Monday, June 22, 2009

Odds and Ends

Bear with me as I spew so I can catch up. Sometimes purging helps control some of the voices in my head. This little cutie is Arlo, a soft coated wheaton I saw a couple of weeks ago. I happened to have my camera for a change so grabbed a photo. He was great fun to work with.

A shout out to Katie at "Underdogged-Save the Pit Bull, Save the World" for having to deal with an internet bully. A "professional" trainer is harassing her through her blog. Unfortunately there is little recourse for those of us who become targets of internet bullying. (been there myself with the same "trainer"-you can google it to see the idiocy) Thankfully we all have a delete button to put into use. It is still quite aggravating to those of us who have more of a live and let live mindset. How sad that some people feel the need to tear down others accomplishments in order to make themselves feel better.
I had a really amazing session today with a family and their children. They have a sweet havanese that needs a little work. What made is so amazing was the 7 and a 1/2 year old son that I worked with. He was fabulous! Not only did he stay focused for a full hour, he asked great questions and did everything I told him to do easily. He is already a natural with his handling skills. Heck I think he was better than some adults I have worked with! That is part of the beauty of positive training methods, even a child can do it safely with some guidance.
I also took my kids to see the movie UP today. I though it was really well done. The dogs in it actually acted like dogs. (ok aside from the collars that make them able to talk) It was very funny to see them in action. (Keep an eye on your hotdogs!) I can highly recommend the movie for family viewing. My kids thought it was hysterical.
For those that haven't watched it already, here is a link to the BBC Documentary "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" about the problem of breeding unhealthy dogs for the show ring. Warning, it is not for the faint of heart. There are some really disturbing scenes in it of dogs in pain. But it is also a very interesting look at the dog show fancy. I can see why it caused such a stir in the UK and has spilled over here.
I do think that the breeders in this country do more health testing than in the UK. Certainly the breeders I know do. I think the separation in this country is more (but not all) about the lack of health testing with back yard breeders than (I hope) the majority of show people. That said, I ended up with a pug from rescue because I couldn't find a breeder that did health testing in the breed. Heck I couldn't even get an answer to what health tests breeders recommended! All I got was a list of potential health issues to look out for. A list doesn't help if no one is breeding away from those problems however. Check out just one painted representative of the breed before we took away their natural nose:
It also used to be popular for them to have their ears cropped. Thankfully that is no longer the case, I love my Jenny's ears! (I have more photos from a pug history book I need to scan and share.) Now look at this photo of what we have done to them:
Anyone can see that this is just plain wrong.
Perhaps I am incorrect about the difference in breeders based on the country it is happening in. Call me crazy but why can't the breed clubs require specific health testing of all breeding stock? Oh I know it can't be regulated, but like OFA results and other things available online I think listing info could be done. Certainly some breeders are already doing this on their own since NO health testing is required by the AKC to show a dog. It only has to be intact. Then puppy buyers (and other breeders) could check the results and make their decisions from there. I think educating buyers helps because then they know what questions to ask. If a breeder thinks they will lose sales to lack of health testing they will certainly change how they do things. Won't they? Perhaps I am to idealistic.
I know testing is required in other non-AKC breeds. Leonbergers for instance have to jump through lots of hoops before being certified to be bred. If they don't pass health AND temperament tests before breeding then their offspring cannot be registered. I suppose alot of breeders wouldn't like that though because it is a way to control them or telling them what they should be doing. I'm not sure what the answer is because you can't regulate morals.
I used to tell people to look for show breeders because they were breeding to improve the breed. Well you can't prove that by the documentary for sure. And in my last two searches for reputable breeders (in pugs and bulldogs) I certainly had a hard time finding those that fit my health testing requirements. I'll be damned if I'll support a breeder not doing health testing. For the last few years my answer has changed to ask about health testing over showing experience. I don't give a rats behind if a dog is a champion, I care about the health and temperament of the dogs first. The show stuff is be a bonus at this point. Especially since the standard is about looks, not function. Look at the dalmatian, it might look great in the ring but be passing on expensive to treat urinary problems, common in the breed. And even in some more natural looking breeds (german shepherds) we have exaggerated them to not be able to perform the task they were originally bred for. (to be able to work you have to be able to walk after all) Trialing lines certainly look more appealing to me than conformation lines suddenly. Because you can't compete unless you are fit structurally.
But I ramble. There ARE great breeders out there who DO breed with health testing at the forefront. I salute them. It is much more expensive to spend money on vet bills and testing than simply churn out litters and taking buyers money. If I were younger, and knew then what I know now I would consider breeding healthy pugs. Ones with noses that can breathe and not be exercise intolerant. But I am old enough to know how much work that would be and my plate is already full. I sure hope someone out there is taking the reins on that front though. For pugs and for all pure breeds out there. You can help in the fight for healthy dogs. Require health testing of your next pure breed puppy. Or adopt through rescue or your local shelter instead. If we don't support non-reputable breeders, they can't stay in business after all.
P.S. ALL petstores produce puppies that come from untested parents. Just in case you didn't know.


