Clueless Cloning

boxers The news that Laura Jacques and Richard Remde have paid the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in Korea £67,000 per dog for two clones of their deceased boxer must cause disquiet in the dog world and beyond.

It displays a glaring ignorance, or worse disregard, on the part of the owners for the welfare considerations of adult clones who have been shown to suffer serious ill health and consequential premature death not to mention the lab in question (previously known to have made false claims about human cloning). It also disregards epigenetics: no two dogs will ever be alike because of the effects of the environment in utero and after birth. Are the owners then just concerned about the superficial appearance of their dogs?

What a monumental waste of money that could have gone a very long way to helping dogs in many spheres rather than boosting the vanity of the owners. We should make moves to legislate against this practice as soon as possible.

Re-introduction of Mongolian Landrace Dog

bankhar The Bankhar Dog Project has been established to re-introduce the Mongolian Bankhar dog to its native environment. Bankhar dogs are a landrace breed of livestock protection dogs, similar to Tibetan Mastiffs, and native to the Mongolian steppe.

The project runs a selective breeding scheme that screens for correct genotype and ensures genetic diversity. Dogs are trained to live alongside sheep and are homed with Mongolian herders. In addition to preserving the rare breed without depleting the gene pool, this project has a wider conservational impact as the dogs warn of approaching predators such as snow leopards obviating the need for herders to shoot an endangered species.

This proves that re-introduction of even a domestic species can have positive, unexpected consequences for biodiversity as well as preserving a working breed in its natural environment.

Idiot of the Month

gdyork Walking in the park this morning, I was approached by a woman with two yorkies. My dog extended a nose in passing and one of the yorkies reciprocated. Everything was fine as far as I and the dogs were concerned.
However, the woman immediately went into a panic and began screeching at her dogs to come away. She scooped up the dog that had voluntarily greeted my dog and muttered at me “Your dog’s too big for them” as she scurried past.
Well done, lady. You have now stopped your dog from socialising and begun to train it to be afraid everytime that it sees a bigger dog. Let’s face it, that will be quite often considering the size down to which we have bred yorkies.

Jack Split

petrie dish The news that the Kennel Club are “recognising” the Jack Russell terrier has created dismay in terrier circles. The absurdity that this type somehow didn’t really exist until the KC said so aside, fears that the breed may now decline into poor genetic diversity and exaggerated phenotypes are not unprecedented. All the more important then that terriers continue to be used in the field and bred for purpose.

Similarly, the news that IVF techniques have been used to create a litter is a mixed blessing. Let us hope that it does not give a green light to continue in-breeding using genetic manipulations as a quick fix for the problems created. Instead it could provide a solution to those breeds that come from such a small gene pool that the breed is unlikely to ever exist without health problems.