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Random Thoughts

Genetic Testing:

English Cockers can suffer from several genetic diseases such as PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), FN (Familial Nephropathy ) and AON (Adult Onset Neuropathy), Breeders are blessed that through dedicated fundraising and research, we now have DNA based genetic tests for these diseases. A dog can be identified as either Clear, Carrier or Affected for a specific disease. If a dog is a Carrier, that dog can still be used in a breeding program, if the dog is bred to a dog that has tested Clear.

I have FN Carriers.  There are “breeders” who strongly feel that Carriers should never ever be bred. That is their right to do that in their own breeding program.  Over the years, I was personally chastised on Facebook breeder discussion groups or scolded on late night, long distance telephone calls.   These “breeders” regularly gossiped about others who openly published the test results of their dogs, good or bad.   My opinion is that eliminating Carriers from a breeding program is a superb example of “throwing the baby out with the bath water”.

Breeding a Litter:

Breeding is hard work. It is nerve wracking. It is expensive and comes with risks, great stress and unhappiness at times.  I didn’t breed very often and I am always bred with the goal of keeping a puppy for myself. By the time I decided to have a litter, I had sat at ringside at US Specialty shows for hours, looking at both young and old English Cockers. I had  marked my show catalogues with notes about various dogs and I referred  to those catalogues when making those decisions. I researched dogs, calculated virtual pedigrees of the potential litter and bounced ideas off my fellow breeders.

I was very fortunate that I was able to incorporate wonderful US dogs such as Springhill Slapjack, Timeless Traveller, Newstead Carnaby Acclaim, Berridale’s The Last Straw and Newstead Echoes of Love in my very limited breeding program.

I did not over breed my girls; I didn’t expect them to be puppy factories.  I bred with the intention of keeping a puppy for myself.  Lucy, Olivia, and Rosalind only had 2 litters each for me.  Whitney only had 1 litter and has been retired from breeding.  I utilized the services of an experienced and well respected veterinarian who is a specialist in canine reproduction.  None of this was inexpensive.  We did progesterone testing to determine optimal breeding dates, ultrasound to confirm pregnancy and x-rayed our pregnant girls a week before their due dates.  We monitored the diet and exercise needs of our “moms to be” and adjusted as needed.  We spent a lot of time socializing our puppies. When we had puppies at home, we curtailed our attendance at shows and trials, in an effort to minimize the risk of passing on any “bugs” to susceptible pups.

And, sometimes, things still “didn’t work out” and I bore the brunt of angry, disappointed puppy people. And sometimes I took a dog back, in accordance with my sales contract.


Noise: a consulting term, applied to clients, who just have to misbehave to avoid giving constructive and intelligent input.

In the past, I had a lot of nasty, non fact based, public and private criticism, directed at me by several  Ontario pet producers, about breeding to a US bred male, Newstead Carnaby Acclaim, aka “Murdoch”.  Breeders rolled their eyes or made faces when I mentioned that male.  Pet producers lectured me by long distance.  I had obedience folks call me late at night, ridiculing my dogs, my training methods, my instructor and just generally anything I have ever accomplished.

Few of those Ontario people ever went to a US National or Regional Specialty and sat for hours watching classes, like I have.  None of them have bred the quality of dogs I have in both conformation and performance, in just 12 litters.  None of them did the amount of health and temperament testing I did.  None of them consistently showed their dogs in the US and were successful in both breed and performance.  But that didn’t stop them.

There is an old saying “breeding is not for the faint of heart”.  I’d like to add “and those of us who are breeders and put our hearts and souls into it don’t deserve to be ridiculed”.  These days, I’m done with these folks.  I just wish they would focus on managing their own lives.

To date, I have put 65 US and Canadian titles on my own English Cockers, 47 of which are performance titles.  I stand behind my accomplishments.