Healthy Dogs

Both Reid and Matt reviewed Ted Kerasote’s first dog book, Merle’s Door, here. His newest book, Pukka’s Promise:the Quest for longer- Lived Dogs, nearly got by me as I worked on my own dog book, and that would be a shame. Less a narrative than his previous book, it uses his present dog Pukka to examine all the odd modern attitudes to dogs that hamper our efforts to breed and live with healthy animals. Without being an exact parallel to Hounds of Heaven, it nevertheless is concerned with many of its issues: how to breed healthy dogs, how to feed them, how to let them lead good lives. He deals with everything from genetic diversity to cancer.

I  was intensely interested in his chapter on, and against, spaying and neutering. Even for stopping population growth, he argues, vasectomies and tubal ligation, which can be cheaper, are superior methods– dogs with intact organs are less likely to stress their adrenal glands, have fewer cancers, and are generally healthier. He puts a little less emphasis on genetic diversity and its loss, my chief worry, but he catches the cultish spirit behind universal spay neuter. Many people are actively hostile to him when they realize his dog is “intact”; one asks him “Don’t all dogs have to be spayed and neutered?”

“Why?” I replied.

“For their health”.

“Where did you hear that?’

“From my vet.” !!!!

It seems even with the struggles and arguments I have had, I have been living in a bubble.Kerasote goes on to state:”Intact dogs have almost vanished from ordinary family life during the last four decades and can now only be seen on a regular basis at dog shows and field trials, in some inner-city neighborhoods, and on Indian reservations. [emphasis mine SB] This is not a representative sample of dogdom, either behaviorally or genetically. But when I’ve remarked to people in the animal welfare movement that we need to be concerned about the narrowing of the canid gene pool, and its consequences for the health of dogs as well as our understanding of them, I’ve been called an egghead. As one person told me, “I can’t get exercised over long-term genetics effects when millions of dogs are dying in shelters.'”

If you want to have dogs, never mind healthy dogs, you had better think about this! Here are a few amusing links. Which dog breeds are closely related to wolves?” will remind you that Asian sighthounds are not greyhounds. Pedigree Dogs Exposed is a continuing expose of what limited gene pools do to animals. And “33 Healthiest dog breeds” was getting me angrier and angrier as it counted down, until I got to the last– and laughed aloud.

Some healthy dogs we know:

The Hounds

The book is done, at 44,000- plus words– I like it, very much, and hope not to have to rewrite it. As it is a very personal book it may seem quirky to some, but I hope the editors can use their judgment and let it stand, more or less as is, with its melancholy and occasional obsessiveness…

My first page has a frontispeiece, of mad Riss and silly Tavi and stout old Ghaddi dancing, and an epigram– THE epigram- from Federico Calboli, which somehow sets the mood for the whole book, for me. Other photos will simply have a separate folder, but I thought that the mysterious hounds, dancing in black and white, deserved a special place of their own. Let us see if I can reproduce the effect here…

Dogs seeking homes…

There will be some interesting pups available later this year. But right now there is a wonderful rather young full grown dog available: Meshi. One of the difficulties among so- called “primitive” breeds is that they are– sometimes fiercely– hierarchical, especially the females. This is rarely a problem when they are raised together, as they accept the status quo– but when two Alpha queens are suddenly “forced” to live together, one must yield– and does not, sometimes.

At Shiri’s, neither Meshi nor Riss would back down, and Meshi must find a new home, one without bitches– she gets along perfectly well with males, cats, and other species.

Says Shiri:

“Rissy has been great with Mars and with Tavo’s bitches when they have been over.  Never a worry.  But not all dogs can be together, and Rissy and Mesh were not a match. 

2.5 years old, good with people and cats and kids,  very cheerful, extremely loving, super athletic.  Needs to go to a home without other bitches.  You can put my email address in the blog as a contact.”

And here it is: shiri.hoshen@outlook.com

Meshi’s needs are greatest. But there are more out there. John Burchard has bred another litter out of Tigger and Prince– that is Kazakh and working line Saudi, the Kazakh itself a combination of Almaty and Semirichenski lines, brindle genes out of Lashyn, and Kyran…

Tigger:

UPDATE: here is Tigger litter 2!

And for those who prefer lurchers and longdogs, Patrick has a link. They are descended in part from Lashyn and Plum, and Terence’s old Percy.

Finally, we are at  least thinking about planning an ultimate litter, though the breeding has not been done…