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: