Let’s Talk Breed Education!
Boerbel MENTOR INTERVIEWS KERRI SUE DALE
I have been showing dogs in AKC conformation shows since the early 1980s. I began with Rottweilers and have raised and bred Boerboels for 16+ years. I have handled a few dogs (Rotties and Boerboels) close to, or to, their championships, but now prefer to let someone with more experience take the lead. I have bred Boerboels that have titled in conformation, obedience, rally, herding, weight pull, lure coursing, ATTS, etc. I believe in the mantra, “A well-balanced dog is titled on both ends.” Th is is particularly so for any breed in the Working Group. I bred and co-owned Centurion Georgia Peach, the fi rst Boerboel to obtain an AKC title. Peaches was also instrumental in demonstrating a true Boerboel temperament to AKC exhibitors and all animal lovers upon our entrance into FSS and at our fi rst AKC Boerboel Meet the Breeds in NYC. Participation in these events was an integral part of our movement towards full recognition. I am dedicated to maintaining the breed standard as produced by the developers/forefathers of this breed, including temperament and conformation. I serve on the JE committee and as a parent club approved presenter and mentor. Currently, I am also the Legislative Liaison, which is an issue close to my heart. 1. Which fi ve traits do you look for, in order, when evaluating Boerboels? What do you consider the ultimate hallmark of the breed? 1) Impressive. Th e fi rst thing it should do is impress me with its presence. It should appear to be powerful, imposing, and con fi dent. I consider this to be essential for Boerboel “type.” Th e more that you are around them, the more distinguishable the “type” becomes. A descrip- tion from our breed standard reads, in part, “...for the pioneers who settled in South Africa... these dogs were often the fi rst line of defense...” Does the dog I see standing in front of me look like it could perform the function of being my fi rst line of defense? 2) Balanced. Not over exaggerated, but also no lack of bone and/or substance. Th ough athleticism is an important part of the breed, this is still designated a Masti ff by the country of origin and it is a large dog. However, everything must be proportionate. Front matches rear, head matches body, etc. It can still be athletic and have good bone and substance. 3) Movement. It is VERY close in importance and goes hand-in-hand with number two. My favorite descriptor in our standard is, “Movement is the ultimate test for correct confor- mation.” I absolutely believe this to be true. A sound-moving dog is beautiful to me. I learned many years ago from Rottweiler judge Joan Klem’s seminars that “form follows function.” Th is is never so true to me as when viewing dogs in motion. Th e impressiveness I look for in a dog standing still I want to see present itself in motion. 4) Temperament. In our breed, they can be aloof to very friendly. Either way, the expecta- tion is that they are biddable and have courage while still being a good companion and family dog. It is disappointing to have an impressive-looking Boerboel whose temperament does not match. 5) Headpiece. I would consider our breed a “head” breed. It is what di ff erentiates us from some of the other similar Working breeds, such as the Bullmasti ff , Dogue De Bordeaux, and Cane Corso, for example. Th at being said, if it is not structurally sound and in proportion, a beautiful headpiece is squandered. Th e hallmark of our breed, in my opinion, is its versatility. “Boerboel” in Dutch translates to farm dog. “Farm dog” encompasses a wide variety of tasks. It does not seem to have been developed for one speci fi c purpose. Boerboels have titled in herding, guarding, lure cours- ing, tracking, weight pull, and dock diving. Th ey should do well in many AKC or AKC- recognized performance events. I have bred and owned Boerboels that will pretty much do whatever you ask of them. Th ey are mutli-taskers. 2. What faults do you fi nd di ffi cult to overlook? Poor movement, terrible toplines, and straight sti fl es.
