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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Wonderful World of the Internet

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Chatham Hill Dogs received a call recently that was very pleasant, flattering and eye opening.  The person on the other end said they feel so honored to be speaking with us and had been following us for many years.  Reading our posts on many forums and blogs and after absorbing what we have to say... becoming a follower and a fan of our ideologies.  he pointed out that whenever we were challenged or flamed we never recoiled or faded away, but always came back with an informed response.  Well, most times that was the case.  I do recall some times when the derogatory insults were just tossed right back at the stone throwers.  

This conversation opened our eyes to the fact that we've caused a stir in the dog loving communities all around the world.  That people are talking about us and what we do.  Some opinions are stronger than others. Some are pro and some are con, while others are sort of just sitting back and watching from a neutral position.  Some of these observations come from individuals and others are from organizations.  However from our perspective they are all indicative of one major thing that is important to us.  There has been an awareness brought to the attention of the world that we are doing things differently and seeing much better results because of our choices.  If they're talking, then if Chatham Hill Dogs is an enabler for the debates that arise because of it... then we're happy for it.

To our surprise this long time fan brought to our attention that one of the organizations that has actually had something to say about what we're doing was actually the Kennel Union of South Africa aka KUSA.  If you click the link it will take you to their page which addresses the topic of the Yellow Flat Coated Retriever with an entry that was co written by Jane Laing – Woodside Flatcoated Retrievers and Diane Holman – Trevena Retrievers. And how they basically believe regarding how yellow FCR and the rules of the British Kennel Club should apply in the spirit of maintaining the legacy of the original creators of the Flat Coated retriever in following the tradition of removing the yellow from the breeding population.  Breeding only Liver and Black colored dogs. Keep in mind these two writers for KUSA are people we've never met or spoken to.

Hmmm. Well okay they can say that and if that's what an interested FCR buyer wants then that's cool, too.  But, where they sort of stumbled in this document was in the third and second to last paragraphs, where they made reference to the American Breeder (guess who that is?) and pinned some claims being made by Chatham Hill Dogs as untruthful.  I'll speak to those two paragraphs copied below.

"Extraordinary claims have been made regarding health benefits.  it has been said that the incidence of cancer diminishes when yellows are included in the breeding programme.  This theory has been tested on local Vets and met with scepticism.  With even less logic it has been said that excluding the yellow gene so many years ago has been a contributing factor to the relatively high incidence of cancer in the breed.  During the 1980s when cancer in the breed appeared to be unusually high, the FCRS established a committee in conjunction with the Cambridge Veterinary School, and they have been carefully monitoring the situation ever since.  No single cause has ever been found and, in fact, cancer in the breed is currently no worse than in any other breed.
The internet is a valuable tool but can also be a misleading one, in that much information is theoretical and unproven, or based on conjecture or anecdotal evidence.  There are links to sites in the USA which support the idea that the yellow gene is less likely to carry cancer.  One Kennel maintains that cross breeding is the only way to maintain a healthy gene pool and that the yellow gene should be re-introduced to reduce the apparent high incidence of cancer in the breed.  However, this Kennel has also made extraordinary and, to the purist, quite appalling genetic mutations to the Flatcoat, mating it to the American Cocker Spaniel, using black, liver and yellow, in the creation of a hybrid retriever.  This Kennel is, by its own admission, young, with many young dogs, and breeds AKC Flatcoated Retrievers, AKC American Cocker Spaniels and AKC Long Hair Weimaraners.  Their claim is that with 100+ puppies there have been no problems with hip/elbow dysplasia, PRA, cancer or any other genetically predisposed condition.  It is difficult to give credence to this extravagant claim."
Well, if they are in fact referring to Chatham Hill dogs then they incorrectly state that we make claims that the Yellow FCR diminishes the occurrence of cancer.  What we've always maintained is that the inclusion of these additional genetic resources are a boone to the existing gene pool and adds a level of diversity to our breeding program that we believe is beneficial and advantageous.  And that by excluding the Yellow dogs from the breeding population they effectively reduce the gene pool for an already small breeding population when actually adding to the resource pool can only be a positive.  Our goal has always been to add this variable back into the FCR population and provide more existing resources for genetic material.  The true contribution to the high rates of cancer has always been the small controlled breeding population and the breeding practices of the established circles of breeders.   So to our benefit we have just increased our genetic resources by not eliminating the yellow dog from the equation.  With our focus remaining on diversity, not on line breeding or using only champion dogs nor same sire/dam breeding practices.   Ring a bell KUSA?  If this gives us an advantage then we'll gladly take it.

