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What if we, knowingly breed using a hound who has heart disease?

Just siting here musing the new The Animal Welfare Law which comes into force on 1st October 2108.

Just a couple of points which have jumped out at me:

6.5 No dog may be kept for breeding if it can reasonably be expected, on the basis of its genotype, phenotype or state of health that breeding from it could have a detrimental effect on its health or welfare or the health or welfare of its offspring.

I'm guessing at the moment as mentioned in Our Dogs "New welfare laws could be monumental" (June 15th, 2018) We all assume this means the extremes such as the brachycephalic breeds, but just what if we, as Irish Wolfhound breeders, knowingly breed using a hound who has heart disease? Just putting it out there for us all to ponder!

The next little gem is:

  1. Business test The circumstances which a local authority must take into account in determining whether an activity is being carried on in the course of a business for the purposes of this Schedule include, for example, whether the operator— a. makes any sale by, or otherwise carries on, the activity with a view to making a profit, or b. earns any commission or fee from the activity.

Again the new law is looking for those who breed more than three litters, I would assume in any rolling 12 month period that you will be required to be licensed. However the Business test seems to be a caveat, so keep and file all your receipts and everything you do regarding your dogs; otherwise, if you make a profit, will you be considered a business and require a license even with under three litters.

In addition, breeders won't be able to advertise without producing a copy of their license? Interesting times for breeders, let's see where and how this helps animals, and fingers crossed it does.

Oh well off to read some more and work out the Yes Prime Minsterisms:

*"James Hacker: Are you telling me the Foreign Office is keeping something from me?

Bernard Woolley: Yes.

James Hacker: Well, what?

Bernard Woolley: I don't know; they're keeping it from me too.

James Hacker: How do you know?

Bernard Woolley: I don't know.

James Hacker: You just said that the Foreign Office was keeping something from me. How do you know if you don't know?

Bernard Woolley: I don't know specifically what, Prime Minister, but I do know the Foreign Office always keep everything from everybody. It's normal practice."*

Yes, Prime Minster 1986

The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018

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Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Some years back when we were starting up the kennel, the health of all the hounds we bred was a significant factor and has remained pivotal within our breeding program. Hence this year saw the 6th year of our bi-annual yearly heart testing sessions with Dr Serena Brownlee PhD BVM&S MRCVS Cert SAC. It was the usual busy time for both our dogs here at the kennel and also for our owners who had booked their hounds in for testing.

Wolfhounds are sadly prone to 2 significant problems one being heart disease and the other osteosarcoma though in recent years pneumonia is becoming more prevalent.

Serena, Hilary Jupp and The Irish Wolfhound Club, going back to the 80's had the idea of testing hounds to see if any trends could be observed. Seeking the answers to the heart issues in the breed. Was it genetic? Were males more susceptible than females? Which has now carried on to become the excellent Heart Testing Scheme still run today for the breed by the Health Group?

As a breed, we are incredibly fortunate to have such an eminent cardiologist as Serena still on board devoting so much of her time energy and knowledge into the health of our hounds.

So to present day, it has been shown that heart health is indeed genetic and while not all hounds from the same gene pool will be affected there is a much higher chance of developing the disease.

It is therefore vital that those in the breed are prepared to share all the data that has been collected from the beginning. Of course when anything is starting up and is unknown, then it is understandable for people to be cautious. Testing has always been done in a completely confidential way and still is.

Bringing us now to the 21st century and we are in the position of an ever decreasing gene pool and much smaller numbers being bred, it is ever more vital to only breed from the very healthiest hounds.

For our kennel, we made a commitment to breed from dogs with clear heart tests assisting Serena in her life's work. We agreed to feed every dog the same high-quality food and all dogs are exercised in the same way to see if nurture also has an effect on heart health. Serena tests every hound in our kennel twice a year, and our breeding is only carried out with her overview on the choices we are making, it is too soon to say whether or not this is going to have an impact longterm on heart health, but so far we are well above the breed average for heart health.