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BOERBEL MENTOR INTERVIEWS
3. How has the breed changed since you became involved with it? Do you see any trends you think are moving the breed in the wrong direction? Any traits becoming exaggerated? When I purchased my fi rst Boerboel there were a handful of breeders in the United States. Now, the breeders are plentiful and the availability of puppies (and dogs in rescue) are plentiful too. A Boerboel, like many other working and/or guardian breeds, is not nec- essarily for everyone and having them end up in the wrong hands is detrimental to the breed. It is incumbent upon breeders AND buyers to ensure they are fully informed about the breed. A precarious trend that I see is advice-sharing from the inexperienced—spawned by social media. Many have not owned a Boerboel or lived with one beyond puppyhood, yet they freely dispense advice. In my opinion, this is a phenomenon that has led, and will continue to lead, to the breed ending up in the wrong hands, which, in turn, leads to the breed going into rescues and/or preventable tragedies. Not to sound overly dramatic or sensational, but I do want to express the need for owners to turn fi rst to their breeder and/ or veterinary professional before making inquiries on social media about important matters such as medical issues, injuries or temperament (particularly biting) incidents. While there are experienced people who can be of assistance, you will need to wade through a plethora of comments and still not know who those people are. Exaggerated traits that I see are not unique to large breeds. “If big is good, then bigger must be better.” We, of course, know that this is not the case and a 200-pound Boerboel is moving in the wrong direction. 4. Is there anything that Boerboel handlers do that you wish they would not? I am not a very good handler and only go in the ring if I HAVE to these days. I work with great handlers. I trust that they know their job better than I do. 5. What are your “must have” traits in this breed?
Dark eye, bone and substance, good topline, and a nice head. 6. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed?
Probably just how new Boerboels are as a “regulated” breed, i.e., controlled and reg- istered by an organization adhering to a breed standard. Th e original organization (and thus, o ffi cially, the breed) was founded in 1983. Th e breed was established with about 73 Boerboels. AMANDA VILJOEN HOPKINS I was born and raised with the breed in South Africa and have been breeding registered Boerboels since 1993. 1. Which fi ve traits do you look for, in order, when evaluating Boerboels? What do you con- sider the ultimate hallmark of the breed? Most of all, I want a balanced dog. All parts need to fi t. A solid temperament; intelligent and obedient. An impressive dog with strong bone and a well-developed and muscular body with sound movement. A good head; it is an impressive and distinctive feature of the Boerboel. A good topline; hard to achieve, but this does not mean we do not have to try. I consider their impressiveness as their ultimate hallmark. Th ey are a complete package and give that “wow” feeling. 2. Which faults do you fi nd di ffi cult to overlook? Weak head, narrow chest, lack of bone, turned-out feet, and unstable temperament. 3. How has the breed changed since you became involved with it. Do you see any trends that you think are moving the breed in the wrong direction? Any traits becoming exaggerated? Th ere has been some change in the breed, and not all for the better. However, the overall look and purpose are still the same. A 200+ lb. dog has never been part of the breed. We have a large breed, not a giant breed. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true and fi ne-boned dogs are becoming the trend. 5. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? Call me crazy, but the fi rst thing I want to see is a thick tail as it is an extension of the spine and a sign of good bone structure. A blocky head, wide chest, and solid rear are also high on my list. Solid temperament is a must. 6. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? I think new judges misunderstand the thickness of bone, which is a very important part of the breed, and also to put the head/height/weight ratio together to get a balanced dog. Th e biggest dog is not always the best dog.
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BOERBEL MENTOR INTERVIEWS
“KEEP IN MIND, THIS IS A VERSATILE WORKING DOG BRED FOR A MULTITUDE OF CHORES AND USES. SO, the Boerboel must be functional and sound.”
