AKC Gazette Article

AKC Gazette - July 2011

From Our Breed Columnists

We are honored to have the chance to share in these pages the stories of a few of our breed columnists. Among those in our esteemed stable of writers are several whose commitment to serve their breed in this role spans decades. In this issue we are very pleased to introduce Julia Crawford, breed columnist for the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America since 1979.

My Life as a GAZETTE Columnist

As long as I can remember, dogs have been an integral part of my life. A well-bred dog was always a member of the family.

Spurred by the 1943 movie Lassie Come Home and Albert Payson Terhune's wonderful books, I longed for a Collie. My wishes were fulfilled when my parents obtained for me a beautiful show-quality tricolor. Her breeder suggested entering her in the Mason Dixon Collie Club's sanctioned match at Beech Tree Farm in Northern Virginia. On July 4, 1947, at age 10, Bonnie and I owon Best Puppy in Match, I still treasure the Revere bowl we won.

As the years followed, my sister, Elizabeth, and I owned and showed several different breeds. Our fascination with purebred dogs and the purposes for which they were bred was a compelling attraction that often led to ownership. We had a keen interest in the Bernese Mountain Dog, but we'd never seen one in person. Intrigued by their description and picture, we literally purchased one to see one.

In April 1968, our first Berner arrived in Maryland, having traveled from the state of Washington. The moment the crate door opened, a never-ending love affair began. Later that year, I joined the newly formed Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America. Through the club's newsletter I became acquainted with the late Sylvia and Harold Howison, of Michigan. Their Ch. Wendy v.d. Grasburg (who was OFA No. 1, the breed's first individual with an OFA number) was expecting a litter sired by Casar v. Oberbottigen (OFA No. 4).

In January, a lovely bitch puppy arrived by air. She later became Ch. Wyemede's Marta von Sablemate, our foundation bitch. Tremendous disappointment came when our first Berner, whom we'd taken to numerous AKC matches and shows for many people s first glimpse of the breed, became severely dysplastic.The profound effect of this was our dedicating ourselves to promoting and breeding for physical soundness. Fortuitously, this sentiment prevailed early on among Bernese Mountain Dog breeders.

Inspired by the Berner's stunning beauty and excellence as a family companion, I was eager to acquaint others with them. In 1970 I began writing a BMD column for Popular Dogs magazine, and for a time I was editor of the BMDCA Newsletter.

Berner fanciers thrilled when the first BMDCA GAZETTE column, written by the highly respected Dr. Mary Dawson, appeared in the June 1975 issue. When BMDCA president Mary Jo Thomson asked in 1979 if I'd follow Mary as columnist, I hoped to maintain the standard of excellence that she had set. That August, my first column appeared.

Our overall goals have been to celebrate the breed's remarkable Swiss heritage as a draft and droving dog, to encourage the preservation of its working qualities and versatility, to emphasize exemplification of the standard, to advocate attentiveness to health issues, to salute the fellowship among Berner owners, and to share the joy of loving and owning this breed. -J.C.

Thank you, Julia. We are tremendously grateful for your longstanding contribution.

- Arliss Paddock

Julia Crawford
Julia Crawford 2011