This is a personal weblog based on my life with Bernese Mountain Dogs. The opinions expressed here represent my own and and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of any clubs, organizations or committees that I may be associated with. Please feel free to comment on any post, but profane, abusive or rude comments will not be tolerated - please be polite, even if you disagree.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015


The Berner-Garde Foundation is a health database for Bernese Mountain Dogs and I don't think that there is another breed of dog that has anything quite like it. It is free for everyone and all Berner owners and breeders are encouraged to enter their dogs and any health and pedigree information they may have. The database is a great tool to research pedigrees and health statistics.  It is also very useful for breeders looking for breeding or stud dogs. As well, it is a great tool for puppy buyers to research breeders and health clearances.  The Berner-Garde is such a useful tool for everyone in the breed.  Unfortunately, it is still very under utilized.  Some breeders and owners are wonderful and enter all their dogs' information, from health clearances, titles, health issues and the cause of death in all their dogs. Other breeders do not enter any information at all. Much of the information in the database comes from breeders or owners who submit their own information.  Information also comes from public sources like OFA, show catalogues, and CERF.  

The Berner-garde is maintained by a group of volunteers who enter all submitted data.  I am a BG volunteer and I am currently working on a big project entering all the information from the CKC stud books and the CKC Foreign Dog Registry into the database. The stud book information has not been entered for a few years so I am playing catchup.  The stud books list all the CKC registered litters, their sire, dam and breeder information.  It is a long process looking up each registered dog to see if they are already in the database and then entering the dog and litter information if they are not there.  This project is going to take me months to finish and I will probably get done just in time for the 2014 stud book to be released. When I am done, every litter registered in Canada should be entered. 

This project is sometimes a bit discouraging as I look at the sheer numbers of litters being produced in a year by a few of the high volume breeders in the country.  Females are being bred starting at a year old and bred on every heat cycle for years. I also see so many breeding dogs in the stud books with no cross reference to any health clearances in OFA.  When I first started working on this project I asked the lady who heads up the BG if she ever gets complaints from people about their information being added, as some of the data I am entering may not present some breeders in a very good light. But then there are the breeders who make my job so easy. They enter all information about their dogs and every litter they breed. There are some really wonderful breeders out there who do all they can to share information and support the BG. It would be nice if all breeders were so open - it would certainly go a long way to helping the breed as a whole.  

If you are a Bernese owner and have not entered your dogs' information in Berner-garde, please consider doing so. It only takes a few minutes on the Berner-garde website and all information is valuable.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Bosley and I have been doing ScentHurdle racing for a few years now and Rundle is just starting to learn the game. It is a fun sport to play and Bolsey loves it. The sport has really taken off in the last couple years, with many new teams in Alberta and some brand new teams in BC.  It is exciting to see the sport grow. Although it is a timed race and you want your team to win, everyone cheers for all teams, especially when a new dog makes their debut.  

ScentHurdle is a CKC Versatility event, meaning that although CKC recognizes the titles, it cannot be held at the same time as other CKC sanctioned events. So, we have to race after all other events at a dog show are done. This makes for some late nights, especially when lots of teams are entered. We recently got permission to run independent races that are not in conjunction with a CKC show. That is great news for the sport as it will give us more opportunity to race and allow more teams to enter.  The Canadian Scenthurdle Racing Association recently started to issue its own certificates.  If you want an official one from CKC, it costs money to get one, but the CSHRA ones are free! Bosley just got his from the title he earned last year - ScentHurdle Masters Dog, which means he had to earn 500 racing points, which is a lot of racing. As far as I know, Bosley is the only Bernese to have any ScentHurdle titles.  He loves playing the game and hopefully he will continue to want to play for a long time. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Look Before You Leap

I am in a couple of online pet groups where it is common for people to post that they have puppies for sale. What amazes me is that within minutes there are people offering to buy these puppies based on no more than a photo of a cute, fluffy puppy.  Deals are made without the buyer asking questions other than "how much?" or "do they come with shots?".  Some of these puppies are breeds that have a well know history of health and/or temperament issues, where serious questions should be asked before purchasing.  

There is a real lack of education in the pet puppy buying market, which is sad. When people go to buy a pet, they are generally looking for a nice, easy going dog that will be easy to train and will fit into everyday situations.  They want a puppy that is going to grow up to be a healthy dog and just a nice family pet.  Sometimes this is what happens, but based on how many dogs are surrendered to shelters or relegated to the backyard, this is not always the case. Puppy buying education would really help all these types issues. Finding a puppy that is suitable for your family involves more than picking a cute puppy from an Internet ad.  It should involve research to make sure your puppy comes from a caring, responsible breeder that is more concerned about producing healthy, sound puppies than making money. 

Bernese puppies seem to be an easy sell.  They are fluffy, extra cute and the breed is often noted as being laid back and a great family dog.  None of this is untrue. However, the breed comes with some serious health issues and as the popularity of the breed increases so do bad breeders.  Breeders who do not health test and who do not care what kind of temperaments they are producing.  I often have people looking for a Bernese puppy ask me to recommend breeders or they ask me about the reputation of a breeder they may be considering. I tell everyone the same thing - Do Your Research! There are many wonderful breeders that truely care about the breed and are doing all they can do to produce healthy, sound puppies.  Then there are breeders who are in the business of selling puppies. They cut corners where they can (little to no health testing and do not title dogs in anything).  They are good at telling puppy buyers what they want to hear to make a sale (selling and marketing puppies is their job) but can not always be counted on later when you actually need their help or advise. Uneducated puppy buyers are the backbone of these types of breeders business. They do not want puppy buyers doing their research, they just want to sell puppies.  

I was recently threatened and bullied by one of these types of breeders.  On a public forum I suggested that someone do more research before they decided to go with a particular breeder.  I did not tell them where or where not to buy a puppy, but in a private message I gave them the links to help them research further.  Well, this breeder did not like that I potentially lost her a sale and she was mad!! I know her threats were unfounded (being personal friends with lawyers comes in handy) but I obviously touched a nerve with her in regards to her breeding practices.  There is a reason that I recommend puppy buyers research breeders.  Do you really want a breeder who's only concern is that they may have lost a sale?  

I will not stop talking to people and trying to educate them about finding a puppy and breeder.  I know first hand the difference between buying from reputable, caring breeder and one that is just out to sell puppies.  And there is a big difference between the two.