Google is twelve years old today.
A while back I wrote a piece on this blog entitled Diamonds and Dogs:
One of the powerful forces shaping the world of dogs has been the Internet. With the rise of online communication, the word has gotten out that breed after breed of Kennel Club is statistically less healthy than a shelter dog.
The diseases, defects and deformities change from breed to breed, of course, but almost all the Kennel Club dogs now seem to be struggling under a horrific genetic load: jaw-dropping rates of cancer, juvenile cataracts, liver disease, hip dysplasia, deafness, endocrine issues, blood problems ... the list goes on and on.
Who wants to be part of that? No one!
In the February issue of Dogs Today, I wrote:
In the late 1990s... something came along that changed everything: the Internet.
It is hard to overstate the impact of the Internet. Suffice it to say that in our own lifetimes, we will see the end of books, newspapers and magazines as we have known them. The era of film cameras, video tape and recorded disks is already past. Many young people today have yet to lick their first stamp, such is the ubiquitous nature of email, voice mail and text messaging in this modern world.
What does this mean for the world of dogs?
Quite a lot.
The Internet, you see, has democratized information and mass communication.
Today, anyone with a computer can read Darwin's notes about canine evolution, research the origins of the Kennel Club, and locate health surveys and veterinary insurance records which illuminate the current and rising crisis in canine health around the world.
Of course, the thing that has not changed is that people are lazy.
And so we still get owners buying working dogs from show dog breeders when all they really wanted was a pet.
We still get people buying puppies, because they don't really want a dog.
We still have people not asking for hip scores, not doing coeffcients of inbreeding, and not looking at previous progeny from earlier matings.
We sill have people not asking for test results for the most common health problems in "their" breed.
And, we still have sick, deformed, diseased, and defective dogs as a consequence.
Is there any excuse?
Do just ten Google searches to find health information on any common breed, and you will probably find all you need to know.
But people are willful and lazy.
They want a dog that looks like the one in the picture book, and they want it NOW, and they do not want to drive far, and they do not want to be the kind of person who asks tough questions and walks away when given weak answers.
And so bad Kennel Club dog breeders still survive as a kind of intelligence test.
But something new will arise. I do not know when, but I have no doubt it will. As I wrote in Dogs Today:
In the age of the Internet, creating a new national registry of dogs is no longer a daunting task. If the Kennel Club will not stand for dogs that are healthier and more able than those found down at the local pound, then someone else surely will..
While it took the Kennel Club 130 years and hundreds of millions of pounds to build their current registry, it might take a young Internet-savvy entrepreneur only a few weeks and perhaps 100,000 pounds to build the backbone of a parallel Internet-based registration system that pairs modern email outreach with a dynamic web site, a powerful online date base, and a system of real veterinary-based health checks coupled to product-based discounts on pet food, pet insurance, and veterinary care.
Unlike the Kennel Club, this new registry would have no historical baggage to tote, and would not have to pay homage to petulant prigs and screaming matrons hell-bent on holding on to defective standards and misguided Victorian-era theories.
One thing is for certain: at this point in the game, the Kennel Club cannot afford to dally and play footsie with incrementalism.
The 21st Century will no longer wait for the 19th Century to catch up.