Breeding dogs properly isnt a walk in the park. While it seems easy to put two dogs together at the right time and end up with a litter of puppies, ethical breeders know that it takes far more than nature and luck to produce healthy puppies that will advance a breeding program or a breed.
Good breeders use several strategies to accomplish their goals. They work with veterinarians, attend seminars, and spend hours studying dog pedigrees, observing dog behavior, and training dogs for breed shows and other competitions. And they network through breed, kennel, and training clubs, at ringside, and over the Internet. Heres how our round table breeders view the value of networks.
Working with other breeders is a must in the Basenji world. Our gene pool is too small to have a closed colony of dogs or as some would call it a line.
As a member of the Basenji club of America, I am privy to the most recent information in regard to health testing. If the gene (or genes) are found for Fanconi (our kidney disease) or PRA (progressive blindness), I will know where to send my DNA samples to have them tested.
Being a member of an all-breed club allows me to discuss the issues other breeds are dealing with. Helping run an all breed dog show or being involved in a cluster weekend is a real eye opener. Tremendous amounts of time are spent making sure that one show runs as smooth as silk.
I do sometimes have concerns with the passing of unfounded rumors or ideas. The Internet has been wonderful when it comes to eduction but it can also pass along quackery.
Communication and education are key elements to my breeding program.
There has always been a large debate about co-ownerships. I feel they are beneficial because it allows my kennel to be beyond just my household. As I entered the dog showing world, there were still a handful of Basenji kennels where the operation involved more then a handful of dogs in the backyard. My co-ownerships are also very reasonable. The person who has the dog is the primary owner. I feel the dog is his pet first and a member of my breeding program second.
Most reputable breeders are passionate for their breed. They are usually quite active within their breed or performance organization because their participation flows from their passion. These passionate breeders are unlikely to compromise their breed for profit.
Profit is one of the biggest downfalls of any breed. Reputable breeders learn about good genetics, are conscientious about health issues within the breed, will be selective about good potential homes, and offer buyers support after the sale. Backyard breeders may not know about proper health certifications before breeding or go to that expense before breeding their dogs, nor are they selective of good genetics, nor do they choose to learn the breed standard, nor do they show or performance trial their breeding dogs, nor are they selective about quality homes, and are not supportive should the buyer be unable to train or keep the dog.
With this in mind, reputable breeders can refer potential buyers to other reputable breeders within their circles. This avenue supports reputable breeders and the buyer looking for a physically and emotionally sound dog.
In addition, the new owner gets a connection to further their own information and a support group for their breed through contact with networking individuals within the breed or performance organization provided by the breeder. The supportive core group of any breed or performance club will heighten the level of knowledge for the new owner as well as serve as a great source of information. There is also great enjoyment in becoming active with others with the same interests and breed.
The value of networking with other dog people is no easy to quantify because working with others who have the same interests is invaluable.
None of us can function properly in a vacuum, isolated from others. To do the best for our dogs and other dogs too, we must have resources and connections. Modern technology makes it easy you dont even have to be physically close to people to communicate.
As the owner and breeder of Borzoi, my contacts with other Borzoi breeders provides me with information on health, grooming, nutrition, problems faced by other breeders (or caused by them), evaluations of different judges, and more. We as individuals cannot know everything, cannot have experienced or even heard of everything before. Communicating with a group of individuals with the same breed makes it likely that someone will have knowledge they can share.
This is true of an all-breed club where, because of the variety of dogs and the activities they participate in, health problems they face, etc., so much information is available. Clubs that center around particular activities such as obedience and agility help owners and breeders concentrate on a particular interest. Knowing people through club meetings, shows, seminars, and other activities creates relationships that encourage interaction and the willingness to share information. There is a lot of information flying around in ringside chatter!
Personally, I am a member of three Borzoi clubs (two regional and one national), an all-breed club, a training club, and a lure coursing club. Being a member of each has provided me with valuable information and experiences as well as friendships I will appreciate for the rest of my life.
I have a good friend in Northern Ohio. She has raised wonderful Rottweilers and Akitas for many years. We met through dog showing. She brought one of her females to one of my stud dog years ago and thus began a wonderful friendship and partnership. We have done many breedings and co-ownerships.
My friend currently co-owns my stud dog, and we co-own a young show bitch. I have helped her whelp and raise puppies and transport puppies to Greater Cincinnati airport when the flights were better out of Cincinnati than Cleveland or Columbus. She has helped me get my show dogs to a handler I like in northern Ohio. She is close to Dr. Hutch, a reproductive specialist in Cleveland who helps us with breeding problems.
My friend and I have cried over the sad times, like the unexpected death of a favorite dog, and cheered the good times. She is a nurse so her knowledge of medical procedures etc. is very valuable. I have worked in obedience, so I can share training ideas and techniques. We are a team, and as a team, we can do so much more. We each have our own network of friends, which comes in handy when a health or training question arises. We can pool our resources.
We both belong to dog clubs so we can share information gleaned from those clubs. Occasionally I hear of someone looking for a good Rottweiler for showing, obedience, tracking or therapy work, and I know where to send that person for a well-bred puppy.
Being a dog person is great. Sharing that passion with another dog person extraordinarily rewarding.
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