We also provide a yearly heart test for all of our owner's hounds, so all offspring are tracked. Heart testing sessions are hectic but its a great way of keeping in touch with owners and seeing how happy our hounds are.

We all know that things are moving forward at high speed in these modern times. Science is evermore bringing us new information and new drugs that are prolonging both human and animal life, and it is only by listening to the experts and adapting to these changes that we will progress.

Recently within the breed, there has been discussion around pneumonia. It has long been said that a particular drug could help in some instances. Sadly proven research did not back this up, and it is just one aspect of the impact of science. We have to listen to our experts, and we have to be prepared to accept that sometimes what we thought was working isn't.

No one as yet can predict which hound will get osteosarcoma, but via the excellent heart testing scheme, we can see which hounds are going to be at the highest risk of heart disease. We can wait until they are older and have a good few clear heart tests behind them before breeding with them. Once upon a time, we didn't have this facility to make choices for breeding, but now we do, and we have a responsibility to this beautiful breed to make full use of it and to commit to sharing our heart test data.

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Times are changing, and as part of that new initiatives are coming out-for heart health there will be the R A G system-Red, Amber, Green which will simplify who can or should be bred from.

Estimated Breeding Values or EBVs can and will be used in the future, and we believe the heart data may one day be used in this way. All of which is very positive and bodes well for the future as these have been scientifically put together to try and improve the health of pedigree dogs. Anecdotal advice has been the only tool over the years, but now we have to be prepared to deal with adequately researched factual information if we are to protect the health of the breed going forward. . If you would like to know what happens during a heart test, there is a detailed video on the IWCT which can show that it is a simple procedure for the hound.

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What are the benefits of a grain free diet?

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What are the benefits of a grain free diet?

Results of Grain Free diets have been reported by vets in some cases to help reduce various symptoms. Complex Carbohydrates such as Potato and Sweet Potato, used as an alternative to grains, provide slow releasing energy which helps keep pets fuller for longer.

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Crufts 2018 - Irish Wolfhounds

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Crufts 2018 - Irish Wolfhounds

 The Bonaforte Show Team Crufts 2018

The Bonaforte Show Team Crufts 2018

How to sum up this year at Crufts: What a Fabulous Atmosphere, camera, action, cakes, fun and friendships and a day full of laughter, add to that 166 Wolfhounds and it's true to say it was a delightful and memorable day for all.

On a more solemn note, our thoughts and prayers are with you Chris and your family at this sorrowful time. Despite the recent and sad loss of a family member, our breed specialist Chris Amoo put on a brave face indeed. Drawing a very well deserved huge entry from both UK and the continent including 9 Bonaforte Wolfhounds and although it wasn't our day in the ring all our owners who exhibited said how very kind and gentle he was with all the hounds.

Our beautiful Creamy (Ice Cream von der Oelmühle) came out in veteran for her last showing with Neil. We were so proud to see her powering around that big ring- the matriarch of the kennel. She had 2 of her sons showing on the day Anthony and Penny's Harker (Bonaforte's Amadeus) and our very own Bertie, (Bonaforte's Earl Grey) Our thanks to Maggie Holder for handling Bertie to 3rd place in a very strong limit class. These two have such a unique bond, and Bertie instantly recognises Maggie's empathy.

Continuing the family theme and to our delight two of Creamy's grandsons, Norris (Bonaforte's Odyssey) and Rupert ( Bonaforte's Opulence with Claddaghwolf) and her granddaughter Bonaforte's Ophelia was having her first outing, handled by Linda and what a fab pair they made. Julie and Arthur (Bonaforte's Meldrew) deserve special mention as despite only starting showing last summer they proudly took their place and it was great to see them confidently powering around the ring.

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The Show Stopper is always Phil's Jacket, as we all waited with a sense of excitement for the unveiling of the show jacket and he didn't let us down. A particular eye-catching green shamrock themed jacket and tie meant that he and Stan (Bonaforte's Justice) caught everyone's attention in the ring. It is to Phil's credit that not only does he show Stan to perfection he does it with his sense of style and fun!

