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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Issue: 03/04/2020

Bernard Hall 

I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to Rosemary Hall and all the family on hearing of the death of Bernard. 
He was the loveliest of men, always with a warm smile, and with a tremendous sense of humour. I knew him from the late 1980’s when he became a colleague presenting and commentating on the BBC TV programme “Superdogs”. He was there as the Gundog expert, and provided us with some memorable and entertaining moments during the three series of the Inter-Regional competition. 
Up until his long illness, he remained the life and soul of the party, and he will be sadly missed by all who knew him. RIP dear sir.
Yours etc
Peter Purves


AHT must be saved

I was sorry to read that the Animal Health Trust is in trouble.
The AHT has done such good work over the years in developing research to help fight disease and illness for horses, cats and dogs. Their pioneering work has often been taken for granted and like a lot of things in these strange days it was thought they would always be there.
I know there are a lot of good people working hard to keep the place going. So many animal charities are struggling with the onset of the lockdown and if people can I would encourage them to support their local rescue centre.
The scientists at the AHT were often seen as ‘backroom boffins’ and unlike the more visible animal charities it has not attracted the sort of funds required.
Just recently they launched a DNA test to help Shetland Sheepdog breeders reduce the prevalence of a blinding condition in the breed. They identified a new mutation that causes Progressive Retinol Atrophy (PRA) in the breed. This breakthrough was direct result of their amazing Give a Dog a Genome Project.
This project aimed to create the UK’s largest canine genome bank to help generations of dogs. It is heartbreaking to think that ambitious, imaginative research like this could be lost if we lose the AHT.
It is incredible when you look into to see that all the amazing work they do. There are dogs out there that would not be alive and healthy if it wasn’t for the wonderful work of the AHT.
Recently this paper reported in the Zoe’s Journey UK charity which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the charity to research canine cancer. The money and the AHT’s expertise has seen breakthroughs made in the combating this disease.
Of course, we are living through a time now when we can see the value of health professions and, more importantly, medical research. It will be researchers and scientists, like those who work for the AHT, who will eventually come up with a vaccine for coronavirus. 
Whilst we will probably have to wait 18 months for that if the AHT can keep going at least there will be progress in maintaining the health and welfare of our dogs.
Let us hope some rich benefactor out there can come along and save the AHT.
Yours etc, 
John Munro


Canine blessings

I have just seen a tweet by the football pundt and ex-footballer Gary Lineker which said, ‘Missing my dog more than ever at the moment. Would’ve been great company.’
Whilst these are tough times for everyone it is worth reflecting the joy that our dogs bring to our lives. Sometimes we are guilty of taking for granted the love and support they bring to us every day.
A neighbour said to me whilst I was walking my dog, ‘I think I might get a lead for my cat so that I can take it out for a walk!’ (Don’t panic he was on the other side of the street so we obeyed the social distancing rules!)
It is good that I can get out of the house and take my dog to the local fields getting some much needed fresh air and getting out of the house.
Obviously, my dog does not know what is going on but he is really happy that I am home all the time. His innocent enthusiasm helps to keep me going as we are forced, quite rightly, to stay in our homes to beat this deadly virus.
I have noticed an interesting side effect of this situation. When I am out people say, ‘Good morning’ to you as you pass them at a safe distance. It is as if this situation has somehow engendered some old school manners to reappear.
Perhaps when this is all over people will continue to acknowledge each other or will they go back to getting their head down in a rush to wherever they need to get to?
Anyway, I feel for Mr Linkeker, it must be awful to be without a canine companion to help you through this situation. 
The other positive from this situation has been how people are looking out for their neighbours. It has been great to see people helping each other through this and showing that, despite all we see on the news, humanity is ultimately good.
So, cherish your dogs, spoil them with affection, enjoy this time you are getting to spend with them. When this nightmare is all over you will be able to look back at this dark time and, ironically, think it was quite special.
I hope everyone can stay safe and we will get through this!
Yours etc,
Eileen Wright


Well done

MAY I, through your paper, say a huge thank you to the hundreds of contributors who write the breed notes?
I am a paper subscriber and I don’t have much to do with social media (not an age thing, I just don’t like it!), so all my dog and show news comes through the paper.
It must be an absolute nightmare job trying to source news for the breed notes at times like this, so I fully expected a dearth, but no! I read a lot of notes (not just my own breed Labradors), and the depth of news in last week’s was second to none.
From how people came across their breed, to origins of kennel names and tips on how to cope with isolation, I lapped the whole lot up.
So thanks again, keep up the good work you lot.
Yours etc
Susan Robinson

Couldn’t agree more Susan, they’re doing a great job. Ed

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