Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Easter break... a bit early

I have taken a couple of days off to be mum first work second. It's very difficult in this age of Blackberrys and laptops. But I am trying to be good.
Back to normal tomorrow, kids are off to their other parent...

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Spanish fly and leave their dogs behind

I've just done a radio interview with a talk radio station in Spain. I'm sure some of you will know David the Dogman the trainer. He has a regular show on animal issues and something came up as we were talking that I hadn't considered.
With the exchange rate against the Euro being so unfavourable a lot of ex-pats in Spain are finding their pensions 30% down and they are having to leave for the UK in a hurry. As it takes six months to get a pet passport, many pet dogs are being dumped.
Some are being put into kennels to sit out the wait, but kennel owners are finding after a couple of payments the money sometimes stops and the dogs are abandoned. Perhaps owners are getting back to the UK and finding their pensions stretched to the limits here too?
It's an effect of the credit crunch I hadn't heard of.

Friday, 27 March 2009

CV247 and the vanishing duck egg

Heidi isn't a male dog, that's her mammary tumour you can see

Over on our sister blog, Pets with cancer trying CV247, Heidi's story has been really gripping.

A few weeks ago I got this email:
Heidi after the mass in her throat was removed
Our 12 year old little collie, Heidi, has just had a large mass removed from her throat (Thursday 12th March) as her hyperthyroidism was becoming devastating for her heart. She also has one large growth & a few smaller lumps on her mammary glands, several fatty lumps and we believe her liver is involved as well.
We are very fortunate in going to the holistic vet, Barbara Jones, who gave us the details of CV247. Heidi started the regime on Friday & she has a blog which aims to detail her progress as she recovers from her operation & with the treatment.
I have put details on the blog & a link to your CV247 blog. Would it be possible to put her details on yours?
We had a joyous moment earlier when she did a BIG woof in her sleep – when you consider the extent of her surgery it really is miraculous.
Warm regards,
Rachael Manns
The first entry in the blog gave some more of the story:
Meet Heidi. The sweetest, kindest, gentlest dog I have ever had the pleasure of sharing my life with. After years of persuasion the OH agreed that Meg, our collie x spaniel, could have a buddy. In November 2008, Heidi came into our home & tiptoed into everyone’s heart. We knew that she had cancer & it was made clear to us by the rescue http://www.greenacresanimalrescue.co.uk/index.htm that the prognosis was not good; she had a large, hard mass on her throat & a growth on one of her mammary glands the size of an egg. Greenacres were wonderful, having Heidi’s best interests at heart & wanted somewhere for her to see her last days out. Blood tests indicated that the liver was involved (ie secondaries)

Everyone reading the blog got a thrill when they read the Heidi diary March 17th entry:


The lump on Heidi’s mammary gland has SHRUNK BY 1/2 CM if I could make the words dance and jump & sing I would, but that’s Chris’ department! I’d thought it was softer & wanted Barbara’s opinion. I need to reiterate that Heidi has been on the CV247 regime since last Friday - four days and the tumour is smaller.

And today I was strolling around the Natural History Museum when an intriguing email popped up on my Blackberry. It was Rachael telling me to read yesterday's Heidi blog. Here's an extract.

We had a shock today. Heidi looked a little uncomfortable when she walked over to me so I checked to see whether her lump had maybe got caught in the bottom edge of her t-shirt (it hadn’t happened yet, but you never know). I felt her lump, then I felt it again, then I called Chris over to feel it in case I’d made a mistake.

The lump had gone.

Chris confirmed it. She still had the bulge of skin & it felt quite flabby, but there was definitely no tumour, no tightness, no resistance & no tenderness. I galloped off to share the news with Barbara (Ed's note: their vet), but by the time I had returned Heidi was shaking all over, her lump area was very tender & her tail was well & truly clamped tight to her stomach.

The suggestion was that the lump has been reabsorbed & she now has mastitis. Heidi was given a painkilling injection - her teeth were still chattering with the shakes poor girl.

Her lump was very definitely there the previous evening - she showed us when she was rolling on her back, but it had gone the next morning. I never anticipated that it would go quite that fast. All I know is, it’s not there now.

When asked what one thing made the change, it would be like asking how long would she have lived without any of this. Who knows. As I tell my TTouch clients, when helping an animal back to balance there may be many pieces to the jigsaw, but it’s only when the final piece goes in that the picture reveals itself to you. Bear in mind that Heidi had been on her regime from December 2008, & only started the CV247 two weeks ago. Why the change now? I leave you to draw your own conclusions. My jury is still out as to whether this is a spontaneous reabsorbtion or the tumour bursting after a knock; whichever way, her immune system will be working 19 to the dozen.

Rachael tells me the the disappearing lump was about the size of a duck egg. Fingers crossed that Heidi keeps improving - as do all the pets. I just wanted to share this update. Well done team Heidi! TTouch seems to go so well with this gentle therapy.

Wind of change?

Dog World has an anonymously written column from a high-ranking KC insider. (My best guess is it's either Ronnie the Chairman or my regular sparring partner Caroline Kisko, or probably both taking turns to hide behind anonymity and have a good snipe.)
The pen name is "Trumpeter" and I have to say there's a lot of noxious gas is emitted by this windbag. This week he/she is claiming Crufts went really well and the only negative press wasn't because the KC were failing to look after the health of pedigree dogs properly - it was "vested interests" and people publicity seeking. Although not named I felt compelled to bite back and posted this on DW comments section.
(Yes Kieran was up very early again - 5am this time, school holidays are such fun - Natural History Museum today!)
"Of course some people have vested interests and don’t deserve to have the publicity they so crave – so I’ll not bother to name them – and they continued their attacks."
Guess Trumpeter might mean me? Although these days there are quite a large pack of people on this side of the fence trying to encourage the KC to start getting better, start governing – doing the leading not the spinning.
I can understand why Trumpeter doesn't want to mention our media exchange in more detail - would probably like to burn the tapes as the KC did not represent themselves at all well.
It really was a case of their true colours coming out.
If you'd like to see a transcript of the exchange between myself and Caroline Kisko on Sky News do read my blog.
Caroline’s classic line, “We shouldn’t be humanizing this. What we are talking about here are dogs, and dogs have a very different genetic structure to us, ” may come back to haunt her.
As will, “And just bleating on about inbreeding and so on constantly is just boring in the end.”
But that big foot-in-mouth moment…
“I think that turning around and simply saying we should have done it 14 years ago is pretty unfair. We actually started this whole episode a very long time ago. We carried on doing it and started doing lots of good things now – let’s just have a little pat on the back and a bit of support for breeders instead of this constant whinging and whining about what we haven’t done soon enough – no, we can’t do everything that the Swedish Kennel Club are doing and actually you’ll find that breeders in Sweden are not terribly happy with the way that their Kennel Club have gone about things either. They’ve lost people, they will continue to do so. We want to keep people with us, so we have to do it steadily.”
The Swedish KC disagrees and can't understand why on earth Caroline should say such a thing...
Yes I can quite understand Trumpeter why you might want to draw a veil over that interview and the subsequent one of BBC Radio Wales.
Vested interests? Like wanting there to be pedigree dogs in the future?
Just half as good as the Swedish KC would be a start.... as I said.
Trumpeter, if you only want Crufts to talk to the show people then carry on the way you are going and you'll remain totally toxic. But I think you'll find that the show world want you to move forward, to become less embarrassing and more reflective of the good people.
Lead don’t spin.
On the to do list:
Searchable COI information over the net, breed COI targets, action on the overuse of popular sires, mandatory health tests, pragmatic action on extremes not just paper shuffling and word changes... all the stuff that Sweden already has in hand - and has had for a very, very long time!
Or wait for DNA tests for every condition and continue inbreeding with the blindfolds on and just watch the nasty recessive conditions pop up and the life expectancies drop. Oh hold on, that's been what you were doing before bothersome Pedigree Dogs Exposed came along and gave you that wake up call.
Just get on with it.
Talk about "inbreeding" being boring. The KC still not getting its act into gear is incredibly tedious.
Beverley Cuddy
Editor of Dogs Today

Thursday, 26 March 2009

A can of worms?

