Letters: September 2010
Three months' worth of praise and constructive criticism.
I wanted to comment on “Guaranteed Stone-Free Dalmatians? Yes!” (WDJ June 2010). I was there in the early 1980s with Dr. Bob Schaible, and the renowned veterinary geneticist, Dr. Donald Patterson, when we were asked by the AKC to come to a round table informal meeting about the latest in genetic diseases of dogs and associated diagnostics etc. The meeting resulted in a series of articles (“Pure Bred Dogs,” AKC Gazette, 1982, volume 99).
I wrote about the inherited bleeding diseases (Dodds, W J., “Detection of genetic defects by screening programs,” AKC Gazette 99:56-60, 1982). In the same issue, Don Patterson wrote about heritable cardiac disease, and Bob Schaible told his remarkable story about the Dalmatian x Pointer cross and the back crosses that were uric acid stone-free but still looked identical to Dalmatians phenotypically.
I was horrified to learn that subsequently the Dalmatian Club of America refused to acknowledge the registration of Bob’s fourth generation back cross, thereby setting back the health of this breed for decades to come. This was pure ignorance on behalf of the Dalmatian Club’s membership – to even think that pure bred dogs were indeed “pure” and had not evolved over time by selective breeding by humans, rather than randomly in nature! I remember that Bob was bitter over this folly at the time, and I don’t blame him one bit.
It is with great triumph at last that his will to save the breed from this condition has finally been accepted. Bravo!
W. Jean Dodds, DVM,
Hemopet / Hemolife
Garden Grove, CA
Thank you so much for such a wonderful and informative publication! We have subscribed for many years and I have never before taken the time to say thanks. We share our home with three dogs; two adopted through Petfinder.com and one stray. Although all of your issues cover pertinent topics, your recent issues have been especially helpful.
After reading your article about canine rehabilitation (“Saying ‘No’ to Surgery,” WDJ February 2010), we took our oldest dog to University of Tennessee’s rehab department and this has been really beneficial. Of course, my favorite column is Pat Miller’s; she has shared so much great training advice over the years. Your articles on canine diets have also been very helpful. We follow Mary Straus’ recommendations and add supplements that you have suggested.
Also, I thought you might be interested to know that one of our dogs (a GSD mix, not a Dalmatian) had a urate stone and has been on the low-purine Billinghurst diet for the past three years. This diet has worked really well for her and she has had no recurrence of crystals/stones.
I always give WDJ as a gift whenever a friend adopts a dog. Many thanks for helping us keep our dogs healthy and happy!
I must say I was shocked to see Whole Dog Journal sporting a shaved dog chained up on the cover of the July 2010 issue. Then the same picture on page two. This picture is by no means a pretty picture; a dog chained with a tie out stake, no shelter, food, or water plus the dog is shaved down to the bare skin, with no protection from the sun or heat. I realize this is just a picture displaying a shaved dog, but please a little more humane example. This dog has been shaved down to the skin, no protection from the sun/rain/brush/stickers etc.
So despite the good will in the article, please advocate getting hair somewhere else besides dogs. Many dog grooming salons advocate clipping dogs in summer just for their own profit margin.
We received a couple dozen letters like Patricia’s regarding that photo. Allow me to apologize for failing to caption the photo with a warning that dogs should never be shaved to the skin, as that Golden was, even for a good cause! Dogs need their coats! The article suggested only that groomers should be encouraged to donate the hair from their regular work to oil cleanup nonprofit groups.
But let me also say that it’s easy to take details in a photo out of context. I took that photo of the Golden on the sidelines of an evening sports practice. He was a sweet, older house dog, troubled by thyroid problems, who had a hard time regulating his temperature. During that hot summer, his owners decided to try to clip his excessively thick coat to help him cool down (he was hot even in their air-conditioned home). They tried to do it themselves, and botched the job badly enough that they felt their only recourse was to shave him all the way down. Of course they should have taken him to a groomer for a trace clip and coat thinning instead.
But his owners never took him out in the sun (we were in full shade), and only walked him outdoors in the evening after sunset. He was staked on the sidelines of our game so he could be close to his owners, he had water, and there was always at least one player on the sidelines petting him!
THE GOOD, AND BAD
I just read your editor’s note about vets and vaccines (“Something Is Not Right,” August 2010). Apparently the clinic you go to is still in the dark ages. I’ve been going to my clinic since the early 1980s and (what you described) certainly was the attitude during the 80s and 90s. But I’ve been getting titers on my Gordon Setters for several years, and now that I work at the front desk of the very same clinic, I find that more people are savvy about over-vaccinating and asking questions about issues with their pets.