MORGAN JACOBY A Texas native, my husband, family, and I have sheep, swine, and horse farms north of Houston. We have had working dogs for almost 15 years now, starting with our essential livestock guardians, the Anatolian Shepherd, and fi nishing with the farm versatility and innate instincts of the Boerboel. I started o ff 30 years ago in the racing and hunter/jumper industry, rounding o ff a successful career teaching many of today’s professionals in the hunter/jumper industry, and judging at shows. I then had the distinct honor with our Boer- boels of winning an all-breed Best in Show with our male farm dog, the fi rst of the breed to earn this distinct honor. Th is was soon followed by his daughter and her talented handler and co-owner, Ann Claire Wilson, who have won Reserve Bests in Show many times and together are one of the most winning and sports/trial accomplished AKC Boerboels in the history of the breed. We have also been blessed with a third generation of Boerboel in the ring as well as at trials and sports, which has been a real pleasure. I am a CGC and Trick Dog evaluator, Farm Dog judge, educational mentor in other breeds, and actively involved in other canine sports and trials. 1. Which fi ve traits do you look for, in order, when judging Boerboels? What do you consider the ultimate hallmark of the breed? First, I’m looking for the speci fi ed proportions along with balance. For proportion that starts with a 10:9 body shape, one should not see a square-shaped frame or a body severely out of balance or proportion. Th is is a serious fault. Roughly 50% of the dog’s height is from foreleg to elbow; chest should be well-muscled with nice pectoral de fi nition. Keep in mind, this is a versatile working dog bred for a multitude of chores and uses. So, the Boerboel must be functional and sound. I should see a level topline, nice balanced musculature in shoul- ders, chest, rear and thigh, along with a blocky, solid body type with slight tuck-up and high tail set. A male should look masculine, and a bitch should look feminine; no reversal of sex characteristics. Movement should be “with purpose” and with powerful propulsion. Th ere should be bone and substance to the legs, nice lower thigh muscling, slight angling in sti fl es, and powerful movement without excessive back rolling. Temperament: Th ey should be stable and con fi dent, and they should recognize a legitimate threat. A good Boerboel should enter the ring impressive and con fi dent, moving with power and purpose. Th ey should be trained to accept examination. Head is a hallmark and it is important in relative size and type, though head should not trump functional and sound structure. Ideally, we want to strive for both. 2. Which faults do you fi nd hard to overlook? I love a balanced dog with nice breed type, along with matching front and rear angles and a level topline. I think, fi rst and foremost, breed disquali fi cations must always be on the forefront of our minds as well as breed typical trends like easty/westy fronts, straight sti fl es, lack of rear angulation, steep shoulders, elbows that are not tight, high rears, and droopy toplines, just to name a few. Th e out of proportion and out of balanced dogs stand out at fi rst glance. Th is is a versatile working breed that should have good pigmentation, mental soundness, and body mechanics. 3. How has the breed changed since you became involved with it? Do you see any trends that you think are moving the breed in the wrong direction? Any traits becoming exaggerated? Many are breeding for size and weight over functionality and structure. We are seeing more health challenges and heartbreaking soundness issues as well as more behavioral issues coming into rescue. Do they have the mind that lends itself to the variety of daily pressures of a farm, canine sports/activities or modern society, and can they spot a legitimate threat or do they react out of fear? Regardless of the attraction, this breed is not a status symbol for just anyone to fl aunt. Th is is a serious breed, with serious jobs, and a dog that takes absolute dedication and consistent guidance and training from their owner.
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BOERBEL MENTOR INTERVIEWS
4. Is there anything that Boerboel handlers do that you wish they would not? Handlers need to know the breed standard and a bit about the breed before they take the lead. Th ey, as well as newcomers to the breed, often fail to notice behavioral subtleties. Too many times a dog is coming of age and becomes suspicious and more “guardy,” and the owner or handler becomes scared/nervous or does not recognize the change. It can result in a potential bite or dog aggression outside of the ring. Be honest and know your Boerboel! Spend the time training and enriching the dog’s con fi dence. Do not overmarket and lose sight of what the breed encompasses and how the breed is meant to function. Too many people are not honest with themselves about their dog’s limitations or their own education, and push them into a tough situation. Th ere is no perfect Boerboel, and presenting them as such is shortsighted and does a disservice to the breed and other fanciers, now and to come. 5. