Last year, as things appeared to be quietening down a bit with JKD, I had the wild thought of venturing back into the show ring after a Boxer cardiomyopathy- and JKD-forced long absence. The idea was triggered by an impressive photo of a young bobtail puppy. I enquired about her to learn of a further attraction; she was the granddaughter of a champion dog of mine I collected semen from in the 1970s. Expressing an interest I was offered her on condition I would show and have a litter from her. However, to be fair, she was not as good as her photograph, but a deal is a deal and I did my best on showing, not realising the difficulties of her exuberant wild temperament and my loss of fitness after 10 and more years sitting in front of a computer dealing with Boxer health problems. In the meantime the breeder had some very bad luck and decided to give up Boxers, which I really hoped would mean I would not have to breed her. She did have obvious JKD risks in her pedigree but fairly far back as is the case for so many Boxers these days.
But the next thing that happened was that I was contacted by an owner of a young bitch that had died of JKD earlier this year and who, on replacing the youngster with a pup from a known person in the breed, learned about my battles with JKD. But she also thought that I might have the sister. It turned out that I did. It was my young bitch. So, she could now be deduced not only to being at high risk of being a carrier, but also at risk of developing the disease herself at some point. This obviously put paid to any ideas on breeding from her, for which I was actually quite thankful, but of course left me with concerns for her future health. However what really had me fuming was that although the owner of the affected sister had reported the case to the health committee, the situation had not been reported to me. Had my interest in showing and maybe breeding not eased off I could have gone ahead in ignorance of the risks, and bred this high risk bitch, so to propagate the disease gene.
This is hardly a novel situation. Let me be clear. This note is not about me or my dog; it is about the whole breed situation. The central point is that the Breed Council health committee, supported by Council itself has a policy of NOT publishing information that could help everyone avoid JKD. How many other people, and dogs, must unknowingly be in this position? It is preposterous. I have been dismayed about this for a long time, but as it could have dragged me into the mess, I become totally disgusted. I find it quite criminal and have felt so strongly about the health committee avoiding basic action to limit propagation of the disease that I have written explaining the situation to the Kennel Club. What they can do, I don’t know, but I can say that I got a reply within the hour and am sure enquiries will be made. As it is I feel that my efforts and those of boxerjkd to help breeders avoid JKD are in effect just a waste of time. We have been handicapped by the health committee throughout, but the current withholding of pedigree information is far more serious. It should be up to breeders to decide what to do.