Health Certification - Hype or Hope?
EMOTIONAL ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS SHOW PICTURES OF AILING DOGS TO SUPPORT THEIR BIASED CRY AGAINST PUREBRED DOG BREEDERS. RESPONSIBLE BREEDERS TAKE OFFENSE AT THE BLATANTLY DISTORTED EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL. AND JOE PUBLIC IS ALL TOO HUMANLY TORN INBETWEEN - NOT KNOWING WHOM TO TRUST AND WHOM TO BELIEVE. WITH DEMANDS FOR HEALTH TESTING OF CHOW CHOWS INCREASING, BOTH BREEDER AND BUYER HAVE TO DECIDE IF THIS DEMAND IS HYPE OR HOPE.
CONTRIVED HYSTERIA - HYPE
"The War Office kept three sets of figures", says Herbert Asquith, "one to mislead the public, one to mislead the Cabinet, and the third to mislead itself". This statement points to a common habit of man in dealing with statistics: statistics are most often used in an incomplete way to support whatever the individual/s wish to convey. The fact that numbers are misused in support of or against a cause, does not necessarily nullify the cause. But misrepresentation weakens the side using it, in the long run. Whilst this may be the route emotional animal rights activists choose to use, responsible breeders must choose that which is best for the breed.
AT THE ROOT OF IT ALL - CAUSE
To be sure, few things are as devastating as bringing a chow chow into one's home, giving it love & bonding with it as part of the family, only to find out that all one's dreams of a relatively long & happy period of time spent together has been shattered by a crippling disease inherited or congenital, developed by the much-loved companion. Whilst hereditary & congenital conditions occur in all species (man equally), the way individuals choose to deal with it will testify to their depth of understanding the root of it all.
One way to combat these health concerns which occur, is the extremist route - often emotional and not based upon indepth understanding of nature and current scientific & medical knowledge. The extreme animal rights activists mostly choose this route.
A second way would be the route required of all responsible breeders: to find out as best they can, with the help of limited knowledge available through science, medicine and experienced breeders, what most likely lies at the root of the chow chow in terms of possible hereditary & congenital health concerns. Then, to systematically work in conjunction with current scientific & medical understanding and experienced breeders, trying to minimize the occurence of such concerns. Thus, the breeder's current scenario is, amongst other things, to do health certification.
POSSIBLE BENEFITS - HOPE:
It is imperative to understand that current medical understanding in all species, although amazing, is also very limited. Although this is the route to follow at present when combating a perceived condition, one must always remember that medicine as applied to all living beings, is a practice, not an exact science. Working with the unfathomable depths of creation & nature, man finds time and again, that which seems to provide great answers today, often carries with it a hitherto unknown burden to be discovered in the future generations - be it medications, theories, etc.
For instance, numerous reports of inconsistencies in x-ray taking & evaluation exist. Speaking from personal experience & direct conversations with radiologists and breeders who have opted for second opinions, this is acknowledged as a flawed system. Or the controversy regarding the origin of certain eye conditions, currently thought to be hereditary. However, until more accurate understanding/methods become freely available, these are the best options currently open to the majority of breeders wishing to improve the breed as best they can.
Understanding that certification is not a flawless system, does not absolve the breeder of doing health tests, just as understanding that failures of the justice system does not mean we don't make use of the justice system at all. It simply helps the breeder decide what relative value to place upon formal gradings and evaluations, within the context of the entire breeding picture. It also helps the breeder to gain perspective, to understand what he/she hopes to achieve by doing these health tests, and to ascertain in which specific area, by means of currently available health testing, they will achieve their most lasting contribution to the benefit to the breed.
And understanding this helps the buyer to realise that he/she should be supporting the responsible breeder, both by purchasing only from a responsible breeder as well as by remaining in contact with the breeder with informative feedback regarding the dog - for life. It also helps the buyer understand why the responsible breeder's dogs may be more expensive, as they go to the trouble of re-investing into the breed.
THE FUTURE TODAY - ACTION
The chow chow has been recorded at man's side for many thousands of years. It deserves to be carried into the future by it's human caretakers, in a manner which will leave it healthy & actively at man's side for many more thousands of years.
For the buyer, this means recognizing that chances for a generally healthy pup is so much stronger when purchasing from an ethical breeder. Yet, as these breeders are working within limited and imperfect genepools and knowledge, there will be imperfections and occasionally even those 'special needs' chow chows coming from the responsible breeder. It is important to provide the breeder with as much feedback as you are able, in order to help them make better breeding decisions. It is equally important to support responsible breeding by not purchasing pups from parents which are completely uncertified healthwise.
For the breeder, this means acknowledging that it is neither wise nor possible to exclude all imperfections from a genepool, as, when this is applied, even humans would cease to exist as a species. It has, however, proven possible to gradually, with time, measuring (health certification) and wise decisions, markedly decrease the occurrence of certain imperfections by wise breeding, thus ensuring that the breed as a whole remains healthy yet typical. It behooves each serious breeder today to examine their motives, their understanding and their ability to continue this hobby in a responsible manner. A manner in which the future of the breed is as best contributed to as we are able to, today. Health certification is the breeder's small & selfless investment today into the future of the breed - a future way beyond the breeder's ability to benefit from personally.
Love your Chow Chow and respect this milleniums-old legacy by being an Ethical Breeder, Responsible Buyer and Owner.