Our vets are not “vaccine happy” either, recommending “routine” vaccinations every three years. We haven’t jumped on the canine influenza bandwagon although now most kennels in our area require it (maybe you should do an editorial on kennels who demand bordetella and influenza vaccines for all boarding there).
Because of the economy, more people are opting not to visit, even after the infamous post card is received. But we are also aware that more clients are noticing issues like lumps, hot spots, or their pets “not acting themselves.” As a receptionist, I don’t make the decision for the client, I only tell them what their pet is due to have, which includes heartworm testing and fecal exams. More and more clients are aware of what is needed and what is not necessary. We have very few clients who wander in clueless and we certainly don’t automatically vaccinate a pet who is obviously ill or compromised in any way. Our vets and vet techs are much more observant and caring than that.
I thoroughly enjoy WDJ and follow it on Facebook too.
It was easy to live in the modern age of veterinary medicine when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a wealth of enlightened veterinarians all around me. But just 150 miles north, it’s still the “Dark Ages” (though I did find a good practice with modern vets about 25 miles away). I’m not alone; I received many notes about similar situations, such as this one:
I work at a veterinary clinic, and have for the past 18 years. The short answer to your question about why vaccines are pushed aggressively but needed care is not? It is the profit margin. For example, a dose of rabies vaccine for a dog costs about $2. Clients are charged $24, and it takes about two minutes of the vet’s time (if that). Compare that to a blood test; in most cases, the profit to the vet is not even twice its cost, and the tests are very time consuming to run. Which is easier and more profitable?
Honestly, it makes me sick because I’ve seen the same exact thing that you mentioned in your editor’s note about the old dog that clearly had health issues. Many of these older pets come back a few short weeks after being vaccinated with a dire health concern (in my opinion probably triggered by the vaccine).
Name withheld by request
A BETTER CONE
You just about always get it right – but not this time. Regarding “A Better Cone” (WDJ August 2010), I have to take great issue with one of your main points about the ProCollar. I have absolutely no affiliation whatsoever with ProCollar; I am just a doggy mom to a huge harlequin Great Dane named Harley. I have done my homework, having gone through virtually every single product on the market to find the best cone-alternative for Harley’s post-surgical use.
Unfortunately, you made a totally incorrect assumption based on Rickey’s experience when you made the comment, “Truly large dogs would not be able to use this product.” Absolutely untrue! Harley is a huge boy – 150 pounds. The XL size of ProCollar fit him perfectly, no problem. And, because I was so happy with this collar compared to cones (and all the other alternatives) I suggested it to my Dane friends, who also have been using it with great success with their Great Danes. I never took a pic of Harley when he was wearing his ProCollar, but here is a photo of him so that you can at least get an idea of his size.
Ricky, while only 25 pounds, appears to have a heavy, long-haired coat. Danes, of course, do not. Neither do many other giant breed dogs, on whom the XL ProCollar would, and does, fit just great.
Thanks for your terrific WDJ!
Cary Glassner Rauscher,
hanks for the good info in this article! The one thing missing is noting that some dogs may need a rigid collar, like my dog, who just had both eyes removed.
I never considered a condition that required a cone to provide eye protection, even though it’s apparently common (see next letter). Thanks for your feedback!
There are some instances in which one of the alternative collars (other than the Kong E-Collar) mentioned in your article would not be appropriate. I have a dog that recently had delicate (and expensive) eye surgery to remove a luxated lens. It was absolutely critical that she not rub her eye afterwards, on anything. Not only was her vision at stake, but the eye itself.
While they do generally prevent a dog from licking or chewing anywhere on their body, any of the soft collars do not prevent a dog from rubbing their eyes or face on other objects, or scratching at their face with a hind foot. Unfortunately, a stiff cone is the only type I am aware of that protects a dog’s eyes or face.
So while your statement that “Alternatives to classic ‘Elizabethan’ collars are more comfortable and just as effective for your dog” is technically true with the inclusion of the Kong E-Collar, your readers should be very aware that not all the alternatives are always as effective or appropriate, and there are definitely situations where a stiff cone (whether a traditional one or the more comfortable Kong version) are the only kind that will do the job.
I would also like to suggest that any dogs who do wear a stiff E-Collar of any variety see a veterinary chiropractor, physical therapist, or massage therapist afterwards. There is no question that bumping into things and twisting their necks repeatedly while wearing the stiff collars can take a toll on their cervical spine and musculature.
Thank you so much for all you do to improve the lives of so many dogs!
West Grove, PA