SRC Final Report ~ No shock or surprise here!!!!!

Categories:The Sable Merle Collie

So this final report is no big surprise…..  Futh hand picked the members of the SRC and all but one were stacked against the sable merle and or the changing of the standard. So that was pretty much a DUH right off the bat!!!

It is also well known that Bob Futh has stated the standard will not be changed on his watch.While I am not surprised with the content of the final report I am a little suprised at how whiney some of the SRC members were!!!! They claimed it was a thankless job…. I know I personally have thanked them on several occasions…. and I thanked Mr. Tom Coen personally. Big babies!!!

Seems Mr. Futh is passing the Presidential duties down for a short time due to health conditions…. while I wish no ill on Mr. Futh I think this is a GRAND idea as he is KILLING the CCA!!!! So now maybe we can actually get some business done!!!!

Hopefully he stays away until after the we vote in a new President!!!

This final report makes mention of the Peke club….. The problems that the CCA is having are not ALL about the sable merle!!!!

It is about a handful of people running the CCA with zero regard for the constitution & bylaws and the 2000 + members that really ARE the CCA!!!!!

I just want to add that the SMAC is NOT going away!!!! They have a lovely ad campaign going on at COLLIES ON LINE!!!!


Dear Members,

Please be informed that the intention of the President was to inform you
that IF his health situation warrented it, he would be
turning over the office to the First Vice President for whatever time
deemed necessary. That time has not arrived, and hopefully his health
will not demand such a move. You will all be notified if and when the
need arises.

Thank You,

Leslie Canavan

SHEESH!!!!!! I knew it was too good to be true!!!!!


I just reread the post from Mr. Futh regarding his health and spending more time with cardiologist  than his laptop and it is very different from what Leslie Cananvan is saying. Bottom line just more smoke and mirrors!!!!! More of the same crap spilling down from the top….. lies and half truths.



The specific wording from AKC regarding the establishment of the Standard Review Committee was: “I recommend that a committee be formed to investigate and assess the situation including surveying the membership and educating the membership in regard to the issue.” When the members of this committee were asked to serve everyone agreed despite the consideration that this might require a lot of time and work. It would be fair to say that none of us was eager to undertake the task, but looking back none of us realized just how much time, work, and stress this would involve.

First, some background information is in order.  After being informed of the situation in which a judge withheld a reserve award from a sable merle Collie the Judges Education chairman immediately called the judge to discuss the matter.  It was a lengthy conversation in which the judge, Pat Hastings, said she didn’t expect a standard change and that a directive from the Parent Club would certainly be sufficient.  The Judges Education Committee began work right away on expanding the existing directive. When it was completed the committee was informed by AKC that their efforts had resulted in “a clear, concise directive for judges.”  That directive is on the CCA website under Judges Education and it is included in the packet that is sent to all new applicants for Collies published in the AKC Gazette. The committee sent the directive to the judge in question and asked her to please let them know if this clarified the issue for her. To date, we have received no response.

 Shortly thereafter, a breeder judge, Shelley Roos, excused a sable merle from the open sable class because she felt the dog was in the wrong class.  Right after arriving home from the show Ms. Roos, realizing that she had been in error, called AKC.  Please notice that there is a difference in the way that each of these judges handled their respective decisions, both of which were not in compliance with AKC or the CCA Judges Education Directive regarding judging sable merle Collies.

Judges are human and make mistakes, others have preferences and agendas and that’s not going to change.

 Speaking with the AKC’s breed standard issues staff liaison was very enlightening.  First, when asking about establishing an open class for sable merles, we were informed, “In that this is not a color with a pattern that can be readily identified, it is not recommended to attempt to establish an additional class.”  In short, judges are concerned with evaluating phenotype or how the dog “appears” and not all sable merles are identifiable as such.  Secondly, when a standard is opened for the revision of one issue any number of special interests wanting other changes may come forth.  Despite what certain parties would like you to believe the AKC and members of  Standard Revision Committees for other parent clubs assure us that this is the case.

 The CCA is an AKC member club. The AKC handles registrations, show permissions, licensing of judges and also has a staff liaison for clubs in regards to breed standard issues.  Should this club find itself in a position similar to that of the Pekingese club it won’t be because of anything this committee did or didn’t do.  We were in touch with AKC each step of the way and followed their direction.  Regarding the AKC’s recommendation that “It would be prudent of the club to establish a means of educating the breeders” we had developed the following tentative plans:

1) Gather statistics and historical information regarding sable merles.  Among other things, this would include champions finished, ROM’s, CCA winners, etc. Just FYI, so far we have learned that over two hundred sable merles have finished their titles.