I'll admit that when you first start out on the proof of any concept there is a good deal of conjecture as a part of the process, its these theories that drive the process to strive for a better answer to something that concerns you.  In fact there has to be.  Because the goal is to verify our theories with the body of work that will eventually pan out before us.  Some of the answers we find can appear anecdotal when we share our experiences, but the end result is far from an anecdote.  When you can repeat the process again and again then the initial concept has just been proven.  And the evidence becomes what we have in front of us to present for comparison.  We have the clientele that weigh in all the time on the results we've provided.  We have the living proof as our evidence that what we have is still here with us....not dead, not dying and not suffering.  

We have admitted that our foundation of dogs are young by comparison, but time has passed and some of our dogs are now in their later adult stages and still....alive and healthy.  And the dogs they came from are the older dogs in the equation owned by the breeders we acquired our breeding stock from.  The difference being that we don't breed from the lines those breeders do....we intentionally go out of our way to shuffle our lineup and diversify our resources.  Additionally we still have the pups we produced that are now young dogs and are all still alive and breathing.  

As far as extraordinary claims being made.  We openly stated that we blew away the statistics because we literally did.  We have always claimed that of all the 150 dogs produced thus far, that two congenital defects manifested in their first 8 months and were corrected via surgery and recently one FCR was tested with poor hips, but certainly nothing life threatening for a lean dog.  So 3 dogs out of 150+, I'll take that over what the status quo has been experiencing.  But, more importantly.... none of our dogs have passed away from cancer.  I'll repeat that for the KUSA and all the contributors and resources for their content.  NONE of the Chatham Hill Dogs or their offspring have passed from cancer.  Where according to the statistics that were always thrown at us...  we should have expected 30% of our offspring to have died or been diagnosed with it already and expected to die.  That our older dogs should have blown a hip or gone blind or flipped their stomachs and died already.  Well, none of this has happened and our clients are all followers of our endeavors and reporting in constantly.  Providing us with the real world statistics to back our findings.  Which is not conjecture or anecdote.  At this point its now a fact.  And all of this is in fact EXTRAORDINARY.  We're not 100% but if we're hovering in the high 90th percentile, and we are, then we're so far ahead of the game that its just plain ridiculous to not consider the benefits of diversity planning.  

As for the use of other breeds to diversify our genetic stock.  Well,  the mixing of other  breeds having been used in the creation of the FCR needs to be reminded to the stone throwers every now and again, because they ridiculously seem to think their beloved breed was not a creation of man and that it miraculously just appeared in its current form one sunny day.  Possibly walking on water next to the Messiah or walking before Moses as he parted the red sea?  

I'll add  a few more recent quotes of mine from blog entries and social networking sites that were recently posted on the web.  Maybe we'll find it up on other websites, too.  And the KUSA is free to use it.  How about that?

"Conformation in dogs is a human factor introduced due to our vicarious nature and vanity.  If left to a process of natural selection its more than likely none of what we imagine as the ideal conformation would remain in any of the dog breeds humans have created.  What should be appreciated about dogs is the fact that what we see in front of us today was created by our ancestors and their vision of what a specific dog should be for the purpose it was designed for in our past as it was being mixed and outcrossed to produce what we see today.  Its sort of a living representation to a window of our past.  And many times its also a visual confirmation of how our human vanity has actually done more damage than good.  Our human contribution to the conformation standards is based on a visual symmetry that is primarily a cosmetic preference.  But what nature decides is typically far from symmetry, yet more specific to true form and function in the real world than our visual standards. "

Or this one...