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? We live on a farm, so having a functional and sound dog is fi rst and foremost. If our Boerboels start life with connective tissue issues, cardiac problems or other health-related or temperament issues, it will be a real issue for a working dog. We must collect health data and be able to track health trends in these dogs and not ignore or hide them. “Must have” for us is a balanced structure, correct proportion as to handle the variety of farm workload without injury, a slightly more moderate frame, a fi t dog without excessive weight, and a temperament that is curious, con fi dent, and able to handle the pressure of the many tasks at hand on a working farm. A nicely balanced and athletic Boerboel should move-out in the fi eld easily, fl uidly, and powerfully. 6. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? Many judges really want to know what the ideal Boerboel should look like; there is a wide range of di ff erent looking dogs being shown, so it is a lot to take in. As this breed continues its journey in AKC, judges, please be considerate and be wary of supporting political o ff -breed standard trends. Ask questions; this is an amazing breed worth studying. Also, with a shorter wash-and-wear coat, there is no need to spend excessive time touching the dog on exam. It is not a coated breed—what you see is what you get. Th ough the dog is trained and socialized to be examined by a stranger, please let the handler show you the bite. Th e Boerboel should be sound. KATE WILBY NICHOLSON I have had dogs all my life and began showing in obedience with a little Doberman when I was a teenager. I was heavily involved in riding, training, and competing horses until I moved to North Carolina around 1995 or so. I was also working as a veterinary techni- cian until I had my twin daughters in 1998. I got my fi rst Boerboel in 2004. Th at was the beginning of my love of this breed. Th ere were few breeders back then and much less public knowledge of the breed. I began showing in AKC while the breed was in FSS and have continued until the current day. I have been heavily involved in the parent club, serving as director, secretary and currently president of the board, as well as being a breed mentor and part of the judges education committee. I believe in, and strive to preserve, that which is the original Boerboel; a solid, stable farm and family dog that is versatile and adaptable to most situations. 1. Which fi ve traits do you look for, in order, when judging Boerboels? What do you consider the ultimate hallmark of the breed? A. Breed Type. For me, breed type is a large, strong, impressive dog. Th ey must be con fi dent and stable. B. Balance. Balance is imperative for this breed. Th ey must match from front-to-back; no huge fronts with no rear—or vice versa. C. Head. Head is a hallmark of this breed. It must be as described in the standard. Tight lips, correct eyes and ears are imperative to distinguish it from other large Molosser breeds. D. Temperament. Th is breed is meant to be con fi dent and stable with no outward aggression. Fearful dogs are unacceptable. Some are de fi nitely more social than others, and aloof is fi ne as long as it is not caused by fear. E. Movement. Movement should be workmanlike and purposeful. Th ey should seem to be going somewhere without a lot of unnecessary action. Topline should remain stable and level with movement. 2. Which faults do you fi nd hard to overlook? I fi nd it hard to overlook lack of substance, poor topline, complete lack of angulation, and bad temperament.
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BOERBEL MENTOR INTERVIEWS
3. How has the breed changed since you became involved with it? Do you see any trends that you think are moving the breed in the wrong direction? Any traits becoming exaggerated? Having had Boerboels for many years, there have been many changes—many in the wrong direction. Too many new “greeders” in the breed have jumped in solely to make money; breeding unsuitable colors and types, cross-breeding and calling them Boerboels, etc. Many of these places are breeding dogs (when they have never raised one to adulthood themselves) and then giving information to new buyers that is either completely wrong or de fi nitely misguided. Buyers MUST educate themselves and not just go by a pretty ad they see on social media or take to heart advice they receive on message boards from people with little-to-no real experience with this breed who portray themselves as experts. More buyers need to consult their breeder, mentor or vet for sound advice. 4. Is there anything that Boerboel handlers do that you wish they would not? THE BIGGER DOG IS NOT NECESSARILY THE BETTER DOG. IT SHOULD LOOK LIKE A BOERBOEL, NOT A BULLMASTIFF OR ENGLISH MASTIFF.”
Not having the dog socialized and/or trained enough to show. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed?
