog. When it seemed we would never get a hound from the Trust, I called a number of breeders and got on their puppy buyer lists. Lo and behold, a lady in Texas had a nice show-quality male. But, I wanted a female, so I said, "No, thank you, we'll wait for a female." Another breeder called a couple of days later--she had a female puppy, but it was show quality, was I interested. Hey! What did I know about exhibiting? Absolutely nothing! But, what the heck, sure, send her along...the check's in the mail. Puppy to be sent in a month.
          Suddenly, things really started moving. Another breeder in Arizona had a 16-week-old female--the stud fee puppy which she had to relinquish, was I interested. What the heck, sure, we'll be over next weekend. "Bring cash, we don't take checks." So, okay.  We got Numero Uno on 4th of July weekend when the temperature was 110 in the shade...at 10 a.m. in the morning!! That little love leaped into the backseat of our Chrysler, curled up with her nose facing the air conditioner and stayed that way until we got back to California. Another "show quality" female. Hummm. What was I getting myself into?
          We're still a week from getting our other 10-week-old female when Dick says: "Call the lady in Texas and see if the male is still available." Say what?!! That would make three... all under 6 months old, and I had wanted an older hound so I did not have to go through the puppy mess. Ah, well. So, I called; yes, the male was still available and she could ship that weekend. I sent check; he came, all 12-weeks of him. The next weekend the other female came and, oh, I almost forgot this part. During all these negotiations, Dick had seen an ad in a newspaper: "Irish Wolfhound Puppies, $250 and up,.Six weeks old." He said I should go look at them and find out what a $250 IW looked like. Afterall, the three we had "in transit" were certainly more expensive than that!
          What to name them, hummm. Dick is a "punster" and he kept giving me such awful, off-the-wall things which simply did not fit the dignity of this breed. Then, he hit on it. Four hounds, 2 males and 2 females--you bet we were crazy. I'd never do it again that way. But, I digress. You know the Irish melody called "How are Things in Glocca Morra"? Sing these names to that tune: Howell, Tien-sen, Gloch and Moira? Ya dig it? I loved it and all four of them!
          Sadly, Gloch and Howie were neutered and re-homed after about two years. Gloch made height, Howie did not; Gloch had no coat; Howie was small-boned (he was our 250 dollar hound--oh, I forgot to tell you--yeah, I bought one). Howie showed well as a youngster, but Gloch never liked the ring. Moira became the world's most multi-titled bitch; Tien became our foundation bitch. You can see her picture on our Family Tree along with her progeny, et al.
          There is, of course, much more to the saga since our acquisition and breeding of other Sighthounds, but I think I'll leave you guessing. You'll have to call and get . . . 
"the rest of the story" . . .

Just The Highlights
Update February 1997:
Approved to Judge Junior Showmanship
Update October 1998: Approved for Irish Wolfhounds, Borzoi, and Border Terriers.
Successfully completed Borzoi and Irish Wolfhound Specialties judging assignments in Neumunster, Germany.
Update May 1999: Judged for the World Show in Mexico City with 60 other eminent International judges!
Update October 2001: Completed provisional assignments in Irish Wolfhound, Borzoi and Border Terrier as Breeder-Judge; applying for additional breeds.
Update May 2002: Additional breeds (Basenji, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Pharaoh Hound) Provisional with Breeder-Judge status for all.
2004: Began Mentoring Three Kennels: Azteca (Mexico), Rohan (Florida) and Keller (SoCal)
Update December 2007: Completed provisional assignments. Future plans to request additional Sighthound breeds.
Update June 2008: Two more home-bred hounds (Jazz & Lacey) complete their AKC Championships within a week of each other!!
Update July 2008: Approved for Additional Breeds. New Application being prepared for six more breeds.
Update December 2008: CH Sunstag D'Lacey was invited to and attended the Eukanuba in Long Beach 
Began mentorship of  The Turrean Irish Wolfhounds Kennel (California), including selection of foundation stock.
Update March-September 2009: Mentored The Paladin Irish Wolfhound Kennel (Idaho) in their first successful litter, 10 healthy puppies.
Update January 2011: Presented with AKC Award Breeder of Merit for Exemplary Commitment as Breeder of the Irish WolfhoundS.
February 2021: Downsized from 4BR/3 Stories on 3 Acres, to a Tiny Cottage on 40 Acres...more for the hounds! Of Course!

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Dixie Howell-Hirsch || (949) 750-4193 || DO NOT TEXT!
E-Mail: dixie@sunstag.org   ||  URL: www.sunstag.org