"Considering that our human needs have changed and we no longer use over %90 of the dogs produced for the intended purpose they were created for by our ancestors anymore  It makes more sense to redirect the purpose of breeding towards a longer lifespan, genetic diversity and better immune systems.   As the majority of our modern society is predominantly looking for a companion as the purpose of a dog and the breed selection is typically driven by what we as humans identify with from a romantic and emotional connection from the history present about each breed.  Then in reality, breeding specifically for the purpose of a Sled dog, or a Hunting dog or a herding dog.... really doesn't apply for the larger demographic of humans who are buying the puppies being produced for a family pet.   The definition of purpose bred in modern times should be "Dogs today are  bred with the purpose of providing far more time living with us and far less time at the veterinarian to deal with the hereditary results of close line breeding, champion line syndrome, and same sire syndrome."  At least ideally that's what it should be.  But, breaking that cycle means for many breeders, radically changing the way they do things in their selection process."

The sad part about an organization like KUSA trying to talk to what we do here at Chatham Hill Dogs, aside from the fact they never spoke to us or met us, is they really have a extremist and religiously cultish mentality in their way of thinking.  And they are the only ones really making claims based on anecdote and conjecture about us, when all they really need to do is speak to our friends and fans on our social networking conduits or just contact us and get the real answers they need.  Instead of making the assumptions based on their spoon fed expectations based on their repetitive cycle of failures taught to them by the veteran's who march to the principals of eugenics.   Projecting these expectations upon us really just makes them look uninformed and a little crazy in the eyes of the educated public.  You know who the proper audience is.... The Majority of educated consumers that they need to convince with their ideology that they are in fact doing the right thing by eliminating any healthy yellow variation from an already depleted gene pool.

My final observation on KUSA and what they wrote is that if they began every paragraph with "The FCR was created by mixing the St. John's Water Dog, Newfoundlands, Collie and Setters along with a history of interbreeding with other retriever types" then add whatever they want to the paragraph after that and read it all back to themselves.  They would soon see themselves for the hypocrites they really are.  

So to our newest friends in Cape Town...

Jane Laing – Woodside Flatcoated Retrievers and Diane Holman – Trevena Retrievers.

And the Kennel Union of South Africa 



  1. Just to clarify, KUSA did not write or initiate the above mentioned article. I suspect a KUSA staff member posted it on the official KUSA website, probably at request of, or as a favour to the author/s. There are many incorrect facts in the article (not just the referrals to Chatham Hill Retrievers), misrepresenting the origin of the yellow gene and yellow Flatcoats in general. The authors apparently wrote the article in an attempt to educate judges and gundog enthusiast in South Africa – a reaction to a litter of Flatcoated Retriever pups born in South Africa which produced 3 Yellow puppies.
    I think everyone at Chatham Hill can chill and keep cool this was not aimed at you :) You are innocent bystanders and KUSA sadly not discerning enough with regards to what they publish on their website.
    Amanda de Wet

    1. Thanks Amanda. I did give credit to the actual contributors to the posted information which apparently was...

      Jane Laing – Woodside Flatcoated Retrievers and Diane Holman – Trevena Retrievers.

      Even with the fact that Yellow FCR turned up in a litter there is no excuse for poor judgement on their part nor the lack of homework. In the end what they have done is publish for public consumption, misleading information and what amount to about 1/4 of the writing was a mention of the American Breeder. And considering this is a Nation where apartheid ruled supreme far longer than it should have, you'd think they would have learned from their true life lessons. When in fact they've just flipped this ideology onto there dogs.

      There are a lot of school books written decades ago that are being used to teach our next generation of children with lots of out dated and in most cases no longer relevant information. The same applies here. The KUSA is credited for publishing it in the first place and the contributing authors are to blame for a targeted written piece aimed entirely at misleading and redirecting, re-educating and reinforcing this eugenics ideology to their targeted audience. With the type of influence a Kennel club has on its demographic its our belief that by addressing it we've taken the correct approach.

      If KUSA was truly treating us as innocent bystanders then there should be an unsolicited retraction put up on their website. But, since that's highly unlikely I don't think we were ever seen as innocent bystanders. Especially since the authors wrote specifically about us. We were in fact targeted.

      If they want an education on the true background behind Gundogs they can visit the Retrieverman Weblogs or The Dessert Wind Hounds Blog. Or read my blog entries for how it becomes relevant to the educated public.


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