Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Tis the season to be... jolly strange!

Just in case you don't have a subscription to the Kennel Gazette you might have missed Ronnie Irving's follow up to his bizarre Queen's speech in Dog World. (For those not in the know - Ronnie is the Chairman of the Kennel Club.)

Ronnie starts off by reminding us that this time last year he was doing his Mystic Meg impression and forecasting that:
"greater interference from the outside world on how we breed, work and keep dogs will doubtless continue to plague us."

Hmmm? So where exactly does he define the edge of the world of dogs?

The front door of his offices in Clarges Street?

How very annoying for them having the troublesome meddling general public wanting to look over their shoulder.

But Ronnie really loses it in the next paragraph where he claims the:
"loudest in the media"
"the politicians"
and the
"do gooders"
(ie people who want to encourage the KC to reform and make dogs healthier)
are
"like terrorists lobbing hand grenades into a casualty hospital."

Taxi for Mr Irving to the Priory Clinic perhaps?

Possible explanations for this lapse in the company line...
  • Too much sherry at the KC office party?
  • PR guru's not working over the festive period?
  • Someone who doesn't like him has cloned his identity to get him into shed loads of trouble?
On the plus side, Ronnie's New Year message really takes all the pressure off Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand for the I really wish I hadn't said that award.

If you want to read the rant in full please email me!

Friday, 26 December 2008

Stop eating those After Eights...

Nothing on the box till Harry Hill? Played with, eaten or broken all your pressies?
Why not visit the Dogs Today Think Tank and share your doggie knowledge with others. There's a load of new questions on there, so please do have a browse - and if there are any questions you'd like answered do email me so I can post them as the blog is no respecter of office hours!
Latest question asks you about your top tips for products you couldn't do without. I've kicked it off with Crazy Dog Grooming Spray - which I am sure is in some way enchanted as the knots do seems to undo themselves when you spray! And no - they don't advertise so I'm definitely not biased!
Have any of you found something remarkable? Pass it on!
Also, any experts out there who can explain why we and dogs are so different when it comes to chocolate and grapes? How come they can eat a rancid bit of dead animal or drink from stagnant stinky pond with no ill effects - but things like grapes which we consider a health food can kill them. How exactly do we differ?
The Think Tank is awaiting your input should you tire of another round of Trivial Pursuit!
Click here to take part

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Welcome to Martha and King Ronnie's speech

The Deputy Editor's job at Dogs Today has proved a very fertile position of late. First Julia Owen had baby Megan in the summer and Karen Redpath (Mrs Cornish) stepped up the plate to cover her maternity - soon after announcing her own baby was on the way, too.
With tremendous consideration, baby Martha Cornish, arrived just after we put the February issue to bed at 8pm on December 22th.
Congratulations to the very proud parents! Well done to Karen who was a real trooper working through her pregnancy.

The KC has given Dog World a Christmas speech - Ronnie obviously feels he and HMQueen have a lot in common- well they both preside over dynasties with a high coefficient of inbreeding and neither were elected by those they rule! Here's the start of it...

"ALTHOUGH 2008 may have been its own annus horribilis, the Kennel Club is forging its way into the new year with courage and the conviction that the show dog world is still alive and kicking."

Now I think that's the first time they've come out with it so baldly - that far from being the all embracing guardian of all things doggie they'd like to be seen as - they are really just primarily all about showing dogs.
Our dogs deserve better.

Here's the rest of the speech

Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year for our best friends!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Bulldog spirit?

