AKC Gazette Columns

AKC Gazette - April 1998

Our 30th Anniversary

The Bernese Mountain Dog.Club of America (BMDCA) national is April 29 to May 3 at the Holiday Inn at the Crossings, Warwick, R.I., hosted by the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Nashoba Valley, whose goal is to "provide smooth running events couched in an atmosphere of excellent hospitality and educational opportunity, emphasizing New England, Switzerland and the BMDCA 30th anniversary." The site of our 23rd annual, 21st independent national, is just five minutes from T..F. Green International Airport. An international panel of judges has been assembled to preside.

The national is the best place to learn about Berners, not only because of the many entries from this country and Canada, but for the educational programs for novices and veterans alike. The breed's striking beauty and multifaceted abilities will be showcased in conformation, tracking, agility, obedience, drafting, futurity, veteran and puppy sweeps and junior handling.

Lunchtime events honoring and displaying the breed's accomplishments include a colorful carting parade and alphorn concert; veterans, titleholders, and rescue and therapy dog parades; and a freestyle obedience demonstration by Alison Jaskiewicz, which is always breath-taking. Evening educational offerings include Kenneth Abrams, DVM, DACVO, on ophthalmology; Malcolm Willis, Ph.D., on genetics; and a slide show prepared by long time member Debbie Mulvey depicting dogs, people and events over the club's 30 years. Dr. Abrams will also conduct a daytime eye clinic, and there will be agility clinics, and an agility discussion and strategy session.

Our hosts promise a truly special time. For details, visit the Web site, http://www.barney.org/specialty/98specialty.html. (Note: website no longer functional.) Say, "Aye, aye!" to the inviting nautical logo of a Berner in harness with the motto, "Pull Into Port." See you there!

Reflecting on 30 years of growth that began with a letter sent on Jan. 28, 1968, by Carol Pyle to a small group of people across the country, the BMDCA has grown steadily ever since. Frequent and informative communication was a key to its success, as was meticulously collecting and analyzing breed statistics. An early strong sense of history led to the compilation of The Yearbook and other celebratory and educational publications. The club has always had a fervent dedication to addressing health issues, with information being collected in a database.

Because of the breed's roots, we maintained close ties with Switzerland and other countries with a significant Berner population. There is a particularly warm relationship between the BMDCA and the Canadian club.

Of noteworthy significance is fostering focus on the breed, fellowship, education and communication was having independent nationals, the first of which was held in 1978, just three years after the club's first two specialties, which were held in conjunction with all-breed shows.

Despite the lure of group competition to show off before a wide audience in those years of relative anonymity, the club wisely chose to hold independent gatherings.

As our numbers increased, the BMDCA encouraged the formation of regional clubs, which now number 21, to broaden the scope of communication at the grass-roots level. Meeting the challenge of breed stewardship, the club brought about two revisions to the standard; developed, with the AKC, slides and later a video on the breed; and hosted judges study groups. The desire to protect this splendid dog of the Alps has been ever pervasive in forging an amalgam for success. I personally cherish having gotten my first Bernese in April 1968.

- Julie Crawford, 26391 May Twilley Rd., DeLmar; MD 21875.