Our two youngest are coming to Bristol tomorrow with us and I found this check list one of them have made for the trip.
Not sure why the children wanted me to wear swimming googles and having not song the Turkey song for a while, I was a bit rusty looking to Tilly for prompting, but it just goes to show that the The Turkey song is not just for Christmas.
The Daily Mail reports on a Study which reveals dog shows could be deadly for German Shepherds. The study can be read here and concludes that nearly half of all German Shepherds are dying from structural problems. The most common causes of death with the breed were from joint disorders (16.3%), inability to stand (14.9%) and spinal cord disorders (13.6%).
Micky from 1930 is certainly a finer dog than the German Shepherd we see today. How did this happen? Certainly not by breeding dogs for health or function.
Dolly is doing really well after her operation on the 18th July to remove two more growths. I removed her stitches this morning. She is so easy to do anything with. Unfortunately, I have already found another suspicious masses just under the surface of her skin about the size of a squat marrow-fat pea and pretty mobile not seeming to attached on palpation, on the right side of her sternum just back from the shoulder we removed a growth from. Close enough to her teat that it may be attached to the cranial thoracic gland of the first teat on her chest. Vet on Wednesday to take a look. She will also be 10 years old on Wednesday.
The High Court has ruled in the David and Goliath battle against puppy farming and although a disappointing judgement the High Court ruling confirms the need for urgent reform of dog breeding legislation
"The Judge found that when inspecting commercial breeding establishments local authorities are not required to consider in detail the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs (issued under the Animal Welfare Act 2006).
Heidi Anderson, a trustee of the charity Chancepixies said:
"North Kesteven District Council has over a number of years continued to renew the licence of a particularly large ‘puppy farm’ – allowing it to keep 200 breeding bitches. At the last inspection there were a staggering 368 dogs on site. Of these 142 were puppies and 226 were adult dogs. The proprietors say that they have 14 full time staff members (although they gave a conflicting account of the number of staff and working patterns in a case brought against them by HMRC earlier this year). Even 14 full time staff, in our view, are insufficient to give the 368 dogs the focused affection and companionship that they need. These dogs were, after all, bred over generations by humans, to live with humans, as companions. We are supposedly a nation of dog lovers. If so, how have we allowed this to happen?"
Following on from the previous blog. It was really good to hear from Madeleine again. When we spoke last year when she first had the diagnoses with Oliver of SM 2, she never pointed the finger of blame, which she could of and believe me I would of not blamed her. Breeding is a statistical game, as I've said before, and it's trying to weight the statistics as heavily as you can that puppies will be healthy. I tell this to people who are looking at getting a dog from me and most nod reassuringly, but what happens when the the pup you have falls the wrong side of the statistics, your pup is the 1 in so many chance of having a certain health condition. It probably ain't going to make you think I'm such a wonderful breeder
Unfortunately though with the conditions Oliver has been diagnosed with Chiari-like Malformation (CM) and Syringomyelia (SM) it has a pretty high statistical chance of occurring, as a recent German survey reveals the high level of CM/SM in Cavaliers. The stats for this survey should make any Cavalier breeder hang their head in shame.
Survey of 339 German cavaliers finds 97.1% with Chiari-like malformation and 48.1% with SM.
But most Cavalier breeders will take a double dose of cognitive dissonance and find some way to disregard this survey with saying as they always do, "It is to small of a sample of the breed." Wait a minute though. This is not any old cohort of Cavaliers though. This is a cohort of Cavaliers, "being examined by MRI at the owners' request for breeding purposes." So this is a pretty important and specific cohort group within the Cavalier, breeding Cavaliers and I suspect a big part of that group will be Cavaliers being bred specifically for the show ring. This survey is reflecting pretty much what the BVA - CM / SM scheme has been coming up with over the time it has been running and is why so many Cavalier breeders don't use it now and accuse it of "automatically grading any Cavalier to have CM," but as the German survey concludes nearly every Cavalier most probably does have some level of CM.
It's been interesting watching the rise of Brachycephalic breeds such as the Bulldog, Pug and the French Bulldog which is now the most popular breed registered with the Kennel Club (KC). It wasn't that long ago the Cavalier was riding on this wave of popularity and just like the Bulldog, Pug and French Bulldog they were thought to have their very own cute eccentricities that made them so special. One was the way they would be trundling along and do that so funny air scratching with a back leg towards their neck. It was thought just cute and regarded as "A Cavalier thing" and now we know it is actually a "Dog suffering thing." Air scratching is more often the first sign a Cavalier has syringomyelia and is why the breed does it so commonly. Syringomyelia put simple is the brain prolapsing out of the back of the skull and humans that suffer with this condition describe it as the feeling of sharp pains down the neck as if being poked with a hot poker. The condition has pretty well been agreed by those studying it to be due to the shape of the Cavaliers head, just like Bulldog, Pugs and French Bulldogs the skull has been bred wider and the length shortened and unfortunately the brain struggles to be accommodated in a concertinaed skull. As a lot of the dogs important conformation of it's airway is also situated lying under the brain that sits in the cranium area this shortening of the cranium length along with the shortened muzzle, also effects the breathing capabilities of the dog. We are seeing more and more dogs from other brachycephalic breeds presenting with CM/SM unfortunately. This is because of the denial that a brachycephalic skull causes far more harm than good for a dog.
So now the Cavalier has been usurped by even more extreme brachycephalic breeds and the internet is full of photos and videos of these dogs puffing, panting, grunting, grumbling basically struggling to breath and what do the people who breed and own these dogs say, "It's a breed thing." "No! It's a dog suffering thing."