Then came the girls -Kenzie (Bonaforte's Kensies Kisses) who just adores Dave and this shines through at every moment. She is like a pocket rocket and puts Dave through his paces and Bonaforte's Luna giving Robin a real workout!

We are so so proud of all of our hounds. They all moved out and looked powerful strong yet graceful, and as a kennel, they represented us so well.

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A very special mention too, for Ava (Bonaforte's Enchanted at Ravencrag and her delightful daughter Elsie (Ravencrag Helter Skelter) who both not only qualified for Crufts in their own right but also went the extra mile and qualified for the Good Citizen's Class - Helen Bligh you are amazing!

Of course, the ring is just one aspect of Crufts. While we are there to show the hounds, it is just as important to show the public our special breed with their excellent temperament. We couldn't be happier with the Bonaforte hounds. They were mobbed by the public all day long who don't get to see our breed up close these days. It was beautiful to see such significant and loving interactions. Everyone who came to say hello was greeted like old friends by the hounds, and it bodes well for the breed to have such great ambassadors

To say there was a party atmosphere is to put it lightly -the Bonaforte Cake Ladies brought with them delicious delights. SkyeBear and Amy were dispatched ringside with trays heaving with cakes there was the pop of a cork or two to celebrate the fact that we all made it there and survived.

Many thanks to our very own Bonaforte photographer, Hugh, for our lovely photos. Of course the group photo, a feat in itself to get all hounds and owners outside in the same place at the same time with some "guidance" from Amanda we now have a beautiful photo reminder of an exceptional day.

A very special thank you to our Show Team leader Amanda Brown, Master of Roles (aka Julie Andrews) who skipped around the ring helping Helen with the girls, organised us all, including drafting this fab to write up. Thank you.

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Lastly a HUGE THANK YOU to the Family von Bonaforte ( following on in the Julie Andrews theme here) you are all very dear to my heart, exceptional owners and friends, united by our love of Irish Wolfhounds.

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Best Wishes At Christmas from all of us at Bonaforte

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Best Wishes At Christmas from all of us at Bonaforte

Looking back yet another year is nearly over and how swiftly they seem to go these days. As usual, we have had our fair share of trials and triumphs –the sadness when any of us lose a precious Hound is intangible, and one of the comforts is the support we get and give each other as owners. Please take a moment and raise a glass to all those great hounds we have said goodbye to this year. You are all forever in our hearts.

 Alan with Eva

Alan with Eva

It is always good to see how our owners are always on hand for both ourselves and each other in times of need or great stress and this year the Porters had a very stressful incident with Eva who while out on a walk fell down a 5ft dry dyke. Alan was alone walking her and her sister Abi, and we can all imagine the horror of looking over the edge to see your precious hound fully laid out and unable to move. A lot of help was given to get her out, and then the real battle began. She went completely off her feet, but a team of Bon owners and ourselves worked with Debbie and Alan With love and help, Eva with her tenacious spirit is up and charging around. Although she does rather like to sofa surf! It is a complete credit to the friendships and support forged that drove us all forward to get Eva back up and back to her old self-and we all enjoy the updates and the pictures of her just “being Eva.” We have to mention, Ann Dye with Ellie, only 22 months old has achieved The Kennel Club Good Citizen GOLD award. Well done. Pemba Bishop and her owner Ann-this year Pemba passed her assessment and is now a PAT dog-we are incredibly proud of this sweet girl and we know Ann is also-it is our aim and our personal choice to breed with health and temperament being the 2 most important factors and to see our Wolfhounds making a difference in peoples lives is so fulfilling for us as breeders.

 Ann with Ellie 

Ann with Ellie 

Of course, we also have a very creative bunch of owners, and the Easter Bonnet Parade shall long be a favourite memory. Alongside that some of our owners who have tried their hand in the show ring for the 1st time ever and have qualified their Hounds for Crufts. So that will be a riotous affair if we know our owners because wherever they go, you are sure to hear lots of laughter.