We all have background knowledge that we rarely question and just assume as fact. Even those of us who love our dogs very, very much probably think worms in dog poo have made lots of people go blind. Some people think it happens a lot.
How many cases of Toxocariasis a year do you think there are? Take a guess. Answer will be revealed a little later in this blog.
Toxocariasis is seen as a serious enough threat to public health for some councils to have installed secret cameras to film dog owners who don't clean up.
We all know that not cleaning up our dog's poo is unsociable and unacceptable. It's smelly stuff that no one wants on their shoes. But the blindness health 'fact' puts the poo leavers in a very different category to the vile gum spitters, binge drinking spewers and the careless dog end tossers.
Archie Bryden worked for many years at the Public Health Laboratory Service - now called the Health Protection Agency. He's now retired.
How many cases of blindness caused by dog poo did he encounter?
"When I was looking into toxocara, I did not find any references to bilateral ocular involvement. If you understand the life-cycle in human infection you would find that bilateral infection was remote. You could not say that it could never occur but the chances of it occurring are minute. I seriously doubt if anyone has ever been blinded in both eyes in proven toxocara infection."
So how do you catch Toxocariasis?
I'm going to quote from an article Archie wrote in the 1990s for the Kennel Gazette.

"The principle source of human infections is probably infected soil, with geophagia pica (soil eating) in infants being an important risk. Intimate contact with very young puppies by children may also be associated with increased risk."

How can you reduce the risks
"The prevention of human toxocariasis infection is good hygiene and common sense. For all ages, washing of hands before eating is a must for all sorts of reasons. Parents should supervise closely infants playing on grass, preventing them from putting dirty toys in their mouths and especially from indulging in pica (dirt eating).
Hygiene in the kitchen is also important by ensuring that any vegetable which is to be eaten raw and has had close contact with soil (eg lettuce, celery, radish) is thoroughly washed.
We have become increasingly aware of many unanswered questions. One of these concerns the relation between infections in dogs, foxes and cats. Much further research is required."
So Toxocariasis can come from cat and fox poo and unwashed salad are likely culprits for transmission? How come we don't all know that...? Does Max Clifford do PR for pussies and foxes?
"It is assumed that human cases of toxocariasis are caused by T canis. However, recent reports (Ed's note: this was written in the 1990s) suggest that in Japan T cati in cats has been shown to be very variable. Early studies of domestic and stray cats found that 5-45 per cent had ova in their faeces, which a more recent investigation showed that 63 per cent of farm cats were excreting ova, often in large numbers. However, our investigation of cats in an RSPCA cattery in the North West of England has shown an excretion rate of 6-7 percent. It should also be noted that 50-60 per cent of foxes, adults and cubs, are excretors and while it is impossible to assess their role in disseminating ova in the environment, this may not be insignificant, considering the increasing numbers in urban areas."
But dogs are still some risk?
"The vast majority of dogs in public places are adults and thus unlikely to excrete ova and, of the few young puppies, all are well past the age of maximum excretion."
So what are the statistics? In May last year according to Hansard the following question was asked in parliament:
Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many reported cases of toxocariasis in humans there were in the last three years. [204904]

Dawn Primarolo: The number of toxocariasis cases reported in the last three years in England and Wales is as follows:

Number of cases







So why do we all have such a fear of dog poo?

"One reason for such variation is confusion of toxocariasis with toxoplasmosis caused by a different organism. Toxoplasma gondii, which also causes eye defects."

So what causes Toxoplasmosis? And how do you get it? (This answer comes from patient.co.uk - a GP driven website.)

"Toxoplasmosis is caused by Toxoplasma gondii, an intracellular obligate parasite (i.e. it can only feed on the living tissues of the host). It is one of the commonest human parasites and has features in common with the pathogen that causes malaria. Human domestic cats are the main source of infection. Infectious oocysts are excreted by the cat for up to two weeks after the initial infection and can survive in warm, moist soil for more than 1 year. Humans acquire infection from cats or from eating raw or undercooked meat from another intermediate host. Pregnant women should avoid contact with cat litter and wear gloves when gardening and during any contact with soil or sand."

So how many people have lost babies to Toxoplasmosis ? Going back to the 1990s again, but according to Hansard:
Mrs Ray Michie
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the number of cases of congenital toxoplasmosis recorded in England and Wales as a fraction of total pregnancies for each year since 1979; and if he will make a statement.

Mr Dorrell
Congenital toxoplasmosis is not a notifiable disease, so comprehensive figures are not available. However, reports of cases to the public health laboratory service from the Toxoplasma reference laboratories in England and Wales have averaged about 12 per year. As a proportion of the number of conceptions (between 750,000 and 850,000 per annum over the past decade), the figure is minute.
I have to say 12 people a year losing their babies sounds far too many!
Instead of spending money covertly filming people not cleaning up dog poo, couldn't councils leaflet people about the risk of handling litter trays when they are pregnant, eating poorly washed salad and eating undercooked meat on the BBQ? Now that might actually save lives! Sounds like soil is the problem and even if we shot every dog in Britain there'd still be a real danger in eating dirt!
We all need to clean up too, and keep worm free - but how on earth did the dog get all the blame when there are so many other factors and much worse lurgies hiding in our soil?
What's Max Clifford's phone number? Think the poor old dog has been left in the stinky stuff by the cat and the fox!
  • See the Think Tank for a lively discussion on worming!