I think judges misunderstand the true type of the breed. Th ere are many di ff erences in type being shown, but judges need to adhere to the standard—not to what is necessarily winning currently in the shows. Th ese dogs must be large, strong, and imposing; not weedy, narrow, houndy, sloppy or overdone. A tough standard to meet for sure! KYLE TOMKINSON I am Kyle Tomkinson and have had Boerboels since 2002. I have titled Boerboels in AKC conformation, tracking, and rally. I am currently an AKC CGC, Farm Dog and AKC TT evaluator. I have served the American Boerboel Club as President and as a direc- tor, also serving on the ABC Constitution and By-Law committee, Judges Education and show committees. 1. Which fi ve traits do you look for, in order, when evaluating Boerboels? What do you con- sider the ultimate hallmark of the breed? Balance in the dog’s structure from head to tail, correct headpiece, level topline, rear angulation, and depth of chest. To me, the ultimate hallmark of the Boerboel is its head. 2. What faults do you fi nd di ffi cult to overlook? I fi nd it di ffi cult to overlook a dog that is out of balance. For example, an obviously small head on a large body. I have di ffi culty overlooking a sloppy topline; sway back or roach back. I also fi nd it di ffi cult to overlook an overly timid or aggressive temperament. 3. How has the breed changed since you became involved with it. Do you see any trends you think are moving the breed in the wrong direction? Any traits becoming exaggerated? I see breeders are tending to breed dogs with looser fl ews and more excess skin. Many of the breeders are looking for a larger, less agile dog; “the bigger, the better.” Boerboels should not weigh 185 to 200 pounds or more. It is my belief that the increase in the size of the dog is negative as it decreases the dog’s functionality which, in turn, decreases its ability to do its original job functions. Of course, the added bulk contributes to joint and general health problems. 4. Is there anything that Boerboel handlers do that you wish they would not? I have seen the occasional handler hold the tail up, be it docked or a natural one. Th is is not necessary for the breed and I believe it detracts from the “look” of the dog. 5. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? I must have a balanced dog. I prefer overall balance to an outstanding headpiece with a mediocre structure. I prefer a well-proportioned head and a level topline. It is always nice to see a dog with rear angulation, which is di ffi cult to fi nd. As the Boerboel is a working breed, I must see good movement; reach and drive, able to move with purpose. 6. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? Th e bigger dog is not necessarily the better dog. It should look like a Boerboel, not a Bullmasti ff or English Masti ff . Docked tails and natural tails are of equal value; it is the tail set that matters. Th e head is what makes this breed distinct from other Molosser breeds.
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BY AMANDA VILJOEN HOPKINS HISTORY OF THE BOERBOEL
T o start with, no evidence can be found of truly indigenous dogs in Southern Africa. Th e African Wild Dog is the only “dog” truly indigenous to Southern and Eastern Africa. It is part of the wildlife in Africa with no connection to any domestic dog. Th e following is a listing of dogs that we suspect to be con- tributors that formed the Boerboel. Th e earliest evidence for the presence of a domestic dog in Southern Africa has been established by Dr. Ina Plug, Deputy Director of the Transvaal Museum, from remains found near the Botswana border. Th e remains of a Khoikhoi dog, known today as the Africanis, were dated to 570 AD.
Th e African dog most often mentioned by authors as a poten- tial contributor to the gene pool of the Boerboel are the Khoikhoi or Khoisan dogs. Th e Khoikhoi migrated from the Great Lakes Region of Eastern Africa centuries ago and brought with them a dog of undistinguished appearance that is described as small-to- medium-sized, measuring about 45cm tall. Th ey appear in various ancient rock art in Southern Africa. Th e “Jan van Riebeeck Bullenbitjer” (1652) was mentioned on a ship’s manifesto upon departure from Holland, but not again on the o ff -loading manifesto. It is, therefore, unknown if the dog survived the journey. Th e juicy story is told that van Riebeeck was living in a castle or fort and, if the dog had survived, he would not have been able to establish the breed from behind the walls of this
“The African dog most often mentioned by authors as a POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTOR
TO THE GENE POOL OF THE BOERBOEL are the Khoikhoi or Khoisan dogs.”
