The Internet, Ole Shep’s Best Friend

There is no question that show conformation, closed registries and kennel clubs nearly wiped out the farm collie forever. Had it not been for the advent of the internet in the 90s they would most likely have been completely obliterated by now. The internet has an amazing power to bring together people of similar interests despite great distances, without the farmcollie email list and the AWFA, both of which depend on the internet, where would the farm collie be today? Yet with all that the internet has done for the farm collie, there is still more it will have to do.

Terrierman, on his blog last week posted an article about how the internet has showed up the flaws in the kennel club system and helped disseminate information related to the genetic problems inherent to closed registries.

Today, anyone with a computer can read Darwin’s notes about canine evolution, research the origins of the Kennel Club, and locate health surveys and veterinary insurance records which illuminate the current and rising crisis in canine health around the world.

I encourage you to read his post in its entirety. [http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.com/2010/01/kennel-club-at-crossroads.html]

The most interesting point in Terrierman’s article was not when he talked about what the internet has done for dogs, but when he discussed what it can do.

While it took the Kennel Club 130 years and hundreds of millions of pounds to build their current registry, it might take a young Internet-savvy entrepreneur only a few weeks and perhaps 100,000 pounds to build the backbone of a parallel Internet-based registration system that pairs modern email outreach with a dynamic web site, a powerful online date base, and a system of real veterinary-based health checks

While I am in no position to take on the AKC, this is precisely what I have been working on in a small, breed-specific scale. For the past couple of months I have been developing a web-based registry for the remnants of the old Scotch Collie to serve as a permanent public record of the breed’s history and aid in finding and selecting dogs for breeding.

My concern is for dogs that are not English Shepherds or registered Rough Collies, the many great farm collies who are currently unregisterable like OTFS or Rough Collie and English Shepherd crosses, etc. The registry will be set up as a website and database in such a way that it would take very little time or effort to maintain and administer, this way registration could be free. Adding new dogs will be open to anybody at any time provided they are a registered user which will be an automated process where they set up a user name, password and confirm their email address. Editing existing dogs will only be allowed by the person listed as that dog’s owner or an administrator. To change a dog’s owner in the registry the listed owner can log in and change the owner or a dog’s owner can submit a request to the website administrator to become listed as the dog’s owner. When changes are made to a dog’s registration information, the previous version is saved so if anyone makes a mistake and deletes information, it can be rolled back to a previous version.

It will most likely be a couple more months before I am able to make the farm collie registry available to the public since I am the sole developer and I am doing it in my free time, but I wanted to take this opportunity to announce it. I am also open to suggestions, so chime in below if you have ideas.

Postscript: The registry has launched, you can see it at www.scotchcollie.org and I am still looking for feedback. Thanks.

Photo Credit – Jessica Hennings – Gracehaven Old Fashioned Farm Collies

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2 Responses to The Internet, Ole Shep’s Best Friend

  1. I’m a proponent of separating record keeping from dogma. Many lessons can be learned from the Border Collie registries in this regard. (1) Published Stud Books are better than unpublished books.

    Ths ISDS publishes their books. Even though they themselves haven’t joined the digital revolution, one devoted BC person scanned them all in, recreated the database, and ran BRILLIANT and informative analysis on them.

    http://www.palado.demon.nl/bcdb/

    (2) Unpublished stud books are stupid. The information about many American Border Collies is essentially lost as at least two of the more popular registries shut down without transferring their books and a hurricane wiped out a database.

    (3) The registries with agendas to push charge the most money and provide the least information.

    (4) There are some similar efforts to what you’re doing. Perhaps you can get ideas from them:

    http://db.kennel.dk/
    http://www.anadune.com/abcd.php (Join to use)
    http://usfdr.com/search.html

  2. Shep says:

    Thanks Christopher, great information.

    Another nice online registry is the English Shepherd Club registry at http://www.esc-registry.org/ (another one you will need to register for)

    I’m probably a bit biased, but mine is light-years ahead of most of these other online registries. However I am taking a bit different approach than these, they all require changes to be sent in and added by the database administrator while I plan on using more of a Wikipedia type of approach of user edited content. I’m not entirely sure how well this will work, but I think if I can make it work it will be very low maintenance and help keep costs down to nothing.

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