EDUCATION Dale Malony: You’ve mentioned Willis’ book a number of times, and also in your book. If a breeder were looking for one book to compliment yours of those you recommend in your book, which would you say would be the best complement? Dr. Padgett: Willis - no doubt, Willis. Yes, he’s by far the best. There’s another one - Nicholas - which really gets into technical genetics and would not be good for most breeders. Willis is a good complement. He’s got two books out. The second one is directed more to breeders, but the first one is a better book. If you can understand mine, you can understand that one. If you have a reasonable feeling for what I said in my book, you’ll understand Willis. He’s good. Debbie Martin: …In the last two years we’ve been educating ourselves about what the diseases are, because, for example many people just didn’t know that atopy is the same thing as allergies. They just didn’t know what any of these things were. We accepted that German Shepherds had diarrhea a lot. Nobody thought that it could be a disease. So what we’re finding now is that many people will say "Oh, well my dog has allergies, I didn’t put it on the survey, I didn’t know that’s what that was." Or "Yeah, my dog always has diarrhea", but they didn’t put it on the survey, didn’t think it was a disease. My impression is that if we were to do the survey again with the knowledge of diseases we have now the incidence of disease would be much higher than it was at the original time of the survey. Would that be a typical? Have you found that with other clubs? Dr. Padgett: The only club that has done a post-survey is the Cairn Terrier club, and they did one at five years of age. In their survey there was about a one percent increase in the frequency of disease compared to the original one. But they didn’t have time to change them negatively. So I think that’s the kind of stuff that was already in the works. I mean, that’s my opinion because you can’t do anything about genetic disease until you’re generations past. So what you’re asking is what happens to the next set of dogs, not what happens where you’re at. I would wait before conducting another survey. I really would wait, and I would collect the data separately. If you can get accurate diagnosis that says this is split and you collect that over a couple of years then you ought to be able to see either the disease was skipped in the first place, because they didn’t know it was genetic or you’re going to see a change in the frequency of the original disease. That’s what I would bet. I wouldn’t do another survey until you come to a point where change could’ve been made. That’s got to be three generations. Debbie Martin: As we’ve been learning about all these diseases, and it’s been a real learning curve for everybody, because we just didn’t have the knowledge of what they were, and one of the things we keep on hearing… Dr. Padgett: And remember, you’re going to have a permanent kindergarten because you’re getting new breeders all the time. It’s a permanent kindergarten, so you need to keep in place the things you’re doing now. I’m not sure where you guys are, but AKC says the average breeder lasts six years. So, keep your educational tools, because you’re going to have to do them over and over again. And as you do them over, hopefully, your description of the diseases will be improved – you’ll be better and more recognizable and allow that to happen. I mean that’s a good thing to do. Debbie Martin: Now just touching back on… when we originally did the survey, nobody knew what the diseases were. We’re also running into the average vet who isn’t really aware of the diseases of the German Shepherd. So like, spinal stenosis, … many of them don’t really have a clue. Would it be helpful for us to take our worst diseases, write up the symptoms, and put it in a booklet that everybody who buys a dog can take to their vet and say "my dog’s having many of these symptoms. Is it this disease?" Dr. Padgett: Two clubs have done that, and they think it’s helpful. Most vets, but not all vets, think it’s helpful. The vast majority say thank you, but some don’t like to be challenged. As far as I’m concerned you can’t worry about that. Most vets like it, when you help them they like it. Dale Malony: And they don’t like it when you get a second opinion. Dr. Padgett: Right, they don’t. Because he’ll start to complicate things and you end up with fights and vets who dislike dog breeders. …They fight between themselves.
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