Our committee gathered the statistics and they are included in the 78 page book that we published on the sable merle.  We made every attempt to have this educat
ional material be as complete as possible and used the most flattering photos we could find.  Additionally, we produced a DVD celebrating the top winning and producing sable merles in CCA history. These materials, the first ever created by a committee such as ours, are available to the entire membership for purchase.

2) Survey the membership regarding this issue.  We will begin with those people

who serve as our Breed Mentors. Their having qualified as mentors indicates significant experience, commitment and contribution to the Collie (the Mentor Application with qualifications is on the CCA website.)

Eighty-five surveys were sent out to the Breed Mentors. The results revealed that of the fifty-three responses seven Mentors wanted the standard changed to include sable merle as a color and for the section on eye color to be the same as in blue merles, one wanted the addition of a DQ, four wanted clarifications without standard change. The overwhelming majority of forty-one desired that the standard remain as it is.  Most expressed the desire for expanded education for both judges and breeders, particularly with the Judges Ed. Directive, which was also the suggestion of the AKC.

In June our committee mailed out educational materials with a survey and poll to the entire membership. This was proposed in our initial letter to the District Directors last December and it received Board approval in January. The top survey portion will be sent to the CCA Survey Committee for analysis.

 The SRC ballot, which addressed both proposed standard changes that were in the petition received by the secretary, resulted in the following vote totals:

Total ballots counted 597

  333*   a.) I am in favor of keeping the Collie standard as it is written.
  264     b.) I would like to change the Collie standard.                           

                  Please specify either or both

                  68    1.)  Add sable merle to the color/pattern description

                    6    2.) Permit blue or china eyes in sable merles  

                       without  specific penalty

                190  votes in favor of both changes

*24 who voted for no change added comments/considerations if there was to be a change to the standard.  The Tellers Committee labeled these ballots "conflicted" but they were a NO vote first.

3.) Consult with a geneticist to clarify the mode of inheritance of the merle gene and to clarify any color/pattern misconceptions.

Reports addressing the merle gene were received from Tim Garrison, a geneticist and longtime Collie breeder and judge, and Kim Schive, a geneticist, breeder, judge and feature writer for the AKC Gazette. These reports were included with the educational materials for the membership.

4) Consult with a veterinarian concerning health ramifications regarding the sable merle.  It is high time that any misinformation or misconceptions concerning this issue be cleared up once and for all.

Reports from two Collie breeder- veterinarians, David E. Hansen, DVM and Cindi Bossart, VMD, the current and past chairs of the Collie Health Committee, clearly stated that there are NO health issues with the sable merle but each cautioned about doubling on the merle gene and stressed the importance of registering sable merles as such.  These reports were included with the educational materials for the membership.         

5) We propose a program to share the educational information that we have gathered be held on Tuesday afternoon, April 7, 2009 at the CCA in Springfield.  We have obtained permission to use the same room where the Breeders Education seminar will be held that morning.  This program will be open to the entire CCA membership.

 On April 7th approximately 100 interested CCA members gathered at the Storrowton Tavern for the CCA Stan dard Review Committee’s educational presentation on the sable merle.

Presenter Tom Coen, SRC chairman, first discussed the withholding and excusal of sable merles by two judges who were NOT in compliance with either the directive of the CCA Judges Ed Committee or the AKC. Next covered were reports addressing the merle gene from geneticists Tim Garrison and Kim Schive. Reports from two Collie breeder- veterinarians clearly stated that there are NO health issues with the sable merle but each cautioned about doubling on the merle gene and stressed the importance of registering sable merles as such. The survey of the Breed Mentors was the next topic and the results were discussed.  Statements from the five members of the committee were read and revealed that after studying the materials, one was in favor of standard changes and four felt that the standard should remain as it is. Finally, a DVD showcasing sable merle Collies as winners and ROM producers was viewed and enjoyed by all.

Our committee has now completed all the proposed tasks that were approved by the Board. This frustrating and thankless job has now lasted more than nine months and we are relieved to have completed our task and look forward to returning to life as usual. We will complete our final report with the comments, concerns and recommendations from individual committee members:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tom Coen for taking on this controversial issue with excellent management of our Committee of six.  Although I dispute the vote of the Committee of six, it has been a pleasure working with the members.  Requesting final feedback from a selected small group should not be the final decision for an organization of our size.  Of course, the entire membership should have the opportunity to be heard, also.  It has never been a secret on my part that the Sable Merle should be accepted in the Open Sable Class with only a few revisions.  For example:

Change the standard to read under: COLOR – Parentheses indicates change.  "The four registered colors are "Sable and White", "Tri-color", "Blue Merle" and "White".  There is no preference among them.  The "Sable and White" is predominantly sable (a fawn sable color of varying shades from light gold to dark mahogany and may have a merling pattern) with white markings, etc.