Joanna said...

Hi! I'm coming here from Save the Pit Bull, which does indeed rock.

Pedigree Dogs Exposed is, unfortunately, so far from factually accurate that it does a huge amount of harm. It drives buyers away from well-bred dogs and it makes responsible breeders so furious that any good points it raises are dismissed.

Please do not take ANY of the "factual" statements in the documentary seriously. They know nothing about breed origins, nothing about the rise of health problems, and very little about health testing.

There is no way to make blanket statements about what defines a good breeder. Every breed has different issues and you've GOT to learn how to distinguish between health testing and HEALTH. Prospective owners have to do enough research to know what makes a healthy example of that breed, and focusing on passing health tests lets a heck of a lot of poor breeding through.

Just as an example - I wouldn't care a bit if a Saluki breeder didn't test hips. The Saluki body type virtually never develops hip problems. Instead, I have to ask about cancers, specifically of the heart and the spleen. There are NO tests for this problem, but it's by far the biggest health issue in the breed.

In the exact opposite direction is a pug. They ALL have "bad" hips but the bad hips don't cause the pain or loss of mobility that they do in the larger and heavier breeds. In Pugs what you care about is easy, silent breathing when the dog is awake and alert (if you believe the documentary you'll think that doesn't exist, but a well-bred pug is a gorgeous, healthy, sound creature). If you go to a breeder's house and she's got a bunch of 14-year-old dogs breathing through their noses and jumping off the couch to come say hi, THAT'S a breeder you want. Ignore the scores.

Goldens, Labs, Shepherds, Rotties... those are the breeds PennHIP's conclusions are based on. OFA is based on greyhounds. The further your proposed breed is from the body type of those breeds, the more you have to understand the issues for yourself so you know how to make a good decision about getting that breed.

Pedigree Dogs Exposed feeds off the fact that people have very little contact with good show breeders. If they did, they'd realize how nonsensical the program is. So please, go prove it to yourself. Develop a relationship with a good pug breeder or good Peke breeder or good Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breeder and spend a month or two going to shows and training and the vet with them. See if you still think that show breeders are the enemy of healthy dogs.

Marie said...

I do agree that the documentary may be inflammatory in some cases. However I don't discounted it completely because some of it is indeed true.

My own search for ANY breeder of pugs that did ANY health testing was part of my original point. If they know what problems occur in the breed why then don't they breed away from them? Or at least try to. Even if there aren't specific tests for a problem, collapsing tracheas, or soft palate issues. They could have a vet check their breeding dogs for those issues before breeding and go from there. Heck they could even check all the puppies in a litter before selling them. I found NO pug breeders doing any of this. Granted I used the internet for my search and phone calls as well as my contacts with other show breeders. (and I am a member of a kennel club and have been for at least 13 years) I came up empty and I am pretty patient. By the time I posted on my blog that we were looking for a pug I had already been looking for a good breeder for at least a year. Because I came up empty I decided to go with rescue.