I've been so immersed in finishing the latest issue and attempting to get ready for Christmas that I've scarcely had time to sleep, never mind blog.
Here's a few thoughts and happenings that I've wanted to blog about but have been stymied until now.
What happens now that the pressure to change in time for the BBC decision is off, will the KC still have the zeal to try to change all 209 breed standards? (Of course it is only changing words on a page, inspiring breeders to breed to the standard and judges to judge to it is an entirely different challenge. And in most cases it's just adding a passage that basically passes the buck to the judge to police the health of the breed.)
But the 'worry' breeds plus a few more are being treated like naughty schoolboys and some of the breed people don't like it one little bit.
The KC suddenly playing the strict head teacher has met its first major obstacle. The Bulldog people. I suspect they feel they've little to lose as they are probably already seen as the naughtiest in the class, although the Peke people gave them a waddle for their money.
A few weeks ago, when I was talking to the other KC baddies - the German Shepherd United Front, the chap I was talking to had said that Bulldog people had broken away and I forgot to ask him to explain as we diverged into lots of other interesting avenues.
So how will the KC deal with the Bulldog breakaway? Do they let them walk..? (Sorry my warped sense of humour wants to substitute the word stagger!)
And if they lead will others follow?
Will we end up with what the BBC wanted and for the breeds that really needed to change not being at Crufts, but for completely different reasons?
And when will we at last get the inbreeding reform which would be very much more meaningful than this bickering over words which I doubt will result in any physical improvements. I'm not asking for a flashy ban on incest necessarily - that will have hardly any affect. I want the coefficient of inbreeding to be displayed on registration certificates, for the KC pedigree database to be searchable by anyone and for COIs on test matings to be calculated by the KC system. I want breed average COIs to be obviously displayed and targets put in place so that good breeders can be clear on what they need to do. And we need to limit the number of times a sire is used.
Is it just me or is there anyone really confident that the KC will hit these buttons?
Almost pointless for me to mention that all the above are already features of the Swedish KC registration system and have been for some years.
Wouldn't inbreeding reform have been a better place to start? Who could argue with this? Work up to the nuggety moulding the misshapen breeds back into a more logical form issue after you've stopped the shrinking gene pool problem. Taking each breed separately and devising a plan rather than just changing the breed standard wording in isolation might be a more successful strategy.
In my own breed, I just discovered a litter that had a COI of 38% over 10 generations - out of just over 500 possible relations in the pedigree only 121 were unique - all the rest were repetitions - 65 dogs appearing up to eight times! What's the worst COI in your breed? Do write in! Professor Balding says we should be aiming for 3% or less and over 20% shouldn't be registered at all. But this 38% produced a Champion... so that line will be bred on from.
What's the most inbred Champion in Britain today? Let's have a little festive inbreeding quiz!
Guess that's the one upside of incest, less relies to buy pressies for.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Sorry to have been quiet

We've just put the February issue to bed. It's hard to blog on deadline. Off to a pantomime this morning with the kids, so no time to catch up - so many things bloggable have happened in the last week. Will update shortly!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Xmas pressie ideas with a point

Cavalier King Charles merchandise - all profits will be donated to support health research initiatives to combat SM and MVD in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Please order from: www.cafepress.com/cavalove
Worldwide shipping available.

These seasonal folk art designs are also available on other products such as mugs and coasters, etc.

Thank you to our subscriber Gerrie Pryor Carter in Monroe, CT, USA for the tip off. She told my colleague:
"I had painted some folk art designs of my puppies and I am featuring them on an ornament collection: The Four Seasons of CKCS. All proceeds will go towards the research for SM & MVD. The Four Season designs and other CKCS designs are also available on other *stuff* like mugs and tote bags, etc."

"Today Cafepress is offering free upgrade to express shipping. Orders will carry standard shipping charges but will arrive in time for Christmas. Anyway, I would sure appreciate the mention as the fundraiser has not been successful at all. "

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Messengers in the firing line again!

In case you're not checking the comments on the old posts, some people have been being very mean to Jo, the owner of Zak the epileptic Boxer featured in Pedigree Dogs Exposed.
Out of order I'm afraid. Jo is a great owner and she always does her very best for Zak, many sacrifices made to make sure he is never left alone. Huge drug bill, too. People really should treat her gently, she has enough to put up with.
Anyway this post caught my eye.. they start with an extract from one of my comments.

"When will dog breeders stop being so defensive - the enemy should be suffering - not the people who tell others about it."

When you report all the efforts being made to eliminate these issues within the show world or the lack of efforts in the 'Pet' only pedigree industry.When you start publishing details of the research groups, scientists etc who are working on the very health problems we are trying to counter. When you start to encourage YOUR public to support said research groups with blood samples, buccal swabs, monies to maintain their research.

Well regular and real readers will know that every edition of the magazine and on the web the Hairy Dogmother contains all the tests that are available and advisable for every breed and our recent How to save the Pedigree Dog booklet lists all the DNA tests available and encourages readers to take part in all the Animal Health Trusts ongoing research projects. We also had a major feature in the latest issue on all the Cavalier research projects and how to get involved. And dare i mention the Little Black Dog books which catalogued for the first time all the different health testing schemes....

So I am puzzled, anonymous - what is it we are not doing?

"It's not a defensive reaction to question an owner whose experiences are different to yours, its not defensive to give our personal experience, knowledge, advice received etc back to said owner. I see no attack from breeders here what I do see is people asking for clarification. Idiopathic - Cause/origins unknown Familial = occurance in more members of a family than would be statistically expected True Dominat autosomal epilepsy in both humans and other mammals is very rare - ie a simple genetic cause. Epilepsy as a stand alone condition is also rather rare with family members suspected of having polygenic susceptability towards seizures on their alles ie Complex epilepsy. "

"For those of you who truly wish to see the end of these diseases great, contact the research groups, offer them blood samples from your affected animals, monies etc do something constructive not just complain and attack those people who are trying to eliminate the problems. For every sample submitted they stand a chance of being a step closer to finding an answer that will help human suffering as much as animals. Here's a couple to start you offhttp://www.aht.org.uk/genetics_research.htmlThis is the group who developed the epilepsy test for Lagattos. I am proud to say my own breed club members submitted some 50 plus samples this autumn towards their epilepsy research, with more coming via our pet purchasers.http://www.koirangeenit.fi/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=18&Itemid=44 "

Surely you must see we are on the same side anonymous? Everyone here is pro-research and testing. You're raging at the wrong people. Those who don't support science should be your target. Those who think it's still quite fine to breed half brother to sister and not limit the use of popular sires.