Cavalier chaos

Why is there an element in the Cavalier world that seems intent on being bad to the bone?
It is ironic that such a sweet breed should attract a pack of dinosaurs intent on extinction.
At the Cavalier Club AGM a bunch of troublemakers turned up late - missing a very important talk on the terrible heart problems within the breed.
Against all protocol this large group persuaded the Chairman to overturn a motion already agreed by the meeting and re-open the topic for debate and another vote.
They had previously voted to include a new section in the club's code of conduct to recommend stud dogs be MRI scanned for syringomelia before being used.
The second vote saw this overturned.
Who were these vandals?
These late arrivals included influential cavalier breeders such as the Dog World breed note writer, owners of leading stud dogs and top champions and regional club officers and committee members, including the Chairman/health representative of a Southern based regional club who got up to speak twice against the proposal.
The front page of Dog World reported that: "At first the motion was passed by 25 votes to 15, with nine abstentions. But a little while later discussion became heated when members demanded that this vote should be taken again. Some said they had not heard what was said and thus not known what they were voting for.
"Under some pressure, Mrs Jupp agreed that a vote could be taken on an amendment to remove the SM recommendations from the code. This was carried by 37 votes.
"It is understood that the treasurer’s report showed that the special general meeting held to oust Mrs Carter from the committee had cost the club £2,082. There was an additional expenditure of £1,147 which paid for the committee to be trained on how to deal with questions from the media following the SGM."
It would be more appropriate for a course on assertiveness for the lovely owners and breeders of this sweet breed who disagree with those dinosaurs! It is time for you to unite and fight.

Here is a statement from Lesley Jupp, Chairman of the Club that is published on the club website. I totally applaud her passion and just wish more of the normal caring members had been at that AGM to back her up:
A BENCH MARK WEEKEND Before the AGM last Sunday, Simon Swift, Cardiologist, gave a talk to members to inform us of the present situation, current research and to update us on the new BVA/KC heart testing scheme that involves a number of breeds including cavaliers. His talk was attended by about 25 members, including the committee, out of a current total UK membership of 1050. At the end of his talk Simon had difficulty in leaving the room for the throng of other members waiting outside for the AGM, chatting and drinking coffee, whiling away the time until his talk was over. So much for breeders’ interest in, and concern for heart problems within the breed. The AGM then followed, attended by 63 members. The agenda contained a proposal from the committee that the Code of Ethics should include the recommended breeding guidelines for SM. These are not mandatory rules, merely recommendations, and would have been in line with Hearts and Eyes breeding guidelines, which have been in place for some years. These proposals seemed to me to be innocuous and reasonable. However, the proposal was substantially defeated by the meeting. This was a triumph by the members present over neurologists and geneticists, and of course, over the committee. It would seem that cavalier club members continue to progress, like lemmings, towards mandatory breeding regulations that will surely come, as surely as night follows day. There are many members who are still not prepared to health check their breeding stock, and of those who do, it would appear that many would not hesitate to breed from affected animals. I have tried my utmost to defend and support the breed and the club. This weekend was proof, if proof is needed, that there is no point in deluding myself, or others, that self-regulation is possible. Mrs Lesley Jupp

American dreams

I hope you'll be relieved to hear I have posted off my Vat return. Kieran is watching a film so I can use the proper computer rather than my laptop.
I know, it's not yet 7am in the morning.
He got up at 5.50am - half an hour earlier than he does on a school day as he was so delighted it was the holidays!
I have a question for you - well several actually.
Have you been to New York recently? Are you going sometime soon?
If you went, did you go to any pet shops, and if so did you see anything remarkable? Did you stumble on any truly amazing stores?
I used to love going for weekends before I had kids. I knew all the coolest pet shops and always came home laden with 'treasures' that were never ever to see a UK distributor.
The reason I ask is that, the other evening there was a knock at the door and there was handsome Peter Young, of Peter Posh Pets fame. The Vidal Sassoon of dogdom.
He was on the way to visiting Oscar's wonderful groomer Anita Bax who lives across the field. Peter and Anita had been over to New York for Pet Fashion week a few months ago and they'd very kindly collected loads of doggie magazines and brochures for me as I'd expressed a certain amount of jealously!
(Lucky Anita had been asked to take part in a competition to design a new hair cut for Poodles!)
I have spent hours pouring (or should that be pawing?) over these magazines, probably in the same way proper women do with Elle or Vogue.
Things have moved on in 10 years.
There are doggie wigs. I normally make my own - really. (Some of our older readers may recall Mystic Mutt, the cute terrier who used to predict the lottery numbers for the readers and do doggie horoscopes under the moniker Bitchcraft. I spent a whole weekend making his/her wig! Brixton market sells human hair at very reasonable prices.)
Tiny little training shoes for small dogs - that probably get carried everywhere so have less need than most for footwear.
Darling little steps to help small dogs get onto beds...
I can go on, believe me.
I have all the products circled.
I am already in correspondence with the guy who has invented a dog treat that looks like cat poo - now that is genius. And isn't that a very British product idea? (Wonder if he needs a UK distributor?)
I'm about to write an article about amazing American dog products, but I thought I'd ask you for any you might have discovered.
Post unpacking my suitcase my first shop to visit used to be Doggie Do and Pussycats, too. Which does sound the perfect place to stock a treat that looks like cat poo!
Do share any amazing products you have discovered from anywhere in the world!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Worms and puppy dog tails

It's not the topic for lunchtime, I know. But can I direct you to the Think Tank - for a discussion on worming frequency. Does anyone have any real figures for Toxocariasis cases? And another on cosmetic docking still being a problem.
Nearly done the blasted accounts... and then tomorrow the kids break up for Easter. I know, it's weeks off till we exchange Easter Eggs.
So I'll have the child work juggle to contend with next so blogging may be slow as my son may be rather keen to play World of Warcraft on my Mac. Grrr!

Monday, 23 March 2009

Meet the readers

Today I picked the phone up to a random incoming call, which is rare - but everyone else was already on a call and I don't like leaving people waiting. It is still a bit of a novelty, having a phone system that is working, we shouldn't take these things for granted.
The lady the other end had a query about a change of address for her subscription, which is just about within my skill sets to answer. Well to be honest, I asked Christine who sits opposite (who'd just finished a call) to look it up for me on the database.
It was then a simple question to answer, but just before hanging up the elderly lady said, "Can you pass a message to Beverley Cuddy."
There was a brief moment of temptation.
Should I own up to being me as it sounded suspiciously like a complaint?
I did the decent thing, after all I had my boring accounts to avoid... and I swallowed hard wondering what was coming next.
"Some of us haven't got computers, so please can you remember that."
Fair point.
Turns out she was 74 and in a wheelchair. She used to breed and show Whippets and now has a beloved 17 year old cat called Twinkletoes for company. She used to have dogs and cats but she can't exercise dogs any more so hasn't replaced her fabulous Whippets. (One of her pups had been on our front cover).
We chatted on.
"Can we have more cats in the magazine?" Well I do sneak a few in here and there. There's Cinnamon on the cancer blog and she's in next month's magazine.
The lady was a big fan of our Terry Doe's writing and said there really wasn't enough in this world to laugh about, but thankfully our Terry always finds something. And Robert Killick, too, got a special mention for services to smiling.
She'd really enjoyed reading about the Endal book last month and had really been itching to buy it. But the article hadn't given any clues as to how people without the Internet could buy a copy.
It is a book I see wherever I go, I'd thought it was so obtainable no one would have wanted to buy it over the phone from us. But then I'm not house bound without a computer.
What an omission.
The more I started thinking about it, the more difficult it must be for people like our lovely reader.
I told her she could order Endal with her shopping from Tesco, forgetting that without a computer you can't get home delivery groceries.
Amazon seemed the obvious place for books - but again there's no phone variant.
In the end I felt so ashamed at my gaff, I ordered her a copy from Waterstones online - it was such a bargain (£3.79 inc postage!) and in any case I had points on my store card so it cost me nothing.
But bargains like these are completely out of reach for non-techie elderly housebound people who really could do with hanging on to their money. Home delivery would be great for people who are housebound.
She'd love to be on the net, but she just doesn't have the spare cash to buy a computer.
I sense a niche?
A charity that gets people who are housebound up and running on the Internet - it would make this lady's life so much easier and it would link her to thousands of other like minded people, too.
I know she'll love the book, pity she's not a bit nearer. She's got no relatives and would love someone with a dog to go round for a cup of tea.
Hopefully the magazine feels a bit like a doggie friend dropping in, but if she was on-line she could share all her years of doggie experience with others, too.
I'm so glad I picked the phone up.
I've nearly finished my accounts. Just a few niggly details before I fill the form in and return to normal and put the calculator away again.
And no, I'm not buying anyone else a copy of Endal so no phoning me up with any complaints on the off chance!
The lady told me what she was microwaving for dinner that night, nearly made me cry.
Be great if you could match up all the old people without relatives with the kids who don't have any grandparents.
I know, get on with those accounts....