And: UNDER EYES – REVISE – 6th Sentence to read:

"In merles, dark brown eyes are preferable, but either or both eyes may be merle or china in color without specific penalty, etc.

I would suggest that President Futh have a questionnaire, similar but abbreviated to the one circulated by The Standard Review Committee.  This can be simply accomplished either through the BULLETIN, NEWSLETTER or included in the DUES NOTICE without great cost.

Doris Werdermann


After reading and assessing the varied replies from me
ntors and long-time breeders, I feel that in my opinion the standard should not be changed.  In view of the fact that many sable merles have been successfully shown and have finished, I think that the standard is broad enough to handle the situation, and has functioned.  There does seem to be a need for the Judges Directive already written.  The varied changes proposed, will only add to the confusion and direct the judge's attention away from the more important values that manifest themselves in creating the complete and correct collie.

Les Canavan

Royal Rock

 It has been an enlightening and unfortunately a frustrating experience to serve on this committee.  After reading the responses of the mentors of our breed and reviewing their opinions, it is clear to me that in the minds of the majority of them, our standard which has served us so well for so many years should not be changed.  These mentors are the breeders and exhibitors who have been involved in Collies for many years and whose experience satisfies the criterion for being able to make informed and concerned decisions.  Why is it that in the opinions of those who now so vocally call for change, the experience of these mentors is somehow perceived as a detriment?  I find it ludicrous that those individuals, many of whom have little background and time in the breed would think that they have the knowledge to make such important changes.

The fact that the group favoring change mailed a “poll” to the membership before the official poll from the SRC came out, served to confuse the issue for many members, especially those not involved in the on-line exchanges.  As a result of their voting on that first poll, many people did not realize that the survey sent out by the SRC was actually the official poll and failed to vote for a second time.  The interference from both sides of the issue, both those in favor of a change and those opposed, made our task much more difficult.

The standard is the description of the ideal collie.  Why would we want to change it or alter it in order to fit whatever is being shown, rather than to try to breed to that ideal?  I personally love sable merles and have owned and bred many champions in that color, but I have also not felt the need to show the ones who fall short of the mark.  Those that didn’t fit the criteria to be a show ring success often made important contributions as producers.  Is it written somewhere that any collie, regardless of whether it fits the standard, must be able to be shown and expected to win?  The sable merle fits into the description of the sable as described in the standard, and it is obvious from the impressive number of quality sable merles that have gone on to win in the show ring and make important contributions as producers, that the worthy ones can and do succeed. 

Our standard places tremendous emphasis on expression, and to tamper with the wording might actually change one of the most unique virtues of the collie.  One must always remember that all standards have subtleties and nuances built in which help to create the essence of each breed.  As an example, under the description of eyes – the standard says "the color is dark and the eye does not show a yellow ring or a sufficiently prominent haw to affect the dog's expression".   What has to be understood here (although it is not written) is the fact that a lighter eye will be penalized, and penalized according to how much it affects the expression.  Yet, this never had to be written in.  If someone wrote in that the eyes should preferably be "dark and matched in color, but light eyes would not be penalized" you can be sure that our standard of "perfection" would certainly be compromised.   The point is – it is always important to remember that the standard directs us to deal with the "ideal". The solution would seem to be to spend more time on education, both of judges and breeders, placing even more emphasis on the directive which we have already written dealing with judging the sable merle.  There is bound to be controversy as no two judges will necessarily evaluate the same dog in the same way, but I do not feel that changing the standard to accommodate every deviation is the correct solution.

Judie Evans


This is the third time in the past 25 years that the sable merle issue has reached the Executive Committee level. The two previous attempts to add this color as a description of the ideal collie failed. This is historical information that many of our newer members and State Directors are likely to have little knowledge.

Nancy McDonald's message of March 2009 spoke of the threshold to change the standard needing be much higher than the threshold not to change it. Have the proponents for change presented a valid need that exceeds the threshold or do they merely seek justification?

Standards of the breeds have bedrock, cornerstone characteristics.  Change needs to be difficult or the very foundations of the breed's essence can be severely shaken. Revolution, as Alvin Grossman pointed out in his excellent article in the August CHRONICLE needs to be prevented as do those who would modify the standard by personal fiat or by subverting the normal legislative process.

The survey of our breed mentors provided information from a group of members with considerable experience and expertise. Their opinions carry extra weight.

