Breed Bullying – There are those who feel compelled to cut off the heads of others, to make themselves feel taller

“There are those who feel compelled to cut off the heads of others, to make themselves feel taller”

Paramahansa Yogananda

It has been a few weeks since I have written anything for the Truth About Silver Labrador Retrievers blog. I apologize for this. We have been quite busy finishing summer youth baseball league and getting the children ready for the commencement of the school year. My children will be in the 6th, 8th and 9th grades. And, unfortunately for them, I have spent far too much time this summer fighting the “Battle of the Dilutes”. There are days when I feel I need a break from the hatred and disparaging remarks that spew forth from the mouths of the anti-dilute crowd. Other days, I’m in utter amazement that we devote so much of our time arguing the color of a dog!   In fact, my husband recently remarked that another dilute Lab breeder is guilty of getting me “stirred up”. I giggled, and remarked, “That’s funny … her husband accuses me of getting her “stirred up”.   But, once again, I find myself seated at the keyboard, with a few things weighing on my mind.

On July 17th, an article was published by Jack Vanderwyk. Although I try to keep such drama out of my home life, when my children hear the name of Jack Vanderwyk mentioned, they chuckle and refer to him as “Mom’s Nemesis”. As usual, Jack’s latest article contains a plethora of seething accusations and blatant untruths.

In this article, Jack attacks the “Improvement Movement”. Over the course of the years, the main complaints from non-supporters of dilute Labrador retrievers were as follows: 1) Silver Labs breeders do not health test their breeding dogs, 2) Silver Lab breeders do not put titles on their dogs, 3) Silver Labs are inbred. Recognizing that there was certainly room for improvement among the general population of the dilute Labrador retrievers, the “Improvement Movement” was born.

The Improvement Movement strives to encourage responsible breeding practices and recognizes breeders who are placing importance on health by obtaining health certificates, improving pedigrees by titling and breeding to titled lines, and enhancing genetic diversity by expanding the gene pool. Recognition is given to those breeders who score high marks through the use of an online assessment tool, which is available to any breeder of dilute Labrador retrievers.   “Medallions” are given to those breeders who score high marks for display upon their websites. Breeders can be awarded medallions in all three areas. If a breeder meets the criteria in all three areas, they are awarded the “Improvement Breeder” medallion, which represents their success in all three areas of breed development. So, in reality, breeders who embrace the “Improvement Movement” are taking every necessary step to combat the original complaints of non-supporters by improving the health, genetics and pedigrees of their dogs. I invite readers to visit the website of the Improvement Movement to learn even more about this admirable program: http://www.silverlabforum.com/improvement.html. Jack takes an unfair stab at the leadership of the Council for Purebred Labrador Retrievers (CPLR) by pointing out that several of those with medallions displayed on their websites are either 1) current CPLR board members or 2) past CPLR members. However, it does not take an aeronautical engineer to figure out that those who most strongly advocate for responsible breeding would be among those working hard in those areas.

In 2015, I was awarded two medallions; Breeder of Improved Genetics and Breeder of Improved Health. To be honest, a great deal of effort and expense went into my program to enable me to earn these awards. I have refused to do dilute-to-dilute breeding (in an effort to strengthen genetic diversity within my lines) and I have invested in a great deal of health testing. Those who were awarded all three possible medallions have done more than I. In addition to those things I mentioned, these breeders have committed many, many hours to training, attending and competing in conformation or performance events. Their awards were well earned.

In his July article, Jack Vanderwyk has elected to chastise me for not publicly displaying the pedigrees of my dogs. To be honest, I wasn’t aware that this was a requirement or an expectation of breeders.   When I receive inquiries from individuals about puppies, I always offer to send copies of pedigrees and health test reports. Since my website specifically states that my breeding focus is “providing an exceptionally high quality puppy for the discerning pet owner”, I did not find it necessary to list them. The majority of my puppies are placed with AKC Limited registration (no breeding rights) and their owners are rarely interested in the names among their lineage.   I suspect Jack Vanderwyk would like for me to list my pedigrees so he can quickly place their names into his “DANGER – DILUTE or RELATED to DILUTE” database. In fact, he already has one of my dogs listed there (Von Bussler’s Little Elsa’s Foxy Karma). Comically, “Elsa” is my only dog that has no apparent dilute in her pedigree. She is a standard Black Labrador retriever. Her dam (Allie’s Little Foxy) is also listed, although she is not dilute nor dilute factored (at least as far as we know, since no coat color DNA testing has been done). However, since the pedigrees of my dogs seem to be of vital importance to the curiosity of Mr. Vanderwyk, I’m going to “throw him a bone” and list their names and registration numbers. If he is willing to make the investment, he can easily obtain research pedigrees from AKC (for a nominal fee, of course). The dogs listed below represent those that I either own or co-own:

  • Guinness Paint It Black Lager, AKC #SR71429403, UKC #R244-902 (dilute factored black, EeBbDd)

  • Von Bussler’s Little Elsa’s Foxy Karma, AKC #SR65979504, UKC #R220-874 (standard black EEBbDD)

  • Creekside’s Champagne Wishes, AKC #SR78744203, UKC #R244-903 (dilute yellow, eebbdd)

  • Von Bussler’s Thunderous Skye, AKC #SR79010001, UKC #R244-904 (dilute factored black, EeBbDd)

  • Von Bussler’s Messy Little Mudslide, AKC #SR84672902, UKC #None (dilute factored choc, E?bbDd)

  • VBL’s Hott Buttered Rum, AKC # SR86844012, (dilute factored yellow, eeBbDd)

  • VBL’s Pour Another Tequila Rose, AKC #SR86844002, UKC #None (dilute factored yellow, eebbDd)

**Please note (if searching the OFA database) dogs 5-7 are less than one year old.

In closing, I would like to talk about our accomplishments in our online skirmishes with the dilute “non-supporters”. In spite of our petitions and online scuffling, none of my potential puppy families has ever heard of Jack Vanderwyk, nor have they heard of the efforts of his supporters. To be completely honest, they’ve never even heard of the LRC. They merely see a photo of a beautiful dog online and their hearts become set on one. They don’t really care about pedigrees (although as a breeder, I do), and I usually have to explain to them why they should care about health testing. You see, the efforts of the “non-supporters” have had absolutely no impact on my breeding program. Therefore, I have decided to leave the negativity and the drama behind me. I’m going to pour my efforts into producing the best puppies I can produce. I will continue to advocate for our dogs with the AKC and LRC and look forward to writing informational articles for our blog. However, I will no longer concern myself with folks such as Jack Vanderwyk and his ardent followers. To do so holds no real value to me. My efforts can be better spent doing what I love. I encourage all of us to leave the negativity behind. You see, in the end, it doesn’t affect us, our dogs, or our market in the least.   Remember, our reaction to a situation literally has the power to change it.