Friday, 20 March 2009

How do sleeping dogs lie?

Regular bloggers will know that there are very few bits of my job I hate. But every quarter I have to do all the boring accountsy things I've been putting off which makes it possible for me to fill in the VAT return.
The high frequency blogging yesterday was me putting off starting, and the near blog inactivity today is due to my poor imagination being stifled so that I am able to do boring figure work.
So while I'm still in my post-bank reconciliation stupor I'm going to draw your attention to this letter on Think Tank which tickled me but has inspired nobody else to contribute.
Do share what your dog does when he or she sleeps. What type of bed do different breeds prefer? Who likes hard beds, raised beds, tunnel beds, no beds....

Hello my name is Florence Smallwood
I was wondering if you have any past issues that talked about the natural sleeping behaviour of Golden Retrievers as I am doing a project on them and I need some information. I would be grateful if you have any information about the natural sleeping behaviour.
Would be grateful for a reply
Kind Regards
Florence Smallwood

Now I have to admit in 18 years we haven't yet written an article on the 'natural sleeping behaviour' of Golden Retrievers, or any other breed come to think of it!
But if you have a Golden Retriever, perhaps you could give Florry some pointers?
I can tell you a bit about the natural sleeping behaviour of Bearded Collies. They wake up as soon as it gets light and demand to go outside vocally. Much of the time they sleep with their legs in the air, preferably in a draught or on the coldest part of the floor if not. Beds are for chewing, not for lying on.
English Springer Spaniels (sample size of one so unreliable) prefer the comfiest beds, near a radiator if possible. They sleep with one eye open waiting for something to chase. Many of the Springer dreams seem to centre on chasing as there is occasional deep sleep leg movement and yipping.
Over to the bloggers. What's natural sleep behaviour for your dogs?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

So please do distract me from my accounts with your answers! Really please! Got all three months balanced, just got to remember how I do all the other complicated bits. Why did I ever learn how to do this? How many other magazine editors do blinking accounts! How many people who do accounts edit magazines?

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The case for health tests being mandatory

A few blogs ago a chap called Stan Berry challenged me...

"Come on Beverley, you say "the majority of breeders simply don't health test" what evidence/figures from a RELIABLE source do you offer to substantiate this claim, we can all make a statement as if it's fact."
Stan Berry
Here's my reply - thought I'd pull this out in a new thread as few people will go back and re-read the comments from a few days ago and this is an interesting topic:
"Okay Stan.
Let's look at Hip Dysplasia. Since 1984 only 100,000 dogs have gone through the official BVA/KC scheme (source KC website). In that time approximately 4.8 million dogs have been registered by the Kennel Club (assuming a fairly low average figure approx 200k dogs a year - real figure for 2008: 271k).
I'd love to see the spin doctor that can make those figures equate to a majority testing! Remember too that not all pedigree dogs are KC registered. And it's highly unlikely that many of the unregistered Labs etc are going to be health tested.

Stan, the people you know may test - but the majority of pups produced are from completely untested parents. It's got to be the case - those figures are from reliable sources. The GSD people say that 70% of the KC registered pups produced in their breed are untested - and they want the KC to start being fussier as they have been asking for mandatory testing for almost as long as me!"

Urgent help needed

Do please look on the Think Tank, we have a very urgent question involving these poor little rescued pups that are suffering from mange. One of the pups has already died. Does anyone know of any alternative methods that might be a bit gentler? Click here
Other questions on that blog that need answers include a funny one about normal sleep behaviour. I've given an account of my two dogs normal sleep behaviour, what about yours? Click here.
And on the CV247 blog do read about Heidi the Border Collie. Her mammary tumour has reduced and softened after just five days of the method. Fingers crossed this keeps up. Plus we've got the latest ever-growing list of vets prescribing CV247. And an update on Cinnamon the cat. If there are any American vets interested in becoming pioneers of this method, please do get in touch (beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk). Good luck to all those trying the method.
And please everyone cross post the requests for help on the rescue pups with mange or any other of the appeals.

Marc under fire for undercover report

Did you watch Tonight: Pets Undercover on ITV this week? Click here to watch it on I-player.
In my opinion it was indicative of what is wrong with ITV generally. It was very light on the research and missed a real opportunity to do something more significant. A very low IQ production.
For example, their USP was taking a healthy cat, dog and rabbit to a few vets and claiming it was off its food and then reporting that shock horror, some vets actually listened to the apparently worried owners and decided it may be worth looking to see if there was actually something wrong and charging the owner to look.
And then as their control measure we had the blue scrubs-clad Marc Abraham (the new KC veterinary spokesman and ex-Paul O'Grady vet) checking all three animals and giving them a clean bill of health.
Now how exactly was that a control?
Marc wasn't presented with a pet owner who apparently genuinely thought there was something wrong with their pet. He wasn't given the same 'facts' to work with. He had an expectation of the animals being healthy.
I don't know about you, but I want a vet that listens and explores my hunches. How few of us go to the vet if we don't strongly suspect something is up?
And then that very unscientific item rolled into a much more serious issue of a genuinely bad vet that had been struck off and later reinstated after retraining. We all know the RCVS disciplinary system is a bit toothless and a proper investigation into other cases like these may have made a much better documentary, but the treatment of this subject was just sadly wafer thin.
The show did touch on the fact that vet drug pricing is all over the shop and you can save a fortune on-line. But they didn't tackle the disparity between what a practise charges for a prescription you take away to fill elsewhere. And they didn't touch on the fact that while some vets will give you a six-month script for long term medication and others insist on only giving monthly scripts so you have to pay six times for the same thing and perhaps also have to front up for extra consults, too. Those on heart or epilepsy meds without adequate pet insurance can really struggle financially as the monthly bills are already horrendous.
But that wasn't the point they were making. In fact what was the point that they were trying to make, that vets can't be trusted? Did they prove that? And what precisely does that achieve?
Marc Abraham is coming under a lot of criticism from the vet profession, his blog has a tremendous number of comments already and most of them are from other vets - although there are one or two people patting him on the back but they are in the minority. Here's his latest statement on the programme.
Let's be charitable, perhaps Marc didn't realise how shoddy the show was going to be when he agreed to take part. But he should be media savvy, he has an agent, he's courted the media and he's been very, very critical of other TV documentaries - most notably Pedigree Dogs Exposed. He called it an, "horrific and incredibly one-sided documentary." Hmmm? How ironic.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Water, fire no probs - but BT....!

