Unfortunately all living creatures can be subject to a variety of ailments. As long as people continue to breed dogs, the potential exists for anything and everything to go wrong. The "key" is how the breeder and the breed club deal with problems as they arise. In 1986 the Collie Club Of America established the Collie Club Of America Foundation, Inc. The concept for this organization was conceived by the late R.L. Rickenbaugh, a longtime breeder of the Bannerblu Collies. With the American Kennel Club's assistance, the reality of the organization was set into motion. The benefits would be two-fold. Not only would it provide tax deductions for potential donors, but it could result in additional income to the club, for some very worthwhile causes. Thus, the Foundation was born. Essentially, it was set up to address health problems. Its main purpose is to issue grants to worthwhile organizations for research in breeding, genetics and health issues of all dogs. The primary emphasis is on Veterinarian research as it relates directly to the Collie. So far the Foundation has given grants to the following areas of research: bloat, Gray Collie, Epilepsy, eye diseases (most notably PRA), DM and many others health related problems. The very important message of the Foundation is "funding research" and "education." It is a "not-for-profit" corporation that receives its funds through membership, fund raising activities and other contributions. The Foundation needs and deserves the support of all members because our Collies are the ultimate winners. The larger the Foundation's membership becomes, the more generous its grants for research can be. One of the hi-lights of our National Specialty is a silent auction of Collie memorabilia, held every day of the show, with all proceeds benefiting the Foundation. Most of our top Collie breeders are very active and supportive of this extremely worthwhile organization. In essence, the Foundation has filled a large void, as prior to its establishment, the club's commitment to medical research was very limited.
The Collie Club Of America is one of the oldest breed clubs in the American Kennel Club and has set the standard in this important area. As a result many other breed clubs, including the American Kennel Club, have followed suit and established their own Health Foundations. Unfortunately several National magazines (most notably Time magazine) have overplayed the major health-related problems of purebred dogs. That this has been done in tabloid-style journalism, hasn't helped the image of the purebred dog. Every time a biased, negative view of purebred dogs is presented to the public, we are all losers. Recent articles would have the general public believe that all purebred dogs are unhealthy and full of problems and that breeders and breed clubs do not know what they are doing, nor do they care. For the most part, nothing could be further from the truth. Most responsible breeders and breed clubs do care very much. As everyone is aware, health related problems exist in all living creatures and are not limited by any means to purebred dogs...nor do Collies have a monopoly on health issues. All breeds have their genetic weaknesses or "gray areas". This will always be one of the downsides of breeding dogs...as one area is conquered, others will develop. It can be be no other way when a person is breeding live animals. The key is how breeders and the breed club deal with the crises as they develop. So far with the establishment of the Foundation, the Collie Club of America has set an exemplary standard in this area. The more CCA members that join the Foundation, the more grants and funding the Foundation is able to do. We need to continually remind ourselves, of our long term goals. Those goals should be to breed beautiful, quality animals, sound in every way and as healthy as possible. At the same time,we also need to educate the public and show them we do care. Most importantly, we owe it to the Collie, that wonderful breed of dog that has served us well for centuries!