Today is the final of Crufts, the dalmatian did not make it through the group stages, so some of our enthusiasm for the show has abated. YouTube has video of the show, so go over there to see more. We were very interested to see the group winners on the television (on More4). There are lots of things to see and then to discuss later. That is what we will probably be doing for the next few weeks.

However, on Thursday 200 dalmatians descended on the ring from all parts of the world to be judged and seen by so many by the ringside, again people came from all over the world to watch the judging, even at the dalmatian ring.

Marcy and Molly, Liesel and Lou were at the show, so we had a good time watching the judging, talking with each other and also with friends made at other shows.

We were also delighted to see Helen Smith (owner of Bella) and Jonathan and Helen Williams (owners of Tia) at the ringside. They disappeared at one point to do some important shopping, bits and pieces for the dogs. (What better place for that shopping than Crufts!)

Most importantly, Marcy was awarded a fifth in the puppy class. Casia was awarded a fifth in the veteran class. DV was overawed by it all and Molly was not to the judge’s taste in dalmatians (but there are only five places and three times that number in the class, so the majority has to go home without a prize from the show.

However, we continue to attend shows to learn more about the breed, make friends and enjoy a day out with people from around the world who also have an interest in dalmatians as we do.

There will be more coming to the individual pages of the site, and I will link them here, when I have prepared them.

Mary and I visited Lacie and Willow yesterday. There will be more about that here with links later.

Happy new year

New year’s day found us up bright and early without any traces of overindulgence. (We began the year as we mean to go on!)

Mary had a peaceful and rest-full holiday period, as I walked the dogs from Christmass to Epiphany. She did get out but she did not have to have a dog in hand. Well, all except new year’s day, when the Tolutim girls all went out together. We walked in the glebe land fields behind the church.

Walked may be the wrong word to describe what was going on around us. Perpetua mobile would be a better description. The walk to the fields was pretty good, everyone was contained – no one was pulling excessively. When the gate closed behind us, everyone was ready to be off. Once we got the leads off and said, “Go for a run,” they did not stop running. Everyone ran – except for Mary and me, we progressed in a stately manner for the whole walk.

They really did enjoy running together. Well not so much together, for they did not form a hunting pack, but they did run with each other generally.

Sorrel at over eleven years kept up a fast trot for the whole walk, interested in all the smells round about. She did not run full-pelt with DV.

Casia ran. She ran here and there finding all the organic matter fit to find, tasting some, scoffing others. She quickly became the dirtiest of the dogs. She only stopped running when she stopped at the organic matter.

Zaffre ran as well, keeping up with Casia, though she did not stop every time Casia stopped. She also did not range as far as Casia, so she sped around us.

DV ran like a demon. She was one of the reasons Casia got so dirty, for she tried to play a great deal when Casia was near by. DV did not range as far as Casia nor Zaffre, but she did go beyond the range Sorrel kept. She did try to play with the others, but she was ignored.

Well, all except for one time. DV was running as pups do and we were keeping a weather eye out for the tornado streaking by (because we know the steering and brakes on this new model need to be run in). We avoided collisions, but Zaffre was not so lucky. I suppose it has to do with doing too much sniffing at the expense of watching. Zaffre had her head down; we avoided the Monster zipping by at full tilt, but Zaffre ten yards away was not lucky this time. DV collided fully with Zaffre. Both went tumbling. Both immediately were up and running about.

We thought Zaffre’s nose was a little out of joint for a bit, for she was not quite up to full speed for a moment. However DV was quickly away at a terrorising rate.

(A note of caution – although we were amused by this incident, our hearts did rise into our throats because we heard of a dog who had done the same thing, but in that case there was a broken neck. So we do take care when letting the dogs run free.)

It was a great walk. We look forward to more.

Merry Christmass!

We wish you all happy holidays. It has been a quiet day in Slimbridge. Apart from church this morning, we have been enjoying a relaxing time after our dinner by watching the all-important Ratatouille and the The Gruffallo’s Child. Important intellectual endeavours as everyone will acknowledge. They will be followed by Dr Who and Downton Abbey and then bed.