If you have tried to call, we are here! No floods, no fires, no locusts.
At 5pm last night our phone system decided to give up. It's on a maintenance contract so at first we thought no drama, but it's complicated - it's got a fancy name 'Versatility' and it was one of the first ever installed by a team of men scratching their heads and reading the manuals. It could do fancy stuff - we can usually transfer a call to our Karen in Norfolk as if she's on the next desk. Apparently it would work the same if she took her phone and plugged it in the wall in Spain. The installation men were just as amazed as we were when it worked. None of us could see how it would work - if it went over the ISDN line how could the call get across the channel when we transferred it?
(It all sounds great in theory, but sometimes it does sound like Karen's sitting in a tin bath or that she's on another planet as there can be a really weird time delay, or it can cut her off mid word - but when it does work it's still pretty cool.)
Maybe 'Unreliability' would have been a better name. BT are apparently remotely running diagnostics on it today. I suspect really someone is trying to find the manual.
In meantime all our four lines will shortly be diverted to our fax - and there'll be no transferring calls anywhere for a while until they can't work out what has snapped - we'll just be passing the one phone to each other and humming our own hold music.
And if you call in at the moment there's an unhelpful automated message that says either the number doesn't exist, that it's engaged or there's a fault - and that appears to me random. I think our little Versatility is having a little nervous breakdown and giving people these mixed messages - making a phone system too intelligent has a downside. It may need counselling.
We are on deadline of course, which makes it much easier.
But on the plus side the Internet still works... or perhaps I shouldn't speak too soon! And it is very quiet today as a consequence so we can concentrate on proof reading.

All fixed, and the clever repairman had a Boxer. I wonder what tomorrow will bring? My son has a play date tonight and that's meant me trying to keep up with the other 100% non-working mums, rather than the usual working mum winging it. Shouldn't have made the effort as my roast potatoes, roast chicken and yorkshire pudding (all M&S cheats of course) were all cruelly rejected by the two eight year old critics! Should have stuck to chicken nuggets and chips, I know. Sigh!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Tributes flood in

I spoke to Allen earlier and he was so touched to receive 50 or more sympathy cards this morning, some addressed just to Allen and Endal. His postmen are wonderful for finding the right house aren't they!
Flowers have been filling up the house, too.
Allen is reading this blog, but is only reading a few tributes at a time as he finds it just too emotional otherwise.
Allen confided that had been afraid that due to his head injury he would eventually forget Endal. But instead he is finding on waking he doesn't remember he has gone. He says it is a bit like Groundhog day as he has to go through the hurt afresh every morning.
Allen says that young EJ seems to have grown up quite a bit in the last few days. I guess with Endal gone, he realises it's time to step up to the mark.
He's still not quite the little angel yet, while Allen was talking to me he rolled in fox poo!
Allen thanks you all so much for leaving these tributes, I'm sure they'll be much treasured by the Parton family. It's wonderful that so many people are finding their way here from all corners of the world.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Did Endal touch your life?

Have you got something you'd like to say about Endal?
We'd like to collate tributes from as many people as possible.
Please either email me (beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk) or post in the comments section here so all can see. Here's the tribute in today's Daily Mail.

Allen has just emailed me this:

Having just completed the Endal book, I had the unique and wonderful opportunity to explore the past in such detail. We all laughed at the things we had done. Endal was invited to open a school, a hydrotherapy centre, help launch Crufts and even open a wheelchair accessible loo!

The list rolls on... but if I was to think of the most important thing Endal has opened over his 13 years it has to be opening so many people's minds to how important and valuable dogs are in our lives..well....it really is job well done my faithful Endal.
I still can't pinpoint what I did to deserve Endal's unconditional love and devotion... I have been truly blessed. But now I realise that Endal was never only my dog - he was everyone's and the world truly is a sadder place today for his passing.

His greatest legacy has to be bringing me back to my family and also mentoring faithful little EJ (Endal Junior)too. EJ is already punching above his weight and able to do 90% of what Endal was capable of, but it would not have been possible if Endal had not been here to teach him. The two were as one and I would be being selfish to think my sense and feeling of loss was the greatest because Ikea and EJ dearly miss him too..the three musketeers are now two.

I had been given the opportunity yesterday morning to tell Endal how much I love him and to thank him for all he has done for me these last 12 years and that is possibly the most important and significant moment of our relationship. He went peacefully in my lap surrounded by those that loved him most, much loved and now much missed.

I first met Allen, Sandra and Endal in 1999 and I have to say watching their story unfold has been a huge honour. Everywhere Allen went this dog was making someone smile.
Has there ever been a dog so universally loved? A more famous dog? A better role model for the species? A dog that touched so many people?
This was a dog that even counted the Queen as one of his fans, she asked after his health only a few weeks ago.
Endal inspired people to see that the love of a good dog could change the world.
Even now he's gone, he'll still be doing it.
Allen knows how it feels to come back to your family changed, to not be the person everyone was expecting. The unconditional love Endal gave made Allen accept himself and put his whole family back together.
Allen had felt broken and purposeless.
Endal made Allen not just feel useful once more, he made him capable of almost anything - made him reach for the stars. No longer the disabled person in the room - often the most able to change things.
Over the years Allen and Endal visited many badly injured troops, often extremely physically disfigured and deeply depressed. Allen explained to me that due to medical advances people are now surviving really devastating injuries, but it is so hard for everyone to accept these once handsome able men who come home so terribly damaged.
Allen saw that Endal didn't discriminate and that love was often a scarce commodity for broken men like he had once been.
This experience inspired Allen to launch Hounds for Heroes.
This new charity will mean that the Endal legacy will carry on - that a little bit of that Endal magic can be brought into these returning troops lives. Everyone needs a friend, to make waking up each morning something to look forward to rather than dread. Who could not be moved by a Labrador pup's enthusiasm for life?
The idea is for a dog that will go down the pub with you as well as pick up your keys if you drop them. If your battle scars makes it hard for even your own mother to look at you without crying - it is so powerful to have a dog that just sees the person inside. A dog to love you and remind others that there is still a real person inside - even if it wasn't the one who went to war.
A dog to spread some much needed joy, love and hope.
These next few days will be especially hard for the Parton family. There's no hurrying the tears that need to fall, Endal didn't touch their lives lightly - he leaves a massive gap.
I'm sure Ikea and EJ will be trying to lick away the sadness and will be a huge comfort.
Endal will never be forgotten.
He changed the world and what he started should never stop.

