For artist and author Sandy Mesmer, small dogs are the passion that rules much of her life. Her Tessier Silky Terriers are known throughout the world, as is her artwork. And her Christmas cards are exquisite!
Sandy started with the dog passion early on. “I went to my first dog show when I was eight, and immediately wanted to show my family’s Belle Tor, a Standard Poodle. Mom explained the many reasons why this wasn’t possible. (For starters, she was spayed.) But there was a little voice in my head that said, ‘Someday I’m going to do this.’ Of course, being eight, the next week I was telling everyone that I wanted to be a jockey.”
That initial experience was enough to plant the dog showing bug into Sandy though. Her first “real” show dog was a Yorkshire Terrier that she purchased while living in Germany. “I took him to a show in Munich and all the very kind judge could say about him was that his ears were well fringed.”
Sandy loved her Yorkie despite his only virtue being his ears but decided she wanted to go with a breed that was a little bit bigger. “When I discovered the Silky Terrier, I contacted Peggy Smith, the doyenne of the breed. To my surprise, she wrote me back, and we ended up going to Crufts together in 1980. The Silky has had my heart ever since. Our kennel Tessier works hard to produce wonderful and typey dogs and has produced and ninety-seven home-breds, including several top ranked winners I always say that I have a Silky to make me merry.” Inspired by the breed she loves, Sandy has been creating exquisite living works of art in the stunning Silkies.
Drawing was always a favorite hobby for Sandy but she didn’t really take it seriously until about 1999. With her years of dog experience behind her, she picked up drawing again – this time concentrating on some of her favorite subjects. “I work in either pen and ink or in watercolor pencil. Sometimes I wish I could whip out pieces, but my work is meticulous, laying out every hair; pen and inks take a couple of hours and the watercolors can be as long as 15 hours.” The detail put into each work of art simply mimics the detail to grooming Sandy spends on her show dogs.
Sandy’s artwork and one of her books have both won honors from the DWAA (Dog Writers Association of America). Her next book – Animal Planet Dogs 101: Pomeranian – will be published in September of 2014. Sandy is often her own greatest critic. “I tend to hate the last piece I’ve done, but then after time decide it’s not so bad after all. I also create Christmas cards as well as prints.”
In addition to breeding and showing her dogs, plus doing all her artwork, Sandy has created a website and Facebook pages that share a wealth of information about small dogs. Included are some fun pages for children too. “My website is www.about-small-dogs.com, with over 200 pages of breed descriptions, training and care information. I have an active page at facebook.com/about.small.dogs; with over 13,000 likes and a Total Reach that is about 60,000 a week at this time of year.”
Sandy credits some friends and mentors with helping her success in the world of dogs. “An early influence for me was Laurie Ericson of Marina Silky Terriers. I have attended Pat Hasting’s excellent seminars four times and learned volumes at each one. Karen Huey of Wyntuk and I have been working together since 2002; I am immensely grateful for her profound knowledge of dog care and training and regularly pinch myself that she is willing to share her expertise — and friendship — with me. But I think that dog people are nothing without their friends. Billie Pruitt has made the ride home from shows — whether long (we lost) or like flying (we won) worthwhile for the last 20 years and lately Anna Schemm has joined the crew, making all the difference with her amazing work ethic and dry British sense of humor.”
For true passion for both small dogs and exquisite art, Sandy Mesmer has certainly found the right recipe.