Dripping Springs, TX is about 20 minutes from downtown Austin
Dan and I live in in the beautiful Texas Hill Country with
our 4 terrific children (two sets of twins), our many "house" Briards, one
Cavalier Kings Charles Spaniel and "the cat". My love for dogs has
been a life long passion. When my mother signed me up for
Kindergarten---she had to write one sentence --she wrote "likes dogs better than people." So just like
all little girls who love dogs---from an early age I wanted to be a veterinarian. Meanwhile I
owned and loved many dogs and cats, volunteered at the Humane Society and
ran my teenage version of "rescue" from my own backyard. I would
take a "favorite" dog from the shelter whose time was short and keep them until I could
find them a forever home (funny--even then my favorites" tended to be the
big "shaggy" ones.) In the 11th grade I discovered my love
and knack for genetics and at the same time realized that I had no
interest in performing surgery on the precious pooches I loved so much. I realized that a
career in genetics was my destiny. In the 11th grade I made the
decision to become a genetic counselor and then to one day breed dogs
hoping to use my knowledge and training in genetics to help make "my"
breed and my dogs healthier---
After receiving my MS in human genetics, I was very
fortunate to meet Dan, my husband. Amongst many other things he
supported me in my desire to choose a breed and make a difference. I
attended dog shows and researched every breed and decided that Briards
were the PERFECT dog! What attracted me to Briards was the
fact that they retained the intelligence and athleticism to be functional
herding/working dogs but they also had an off switch and were happy to
hang around and be couch potatoes on a rainy day. I also wanted a
naturally protective breed that will protect their home and kids.
The real key for a Briard is companionship with a respected owner, Below I am pictured with Minois who started my
lifelong love affair with Briards. She was very much like Nana
on Peter Pan and stole my heart. This picture below was taken shortly after she
started developing symptoms of lymphoma which would steal her from me WAY
too early at the young age of 6. Minois's page
tells her story. I have always believed that a breeder's HIGHEST priority
in breeding dogs must be health and Minois made it clear why. Losing her
broke our hearts. One of the things I have now dedicated my life to is
promoting canine health and genetics in any way possible. I
facilitate research to help find the causes and hopefully cures to the
tragic diseases that take our dogs from us prematurely.
Minois taught me about health issues that the "health
clearances" don't test for and I have studied and learned much more
since then. My concerns include bloat/torsion, Cancer, hips that "pass"
at 2 but may not be okay at 5 years, urinary tract anomalies..... As a Genetic counselor---for me
it is not about breeding to the "health test" but for the overall health
and longevity of the dogs; ie the health tests and then some. I believe
that inbreeding can lead to health issues that no amount of testing can
find and try to base my breedings on dogs that are not too closely related.
Studies show that purebred dogs with low Coefficients of Inbreeding have
health and longevity equal to mixed breed dogs. My dogs are raised with and loved by my 4 children with
coming and going so great temperaments in our dogs are not optional.
Little did I know in the 11th grade that my two passions
would come together. It turns out
the gene pool of dog breeds and the extreme differences between breeds
make dogs ideal for developing a better understanding of how genes work.
Since they live with us and have literally been by our side for
THOUSANDS of years---dogs have the same genetic diseases that we do.
I worked for Mars Veterinary/Waltham for 4+ years facilitating the
collection of DNA samples from people's dog to facilitate exciting
research to benefit of dogs and man. Due to the observations
that I discussed with Dr. Keith Murphy--I was invited to get my PhD in
Canine Genetics in his cutting edge lab at Texas A&M to study and attempt
to find the genes that play a role in GDV (aka Bloat) ----it was an
EXCITING opportunity that was just not feasible with my 4 children and dogs.)
I have also facilitated several private DNA collections for the Briard in
my "spare time." This has resulted in the discovery of the dilute
gene mutation for Briards and identification of the gene for Black (these
tests now allow Briard owners to determine if their dog carries a
"dilute" coat color gene or if their black Briard carries a tawny gene.)
Work is also on-going to identify the gene responsible for "gray" (dogs
that are born black and turn gray with maturity.) I have privately
assisted many Briard owners with dogs diagnosed with cancer----helping
them submit samples to appropriate research projects. I encourage
ALL to participate in this type valuable science when it is made availa to
them. It is the best hope for
better treatment and prevention. I will privately help any Briard
with any health issue that would like to donate to an on-going research
project COMPLETELY CONFIDENTIALLY.
I try to provide LOTS of information on this site both
educational about Briards, breeding, genetics as well as pictures and
information on my own dogs (who are of course fabulous.) If you have any questions--please do
not hesitate to contact me.