(The first section is basically an extract of Section 8 from the main Histio page on this site)
As previously stated this can appear a slightly confusing process when first undertaken, it is actually quite logical when broken down and the purpose of each step is clear. The official explanation and instructions maybe lose a little bit in translation so here is my attempt to make it easier for newcomers to the process.
To utilise the test you firstly need to access the following link on the internet
This page contains lots of information about the test, what it means and how to use it
Having read the page on that link you need to be at the section towards the bottom headed “What is the procedure for requesting the test for Histiocytic Sarcoma ?” which holds the key links to the whole process.
FIRSTLY – If it is your first time using the test then you need to click on the grey “Memorandum of Agreement” link and when the page opens print off two copies, one is to keep for yourself and the other needs completing and signing and must be sent with the first sample you send. After this you would not need to submit it for any future samples as long as your samples are sent in the same name.
SECONDLY – you need to arrange payment for your sample, so you need to print off or refer to the page you access from the “payment” link. You can either pay direct by direct bank transfer, in which case you need to print off the receipt page or acknowledging email and include it in your sample package, or you can pay by card by adding your details to the payment sheet and including that sheet.
THIRDLY – you need to click on the “sample certificate “ link and print and partially complete a certificate for each sample you are submitting leaving the section for your vet to complete.
You are also asked to submit a copy of a pedigree for this dog if possible, if you do not have one you can easily print off a 3 generation version from the Kennel Club web site.
There is also a link to a research form for you to complete for your dog but your sample can be sent without this and it can be completed at a later date and then updated if there is any change in your dog’s condition. This is a valuable part of the research aspect for the breed of this test so please remember to contribute it if you do not do so at the time of the sample.
FOURTHLY – You are now ready to take your dog to your vet. You will need to take with you the dog (!) and the….
THE VET – can then check the microchip of dog matches the one you have given on the certificate and take the blood sample, it is usually the case with most vets dealing with our breed there is no need for shaving to take the blood sample. There is no spinning or other treatment of the blood required by the vet, it just needs placing in an EDTA tube to preserve it which is very standard procedure. The vet needs to complete his/her section of the form confirming the dog’s identity via the microchip and date of the blood taking, complete the packaging and post it to Anatagene. If submitting more than one dog the vet needs to mark each EDTA tube with a number or letter to tie it to a single sample certificate. Again routine stuff.
The whole lot should be packaged up and posted BY THE VET to the address given in France as part of the validation process. (If you were allowed the take it away afterwards to post it yourself the vet could not guarantee to Antagene that the sample has not been swapped and the validation process is compromised). This is not a bad thing but a good thing for the credibility of the test and all well designed tests should have such validation, and therefore credibility, as an essential feature.
There is also the option to contribute a sample just for research without paying an Antagene fee. This means you receive no feedback but your dog’s Histio status is recorded as part of breed research.
If you find this a bit confusing then why not bring your dog along to a club event where testing is being offered. There you will be able to get assistance with the process and have things explained to you as well as saving a significant amount off the cost
Within a few days of posting you should receive an email acknowledgement of your sample being received and presumably any queries with the documentation would be raised at this point. A few more days after this you will receive your test result in the form of an email with a certificate attached. You can file the certificate however you like, electronically or print it off and file it conventionally. Depending on the post system and week-ends, the whole process takes around 7-10 days from postage.
You will have your certificate with your dog’s grade or A B or C on it. You can leave it at that if you wish and originally, for several years, that was all there was to do. You were just advised not to mate a C grade to a C grade but also absolutely not to discount C grades from the gene pool completely, just use them sensibly.
However, since February 2019 you have the fantastic HSIMS database available to use, Histiocytic Sarcoma Index Mate Selection, which is a database offered by Antagene. This enables you to check your dog or bitch in a simulated mating with every other dog of the opposite sex who is made ‘public’ on the system in your own country and around the world and for every potential mating you will get a percentage breakdown of predicted A B or C grades for the litter. Obviously to improve prospects for your own puppies and the breed as a whole, you should be looking at the most number of A grades and the lowest number of C grades.