Certainly the owners of dogs with horrible problems shouldn't be anyone's target.

Monday, 15 December 2008

50% Doggy house sale

Want to get a foot on the property ladder but can't get on? Got dogs or happy to share with someone who has? (Two small non-shedding Lagotto and Bichon) here's an interesting house share idea. Genuine - this is a friend of one the Dogs Today team.

A 50 per cent share of a 3 bedroom semi detached house. £130,000
Carpenders park, Watford, Hertfordshire
The large garden is dog proof backing onto a quiet semi rural area.
2 well trained dogs already in residence, both castrated and used to living with a large number of other dogs
The house has recently been decorated, and the large bedroom will be yours.
No smokers please.
Feel free to ring Carol (07896020460) for a chat and more details or email c.g.meacham@hotmail.co.uk

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Flood warning over

Which is great. Wonder how long it will take to put everything back in the cupboards on Monday morning!

It never rains...

Just been to the office to pick everything possible off the floor. We're on flood watch again. Watch this space... ugh!
Was on BBC5live on a debate about Crufts when heard about flooding on the news and thought I'd check the environment agency site with our record of floods at our office. Sure enough - there it was - flood watch and the recorded announcement said low lying areas would flood - so that's our office then.
Off to bed, let's hope if it does flood it's not too high as we only cleared the bottom shelves.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Crufts 2008 not on the TV

Just had a phone call from the Times. The BBC has decided not to show Crufts this year. They will review the subject again for the 2010 show.
It makes sense and it does mean the BBC haven't been dazzled by the frenetic burst of activity initiated by the KC in the last few months.
Twenty years of overdue reform could never be achieved in a few months.
The rush to reword all the breed standards, to compile lists of hereditary diseases that may all had the scent of panic, rather than of a sensible strategy.
And that panic seemed to be more about what the BBC might think, rather than the long term betterment of dogs. If not - why the rush, why not do this organically over the last twenty years like Sweden did?
This decision gives the KC a bit longer to get their act together, before the possibility of BBC Crufts coverage is reviewed again.
Let's hope the KC will now take a deep breath and aim to do it really properly. A thorough deep clean and that means looking at inbreeding not just doing word changes and testing for existing conditions - possibly the most significant thing they can do for the future of pedigree dog health.
While it will be disappointing for many not to see dogs on TV this will focus the KC's mind and hopefully ensure that meaningful reform will happen.

From Jemima Harrison, Director of Pedigree Dogs Exposed:
"The decision vindicates the film and no one will be more delighted than me if Crufts can return at some time in the future with healthier dogs. It was ridiculous to try to undo 50 years of damage in the six months between the documentary airing and Crufts. For example, Rolo the Cavalier with SM is still qualified to compete at Crufts, to be bred on from. The dog's owner is still yet to be censured in any way for breeding on from a dog with a known hereditary condition. Although the KC have been making welcome efforts to change things of late they have yet to put anything in place to deal with genetic diversity. On their website dated November 24th they say they are working with Imperial College on this subject - but they've not been in touch with the College for some months and there is definitely no on-going collaboration. The point of the film is we never said every pedigree dog was buggered - but too many are. Hopefully the film and all that happens next will prove to be a catalyst for meaningful change."


From the RSPCA:
"The RSPCA believes the BBC’s decision not to televise Crufts reflects deep scientific and public concern about the unacceptably high levels of disability, deformity and hereditary disease affecting pedigree dogs.
"In the wake of the BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed the RSPCA decided not to attend Crufts 2009 in order to send a clear message that urgent action must be taken to improve the health and welfare of pedigree dogs. Several other leading animal welfare charities and show sponsors have since followed suit.
"The RSPCA’s Mark Evans said: “The BBC’s decision not to televise Crufts clearly reflects serious scientific and public concern about pedigree dog welfare. Hundreds of thousands of dogs are vulnerable to pain, suffering and disease because they’re primarily bred for how they look rather than with health, welfare and temperament as the main focus.
“Dog shows using current breed standards as the main judging criteria are fundamentally flawed and do our much-loved pedigree dogs no favours. They allow and encourage both the breeding of deformed and disabled dogs and the inbreeding of closely related animals. This is morally unjustifiable and has to stop.”
The RSPCA wants to see the emphasis of dog shows shifted away from arbitrary appearance, so that health, welfare and temperament are considered first and foremost. The Society wants to help ensure that pedigree dogs have the best possible chance of being fit, healthy and happy and well suited to the lives they will lead as pets.

