Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Merle to Merle Equals Defective Dogs

What Happens to Dogs when Breeding Goes Wrong

The Dodo By Caitlin Jill Anders  28 September 2015

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Noel is completely deaf and partially blind. She has never let her challenges get in her way and she never will — but sadly, Noel's life didn't have to be this way. 

When dogs with merle coats are bred together, also known as merle-to-merle breeding, it can result in what is called a "double merle," according to Deaf Dogs Rock, an organization that finds homes for deaf dogs. This can often lead to a lack of pigment in their ears, causing congenital deafness. If a dog has unpigmented skin in his ears, the nerve endings atrophy and die off completely within the dog's first week of life.

Each puppy within a merle-to-merle litter has a 25 percent chance of being born "double merle," Christina Lee of Deaf Dogs Rock told The Dodo. Being born "double merle" can lead to the afflictions mentioned above. "Some [canine] deafness can be caused by bad breeding," said Lee. "For example, merle-to-merle breeding … has a 25 percent chance of causing deafness or vision impairment in each puppy born in a litter from [improper] breeding." 

Some breeders don't take the health and welfare of the puppies into account, which can cause puppies who are bred improperly to become deaf or blind. What's worse, some breeders are instructed to euthanize a dog when he is born deaf, according to Lee. "We like to educate breeders that Deaf Dogs Rock can list [these dogs] as available for adoption or we can sponsor the deaf puppies into special needs rescues we work with across the U.S," Lee said. 

Breeds with a higher rate of deafness due to improper breeding include Australian shepherds, pit bulls, Great Danes, Dalmatians and American bulldogs. 

Noel the Australian shepherd is the product of improper breeding, but her family treats her just like a normal dog, finding her challenges to be the most beautiful parts of her. Noel has no real sense that she's different — astonishingly, her confidence and happiness grew out of an unfortunate past.
Pegasus the Great Dane is another victim of breeding gone wrong. Pegasus's entire litter died, except for her, and she wasn't expected to live for very long, either. 

photos by Dave Meinert

The man who adopted Pegasus filmed her progress to prove to the world that disability is beautiful and shouldn't be given up on. 

Even though these dogs are the result of ignorant breeders, we should still give them loving homes and help them through their challenges, despite the circumstances under which they were born. 

Breeders are simply not the way to go if you're looking to bring a new pup into your home. We can help prevent improper breeding by following the motto " adopt don't shop," and adopting dogs from shelters rather than buying from breeders.

"Breeding doesn't just "go wrong."  Double merles are usually intentional.  Greedy back-yard breeders and puppy mills turn out merles because they net them big dollars.  Usually defective dogs are destroyed, swept under the rug or abandoned.  The people who breed them don't care.  Just as the people who buy them care only for having a cute or unusual pet.

Red merle Australian Shepherd - from a genetic standpoint, merle is merle.  Whether red or blue, merles should not be red together.

I don't hate dogs with defective sight or hearing, they can be wonderful pets.  But they do require special vigilance to keep them out of harm's way.  And I do hate that their disabilities are entirely  preventable, and happen anyway because of greed.

Border Collies also come in merle, but the dangers are the same.  A dog should never be bred for its color.

If you have a yen for a merle dog, get it from a responsible breeder.  In the case of working dogs like Australian Shepherds and Border Collies, that means getting a dog from a breeder who does not breed for color, but for working ability.  Otherwise, adopt a merle of whatever breeding from a rescue or shelter.  There are no other ethical choices.

The dog pictured above is Ch. Wyndlair Avalanche, a double merle Rough Collie.  This dog should never have been born. Yet the AKC in all its wisdom failed to disqualify him at Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2012.  He was named Best of Breed.

On their website the breeders of this monstrosity trumpet their pride in his "accomplishments," and conveniently fail to mention the folly of his breeding.  They are proud to be using a dog that should never have been born at stud.  They say:

"From his birth, we knew Aiden was destined to be truly special. As his puppies have completed their championships in amazing style, our belief in him has been affirmed! Congratulations to his many kids on their smashing success in this country and beyond!