I don't think it will drive buyers away from good breeders. I think it will educate buyers to ask more about health testing. Or if that doesn't work perhaps to adopt from rescue.

I think the blanket statement to find a breeder that does health testing is appropriate. I didn't say all breeds need the same tests. Obviously it depends on the breed you are interested in. ALL breeds have issues specific to their breed. Perhaps I wasn't clear on that point.

I certainly do not think breeders are the ememy of healthy dogs! I think there ARE many breeders doing it right. I'm sure the show left those out for the effefct they were going for. I know some fabulous breeders! (as mentioned previously on this blog) I know a breeder of chows with the FIRST chow to pass ALL health testing for the breed. (and more, something she was told couldn't be done in the breed)

I am not an ememy of reputable breeders or purebred dogs. Heck I have 3 purebreed dogs myself. But I don't mind being an enemy of non-repututable breeders. Bring it on. LOL

Thanks for your comment. I hope it clears up anyone elses questions about this posts intent if I was unclear.

Joanna said...

Are you specifically talking about the soft palate issues in pugs? I'm not sure I understand what health testing you were looking for. I am not looking for a pug, but a quick google search found half a dozen successful show breeders doing CERF and patella testing.

I don't think that most good pug breeders would need a vet to tell them if their dogs have palate issues; they probably know a lot more about palate problems than most vets. There's nothing magic about vets - they're just people who went to grad school. Unless they got a specific course on brachycephalic syndrome, an experienced breeder has more of a "DVM" in it than they do.

Also contrary to the program, show dogs have not changed recently. Goya's painting of a pug in 1786 shows a toy-sized, shorter-legged, very flat-faced fawn pug who would not look out of place in the show ring of 2009. Show breeders, who know their breed history and obsess over every tiny standard rewording, know this perfectly well, and it's one of the (many) things that drove everyone crazy about PDE.

This comment is getting long, and I don't ever want to imply that I don't respect your opinions. But it gets old pretty fast when a "documentary" says "You know who else liked purebred dogs? HITLER!" in the first ten minutes of the show and seemingly can't find anything nicer to say for the remaining time, and everybody in the world seems to swallow it when NONE of their facts were correct and the entire extent of their research was a series of google image searches.

Marie said...

Please e-mail me their names! I might be interested in contacting them later. VBG

I literally couldn't find ANY one doing ANY health testing. It wasn't about soft palate alone. Cerf and patellas would have been great!

I contacted breeders from the AKC breed club website. Mostly I got no responses. Or the ones I got were vague at best. It was awhile ago and I can't remember if I only contacted breeders on the east coast or not. That may have been the case. (Or they may have ignored me because I had an akita in the home. I've run into that as an obstacle in the past when we were looking for a frenchie.)

I do see your points regarding the PDE show. (The hitler thing was a bit much, agree'd) But I don't think everything it showed was wrong. What about the cavalier breeder who bred the affected dog after getting a diagnoses? Yikes! I like to think our US show breeders aren't doing such things.

I have a book on the history of the pug called the Goodger guide to the pug by Wihelmina Swainston-Goodger that has some good photos and paintings of pugs in history. It is a reprint of two books published in 1930. (originally in the UK) The first is "The pug dog, its history and origins" and the other was "The pug handbook" She was a breeder herself (for 69 years!) I need to scan some of them to share. (I admit I am only on page 63 out of 220.) While the photos of her own dogs have short faces they do still have a nose.

I need to compare the standard she lists to the standard of today and see if there are marked differences.

I also agree that vets aren't magic. I have worked for three myself. And I agree some breeders know more about their own breed stuff than they do.

I disagree that dogs haven't changed much over the years though. I have some history books on akitas (with great photos)and the differences there are pretty astounding and that isn't even a breed that is considered extreme. (or man made if you will)

I didn't think for a minute that you didn't respect my opinion. I love debating with people that may have another viewpoint when done respectfully. (you would be horrified at the venomous mail I have gotten from other camps) I just don't want people thinking I am against breeders. Some of them doing great things for their breeds. But some of them do horrific things too.

I will ALWAYS support good breeders.