I am reminded daily of the short life-span of Scottish Terriers, as I look at Finlay, my beloved boy, diagnosed with TCC at 10 years of age. 10 years, I hear some of you say, is a good age for Scotties. And yes, I’ve also heard and read that I’m “lucky” that my Scottie has reached the age of 10. But today’s Scottish Terrier’s once legendary genetic toughness is so compromised he is the National Institute of Health bladder cancer research subject.
It is neither bad luck, nor accident, nor an act of god responsible for today’s Scottish Terrier carrying more than 20 times the genetic load for bladder cancer than other dogs and longevity shorter than large-size breeds; it is the consequence of a shallow breed standard that neither measures nor monitors genetic fitness and a century of human decisions by both breeders and buyers to bet our dogs’ future on ‘barbie-dog’ logic that if you breed Scotties to be handsome, they’re sure to be healthy.
Responsible breeders claim that they love their Scotties as much as anyone and Joseph Harvill goes on to say that “breeders love Scotties truly and when they do, it’s for the same reasons pet folks are crazy about these dogs.” But his caveat over this claim and he re-iterates that “I don’t doubt that they love these dogs, they just don’t breed like they do.”
We’re all to blame in one way or another. Breeding arbitrarily defined champions for the artificial world of the show-ring must stop. Perpetuating the closed studbook and line breeding of the past 109 years can make our dogs extinct; it cannot make them genetically fit. Without change our Scottish Terriers will not only suffer, they will disappear.
It’s not enough to be told that “there is a problem”. We know that. We’re burying them. We need to know why and how health problems now tearing our dogs and hearts can exist in dogs whose genes and lives we control through selective breeding; we deserve to know what real change is in place to assure “well-bred” will mean health and longevity tomorrow.
Our scotties hopes for tomorrow will come from the bottom up, one hopelessly enchanted individual at a time.
I’d like to say that the above paragraphs are all my own words, but I’ve once again been able to select hard-hitting comments highlighting the plight of our beloved Scottish Terriers, courtesy Great Scots Magazine. I’ve attached two pdf’s here so that you can read this two part article in it’s entirety and start today “making a difference” for Scottish Terriers.
The Big Truth – part one, Great Scots Magazine, 1st Quarter 2013 Vol 18 no 1 pp12-17 (6 page pdf – may take time to load)
The Big Truth – part two, Great Scots Magazine, 1st Quarter 2013 Vol 18 no 1 pp18-22 and 44 (6 page pdf – may take time to load)