Great Hearts and Good Art!

Loveland, Colorado was just the setting for the 2013 Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America (BMDCA) Specialty.  Pristine, snow covered peaks of the Rockies – reminiscent of the Swiss Alps – served as the backdrop for the convergence of Berners from all parts of the U.S.

Last year, I journeyed to the Specialty in Gettysburg to learn more about the Berner Garde Repository clinic and their mission.

This year, I had the honor of lending a hand at the clinic (see “The Fetch Joy Journal: Peace, Love and Berners in the Rockies” (  I witnessed first hand the dedication and commitment of breeders and Berner-parents to helping Berner Garde by volunteering their dogs for blood and DNA samples.  Believe me – it isn’t always an easy thing to do!

Courage to Face the Odds

It wasn’t until this trip that I came to understand the true breadth and depth of commitment to improving the quality of life for Berners that pervades this community, united in love for the breed.

I bristle when I hear people blithely refer to Berners as “heartbreak” dogs.  Yes, I know first hand what it is to loose a beloved Berner at the age of 6 from a breed-related cancer.  And the list of diseases and conditions that plague the breed go on from there.

But I figure you are in one of two camps.  Either, one of those who would never open themselves to the possibility of heartbreak, no matter what they receive in return.  Or, one of those who accept that possibility in order to welcome a Bernese Mountain Dog – with all the extraordinary, potentially life-changing love it has to give – into their lives.

Funny thing about people who have had their hearts broken – they tend to get stronger.  And they tend to want to fight back.

A Familiar Face

I had never attended a live auction before the Health Fund Auction at the Specialty.  The Health Fund Auction raises donations for three different organizations, dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Berners: the BMDCA Health Fund, the BDMCA’s Donor Advised Fund at the AKC’s Canine Health Foundation, or the BMDCA’s Donor Driven Fund at the Morris Animal Foundation.

From the moment I entered the ballroom, I was overwhelmed by the extent – and the beauty – of the fabulous items to be auctioned.  Co-chair, Barb LeTourneau, generously reviewed each item with me – and I was deeply impressed by the fact that many of these had been created by Berner breeders and other BMDCA members.
But it was just one item that caught my breath.  Beautifully portrayed in a fine, handcrafted quilt, was Marshall.

For those of you who received a 2013 Zelda’s Song Calendar, Marshall is that very, very handsome Berner in March.  I was honored to create a bracelet in his memory…but looking at the quilt – and all the care and skill that went into it – I began to truly understand the dimension and power of the love behind the memory of every Berner.

Money Talks

The bidding was lively, competitive, and most of all – lucrative for the Health Funds!  Marshall’s quilt alone brought $4,500!  I wish I could have bid that!

But if money talks, then I would say the Berner community – inspired by the love and memory of their dogs – has clearly declared war on the breed’s health and longevity issues.  More than $54,000 was raised – ammunition vital to bringing us closer to the ultimate victory!

Have you ever thought about contributing to health-related causes for dogs?  Which ones have you helped?