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Breaking Cover February 2020 adition




Annual General Meeting date is 19th April in Derbyshire

The AGM this year will be held on 19th April in Derbyshire. Location for the meeting itself will be THE GLEBE FIELD CENTRE CRICH DE4 5EU which is the community centre for the village of Crich. The modern and spacious building is served by excellent plentiful off-street parking and should provide a pleasant backdrop to the meeting.

After the meeting John and Jane Smith-Bodden will welcome members to CLIFF FARM DE4 5GX, just a couple of minutes from the Glebe. Experienced Clumber trainers have kindly offered to provide free training sessions on land at Cliff farm which offers a diversity of cover, water, woodland and a retrieving lane. All levels of ability (dogs and handlers!) are welcome and new members especially will find this to be an excellent way to meet other devotees of the breed.

The meeting will also be electing a new Honorary Secretary in accordance with Society rules and, as with any WCSS AGM, the committee will be on hand to deal with questions and listen to ideas.

An agenda and schedule for the day will be in the March edition of Breaking Cover and we hope as many members as possible will attend. As the Society moves into a new decade you can hear about plans for further development of our dogs and handlers, with every opportunity for members to contribute to the continued growth of the Society.

WCSS Health & Breeding Sub-Committee -PRA and Testing

The AGM will also be a chance to consider and chat through the work of our hard-working Health & Breeding Sub-committee. Challenges in breed health are well recognised and the work of this sub-committee ensures members have access to all the information they need to sensibly manage breed health whilst dealing with the limitations of a small population.

At the time of writing there is the PRA condition which will be better clarified when our partners at The Animal Health Trust determine a suitable DNA test. We are working with The Clumber Club through Breed Club Health Co-ordinator Carol Page (who also sits on the WCSS health subcommittee) to obtain a scientifically supported strategy. Since Jane’s illness has left the committee a person down this past year the Society owes a great debt of gratitude to Heidrun Humphries who has stepped into the chair, and Barbara Brown. We are very lucky to have such detailed knowledge and application now within the Society.

Carol Page has now issued the following statement on behalf of both CSC and WCSS;

PRA and Clumber Spaniels

The Clumber Spaniel Club and the Working Clumber Spaniel Society are aware that a number of Clumber Spaniels that have been screened by Embark in the USA have been identified as carriers for PRA with a limited few being found to be “At Risk”; Embark states that “Testing positive (AT RISK) is predictive of a dog being affected by the condition, but it is not a final diagnosis nor does it predict when symptoms may occur or the severity of a condition in a dog.”

Initially it was understood that only carriers were being identified and advice was sought from the Kennel Club, the British Veterinary Association and the Animal Health Trust and as there had never been a recorded case of PRA in the UK for Clumbers it was thought that although we may find a high level of carriers with the faulty gene, either the gene that is identified did lead to PRA in Clumbers or they have something else that keeps them from developing it.

Since then a single 12-year-old dog has been confirmed as clinically affected with PRA and a DNA sample is being tested by the AHT. We now have a small number of Clumbers being identified as “At Risk” but not yet clinically affected.

The PRA mutation that has been found is the RPGRIP1 variant that was first identified in Dachshunds by the AHT and has since been noted in English Springer Spaniels. A dog would need to inherit two copies of the faulty gene to be at risk of developing this form of PRA. It is known to lead to blindness in older dogs and at this stage the indicators are that it will prove to be a late onset condition.

The AHT are working closely with the Breed to further investigate this condition and to develop a validated DNA test as quickly as possible. Additional information will be circulated as soon as it is available.

The Clumber Spaniel Club has a project to investigate eye health in older Clumber Spaniels which includes checking for any late onset conditions. This project subsidises free eye tests for Clumbers aged 8 years and over and owners of older dogs are urged to participate as this could also help in our understanding of PRA in the Breed.

If you require further information then please contact: Carol Page on 01489 589734 / or Heidrun Humphries on 01643 841155 /

NEW: Tests Trials & Training Sub- Committee

The AGM will introduce the newly formed Tests TRIALS &Training Sub -Committee which will be very active in the coming years. An exciting programme of working and training events is already emerging – come along to the AGM and discuss this initiative aimed at improving dogs and handlers through a structure of competition and training.

There is no doubt that those competing at various levels with their dogs do much to improve both the abilities and awareness of the working Clumber spaniel. Just as Health & Breeding has benefited by have a focussed sub-committee, so will our working profile.

Initially, members of the sub-committee (Dave Kent, Andy Parker, Andy Hales, John Zurick and John Smith-Bodden) will look to find suitable ground on which to organise a full programme of competition and training events across the UK.

By time of the AGM plans will be significantly advanced for the first year’s events and opportunities but already the team is working on a series of linked competitive working ASSESSMENTS across the country. Results from the Assessment Tests will be combined to find an overall winner of a brand-new trophy – The Fernmoss Cup, donated by John & Jane Smith-Bodden in recognition of Roy Ellershaw’s history making achievements with their dog Rigg. Fernmoss is Roy and Sandra’s kennel name.

Kennel Club Field Trial for Minority Breed Spaniels 30 January 2020

There were no awards made by the judges of the KC Field Trial held at Melton Mowbray this week. That sounds a bit bleak but, as anyone who trials knows, sometimes bad luck prevails. So it was at this trial where a number of dogs put a good run together only to be eliminated by various circumstances. There is much positivity to take from this late trial as some good prospects could be seen working, any of which should come through strongly in future years.

Besides our obvious thanks to the Kennel Club for putting this trial on we also appreciate all those who brought their dogs forward to ensure that the trial went ahead -and indeed to guns who paid to shoot at short notice. Every trialling opportunity is vital to minority breed spaniels and it’s good to see support for the KC event, which was oversubscribed this year for the first time in years. The enthusiasm and goodwill within minority breeds is so very important to the dogs’ prospects.

Subscriptions…. please!

2020/21 subscriptions fall due TODAY 1st February. Those of you who have not set up a standing order please help us by paying promptly – rates have been held at £10 for Individual and £15 for Family membership. If you could do it today this Hon Treasurer could spend much needed time with his dogs rather than nagging you with reminders…. So, we’d all be happier!


John Smith-Bodden

Hon Treasurer & Membership Secretary


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