Aiden possesses beautiful length, cleanness & lightness of head with a pretty profile, huge outline, strong rear & breathtaking presence. He has a vitality and zest for life that we love.
Congratulations to Aiden's son, Am./Can. Ch. Taliesin Alfenloch Antarctic on going BEST OF BREED at the 2010 Canadian National under Judge Barry Hastings and AWARD OF MERIT at the 2010 CCA National under Judge Carl Williford! Arttie is owned by Diane Fitzpatrick, Ontario, Canada.

We are thrilled to announce Aiden's son, Nr. Ch. Wyndlair Point Given as the winner of the 2010 Kem Memorial Sweepstakes under respected Judge Nioma Stoner Coen!
Aiden stands at private stud at Wyndlair Collies. He is available to approved bitches only, owned by Collie Club of America members. Contact for details."

This is the sort of idiocy one expects from show breeders, but what of the puppies that this dog sires?  What will they lose - their sight?  their hearing? - when this dog is put to merle bitches, as he surely will be.

Down and Out with Tokyo’s Manga Artists

Struggle city: Young mangaka (manga artists) making a name for themselves in Japan, like those depicted in “Bakuman” (above), have been used as fodder for a subgenre known as mangakamono, which portrays the trials and tribulations of real-life and fictional manga artists. | © 2015 EIGA “BAKUMAN” SEISAKU IINKAI

The Japan Times  by Kaori Shoji  Special To The Japan Times  Sep 30, 2015

That Japanese movies are often adapted from Japanese manga is no secret. Less well known is the subgenre of films about the lives of some Japanese mangaka (manga artists), which is informally known as mangakamono. Many of these fictional biopics have gone on to become local blockbusters, but we’ll get to that later. These films reveal what is required to become a manga artist, how to make a living and keep the creative flames burning — despite the overwhelming odds of failing.

The genre emerged with the unexpected box-office success of Jun Ichikawa’s “Tokiwa-so no Seishun” in 1996. It’s an elegant, if superficial, look at the youthful beginnings of manga giants Motoo Abiko, aka Fujiko Fujio (part of the creative duo who dreamed up “Doraemon”), Fujio Akatsuka and Hiroo Terada, when they all lived in the same, dingy apartment building — named Tokiwa-so — in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district. This apartment was to Japanese manga what the Chelsea Hotel was to New York’s underground art scene: It was where all the cool people lived and where their friends came over to hang out. One of the earliest manga celebrities who took up residence in that apartment was Osamu Tezuka (creator of “Astro Boy”), whose editors used to camp out in the corridors of the apartment waiting for Tezuka to finish his latest installments.

It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the mangakamono genre came into its own, though by this time the actual manga world was littered with struggling manga artists portraying their real lives and careers.

“Tokiwa-so no Seishun” skipped over the gritty aspects of mangaka life. In it, the artists lived like monks in tiny but pristine rooms, brewing tea in tin kettles. In the early 2000s, bolstered by that movie and the Tokiwa-so legend, not a few aspiring mangaka came out to Tokyo and looked for rooms around Ikebukuro. But they had to find menial jobs to survive — the dream of finding a publishing house and editors willing to stand by their work was often quashed in the process. Stories about such manga artists’ struggles eventually came out and alerted wannabes to the harsh realities of the mangaka life, which can be described in two words: no food. On-screen, however, things were brighter and much more optimistic.

The 2008 film “Gou Gou Datte Neko Dearu” (“Gou Gou, the Cat”) was adapted from Yumiko Oshima’s autobiographical manga and told the droll story of an established middle-aged mangaka (Kyoko Koizumi) living in Tokyo’s Kichijoji neighborhood with her cat. Then there’s “Onnanoko Monogatari” (“Your Story”), released in 2009, a whimsical take on the life and memoirs of the enormously popular artist Rieko Saibara, starring Eri Fukatsu. “Mainichi Kaasan” (2011) was also based on the Saibara’s nonfiction manga series, this time concentrating on her day-to-day work and home life with an alcoholic husband and two kids. Kyoko Koizumi starred in the title role, and her real-life ex-husband Masatoshi Nagase played her spouse, which surrounded the proceedings with gossip and helped boost box-office takings.

