The Lovely Gellie, RIP sweetheart
It has now been confirmed that these Bonaforte girls are monozygotic, identical twins and born 3 years prior to the South African puppies - a verified breed first!
The article about identical twin Irish Wolfhounds puppies in the press in August 2016 spiked interest, when the BBC reported on a case of identical twin Wolfhound puppies being born in South Africa, following a vet assisted Caesarean delivery, and later tests proved that the twin puppies were indeed genetically identical and this appears to be the first recorded/proven case of monozygotic twin puppies. The article, written by Melissa Hogenboom, goes on to explain that although non-identical twins are not uncommon in some species, genetically identical (monozygotic) twins are thought to be a far rarer occurrence by the scientific community: It seems unlikely that identical twin puppies are particularly common. "It has taken so long for us to find a monozygotic pair, so they are probably rare," says Carolynne Joone of James Cook University in Townsville, Australia.
Lab tests on the ‘Bonaforte Twins’, who were born naturally at home at Broadholme House Farm in 2013, have now confirmed that those 2 puppies are also monozygotic, identical twins.
Every puppy born at Bonaforte is special, but when the E litter joined the world on 1st September 2013 there was a heightened level of excitement as 2 of the puppies were attached to the same placenta and we immediately knew they were twins (but not necessarily identical). The twin puppies (Bonaforte’s Ella and Bonaforte’s Eloisa) were significantly smaller than their litter mates, but they were always inseparable and always appeared to be identical.
In fact, they were so devoted to each other that it became obvious they could never really be parted form one another:
“whelping them was an amazing moment, one I shall never forget. From the moment they were born they displayed the "Twin Bond”. They always played together, away from the rest of the litter and always slept together. It was magical to watch them. We decided from the start they must live their lives together.” (Carla du Rose)
They eventually grew to be similar in size to their siblings and by a strange twist of fate they found their forever home together with the most special of owners - even though their owners had no idea they would actually end up with not 1, but 2 Wolfhound puppies! Maureen Nicholls and Ann Welford have been lovingly caring for the 2 girls, whom they named Ellie and Poppy, for over 3 years and the Bonaforte Twins remain as devoted to each other as they are to their owners. Even now it is almost impossible to tell them apart, even for their owners:
“They really still do everything together; they wee together, poo together, even sniff together. If by some unusual chance they are in different rooms and one is getting a crafty cuddle the other one appears, as if they know that the other one is getting attention. We can tell them apart if you really look but the main way is Poppy always has a red collar and Ellie has what ever is next nicest (don’t think she minds). We took them to the groomers once and when I got back she was so upset as she had taken off the collars and did not know who was who and was worried I wasn't going to be able to tell which one was which!” Maureen Nicholls, owner
The main reasons that identical twin puppies are so uncommon is partly because they are rarely genetically tested to evidence the possibility and also because they often do not survive: “It is thought that identical twins are rare because, when two foetuses share one placenta, they do not get enough nutrients from the mother and are therefore less likely to survive” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/earth/story/20160830-first-identical-twin-dogs-discovered). The twin puppies form South Africa were delivered at a veterinary surgery and therefore it was the suspicions of the vet that led to further investigations and testing and when litters are born at home it is possible twins will go unnoticed by the breeder. Carla however was fortunate to spot that the two puppies shared the same placenta, and keenly watched as the Twin Bond between them grew.
When reading this week’s Our Dogs breed notes, I was reminded of the old saying “if you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all”
I buy the paper and read the notes for interesting items relative to the breed, so the information about the Society winners was very welcome (though in the case of the puppy bitch winner incorrect). What I found surprising was the “critique” of the breed note writer from her position of watching ringside. Her hideous and unwarranted comments were faked with satire, and will certainly not be flavour of the month amongst the exhibitors and many others in our breed.
I must admit that like everyone I enjoy watching judging and like everyone I have my thoughts on placings etc. but in this case the breed note writer was NOT the judge. No one paid for her opinion, it was merely that of a bystander and whilst I afford everyone the right to their opinion and it is a part of the day out at a show, but it was not her place to use the breed notes to give her personal opinion on the dogs on the day, particularly before the judge’s critique is published.
We have a breed which is numerically small and in a time when many shows and judges are struggling to attract entries , those people who take the time to pay to enter their dogs should surely be encouraged rather than being disparaged by a breed note writer sitting ringside. After all whilst we all may have our opinions they are only valid to anyone else, including readership, if they have been actually asked for.
The last Crufts qualifying show of the year, the LKA, saw another celebration for Bonaforte. Making her debut in Puppy Bitch at 9 months was Bonaforte’s Kensies Kisses; handled by owner, Dave and cheered on ringside by co-owner, Boris, Kensie, she was awarded a 1st place in her group under judge, Mark Cocozza. Well done Kensie! With Sharon’s girl, Nigella taking 2nd in a strong PGB class, something tells us Crufts is going to be a big lively day out for all our owners and an excellent opportunity to catch up and have some fun. The Bonaforte Kennel now has 12 Irish Wolfhounds qualified for this epic show, which is being judged by breed specialist Pat Pask (Baronglen). Pat is also one of the Vice Presidents of the Irish Wolfhound Club and along with her husband, Peter Pask, they have both dedicate their lives to our breed.