The dogs have had a day off from the rigours of exercise for the day. After all we have been to full of Christmass turkey to be able to move.

Boxing Day promises a good walk for all. Not everyone together, but two walks of two.

What have you been up to for Christmass?

With all of our best wishes,

Stilman and Mary

What is in a name?

a little something from Mary

I wonder how many of you have different names for your dogs, not just their normal pet name, but other ones for different occasions?

Tolutim Eau de Vie has been called many things in the course of her short life, and has different names for different times. She is called “DV”, but she has a number of other names.

She has been “monster” for quite some time now. You might understand she is called this whenever she is being particularly naughty, a streak which all dalmatians have.

Recently, however, two new names have been attathced to her – “bouncing bomb” or “tigger”. She has very springy back legs that nearly take her over the child gates, especially whenever anyone calls. In fact she still jumps up on us far too much – we hope one day she will get the message.

It was going to happen some time. The bouncing bomb leapt up onto the rockery, and kept on bouncing in her excitement into the pond.

There was a plus to this, while she was so busy drying herself off, she didn’t hear me starting up the lawn mower and for the first time she stayed outside while I mowed the grass.

Dalmatians and cats

Well Mary and Stilman asked us a question the other day about Dalmatians and cats. Well I suppose generalising, the question becomes one of dogs and cats really. You see we have always had dogs and cats, except for a 2 year gap where we lost our dear spaniel Peter at 16, who thankfully went in his sleep over night. Although very shocking to wake and find him, we believe that it is the best way for them to slip away, of their own accord. But unfortunately this is not always possible.

Anyway back to the dog and cat question.

Our dogs have always got on well with our cats. We had cats first and dogs came along afterwards. Peter and Penny our sibling spaniels came first at 17 weeks old (we rescued them) when the cats were around 2. They cats were very wary to start, but we allowed them all to mix at all times and if things got a little rough, we would just step in briefly and thats all that would be needed. Peter and Penny rarely paid any attention to them except to greet them when they appeared. In fact when my boys were young, we all used to go for walks down the lanes, cats and all. There were a few wry smiles from the few neighbours we had I can tell you. In fact we would quite often meet a tractor and it got to the stage where they would wait for us pass and if they hadn’t seen the cats, they would wait till they came round the corner!!!

Sometime later our cats passed away and soon others entered our house. Brothers again funnily enough. They came as kittens and the dogs took to them straight away. Now I am not saying that the dogs didn’t chase them, because they did, but it’s not a “I will catch you and when I do, I will eat you”, chase. The cats would run and leap onto a wall or fence and sit there tails twitching whilst hanging down just out of reach of the dogs! The cat would then proceed to walk up and down the said wall or fence teasing the dog.

Now cats will sometimes stand their ground and it’s usually those do that usually manage to get away without being chased. A non agressive dog is not going to push its luck with a cats claws!!

So our household now? Thomas, a shy very old cat who prefers to keep himself to himself, but will on occasion come face to face with Molly or Marcy round the corner of the house. He runs, they chase. He goes to his bolt hole. Chumpsey, a very cheeky stray we rescued, Moll’s best mate till Marcy came along. They would play under the dining table, Chumpsey’s head very often insde Molly’s mouth!! Outside he rolls over for her, she sniffs and then the chase is on!! He also brings his spoils back, hoping to get praise from us and the dogs, all he gets is daylight robbery, straight out of his mouth!!!

Now Marcy, well she is still learning and Chumpsey is still teaching her. She hasn’t yet been warned with his claws, so no scars to date. But if she keeps barking at him it won’t be long. She’ll quite often come across him in the garden; they stand, they stare, she runs, he bolts straight to the wall, then proceeds to prance up and down teasing again. Marcy tries to get at him, but to no avail (the cats not stupid!!), she gives up and that is it till next time. Now I know the cat’s tactic is working, because when I let the dogs out in the evening, Chumpsey is there waiting. The dogs? nothing! a sniff each “where you been, what did you catch” then on to do their business.