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HISTORY OF THE BOERBOEL
castle. Th e truth is that the castle was just a mud hut that was built upon arrival, and 19 of Van Riebeeck’s companions died during the fi rst winter because of the cold and wet conditions of the hut. If the original dog did not survive the journey, others may have. I found literature that indicates there were other Bullenbitjers on ships that followed van Riebeeck and these could have survived their journeys. In an article in the Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope , Volume 34, Issue 2 Feb 1909, p 186-188, a dog called a Boer Dog or Boer Hunting Dog is mentioned. Th e author of the article wrote that it was a cross between a Masti ff and a Bulldog, and was used for hunting tigers and baboons. Th ey were seen round 1865-1870. “J.J.K. from Lady Frere” claimed to have seen these dogs in 1860. He mentioned that dogs, including Terriers, Bulldogs, Masti ff s, Bloodhounds,
Greyhounds, and Pointers were kept at the posts during the war at that time. Th e only thing that is bothering me about the article is the tiger part. I cannot fi nd any evidence of tigers in Southern Africa, so I would assume he is talking about the leopard. During September of 1900, British troops were fi ghting the Boers when a troop res- cued a dog after a farm was burned down. Th e dog was named Billy Botha, after the farm own- er. Billy stayed with the troops and was awarded two medals. He became the Regimental Mascot until he died in 1915. Billy is on display with the Royal Ulster Ri fl es collection on Waring Street. His breed is not mentioned on the website, but in a hand-drawn image he is called a Bull Ter- rier. Billy is worth mentioning here as he was part of the farm dogs and gives us an idea of how the dogs may have looked in the early 1900s; may- be part of the Boer Dog or Boer Hunting Dog mentioned earlier.
Where does the name Boerboel come from? Th ere are many answers to this question and, according to the South African Boerboel Breeders Association, they gave the name “Boerboel” to a Masti ff formed over time in South Africa. Appar- ently, there were breeders who claimed they were breeding Boerboels for 30 to 40 years prior to 1983 when the registry was established. Th e Rhodesian Ridgeback is a dog breed developed in Rhodesia, now Zimba- bwe. Its origin can be traced to the semi-domesticated ridged hunting dogs of the Khoikhoi. It was created as a breed on purpose. Some of the Ridgeback’s traits can be seen in the Boerboel, and we can assume that they are most likely part of the breed.
Th e fi rst import recorded of a pedigreed dog of the Masti ff -type comes from 1928, when several Bullmasti ff s were imported to guard the diamond mines of Kimberley. Th ese dogs may also be contributors. All of the above may have played a part in creating the Boerboel, but there is still no cer- tainty who or what are actually in this beautiful breed. We do know, however, that they were not created by a breeder with a speci fi c dog in mind. Maybe it was the absence of human interference that made them what they are. Only the strongest survived and continue to form the Boerboel of today. Did the Boer Dog become the Boerboel over time as the Afrikaans language developed? We will never know.
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GIANT PAWS BOERBOEL RESCUE, INC. BOERBOEL Rescue Interviews
MARJORIE MAPES Marjorie is Founder and President of Giant Paws Boerboel Rescue, INC. I got my first Boerboel in 2008, my Topanga girl. She was one of the best dogs; great temperament and very family-oriented. We got our second Boerboel three years later, our Buddha Bear. We joined the Boerboel world online and started to notice a trend starting of Boerboels needing homes. In 2014, without knowing what the heck we were even doing, we jumped in with both feet and started Giant Paws Boerboel Rescue. We didn’t even know if there was or had ever been a Boerboel breed rescue organization. Our first rescue, although not 100% Boerboel, a BB mix, was Argus. He was adopted to what we thought was a great family at the time, but he found his way back to us five years later after they had two babies back-to- back and decided they didn’t have time for him any longer. We will always take our rescues back if ever needed. We rescued one dog at a time, being the fosters, until Kayte Ryan came into my life about five years ago. She has been one of the biggest blessings and has helped us grow to where we are today. I also have to give big kudos to my husband, Jeremy Mapes, who is not always hands-on with the rescue like I am because he works 24/7 with his own business, but any time I need him he is there. He may grumble at times when another dog comes through our door, but he never says, “No.” What reasons do people have for surrendering their Boerboels? We find a lot of the surrender requests are of male Boerboels entering into, what we’d call, their rebellious teenage years and are pushing their boundaries... from around 1-1/2 years to 2-1/2 years old. People usually don’t know about this stage. It catches them off guard and they can’t handle it. We do try to help them work through it, if we can. Kayte is great at this and, sometimes, we are successful. It is always great if we can help a fam- ily keep their dog instead of surrendering. We get a lot of the “our dog is too aggressive” requests. These, if they truly have an aggression issue, we cannot take as we are foster-based only and we will NEVER put our foster families in harm’s way. We also get the all-too-familiar, “We are moving and can’t take them with us.” We see a lot of senior surrender requests as well, with the excuse, “We just don’t have time for them anymore or they aren’t getting along with the other dog in the family.” Now, one that I have noticed popping up more often is when the owner passes away and the extended family doesn’t want the dog or the widow is not able to take care of the dog. Or another is the all-too-familiar excuse, “The dog is too protective and we have so much traffic going in and out of the house that we
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BOERBOEL RESCUE INTERVIEWS: GIANT PAWS BOERBOEL RESCUE, INC.