We take breeding Wolfhounds very seriously here at Bonaforte, and our priority is to breed for health, fitness and temperament and so we are especially proud that one of our owners, Rachel and Rob’s Wolfhound, Jake (Heliodor’s Born To Run) successfully passed his assessment and he is now a registered Pets As Therapy dog. There comes a point in life where owning a dog is no longer an option, a very sad and difficult time for people who have lived with and loved dogs all their lives. The charity ‘Pets as Therapy’ provides canine visitors to give people the opportunity to interact and enjoy the company of a dog; it is scientifically proven that petting a dog has a positive effect on peoples’ moods and behaviour, so this charity provide a unique and very rewarding service. Rachel and Jake have already carried out their first few visits bringing a hefty dose of Wolfhound sized happiness to people who can’t get out and about. We are immensely proud of both Rachel, for giving her time, but also to Jake for being a wonderful ambassador for our breed.
Finally, we would like to wish all our owners and all visitors to this site a very Merry Christmas and a very Healthy and Happy New Year.
“Residents of the Springfield Cottage Residential Care Home were overjoyed to meet PAT dog Jake, a gentle giant who brightened everyone’s day” (taken from the Pets As Therapy Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/petsastherapy/?fref=ts)
Three successful days of heart testing here at the Bonaforte Kennel, saw results we can all live with and no awful surprises.
There is always a general air of excitiment around prior to heart testing and our visit to the Kennel from Dr Brownlie. The days are always busy with our owners coming and going, bringing not only their hounds with them, but filling the kitchen with laughter. Many thanks to Hugh and Rachel on kitchen duty for the endless supplies of tea and coffee and keeping us all going with a feast, and to Linda for helping Serena with the hounds.
Dr Serena Brownlie worked tirelessly to examine every dog, including non-kennel visitors, who are always welcome.
We also celebrated Serena’s 30 years of heart testing in our breed, for which we are all very grateful. We are most certainly beginning to see the fruits of her labour and believe she is giving us all hope for our breed.
It is important that not just breeders, but all owners of Irish Wolfhounds have their hounds tested, not just once, but every year. By doing this you will be giving something back to our very precious breed and helping the experts keep track of any familial changes as they occur.
Please support heart testing, that little extra effort is so worth it. Heart testing sessions are also available through the IWHG.
On 25th Sept The Irish Wolfhound Society held its Championship Show at Ryton. The judge was breed specialist Ms Mary McBryde. There was a large entry and it was wonderful to see so many Wolfhounds gathered. The Society are to be thanked for hosting what was a very friendly sociable show with plenty of time for chatting ringside.
We were particularly proud as we had quite a few of our owners who had entered some for the 1st time ever at a show. We are delighted that so many qualified for Crufts.
What was very exciting was we had two different mother/son combinations entered-Bonaforte's Back Chat in PG with her son Bonaforte’s Kelly's Hero in puppy-we have to make a mention to Carole his owner who was having her 1st time in the ring-they both did us proud.
We also had Bonaforte's Earl Grey in PG and his mum Ice Cream, and Harker and Nigella made a joint mum/son/daughter/brother/sister showing combo, Ice Cream being their mum too, who was showing for her 1st time in Veteran. What made this such a fabulous day for us was Creamy won Best Veteran-her owner Neil taking to the ring for the 1st time also-a truly momentous day for Bonaforte.
Of course there is always fun to be had with our owners so we can’t forget to mention Norris-who is becoming something of a Bonaforte mascot!
If you would like to join the show team and have some fun please contact us.
In a breed which is vulnerable and having longevity issues, all our 7’s and over deserve respect. We should be welcoming and praising them, especially the ones who are active enough to make it into the show ring.
In addition we need to be examining their pedigrees and be asking the breeders and owners questions about rearing, diet and exercise. Looking at siblings and progeny, because to have these veterans in our breeding is a positive step forward.
I am posting this on behalf of Kathy Johnson, owner of Pollyanna.
Polly has been at Noel Fitzpatrick's since mid-January. She is paralysed as a result of a trauma. A microscopic piece of cartilage is lodged in her spinal cord and it is not operable. She is being treated with hydrotherapy and physiotherapy and although she is showing some improvement it is very slow and she still can't stand.
With the weeks going by and Polly’s progress so slow, it is devastating for Kathy who is heartbroken to be faced with the possibility of losing her beloved wolfhound. We, her close friends, have been helping in any way we can by visiting Polly weekly and trying to encourage Polly to get up. Polly is always very bright, alert, cheerful and loving
But she cannot stand up yet. She needs time -a lot more time, before she may be able to stand. Sadly, her vets cannot continue to care for her for more than a few more weeks. And this will be nowhere near long enough. Polly does not need any medical treatment, just time and rehabilitation.
It is not feasible for her to return home to Kathy. Polly needs to be lifted and turned regularly and, as Kathy is on her own, she would not be able to do this. It needs maybe two or three people to lift and turn a wolfhound.
That is why we are turning to you. Are you able to help? Do you know of a canine convalescent home that Kathy could consider and where Polly might be cared for while she recovers?
People in the wolfhound community do incredible things. We are praying that someone who reads this can offer assistance or advice.
or make a donation to keep her longer in care.
Thank you Nottingham University Vet School for organising an informative day, giving up your time at a weekend, and also giving us a chance to be heard and listened to.
Nottingham University Vet School - Saturday 6th February 2016.