Brief personal history as credentials . . .
In the world of dog breeding, I started long before any genetic testing was readily available, with Chesapeakes, more than 25 years ago now. We performed OFA Hips and that was about it. Then I went back to my herding dog roots with Australian Shepherds, Miniature Australian Shepherds and now Miniature American Shepherds. What I have to say about genetic testing however, applies regardless of breed.
Some of you that have been in this for a while, may remember a company that offered a slew of testing, all in one package, for $25. It was the hottest item on the market. I remember feeling very virtuous about being able to test all my dogs, for a reasonable price, for a whole bunch of things that I didn't understand at the time. But as breeders we educated ourselves, found out that testing really DOES matter and learned how to breed away from some of the unfortunate genetics that our dogs carried. It really was an exciting time in breeding because it gave us such powerful, valuable information that increased the overall health of the dogs we produced. The problem was that this company was not all that accurate. I am one of the breeders that got surprised when the next generation was tested elsewhere - and found to be carriers of things that I was certain were clear. I can tell you first hand, that is one of the worst feelings ever. Inaccurate testing affects the health of our dogs and makes us look like we are hiding something. I was appalled to discover these inaccuracies a generation later. The response from the company was to move their laboratory off shore, they became severely backlogged, taking months to complete any orders, whether new testing or repeat testing. And of course eventually they just went out of business. Thank goodness!
Then came a period of several years when we had to swab/test one dog maybe 4 separate times (or more) and send the samples to four different labs/companies, in order to get the full genetic picture that we needed in order to breed healthier dogs. It was awkward, expensive, time consuming and sometimes questionable at best. I can't help but notice that many breeding dogs of THIS day are relying on 'Clear by Parentage' testing from THAT day . . . And Customer Service?? What is that????
And then along came Dr. Lisa Shaffer and Paw Print Genetics. Having lived through what I just described, I was skeptical to say the least. So I talked to Lisa about my concerns . . . Um, yes, I talked with the Founder of the company - personally! about my concerns. I had dogs who were carriers of various things and without preloading that specific information, we retested those dogs through Paw Print. The results were the same - accurate. So I hesitantly, but with hope, started testing offspring through Paw Print. At that time, one of the tests that we needed in our breed was not available. I remember voicing the sincere desire to be able to test for everything that we needed - at ONE lab. Paw Print did their research, found this was definitely a need, and worked diligently to be able to offer all the testing we needed in one location - and accurately. Again, I am pretty sure this is not just specific to my breed. They really care about meeting the needs of breeders.
Fast forward to today . . . Once again I find myself in a situation where the genetic testing from another Lab is inaccurate. I know this because I now run a full breed specific panel through Paw Print on all breeding prospect puppies - because I don't ever want to be caught unaware again. Imagine my surprise, and dismay, when two of my puppies tested came back as carriers of something that I have “clear” parental paperwork on . . . But one of the parents' testing is from another laboratory. I contacted Lisa in a slight panic with the words 'Houston We Have a Problem'!! And here is the thing – Paw Print was ON IT!!! They retested the puppies to insure their accuracy. They have an entire, amazing, procedure in place to help insure that all the information received is correct. They asked about the actual breeding, the method of sample collection, paperwork on the parents, etc, etc. Dr. Blake Ballif was on the phone with me first thing that Monday morning. He helped me create a path to discover what went wrong and where. Customer Service?? Is there an AAA++++ or MORE? They were amazing and full of helpful information. They made me feel like MY problem was THEIR problem and we were in it together to figure it out. And yes, we did figure it out. And they actually helped me find a small hole in my testing - the one new test I had not redone through Paw Print on my adult dogs. I fixed that right away - even though I had 3 generations of 'Clear by Parentage'. Yes, I believe in Paw Print that much . . .
For any breeders out there, new or old, any breed, I am just saying that I believe in Paw Print Genetics, for all the reasons stated above and more. I believe we finally have a much needed, extremely useful tool that will enable us to continue to breed healthier dogs. I believe that they care about their product and about Us the Customer and our Dogs. In a crazy world where customer service and accountability have sadly become things of the past – Paw Print is bringing these qualities back to the Present.
Thank you, Sincerely for all You Do!!
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Home of Amazing Aussies & Miniature American Shepherds:
AKC Grand Champion Chandrea's Tomboy Tundra, 'Taiga'
BOB 2010 Nationals, Multi Grand Champion Chandrea's Next Top Model, 'Vogue', HIC, MVA-P10
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Bluegrass Incredible Journey with Chandrea, 'Quest"
BOB 2008 Nationals, Multi Grand Champion Patchwork Chandrea's Summer Breeze, 'Bree', HIC, CGC, TN-N, MVA-P08
PIT: Puppy in Training
Chandrea's Next Top Novel, 'Sequel'