So why has it been so easy for us to have both dogs and their arch enemy the cat, in the same household? I believe it is because we allow them to mix and to set the heirarchy between the species themselves. If it gets a little rough, we step in. It doesn’t hurt the dog to be on the receiving end of a claw occasionally (as long as they dont get an eye!) It is the cat that generally sets the standard. And although it may seem that when the chase is on, the dogs in charge, they aren’t.

A great way to get a cat and a dog used to one another is to let them occupy the same room at the same time. Indoors, where you are able to oversee the interaction. That doesn’t mean shut them in the same room, just let them have access to the same rooms. They will eventually get used to seeing each other, passing each other (quite often with a warning strike from the cat as they pass!!) and eventually living with each other.

I will finish this piece by saying just one thing though. You will know from the start if the interaction between your dog and your cat is an aggressive one on the dogs part, or if it’s just play or testing boundaries. Obviously if it proves to be agressive then this a competely different scenario and you may just need to resign yourself to the fact that dog and cat won’t mix and the cat will probably need it’s own area in which to get some peace.

Well I hope our experiences help any of you that are having any cat /dog issues. As animal lovers we do have to contend with issues that sometimes we could well do without. But what boring lives we would lead without it being blessed by our nutcase animals!!!

Best wishes to everyone from Liesel.

A cautionary tale

from Liesel Thorner

Unfortunately, Marcy (Tolutim Evensong) has undergone an emergency operation to remove an obstruction from her gut. She is doing ok at the moment, but we are taking every day as it comes, since abdominal surgery is very risky because there can be quite a few complications.

Marcy had manage to get hold of one of my socks and somehow eaten it whole. I very rarely let her out of my sight and when I do it is only for a minute. This however was more than the amount of time it takes to gulp down a sock!

Marcy had her tea on Wednesday night and it must have been after this that she managed to put away the sock. It wasn’t until the morning that she started to vomit bile, and was doing so with a deep stomach wretch which I thought was unusual.

We took her straight into the vet who felt around and thought that certain parts of her gut felt very gassy and tight. They x-rayed her and discovered a large blockage.

Luckily we had caught it early and the gut was still healthy.

A tip … if your dog is vomitting continuously and very deeply, don’t leave it too long before you check with the vet. Getting at a blockage early can save a life.

Please please take head, no matter how well you think you are watching your puppy, they are always able to find something. They are crafty thieves. Marcy had taken the sock off the kitchen table. I had put the washing on there after bringing it from the line. If they manage to get hold of something they shouldn’t have, they hide it in their mouths and gulp when they hear someone coming.

Even the things that one thinks are ok for the pups because they are supposed to be toys can cause problems. Never let them play unsupervised.

I will keep you all informed on her progress. Puppies are crafty and fast, re-evaluate your home and make sure it really is puppy proof – I thought mine was, I was wrong.

A letter from Carroll Weiss

Please note that this letter began in the USA with the DCA’ and AKC’s debate about the dalmatian–pointer cross and has been reproduced because of press interest in the UK about the uric acid problem in dalmatians.

A letter about LUA dalmatians

The purpose of this letter is to help clarify how much of the alleged medicine and science you’ve received to justify AKC registration of backcross/LUA dogs is seriously questionable, medically misrepresented or scientifically flawed. The proponents in this cause are trumpeting allegations that are misleading, distorted, scare tactics and/or are just plain wrong. One unfortunate result of this is the appearance that AKC is being pressured to railroad registration through involving medical remediation without sufficient scientific evidence: that AKC indeed works to abolish stone formation as theorized but without proof supported by medical evidence.

I respectfully direct your concentration to the medical/scientific assertions and falsehoods being emphasized. I sincerely hope a negative turn-down vote will prevent the success of propaganda strategically directed to unskeptical, to scientifically-inexperienced and to medically-uninformed forums like the mass media.

That said, I respectfully remind the AKC Board that the single encompassing unknown impacting the vote about AKC registration of backcross/LUA Dalmatians boils down to: Is abnormal uric acid in Dalmatian urine – or is it not – the cause of stone forming? Will breeding away from only a uric acid gene automatically prevent all or any urate stone formation throughout adult lives of all susceptible dog breeds, as projected by theory only?

