A long time ago when i was learning to become a teacher for children with learning disabilities I was asked the question ”Why do we have children?” In the old days children were useful – they carried inwood and water and helped the family in many ways until they left home to build their own families. Today they just seem to be in the way most of the time – the don’t have any other ”function” than to be loved. They are not needed.
The same question pops up again when I watch some dog owners. They travel to dog showsand other competitions but you never see them pat or caress their dogs. Sometimes I wonder if they even like their dogs. Are their dogs even allowed to develope personalities?
My dogs are first and foremost a beloved company, sometimes to cuddle when life is tough and to be happy together with when life is smiling. In second and third place comes nothing (except that loving company!) and in fourth comes the breeding of puppies for me to enjoy and be happy about – and sadly to part from in time. Only in fifth and last place comes ”competing”. The qutation marks inidcate that the actual act of competing is quite uninteresting for me. What I look for is the joy of meeting other vallhunds and their owners and to see the teamwork in the show-ring, on the agility-course or whatever competition there might be.
What are you made of if you take competitions so seriously that there is no poom for happiness and love? Why do you have a dog in thet case? Last but nott least how is your dog feeling – what signals does this give to your dog? Dogs are just like humans social beings who apart from needing food, water, sleep and exercise also need to interact with other dogs as well as ”their” humans. How will the dog satisfy its own needs if all you want from your dog is a competition tool?
Being a breeder I have noticed the issue of X-raying dogs that are used for breeding. At first I fully supported the idea of X-raying the hips of the dogs. But then I started to wonder why. Why should we X-ray our dogs as a matter of routine?
As X-raying the hips has ”come into fashion” and gives the breeder high standing I hope that breeders will start to discuss what you gain and what you risk: in general, but mainly for each breed. As a breeder of Swedish Vallhund I am concerned about that breed and the view of our Club.
This is my point of view – I do hope more breeders start to think about the matter:
”HD is found in slight extent in this breed. Affected individuals rarely show clinical symptoms.”
”SKV abides by the recommendation by SKK/AK not to focus too much on HD.”
Quotiations from the board of SKV.
There is a reason why they don’t X-ray the lower part of the torso of fertile women. X-ray does always include radiation – not more that can be accepted when there is an urgent need for it. But still much enough to avoid when it is no urgent need. And yet a lot of people urge us to expose all the dogs used for breeding to that radiation! Is that reallya sensible policy? I have had my bitch Tuva X-rayed (even twice as I was told she would not be able to give birth…) But that was before I started to think about what really was involved.
Shouldn’t we instead urge the breeders only to X-ray if they suspect severe HD in earlier generations? If it is hereditary it ought to be seen in earlier generations! If it (another hypothesis) in not hereditary but an environmental influence, food for instance, it is sheer idiocy to X-ray ovaries/testicles without a good cause.
Why look for deviations that on the whole make no difference to the dog? Why not concentrate on making sure that only dogs consistent with the breed specifications are used in breeding? And maybe we should focus ledd on shows and more on breeding ageeable and sound dogs? Professor Barbro Beck-Friis has written: ”The importance of the dog or the cat as support and solace is well prooved in scientific examinations. Many pets have given their demented master – or mistress – closeness and safety.”
Isn’t that a much more urgent task for our dogs then being beautiful in a show ring? Can there be a more urgent task for our dogs than giving life quality to their owners?
My thoughts after reading the notes from the breeders’ conference.
Exterior description is more accurate than results from shows. And it is independent of how many dogs that are present.
It is written that we must ”take care of all the typacal attributes of the breed and not change or refine it, neither the exterior nor the mentality”. How do we know if we change the breed if we haven’t something to compare with? Meaning frequent desciptions!
HD is a minimal problem to our brees and has been brought out of proportion. Research has shown that Vallhunds rarely get problems even from serious HD. All breeds are not built identically, each is suited for its purpose. Otherwise ther would be no breeds – all would look the same. Still the same standard is used for all breeds whe it comes to checking hips!! And when on earth is the dog using its hips lying on its back with both legs drawn straight backwards? Why not X-ray the dog standing? It can’t be difficult with modern technology.
From SKV’s Breeding strategy for Vallhunds: ”Lessen the number of changes in the retina.” ”Lessen the number of dogs with sound-delicacy/gun-shyness.” ”Preserving the aptitude for cattle tending in the breed.” ”Preserving the hereditary disposition for bobtail.”
It is all well – every piece alone. But before you can discuss ”changes in the retina” (or btw HD) you must know what is normal for the breed. Sound-delicacy (wich can give trouble in New Years Eve) can be a very good quality in a farmdog that should react to anything out of the ordinary at the farm.
Further on from the Breeding strategy: ”Lessen the degree of inbreeding and preserve the genetic variation within the breed”. ”To keep the breed healthy we must strive to attain a genetic breadth with a large spreading of genes withion the entire population.”
This is where the mathematics doesn’t correspond. We are to breed only dogs who has certificates that they have no HD, nothing wrong with their eyes, have aptitude for cattle tending and show merits. Most dog owners don’t want/can’t have puppies from their bitches. And there will be even less owners if you have to pay for expensive investigations including long and expensive travels in order to breed from your dog. That leaves us with an extremely small number of dogs for breeding – ”with preserving of the genetic variation”! How on earth will we manage that if we limit the choice to a handful?
You ought to thinnk a bit further than ”it is status to show a lot of certificates for the dogs”. And this line will probably mean more expensive dogs – which gives a benefit to the mixed breeds. What we breed away we can never get back!
With ”our relatively small gene pool” we must think twice not only about castration but about all limitations in the bases for breeding!
”Due to the turbulence in the SKV we have not been able to present a strategy.”
Not strange. If you exclude a lot of dogs because of capricious whims of fashion and still want ”a genetic breadthe with a large spreading off genes” you can’t present a breeding strategy.
If you demand only perfect dogs for breeding the hope for preserving the Swedish Vallhund will be the unauthorized breeding.
That can’t be the goal of SKV.
The Star-litter three days old.
Lyra has been eating and growing since she was born but Bellatrix has lost weight. She didn’t want the tit and was beginning to feel chilly. My first action was to buy milk substitute and a small nursing bottle. When she did not such that either I started to feed her by a pipette. But as she didn’t feel as warm and cozy as a pup should we went to the vet.
Bellatrix ha a cleft palate – from a mm behind the jaw all the way back. The vet said ”Put her to death.” But as she eats nicely what I give her by pipette the cleft shouldn’t be that deep. She gets warming by living inside my sweater and thus I don’t forget to feed her often. I can feel her against my skin all the time. She is worth fighting for! I am responsible for her being in this world so I have a responsibility to give her what small chance there is.
Why did this happen? I ransacked my brains over on the way home – until it clicked. At the show in Växjö the dogs had caught nose mites and I started the teatment as soon as possible. But Tuva got her second pill on the day of teh first mating and so the last pill a week later. I can’t be certain but I do believe there is a connection…
Now all I can do is nurse, carry and keep her close and hope I will be able to save her. As long as she is eating there is hope. If she continues to lose weight I don’t have any choice. I don’t want to think about it but I have to, for her sake. I want her to live, but I want a good life for her!