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Elsa's Story

A Place For A vWD Carrier In Your Breeding Program
Linda L. Orsborn

Gail Fisher and Ray Dubreuil entered the world of showing Scotties at the same time my husband Jim and I did. We were all newcomers to the STCNE and met at the 1992 annual banquet. Gail and Ray were owners of Sam, a brindle Scottie girl and were negotiating to become co-owners of Amescot's Lotta Talk, Bradley. Gail had owned Scotties for years but Bradley was to be their first show Scottie. At that time we had our first Scottie CH Blueberry's Dressed To Kill, Bernadine. Bernadine had been owned and finished by Kathi Brown and Gerry Poudrier

As newcomers we all had a lot to learn about the art of showing and breeding. In 1992 both Abby, an Amescot black female puppy fathered by Amescot's Talk Of The Town and Bradley started the show foundation of SnoMtn.

Our foundation was our finished champion, Bernadine and our new puppy Blueberry's Ibebad. The puppy was co-owned by Kathi Brown. As the next year went by, the four of us newcomers learned about grooming, handlers, handling classes and Scottie health and breeding.

Elsa's story starts in August of 1992. She was whelped and owned by Gary and Susan Carr. Her mother was a Whiskybae Yanky scottie and her father was CH Amescot's Lotta Talk, Bradley. She was a beautiful elegant black puppy and just what Gail and Ray needed to help build their kennel. Her registered name is Whiskybae Yanky SnoMtn Fury.

In August of 1993 Elsa was tested for vWD status. She had been in heat shortly before the test. Her status came back as a carrier, she was retested in October of 1993. The results were the same: vWD carrier. It was an area of concern. Elsa was a quality bitch, a Bradley daughter and so very dear to both Gail and Ray. Abby and Bradley had tested clear and at that point, the Dubreuils could have given up on Elsa, but she had so much to offer. Gail is very conservative and would never endanger the health of any SnoMtn Scottie. She and Ray decided to educate themselves thoroughly on the subject of vWD and to take a wait and see attitude.

After Elsa finished her championship, it was time to look for a suitable Scottie male to breed her to. The first criteria for a stud for Elsa was a clear vWD test. Obviously, conformation traits and temperament were also important, but it was important to ensure the health of any puppies produced. CH Charthill Victory At Sea, a vWD clear dog was chosen to father Elsa's puppies.

About this time the new VetGen vWD test was readied for the Scottie market. The Dubreuils had seven SnoMtn Scotties tested. The test confirmed six vWD clear Scotties and Elsa, the single vWD carrier. In April of 1996 Elsa had her first litter of eight puppies. Elsa is a wonderful elegant princess of a Scottie and eight puppies were overwhelming. She was not the most enthusiastic new mother. Can you blame her? Eight puppies are a heavy burden for a Scottie bitch. Ray and Gail worked very long hours to care for Elsa and her puppies.

Later as the puppies were weaned and becoming independent, the entire litter was tested with the VetGen DNA test. Elsa had produced three vWD carrier puppies and five vWD clear puppies. This information was shared with each perspective buyers and built into the decisions for limited registration and spay/neuter contracts for the puppies that were sold.

In the end the Dubreuils kept Brutus, a solid tanky brindle boy, who is a vWD carrier and Rachel, a short backed elegant brindle girl, who is vWD clear. In 1997 Brutus won the STCNE Specialty Sweepstakes and Rachel won the STCNY Specialty Sweepstakes. In 1998 Rachel won an Award of Merit at Westminster. If Elsa had not been included in the SnoMtn breeding program, there would be no Rachel or Brutus.

Brutus finished his championship very quickly. The next logical question for Gail and Ray was: do we keep a second carrier in our breeding program? Ray had improved his grooming skills by working on these two puppies. Both Brutus and Rachel had been a dream to show and a source of pride and accomplishment for Sno Mtn. But Brutus is a male. Stud dog owners cannot always control how someone else's puppies are sold. Would Brutus's puppies all be tested for vWD status? Would they be sold with spay/neuter contracts if they were carriers? Would the potential buyers be fully informed about their vWD status? These questions remained. Gail's daughter Debbie had grown up with Scotties. Eventually in 1998 Brutus went to live with Debbie and her husband Todd. He was neutered in 2000.

In the meantime, Elsa produced a litter of one. After eight puppies, Bob was easy. Elsa was much happier with only one to care for. Bob's father was CH Charthill's Jazz King, a DNA vWD clear dog. Bob was a big heavy boned puppy full of spunk. He was sold to a college professor and his family. He is now a campus ambassador for the Scottish Terrier breed.

