Lockdown puppy boom has failed to boost rare breeds, Kennel Club says

The final year figures will not be published until February, but the numbers so far show a drop for Britain’s less well-known breeds.

Paul Keevil, a founding member of the Kennel Club’s vulnerable breed committee, said: “Lockdown saw a fantastic demand for puppies, and the people who breed for profit have seen it as a wonderful business opportunity.

“They’ve whacked up their breeding programmes and doubled or even tripled their prices. But those of us who keep rarer breeds, the lockdown has been a bit of a disaster. We are not motivated by profit but by a passion and love for the breed. 

“Lockdown has presented problems logistically. For me and my Dandie Dinmont, using a stud dog I would probably have to travel a few hundred miles to find a dog, and then there’s the veterinary after care and how do you interview prospective owners in lockdown? Logistically it was a nightmare, so most people have put everything on hold this year.”

Breeder Caz Martel’s Glen of Imaal terrier, Fern, has recently given birth to her first litter of seven puppies. Although she has owners ready to take all the puppies as there was a waiting list, none of them have been able to see either the mum or dad dogs or meet their future family member.

Ms Martel is not sure yet how or when they will be able to collect their puppies, as the prospective new owners are based all over the country.

“I wanted to make sure my girl was a champion before breeding her, but one of the difficulties with Covid is there were no shows,” she said. “Crufts [held in March] was the last opportunity, and she was one point away from being champion.

“If we hadn’t managed to get her pregnant when we met up with the male dog I would have had to leave it for this year because there were no other dogs near me and we would have missed her season and had to wait another eight months.

“Ideally you always want buyers to see both parents but I haven’t been able to show them the mum or dad. Normally I would invite the new owners to come and see the puppies at five weeks old, but I can’t do that at the moment.

“I’ve set up a Whatsapp group and send them pictures and videos. But they’ve not been able to choose their puppies. We’re having to wait til they start developing their own personalities more and then we will have to try to match them with people.

“The other difficulty for a lot of breeders is vets. We have been lucky that my vet is just down the road and have allowed us in for appointments, but I know some if they’ve had a problem with a puppy they are only being offered a phone consultation.

“The Glen of Imaal is a lovely dog – they’re very amenable and a great all-round family dog, but people just don’t know about them.”

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Beveridge welcomes Dunkley back to kennel

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has revealed his “huge surprise” at learning of Josh Dunkley’s AFL trade request but expects the versatile on-baller to slot comfortably back into the team next season.

Dunkley publicly declared he wanted more guaranteed midfield time elsewhere and nominated Essendon as his club of choice during the recent trade period.

But the Dogs were steadfast in their demand for two first-round draft picks in return for the contracted 23-year-old, and a deal was not reached before the November 12 deadline.

Beveridge caught up with Dunkley last week to clear the air and said the trade request is now water under the bridge.

“All that matters to me and to our club is that he’s with us,” Beveridge told SEN on Wednesday.

“If we delve into the whys and the wherefores, it’s not going to help us settle him again and bridge him into the future.

“If there is any tension there as far as what he feels is something that affects him, then we need to discuss it, but he reassures me that things are fine.”

The Bulldogs secured gun on-baller Adam Treloar from Collingwood during the trade period, adding to their midfield depth.

It will only increase the pressure for spots that Dunkley, who is contracted for two more seasons, was concerned about.

“We’ve got a significant amount of inside mids who are candidates to play,” Beveridge said.

“Some of those boys can play forward and on wings and even at half-back, depending on performance and where you want to place them.

“The other thing with that mix of ours is we’ve still got some long-term things on our mind.”

One of those considerations is the longevity of Tom Liberatore, who Beveridge hopes can play for at least another two years.

But the coach concedes he won’t know when the “time bomb” will go off for the 28-year-old, who has endured a string of serious knee injuries.

Beveridge also declared the ongoing list management period has been “as intense as they come” due to a series of AFL-enforced changes, including reductions in playing list sizes and the salary cap.

It has come on the end of a difficult year in which clubs were forced to make significant numbers of staff redundant as part of league-wide cost-cutting measures.

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Giansiracusa leaves kennel after 21 years

Daniel Giansiracusa has ended his 21-year association with the Western Bulldogs to join the coaching ranks of AFL rivals Essendon.

The 38-year-old, who was named the 2020 assistant coach of the year, will join Blake Caracella, James Kelly, Dan Jordan, Leigh Tudor and Cameron Roberts as assistants to new Essendon coach Ben Rutten.

Giansiracusa had been with the Bulldogs since being selected with pick No.32 in the 1999 national draft.

After retiring in 2014 following a decorated 265-game career, Giansiracusa transitioned into a coaching role at Whitten Oval, overseeing the club’s forward line before moving into stoppages and set plays.

He took over as coach of Footscray’s VFL side in 2019.

“Gia has been a significant contributor to our program, from the initial drive toward our second premiership, to the more recent evolution of our on-field performance,” Bulldogs head coach Luke Beveridge said.

“He has been open and transparent in his aspiration to be a senior coach and has performed a variety of critical roles extremely well, which has hastened his growth and experience and has made him an attractive proposition for rival clubs.

“We are very disappointed to lose Gia, but acknowledge that his new role at Essendon is an important one to pursue on his journey to become a senior coach.”

Giansiracusa said he would be forever indebted to the Bulldogs.

“Firstly, for giving me the opportunity to play 15 years for the club, and then fostering and cultivating my coaching development over the past six seasons,” he said.

“Bevo has continually supported my coaching development by providing me with opportunities to explore different coaching roles. I can’t thank him enough for his mentoring and guidance.”

Jordan Russell, who was stood down by the Bulldogs earlier this year due to the COVID-19 cuts, will return to the club as its VFL coach.

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