Delegate’s Corner
Orlando, Florida
Don James AKC Delegate

Before I start my meeting report, a huge shout out to David & Kim Mallory and their large group of both human and canine volunteers participating in this year’s Meet the Breeds show at the AKC/Royal Canine National Championships in Orlando. Every time I walked by the Leo booth, there were always crowds of folks meeting the dogs and learning about the breed from our team of experts. We are fortunate to have the Mallorys in Orlando and Pam Isaacson leading her crew at the Westminster Kennel Club show in February.

The Delegates almost unanimously voted to adopt an amendment to Dog Show Rules called the 1+1=1 Rule. This measure is designed to embellish the point structure available to low entry breeds (low entry is defined as <3,000 entries annually which, by the way, encompasses 60% of AKC’s recognized breeds). The new rule states that if, due to numbers that, based on the schedule of points for that region, would, under the formal rule, result in no points are awarded to the dog named Best of Winners, the regular class dogs of both sexes shall then be counted in calculating championship points. A maximum of one championship point can be awarded when combining sexes for the Best of Winners point calculation. Here is a link provided by AKC that explains how the 1+1=1 rule will be administered with examples:

My September report detailed problems with the AKC Marketplace website. Specifically, these center around a lack of vetting by AKC staff of the credentials presented by Marketplace listed breeders. I’m pleased to report that AKC has now provided club Delegates special access to their breed’s Marketplace page which will allow them to make changes, additions and deletions of information found therein. This would include changes to photos found on the page, as well as the ability to delete misstatements by Marketplace breeders listed. For example, we can now remove a statement from a listed breeder who claims to be an LCA member but is not. This will be done at the complete discretion of the Delegate…….no questions asked.

Canine College is an educational tool created for judges that will allow them to enhance breed knowledge by viewing detailed interactive videos filmed by AKC and presented by our club members using our dogs. CC recently contacted me to begin the process of creating the Leonberger CC video. I met with a representative while I was in Orlando this week. CC prefers to do videos at large multi breed shows for obvious reasons involving economies of scale. I am suggesting they plan to begin working on our video at next year’s Triple Crown. Outside of our National, that is annually the largest gathering of Leos and Leo breeders and it’s held in conjunction with a large All Breed show thus meeting CC’s site criteria. We’ll have more information as it becomes available.

Two important discussions occurred at the meeting, one presented by CHF CEO Dr. Diane Brown during the Health Committee meeting; the other presented by Mark Dunn, AKC’s Senior Vice President of Customer Development.

Several months ago, news of a possible link between grain free and boutique diets and the incidence of Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy was the buzz in the dog world. In October of this year, two papers were released detailing the results of studies undertaken to attempt to shed some light on the issue. The papers come from North Carolina State’s College of Veterinary Medicine and The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. I, in no way claim to be an expert in Veterinary research, so I’ve included links to both studies to let you read and draw your own conclusions.

Both studies seemed to indicate a link between incidences of DCM associated with Taurine deficiencies in a dog’s diet, so when I read that Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards are known to be breeds that can suffer from taurine deficiency DCM, my interest level peeked. There are 22 amino acids, the basic building blocks of protein. Animals can manufacture many of them in their liver, but some must be obtained in the diet—these are called “essential.” In humans and dogs, taurine is not considered essential. It is found primarily in muscle meat, and is completely absent in cereal grains. The lack of taurine in the diet caused serious eye and heart diseases to develop. Although there was evidence of a possible links in both studies, neither were willing to definitively place the blame there. Study sample sizes and lack of historical feeding data from the sample size made the studies just informed opinions, not facts. That said, both tended to agree that the initial thought that a potential issue might be the potatoes and lentils used in many raw and homemade diets as a replacement for grain types seen in more well-known commercial products did not appear to be correct. The thought was that any connection between taurine deficiency and this group of grain substitutes would more likely be an issue with the quality of the sourcing of the product rather than the product itself.

So, again, read the papers and draw your own conclusions. My takeaway is that I need to investigate the source of the raw materials used in creating the boutique diet that I use, but, more importantly, I need to make sure these companies have solid nutritional science behind them. If they don’t, steer clear.

If you watch any TV at all, I don’t think there’s any way you haven’t heard the ads from 23 and Me and These companies (and many others) offer to do DNA testing for clients so they can learn about their roots and family history. Interesting stuff.

Although you don’t see the ads on TV, you’re no doubt aware of companies which offer the same service for dogs. Maybe not so interesting!!
Many of these studies are bogus and can get you, the breeder, in some hot water. The databases on which these companies are basing their results simply are not wide enough to provide accurate results. One customer got the results back on his Newfoundland and it identified the parents as a Ridgeback and a Pomeranian.

Also, when you provide your samples to these companies, they own it and can use it for any profit-making venture they may choose.

The results of these studies will show participants all of the diseases their inaccurate databases assign to the tested sample. It can also identify the dog as a mix of many different breeds. Either of these results, in the hands of an unscrupulous buyer, this could result in an afternoon in small claims court small claims court charged with misrepresenting the purebred puppy you sold them. With their overcrowded dockets, many Judges give little more than lip service to claims like this which has the potential to lighten your bank account by the price of that puppy. If you have any evidence that one of your buyers might want to do this, it’s in your best interest to get out in front of it.

Just wanted to mention one other thing AKC is doing that I think shows some terrific creativity. With the aging of the dog fancy, it’s growing increasingly important for us to attract more millennials into the serious side of the dog world. We have programs like Meet the Breeds that are designed to do just that, but all of them have one thing in common. It’s asking them to come hang out with us. But what if we flipped that scenario and, instead, decided we’re going to hang with them. That’s exactly what this new program, called Pups & Pints, is designed to do. Here’s how it works. AKC Staff researches locations (bars) popular with millennials in a given city. They negotiate with owners to allow dogs on site and to allow a food truck to provide the edibles for that evening. Solid AKC members are then recruited to bring their dogs to the location for a Millennial Meetup. So far, events have been held in LA and Chicago with tremendous success. In Chicago, they had 110 tickets printed up and wound up selling 130.

Outside the box, but exactly the type of thinking we need going forward.

Till next time in March when I’ll have a report on our trip to the new AKC Headquarters and the new digs for The Museum of the Dog in downtown Manhattan.

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