The system is only available to people who have put a dog onto it, the general public cannot view it for example and breeders who have not submitted at least one dog for testing do not have access to it. You have to have at least one dog on the system to be able to use it. Your tested dogs will only be added to HSIMS if you positively go online and click to allow this. Most people choose to test their dogs, put them into view on HSIMS And leave them there for all to see, others just put them on for a few minutes to do whatever simulations they wish to do and then remove them again, it is that simple and just a matter of ticking or unticking a box on the database. It is completely personal choice how open you wish to be.
Another important point for some is that even if you choose to put your dogs on the system no one else can see their grades, only you can view your own dog’s grades. Other people can only put them into a simulation with their dog or bitch and see the resulting prediction.
HOW TO USE HSIMS
By utilising Antagene for this test you will have opened an account with them, you need to go to their home page which mostly looks like this ….
and click on the link in the top right corner to “My Account”. I think the first time you do this you have to set up your account with a password but, just like most other sites, once set up it is just a click to get into it and you just have to further click on a “LOGIN” icon. This then gives you a list of all your dogs you have ever tested with Antagene, for HS or anything else. Look carefully and you will see some tabs with “MY ANIMALS” highlighted, look 4 tabs to the right of this and click on “HSIMS”
This opens up the HSIMS database access for your tested animals. You will see your tested dog(s) listed at the top of the screen. The right hand column here will have a small plus sign in a blue circle. You need to click on this to add your dogs into the viewable database. If you do not do this you will not be able to use the database. Be aware though once you have clicked this to turn it into a green tick, other people on the system will be able to perform a simulation with your dog or bitch and one of their own dogs. If you wish you can enter your dog on the database, do some simulations and then remove it so it is only open to other people for a very limited time. If this concerns you then just consider how likely it is that someone would be using the database at exactly the same time as you and, with almost 2,500 to look at will look at your dog in those few minutes you are working. As I said above most people just leave their dogs available for anyone to view.
Once you have ticked to confirm your dog is ‘shared on the HSIMS tool’ you are ready to go. Scroll down or look down depending on the viewer you are using, to see your dog listed. If you have more than one you wil have them listed in two charts, the second being apparently identical but this one you will change. You may want to simulate two of your own dogs together in this case you click on the little blue down arrow against a dog in one table and a bitch in the other. This shows each dog at the bottom of the page and you just click on ‘start the simulation’ and within a few brief moments you have your first HSIMS result. You can opt to have this downloaded or just make a note.
To search further afield than your own dogs you need to click on ‘Define your search’ and you can easily use the search tool, first clicking on ‘Dogs of outside kennels shared on HSIMS Tool’, then reduce it to males or females depending on what you are looking for, and then you can use the boxes to reduce further if you wish OR you can just pick a country (or several) in the adjacent list. Note that due to the amount of dogs tested France is split down further into regions. Press ‘Launch search’ and you instantly get a whole load of dogs to look at. You can the click on any of these in turn to run simulations against your own dog or bitch. Note that you never see the dog’s own grade and the only additional information you get is the dog’s pet name (call name), date of birth and the name of the owner in case you wanted to contact them.
Like most things it takes far longer to describe than actually do, it really is simple so anyone who says it is too complicated to use really hasn’t tried very hard. I have heard of people spending hours listing results for their bitches against various dogs around the world, which was reassuring that we aren’t the only ones!! Remember you cannot fix the world in one generation so don’t expect to find a dog for you bitch that gives you 100% A grades. You will have to work with what you have. You also need to consider this test against all the other things we have to test in our breed such as hips, elbows, DM, inbreeding etc before you even begin on breed type and the most important factor of temperament. No one is saying this test should be the absolute guide to breeding choices in Bernese. However, when deaths from Histio are around 25% in most countries it has to have some priority in any breeder who cares for the breed. It moves the breed slowly in the right direction but, whether you are a puppy buyer or a breeder, don’t expect miracles in a single generation. The aim is slow impprovement from infomred choices.
If you need any further help I will be happy to try and assist.
Good Luck and thank you for doing the ‘right thing’.