It just remains for us to wish all our owners and all the visitors to our website a very merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2018

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Halloween Hamper Raffle Winner Announcement

Huge congratulations to Karen Cox, the winner of The Fortnum & Mason Frightfully Delicious Halloween Hamper.

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We would like to thank everyone who has bought tickets, and have collectively raised an outstanding £936.75

A massive thank you to you all for supporting the IWCT.

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Preserving Rare and Vulnerable Breeds

We were recently contacted by the Kennel Club and invited to take part in a collaboration day that the Kennel Club holds with Nikon to promote rare and vulnerable breeds, as the Irish Wolfhound is now on this list. As part of raising awareness with the public that these breeds though relatively rare are still very much alive and healthy, a joint day between the KC and Nikon with photographers is held at Stoneleigh, and we were honoured to be invited to bring a couple of our Wolfhounds along. During the photography session, there was a chance to speak to the other rare and vulnerable breed owners and get an insight into what they do to keep their breeds both vital and healthy while numbers are falling. In our opinion as breeders of Irish Wolfhounds, health testing is an essential tool moving the breed forward in the 21st century. The gene pool is smaller, and it is so important to utilise the tests that are available to try and ensure the future health of the breed.

Kennel Club Bonaforte Nikon

The Irish Wolfhound is the largest of the giant breeds and to keep them happy and healthy they have to have access to free galloping on a daily basis alongside proper nutrition and comfortable living conditions. It is becoming much harder for people unless they have their land to exercise these hounds adequately. Most sighthounds are very prey driven and can cover a lot of ground in a short space of time, so there are challenges for owners in these times when public spaces are becoming less accessible. While there are people, who have a real interest and passion for owning and living with the breed these points are considerations when choosing the Irish Wolfhound.

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Lively at Leeds!

Leeds Champ Show was very eventful for us here at Bonaforte.

 Bonaforte's Earl Grey aka Bertie

Bonaforte's Earl Grey aka Bertie

Under well-respected judge Per Iverson, the Bonaforte's had a cracking day out. Bertie Bonaforte's Earl Grey, came 1st in Limit handled expertly by Roisin and went on to be awarded his 1st RCC to overjoyed applause by our owners who had gathered to support him and Roisin.

What was rather special is his dam Creamy was placed 1st in Veteran bitch handled by Phil Appleyard. Creamy's two grandsons and Bertie’s sons were shown for the 1st time placing 3rd and VHC in puppy. A real family outing, with Stan Bonaforte’s Justice coming 3rd in PG dog. Tracy is delighted that both her boys are qualified for Crufts.

We were very pleased that Chatty Bonaforte’s Back Chat handled by Maggie Holder came 2nd in Limit bitch. Chatty's son, Niall Bonaforte's Kelly's Hero, came 2nd in Junior and last but not least the delightful Tempe Bonaforte’s Jussis came 1st in Gradutate bitch handled by Linda, these two are enjoying the days out. Sharon Lake showed her boy Woody Grimm D'Harcourt, for the 1st time and was rightly proud of him because despite thinking that he would run her out of the ring he placed 4th in Open Dog…a real achievement!

 Bertie admiring his RCC and Stud Book Rosettes - thank you Maggie Holder 

Bertie admiring his RCC and Stud Book Rosettes - thank you Maggie Holder 

While we are utterly delighted with Bertie’s RCC the pleasure for us is knowing that all our owners are having a good day out regardless of placings.

Solid and supportive friendships have been forged, and it is as much about meeting up and enjoying a day out as it is about showing dogs, after all, they ALL take the best dog home.

I would like to thank Amanda Brown, for not only putting together these news articles, but for encouraging the Bons to have a go at showing and also to Maggie Holder for mentoring, her support and expertise, is invaluable.

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Bonaforte’s Meldrew Making his Mark!