The RSPCA has commissioned an independent review of the science in this field, which will be published in the New Year. Amongst a raft of specific recommendations, the following general themes have been identified as possible ways forward:

• An overhaul of the rules and requirements for pedigree dog registration and competitive dog showing (including breed standards). Health, welfare and temperament should be prioritised over appearance.
• The development and implementation of health and welfare-focussed breeding strategies for individual breeds. This should include pro-active steps to increase the genetic diversity of dog breeds.
• More data collection and scientific analysis on causes of disease and death in dogs.
• Education, especially of would-be owners, to encourage demand for dogs which have the best possible chance of leading healthy, happy lives as pets.


For the KC's perspective click here

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

German Shepherd world unites

For the first time in history pretty much the whole German Shepherd world has united in a push to improve the health of their breed. Here's a copy of their open letter to Caroline Kisko, copied to all the KC General Committee.
I have to say I am in awe at this group. Are there any other breeds that are really pressing for improvement?
Did you know that in Germany all GSD have to have a breed survey before being bred from? A multi-faceted test that looks at health, temperament etc.

05 December 2008

The Kennel Club
Clarges Street
Mayfair
London


Dear Mrs Kisko

The German Shepherd Dog Breed Council of the UK along with the two
largest and oldest GSD Breed Clubs in the UK The British Association
German Shepherds Dogs and The German Shepherd League (The Partners)
are concerned that the meeting on the 20th November sadly did not
include our reasonable request to include item No3 on the Agenda. We
simply wanted to jointly discuss specifically the GSD and
improvements to its Health and Welfare. The Partners letter of the
12th November enclosing the agenda item No3 was issued and hand
delivered with in 5 days of receiving briefing papers from yourselves
and to date, disappointingly, we still have had no response to the
letter apart from a message the night before the meeting saying our
item will not be discussed.

The meeting with the Kennel Club Health and Welfare Group( KCHWG) on
the 20th November only discussed certain perceived exaggeration in the
GSD, particularly in the hind quarters, which culminated in an
agreement to review the breed standard quickly in order to better
guide Judges.

The Partnership of the three prime organisations who collectively
represent the vast majority of GSDs who work and show their dogs in
the UK respectfully requests that the improvement plan contained in
the previous Agenda (enclosed) which was not received by the KCHWG on
the 20th November is now discussed in an urgent meeting with the
Kennel Club (KC).

We hope that the KC will acknowledge, that the most important and
substantive threat facing Pedigree GSDs today, is without question,
the lack of mandatory Health and Welfare initiatives for GSDs
registered by the KC. To have to attend a meeting in London to deal
with subjective, unsubstantiated and adhoc comments on aspects of
conformation is “Fiddling whilst Rome burns” the meaning of which is
“to occupy oneself with unimportant matters and neglect the priorities
during a crisis”.

The Partners conclude, that as a consequence of the lack of any
mandatory breeding regulations by the KC that the vast majority of the
12,000 plus Pedigree GSDs registered yearly by the KC cannot conform
to be classified as “Fit for Function: Fit for Life”. Furthermore the
KC will be criticised by certain parties by allowing the preconceived
idea to prevail that to purchase a KC registered Pedigree GSD implies
a guarantee of higher quality than other GSDs.

We can help. The Partnership of the GSD Breed Council and the two
main breed clubs and their members have, for a number of years,
imposed voluntary Quality Control initiatives on the GSDs under their
influence and therefore would like to share with the KC the benefits
of implementing a planned, sustainable improvement plan for KC
registered GSDs

We would like to present to the KC the work that has been done in
improving the Health and Welfare of the GSDs controlled by the clubs.
The Breed Council and the Breed Clubs record that this initiative has
been implemented so far only by their members, members who care and
invest time, skill and devotion into choosing to enforce restrictions
on breeding themselves and which is not matched by 80% of the GSD
breeders and subsequent dogs registered by the KC.

It seems unbelievable in this day and age that no mandatory
regulatory tests are in place prior to breeders being able to KC
register over 12,000 GSDs every year. We believe this unregulated
environment leads to the consequential and wholly preventable health
problems that prevail today and variations of type which have
inevitably and unfortunately evolved.

There is some early wins we can achieve together by imposing
mandatory, stricter control on dogs being registered for breeding and
together we can make a difference which will be witnessed by the
Public and the Media.

Both the Kennel Club and all responsible Breeders need to demonstrate
that we are making progress by imposing Mandatory controls on
breeding, to simply alter the breed standard does not go anywhere near
enough to resolving the issue of continuous improvement.

We look forward to receiving confirmation of our requested meeting and
confirm our earnest desire is to work with the KC in agreeing a way
forward to implementing a step change in the Health and Welfare of the
GSD which this noble breed deserves and which will be demanded by the
Public and the Media increasingly in the future. Lets make our plans
together now.