Two geneticists persist that breeding away from the uric acid gene will automatically abolish uric acid stone forming. In contrast, all three U.S. vet authorities in clinical canine stone disease and all three North American clinical vet centers for stone disease are unanimous: uric acid is not the cause! These opposing medical viewpoints, I suggest, are the fundamental judgment calls the AKC Board faces.

Here are scientific facts countering theorized assertions no matter how eloquent, no matter how seemingly persuasive by the two geneticists:

  1. Abnormal uric acid in Dalmatian urine was discovered in 1938 by two Harvard geneticists. The current “discovery” by the two geneticists pertains only to a mutation in one of more-than-one (already-discovered by others) uric acid “transport” genes. A century of vet literature reveals an eloquent total absence of any medical proof indicting abnormal uric acid as the cause of uric acid stone forming. The most fervent, the most persuasive, the most enticing theorizing cannot morph the uric acid unknown
    into factual proof, including because a uric acid gene can now be identified by DNA testing. The gene ID test contributes no medical proof stone forming will be abolished, only that the uric acid gene is present or absent. Why is the gene test unimportant in terms of the uric acid unknown? Exactly what pushes a small percentage of Dalmatians into urate forming (but not the majority of others including littermates) remains obstinately, perplexingly unknown. Unknown since the famous 1938 article discovering the uric acid gene, since the 1973 outcross to the Pointer, and despite 37 years of
    experimental backcross litters. Proof that breeding away from the uric acid gene will abolish stone forming remains theory, only, without a shred of traditional clinical evidence otherwise. Does that unproven status permit AKC registration in the face of the unknown cause of uric acid stone disease remaining unknown for the past hundred years?
  2. The only credible patient data presented (at least data not scientifically invalidated by incorrect procedures or by wrong methods or by negligible numbers of tested Dalmatians) are uric acid levels in backcross puppies. Abnormal uric acid in puppies and/or in adults is disregarded by all stone disease experts as the cause of stone forming. Compounding that disregard with procedure details, the spot-creatinine puppy test used to obtain uric acid levels in all backcross puppies was discredited decades ago
    by the clinical stone experts to be unreliable, such as providing false positives for abnormal uric acid. Interestingly, it was the renown stone expert at one of the geneticists’ vet center, U Cal Davis, who was the most discrediting of the test with his cautions (before his lingering terminal illness) to the worldwide vet community, especially against the spot test’s use in adult dogs.
  3. The only testing of backcross adults for presence or absence of stone forming has been a handful of mature dogs, but using the discredited spot test. Confusingly, even the geneticist-researcher had already acknowledged the test to be inappropriate for adult dogs, yet it still was selected to provide data. Uric acid stone forming in any adult dog can only be confirmed by clinical visualizing with ultrasound or with “indirect”
    double-contrast x-ray procedures, accompanied by confirmation the stones are uric acid ones and not some other mineral. Neither testing has ever been apparently conducted. Despite 37 years of experimental backcross litters, only uric acid levels in puppies control the identification as LUA (low uric acid) or HUA (high uric acid) dogs. So long as uric acid remains unproven as the cause of stone forming, the package of scientific claims to justify AKC registration of backcross/LUA dogs must be regarded as unproven.
  4. Why is proof from adult testings for stone forming, not uric acid levels, so essential to the skepticism of backcross allegations? Because it is only the abolishing of stone forming which proves if backcrossing does what is theoretically predicted for adult dogs who as puppies were labeled LUA. The lessened significance of puppy data is underlined by hard data of several thousand Dalmatians indicating age-of-onset of stone forming
    is predominately in adults, not puppies. Proving an alleged abolition of stone forming therefore mandates monitoring adults, not puppies. To date, despite decades of experimental litters, no hard data exists for backcross adults monitored to confirm the presence or absence of stone forming. Only puppy uric acid levels are provided to justify AKC registration.
  5. Overview? The most abnormal of uric acid levels does not automatically co-exist with stone forming by any Dalmatian – at any age – according to all authorities of urinary stone disease. How then can breeding away from any uric acid gene be presumptuously postulated to automatically abolish stone formation? The stone experts are unanimous to the contrary, “Although all Dalmatians excrete relatively high quantities of uric acid in their urine, apparently only a small percentage form urate

