President’s Report

As I conclude my final term as President it is with great appreciation that I wish to thank the Board Members and Officers for the great support I have received. We share a common goal and appreciation of the English Springer Spaniel and through our efforts have continued the great work started by my predecessors as well as taken on new initiatives. I hand over the leadership of the Foundation to the very capable hands of Nancy Johnson and look forward to continuing to serve the Foundation as a Director.
In 2015 the Foundation made progress on the health survey and in establishing a cancer tissue bank. Indeed, our first sample was received and we will execute an agreement with the University of Missouri shortly, which will provide full funding under the direction of Dr. Jeffery Bryan for the submission of 100 samples. These samples, as will the health survey results, provide important information specific to the English Springer Spaniels which will guide us in future funding and program decisions. Funding was also approved for a PRA joint initiative through AKC/CHF to be undertaken in partnership with several other breeds, however that initiative was delayed to 2016.
We continue to work closely with the AKC/CHF, with then Chief Science Officer Shila Nordone attending our April board meeting and with Chief Science Officer and newly appointed CEO and Chief Science Officer Dr. Diane Brown participating in the Foundation’s educational event at the 2015 National Specialty Show. Working closely with the planning committee led by Liz Pike, AKC/CHF developed large poster boards featuring issues and topics of concern to owners and breeders of English Springer Spaniels. One of the stations included information on the upcoming survey, where Dave Hopkins actively engaged commitment from participants in the upcoming survey in 2016. Other topics featured during these events included:
 Advances in Canine Cancer
 Progressive Retinal Atrophy
 Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (Bloat), and
 Tick Talk
This was our second year hosting this type of event and again it was an overwhelming success in terms of the numbers of people that joined us and spent time learning about key initiatives the Foundation is currently working on, as well as the face to face conversations with Foundation board members, Dr. Diane Brown and volunteers who had personal experiences caring and managing dogs afflicted by some of these diseases. Dr. Brown manned the Tick Talk station of our Gemba Walk, a topic of high interest to her, particularly given the increase in prevalence of tick borne disease. We then took the road show on to the National Open where Dr. Larry Schwartz, Marti Nickoli and I were in attendance.
This year also included another successful blood draw at the National Specialty show. Terry Patton has been the key organizer behind these events. We are now in year two of receiving draws on older dogs as part of a new focus on Epigenetics. Epigenetics looks at the changes in genes over time and the influence of the environments around us. Since the ESS DNA bank was started several years ago with DNA from many young dogs that are still alive today, there is a super opportunity to “jump-start” the studies as compared to other breeds as they will not have both the young and old samples for 10 years.
The website has been transitioned to a new provider and we continue to promote and provide a variety of topical information of interest to owners and breeders of English Springer Spaniels, as well as through other forms of social media. Sue Burgess and Francie Nelson have been instrumental in ensuring a strong presence by the Foundation in the English Field Trial Association’s quarterly publication, the Spotlight.
Nancy Johnson, together with her committee, advanced the health survey planning effort and has been actively working with our web provider of the development of the survey tool. Most significantly, the American Kennel Club has graciously agreed to send out a communication to all English Springer Spaniel registered owners with email addresses on file. There was an excellent submission to the breed column of the AKC Gazette by Sarah Ferrell, providing information on the health survey planned for 2016. If you haven’t checked out the column yet, you can find the article starting at page 29 of the January 2016 edition (
The third AKC/Reunite trailer with funding from the Foundation has been deployed in the Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest ( with the fourth and final trailer likely to be deployed in 2016 in Illinois. In 2014 the Foundation donated $10,000 to this initiative, with the first trailer deployed in Pamlico County, North Carolina and the second in the San Diego area. Complementing our investment, the English Springer parent club also provided funding to a trailer in Colorado. This is a national program dedicated to keeping pets and their owners safe in the aftermath of tornadoes, floods, wildfires and other natural or civil disasters by providing essential supplies and animal care items and can be used as co-location shelters, where people can evacuate with their pets, as well as emergency animal shelters for displaced animals.
On the financial stewardship front, our investment portfolio has continued to perform well against industry benchmarks, however overall our portfolio is down as the markets have not performed as strongly as in prior years. The Investment Committee, comprised of Robert Nutt (Chair), David Sanford and I, oversees the performance of the portfolio and the adherence to the Investment Policy set forward by the Board. All financial and donor reports have been compiled and prepared by Marti Nickoli, Treasurer. These reports are available by request or soon on the Foundation’s website.
Respectfully submitted by
Kelly A Priestley, President
The English Springer Spaniel Foundation