Signed by the Partners for sustainable improvement in the GSD.

Bob Honey Chairman BAGSD
Graham Stephens Chairman GSDL
John Cullen Chairman GSD Breed Council


Encl
CC, Members of the KC General Committee

Agenda for the 2nd meeting with the Kennel Club -TBA

The GSD Health and Welfare Planned Improvement Plan

Introduction

1.0 The Partners

The GSD League and BAGSD are members of the WUSV (World Union of Shepherd Dog Clubs) which has representation from 76 member countries, the two clubs are the largest and oldest national breed clubs. Collectively they work proactively with the GSD Breed Council which is the body formed by all GSD Clubs in the UK and charged as a collective group with the progressive development of our Breed within the UK. The Partnership of the GSD Breed Council, the GSDL and BAGSD without question, make up the largest critical mass of GSDs working and showing in the UK.

1.1 One voice, one aim

The Partnership would therefore like to present the following on behalf of the vast majority of working and breed clubs in the UK.

Over the last 15 years progress has been made by the partners to implement VOLUNTARY Health and Welfare schemes for participating individuals within the breed. The facts are that none of these initiatives is endorsed by the KC and none are MANDATORY. Recognition however is made of the contribution made by the KC in the development of KC/BVA schemes so far.

2.0 Progress so far:-

• Highlighting the breeding lines responsible for epilepsy through testing by Dr P. Croft.
• Introduction of a Voluntary Hip Scoring Scheme.
• Voluntary Tattoo identification.( and Micro chipping)
• Voluntary Haemophilia testing.( males only)
• Voluntary Elbow X-rays and grading.
• Voluntary DNA Parentage identification.
• Other Parentage tests, work in progress…..
• Voluntary Breed Surveys
• Ground Breaking GSD Sieger event, for the Fourth year, where only GSDs with mandatory Health and Working qualifications are promoted to the highest awards.
• Mandatory Judges Training scheme in order to become sponsored by the GSD Breed Council judging lists, not mandatory for eligibility to Judge KC shows however.

3.0 The Opportunity

The time is right to implement the next steps and introduce mandatory improvements as part of a phased Progressive Improvement Plan. The GSD community and the KC do not want to be seen as complacent in this respect. We must work together with the KC Breed Health and Welfare Strategy Group (BHWSG) and produce a realistic and achievable improvement plan to increase the Health and Welfare of the GSD and perhaps be a vanguard for other breeds to follow.

THE PARTNERS WHOLEHEARTEDLY SUPPORT THE KENNEL CLUBS FOLLOWING DECLERATION:-

“The Kennel Club will make full use of the measures it has within its remit and authority to ensure that all breed clubs and councils encourage their members to undertake health screening appropriate to each breed and that individual breeders reach the highest possible standards of husbandry and welfare”.

The Proposed Planned Improvement Programme

To further improve the Health and Welfare of the German Shepherd to be 'fit for purpose, fit for life' we would like to propose the following Terms of reference to build on the work already done by the KC and voluntarily by our members and produce, in agreement with the BHWSG, a mandatory sustainable Planned Improvement Programme for all registered GSDs.


4.0 Our Proposal in Summary

4.1 The breed name of German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian) should be brought into line with the rest of the World and changed to German Shepherd Dog. This will also avoid the confusion that exists with the general public who often believe that there are 2 different types/breeds - the German Shepherd Dog and the Alsatian.

4.2 Introduction of a mandatory breed survey before being allowed to be bred from.

4.3 No female under the age of 21 months should be bred from.

4.4 No male under the age of 18 months should be bred from.

4.5 Inbreeding closer than 3, 2 or 2, 3 should not be accepted.

4.6 Mandatory training scheme for Judges with a scrutiny panel of senior breed judges empowered by the KC and the Partners who will monitor judge’s adhesion to the rules, with regular forums for discussion.

4.7 Reduction of the judges list to an active register and qualified list

4.8 Line breeding to be shown on the KC pedigree in order to differentiate.

4.9 A quick win in differentiating GSDs who have had tests from those who have not would be for the KC to acknowledge international working Health and Working tests on Pedigrees. The standard of a good proportion of GSDs registered with the KC would be raised demonstrably.

4.10 Future breeding standards:-

4.11 Any puppies registered by the Kennel Club must have parents who have both been hip X-rayed and have achieved a minimum status of a score of 20 ( with one side being no higher than 12 ) or a recognised overseas grade which is similar.

4.12 Any puppies registered by the Kennel Club must have parents who have both been elbow X-rayed and either graded by the BVA or have achieved a recognised overseas status.

