We went, we saw, we learned.
We listened to Dr. Carmen Battaglia for 2 1-hour sessions on breeding better dogs. Learned about his "stick dog pedigrees" - an awesome tool. Later in the day he was hanging around and we had the chance to talk with him for maybe 30 minutes or more and pick his brain further. If you'd been there, you might have had that opportunity too.
I missed Andrea Ball-Morawa on Enrichment and Socialization for Adult Breeding Dogs, and Dr. Paul DeMars on Immunization-Parvo - Enteritis. And I wanted to hear Dr. Jerold Bell on Ways for Breeders to Improve Health in their Pups, but instead I ran into Patti Strand, who I'd never met but have corresponded with some and we chatted for about 1.5 hours. Neat lady. Scary stuff she has to say too. (More on that a bit later.)
In between each "headline speaker", Hunte Corp staff veterinarians gave "mini" lectures on various topics from parasites to vaccines to any number of other topics. There were also grooming demonstrations. And booths - food, equipment, toys, CLOTHES (for both humans and k9s.) various registries - AKC, APRI, and a couple of others. I picked up two cases of the Bil Jac mini treats that my dogs are wild for at an even better price than I bought them for in March. HA! My girlfriend got some Frontline for 40% off. (She had the patience to wait in line and I didn't. *G*)
On Saturday we did hear Dr. Bell speaking on Common Genetic Disorders and their Prevention. He had alot of good, basic information and I was impressed with the level of the questions he got at the end of his lecture.(He ran overtime because of the questions, but nobody seemed to mind.) We got a list of these,along with the breeds that have tests available for the disorder, where we don't have tests, where they think it's not just simple dominant or recessive but polygenetic or perhaps even environmental. Ya know what? I'd never seen that information presented that way (but I'm truly just digging further into genetics myself) and I was impressed with how many breeds can now breed away from some of their issues just by knowing who is a carrier and who is not - affecteds are pretty easily diagnosed. This is *simple* stuff. I'm fortunate to have a breed that doesn't suffer from a host of genetic issues, and the things we do have - umbilical hernias for example, are...minor when compared to say PRA or VwD, or liver shunts or other things that truly affect quality of life, or even,living at all. I suspect a test for carriers of umbilical hernias isn't gonna be showing up anytime soon so we'll just have to keep guessing when we breed...but more and more genetic answers are being found and eventually we'll probably be able to test for this too.
Then we listened to Patti Strand on Managing the Animal Rights Challenge. She told us that she believes if we don't take back control of the media from the Animal Rights faction in 10 years we will not own dogs. And I *believe* her. Not that I didn't think we had a problem you understand, but when she lays out her presentation and shows you step by step how the situation we face today came about...well, if you have any brains at all you get the shakes. She is a fascinating lady, and after the seminar on Saturday evening we went to dinner with her and had the chance to further discuss the issues. If you'd been there, you might have had that chance too. How many of you believe this fight is about animals? (It's a trick question...see if you can figure it out before I get to the end. *G*)
We listened to Dr. Chelsea Cohorn of Oklahoma State College of Veterinary medicine talk about the Herpes Virus and Brucellosis. Now *there* is some scary stuff. And just as an FYI - Brucellosis is zoonotic. IE, humans *can* catch this disease from dogs. (I knew that, but maybe some of you didn't. It's rare, but it's happened.) Dr.
Cohorn came with some pretty graphic pictures of what happens to puppies "born" to an infected mother...I'd call this the "horror" part of the seminar, but it really emphasized what a really horrid disease this is. ALSO as an FYI - our show dogs are at greater risk of infection than dogs who stay home. And there is no treatment, and no cure. Your ONLY choice to protect your other dogs (and maybe not even then if you aren't extremely lucky) is to euthanize the dog. And it takes 3 months of testing to clear your dog. ONE test is NOT enough. And because most of the tests have a fairly high rate of false positives...I began to wonder just how important that CH title was for me vs. losing my dogs. How many of you require a brucellosis test prior to breeding? And how many of you knew that ONE test isn't enough? How many of you will now require 3 consecutive monthly tests before breeding to either a bitch or a dog? And how many of you will effectively quarantine your dogs for those 3 months? No shows, no travel, no "outside" dogs, etc? (Outside means dogs that come in from "outside" your kennel/home, not dogs that live outside...just to be clear.) It was suggested that AI can HELP alleviate the risk...provided you know the DOG is clear before the semen is taken/used...but there again, you have to know for sure.
Again on Saturday the Hunte Corporation Veterinary Staff presented mini seminars between the main speakers.
And all of this was FREE. And if you were there, you'd have had a chance to learn all the things we learned. The professional breeders were there. LOADS of them. And unlike the conference I went to in March presented by MPBA, this one didn't count toward educational credits. This one is purely a voluntary affair with no other benefit to the attendees than the chance to LEARN. (Well, okay, and prizes. I won a
couple of dog toys. *G*) Why weren't there more "Show" people there???? Do you know it all? I tend to be a bit of a "professional student" - I enjoy learning. There's always something new to learn. And I'll take a free weekend anytime. *G*
I learned even more about the Hunte Corporations standards and their commitment to excellence in the puppies they buy and sell. And this ENTIRE two day event was about breeding better dogs. Everything that was presented had that idea at the "root" of it. There was even a display of puppies that Hunte Corporation had refused, along with a sign telling why - inguinal hernias, eye problems, down on pasterns, 1/2 inverted vulvas - the reasons were as varied as the dogs. I asked Mr. Hunte what would happen to the dogs and he told me they would find a good home for the ones they bought anyway so they could have them for the weekend, but some were loaned to them by the breeders and would be returning to them.
