Archives for February 2015

Collie Eye Anomaly: The Confusion About “Going Normal”

Collie Eye Anomaly: The Confusion About “Going Normal”

In 1953, a prevalent inherited eye condition of collies was first described by W.G. Magrane in a journal article entitled, “Congenital anomaly of the optic nerve in collies”1. Later termed choroidal hypoplasia by scientists, the disease now known to the general public as collie eye anomaly (CEA) has significantly troubled collie breeders for over 50 years. In 2007, a paper describing a specific genetic mutation of the NHEJ1 gene associated with CEA was published. Identification of this mutation, has made it possible for scientists to develop tests that predictably identify the mutation and subsequently help breeders avoid producing puppies with CEA. Despite its breed specific name, testing has since identified the same CEA associated mutation in several other dog breeds including the Australian shepherd and the Shetland sheepdog.

Though there is significant variability in terms of ocular defects seen in affected dogs, the fundamental characteristics of CEA stem from the malformation of an important structure of the eye known as the choroid. The choroid is a thin layer of tissue containing the blood vessels responsible for supplying blood and nutrients to the retina and other structures of the eye. While mildly affected dogs may maintain normal vision with ...

Myotonia Congenita: A Preventable Inherited Disease of the Miniature Schnauzer

Myotonia Congenita: A Preventable Inherited Disease of the Miniature Schnauzer

From their origins in Germany, the miniature schnauzer and its entertaining, high-spirited personality have endeared them to people all over the world. Originally bred to be an effective, small breed vermin hunter, it is believed that the miniature schnauzer was the product of breeding small breeds like the affenpincher and small poodles with the standard schnauzer. First recognized as an independent breed in the late 19th century, miniature schnauzers have since firmly planted themselves as popular, devoted family members and guard dogs. In 2013, they were ranked 17th in the AKC registration statistics; an indication of their significant popularity in the US. Unfortunately, like other purebred dogs, the miniature schnauzer is reported to inherit some genetic diseases that can prevent them from being the spunky terrier they are otherwise known to be. One such condition is an inherited muscular disease known as myotonia congenita (MC).

MC is a disorder of skeletal muscle caused by a mutation of the CLCN1 gene in which muscles display hyperexcitability and delayed relaxation after contracting. Affected puppies are usually identified when they begin walking due to the presence of a stiff gait resulting in frequent falls. Though the episodes of muscle stiffness do not ...

Rickie Roo to Compete at Westminster

Rickie Roo to Compete at Westminster

Rickie Roo, well-known star in the world of dog agility is also known for her canine philanthropy, recognized by the American Kennel Club as an Award of Canine Excellence (ACE) award honoree for her educational and charitable efforts.

This spunky 7-year-old Rat Terrier is an exceptional athlete and is ranked among the best in her sport, earning her titles Master Agility Excellent and Master Excellent Jumpers With Weaves. These titles were needed for Rickie Roo to qualify for this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Masters Agility Challenge event.  Despite having a visual impairment due to both lenses needing removal because of primary lens luxation (PLL), she will be competing on February 14th (show airs on 2/15) at Westminster. 

In the sport of dog agility, just like in the Olympics it is important to be in tip-top shape and able to perform at your best. Which is why her breeder, Barbie Trammel and her owner and trainer, Deborah Davidson-Harpur had Roo’s DNA tested for an inherited mutation that causes lens dislocation in several breeds. PLL is caused by a mutation that affects the ligaments that holds the lens of the eye in place. When those ligaments ...

Polyneuropathy- A Preventable Inherited Disease of the Alaskan Malamute

Polyneuropathy- A Preventable Inherited Disease of the Alaskan Malamute

Throughout human history, people have learned to use a variety of animals to help perform essential tasks in an attempt to make their lives easier. While dogs are often recognized for their skill as hunters or as integral hunting companions in pursuit of a variety of game, one under recognized skill of dogs is as draft animals. While we often associate draft or sled dogs with competitive racing such as the Iditarod or Yukon Quest races, many do not realize that these races were developed from the historical use of dogs as draft animals. One dog breed with significant roots as both a hunting and draft animal is the Alaskan malamute.

Early accounts describe ancestors of the Alaskan malamute being used by the native Alaskan tribe previously known as Mahlemuts. These dogs played a crucial role in helping the tribe succeed in the harsh and unforgiving land of northwestern Alaska by assisting them with hunting and pulling sleds. When gold fever struck the Yukon and Alaska in the 19th century, demand for malamutes and other capable draft dogs increased substantially to assist hopeful prospectors in their quest for a golden fortune. Often confused with the Siberian husky due to ...

My Furry Valentine- Our Unconditional Love of Dogs

My Furry Valentine- Our Unconditional Love of Dogs

Love. True Love. The ever elusive feeling that everyone understands, but no one can quite explain. The feeling that we associate with our friends, spouses, children, and family members… especially the four-legged ones. The feeling that can make us feel as high as the clouds and as low as dirt. In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I contemplate the concept of unconditional love. In particular, unconditional love as it pertains to our dogs. I’m not sure what their secret is (and maybe they are conspiring together), but somehow dogs have tricked us into feeling the closest thing to unconditional love that is likely to exist.

Arguably, one of the major glues that holds love together is the feeling of trust. Like the trust that the one I love won’t vomit on my carpet or furniture on a semi-regular basis. Like the trust that my love won’t chew a hole in my socks and underwear when I leave to go to work. Like the trust that my love won’t embarrass me by relieving them self on the floor when company is over. All things that the dogs in my life have done… many times. Yet, still I love them.

Respect in the ...