When establishing the Bonaforte Kennel, the show ring was never my goal. The health of my hounds came first and foremost and is still my primary driver. I ignored criticism for not showing my dogs against their peers, as my aims conflicted with the wildly misconceived constraints on a dog's aesthetic form.

In recent times I have been so happy to see some of our owners with encouragement taking their 1st steps into the ring and doing very well.

Recently Bonaforte’s Meldrew (aptly named as he was such a vocal puppy) with his owner Julie Grimwood took part in the East of England show and qualified for Crufts. Julie, a show virgin, found it a nerve racking experience but I was delighted to see both Arthur and Julie so proud of their win.

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It makes all the hard work you do as a breeder so worth while when you see such happy hounds and owners.

Congratulations Julie and Arthur Crufts 2018 will be a lot of fun ☺

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Not one but two Veterinary Cardiologists attend Bonaforte's Heart Testing

We have just completed another 3 day marathon of heart testing here at the Bonaforte Irish Wolfhound Kennel. Over 40 Wolfhounds in total and as usual all of our hounds were tested and we are very pleased with the results.

We were extremely fortunate to have Dr Serena Brownlie here as always, and again she was joined by Professor Malcolm Cobb. This gave the experts the opportunity to double test our Wolfhounds, examining and comparing their results as they each tested the same hounds in turn. Both of the eminent Veterinary Cardiologists were using completely different testing equipment, yet despite this and keeping in mind they both have their own techniques and interpretations of the heart, both cardiologists agreed on their findings and our heart test results. Not of course that we needed this confirmation, as Dr Serena Brownlie is a valued and respected expert in her field, but what excellent validation for us here that the experts are in agreeance with our heart test results.

We also hosted some of the final year Veterinary Students from Nottingham University and it is heartening to see students who have such enthusiasm and passion, and they spoke very highly of their course and how well it prepared them.

We hope that by opening up our Kennel to the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at Nottingham University, it will be beneficial for the future of our breed. We are absolutely delighted that both the Veterinary Cardiologists were very happy with the heart test results and their findings and the overall health and fitness of the Irish Wolfhounds in the Bonaforte Kennel.

As usual our owners showed how dedicated they are to our efforts in heart screening by bringing their hounds to be tested. We are fortunate that the importance of this testing is understood by our owners and as we enjoy a lunch together it’s a great opportunity for us all to catch up and chat, all about Wolfhounds of course!

Whilst we understand that there are other health issues affecting the Irish Wolfhound, we strongly believe that as we have the facility to test for heart health and it is a vital tool in securing the future health of our Wolfhounds. Making educated choices for matings based on proven test results is one of the safeguards for future puppies health and although there are no cast iron guarantees it does give an indicator and is the least all breeders and owners should be doing. The Irish Wolfhound Health Group now have a page where breeders and owners can upload results and we sincerely hope everyone will support this.

We believe our Wolfhounds deserve the very best, we put a lot of time, thought and effort into ensuring they have happy, healthy, and secure lives, to that end we must say a personal thank you to Dr Serena Brownlie, who comes along twice a year to heart test our hounds. Not only is she a highly respected eminent cardiologist she is also a very gentle caring person who guides us all through what can be a stressful time. Who amongst us doesn’t hold our breath when our hound is being tested until we get what we hope is going to be a good result. Serena is as kind and gentle with us and our owners as she is with all the Wolfhounds, a truly dedicated lady who the breed is lucky to have at the helm of the Heart Testing Scheme.

So please if you have a Irish Wolfhound join the Irish Wolfhound Heart Testing Scheme and get your hound tested. Please, please, please publish the outcome regardless of the results. It could make all the difference to their quality of life, and to the future of the breed.

We look forward to seeing more of our owners and Irish Wolfhounds at the next session in Nov 2017

Please follow the link for:   Bonaforte Kennel Heart Test Results.

Please follow this link for:  More information on how and where to Heart Test your Irish Wolfhound through the Irish Wolfhound Health Group Heart Testing Scheme.   

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