By a wide margin those mentors who responded to the survey did not want to add the sable merle as an ideal color.  I share the concerns of many who responded that 1) few breeders make a breeding hoping that the best puppy in the litter is a sable merle and 2) that the acceptance of sable merles as the ideal collie will inevitably lead to more and more china eyes in these "sables." I would add that I doubt the general public would accept sable pets with china eyes…they might ask, "Is that a purebred collie?"

The Judges Directive as published clearly states what judges need to know about the current status of sable merles and eye color when exhibited. This belongs in every judge's hands…it easy to follow. This is not in any way a deficiency of our current standard; breed clubs often send clarification and judging concern notices to provisional and active judges in order to protect and clarify the meaning and essence of the document.

In conclusion, in spite of vigorous campaigning (via E-mail and by some State Directors) by those urging the inclusion of the sable merle as an ideal color, in my opinion the voting results in both the mentor and general membership vote do not reach the threshold needed for change.

I would hope that the sable merle issue can now finally be laid to rest– before I am!   Thank you.

William K. Brokken, M.D.


I am honored to have been approved by a large majority of the CCA Board of Directors as a member of this committee and a qualified trustee of this task. Each of us is a breeder/exhibitor with extensive knowledge of sable merles as contributors to successful breeding programs.  That experience gave us the objectivity and discipline to evaluate fairly whether or not such a description in the standard was necessary.  In addition, a large response from a survey of experienced breed mentors insured that we were exposed to and considered all elements offered by both sides of the issue.

From the very beginning of our work, the SRC’s only focus was to determine if specifying language to describe the sable merle would improve the ability of breeders and judges to evaluate breeding stock.  As we created the educational materials under the obj
ectives of our mission, one thing quickly became apparent.  Our memories were refreshed of many great Collies, whose sable coats were merled by random genetic incident, not by design.  Review of their accomplishments evidenced that those individuals were not victims of negative discrimination due to deficiencies or inconsistencies in wording of the standard.  The great ones – CCA winners Ch. Candray Constellation and Ch. Wayside After The Gold Rush, top ROM producers Ch. Overland Endless Summer, Ch. Perry’s Sundather Tradition, Ch. Gambit’s Trick of Light, to mention just a few – all have been embraced by the fancy as contributing breeding stock and successful show ring competitors.

In deliberations, a variety of phrases were considered to include language to specify the sable merle in the standard.  As written, the coat “color” section is adequate to describe the sable merle – “The ‘Sable and White’ is predominantly sable (a fawn sable color of varying shades from light gold to dark mahogany).

Eliminating or minimizing penalty for eye color other than “dark” became the ultimate obstacle to any language revision.  The standard’s principle that the Collie’s unique expression defines the very essence of the breed permeates the entire document.  A “simple change of a few words under the eye color section” is not so simple – it creates confusion and inconsistency with the other sections of the standard that refer to expression. “An expression . . .  which is suggestive of any other breed is entirely foreign,” [the eyes] “never properly appear to be . . . prominent” (as is the case of one or both blue eyes reflecting from a sable face).  These many descriptions and references give breeders and judges a clear guideline as to how to weigh the affect of eye color on the relative value of a Collie’s quality.  Judges are expected to interpret to what extent the expression is affected when faced with an exhibit whose eye color does not meet the ideal, just as they must interpret the effect that poor stop placement or lack of balance has on the overall quality of an individual.  History tells us that with rare (but highly publicized) exception, this principle is and has been working.  Emphasis on education will insure it continues – judges and breeders who are inadequately educated or choose to ignore the standard are no reason to risk compromising the description of the ideal, perfect Collie.

Using Bill’s metaphor, the bedrock and cornerstone of the standard are these phrases:  “Expression is one of the most important points in considering the relative value of Collies” and “Eye faults are heavily penalized.”  These principles have remained unaltered throughout the history of the American Collies as major and minor revisions of other elements of the standard have been considered and approved by the CCA membership.

Nancy McDonald


Back in December I wrote the following to the CCA Board: “As a committee we feel strongly about an informed, educated membership.  This subject requires careful thought and is not to be taken lightly.  Rational, intelligent discussion rather than emotional polarization is our choice of how to proceed”.  That was our choice and holding fast to it was difficult with the personal assaults and abuse our committee received.  We thought we were volunteering for an educational project and instead found ourselves in the center of CCA political turmoil.  Please be clear that we were never a Standard Revision Committee nor did we ever want to be.  Being in the middle between the extremes on either side of this issue was difficult and uncomfortable.  Nothing we did was ever enough and it was invariably labeled as biased from one point of view or the other.