If skillfully persuasive but nonetheless misleadingly misrepresented medical science is successful in approving today’s AKC registration, it may well be tomorrow’s embarrassed regrets. All that is needed is one adult AKC-registered backcross/LUA dog to be diagnosed with urate stone or crystal formation. It will be especially fodder for the media if it is:

  1. An AKC-finished backcross/LUA champion who cosmetically conformed to the AKC-approved Breed Standard
  2. Who tested free of the uric acid gene tacitly endorsed by being permitted AKC registration
  3. Who, despite being AKC registered, defaulted with irrevocable clinical proof breeding away from uric acid did not automatically abolish Dalmatian urate stone forming, as now theorized without proof.

The mass media except for those known as “science writers” will surely have a field day because then, as now, their non-discriminating, uninformed knowledge of medicine and science. Yellow journalism is yellow journalism. Propaganda is propaganda. Scandalous controversies increase revenues of the mass media, whether they’re medically true or scientifically false.

Until the uric acid unknown no longer is unknown, I respectfully protest AKC registration being voted in on the basis of unproven theorizings. I respectfully call attention to a century of vet research in canine stone disease and/or 37 years of experimental litters without a shred of diagnostic proof backcross dogs will not exhibit stone formation in their adult lives.

P.S. Sweeping, undocumented generalizations the “world of science/medicine” recognizes backcross/LUA as “a cure” are astonishingly false! For starters, Letters-to-the-editor published over years by accredited vet journals protesting such misrepresented patient predictions by geneticist authors are conspicuously missing in the assertions. The below-cited veterinary textbooks are not generalizations but authenticating, specific examples from the “world of science/medicine.” They are
professional teachings directed to worldwide veterinarians – unchanged in 2010 after a quarter-century of clinical experience with all stone-forming breeds and mongrels: “The definitive mechanism(s) of urate urolith formation in Dalmatian dogs is unknown. Increased urinary excretion of uric acid is a risk factor rather than a primary cause.”

Educated, degreed, tenured health science professionals are familiar with the chasm between theorizing geneticists vs vet stone disease clinicians who speak with statistically-significant experience from thousands of actual patients. Theorizing vs hard clinical data mandates the ability to first recognize, then discern between the two. Scientific authenticity becomes meaningless if no one is skeptical and does not confirm questionable medical assertions.

That said, please take a moment to read how a genetics textbook cautions against geneticists’ generalized projections (“If Gene Therapy is the Cure, What is the Disease?” in Gene Mapping, Oxford University Press, pp. 128-141.)

These quotes are highlighted because your AKC vote comes down to whether-or-not theorized backcross/LUA works (unknown despite a century of vet articles about canine stone forming), or does not work, remembering it is only two geneticists persisting in theorizings to be acceptable for AKC registration of backcross/LUA dogs.

    “… that the central goal of.clinical genetics is the prevention or amelioration of disease not the improvement of the genome.”

    “… none of them [connected with a genome project] believe that anyone is even remotely close to knowing.whether germline engineering will actually work.”

    “… It is only our inability to openly and clearly define what constitutes disease in the domain of genetics that makes us feel that intervention with the germline is playing with. fire.”

Respectfully submitted,

Carroll H. Weiss

Mention of Dalmatians dying of stone disease appears in practically every LUA website, going back some six years when backcross was resurrected here in the US. There is a consistent year-after-year use of that alarmist scare tactic of death.

It is not urate stone disease which kills those Dalmatians heartbreakingly told to us. It is lack of knowledge from the stone experts which, in turn, permits known and preliminary symptoms to be unnoticed and untreated so that the stone-forming dog is denied aggressive, insightful turn-around before it ultimately reaches the life-threatening late-stage obstruction by stones.

