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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Friends of Chatham Hill Dogs- Dubhruja

 Dubruja Flacoats located in Scotland
You can Check them out on Facebook here.  

Visit their website here

• They have an excellent socializing process and have produced some rather impressive Flat Coats.  And they remind us here at Chatham Hill so much about ourselves its just natural that we love them so much. 

• I'm writing about them with a friendly shout of approval since we've received a recent e-mail that I've quoted here that in a round about way came from a fan of our friends across the pond.  And its always nice to receive positive encouragement to continue to strive for a better future for our dogs.  

I've always had a lot to do with dogs - from my childhood imagining I had them and reading everything I could about them, to my adulthood during which I have been a dog trainer, researched dog body language and diets, and am now a pet photographer. So i thought I knew what I was talking about when I came out with all those phrases you likely know very, very well. Things like, "Mixing breeds is dangerous for their health," and, "Only backyard breeders cross dogs on purpose."

Then I saw Pedigree Dogs Exposed. And I thought about that, and about the fact that the SAME people who cry DANGER, ABUSE, on labradoodles and maltipoos and so on, were also the ones saying rescue mixed breeds were 'healthier than pure breds'. And that got me thinking. Because you don't know the parentage of most rescues, so how could they say that? What else were they wrong about?

And I realised - if you have a health tested, brilliantly put-together, loved, healthy labrador, what's to stop you mating it with a poodle with similar backing? The SAME dogs people would cheer being bred to their own breeds, people then complain when they're crossed. And that makes NO SENSE.

And then I thought about the fact that there are so, so many issues in show-type dogs. that cavaliers need breeding with bigger heads. Perhaps even with another breed with a bigger head and better breathing ability. That I saw a guy who was breeding english bulldogs with american bulldogs to lengthen the face and I thought that was EXCELLENT. And that frankly, if they scrapped german shepherds altogether and remade them from turverians, huskies and a couple of other breeds - they couldn't make anything WORSE than what is being paraded around the show rings, at least.

And then I fell in love with flat coated retrievers. My first dog was a rescue, and when she died I needed a break from rescue so I started looking at breeders. I found one I loved, and I talked to her for HOURS on the phone, at various times, and I met some flatties from her lines near me, and some others, and I decided they were for me.

That was Lea of Dubhruja flatcoats, who got Joka from you guys. I  actually met Joka when I went to pick up my girl (who is a Willow/Murdy pup - from their last litter) and loved him. What a big, goofy, fantastic bear of a dog :-)

I loved what Lea said about trying to breed for less cancer in the lines, and about temperament and health being so much more important to her than the correct ear set.

And so my beliefs were changed a little more.

My flatcoat - Starbuck - is now 18 months old, and I adore her. A few weeks ago I picked up my second dog - a very frightened rescue lurcher Starbuck and I are slowly and gently rehabilitating together. Starbuck is so maternal (she has a 6 month old working cocker sister who belongs to my housemate, who she thinks of as her own puppy), and so nuts, and won't take no for an answer. As often as Mouse refuses to play, Starbuck asks her again, and one time in ten Mouse relaxes enough and they have a wonderful time.

So, back to the point. I'm on a few flatcoat groups on facebook, and I watch them dropping from cancer one after the other. Starbuck's dad is ten. He's never had cancer.

I've said a few times now that I will only ever buy from working lines, or get rescue, in the future. But I've come around to another type of line too - those from breeders who have the ability to THINK about the future. To see that in wanting that extra skin, or the squashed face, or only certain colours, they are driving the breeds they profess to love into extinction. And it's awful and heartbreaking and makes me want to shake them until they wake up and see what they're doing.

I'm in England, so to have a dog from you would be very. very expensive for me. But I can tell you that in the future, if I ever could afford it, I would be PROUD to have a Chatham Hill Retriever. I want to thank you for seeing a different way and for what you do for the breeds you love.

I figure you get a lot of hate mail, so maybe a little love now and then wouldn't be amiss.


They have had an interesting Journey that had them relocating from Cheshire to Aberdeen...

• Not many people can understand what it feels like to get so much pressure from other breeders, Kennel clubs and the Dog registries themselves that you suddenly feel compelled to move operations in order to feel safer, and allow yourself some breathing room without the thought of the people who've been throwing stones and sending threatening messages of hate your way weighing on your emotions and causing so much stress.  Our friends across the pond have a lot in common with how we think in terms of diversity and the importance of out crossing.  And for many years they've been taking a lot of heat for providing families like their own with Flat Coats as pets.   In the UK more than here in the USA it seems there is a lot of hate from the established fancy towards breeders who are not as driven by the requisites of championing your dogs or earning titles to prove they are worthy of being bred from.  And in many ways ... by choosing not to adhere to such stupid ways of thinking they have in fact given themselves an advantage of being more diverse in their own foundation of dogs than just limiting themselves to a few champions only. 

• Now they are not out crossing any of their Flatties with other breeds and maybe that's a good thing because they would see the other breeders lined up with pitch forks and torches.  However, they have a couple of non related FCR lines they do breed from.  They are limited to their own foundation for selection choices for the moment.  But, that's because they've also hit sort of a wall since they've taken so much heat from the established breeders in the UK that they've been sort of strategically neutered to their own foundation of dogs.  We know just how they feel when the established clicks attempt to isolate you and prevent you from marching ahead with every intention of doing something positive.  However, because they are careful in their health testing process and try to maintain as much distance between relatives with what they are working with, their results are far better than the statistics dictate they should be seeing. 

• In many ways they are a family just like our own Chatham Hill family.  They are focused on improving the outcome for Flat Coated Retrievers and even though its been rather difficult to make positive strides in the right direction due to animosity from other established breeders in the UK,  they have been blessed with far better outcomes than the people throwing stones.  They can boast about not meeting the low expectation of health that their haters have expected of them.  And for this they really should be supported.  Since we have Flatties as well, it makes sense to send them some infusion from our side of the pond.  We've exchanged dogs already, but sort of hit a bump in the road.  However, nothing to cause putting the brakes on, we'll get rolling on that path again soon.  And our friends at Dubhruja Flatcoats know we're in their corner.  We are one of their biggest fans.  We consider Dubhruja an extension of our family.  And can relate to how the established fancy bullies others to follow their very closed minded approach towards compliance.  However, Dubruja flatcoats march to the beat of their own drum and so far have been better off for choosing to do so.  Does any of this sound familiar?

So for our friends across the pond....

We love you.


  1. We have a DubhBruja flatcoat. She is a wonderful, calm, gentle, friendly girl. We were so glad to find such wonderful breeders in Lea & Justin, who put so much care an time into their wonderful dogs, which was evident each visit, but also from their website. You can see the love they have for their dogs and it was this that led us to their door.
    We are so pleased to have Meg, who is the third member of our family and who comes with us everywhere, even out to dinner!

    1. Our Dubhruja Flattie came to us and it literally was like any of our own puppies. Very happy to be held and handled. And most of all very affectionate and quick to learn. Lea and Justin have nailed how to nurture their relationship with their pack and in doing so every pup they produce is something special. They currently have JoKa Boone who is the brother to our Yellow Boone. And we will likely send another Flattie their way in the near future. Keep an eye on Dubhruja.... They are a growing success story where as all their haters are already examples of mounting failures.

  2. Interesting reading. We have just recently brought home our lovely Alfie from Dubhruja... Our friendly, very affectionate flattie pup is everything we dreamed he would be. Lea and Justin obviously do a great job. We are so grateful that we found them as Breeders.

  3. We are grateful to know them as well. And we are always in their corner.


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