The following is a recent conversation I had in regards to a person I barely knew but encountered on Facebook while sharing my website link mostly to show off my sable parti boy Mickey. While doing so I gained her attention to all the pages on my website (many of which were not close to completion including my Goal4Merlespage which is what lead to this conversation. 3/8/2015
"Ever since I read your page, wrote my response, and read your response, I've been musing about what it would take for me as a standard breeder to allow my lines to go to a merle breeder. My initial reponse was "no way!" for a number of reasons. My mentors would consider it an absolute betrayal and I have deep respect for them. In total, they have 120+ years breeding experience, they were on the forefront of health-testing, and they have bred some of the top-winning and producing dogs in the country (including ASC BIS dogs and Westminster Group 1 winners). I am very fortunate that they have entrusted their lines and knowledge to me as they are all at the ends of their breeding careers due to age and wouldn't want them hurt. Having said that, they also have given me inordinate freedom to do what I want. So, other reasons that bother me are the concept of just breeding for color. I love blacks, but my dogs carry buff and brown. If I got buff puppy and it had the best conformation it would be my keeper even though it is my least favorite color. I know many standard breeders breed for color, but in IMO it's part of the reason for the decline in the quality of cockers today. Finally, this one is totally selfish. I have spent literally hundreds, maybe even thousands of hours researching pedigrees, researching photos, corresponding with breeders to piece together a breeding program. I'm trying to put back together some of the old clear lines that produced the dogs od the 80's which from what I can tell were significantly superior to much of what is in the ring today i.e. long in the loin, low to the ground, straight shoulders, poor movement. I don't want ll my effort derailed. Having said all that, I am sympathetic because I went through a similar experience where no one would sell me anything decent in another species. I was ultimately able through line-breeding to beat them at their own game but it wasmuch harder than it needed to be and after I bred 2 GrCh and regional winners I got out. So back to my original musing "what would it take to let my lines out to a merle breeder?" I don't think at this point, that I would sell a puppy (not enough control), but I might be willing to do a stud service. The bitch would have to have no disqualifying faults (other than color obviously) and have an significantly outcrossed pedigree so my stud would have chance to dominate for type. I don't know if these thoughts are of any use to you, but I expect that the "negative" ones are ones you will need to overcome in order to gain access to lines that will improve your type." continued with
"You are the first person that I have seen who appears to making a legitimate attempt to breed merles to standard. Frankly, I am interested to see if you follow through on it. BYB combined with puppy mills are and have almost destroyed ACS. When I see some of the postings from "breeders" on these facebook pages that are basically for pet owners, I can't help but shudder and fear for the future of the breed."
My response was "I too have the same reaction. I am not fully a breeder for 'color' either or 'pattern' but I will say I usually favor the partis, I like a one of a kind look to the 'coat color' and that has lead me into merles. I am not the first who has started this venture BUT I feel I am the first to start this with the right intentions (not just selling for profit or fame etc) and I do intend to fully carry out my goals. I realize I may not achieve the entire plan I want in my lifetime BUT I hope to inspire my children (someday when I have them) and future generations to get there. BYB and Mill types have destroyed not just our breed BUT all breeds and when I sat on the Animal Advisory Board in KS I did my best to encourage the MUCH stricter regulations BUT they are not nearly enough, an improvement from a decade ago, yes, but not nearly close to what it needs to be." I then asked permission to share this part of our conversation on my website here. She agreed.
Here's what I hope to present with sharing this conversation. In a matter of a few days an established respected breeder went from "NO WAY" to becoming a bit more informed and giving thought to what it would take to get her to participate. Granted she is an enlightened individual who I am growing respect for, but I want to say that my page has in fact begun to achieve MY Goals 4 Merles 1) Educate 2) leading to Ethical Breeding 3) moving towards improving the quality of merles :)