4.13 The sire of any puppies registered by the Kennel Club must have passed a haemophilia test if bred in the UK.

4.14 Any puppies registered by the Kennel Club must have parents who have both been either tattooed or micro-chipped for identification purposes, in order for the individual dog to match his/her documentation.

4.15 The parents of every puppy to be registered by the Kennel Club must have had DNA identification recorded with the Kennel Club or a recognised overseas authority.

4.16 Any puppies registered by the Kennel Club should conform to the Breed Standard colour requirement.

4.17 The parents of any puppies registered by the Kennel Club must have passed a Breed Survey (in the year in which the animal attains 2 years of age - or older) either in the U.K. or with a recognised overseas authority.

4.18 The U.K. Breed Survey to be upgraded to include a fitness/endurance test similar to the ' (AD) required by International WUSV authorities.

4.19 The parents of any puppies registered by the Kennel Club should have achieved either a recognised Kennel Club or WUSV working qualification, with the minimum being a Gold Kennel Club Good Citizen Test or a BH qualification.

4.20 The breeder of any puppies registered by the Kennel Club should hold a valid Kennel Club prefix.

5 Timescale

Clearly we cannot unilaterally propose a time scale for this planned improvement programme without the absolute involvement of the KC this would be inappropriate at this time, however we see no reason if we all work together to implement item 4.10 - 4.20 from 1st January 2010.

As a registered puppy achieves certain standards of Health and welfare qualifications these should be added to their official pedigrees by application to the Kennel Club for upgrading.

6 Two Tier System

We do not fully understand why the Kennel Club must register every litter. .

With this in mind it would appear that the Kennel Club may be obliged to register those dogs that have not been tested as 'fit for purpose, fit for life'.

On the basis that all puppies must receive a registration by the Kennel Club, the alternative could be a two tier system wherein that puppies complying with the above requirements receive green registration documents and pedigree certificates with the additional information contained thereon, and that all other non-complying puppies are issued with 'blue' registration documents and pedigree certificates.

General

There are further fundamental issues that need to be addressed i.e. The amount of puppies being born annually with multiple lines to known epileptic dogs which information is held by our breed archivist. We would refer you to the article by Mrs. Chris Hazell on page 22 of the 2008 Our Dogs Sieger Supplement. Can you imagine the distress caused to innocent purchasers of a puppy when, at around 18 months of age, as a fully integrated member of their family, their young dog begins to 'fit' and most often has to be euthanized because of multiple epileptic fits. Surely the Kennel Club cannot condone this disgraceful situation.

The unsoundness in movement of a GSD shown on the recent BBC television programme was not the Best of Breed Winner at Crufts but the C.C. winner at an earlier all breed Championship Show.

It is important that judges of the German Shepherd have knowledge of sound movement, as well as correct construction, required in this breed. Unfortunately those organisers of all breed shows only have the current Judges List to work from - this needs to be reviewed urgently.

To prove the ability of the judge they should be required to justify their placings after the end of each class by giving verbal critiques to be followed up within 4 weeks of date of show by a written critique to be published by the in the canine press.

It is sincerely hoped that the Kennel Club will approve and incorporate the above proposals, as we feel that by doing so it can only improve the 'fit for purpose, fit for life' requirement for the German Shepherd Dog.


To all GSD lovers, a Partnership Statement.

The GSD League and BAGSD are members of the WUSV (World Union of Shepherd Dog Clubs) which has representation from 76 member countries, the two clubs are the largest and oldest national breed clubs. Collectively they work proactively with the GSD Breed Council which is the body formed by all GSD Clubs in the UK and charged as a collective group with the progressive development of our Breed within the UK. This Partnership of the GSD Breed Council, the GSDL and BAGSD without question, make up the largest critical mass of GSDs working and showing in the UK.

One voice, one aim

Over the last 15 years progress has been made by the partners individually to implement VOLUNTARY Health and Welfare schemes for participating individuals within the breed. The facts are that none of these initiatives is endorsed by the KC and none are MANDATORY. Recognition however is made of the contribution made by the KC in the development of KC/BVA schemes so far.

Over the years the Partners have independently made representations to the KC in order to try and increase the Health and Welfare of the 12,000 GSDs registered by the KC with no real success. It is clear that there has been no demonstrable improvement in the health and welfare of the GSD to date.

The KC have always maintained that they have no powers to implement mandatory breeding controls and prefer to register any/all dog regardless of physical and hereditary problems without any regards whatsoever to inbreeding and allow so called breeders to basically do as they wish with guidance notes and non mandatorty initiatives like the breeders charter etc. .

The Partnership has recently been formed specifically to make the most robust of representations to the KC on the issue of the lack of mandatory control regarding the Health and Welfare of the GSD.

The joint national clubs and the Breed Council have been not taken seriously by the KC as previously we had been guilty of being fractious and not bringing a coherent plan to the KC to date. This has now changed, the Executives of each organisation have come together to represent the largest body of GSDs in the UK and want only one thing and that is to see the measurable improvement in the Health and Welfare of our beloved breed.

