The Lovely Gellie, RIP sweetheart
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irish wolfhound health group
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.
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.
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.
There is absolutely no excuse why a breeder should not share these certificates and the information they contain with you, other than to either hide the results, or they don't test in the first place.
Heart test certificates are filled out by the qualified Veterinary Cardiologist and given to the breeder/owners at the time of the examination and the results discussed. Please be aware that all three methods of examination are required and the Vet carrying out the examination needs to have specialist qualifications. If you truly love this breed and care about its future please only buy from responsible breeders who heart test and those who will share their hounds heart test results with you. You will need to see a valid certificate for both the Dam and the Sire.
All our Irish Wolfhound puppies are vet checked: heart, lungs, mouth, eyes, rear hind flection test and general health check, shunt tested, and their vaccination programme has been started.
Copies of our Irish Wolfhound Heart Test Certificates.
What you are looking for on the Heart Certificate are ticks in BOTH the NORMAL boxes on the lower half of the certificate. This is the all clear of a healthy hound on the day and one which can be used for breeding for 12 months from the date of testing. See below the certificates for both the Dam and the Sire of our litter and this will give you a good idea of what you are looking for. To be on the safe side we heart test all our hounds every 6 months. Do not accept an out of date certificate.
The meeting of the Canine Alliance came up with a 10 Point Action Plan for the Kennel Club to consider, based around a scheme that does what it is supposed to do and ASSURES the puppy purchasers that every step possible has been taken to ensure the stock is healthy:
More emphasis to be placed on the health of the breeding stock – suggestions for the inspectors to ask more rigorous questions regarding breeding plans etc
That the MyKC web pages add a function to allow breeders to identify which dogs they actually own, which are spayed or going to be bred from and so on
The addition of a puppy buyer based accolade – to be based on realistic feedback provided by the purchasers regarding their experience
KC to ensure a list of requirements on the day is clear and available for ABS members prior to inspection
Public education needs to improve – the KC need to ensure that the public have a far better understanding of the health issues and testing that is undertaken by responsible breeders
The KC must ensure that relevant breed tests are made mandatory – some breeds currently have no recommended or mandatory tests in place and this could be discussed with, for example, the breed clubs and other interested parties
Consider allowing ABS members to withhold registrations if they are implementing a spay/neuter endorsement/requirement as part of their sales contract. Registrations to be withheld until presented with the appropriate certification that this has been carried out
The KC require all breeding bitches and stud dogs – to have been micro-chipped/tattooed – to undergo a basic/rudimentary health test with a vet prior to being bred from. This will ensure that those breeds with no recommended health tests do, at the very least, meet with a demonstrable level of health prior to breeding
Placing a clause in the registration information given to new puppy owners- advising them to contact the KC if they experience a problem – this would complement the current process of inspections.
That the KC takes steps to properly recognise foreign health test results and to include these on the website/registration certificates
The Canine Alliance will be writing to the Kennel Club with these proposals and will be asking to meet up to discuss these in more depth and, in the meantime, we will be looking at a series of regional meetings.
To read more click here: Canine Alliance 10 Point Action Plan for ABS