Thursday, September 01, 2016

How to Avoid Cancer in Flat-coated Retrievers

Everything dies for one reason or another.

Yesterday, a dog named Faith, died for racial purity.

Faith was a Flat-coated Retriever. The breed is not very distinctive. It is just another black dog, another retriever.

To be clear, FAITH was a special dog. As an individual, she was the happy and well loved companion of Gina Spadafori. No dog was more loved, and few dogs were more famous. Fabs. Faybee. We all knew her through Gina, and when she finally succumbed to cancer, yesterday, the bottom fell out of my heart, and not just for Faybee, but for Gina.

But the death of a Flat-coated Retriever, from cancer, at age 7, is as predictable as the tides.

The cancer that killed Faith killed her dam and her sire too. None made it to age 8.

There is no mystery as to the cause of the dysfunction. Like almost every other Kennel Club breed, Flat-coats started off in a small and quickly closed gene pool. What started out as a very small pool of genetic diversity got smaller over time due to sire selection.

Driving the whole thing forward, over the cliff, was the "breed purity" fixation of blue blazer rosette chasers within the Kennel Club. When that was coupled to the fantasy stories told in all breed books, a ready market for diseased dogs was born.

No one ever seemed to state the obvious: there was actually nothing "special" about a Flat-coated Retriever outside of its predilection for cancer.  It was not the best working retriever, and it was not the only black retriever.  Flat-coats have personalities as variable as those within any other breed.

So how do you change the Kennel Club?

You don't.

You change yourself and you stop buying Flat-coated Retrievers.

You vote with your wallet and your feet, and you stop buying pedigree dogs with Kennel Club papers, as almost every American has already done.

AKC registrations have plummeted more than 75 percent, and less than 10 percent of all dogs in the U.S. now come with AKC papers.  That's not an accident; that's people realizing that the AKC is selling a defective product that is either based on a bad design, or made with bad science.

So how do you avoid cancer in a Flat-coated Retriever?  You stop buying Flat-coated Retrievers. It's just that simple.

You join the movement
away from failure and towards success.

And what is success?

Success is giving a home to any dog that needs one, and millions do. There is no shortage of black-coated retrievers, of pedigree unknown, waiting in shelters within a day's drive of anyone and everyone. In that direction, success lays, not only for one particular dog in the pound, but for real change at the Kennel Club.

Yes, let us all write about the disease, deformity, and dysfunction of Kennel Club dogs.  Let's all pound the table to demand that registries be opened up, that certain seriously deformed breeds be banned altogether, that there be heath checks and real performance tests for working dogs being made up as "champions".

But let's all vow to never buy a Flat-coat. Ever.

Let's vow to never buy a Bernese Mountain Dog. Ever.

Let's vow to never buy a Scottish Terrier. Ever.

Let's vow to never buy an English bulldog, a Pug, or a Boston Terrier. Ever.

Let's all promise to stop feeding the fires of destruction and join the 90 percent of all Americans that are saying NO to AKC dogs.

Will getting a non-AKC dog guarantee your dog will not, eventually, die from one disease or another?  It will not.

All life ends, and every living thing carries within it the seeds of its own destruction.  In this sense Faith is the same as every other dog.

But can we postpone death?  Can we improve the odds of our dogs having a longer and healthier life?

We can, and we should.  

Step One towards that goal is walking away from Kennel Club dogs.

It's time to stop feeding the fires of canine destruction.


Donald McCaig said...

Dear Patrick,
I am wondering if the KC/AKC might be indicted for cruelty to dogs.

Donald McCaig

Donald McCaig said...

Dear Patrick,
My bad idea. On the other hand, a class action suit by those injured by
reckless breeding?

Donald McCaig

PBurns said...

Litigation is a poor remedy -- or not a remedy at all -- in this istance. For one thing, the AKC is simply setting a "standard" and what people do is actually up to them. It's a bit like me putting up a post on how to make a bomb or a zip gun or how to mix up a batch of poison Koolaid. That's protected free speech, no matter how irresponsible.

A straight ban on certain breeds is a better move. We can define brachycephalia with great precision, and if a state like California or New York banned brachycephalic dogs, there would be an immediate and rapid flip. Just introducing the legislation would result in a massive discussion about intentional dog breeding for deformity and the ethics of the same.

Gina said...

Thanks, Patrick.

Roving Reporter said...

Well said. I recently adopted a little flatcoat from the local shelter. I am hoping that she is not a "purebred" but am at least aware and able to plan for the possibility that she may have a shrtened lifespan. My previous dog was a GSD mix who lived until 16 with few issues othr than arthrtis and the occasional GSD allergies. AKC has gone too far and would do well to encourage new bloodlines.