The Partners want to work in harmony with the KC to continuously improve the breed and have together devised a Improvement Plan for the GSDs which has been sent to the KC and is included for your information along with a letter which sets the scene for evolution.

The Partners realise that the improvement plan requires further work but we must do this with the KC and establish realistic and deliverable timescales. Without question the breed will only move forward with the KC agreeing to implement mandatory measures and allow registration to only dogs who can prove that they are satisfying the improvement criteria which will lead to healthier GSDs.

The KC have argued that this type of control will only drive some GSD breeders away from the KC sphere of influence and that their past passive measures of “ influencing” not “raising the standard” has been effective.

If we all believe that the GSD is better now as a consequence of this route then just look at the statistics which will show GSDs are still suffer from a legacy of wholly preventable diseases like epilepsy, haemophilia still prevalent today as they have always been with no control on incest matings etc.

With the sustained press and public focus on the issue of Pedigree Dogs Health and Welfare the time is right now to implement change and the KC must realise that and not just advise breeders to change. The KC truly need to listen to the ground swell of GSD lovers and through the Partnership we wish to create a powerful joined up lobby to the KC on the issue of improvement in the Health and Welfare of the GSD.

As such we welcome your views to your clubs on this issue or post your comments on the following websites.

The Partnership makes a commitment to its members to robustly represent them with the KC and seek to implement a planned improvement plan which we can all look back on when we demonstrate improvement in the reduction of epilepsy rates, the abolition of incest matings and other inbreeding horrors, the unique identification of individual animals and the incremental mandatory breeding tests to be implemented in the future.

The Kennel Club registered GSD of the future will truly be a healthier dog and therefore able to reclaim its place as one of the noblest and most sought after breeds because “true quality doesn’t cost it pays”.

Half a dog friendly house for sale!

Want to get a foot on the property ladder but can't get on? Got dogs or happy to share with someone who has? (Two small non-shedding Lagotto and Bichon) here's an interesting house share idea. Genuine - this is a friend of one the Dogs Today team.

A 50 per cent share of a 3 bedroom semi detached house. £130,000
Carpenders park, Watford, Hertfordshire
The large garden is dog proof backing onto a quiet semi rural area.
2 well trained dogs already in residence, both castrated and used to living with a large number of other dogs
The house has recently been decorated, and the large bedroom will be yours.
No smokers please.
Feel free to ring Carol (07896020460) for a chat and more details or email c.g.meacham@hotmail.co.uk

Friday, 5 December 2008

Arts and Crufts (spinning module)

The Kennel Club have announced today on their website that they have posted out their proposed Breed Health Plans to all the breed clubs.
This could be a tremendous opportunity for meaningful change.
Until we see what's in these plans we won't know for sure if this a PR exercise to soothe the BBC into sticking with their Crufts coverage or a serious attempt to sort out the endemic problems in the pedigree dog world.

If you have seen one of these Breed Health Plans up close, please do enlighten me!

According to the KC website here are the three areas they seek to cover with the plans:

  • The conformation of the breed
  • The prevalence of certain conditions and diseases within the breed (once priorities have been agreed, the steps to tackle these will be formulated)
  • The diversity of the breed’s gene pool.

Most breed standards are staying the same, say the KC. Some minor tweaks, some major... probably those breeds they had on their worry list. But how effective can a wording change be? Did the last lot of changes change the Bulldog for example? I can't tell the difference. How will the changes be policed?

All breed standards will now include a paragraph that in essence passes the buck to the judges and makes them responsible for not rewarding exaggerations and only putting up sound, healthy dogs. In future the KC may also ask for feedback from judges on exaggerations.

So self-policing rather than leadership, much easier to administer and better for the bottom covering objective of saying any future mess isn't the KC's fault because they've written this wonderful get-out clause!

Information about existing health problems is also included in these breed plans. And the KC are referencing their data as being from:
  • The KC/AHT/BSAVA Scientific Committee’s Pure Bred Dog Health Survey, completed in 2004.
  • An analysis which has been compiled using data provided by Agria Pet Insurance and covers all purebred dogs covered under the Kennel Club Healthcare Plan for the past 5 years.
  • A list of conditions included in published material in peer-reviewed scientific literature.
So I'm gathering they're sending the breed clubs a list of conditions that they think are very definitely hereditary in their breed. A bit like the list they already produce for the ABS. After the club has seen the list they will be asked to come up with a way of tackling these problems.

Wouldn't it be more productive to cut out that consultation stage and instead ask the club to debate the introduction of mandatory testing where appropriate? Rather than just agree the list of conditions in an expensive proof reading exercise?

After all the feedback from the breed clubs - on what will be a relatively untweaked breed standard and a list of probably undisputed conditions - only then will genetic diversity be discussed.

