Minutes ISF meeting Asperen 20-11-2010

International Schapendoes Federation

Minutes from ISF meeting 20-11-2010 in Asperen

Today international collaboration like complete availability of data via the World Wide Web is a matter of course. We are used to having plenty of information at our command within split seconds, which we communicate and discuss in nearly borderless international contacts.

But not only economics and science depend on international procedures like this: modern dog breeding is also inconceivable without.

With this in his mind, some years ago Hartmut Mohr, Chairman of the German IG Schapendoes, launched the International Schapendoes Federation and became its first president. This was due to the insight that responsible breeding is not conceivable within the boundaries of national limitations.

In spite of various initiatives – looking back I have to say this much to my regret – we did not succeed in developing the ISF into an active transnational instrument striving for the best for the Schapendoes. Too often some members were caught up in national thinking.

The aim of an ISF, to concern itself as beneficially as possible for the breed, could thus definitely not be reached.

After some quite disagreeable irritations in the run-up we nevertheless decided to hold a meeting in Asperen (Netherlands) on November 20, 2010 to see if and how the federation could be revitalized.

In a partially new make-up we succeeded, to the astonishment of some, in looking at the irritations before the meeting in order to conduct a constructive conference that gives reason to hope for confiding, future-orientated collaboration. All parties rebuffed national thinking as something out of the past. All present were positive about collaborating in breeding and health matters.

How indispensible international collaboration is was proven by our successful PRA-project. We all can be glad and proud to have a marker test available and to have thus eliminated this dreadful disease.

A couple of years ago I initiated a second similar project concerning itself with ODB (Open ductus botalli) hoping that this problem might be eradicated in the near future as well. Unfortunately, in the course of the analysis conducted by Prof. Leeb (University of Berne, Swiss) to whom I own my most sincere thanks, the heredity turned out to be of a much more complex nature. Thus further research is needed.

However, both projects did prove that friends of the Schapendoes across all borders were more than willing to work together for the best of the breed.

One does not have to be a doomsayer to prophesize that this willingness shall most probably be required more often in the future. All breeds suffer unavoidably from a decreasing gene pool. To slow this process down at least population genetic regulations have to be observed most strictly. Hereditary diseases are otherwise inevitable in the long run.

To help to prevent problems like these as much as possible a contract was presented by the IGS which is supposed to regulate the exchange of information with regard to health matters on the level of breeding committees of the individual countries. Only if all data are available can pairing be checked properly and will responsible breeding be possible. I am most confident that after the difficulties in the last years we shall come to an agreement how to exchange these valuable data in the near future.

Let me here underline, as the new president of the ISF, to which I was elected at this meeting that it is my prior-ranking concern to better the communication between the single countries, to strengthen the trust among its members and to further mutual projects.

In this context I would like to refer to the kidney problem in our breed that most certainly deserves first priority. The IGS will try to conduct a small symposium within the context of the Euro-Schapendoes-Show in Alsfeld on June 18, 2011. The aim of the symposium shall be to develop the most deserving clinical project of the University of Utrecht into a genetic project. Of course everybody is welcome!

Previous to our meeting in Holland I was made aware of a genetic project that deserves mention here. The Finnish Schapendoes Club had the frequency of homozygosity examined. This topic is absolutely significant in as far as homozygosity is an indication of genetic risks. The more homozygosity one finds in a breed the smaller the gene pool is most likely to be. Unfortunately the result of the analysis indicates that homozygosity is much more frequent than expected.

I do consider it most praiseworthy that a small country like Finland conducted such a project logistically and financially. I congratulate the Finnish Club most cordially!\

We shall ask the people in charge to present a short report in due time. Maybe the informative value of the project can even be enhanced by adding dogs from other countries.

As deserving as the single mentioned projects doubtless are they point to a quite general and basic problem: enterprises are single, not linked. For the future, in our November-meeting I proposed to establish a genetic database in which we collect blood samples so that we can fall back on them without losing time in case of necessity. Many other breeds have arranged databases already. As a first step we should collect samples of all breeding dogs – but ideally of the entire population.

Let me stress that it was not my intention to present single projects and the tasks and aims of the ISF exhaustively. This shall be done at another place and time. It is my aim though, to point out the potential significance that international cooperation can have for our breed. The atmosphere of our meeting makes me quite optimistic that in future there will be no severe hurdles in the way for international collaboration. I shall commit myself to this aim by all means.

Dr. Hans J. Jacobs