The Endal Sky Real Lives Documentary repeats frequently, all the more poignant now we know he's gone. After it airs there is now a small tribute to mark Endal's passing.
Endal the movie is now in production and Allen writes a monthly column in Dogs Today each month.
Hounds for Heroes website is http://www.houndsforheroes.com/ - but the two other charities that Endal was closely associated with (apart obviously from Canine Partners) were Labrador Rescue and Dog Theft Action.

Friday, 13 March 2009

The final instalment of the Endal story

If, like me, you cried watching Endal the documentary last night - be ready to cry some more.
I've just taken a very difficult call for Allen to make, he was on the way to the crematorium.
Poor Endal had a seizure on Sunday. The whole family were together when they decided to let the lovely old fellow go peacefully.
We all knew he was on borrowed time, but Endal managed to teach EJ some of the ropes and was visibly relieved to see that someone special was ready to take over looking after his master. In retirement Endal was at peace and enjoying life, but he couldn't stay forever. Allen didn't want his best friend to suffer and he made sure the pain meds were the best possible - but you can't cheat time.
I'm sure everyone sends their love to the Parton family at this very sad time.
Endal was the most famous dog in the world.
The dog that saved a marriage and gave the world a glimpse of how the love of a good dog could change everything.
Goodbye Endal it was such a huge privilege to have known you and seen the changes you made to all those around you.
No more pain in those creaky old front legs.
Wonder if they have cash points in heaven...

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Awakenings around the world of dogs

If you want something interesting to watch before the Endal fest this evening at 9pm on Sky Real Lives check out this... Click here
Last night approx four million people watched ABC Nightline (the US equivalent of our Newsnight) featuring an item on dog showing, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, the AKC etc. And for fans of the wonderful Terrierman blog, see a 3d Patrick Burns in action - too!
Good item. Does make everything so simple.
The woman who bred her Dalmatian with a partially deaf one because it was a really good specimen.... Doh!
Take a step back and the answers are obvious.

Next week an abridged Pedigree Dogs Exposed airs in New Zealand. The NZKC is already spinning away in preparation...

New Zealand Kennel Club has discovered that TVNZ's Sunday programme is planning to screen the BBC programme 'Pedigree Dogs Exposed' this weekend, 15 March at 7.30pm. The programme attracted widespread criticism when originally screened in Britain in August 2008, for being extreme, alarmist, and lacking fair balance.

TVNZ intends to screen about 22 minutes of the original programme. It is not known what they will omit and whether any of the comment from The Kennel Club (UK) will be retained. When screened the programme may well give the impression that it represents New Zealand conditions: nothing could be less accurate.

But a look at their web site makes it difficult to discover what health initiatives they have taken to remove the threat of inbreeding, exaggeration and hereditary problems from the NZ pedigree dog population.
However, it doesn't take much to discover their accreditation programme for people who are not vets who want to chop tails off. Their policy statement on electric collars - they are pro-choice. Their policy decision on debarking - they are pro-choice. Their policy on secrecy - they are pro-secrecy!

By the sounds of it, it is true PDE doesn't represent the NZ situation - could this be the only country in the world with a worse KC than ours? Wow!

And now for some good news, in the current Veterinary Record (the publication of the British Veterinary Association), March 7, 2009 there is the following uplifting editorial...

Breeding opportunity

It may have been controversial, and the
issues highlighted may not have been new.
but the programme 'Pedigree Dogs Exposed'
broadcast on BBC last August has certainly
stimulated interest in tackling some of
the inherited animal welfare problems
associated with the selective breeding of dogs.
Subsequent developments have included a
revision of breed standards by the Kennel
Club, and the initiation of various reviews
into the welfare aspects of dog breeding. The
ramifications continue, and the topic will
no doubt be the subject of much discussion
among those attending Crufts this week.
Among other things, this year's event will
include a dedicated 'health zone', at which
vets and scientists will be on hand to discuss
some of the means available for reducing the
risks of inherited defects in dogs. Crufts itself
will not be broadcast by the BBC this year,
as the Corporation decided to suspend its
coverage of the event in the light of some of
the issues raised by the programme.
The BVA has called for an independent
review of the breeding of all dogs, not just
pedigrees, and for all registered pedigree dogs
to be permanently identified (VR, November
8, W08, vol163, p 553). Earlier this week,
it welcomed news that the chairmen of a
review of breeding being undertaken by the
Associated Parliamentary Group on Animal
Welfare and of an independent review
commissioned by the Kennel Club and Dogs
Trust have agreed to collaborate on the
grounds that this will add weight to the case
for action (see p 286 of this issue).
The current level of interest presents an
ideal opportunity to make progress in tackling
hereditary defects in dogs. However, this will
be a long and difficult process requiring the
active collaboration of everyone involved.
Some of the challenges have been highlighted
in recent reports from the Companion

Animal Welfare Council (VR, December
6, 2008. Vol 263, p 669). Given the nature
of the task, the BVA feels it is important
that the reviews currently under way should
consider solutions that would benefit the
health and welfare of dogs in the long term.
These include permanent identification,
accreditation schemes, genetic testing and
better use of the Animal Welfare Act.
The BVA believes that secondary
legislation could be put in place under the
Animal Welfare Act to protect the health
and welfare of potential offspring produced
as a result of breeding from dogs with known
hereditary defects. It further believes that
guidelines being developed under the animal
welfare code for dogs could he amended to
include a recommendation against mating
closely related dogs and restricting the
number of puppies an individual stud dog can
sire. As well as making best use of the legal
means available for restricting inappropriate
breeding, it believes that there is scope for
progress through voluntary mechanisms such
as breeder accreditation schemes.
As with any other measures aimed at
improving animal health and welfare, it is
important to he able to relate any actions
to the animals concerned. Permanent
identification of all registered pedigree dogs
would facilitate the reporting of hereditary
health problems and of surgical procedures
resulting in conformational changes. In
addition, the introduction of a 'pet passport'
database, linked to an identification
microchip, would allow information such as
parentage, DNA and health test results to be
known for a particular animal.
To introduce breeding programmes
which control hereditary defects without
eliminating desirable traits, it will be
necessary to isolate the specific genetic
mutation(s) responsible. Funding will
be required to create DNA databases of
affected and unaffected animals and for the
development of appropriate tests.
The BVA believes that breed standards
should be based primarily on health and
temperament, with less emphasis on the
conformation of the dog. While welcoming a
commitment from the Kennel Club to review
all breed standards in consultation with the
veterinary profession, it believes that, in
addition, an independent expert advisory
group should be formed to review and advise
on the way forward on a case-by-case basis.
Vets see the impact of inbreeding on
a daily basis in practices across the UK.
Consultations provide an opportunity to
advise clients but, unless veterinary advice is
sought before animals are purchased, options
are limited to reactive advice and treatment.
Methods to enable owners to make more
informed choices before they purchase their
animals need to be investigated.
Advances in genetics, diagnostic tests
and information technology, combined
with the current leveI of interest, present
unprecedented opportunities for tackling
inherited welfare problems in dogs. The
current level of interest in the subject makes
it all the more important that these are used
to best effect.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

What are you doing tomorrow night?

Thursday night TV is always a highlight - ER, Grey's Anatomy... doesn't get much better really although Grey's series two and three are nowhere near as McGood as series one.
But this week you'll need to reserve your seat on the sofa a little earlier.
At 9pm there's an hour long special on Endal the Dog that Saved Our Marriage on Sky Real Lives channel.
From memory you'll find Sky Real Lives about three screens down on the Sky menu.
It's a very in-depth documentary filmed in glorious HD. (Just typical really considering I had flu when they filmed my bit.... but at least I'm topical - it's red nose day soon isn't it?)
I've seen a clip already and it should be a great show. Click here for a taster.
I hear Endal the book is still jumping up at the top of the best seller list.
Should you miss the show there's a repeat at 10pm on Saturday 14th March.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Rapping up Crufts

Things have been getting a bit surreal recently.
KC-number-one fan Sirius ("no I am not a KC employee") christened me "fluffykins".
A man in Poodles swears blind he's met me on Hampstead Heath - somewhere I have never been.
Then Lynn in Utonagons was so convinced I had a secret Country and Western career that she went up to "me" after a performance and was most upset when I claimed to not know her and that I even went so far as to deny my doggy past.
And more recently Our Dogs Polly King says she saw me at Crufts on Thursday - when I was actually live on Sky News in their London studio. Spooky. Wasn't at Crufts. Wonder who I really was?
And now the new pro-show Blog on the block ("This is NOT a pro- Kennel Club blog....it is a PRO responsible breeder, exhibitor and purebred dog fancier blog, and one that aims to counter much of the negative and biased info that is spewed out by the media on what seems like a daily basis.") has tagged me "B-Cud" and compared my writing to the work of British girlband Mis-teeq.
I'll admit, I was kind of hoping to be allied to a more successful band, Destiny's Child perhaps or even Girls Aloud. But to be honest, until today, I hadn't given a lot of thought to it.
Good to know though that despite the earlier swipe in this still young blog, Jason the author thinks we might actually all be pretty much on the same side.
In the words of Alexandra Burke or preferably Jeff Buckley, "Hallelujah!"
There's no need for breeders to perceive themselves to be on the other side to the health reformists. I will watch this new blog with interest and see if it does indeed call for the KC to reflect the modern, progressive dog breeder and elevate the bar for all.
Wouldn't it be great if the next wave of campaigning for change comes from within the ranks. Let's have some of the KC badge wearers with a pulse and an IQ over 100 standing up and saying what they really think before it's too late.
Do see the earlier post about the huge leaps forward on Rough Collie inbreeding when the breed was imported into Sweden. The effective population size increased from a frightening 33 in the UK to an amazing 500 in Sweden. If we had the Swedish controls on the overuse of popular sires, their searchable Internet pedigree database with automatic COI calculation and targets... now that would be something I'd want to sing about - in any genre.
How could any dog lover not agree we'd be better off with these measures in place. In only a few years the Swedish Collie breeders made massive advances... the sooner we change our system the sooner our breeders can start putting ancestor erosion into the history books.
And Jason, congratulations to you and Mike on winning Reserve Best In Show at Crufts. I thought Donny moved beautifully and showed with all his heart. If I'd been the Crufts Best In Show judge I think he'd have been my winner.
(Although there's more chance of that happening than me reforming girl band Mis-teeq and getting them to do a Country and Western concert on Hampstead Heath!)

Latest installment. Click here to read what the Swedish Kennel Club said on reading Caroline Kisko's outburst on Sky News. You need to go to the 'Pinboard'. Here's what it says...

We are told that British KC spokeswoman ms Caroline Kisko in a debate aired on March, 5th by British Sky News, claims that Swedish dog breeders are leaving the Swedish KC because of discontent with breeding regulations. Is this true? We haven´t heard any information to that purpose, but will be back with a comment from the Swedish KC as soon as may be!

I fail to recognize the description of the attitudes of Swedish breeders to Swedish Kennel Club policies, nor that breeders should be leaving the Swedish Kennel Club in discontent.
For my part, I strongly doubt that Caroline Kisko could have said so, as she is quite familiar with our work, and as the Swedish KC and the KC regularly meet to exchange views on the experience we have of various breeding matters.
If we look at the numbers of new breeders who, for instance, apply for a new kennel name, that group has grown by more than 35% over the past five years, which I think is a pretty clear signal of breeder attitudes to the Swedish Kennel Club.

Ulf Uddman, Executive of the SKC

Monday, 9 March 2009

The love of a good dog

When you do something for TV you usually get a car to pick you up and take you back. And those drivers do this job for lots of other programmes and over the years I've found them a marvellous source of gossip! (One day you must remind me to tell you about Richard Madeley and the time he refused to wear his jacket for a whole week on This Morning...).
When the Sky car picked me up, Jay my driver was most charming and talkative. He'd been a driver for the Jonathan Ross show, Dancing on Ice you name it. My ear for gossip prepared to be tuned, when he threw me off the scent by asking me why I was on the show.
As often happens, he started to tell me about his dogs. And very quickly we got on to his first dog.
Jay had grown up in Southwark, which at the time was having riots and the streets were very hostile. There had been terrible clashes between the Asian youths and the Nazi supporters and his large family felt nervous.
When Jay, aged 18, brought home a tiny German Shepherd pup his father was furious. He had no experience of dogs and had a very low tolerance of pets generally. Years before when they had lived in Singapore he had simply left a window open to liberate the family's parrot when it got too annoying.
Jay had to promise to do everything, but still he joked to me he was half terrified he'd come home and find his dad had picked some spinach out of the garden and eaten the dog!
A few weeks later Jay was called away on business and he made his brothers promise to look after the dog and not let her become a burden to his dad.
Jay was away even longer than he'd expected as the ferries went on strike and he couldn't get back home. He was dreading finding his beautiful GSD gone.
He did lose her, but not in a bad way.
When Jay came home the dog had become very definitely his father's dog. She wouldn't leave his side and the feeling was mutual.
Jay's father was a traditional Sikh and every morning he would oil his waist length hair before putting it into a turban.
Every day he would also oil his dog's coat. According to Jay, that dog shone!
Each morning they would also share the traditional breakfast of pancakes.
The love the two shared was huge and the day that dog had to be put to sleep (she was 14) Jay saw his father totally overcome with grief.
The dog received a full Sikh funeral.
What a wonderful story of man's love for a dog.
The whole family loves dogs now - Jay would not be without a dog, either. He has two.
What a fascinating story and much more interesting than celebrity gossip. Has anyone else heard of a dog having a Sikh funeral?

And the winner is...

Just been sent this link to the Daily Mash, and I should warn you that their coverage of Crufts Best In Show is irreverent and puerile. I have to confess I'm ashamed of myself for laughing at some of the lines.

Click here.

Another email contained no laughs at all - but a lot to ponder about. It took me to a fascinating Swedish Collie site with English translation.

You know how the KC complained that I'm always moaning about boring old inbreeding and glorifying the Swedes. But just compare how safe our Rough Collie is in Swedish hands...

When Imperial did their research on effective population size the poor old Rough Collie was looking badly in danger with an inbreeding effective population size of only 33 - despite there being 4,650 dogs in two generations.