On the whole, women mangaka fare much better than men, both as artists and in the movies. The 2013 film “Ore wa Mada Honki Dashite Nai Dake” (which roughly translates as “I’m Just Getting Warmed Up”) is a hilarious but discomforting portrayal of what happens when a 41-year-old salaryman quits his job to become a mangaka. Shinichi Tsutsumi played the protagonist and, start to finish, he was not a pretty sight. More than anything else, the film drives one point home: Quitting your job in middle age is risky, but becoming a manga artist is suicide.

On a cheerier note, “Aoi Hono” was a mangaka eye-opener. This late-night TV Tokyo miniseries featuring Yuya Yagira as manga artist wannabe Moyuru (based on real-life artist Kazuhiko Shimamoto when he was a student at Osaka University of Arts). “Aoi Hono” is an underrated gem and a manga geek’s wet dream. Here was “Tokiwa-so no Seishun” all over again, updated, full of fun and sexy to boot, telling the story of a period when anime maestros Shimamoto, Hideaki Anno (of “Evangelion” fame) and Hiroyuki Yamaga (current CEO of anime production company Gainax) all went to the same university, hung out together and tried to make movies based on their manga.

Those were the days when manga artists relied on their two bare hands and sheer funk, besides investing a significant amount of time trying to get a foot in the door of a major publishing house like Shueisha, which is famed for releasing manga masterpieces like “Slam Dunk.”

In 2015, young mangaka are more likely to depend on phones and tablets to peddle their work. You can now download the first installments of a series from young artists free of charge, and choose to support them further and create a fan base, which can trigger a publishing deal. The odds of a talented youngster making it on the manga scene used to be astronomically tough but now the door has opened a little wider.

The life of mangaka, however, still involves voluntary enslavement — it demands more than resolve and determination, as amply demonstrated in “Bakuman,” the latest in the mangakamono genre.

The “Bakuman” protagonists fit the prototype of the struggling mangaka, but although they achieve some success by getting published in real-life magazine “Shonen Jump” (“Weekly Jump”) — Japan’s most important manga publication — only a fortunate few ever make it in the real world.

As an editor at “Shonen Jump” once told me, “The basic prerequisite for a manga artist are nerves of steel, a very strong stomach and the ability to work for days without sleep, cash or food.”

The Man Who Influenced Charles Darwin

Do Charles Waterton's philosophies of protecting all animals – even those that are feared or seen as less useful – still work in modern-day Canada, 150 years after his death?
BBC  25 September 2015  By Carol Patterson

Most people have never heard of Charles Waterton, but the conservation pioneer is credited with both inspiring Charles Darwin to travel to South America (where the famous naturalist would later develop his theory of evolution) and constructing the world's first nature preserve – a move that radically shifted 19th Century attitudes when animals were more often feared and exploited.

The conservationist’s namesake park (Credit: Credit: David Parsons/iStock)

In light of recent debates between conservationists, hunters and the general public on how to best preserve and protect dwindling animal populations, I stopped by Waterton Lakes National Park (WLNP) in Alberta, Canada, where the conservationist’s namesake park is battling with a bear population that’s encroaching upon nearby towns, farms and ranches. Nearly 150 years after his death – and 10 years after grizzly bear hunts were suspended in WLNP – I wanted to see if Waterton's philosophies of protecting all animals – even those that are feared or seen as less useful – still worked in a place where the wildlife has gotten too populous for the protected area.

 Wateron's lakes straddle the Canada and US border (Credit: Credit: VanH/iStock)

The largest of the three Waterton Lakes straddles the Canada-US border, meaning you can wake up in Alberta, hike into Montana and be back in Canada for supper. WLNP isn't as famous or often visited as Banff, Canada's oldest national park just 380km to the south, but those who know it love it with an affection usually reserved for hometown sport teams. Its two biggest draws are wildflowers – more than 1,000 vascular plant species grow here – and the bears.

