A Fine Quote, and Dogs

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I stole this fabulous quote from Steve Bodio’s blog, Querencia at: http://stephenbodio.blogspot.com/

“Stuff is eaten by dogs, broken by family and friends, sanded down by the wind, frozen by the mountains, lost by the prairie, burnt off by the sun, washed away by the rain. So you are left with dogs, family, friends, sun, rain, wind, prairie, and mountains. What more do you want?”

Federico Calboli

Mr. Calboli is a geneticist, a post-doctoral Research Fellow at Imperial College, London, and—to be painfully honest—does the sort of work I am nowhere near smart enough to understand. But reading his opening page about himself (http://www.federicocalboli.com/) prior to stealing his words, the following sentence caught my eye:

“Alongside my genetic association research, I have worked on the analysis of complex pedigree records, using simulations to asses pedigree complexity, inbreeding and gene diversity loss in dogs.   My work on the analysis of the pedigree of purebred dogs in the UK has been key in the recent challenges to the practice of closed registries for dog breeds, on the grounds of animal welfare.”

Readers of my blog know I am no fan of anyone trying to tell me what to do, and when the government starts meddling in my affairs, I put my ears back like the false prophet’s donkey in the Bible and refuse to cooperate. Even more, I begin to think fond thoughts of Guy Fawkes, the sharpshooters who stood by the rude bridge and fired the shot(s) heard round the world, the men who picked their teeth while letting the rope of the guillotine go, all those who tell authoritarian governments (I know that’s redundant) to go perform anatomically impossible acts upon themselves. But…

But in this case, I have to admit I’m all on the side of science, or at least on Mr. Calboli’s science.

One of the blogs that was lost when my website had that embarrassing accident (wrong finger on the wrong key at the wrong time) was about this very issue. The moment a gene pool gets closed, disaster begins. It’s true of men (look at some of the royal morons and madmen that have cluttered up various thrones around the world throughout history) and it is especially and radically so with dogs. Dogs apparently have a genetic marker that allows them to evolve more rapidly than other species, which is why in such a comparatively short evolutionary timespan, the descendants of the wolf have been able to assume the shapes of Chihuahuas and Irish wolfhounds, whippets and bulldogs.

Closed gene pools have given us guard dogs that are afraid of their own bark, hunting dogs that can’t hunt their way to the meat counter in a supermarket, and companion dogs that bite their owners. No one is advocating mongrelization here, but for God’s sake, if crossing a little Malinois, say, into your German shepherd will delay the onslaught of dysplasia and spinal atrophy, or fear biting, do it. I have an antique dog book (I would have just called it an old dog book, since it was published in 1934, but apparently that qualifies it as an antique in today’s frantic world) with a cover photograph of a German shepherd. That dog bears no more resemblance to the German shepherds of the show ring or Schutzhund ring today than I do to LeBron James. If it sounds as if I’m picking on German shepherds, well, I am. As a child in Germany during the late fifties and the first half of the sixties I used to see them and admire them so much: magnificent and fearless athletes, calm and steady, polite with strangers, but fiercely protective of their owners, the ideal dog. Today… Let’s just say that with any breed, if the body can’t stand up to the rigors of being walked around suburban neighborhoods and the temperament can’t stand up to the rigors of being a beloved family pet, then that breed is, to quote a fine old Army phrase, FUBAR: fucked up beyond all recognition.

A kindly reader saved all my old blogs and sent them to me, for which I am very grateful. I will go back through my files and try to find that original blog and re-post it. If it has stood the test of time.

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