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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Elder

Preserving the Past

Stop what you are doing. This is urgent.

Have you collected and frozen your boy dogs? No? Schedule it. Get it done.

What? No one has asked to use him so far, you were planning on neutering him? You have him collected but have decided to stop paying for it? No, no. Don't break my heart like that. I have had him on my short list for years but haven't had the right bitch but now I do and I just need a year or two for her to grow up. Too late, you say? You dumped that semen last year? Why? Why didn't you at least ask if anyone wanted it? Once it is gone, that line has ended. All the work that went into building it. Gone. That's not ok with me.

Have a nice bitch? Not sure who to breed to? Probably going to use Mr. Popular Today. Ok, but have you considered Mr. Old Dog? He was someone 8 years ago. He is still a really nice dog. His owner only bred rarely, carefully, over 30 years but wasn't a big show goer. Of that line of really nice, consistent, good dogs, he's the last. Oh, no? Think Mr. Popular is where it is at? So do all your friends. When Mr Old Dog dies, he takes all that long, carefully thought out and valuable line with him. Mr. Popular will still be there next year. Maybe not looking quite as good. Maybe not producing as nice as he is. Maybe not ideal for your bitch.

There is a lot to be said for looking harder at the options. For going the extra mile and looking for the old dogs, the rare dogs, the gentically diverse dogs. Not sure where to find them? Ask. Ask anyone who has been in the breed for 10 years, 20 years. 30 years? They know. They also know what went into Mr. Popular and why he might or might not match up so well with your bitch.

I would like to urge everyone to stop playing it safe all the time, stop going with most convenient, most accessible, owned by your friend, popular, middle of the road, no glaring fault, mediocre dog, and look to actually be the Preservation Breeder everyone likes to claim to be. Seek out and find those lines that need preserving. Pay attention to genetic diversity. Pay attention to those dogs, living or dead, that have proven themselves but were not bred much. Pay attention to the working and performance dogs that have proven not just their talent but their soundness over time. Don't take the easy way out while genetics are being lost by the wayside every year.

Collect and store your boys. Let people know what you have. Look for the less well known but still very nice dog to breed to. Own your role as a preservation breeder or stop pretending to be one.

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