More on Closed Registries

Population geneticist Federico Calboli is a frequent and outspoken commenter at Q. I sent him the material below even before I blogged it. Here, with his permission, are his thoughts. As he is not affiliated with any breeding organization his freedom from bias is clear. If you believe that simply picking from two healthy parents will guard against the defects revealed by the ever- shrinking gene pool, you should read this.

Sadly, most people who follow this blog already know these things, and those committed to the 19th century fallacies of “pure breeding” are standing around with fingers in their ears hollering “LALALALALALAI CAN’T HEARYOU!!!” Still, you never know who you might reach. Take it away, Federico! (Emphasis mine)

“Assuming one is trying to produce pedigree dogs that are healthy (i.e. health is the phenotype we select for), the advice [in post below] is sound. 

“The elephant in the room (which is touched in the intro when landraces are mentioned) is that, no matter what, closed registry breeding will kill a breed, sooner or later.  Later if the advice in the document is followed, but that’s no silver bullet.  Keeping dogs cost money (no matter how little, it’s always more than 0).  Even in the ‘let’s just breed for health’ dreamscape, keeping the largest possible effective population would be quite costly.  Who pays?  This problem just by itself means that sooner or later genetic variability will be lost.  In the best case scenario this is a slow whittling away, but there is never any putting back in a closed registry model.

“Hence why either you breed for function (dog X does job Y well enough, dog X is a breeder, end of), and ‘breed’  becomes a synonym with ‘function’, or you need something else.  Hence why I recommend to reduce the number of breeds, merging similar one (say, all retrievers together, all sighthounds together) AND to have open registries. Merging breeds would increase genetic variability while keeping some guideline in terms of looks and function.  Open registries (keeping note of all ‘half bred’ animals, and fully registering those with 3 out of 4 grandparent registered, or something like that) would guarantee gene flow after the first ‘enrichment’ through breed merging has happened. 

“To cut it short, no matter how well managed, sooner or later closed registries will spell doom for a breed.  Having said that, there is more to say about canine health, but that’s for another email.”

On losing a dog

Unfortunately, as Kipling and (even) Ogden Nash knew, a recurrent event given our disparate life spans. Tom McIntyre’s Kaycee died suddenly at four last week, after a joyous bout of play. Tom reflects:

P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }The
death of a dog teaches what a tenuous, suspended by a silk thread
thing life is. And yet, the wonder is not in how easily and
perplexingly they die, but how truly alive they can be. It is not
just about dog years, but dog days, even dog minutes. If I “only”
had four years with him, I would have settled for ten seconds. And
wished for forever. Because he was my friend.”

Of Lane and Jane and dog relatives

Our blog friend and frequent commenter Lane Batot lives an enviable life in the wooded hills of North Carolina, working at the zoo, rambling the wild lands with his team of dogs and his spear, reading and collecting a natural history library that would rival mine. At the moment he has thousands of books, thirteen  dogs including a pair of tazi boys from Vladimir Beregovoy that are cousins of ours, and four ferrets; if I have gotten any numbers wrong I am sure he will let me know.

But Lane is not only Ortega’s “Municipal Paleolithic Man”; he is an amateur scholar of Edgar Rice Burroughs, a former Sasquatch, and a long time friend of Jane Goodall’s who has worked at Gombe. They meet occasionally when Jane speaks at a nearby venue, but this year Jane and the Edgar Rice Burroughs Society conspired to fly him to LA for the big Tarzan festivities. I wish I still had the typing skills and energy to re- type his entire 20- some page handwritten letter about his wandering around in an alien habitat, but I think that his official interview will do.

A couple more photos: tazi boys, and Lane in a more natural habitat:

“New” Petroglyph

… from none other than Andrey Kovalenko— see below.

Andrey says: “This rock art is located in (تیمره) Golpaygan, Isfahan in the central part of Iran. GP Location is: 33° 38′ 31.43″ N 50° 19′ 27.30″ E. There have not been any scientific examination (Magnetic Polarity Chronology, Uranium Thorium, Carbon 14 HL) to date the age of petroglyphs in Kheomein and Golpayganm specifically but from other findings in the same area it can be said that the petroglyphs date back to Pre-Agriculture era — Isfahan – Iran.”

One more on Plum

… To thank everyone; I will not belabor the point or fill the blog.

Jameson Parker sent Robinson Jeffers’ wonderful tribute to his bulldog Grip. In part:

I hope than when you are lying

Under the ground like me your lives will appear

As good and joyful as mine.

No, dear, that’s too much hope: you are not so well cared for

As I have been.

And never have known the passionate undivided

Fidelities that I knew.

Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided. . . .

But to me you were true.

You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.

I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures

To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,

I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.

And from Jutta in Germany, whose photos of Nhubia and Taalai often appear here, a photo she took of the old boyo here in his prime several years ago, one that made us laugh…

UPDATE: JP got the caption: “I don’t know what you were trying to do with the tape measure, but clearly you don’t have nearly enough hands.”

Plummer lurcher: March 1 1999- Dec 13 2012

My old dog Plummer is gone. He was born (bred for us, a Hancock designer NM blend of greyhound and bearded and border collie) in David Hancock’s kennel in an England that still allowed hunting with dogs, and died in his bed in his home in New Mexico. Once the greatest single- hand hare dog I have ever owned, he was failing badly the last few days, and falling down constantly. Loyal, rambunctious, sometimes loud, overbearing, smart and cheerful, he was one of a kind, very unlike the tazis, though descendants of his mating with Lash still win in New Mexico meets. I doubt I will ever have another dog like him. Lib may write more.

His birth announcement: I assume most can still recognize a Polaroid!

With David

Scenes from a life

A note of congratulations from Terence Wright’s late Logan longdog on his first hare; another…

He liked hunting, water (much more than salukimorphs), and food, and comfort…

He grew old with his friends, and will be missed…

(And thanks once again to Terri Gonzales, DVM)

A face for Lane…

It is dated– from the 90’s– and he informs me he rarely wears a hat. But this is the best photo I have of Lane Batot and one of his many dogs, on a drizzly day atop one of his backyard mountains…