Public relations is all about sharing information with the general public that is transparent, honest, accountable, and relevant to public interest. As many of you who have been following my blog know I am returning to school in January 2011 in a fulltime public relations post graduate program. Some of my good friends can’t figure out why I have chosen this path, and it was maybe a bit unexpected. Those reading my blog can easily see that I enjoy writing and try to see the positive on almost any topic.

By choosing this career path and being involved with this breed it hasn’t taken me long to see that “Tooting Your Own Horn” is truly something that our breed and the demographic area I happen to know the most about …the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of Canada does not do enough of. Credit should always be given where it is due. There are so many breeders here in Canada that are deserving of so much credit for what they are doing, how they are doing it, and their 100% commitment to improving this breed’s future.

In this breed there is so much focus put on the negative aspects. Breeding practices, health testing, health issues, pointing fingers at who did what, and who didn’t do what. Or as my Mom would say when my brothers, sister and I weren’t doing enough work on the farm in my Father’s opinion… Entirely too much being focused on what is not being done, rather than what *is* being accomplished. We will always have people who will not follow protocol, be very vocal about it, and often over shadow the ones who are doing their best and all of the good that is being done. Discussion regarding that goes on all day every day and it certainly hasn’t done our breed any favours.

I’m one of the first ones to acknowledge that yes this breed is in serious trouble. However I am also one to point out the strong glitters of hope that do exist in this breed… like my parents new black and tan girl who will hopefully be my first breeding bitch. She is a third generation MRI scanned kid. Her grandmother was 9 years old when she was MRI’d with no SM and no CM. Her grandparents have all been scanned with favourable results. Her parents were clear as well. Her parents are both heart clear, with many of her grandparents still heart clear as well. She is the product of a small breeder doing their best they can to ensure the best possible chance of a cavalier with incredible health, temperament and breed type. She is my glitter of hope.

Here in Canada breeders who are members of the CKCSCC have so much to be proud of. The amount of time, money, and dedication that goes into our breed is truly remarkable. As many of you know I am a member of our CKCSCC Club’s Health and Education Committee. Some may say this makes me a biased source, however I say it gives me a clear picture of what truly is going on behind the scenes. My hope in the future is that better communication practices will be put into place making communication with our member base and the public on a whole, much easier. With the internet and the implementation of social media, quick constant communication should just not be an issue, however at this time for this Club it still is. People have to remember that Clubs are put together completely on volunteers donating their time. Change is slow and information coming out of those organizations is even slower.

My primary responsibility on the Health and Education Committee is acting as a liaison between breeders wishing to have their dogs MRI’d and the absolutely wonderful clinic Matheson Blvd Veterinary Services where our Club has developed the best low cost MRI initiative for breeders anywhere in North America. I have written a huge write up that will be included in our Club’s National Yearbook. It is entirely on the status of Syringomyelia in this breed here in Canada. When it is officially published I will post it here on my blog. To me it is an excellent example of “tooting your own horn” and giving credit where credit is due.

On Friday August 27th we will be holding another MRI Clinic for breeding dogs wanting to be screened for Syringomyelia. This program for breeders has been up and running now in partnership with MBVS for over a year and a half. MRI’ing breeding stock at least here in Canada is becoming the norm. As I’ve been busily sending emails, making phone calls, and arranging things for the 27th curiosity got the best of me as at every clinic this year most of the people getting dogs scanned are breeders new to scanning. In the previous year it was a small dedicated few. I decided to pull up the breeding directory on our National Club website and see just how many breeders now have participated in our low cost clinic and having dogs scanned.

Out of 32 breeders in Ontario, 25 of those on our breeding directory have had a least one dog MRI’d. To me that is absolutely incredible and very worth patting yourself on the back for! We have also had participants in our clinic come up from the United States, and right across the country from British Columbia. We are fast approaching 200 cavaliers in total having had MRI’s completed. For a small breed club by numbers, in a not over populated breed here in Canada this is a huge percentage of our dogs scanned.

Acting as this liaison between our Club and MBVS has allowed me to learn so much about Syringomyelia and our breeders. I have had the opportunity to see so many scan results (by breeder’s choice) and know how complex and confusing this disease is. It is not black and white and the only thing this breed has left to rely on is the dedication and hard work of their breeders in partnership with ongoing research.

When you are still having dogs that are severely symptomatic scanning clear, and dogs that are not symptomatic scanning with Sryingomyelia you know that there is a lot of work to be done, and there is an awful lot about this disease that is unknown. An MRI does not give complete answers; all it gives is more information to make a responsible breeding choice.

To me Pet owners are also just as responsible as those breeders everyone talks about. Anyone looking to buy a cavalier NEEDS be doing their part by making sure that any cavalier they purchase has all the necessary health clearances. Do not buy from Joe Blow down the street who has decided they have a pretty cavalier and they want to experience the joys of having puppies. Do not support pet stores by “rescuing” cute cavalier puppies and paying outrageous prices for them. Do not support puppy mills by buying from questionable sources, buying a puppy on the internet, or supporting the practice of “auctions”. Do not buy from any breeder who cannot show you proper health certificates on their breeding stock even if they are a well known name and winning huge in the show ring. The pure bred dog world would be a very different environment if everyone went to a responsible breeder. By uniting hard working passionate breeders, and having educated pet owners this breed will have a wonderful future.

In the mean time I will continue to toot my own horn and let people know about the wonderful things breeders are accomplishing here in Canada. I only touched on SM but there is a ton more going on. I look forward to sharing some of that information. Maybe in my next post I will discuss a Mitral Valve Heart Disease study that has been on going here in Canada since 1992, a Health Committee that was formed over 18 years ago on the basis of protecting cavalier health in the future, or an upcoming annual eye clinic.

I’d encourage everyone to support their local breed clubs. Become a member if you aren’t. Donate to your health and education committees and support research. Rather than point fingers and blame, or question the practice of doing or not doing – step up to the plate and donate some time to your local breed club. Take part in a clinic. Come out to a Club show. Come and meet some wonderful compassionate breeders. Our MRI clinic currently is only available to breeding dogs; however our eye and heart clinic’s are open to all. You may be pleasantly surprised.

My glimmer of hope… Molly – Mysticmoon’s Danika, settled into her new home and fast becoming the spoiled Princess at the Farm