At just 505sqkm, WLNP is the smallest of Canada's Rocky Mountain parks. Yet it’s home to between 40 and 80 black bears – far more than the park's ecosystem can support. Canadian researcher Andrea Morehouse also found hair samples from 177 individual grizzlies (a North American subspecies of the brown bear) in the park and its surrounding areas. As a result, the animals have been seen venturing onto the plains where food is more abundant. In 2014, the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch for Pincher Creek District – the area bordering the north end of WLNP – recorded 52 incidents with grizzly bears, including 17 proven livestock kills, two animals injured and 21 instances of human conflict.  

Bears enjoy a wildflower meadow (Credit: Credit: RichardSeeley/iStock)

Visitors to the park are advised to carry with them a canister of bear spray – pressurised pepper spray that can convince even the most stubborn of bears to leave you alone. But some children living near the national park even carry bear spray to school, because walking from their front door to the school bus stop might mean negotiating a grizzly.

"Places I would have gone bareback riding as a kid, I wouldn't send my kids there because there are bears," explained Jeff Bectell, a fourth-generation rancher and president of the Waterton Biosphere Reserve Association, an organisation that has developed a Carnivores and Communities programme to tackle conflicts in southwestern Alberta.

Parks Canada human wildlife contact specialist Jon Stuart-Smith has seen a shift towards tolerance of predators. “Even up to the 1940s, park employees were encouraged to destroy predators to keep ‘good’ wildlife. Now people come to the park to see predators,” he said.

Kayaking beneath the mountains (Credit: Credit: Carol Patterson)

To get a sense of how WLNP’s current strategies are working, I met up with local rancher and bear expert, Charlie Russell, who explained that bears are not naturally violent towards people and that it’s possible to live near these predators without fear. “A bear that likes you won't hurt you, and I've tested that," he said.

I spotted my first bruin, a cinnamon-coloured black bear, rummaging in long grass near the 14km Red Rock Parkway that cuts through the park. Similar in colour to a grizzly, it lacked the distinctive shoulder hump and dish-shaped face of the bigger bears but seemed equally fond of the protein-rich roots of yellow hedysarum and other grassland plants. Later that evening I saw a darker-coloured grizzly, lanky and slim like a teenager, slipping down the boulders of a narrow riverbank and crossing from one meadow to another.  

Bears can often be seen crossing Waterton's riverbanks (Credit: Credit: Sundown001/iStock)

While the prairie landscape gave me an unobstructed view of the bears, it also gives the animals a clear view of their food – not all of it grass. "In 18 years ranching next to Waterton Lakes National Park, I didn't lose one cow to bears, but I saw them killing cows on my neighbour's property," Russell said.

To help farmers living near WLNP absorb the cost of living with apex predators, the Alberta government compensates for livestock killed by bears, although some farmers complain it is too little or too hard to get. Currently compensation comes from funds collected for hunting and fishing licenses, although some ranchers have suggested all Alberta taxpayers should contribute to the cost since many of the bears seen in the national park live part of their lives on the farms and ranches nearby.

Border collies chase deer out of town to keep the population down (Credit: Credit: Carol Patterson)

I pondered my willingness to pay as I strolled through Waterton town – and I stopped, puzzled, when I passed a golf cart occupied by two border collies wearing reflective orange vests. They sat quietly near a sign reading “Help Keep the Wild in Wildlife”. "[The dogs] chase deer out of town before they give birth because mama deer are very aggressive,” a woman explained. The deer also attract cougars, so keeping them away prevents another human-wildlife conflict.

It seemed 150 years after his death, Charles Waterton's philosophy of protecting predators was still in vogue, even though his practice of putting fences around wildlife no longer worked. Instead I saw humans and wildlife learning to co-exist, with deer-herding dogs and bear-savvy school children. People were building on the concepts of Charles Waterton, protecting creatures for their own value, while modifying them for a different era. And the proof it was working was being able to watch a bear going about his business without fear – on my part or the bear’s.

A lone bear walks along a park road (Credit: Credit: Lauzla/iStock)