Vicky Brennan in Ken Mumford’s dalnet wrote on the 6 March 2011, “I had a dog block once and changed his diet and feeding regime and he never blocked again.” During the past 15 years, I can also cite similar cases of other obstructed Dalmatians whose owners and their vets made it their business **to consult** with one of the three North American medical centers devoted to canine stone disease. The dogs – without exception – returned to being symptom-free for the rest of their uneventful lives. I do not imply this ignores emotional stories of stone-forming Dalmatians who died allegedly despite preventative measures. Dr. Osborne and his fellow experts stress throughout 30 years of teaching articles, vet seminars and textbooks that if treatment/prevention is not successful, two major reasons may be (1) the owner was not conscientious in following preventative procedures, and/or (2) the wrong type-of-stone was diagnosed which accounts for irresponsive response to treatment. Beyond that, it should also be remembered urate stone disease is a very complicated one and, despite remarkable advances in diagnosis, treatment and prevention by the stone experts, much remains exasperatingly unknown such as its basic cause and why some dogs neglect to respond to insightful treatment whereas most others do, such as Vicky Brennan’s.

After fifteen years, I do not know of a single urate stone-forming Dalmatian who did not reverse their symptoms when the stone experts were consulted and oversaw their return to an uneventful life, including my own who had obstructed before I became knowledgeable. Tales of unresponsive Dalmatians have come not from vets with medical interpretations and scientific explanations, but from understandably heartbroken owners. The proportion between the positives and the negatives is, happily, very much vastly in favor of responsive Dalmatians.

About Carroll H. Weiss

Co-author, current 2010 edition of hardcover veterinary textbook, 34 page section on uric acid/purine stones (Osborne, CA; Bartges, JW; Lulich, JP; Albasan, H. and Weiss, CH: Canine Purine Urolithiasis: Causes, Detection, Management and Prevention, Section 15: Canine Urolithiasis, in Hand, MS and co-editors, Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 5th edition, pp. 813-924, Mark Morris Institute, Topeka, 2010.)

Co-author, chapter in 2009 tenth-anniversary edition of hardcover veterinary textbook totally on canine stone forming reflecting a quarter century of clinical experience, reporting urinary stone data on almost a half-million animals in 12 chapters totaling 214 pages of definitive information about diagnosis, treatment and prevention of urinary stone disease. (Osborne, CA and Lulich, JP: “Changing Paradigms in Diagnosis and Treatment of Urolithiasis,” Veterinary Clinics of North America, Elsevier Saunders, 2009.)

Former Director (1991-2002)
Study Group on Urinary Stones
Health and Research Committee
Dalmatian Club of America

“So ultimately, dog DNA tests put owners in the ballpark, but they’re rarely conclusive.”
Joshua Akey, Asst. Professor of Genome Sciences, Washington University

“It is only our inability to…define what constitutes disease in the domain of genetics that makes us feel that intervention with the germline is playing with fire.”
Arthur L. Caplan in Oxford University genetics textbook

Litter due soon

We are pleased to say that Casia (Tolutim Chartreuse) is expecting puppies. The litter is due on the weekend of Crufts (13 March). We chose Harry (Ch Fakenham Flash Gordon) to be the sire, owned by Sid Bolt.

At seven weeks

Like Casia, Harry has a wonderful temperament and his puppies have had good hearing results. See the pedigree

We are looking for good owners. Casia’s first litter went to a variety of owners – experienced, new, families with young children. One of them has been shown and has done extremely well for her new and novice owners.

Enquiries and visits are welcome. Please contact us on 01453 890 783 or by email.

Deafness in dalmatians

In 2005 Dr Strain wrote about deafness, especially with reference to dalmatians in

This article suggests that deafness is a very complicated genetic inheritance. Although his tables show a simple dominant recessive pattern and probable incidence, his article does not come to this conclusion.

An article in DogWorld (18 February 2011) says that a project investigating the very complicated inheritance surrounding the incidence of hip dysplasia and elbow problems. The dalmatian community could learn something from it, in particular how complicated genetic inheritance can be investigated.

Have you any further thoughts about deafness?