Rachel, Elsa's daughter, was the type of Scottie that pleased the Dubreuils. She represents the next higher level of excellence on that never ending quest for the ideal Scottish Terrier. If only they could produce a vWD clear boy with similar potential and traits.

So once more Elsa was bred to CH Charthill's Victory At Sea. On April 27,1998, Elsa's third and final litter of nine puppies was born. Nine puppies ! Elsa was a better mother than the first time, but she wasn't exactly thrilled. In June all nine puppies were vWD tested with VetGen DNA tests. There were four carrier puppies and five vWD clear puppies.

After the decision to place Brutus, Gail and Ray decided to consider only the clear puppies as show possibilities. A large part of this decision was based on the knowledge that they really hoped for an excellent boy. They decided on a brindle boy with an extremely beautiful head and excellent front. He is SnoMtn's Second Thoughts, Moe. Moe has gone on to win WD BOW at the STCNE Specialty and to be a very competitive dog. He has many of his mother Elsa's strong points. In addition, he is vWD clear. By the end of 1998 all of SnoMtn's breeding Scotties were vWD DNA tested and clear.

The story goes on. In 1999 Rachel, CH Sno Mtn's Short 'N Sweet was bred to Bradley, her grandfather. This breeding brought Sno Mtn full circle. Bradley and Rachel produced three puppies. Two became additions to SnoMtn. They are Nicholas, SnoMtn's Lots Of Lotta Talk and Joy, SnoMtn's Talks A Lot. Nicholas is Sweepstakes winner and Joy has both Sweepstakes wins and Specialty majors. They both finished quickly and have been competitive nationally.

In the year 2000, SnoMtn finished second in the STCA Bred By Exhibitor standings. This relatively young kennel has grown and improved. Without Elsa, the vWD carrier bitch, the progress would have taken much longer. The Dubreuils have maintained Elsa's good traits and eliminated her vWD carrier status from their breeding program.

This success is due in part to the judicious use of the VetGen vWD test. It involved a monetary expense and commitment. I asked Gail and Ray how they felt about the cost of almost $2000 to test all of their Scotties. They both expressed the view that the tests were worth the investment. The peace of mind knowing that they have vWD clear stock and that no SnoMtn puppy will suffer from the horrors of vWD means more than dollars and cents. Breeding and raising Scotties is, after all, a labor of love involving a good deal of pride and responsibility.

Would you make all the same decisions that the Dubreuils made concerning their breeding program? Maybe yes and maybe no. What Scotties to include in a breeding and show program is an individual choice. But the bottom line is DNA vWD testing allows a breeder to make safe choices. As we enter the twenty first century, we can ensure that no vWD affected puppies are born from a planned breeding.

The STCA through the STCA Health Trust Fund and the AKC Canine Health Foundation is sponsoring research for a DNA based test for CMO and a DNA test for Scottie Cramp. In the relatively near future we hope to have DNA tests for these defects. They will then be preventable just as vWD is preventable today.. Other breed clubs and AKC CHF have initiated research into two other diseases that Scotties can carry; Epilepsy and Liver Shunt. These diseases will involve complicated research and a great deal of time, but realistic hope for DNA based answers for Epilepsy and liver Shunt will exist in the future.

A special thank you to Gail Fisher and Ray Dubreuil for sharing Elsa's story with the Scottie community. The last time I spoke to Gail on the telephone, Elsa was sitting on the couch, between Gail and Ray. She is still the princess and will gladly tell you how special she is.

Elsa has done her part to contribute to the health and excellence of the Scottish Terrier. We should help our Scotties achieve their genetic potential. The proper use of the vWD DNA test will help to preserve the genetic diversity of our breed and also help improve the health of this breed.

For those of you interested in Elsa's family. The Scotties mentioned in this article are:

  • Bradley: CH Amescot's Lotta Talk
  • Abby: CH Amescot SnoMtn Moonbeam
  • Elsa: CH Whiskybae Yanky SnoMtn's Fury
  • Brutus: CH SnoMtn's Challenger
  • Rachel: CH SnoMtn's Short'N Sweet
  • Moe: CH SnoMtn's Second Thoughts
  • Nicholas: CH SnoMtn's Lots Of Lotta Talk
  • Joy: CH SnoMtn's Talks A Lot

This article has been has been written and printed with the full cooperation of Gail Fisher and Ray Dubreuil and with the full knowledge and consent of Elsa's breeders Susan and Gary Carr.

Linda L. Orsborn copyright 2001.

Reprinted by VetGen with permission from The Bagpiper of The Scottish Terrier Club of America No. 4, 2001.