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By Robin Tingley, English Cocker Spaniel Club of America

Are your dogs protected? Of course they are, you are thinking—you keep up with all vet checks, vaccinate according to best practices, microchip, and do health testing. You are careful with whom you place your puppies, and you follow their welfare. But what if something happens to you? What would happen with your dogs, and all the information about them and records of what they have accomplished?

Recently we unexpectedly lost an elderly family member who had bred and shown a toy breed for decades. He still had four dogs, cherished remnants of his show line. I am sure he had thought about what to do “in case”—but unfortunately the “in case” happened sooner than anyone had thought possible. With no microchips, and the dogs all the same color and known to us only by their call names, we were lost when it came to matching the correct AKC registrations with those dogs out of the dozens of papers that we found, going back years.

So the dogs were neutered and placed into pet homes. It was heartbreaking to see the end of his carefully bred and loved line.

Then there were the hundreds of show photos, trophies, and ribbons. We saved some, sent some to his breed friends, and donated some for trophies—but it would have meant so much more to have the names of the dogs and the dates for many of them to add to their sentimental value. Many of us have seen treasured breed items end up on eBay after the death of a longtime, influential dog fancier.

It was a wakeup call. Our sons, grown and out of town, pet the dogs while they visit and congratulate us on our newest champion, but similarly they have no idea of the dogs’ AKC names, show status, and so on.

I have started a file to be kept with our other important documents, with our dogs’ pictures, copies of registrations, and microchip numbers, and notes on who to call to help place the dogs in case of an emergency. Here in North Carolina, our lawyer told us we can add a handwritten addendum to our wills specifying which dogs should go where and an amount of money for their care. Please check the laws in your own state to see what is allowed.

I have started going through our rosettes and trophies and adding tags to the backs and bottoms with details about the win—the dog’s name, show, and dates—and added a page to the file to request that the trophies be sent to the regional and national clubs.

It’s not something pleasant to think about, but it’s a necessary protection in addition to all else we do for our beloved dogs. We spend so much time on our love of dogs, and we all need to spend a little time making sure that in case of tragedy, the dogs themselves and the legacy of our years with them will not be lost forever.


AKC Breeder Newsletter is a quarterly newsletter covering a wide range of topics of interest (nutrition, breeding techniques, health concerns, etc.) to the purebred dog breeder. You can sign up for AKC Breeder here.

This article appeared in the Winter 2015 issue.