Last year I wrote the blog I have bred a dog with SM At the time Madeleine who has Oliver (who is our Smudge's litter sibling, now 7 years old and a pure Cavalier) did not want me to publish his or her name, as it was all a bit raw at the time. Madeleine had put Oliver forward to be MRI scanned on the Cavaliers study, where it is hoped that it will show the risk factors for syringomyelia can be identified by looking at the shape of the Cavalier’s skull, that I asked people to help with on the blog Over 3 years old Cavaliers, your breed needs you! As Oliver seemed well and a bigger skull type Cavalier, she was pretty devastated to find out he was SM 2 and symptomatic.
A year has passed and it has not been an easy one for Madeleine and Oliver, but she has allowed me to share his on going story living with CM/SM.
I haven't been in touch for a while. I think the last time I contacted you was a little over a year ago after Oliver's SM diagnosis.
Unfortunately we had a bad year all round with poor Oliver.
Shortly after his SM diagnosis he had a double bout of Idiopathic Vestibular Disease. The first was really frightening for me and I rushed him to the vets thinking he was having a stroke. They weren't sure what was wrong to start but he was very wobbly and had facial paralysis down one side. When he wasn't getting better as expected my referral to Fitzpatricks was rushed and I raced down to see Claire Rusbridge in a day. I got there quicker than someone who also rang for an emergency appointment that day. They lived 20 mins away I live 2.5 hours away!!
Claire checked him over gave him his second MRI of the year and confirmed a secondary bout of IVD and the other side of his face was now paralysed too.
We had a good chat about his SM.
He has typical scratcher SM with the syrinx being down near his shoulders. (He hasn't worn a collar since his original SM diagnosis, always walked in a harness anyway, now his tags go on that too)
She assured me the gabapentin wasn't the cause of the IVD as I was quite concerned it happened so soon after starting the meds.
Anyway after a year of recovery he can blink again and use his mouth/lips. His eyes are still a bit runny but no where near as bad as they were. His head is slightly tilted a lot of the time but he used to do that a lot anyway.
He gained a little weight on the gabapentin but I have got that off now with a change of diet. He is fit and well now, athletic and lean. Generally his SM doesn't cause him much discomfort but I am due a meds review with my vet this month. I think he needs a little extra on certain days. He def has down days when the air pressure changes. Our journey to Wales gives him discomfort as we go up and over the mountains to get to my parents cabin (air pressure is low at the top, changes in air pressure affect him). He loves it when we are there though. I am keen to ensure he enjoys his life as much as he can.
I hope you and your family are all well.
Photo : in Wales
Photo: still ball mad
Madeleine was kind enough to let me share Oliver's on going story living with CM/SM. Yes, I breed dogs that can develop health conditions and it lies heavy on my conscience. Any breeder tells you they don't or never have bred a dog with a problem is either a liar or in denial and just want to make the sale. If you breed Cavaliers the chances are pretty high that you have and are going to breed dogs with MVD or CM/SM. Denying this in this breed will only see more and more Cavaliers bred to suffer with these conditions. The only way I can see to lessen this condition in Cavaliers is to use careful crossbreeding programs or watch the breed come to a slow and painful end. No amount of health tests can help this breed now.
Further blog to follow on this.
Made this White chocolate and raspberry cheesecake for supper last night using double cream a wee out of date and mascarpone two weeks out of date with the base made from an assortment of biscuits, as I scraped the bottom of the biscuit barrel out, crumbs and all. Needless to say, "it tasted really nice and we all had a slice and we are all still here today.
Got out for a lovely walk this evening over at Heywood Wood with the husband David, children and Henry.
On the 13th I ordered DNA sampling kits from the Animal Health Trust to find out if Bumble and Blottie (the two Brittany cross Cavalier girls we hope to breed our next litters from) have inherited the one copy of the mutation for Episodic Falling that their Mum Smudge carries. I got the DNA sampling kits the next day and last week sent off the samples. Just got the results in my email inbox and have printed the certificates out. Neither of them have inherited the one copy of the mutation for Episodic Falling that their Mum Smudge carries.
This photo taken by our son Thomas of Blottie and shows us the improvement (hopefully) of the confirmation at the front of the cranium using the Brittany with the Cavalier. Blottie along with her sister Bumble, and Toby and his son Ernest (3/4 Cavalier, 1/4 poodle) are up to Bristol on the 1st August for MRI scanning. The British Veterinary Association BVA panel of neurological specialists sit together and grade MRI scans around every 4 to 6 weeks depending on numbers they have to grade. This will be an agonizing wait for me.
A lot is hanging on these results. Nine years ago I dipped my toe in the crossbreeding pool and nine years later we are seeing results in heart health, but the one I thought would be the easiest issue to improve the skull conformation has proved to not be such an easy conquest. So at the moment before the dogs get scanned and we see the results, I'm running through the whole gamut of emotions from feeling pretty confident about the results to giving up the whole game.
You know I'm not religious, but I've almost thought about sneaking a quick flick of the eyes up to the clouds and asking, "God, you know I don't think you exist, but just encase you do. If you could help with the results of my dogs MRI scans. I could maybe believe in you. (Fingers tightly crossed behind my back). If you could spare a moment, as I can see you must be chock a block with loads of stuff with the amount of poor little children starving to death every day on the planet, but you know my dogs MRI scans are pretty important."
Yes, I personally will be pretty devastated if the MRI scans show no improvement or my nightmare. I've bred dogs with a worse problem. If things do go tits up, you know it often helps to see the bigger picture tough, doesn't it God?
“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you,but he will make a fool of himself, too.”
― Samuel Butler
Me (Jane) with Puddin' and Teagol, waiting patiently to flush a patch of kale, December 2019
Hello, I am Jane!