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Crusades

Man, I gotta quit signing up for crusades for this and against that. I’m already too busy. But somebody’s gotta do it, I guess, and I’m not one to expect everybody else to do their part while I get a sunburn.

Tonight, I’ve been invited to give a presentation at the monthly meeting of the Intermountain Shetland Sheepdog Association (ISSA) on the subject of threats to our rights to own dogs and what we can do about it. I spent a number of hours this week developing about 20 slides and writing my speaking notes (so I don’t space out anything vital). This is a subject that’s getting a lot of attention in the dog world these days and I have passionate feelings that don’t much fit comfortably with the more vocal people on “our side”. Ought to be interesting.

Oh, and I’ve promised myself that I’m going to write a white paper covering that subject in depth. That’s going to be a big job and will likely take me weeks of part time work. Like I have nothing else to do!

Another subject that’s been on my mind recently is the sudden trendiness of toy Shelties or pocket Shelties or any other phrase that implies tiny Shelties. To me, it’s almost as mystifying as the phenomenon in which people are willing to shell out a couple of thousand dollars on an exotic “Labradoodle” or “Golden Wheaton”, while they complain bitterly about being quoted a price of $700 or $800 for a high-quality purebred Sheltie. Didn’t we used to call those “exotic” dogs mutts?

But I digress (and regular readers know I often do). In some sense, I can sort of understand wanting a Golden Wheaton (not everybody has one and they’re stupifyingly cute) or a teacup Sheltie (take ‘em anywhere by slipping them into a pocket or purse).

What people who want to buy a tiny Sheltie don’t realize (and couldn’t be bothered to think about) is that tiny dogs have tiny little blood vessels…that do not circulate blood as efficiently as is required. They also have tiny little livers, tiny little kidneys, and tiny little hearts that simply aren’t meant to be shrunk down that much.

Shelties who are as small as eight or nine inches as adults are likely to be born with more medical problems than normal 13 to 16 inch Shelties. Something called a “liver shunt” , a/k/a portosystemic shunt, is a notable problem. It’s actually a blood vessel that connects the vessel sending blood to the liver directly to the vessel taking cleansed blood from the liver. Needless to say, that seriously reduces the effectiveness of the liver and those dogs start having more and more medical problems caused by the inability to flush toxins out of their systems. Google for “liver shunt” or go directly to http://livershunt.net and you’ll see why this bothers me.

(And to think that there’s a breeder of “toy Shelties” out there who’s formed her very own “kennel club” and issues “Championships” by means of having a couple of people look at a handful of photographs of putative Shelties. Oh, and, of course, paying a tidy fee. Jeez!)

I could go on and on about the various crusades I’m on these days, but those two were really bothering me today, so I thought I’d share. You’re welcome :)

On this day..

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8 comments to Crusades

  • I’ve heard about the trendy ‘toy’ Shelties. It is very worrying to me. Our Jessie is undersized, but that’s just how nature made her, she wasn’t bread a teacup Sheltie. We’re wondering what ailments she’ll have when she gets older. We already know that she has a heart murmur :( I really do hope that these toy variations of Shelties will be banned.

  • Hey, it’s us again. We just spotted the comment made by ‘us’ in regards to your post ‘Change in Registration Policy’. This comment is a fake and we didn’t post it. It seems to link to some strange site. Looks like your not only dealing with fake registrations, there are fake posters, too. If they’ll ever post something rude or link to weird sites, please know it wasn’t us.

    Josh and Jessie
    the REAL ones

  • SheltieJim

    Josh and Jessie,

    Thanks for telling me about the fake post in your name. Unfortunately, there are perhaps 20 posts scattered throughout this blog that are (almost) exactly the same. The comment itself is always completely generic (and usually says just what the one you identified says) and links to that strange site lavamus.com. I didn’t really think that it was you, but I didn’t know what else it might be so I have just been letting them go by. Now, I have to figure out how to get Akismet (my spam filtering plugin) to recognize them as spam.

    Sigh…
    Jim

  • I’d be interested to hear how your presentation was received.

    As for the tiny Shelties…this topic hits close to home with me too! I don’t think that any of our Shelties were bred intentially as “toy” shelties, but all of our youngest rescues are very small. I know that Layla isn’t completely done growing, but I really wonder if she will even get to 11″ at maturity!

    The health issues are a real concern to me. In fact, when Dr. Overall did her consult for Rogue, she mentioned her concern about her size and the possibility of shunts. :-( The part that is infuriating to me is that I doubt the breeders that are producing these dogs are even familiar with the health risks.

    Ughh!!! I probably should stop now before I get into a full blown rant about what I think about the irresponsible breeding of dogs to suit fads!

  • Actually, Marie, the presentation was very well received, near as I could tell. A number of people (about 1/3 to 1/2 of the 20 or so present) came by to effuse about it, and the rest didn’t look annoyed or disgusted during the presentation :) It was only the second time I’d given it (the first time being to Barbara yesterday afternoon), so I’ve got some rough edges that will erode away as I give it a few more times. It will certainly start some people thinking!

    I don’t think I’d stay awake nights worrying about Rogue’s or Layla’s sizes. They’re small, but they’re larger than the real danger levels about which I’ve read. There’s the possibility, of course, but the probabilities fall along the upper half of the normal curve; that means that below a certain size, it’s nearly guaranteed, but it falls off pretty quickly above that size. Of course, it *never* gets down to zero point zero percent…it merely approaches it asymptotically!

  • Cindy

    Jim you ole hippie you, crusade away! Can’t imagine you without a cause.

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