“What we’d like to see more of is people educating themselves on the breed and on breeders. Ask questions. Research like crazy.”
What reasons do people have for surrendering their Boerboels? These are the things we are told: Owners do not have time; they cannot afford the care; the Boerboel has become too protective; the Boer- boel is too destructive, or aggressive; the Boer- boel they own is too much dog for them and they did not realize it or cannot handle it; the Boerboel does not like a family member or does not like the other animals; their spouse said to get rid of the dog; the Boerboel bit someone (which goes along with aggression, but people define aggression in many ways); the family is moving and the new home does not accommo- date the Boerboel; the Boerboel smells bad and they want to surrender it to rescue. There are many really quite sad and ridiculous reasons we have heard, but there is almost ALWAYS a story behind the story we are given. What current challenges does Boerboel Rescue face, and which age groups do you see most often? We place a dog with an appropriate foster for that dog. However, it is difficult to find people willing to foster, especially those who have some experience. We have some kind-hearted people with no experience who want to foster, but they are hence not a good fit. Plus, very rarely does a bomb-proof Boerboel come in that fits. Even if we have an open home, we cannot intake a dog unless it is a good fit. We do not want to set the dog up for failure and we do not want anyone to get hurt. (Even with safety precautions in place it still goes south sometimes, but we all do our best.) We also need people willing to volunteer in other ways such as processing applications. Fundraising is a big deal and enables the rescue to do more for each dog. The most common age groups we see are typically grouped into two age groups: 18 months to two years old; and senior dogs. Sadly, we are also seeing an uptick right now in backyard breeder dumps. When a dog is surrendered, the first thing we ask is, “Have you spoken to the breeder about returning the Boer- boel?” The answer is almost always “yes” but the breeder refuses to take the dog back. Sometimes the breeders just do not respond back when noti- fied. Regardless, the majority of times it is a breeder we have not heard of before.
are afraid someone is going to get bit.” This comes into play with people who haven’t done their research and don’t understand they are getting a guardian breed that needs training—and that the training needs to be reinforced every single day. What current challenges does Boerboel Rescue face, and which age groups do you see most often? As Kayte says, I think some of the biggest challenges we have faced—and still face—in rescue is finding appropriate fosters and getting enough funding to keep going. We get all the very sick, the blown knees, and the heartworm positives. You name it, we get it, and we have to find a way to pay for it. It kills us to have to turn a dog away, but we have always said we will not get in over our heads to where we can’t properly care for a dog. We see a lot of seniors, like our rescue Koi (pictured above). Not one of my better pictures, but this is Koi on the day before we helped her cross the rainbow Bridge. She ended up with bone cancer. (Can you tell I had been crying?) I think this photo represents a lot of what we endure in rescue. We— especially Kayte Ryan—have had to help so many cross the bridge due to illness. It is a tough road, for sure. Sometimes the emotional stress of it all can be very overwhelming. What we’d like to see more of is people educating themselves on the breed and on breeders. Ask questions. Research like crazy. Maybe then the requests to take in unstable, mental dogs will go down tremendously. KAYTE RYAN
Kayte has been involved in rescue for over 25 years, tak- ing a break for a while when she had her daughter. She has sat on the Board of Directors as Vice President of an all- Mastiff breed rescue, covering the East Coast, and currently holds a board position with Giant Paws Boerboel Rescue. She stays heavily involved in all levels, which includes volunteer support, fostering, behavior and training advisor, medical needs, fundraising (through both social media and live events), intake, adop-
tions, and transports—in no particular order. She has built an incredibly large network of like-minded individuals and supporters over the years and believes in working together to accomplish one goal, which is to save animals. She has dedicated her life to this cause. Kayte has also bred Cane Corsos and been involved in showing.
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