I'm sorry, I was hoping to feel more excited at this point - but to me that just sounds like a lot of paper and not much action.

I'd have started with point three - genetic diversity - and worked backwards.
It would be so much easier and so much more effective to quickly limit the use of popular sires. To set targets for improved coefficients of inbreeding for all breeds and to start making the calculation of COI easier for all with a searchable KC database that works these complex formulas out for everyone.

It sounds like an attempt at looking very busy.
An attempt to show the BBC that they are doing everything possible - honest.
I'm afraid I'm not impressed so far, will the BBC be? I'm sure that's who this is aimed at.

No news... but possibly there is in the detail

The piece in the Guardian is fascinating, quirky and eccentric, but sadly - no scoop.
Click here to read
I'll summarise.
KC claim documentary on the one hand told them nothing new but it still managed to be shocking and biased.
Reporter finds the KC fascinating, quirky and eccentric.
He also finds the documentary maker fascinating, quirky and eccentric.
He finds a person who shows and breeds dogs fascinating, quirky and eccentric.
I say something he finds amusing and he ends on quite a good joke.
The most important bit in all that clever writing - two paragraphs from the end...

"What happens next is hard to say. Much hinges on the BBC, which has convened an expert panel to advise it on whether the health concerns raised by Harrison's programme are being effectively addressed by the Kennel Club. A BBC spokesman says the decision on whether it will broadcast next year's Crufts is imminent and that the corporation is "hopeful" of continuing the 42-year association. Harrison says she would be "incredibly disappointed if the BBC does not drop Crufts"."

Sounds like the BBC wants to go ahead doesn't it? "Hopeful," is an odd word for them to choose. It seems to indicate the decision is out of their hands! Who is on this special panel of there's and why is it taking them so very long to decide?

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Watch this space....

Could an announcement from the BBC on their Crufts coverage be imminent?
Tomorrow's papers may reveal all. Watch out for the Guardian tomorrow - do they have a scoop? Or have they just got bored waiting for an announcement and decided to publish and be dammed - all will be revealed soon!

Saints preserve us

Sorry for the lack of blogs.
I am struggling not to have flu and failing.
The story of the Accredited Breeder and the 102 dogs, many of them St Bernards, left abandoned cut straight through my cotton wool head and put my temperature up by several degrees.
Surfing the Internet you can find several reports calling this kennels hellish as early as the summer, yet even though it seems plenty of people knew there was something going very wrong our infrastructure seems to have completely failed these poor dogs.
I understand two people have now been arrested, a man and a woman.
But just like the tragic Baby P case there surely must be others in the frame who should have done more?
This was a licenced kennels, plenty of people bringing dogs for boarding had seen things deteriorating, people within the breed seem to have known there was big troubles going on and that the dogs were being neglected.
So why no action until now?
There is very sadly, plenty of precedent for breeders losing the plot, plenty of other horror stories.
Remember the case where the RSPCA found skeletons in long forgotten cages - that was a Crufts judge of Shelties I seem to remember. And the champ show judge that kept her dogs on the allotment and just forgot them, one of our readers took a lovely Beardie from that case who had gone blind from malnutrition.
I'm not a psycologist so I can't tell you why these cases keep happening or why there have been so many of them.
Dog breeding in this country lacks regulation and supervision so either it is attractive to people on the edge - or it just doesn't catch people as they fall.
And the fact that this latest case involves a KC Accredited Breeder... do we need any more graphic an illustration to show how unwise it is to accredit the people and not the dogs they produce.
If you're not visiting these breeders very regularly, if you're not ready to step in when they are failing- can you really want to endorse people when you can't possibly know them anywhere near well enough?
I was the Beardie breed club secretary when I first spotted something odd with the treasurer at the time's behaviour. He still looked smart in his suit at committee meetings. He had asked for money for a new typewriter from club funds which had been agreed - but being a bit of a Miss Marple I couldn't fail to notice that the letters he sent me after that point were still produced on exactly the same old typewriter. It got me thinking - why ask for a new typewriter?
We started looking at the accounts more closely and tehre were gaping holes.
It caused a real stink at the time getting the auditors in.
The police got involved, too as it turned out it wasn't just our club he had taken money from. It was when they looked in his shed that the story took on a new dimension that no one had suspected. He had Beardies and Cocker Spaniels. Two of the gentlest breeds imaginable.
When people lose it - they can really lose it.
Poor dogs, I still often think of the poor dogs left in a shed. Listening out for their master's footsteps that never came.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Competition time


And yes, I'm working from home and have no idea what the prizes are - but trust me there are prizes!
Can you guess the parents of this first cross? There'll be clues if you don't get it...

And how about coming up with uplifting funny captions for this wonderful photo?


And no this isn't the same dog after being washed in Daz!