Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Kennel Club Dog Owners: "Just Following Orders"


Milgram Experiment. See #1, #2, #3, #4, #5


Those who took college psychology classes might remember a study called the Milgram Experiment in which it was found that people would blindly follow orders from an authority figure when told to administer what they believed to be painful -- even lethal -- electric shocks to other humans. As Milgram himself wrote about his 1963 experiment:

Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' [participants'] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' [participants'] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not.

The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation



Now, more than 45 year later, the Milgram Experiment has been repeated again, with much the same results reports The San Jose Mercury News.

It turns out that people are so conditioned to follow authority (even when the authority is entirely contrived and asserted without documentation) that humans will routinely apply painful and potentially life-threatening jolts of electricity to people when told to.

Almost all people will apply 150-volt jolts to other humans (significantly more than household current), and about half will crank it up to more than 450 volts, even when the person they are shocking is no longer responding and may in fact be dead or passed out from the pain.

Why do I bring this up here?

Simple: think about dog breeds and breed standards.

People know that breeding very large dogs and very small dogs results in a very high, and very predictable, amount of painful canine pathology, ranging from cancer and bloat to syringomyelia.

People know that breeding achondroplastic and brachycephalic dogs results in a very high, and very predictable, amount of long-term breathing problems, joint problems, and heart disease.

People know that breeding Bloodhounds results in dogs that will often be in pain due to bloat, gastric torsion and cancer, and that more than half of these dogs will be dead by age 7.

So why do people do it?

Simple: they are simply "following directions."

The directions are written down in a "breed standard" created by a namelesss faceless group of people who claim "history" as their guide even when the history is entirely invented.

The directions say that no dog can be bred outside of the Kennel Club's closed registry system.

The directions say that a pure breed dog is better than a "mongrel" gotten from the pound

The authority is the Kennel Club.

The pain administered to the dogs is minimized by "expert breeders" and Club potentates who spend considerable amounts of time and energy denying, rationalizing and explaining away defect, deformity and disease in their breeds, and who also routinely lie to potential puppy buyers about breed longevity.

Deaf dog? Never had one.

Uric acid stones? Not in my line.

Heart problems? Oh, that occurs sometimes among "backyard breeders" but never in the kennels of the board members of the breed club.

Cancer, skin conditions and eye problems? That just comes with the breed.

In fact, only the best Chihuahuas have moleras, and only the best Finnish Spitz's have epilepsy, and only the best herding dogs have the merle gene which is so often linked to deafness.

Defect is proof of quality!

In a world in which people will administer killing levels of electric shock to other people on voice command alone, it should come as no surprise to find many people are able to rationalize breeding dogs that will be in pain or discomfort for much of their lives.

After all, it's not like every dog in even a deeply troubled breed will have a painful defect.

And if it happens, it can easily be fobbed off as a "bad break" . . . for the owner of the dog.

And yes, that is how we say, isn't it?

Oh your [cancer prone breed] is dying of cancer? I'm, so sorry for the terrible expense.

Your dachshund has to be put down with a spinal cord injury? I'm so sorry for your loss.

Are you getting another one?

Oh good! It would be a shame if you let that one dog change your opinion of the breed!


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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Check out last weekend's story in USA Today about John Grogan's new Lab puppy that was a gift from the "Marley & Me" producers:

http://www.usaweekend.com/08_issues/081221/081221pets.html

Now, I had interactions with Grogan both when he was OG Editor (what were the Rodales thinking??????) and at the Philadelphia Inquirer (he spent years trying to come up with a format for his bi-weekly column and while he was trying his "investigate reporter" hat, he came to my town and tried to get arrested for loitering and was quite upset when everyone ignored him -- you wouldn't believe how regular readers such as myself begged the Inquirer editors to get rid of him) and figured out early on that while he could string words together, there's absolutely no thought process going on in that so-called brain, but still, for someone from Southeastern PA who has covered/read story after story about AKC kennels that pass dogs with bad hips, HOW COULD HE NOT CHECK FIRST??????

I'm seriously thinking that dog folks need to re-word the aphrosium to read:

"ALWAYS check a gift puppy in the HIPS!!!!!"

I'm just waiting for the Biden GSD to have bad hips. . .

Dorene

PBurns said...

And you will note that "It;s no one's fault..."

It is if hips were not checked before breeding.

Onteh upside, perhaps Grogan can follow in the steps of Jon Katz and make a career of his dysfunctional relationship with dogs formed full-cloth out of willfull ignorance.

Patrick

retrieverman said...

I never would've connected the Milgram experiments and these bad breeding experiments.

What amazes me is that they are forever justifying the exaggeration. In my own breed, the working form is thought of as "low quality" or a setter-retriever cross, even though virtually all of them that do the work for which they were bred look and act like this. The British standard for a golden retriever is almost the antithesis of what a golden retriever was supposed to be. Now, I've found some internet sites selling these dogs that are bred to this standard in America for over $2,000. If they want a dog that has too much bone to swim properly and virtually no retrieving instinct, they can have it.

If you want to see what the real golden retriever looks like check out this: http://www.grcw.org.uk/activity/field.htm

The dog at the top of the page is a show type dog that is so cumbersom that it can't clear even a low hedgerow. All of the dogs that are actually photographed working vary in appearance, but none of them are big, blocky dogs. None of them are "white" either. Those dogs have only existed since the 1960's and have since taken over the European golden retriever. The original standard preferred darker colors, but now the KC/FCI standard does not allow "red or mahogany," which means any dark color whatsoever. However, that is the color that dominates the working lines in both North America and Europe.

And they wonder why it is commonly posited that this breed is ruined as working dog.

The Labrador's breeders have essentially said we'll breed field dogs and to heck with breed standards. I still find golden breeders that still play around with goal the ephemeral dual purpose dog.

Although I have no evidence to back it up, I am certain that the blocky and heavily-bone dogs are more prone to hypothyroidism and hip and joint problems, including hip displasia. I do know that flat-coats, which come out of that same retriever stock as goldens, are not bred for heavy bodies and lots of bone. And according the OFA, they have a lower incidence of hip dysplasia, with more "Good" and "Excellent" readings than the golden. (Of couse flat-coats have huge problem with cancer which goldens have to a lesser degree).

Viatecio said...

PBurns said...

Onteh upside, perhaps Grogan can follow in the steps of Jon Katz and make a career of his dysfunctional relationship with dogs formed full-cloth out of willfull ignorance.
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It took me a while to 'get,' but when I did, I realized exactly how RIGHT you are!