I spoke with members of the AKC staff that attended. Got some pretty kewl information from them too. Like...I'm gonna get to register my next litter free. HA. Bet that got some attention. Unfortunately for you guys, you had to attend and sign up. So you missed your chance...maybe there will be another chance later.
Who is more committed to breeding better dogs? I don't know, but I was impressed at the number of professional breeders there taking advantage of the chance to hear these TOP speakers totally free of charge. And I have to wonder that there weren't more hobby breeders there. Why not? Is it that you'd have to mingle with professional breeders? Do you think it might give them some legitimacy or something? Or that you might get "infected" (EUW, COOTIES. *G*) or something like that? Or find out that many of the professional breeders are at least as committed as you are to their dogs? I dunno about the rest of you, but *I* am not made of money and *all* that was required of me this weekend was that I be polite to perfect strangers. It wasn't all that hard. And I've decided to look at it this way:
I'm a car dealer. But I sell Maseratis, not Fords. For most of my family, a Ford is a
perfectly acceptable car - provided it's not a lemon. But for the people who really want a Maserati, a Ford just isn't gonna do it. And this weekend I saw *alot* of people committed to building Fords that aren't lemons (as in, the dogs they produce are healthy) and actually LOOK like Fords. I don't have an issue with this in the least...and I really don't get why anybody else does either. It's the FORDS that are gonna keep the AKC alive because it's for darned sure my one litter every 3 or 4 or 5 years isn't gonna do it, nor is my one or maybe 2 entries a month at shows gonna do it either.
Also, FYI. The friend I went with recently acquired a bunch of AKC Gazettes from the 50's and 50's. And there are a whole lot of articles in them on "How to make money breeding dogs." So if breeding dogs for money is your issue with professional breeding, well, you've got a dirty little secret to hide in your closet now don't ya? Cuz 50-60 years ago, the AKC was ALL FOR IT! You also realize most kennel clubs were started by professional breeders way back when don't you...KENNEL Club??? DUH.
My final comments are these: I know that there are a number of people that aren't going to hear a thing I've said. "Puppy Mills" are bad. Period. But for those of you who can step back from the emotions of the issue (emotions fostered by AR media propaganda), consider the fight we are facing,and can accept that many Americans truly are happy with a "Ford" for a car,well, I hope I've said things that might make you *think* instead of having a knee jerk reaction. Consider this: MOST legal, professional breeding kennels are not only regulated and inspected by the USDA, but also by their states, the AKC,and others. That's *alot* of inspections, more than most of us would be willing to accept. And MANY of them here in Missouri do it voluntarily for their "Blue Ribbon Kennel" program. And if you think keeping a kennel of 100 (or more) dogs is easy, think again. Patti Strand said the biggest issue is that urban America no longer has any connection to animals. 50 years ago 80%of Americans lived on farms. Today it's the other way around - 80% of America is urbanized. I know alot of people have pictures in their heads of the "horrors" of puppy mills - they exist and I'm not now, nor have I ever denied that. The professional breeders don't deny it either. Those of us on the "show" side of the house need to stop denying it exists among "us" too.
I've had this idea in the back of my head for awhile now and discussed it with Patti Strand last nite and she agrees. The AR movement isn't about animals at all. PETA, HSUS, ALF, Bob Barker, Oprah, the RSPCA in England, etc etc, don't give a rats patootie about animals. In fact, they really kinda hate them. This fight is about our PERSONAL FREEDOMS and WHO gets to write the laws governing all of us. Wasn't anybody else bothered by the law in Louisville, KY even PASSING? Not what it contained, although that was surely bad enough, but just how many personal freedoms were violated? And NOT ONE of those supposedly intelligent (I question this, but that's another discussion) people on the Council thought there was a problem WRITING A LAW like that and then VOTING FOR IT! (And thank gawd the law is being challenged in court - I do have some hope yet. *G*) Today we lose our dogs, our cats, our steak dinners. What do we lose tomorrow??? Better keep your eye on the ball here folks, because all those folks we're fighting right now over pets are con artists playing a shell game. The issue is NOT animals. It's just the battleground. And if we lose this battle, the war is surely lost. Either we wake up and fight with every soldier we can lay our hands on, or we lose. Us Vs. Them (where them is Professional Breeders) is no longer an acceptable frame of mind. Nobody is going to make you breed dogs professionally, you aren't gonna get cooties from them. And the few dogs a year we produce in our hobby kennels are no threat to their lively hoods either. NOR are THEY a threat to us. Remember,Fords and Maseratis.
I said it before and I'll say it again. I don't care why the professional breeders attended the seminar and sat through 2 days of educational information. They DID it. And if say 25% of them put some of these practices into operation in their kennels...and next year a few more, and the year after that a few more...there is soon going to be little difference between a hobby breeder and a professional breeder...except the professionals are gonna whup us on experience. You can't compare whelping one litter a year with whelping 20. Or 100. Or whatever the number is. And as they manage to improve their breeding stock both health and conformationally because of the things they learned...you won't be able to tell the difference between their dogs and yours.
Betsy & Kevin Cummings
Salukis (firstname.lastname@example.org) Visit us at www.K9Stitches.com
Monday, September 29, 2008
What does the AR movement really want?
I do have permission to post the following article. Please read it carefully, then go back and read it again. The author is saying things I have been saying for years. The most important point of all is to realize exactly what the AR movement is truly all about. I'll give you a hint...it sure isn't about animals.