AKC Gazette Columns

AKC Gazette - April 2001

BMDCA National Specialty

On May 29 to June 3, the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America will hold its annual national specialty in Spokane, Wash., with the beckoning theme "A Northwest Trek." Headquarters will be at the Doubletree Hotel, and the nearby Spokane Civic Center will serve as the show site. The program of events is a smorgasbord of learning opportunities.

Particularly noteworthy are the breed-related credentials of the panel of judges who will pass judgment on how well the exhibits exemplify the standard. Conformation will be assessed by AKC judge Mary Alice Eschweiler. As a youngster, Eschweiler (nee Horstick) acquired her first Berner, Aya of Veralp, in 1959. Aya earned a CD in 1962, thereby ushering her into history as the first BMD to hold an AKC title. Years later, in 1980, Eschweiler's Ch. Dina De L'Amary entered the records as the first Berner with a UD. Under the prefix Shepherd's Patch, her dogs have made a significant impact on the breed. Eschweiler has had legendary influence on the BMDCA through a variety of offices and, most especially, in a perceptively foresighted establishment of the BMDCA's detailed record-keeping for the breed that she personally maintained for years, long before the ease of doing this on a computer.

Karen Ericson, an AKC-licensed BMD judge, will judge futurity, as well as the Stud Dog and Brood Bitch classes. She acquired her first Berner in 1982. No stranger to the sport of dogs, she started showing in 1965, with English Cocker Spaniels. A highlight for her in Berners was having bred three consecutive generations under the kennel name of Happiness with a resultant Best in Sweeps at a BMDCA national specialty. As a BMDCA member she has held office and served on the board. At the local level, she was a founding member of two regional BMD specialty clubs.

Sweepstakes will be judged by Margret Bartschi, a Swiss breeder. Her massive book of 776 pages of text and pictures on the Bernese Mountain Dog is considered the definitive work written on the Berner Sennenhund. Bartschi holds the influential and prestigious position of president of the breeding commission of the Swiss club for Bernese Mountain Dogs. Most recently, she spearheaded the first International Breeding Symposium hosted by the Swiss club. (See my column in the January 2000 AKC GAZETTE.) Following the BMDCA annual meeting on June 2, American fanciers will have the rare opportunity of hearing Bartschi speak on the early development of the Bernese Mountain Dog in Switzerland.

The specialty concludes with the judges' dinner, when the judges will present their overall impressions. Their informed opinions and observations are of inestimable value to those involved in breeding and showing BMDs.

- Julie Crawford, 26391 May Twilley Rd., Delmar, MD 21875; cwyemede@dmv.com (Note: email address no longer functional.)