Berner-Garde Database

This collection of information is the heart and soul of Berner-Garde ... It started almost from the beginning of Bernese Mountain Dogs in America. From its onset in the 60's the BMDCA collected health information. By the early 70's Martin Packard who had an interest and affinity for new age technology, decided to convert the information stored on index cards to a "computer".

In 1974, a group of people led by Barbara and Martin Packard formed the San Francisco Bay Berners. It was a group of Berner lovers who recognized the high incidence of hip dysplasia in the breed. They embraced the idea of the computerized database to more easily track the incidence of hip dysplasia. From there it expanded to include tracking all issues that might be considered "genetic". The term genetic was not widely accepted in those days. Hip dysplasia was thought to be caused by anything but genetics and the idea that it might be an inherited disease was radical at the time. This was pioneering ideology!

In the early 80's the first PC was introduced to the world and Martin had one. In 1984 the collection of health information finally got a name - The International Bernese Mountain Dog Database. It was introduced to the fancy in 1986 at the Fort Mason National Specialty. Some of you may remember Martin and Barbara in their Swiss garb working tirelessly at their computers for many National Specialties thereafter. These were not the lovely little laptops we know today, but rather big cumbersome PCs, CRTS, printers and miles of wire. It was truly a labor of love to haul this equipment across the country every year, but they believed in it and shared it with anyone who would come by to watch information on their dogs light up the screens.

Sometime in the early 90's a Steering Committee headed up by Barbara Packard and Margrit Baertschi was formed to determine the future of the database. The name Berner-Garde was born. The mission of ensuring a long and healthy lifespan was crafted. Others were called to flush out the goals and structure of an organization that could truly impact the lives of Berners. Martin and Barbara Packard, Teresa Glen Godfrey, Anne Gause, Lori Jodar, Stephanie Merchant, Susan Muick, Marsha Queer, Jerry Uhl and Nell Ward came together to study the best course of action.

In 1994, an organization was created, by-laws were drafted. The Berner-Garde Foundation, Inc. was incorporated in 1995. The IRS approved the 501 c 3 status in 1996.

For many years Barbara was the only data operator. She spent hours at her computer with her Berner Lucki at her side. Margrit Kitchen became the first File Manager. But what a cumbersome job it was to enter and send out information.

In 1998 Roxanne Bortnick with the help of Randy Karl introduced a new platform for the database converting Martin's dBase5 to the cutting edge Microsoft Access. Immense improvement but still tedious compared to today's standards.

By 2000, the Internet was exploding. The goal became to provide a web based database that anyone could access from anywhere in the world through the Internet. Roxanne put out a call for help and Gary Galunas answered. On February 22, 2004, he took us live with the conversion to a server based system using Microsoft SQL Server.

As the database caught on, Pat Long, File Manager, guided us through the intricacies of how to submit and verify data.

In this 6th decade we hope this expansive collection of data compels you to include your dogs as part of our rich history. Every dog has a story to tell...leave a legacy for yours by telling it in the database.

Lori Jodar
President, BGF