AKC Gazette Columns

AKC Gazette - October 1998

The Berner-Garde Foundation

One of the most significant contributions a breed club can make is to increase the understanding of genetic health conditions that may affect the breed and to work to control or eliminate those conditions. Fortunately, since its formation in 1968, the BMDCA has had members dedicated to gathering as much health information about the breed as possible. Barbara and Martin Packard spearheaded this effort and were joined by others. The ultimate result was the formation of the non-profit Berner-Garde Foundation, which was established to understand and reduce genetic disease in Bernese Mountain Dogs.

The foundation maintains an open, breed-specific computer database. The Berner-Garde database contains information which has been compiled over many years from voluntary submissions of owners and other public sources of information.

The vast collection of information in the database includes certification information from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and from Genetic Disease Control (GDC) for hips and elbows. In addition, it contains various anecdotal data submitted by BMD owners.

Emphasis is placed on the importance of including all BMDs in the database, even dogs that are not going to be used for breeding. New owners receive a proof sheet along with their puppy indicating that its breeder has entered litter information in the database. If litter data has not been submitted, individual owners can report data directly to a regional site operator. The file manager is Margrit Kitchin, 9401 E. Jadecrest Drive, Sun Lakes, AZ 85248; fax, (602) 895-2470; e-maiL mkitchin @aok.com. For many years, including this one, the database has been open for entries at the national specialty.

To receive a new guidebook containing complete information about Berner-Garde, forms to enter litters and individual dogs in the database, and GDC forms to accompany evaluations that are sent to CDC registries, send a $10 donation (plus $2 postage) to Berner-Garde, 20 Tynan Way, Portola Valley, CA 94028. For more information, call (650) 851-4765.

Thirty years of BMDCA. With 1998 having marked the BMDCA's 30th year, it is interesting to note that of the original 33 members listed in March 1968, seven are still members. They are Mary Dawson, Mary Alice (Horstick) Eschweiler, Sylvia and Harold Howison, Carolyn and F.M. (Marty) Lockhart, and Barbara Packard. All have played significant roles in the BMDCA and in the breed. Continuing the legacy, Mary Alice's ll-year-old daughter, Alison, handled Shepherd's Patch Green Pepper at the BMDCA Tracking Dog Test at this year's National Specialty to earn her TD!

National Specialty. It has been a gala year, with a marvelous turnout for this year's national specialty - an entry of 518, the largest ever. The host club, The BMDC of Nashoba Valley, did a fantastic job. Debbie Mulvey presented a marvelous slide show of pictures submitted by members. Show chair Alison Jaskiewicz, co-chair Beth Atkinson, and obedience chair Gary Feely outdid themselves in making the event perfect. All of those involved deserve plaudits for giving their time and effort.

The BMDCA's 1997 Yearbook and the OFA/GDC Supplement are now available for $45 (or $43 for just the yearbook). Both include postage. This valuable resource commemorates 60 years of the Bernese Mountain Dog in America. It may be ordered from Deborah Godfrey, 131 Winters Rd., Butler, PA 16001.

-Julie Crawford, Route 2, Box 110, Delmar, MD 21875.