AKC Gazette Columns

AKC Gazette - January 2003

Divine Design

In a litter of five there was a single female. She was perfectly marked, with a gorgeous head and sturdy body. Her breeders viewed her with guarded hopes. With their hearts captured by her beauty and the drama of her very existence, they began the wait-and-see process of her development.

As the days turned into weeks, one by one the hurdles would have to be passed, the most crucial being to survive the dangers of being laid on by her mother, or any number of life-threatening conditions that can befall puppies in the first few weeks. The encouraging signs of brown eyes, scissors bite, straight front, wide rear, nice movement, and healthy personality were fulfilling all expectations. She was indeed the image of her beautiful mother, and her owner's last opportunity for a bitch with her bloodlines. Her handsome brothers went to their new homes; she, the keeper, was named Divine Design, in recognition of the mystique surrounding the arrival of the litter and the special qualities of this puppy, nicknamed DeeDee.

"Time will tell," a favorite adage of longtime breeders, was said more than once as DeeDee passed through various changes and awkward stages to blossom into maturity. What a beauty she had become, and the all- important clearances were being ticked off.

DeeDee was already genetically clear of von Willebrand's disease, according to DNA testing of her parents; her eyes CERF tested, with no signs of inherited conditions; and her heart was free of SAS. She was finally old enough to receive the coveted numbers reserved for certifying hips and elbows free of dysplasia. This was the final phase.

All that her name, Divine Design, held dear seemed shattered when the reports on her X-rays indicated one hip with a shallow acetabulum. She would never have physical problems, but was not for breeding. She had almost made it, but almost wasn't good enough. DeeDee would be spayed and placed in a pet home. The divine design had not been fulfilled for her breeders. In fact, DeeDee's name now struck them as a mockery in their disappointment.

Then, in a strange set of circumstances, a call came from someone who had recently lost two Berners to cancer. After having had five dogs of the breed over the years, this person longed for another. Remarkably, all five had in their background dogs bred by DeeDee's breeders. At each end of the phone line, tears were shed as stories were exchanged, and plans for DeeDee to fill a broken heart were made. The name Divine Design had been right all along. It was just that the master plan for DeeDee was that she was the divine design for someone else. This story is dedicated to all the breeders and exhibitors who experience the misfortune and heartbreak of dogs held especially hopeful for the future that for one reason or another cannot fill those dreams and must be placed in pet homes. Our breed is indeed enriched by those who have the courage and conviction for its welfare to begin anew when clearances and or quality are compromised. Starting over has its own calendar.

Finally, to correct an editing error in the October 2002 AKC GAZETTE, Trisha Koetter is the sole owner, trainer, and handler of Swiss Stars Welcome Waggin (Stormy). Koetter lives in F1oyds Knobs, Indiana. Stormy was awarded the OTCH on June 2, 2002.

- Julie Crawford, 26391 May Twilley Rd., Delmar, MD 21875, cwyemede@dmv.com (Note: email address is no longer functional.)