Monday, December 26, 2011

Beautiful Manufactured Dogs

This Christmas I received as a gift from a friend a book she has treasured for 20 years. It is a book full of paintings of dogs from the earliest caveman depictions to present day. What's fascinating is how some dogs have changed and others haven't. It appears that rat terrier type dogs and greyhounds have been around for centuries. They must be hardy and helpful breeds. Some breeds have changed a lot -- and not for the benefit of their health.
For example, pekes and pugs have had their snouts shortened so that now they have breathing problems and allergies. They used to have pug noses, but they weren't flat up against their skulls the way they are now. People bred these dogs to look this way, and in the process, made the breeds less hardy.
Possibly the most damaged breed is the King Cavalier Spaniel. Breeders worked to create smaller and smaller dogs with tiny skulls. Because of this, these poor dogs now can have brain diseases. Their brains are too large for their skulls and they begin having seizures or fits. They scream in pain because it feels to them that thousands of knives are stabbing them all over their body. The only way to relieve them is to put them down. You can have a pup checked to see if it carries the gene for this problem, but some breeders hide it. One champion Cavalier won ribbons and trophies for being a perfect example of the breed and was retired early from the ring because it had this brain disease and had to be euthanized.
A few years ago, one of the top champions in the world was a tiny peke that fainted while its photo was being taken after it won Best of Show. They had two fans pointed it the dog, but it still overheated and fainted because its nose is so flat against its skull that it can barely breathe.
So, before you swoon over that 2-pound teacup chihuahua or yorkie or the cute peke or pug with no profile or the small, delicate Cavalier, remember that these dogs were manufactured by man and man is not always wise in how he manipulates nature. As the TV commercial used to admonish, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!"

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Gifts

Did you ever get a dog or cat for Christmas?

I'm not sure this is a good idea. It looks nice in the movies or in commercials, but you are giving a living thing as a gift to someone. We have not had great results when this happens in ARF. I remember one woman who called right after Christmas and wanted to return her gift to us. She had said aloud one day that she might like to have a dog -- like the one she had just seen on TV. A well-trained, cute, dog. She was given a puppy for Christmas. A chewing, peeing, pooping, crying all night puppy. Not what that 78-year-old lady had in mind!

I can recall other times when families called in January to ask us to take back the dog or puppy they adopted at Christmas. The holidays were over and they were "over" having a pet.

It is better, I think, to add a member of the family when you are not drunk on holiday cheer or teary-eyed after watching a Christmas special. It is more responsible to bring a new member of the family home when things are back to normal -- no Christmas tree to wreck and pee on, no presents to tear up, no ornaments to destroy, no bowls of candy to eat and get sick (or die) on.

Santa should never bring any child a puppy or kitten. Think about it. He flew the poor darlings in on his sled? How comfortable is that for the little ones?

For Christmas, give underwear, gloves, games, knitted hats, and flat-screen TVS. Save the kittens and puppies for later in the year.