I quote from the Swedish collie website:

I asked Dr Sundgren to go over the figures for the British Rough Collies for me once more. Using a slightly different method for calculating the inbreeding effective population, he came up with a slightly different figure.


That is the kind of figure one hears about, when an expiring variety of land race goat is discovered somewhere out in the distant woods. That's when genetic rescue action is started to save the goats.

We all know that Britain is the Collie´s country of origin. It is also the cradle of a tradition of breeding, which we had better bury in a hurry. Or it will bury both our breeds and the public´s remaining faith in them beneath a mountain of brightly coloured plastic show badges and a thick layer of disrepute for real, emerging or feared-for disease.
The figures from the table in the Genetics article are absurd. They are preposterous.
But they are not incorrect.
They merely reflect absurd breeding practices and preposterous priorities among breeders.
Could this sort of thing change? Yes indeed, it can! And here is the surprising news.

The comparatively few Swedish Rough Collies during the five years between 2003 and 2007 produced 2,615 puppies.

The inbreeding effective population was 500! How is that possible?

Swedish Collie breeders – not all of them, but many enough – have caught on to the threat of inbreeding and either import unrelated dogs for stud, or take their bitches abroad.

They don´t make the headlines, of course. So let me at least give them this:

A big, sincere THANK YOU for trying to secure the health and survival of our breed!!

Just imagine if we had the same system as the Swedes. Wouldn't that be good.
Okay, I admit it - I'm not going to stop being boring about inbreeding!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

And the winner is...

Best in Show was the Sealyham. Standard Poodle reserve.

The quote for me was when Peter Purves asked the dog's owner what she was going to do celebrate and she said, "I am going to hug and kiss this dog till the end of time."

Brought a tear to my eye!

Crufts demo footage

So was Crufts cut off by a rolling road block of 100 coaches hijacked by militant veggies? Did the protesters throw flour at people with wheat allergies as feared?

Bravely a Dog World reporter approached the demonstrators (she was possibly wearing a stab vest) and she asked Dave the demonstrator some really searching questions.

Dog World's reporter was horrified - not by their behaviour - but by the protesters' spelling on their placards... she noted with disgust that they managed to spell syringomyelia correctly - but not Cavalier! Click here for that report.

Here's the link so you can see the terrifying Crufts demo for yourself.

Like they used to say at the end of Crimewatch, now don't go having nightmares will you. I feel sorry for the parents, I bet Dave's mum is mortified he didn't use a spellchecker before printing his placards.

Clash of the Titans

The Poodle has stiff competition. There is another massively top winning dog in the final for Crufts. Hungarian Vizsla Eng Sh Ch & Aust Ch Hungargunn Bear It'n Mind.

If you ever need a living example of why there needs to be be a limit on the number of times a popular sire is used this could be it.

This gorgeous dog has won so well world wide that he has been very much in demand as a stud. It is thought he's already sired more than 400 pups in the UK alone.

In 2009 only 1,306 pups were registered in this breed so you can see how his genes will dominate in future generations - there will be very few lines that don't carry his influence.

In other countries stud dog use is limited by their Kennel Club to stop ancestor erosion. Only a small percentage of a generation can be sired by the same dog.

The heart problem in Cavaliers is said to date back to one or two top stud dogs used extensively but not showing symptoms until it was too late.

Allowing one dog's genes to obliterate all others is like playing Russian roulette. No one can now what is lurking recessively. If people will repeatedly line breed to top dogs unchecked I have to say I find myself very uneasy.

We need a sensible framework that stops this destructive rush to chase the winning genes and abandon all other lines.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Samsung photo competition

Here are the first two days' winners of the Samsung photographic competition. Congratulations!

The Call of the Wild

I've just watched Tess our rescue Springer effortlessly clear the perimeter fence. Already at full gallop, it was as if she had wings. Her stride unbroken, she sprinted off into the distance like a racehorse heading for the finishing post. The boundary defence looks impossibly high for her to scale and we had thought we must have a hole when she'd previously made a break for freedom unobserved.
Today, I watched from the window as Tess decided to go for the jump and there was nothing I could do to dissuade her. Ears flowing horizontally in the slipstream, eyes alight with the thrill of the chase.
Tess is very definitely fit for function. Unfortunately it's not a function I want or need. She is determined to fulfill her genetic destiny and wherever the rabbits go, she wants to follow - no matter the barriers we try to put in her way.
If only there was a rabbit-chasers-anonymous that could cure her of this addiction.
Oscar the Beardie is always left behind swearing little indignant barks under his breath and stamping his front paws. Frustrated that he can't fly, too.
Tess's ears are deaf to our whistles while there's still a rabbit left to chase.
Our hearts are always in our mouths, waiting for her to return to base.
My Beardies never behaved like this. They'd jump a high fence, but only to get back to their people. My nerves are not built for Springers.
Tess is back now and looks embarrassed at the full search party she initiated. But the taste of rabbit is going to lead her astray again and again.
How high do we have to fence to make the jump too risky to attempt?
Watching her go off to hunt I've never seen a dog so happy, so focused.
If only she had found an owner who shared her love of field sports, she'd have been a great hunting companion for someone as keen on killing.
Oscar the Beardie will chase a rabbit so long as it stays within the garden, but he has no wanderlust. If a rabbit makes it to the boundary line he firmly believes they have immunity.
Tess is an amazing piece of engineering, just wish we could find her employment that didn't lead her astray!

I see into the future...

Over the years I have been pretty good at predicting the winner at Crufts, I know I should have posted my predictions a bit earlier - as this late into the show it's getting a lot easier. But I wanted to get my money on before the the rush at the betting shop!
The Standard Poodle is my tip for the top.
True, it is Britain's top dog - so not exactly an out of field prediction.
But it is also a dog handled and owned by people who seem to be writing the very slimy book - How to win friends and influence people at the KC.
In the run up to Crufts they started a very, very sucky-upy KC-friendly blog.
Odd time to do this as it's my experience they don't reflect the current mood of the show world.
I have been hearing from more and more really excellent show breeders who say they agree with everything we reformists are saying. People steeped in the show world who want to know what they have to do to start putting everything right. That it's time the KC reflected the good people, started doing meaningful reform on inbreeding before it's too late for their beloved breeds.
On every radio phone-in I've been half expecting someone stereotypical spouting the KC line to pop up with the sort of stuff that the KC-creepy blog is pumping - but instead I've even had breeders with 50 years experience agreeing with me that things have to change at the KC. Some are even KC members themselves. They are cheering us on.
Let me make another prediction, the writers of the pro-KC blog may also be soon rewarded with KC membership - if it hasn't already come their way.
It seems those that sent the KC a pathetic email of support telling them they are actually great and they don't need to do anything after the nasty unfair Pedigree Dogs Exposed were subsequently rewarded with a shiny green KC members badge. Perhaps just a coincidence?
A badge of shame in my opinion if so won.
For what it's worth I send virtual medals of honour to all those breeders currently standing up to the last remaining show world dinosaurs and fighting for the future health of their dogs. Let's look forward to an era where we have a system that rewards the good and the brave rather than a stupid morality-deficient faithful.
We have dog on our side, remember!