  We were stonewalled in getting the Judges Education Directive on judging the sable merle Collie in the AKC Newsletter and that was very disappointing.  As you may or may not know, this occurred when an influential Collie person, opposed to sable merles, spoke directly with Peter Gaeta at Judging Operations at AKC.  Mr. Gaeta, who was in charge of the AKC Judges Newsletter content, has since retired and I have recently spoken to his replacement and was assured that the directive can now be published.  Personally, I would like to see the club send a special letter to all judges of Collies concerning the judging of sable merles.

 Our past president accused us of skewing the committee’s poll in favor of the Sable Merle Advocacy by publishing an equal number of pro and con Mentor responses regarding standard change in the educational materials we mailed to the membership. We thought we were being fair and wanted the membership to be able to read both points of view before voting.

  The Sable Merle Advocacy gives the impression that the issue is whether you are pro or con sable merle Collies.   The real issue is whether you are willing to honor the standard as written or whether you think the standard needs to be changed in order to judge the sable merle Collie in the show ring.  There is no one on this committee who does not appreciate a quality sable merle with correct Collie expression and we resent the inference that we are against sable merles.

  We were blindsided by a petition written by people who were less than forthcoming. In an e-mail that was circulated, one of the petition’s authors, a breeder-judge, wrote ” will you please get those to sign it who you can trust to keep this quiet”. Next there was the ballot to the membership from the CCA secretary that she chose to keep secret as well, resulting in two ballots being mailed to the membership within a week. It was at this point that I lost any remaining enthusiasm for this project.

Our efforts to mail our educational materials and ballot were delayed by CCA politics and a lack of productive communication. We utilized the CCA Newsletter and bulk mailing to save money for the club and were accused of conspiring to have the mail be slow and not reach some members.

We were blamed for Glen Twiford’s article on the sable merle appearing in the Bulletin when we had no say at all about Bulletin content and never were in communication with the editor.

  Recently we were credited with the ads for vote “No” on Colliesonline.  We have no idea who placed or paid for the ad.

We appreciate and admire passion, but ask that it be directed where it


After living with this issue day and night since last fall I have a few concerns and thoughts I’d like to share.

The lack of regard for the experience and thoughtful input of the Breed Mentors, who are long-term students and major contributors to the Collie, is a real concern to me.  My experience has been that understanding of the standard evolves and changes over time.  When I started in dogs the standard was an interesting document with numerous sections that were unclear; to me, my dog appeared to be perfect.  When I understood more, the standard became somewhat of an inconvenience and intrusion because my dog didn’t measure up in some areas.  After all, I wanted to win.  Next, the standard became the description of an unobtainable ideal that has challenged me to breed dogs all these years.  Today, I find myself with the greatest respect for this document and somehow I see myself as one of its guardians.  During the past forty years the standard has changed very little but my thinking has changed a lot.  The point of this is that any changes to the standard need to be considered very carefully and there is no substitute for experience.

The current c
ontroversy has been going on for decades and it certainly would be nice to find a simple way to lay it to rest.  Personally, I would not have a problem including a reference to the merling pattern in the sable description.  For me, the real controversy lies with changing the wording regarding eye color in sable merles.  Because something is “naturally occurring” does not make it desirable, much less ideal.  Increasing acceptability, such as permitting blue eyes in sable merles without penalty, would do nothing to raise the bar on quality, and, in my opinion, would have just the opposite effect.

My greatest concern is the long term ramifications regarding expression, one of the most important defining qualities of the Collie.  I think it is difficult, if not impossible, to foresee how the envelope may be pushed in the future.

Education of judges regarding sable merles is crucial and needs to be kept simple.  We don’t want color to be a distraction from the total dog. Judges need to be told to judge what they see and that it’s not their job to determine the genetic make up of an entry.  If a sable dog exhibits a merling pattern that they feel detracts from the general appearance then fault it accordingly, but remember that quality, not color, always comes first.  If the dog has blue in its eye and it detracts from the expression, then fault it accordingly, remembering that the Standard says “An expression that shows sullenness or which is suggestive of any other breed is entirely foreign” and “Expression is one of the most important points in considering the relative value of Collies.” Again, keep it simple.

My last concern has to do with the current climate in the CCA.  The tone and content of unfiltered emails on the various lists have hit an unprecedented low.  We are all volunteers and when you think about it we have a lot in common.  We are all faced with the waning popularity of the Collie as a family pet, lower entries at shows with a scarcity of majors, health problems including bloat and DM and anti-breeder legislation that is threatening to put an end to life as we know it.  We can either work together or continue down the road of polarization.  It’s our choice – which will it be?

I cannot thank the members of this committee enough for their months of hard work and for always taking the high road.  It has been a real privilege working with you.

Thomas W. Coen


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