Committed to the improvement of the breed by breeding for health, temperament and better structure in dogs that have the ability to herd.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dealing with What we have

In all the species of livestock I have worked with, judged, bred and shown (including dogs), I have found some huge stereotypes based on life experiences, more than on assumption. Can it be safe to say that ALL people with the SAME issue are going to respond and react the same way? Absolutely not, but in the same breathe, I dare say that for the most part, people do fit these scenarios.

Let's play a few out. Again, this may or may be true of every breeder but it seems that more times than not, these people are exactly as described below. Please take no offense. For this blog entry I will keep it pertaining to dogs as that is who mostly reads this blog anyway.

Size. Different 'lines' in Cardigans tend to grow at different speeds,  mature at different ages and tend to 'finish out' at different weights. I have found that Ava, my blue bitch grew quite fast and was as large as her mother by 8 months of age (28 pounds). She grew quickly and topped out at 34 pounds, which is what our standard states as being the largest a bitch should weigh. She just turned two in November and I can say she has weighed the same for about 12 months, with maybe a pound lost here or gained there.

All the other bitches in my home are 24-26 pounds soaking wet. Our standard states 25 pounds to be the least a bitch should way. Could these girls stand to gain a pound? Certainly. But what I find also with these lines is that they take 3-4 years to mature, grow slowly and either get recognized in the ring as pups, or not until they are older.Do I have concern of this that my bitches are so different yes. So what's the big deal?

I find more and more dogs (males especially) in the breed ring that at 12 or 16 months of age are 38-40+ pounds. Adults are 45+ (males). But most every single person I've talked to about this says that that is their only dog that got that big. And they breed it. I would like to gander a guess that large begets large,and my bitches who are moderate in size will produce moderate size offspring.

Am i way off base? People who have the large dogs defend them, and those with smaller dogs defend them as well? i get tired of other Cardigan breeders and friends tell me that "well she is too small" or "she needs more bone", when I think that my bitches have adequate bone for their size and their size is within standard limits. For some reason Americans think "bigger is better' with everything. The servings of food we eat, the vehicles we drive (well until gas spiked the last few years in price) and bigger dogs.

If size only happened as an anomaly (you can bet that Ava won't be bred to a large dog!!), then I wouldn't think twice about it. but several breeders who's dogs I've seen ever year since I got in to Cardigans still have large dogs. And they are producing large offspring. And they are defending their large dogs just like I am defending my moderate size dogs. Do i want to have larger bitches? I would think 28 or 29 pounds would be ideal, but my girls seem to be none the worse for wear when in the all breed rings.

HIP DYSPLASIA. I"ll probably get angry comments to this but everyone believes what they believe with OFA, PennHIP, OVC or not testing at all. But why? Do you think that there are those like me, who had trusted OFA and found out my 9 month old imported dog (with no guarantees, health or otherwise, not even a contract) would come back with MILD HD? I had to make a decision. Believe OFA and come to terms with an HD dog, or shrug it off, retest him and hope for better results the next time or stop testing all together say I don't believe in testing hips.

Some breeders will have long drawn out discussions with me about why they don't believe Cardigans have HD, why they don't test their dogs and why I shouldn't be either. Others will say they test but they will use a dog that doesn't pass if they have a bitch that passes or vice versa. OFA is a tool and they will use the results with caution. Others yet will only use dogs that pass their hips and stick firmly to the belief that OFA and Pennhip are doing all they can. Some yet will test Pennhip or OFA and if they don't like the result  with try the other for a passing result.  Why?

And isn't it funny that those that typically do NOT pass hips are the ones that usually stop testing or don't believe in OFA results any longer?

DEGENERATIVE MYELOPATHY- This is a newer health concern we have a test for. And again, many who have N/N dogs will say that everyone should test and we can get rid of this disease. Those with A/A dogs seem to say that the test is not conclusive because we haven't found the trigger to the disease and refuse to share results or test any further dogs. Since I've only had N/N or N/A dogs I'm in the middle of the road. I would use an A/A dog if my bitch was N/N and my carrier bitches i would ultimately want N/N dogs to breed to them. But why is this?

TURN OUT - some will argue we need to have dogs turn out at 10 and 2 (if looking at a clock) while others say the standard does not indicate any turn out is needed or necessary. Those with dogs with turn out seem to be of the camp that yes 10 and 2 are mandatory. Why? Why can't someone like me say....yes my dog "XYZ" has too much turn out and next breeding will try and rectify this. Or maybe some people do and just aren't public about it.

Why do we tend to stand behind and believe so strongly these things that affect our dogs? I realize that this is making huge assumptions about everyone, myself included and there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule. I know there is a new group of breeders who share all results, good, bad or ugly and hopefully, others can learn from our pains, experiences and heartbreak.

I'm not sure the purpose of this post only to write down my thoughts I've had in my mind for years, long before dogs. Why do we as humans do this? Is this the reason for so many debates and friendships ruined (or gained) by having similar experiences?

I just wish that everyone could be upfront and regardless of their dogs tests, their size, their temperament or whatever it could be, we could all stand united and move forward all learning from each as we go. If we wouldn't come down on a fellow person because of their dogs size, and perhaps offer a moderate bitch to be leased so their dogs didn't continue to get larger? Or maybe help to educate new people about the importance of health testing and regardless of the results to no chastise each other's dogs for being A/A, or having HD or whatever the situation.

It really is about the betterment of the breed, not our own ego, agenda or livelihood. Its about the dogs and we are to be good stewards of the breed for them.

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