The Hovawart Club of Great Britain


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Breed Notes - 28 Dec 2020
I hope everyone had a good Christmas, even with all the restrictions. It did at least make time spent with the dogs, rather than ubiquitous relatives, less conscience troubling. I can still remember my rather non-doggy mother-in-law asking me, on hearing we were keeping a puppy from a recently born litter, why I would want to keep another dog when we already had, I think, five…but I suspect most people with hobbies are faced with a similar reaction. I don’t really understand why John would want to get more stamps when he has so many, and you can’t even post a letter with any of them, even if you live in Costa Rica (I think that is his latest venture) !!

Reading the article in “Our Dogs” about the KC Assured Breeder Scheme made me think about our own involvement and membership of it. When it was first mooted, we were a little sceptical, particularly as it appeared to be open to anyone to join, including, rumour had it, someone who had never owned a dog, and certainly to my knowledge, someone who had never bred a litter. I did feel it would have had much more gravitas if the KC had approached the top breeders in each breed to join first, and then made it aspirational. Anyway, we did join eventually because the theory is a good one, but we have found over time that, although the inspection process has become more professional, it is still very much a “tick box” exercise, and the paperwork element has become overwhelming. On a personal note, too, we have felt that not enough respect has been accorded to long years of experience. All in all, I wonder if the game is worth the candle, especially as it appears that buyers and licencing authorities don’t concern themselves greatly with it, and some of the KC requirements are not quite in line with what we would see as the ideal way to deal with a litter.

Over the holidays, there have been a lot of wildlife documentaries on offer on the TV, and one aspect of them made me ponder. When they show the birth and rearing process, sometimes some of the young don’t make it, and my first reaction is for the camera people to intervene and help, but that isn’t what they do, certainly in the wild, and I got to thinking whether perhaps we might intervene too much with our puppies. We always make extreme efforts to nurture the weak and struggling ones that wouldn’t survive in the wild, but are we in danger of weakening the gene strength of the breed by doing so? I have a vivid memory of a litter of ten, where one pup was apparently failing. We helped it as much as we could…putting it on mother first, little extra feeds and so on…but after a few days, the mother singled it out for attention, licked it thoroughly, sniffed it extensively and then very carefully and deliberately sat on it. I think she knew much better than we did about that pup and perhaps we should be more trusting in nature to get it right.

2020 has been, to say the least, a difficult year. May I wish everyone better things for 2021.

Elaine Sharpe

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This article was posted on: 04-Jan-21