Epilepsy, Early Take Off, and Late Onset Deafness in border collie studies

Before I write about a variety of border collies health issues on my mind I want to announce that Scoop has an OA now, and in a couple weeks we will compete in Excellent for the first time. I got in on one day of AKC competition Monday and we finished his 3rd leg in Open agility.  We walked into the ring to try to get Scoops’s 3rd open JWW leg, but we walked out as fast as we went in after Scoop jumped the start line before I could get the release word out of my mouth. I think I was ready for it to happen as he has been pushy on his stays, sometimes moving a foot and I have had to go back to him often to do a restart.

I led out onto the course, looked over my shoulder and started to raise my arm and off he came. I stayed in my spot and he realized his error and just stopped at my leg. He looked totally horrified as I guided him by the collar out of the ring. I hardly said a word but the look on his face as I snapped on his leash was well……PRICELESS! In standard his start was perfect and so we got to do our run and finish the title.

Last night I ran Scoop in one of my classes and focused primarily on the start line. I lined him up, told him to stay, then ran to my leadout position, often 3 jumps out, then ran all the way back to him to get him a HUGE hunk of “lightly roasted wild beast”. Wow, did I have good stays all night. I need some weeks of this kind of reminder for him. He is getting faster and more driven to do this sport every day, I need to make sure my training keeps up with his desire to get out there and run. I reward my line ups, reward the stays, reward the recalls, and of course reward out there on the course while working. ROC on! Reward On Course, not just off.

Besides thinking about training and competing I have been spending hours lately discussing and thinking about border collie health issues. There is a new border collie study on late  onset deafness. This is when a BC who has normal hearing begins to lose it around 2 to 3 years of age. Sadly the owners first think the dog is just being slightly disobedient or inattentive, then the realization hits that the dog’s hearing is impaired. These dogs may have tested for normal hearing as a pup. I was asked to help get border collie saliva samples for the control group of normal hearing dogs. Within a day of hearing about this study and volunteering to sample all my border collie students dogs, and send in the swabs, I was asked to participate in an ongoing study on epilepsy in border collies.

The epilepsy study started  a couple years ago but I believe got sidetracked waiting for funding. It is back in full swing and I am trying to help out by finding 20 border collies that have seizures to get blood or at least saliva samples from.  I unfortunately have a border collie with seizures, my ten year old Panic, Silvertips High Anxiety. (What made me choose that name I will never know.) I have a short list of friends whose BC’s also have epilepsy. We cry on each others shoulders, and try not to think too deeply of the wonderful careers in agility that we are missing out on with our dogs. Panic started having seizures three years ago while doing agility. He has had 7 seizures total, 5 of them doing agility. After the last one I said never again. Panic gets to run into some tunnels once in a while, but I am afraid to do more than that. The terrible tragedy about Panic is that I have never had a dog love “doing” agility equipment more than Panic likes to do the stuff. All my dogs would be happy doing different dog sports, or just playing with me, swimming or doing tricks. Panic was a so- so obedience and tricks kind of dog, and he can’t swim. He likes, but does not live, for toy play like the rest of my dogs. I think he lived for agility. That brings tears to my eyes.

Some of my friends’ dogs that have seizures are able to train and can sometimes return to competition. Geri Hernandez has a wonderful dog named Rake, Hob Nob Superior Attitude, that we always compare to Panic because of his jumping style as well as his enthusiasm for the sport. Rake does not have seizures during agility, he has them at rest, as do most dogs with epilepsy, and after 8 months without a seizure, Geri is able to do some training, and the hope is that he may be able to compete again. For both Geri and I though, we would be happy just to be able to train the sport the dogs love, competition is secondary.

Please write to me if you have a border collie with epilepsy and wish to participate in this important study being funded by the ABCA. Epilepsy is a hereditary disease, meaning that if we can identify the gene we can identify the dogs who could pass it on to their pups. We could also test pups, and maybe eventually this horrendous disease can find its final end in our border collies and eventually all other dog breeds. This is the study that started at UC Davis with Dr. Mark Neff and is being continued by him at another facility. I will post more contact info here soon. For now, post a response to the blog or write me at powerpaws@aol.com for information on giving a blood sample for the study.

When talking with the research assistant about the epilepsy study, she told me that as soon as they get moving on this study they are diving in with both feet into a study of dogs with Early Take Off Syndrome. Unless you have been living in a vacuum you have seen the tragedy of handlers trying to cope with this hereditary vision problem. Way too many of my students dogs are afflicted with ETS, and I have known many dogs over the years, with the problem. My first experience was with a couple students’ Belgian Tervurens about 15 years ago. We tried every kind of jump training with these dogs and could never teach the dogs to jump normally. We knew it was something to do with vision, but hadn’t a clue what it really was.

Then I had my first border collie ETS experience. I rescued three 8 week old border collie pups from the pound and we kept one ourselves. Her name is Fly, and my husband Jim put a MAD title on her before we placed her with her current owner, Laura Manchester Derrett. Like all typical ETS dogs, the problems were not apparent in the beginning.  We thought we could “fix” her funny jumping which actually did not look funny at all until she was about 2 years old. Her siblings had similar jumping issues. This was my first clue 10 years ago that this disease is hereditary and not ever fixable. Siblings with a similar jumping issue means that the dogs were born with the problem, there was nothing we did, and nothing we could do to fix the problem.

Laura had a great but short career with Fly because her jumping deteriorated each year. She is an older retired dog now, living in England, and her vision problems have increased dramatically over the years. As do all ETS dogs. None of them ever get better. Some seem to jump better on certain surfaces, in certain light, or in different situations. Some only show the dramatic head dropping, stutter stepping when presented with a spread jump or tire, others “measure” slightly at each jump. We call it” measuring” when a dog slows a bit before jump and drops his head as if searching for the jump location. If you are not familiar with the symptom it can look like a dog is just struggling to get enough power underneath them before they jump. The dog may look injured but most of these dogs are found to be physically sound and no physical remedy can alter how they jump. I have seen some heavy bodied dogs who are asked to jump beyond than their comfort zone, and may have some physical limitations in their rear, seem to throw themselves over the jump in a way that looks like ETS. It may or may not be.

When you watch carefully you see that these dogs though almost always take off for a jump earlier than they should, putting more of the jump distance before the jump, rather than jumping in an arc that puts the highest part of the jump right over the bar. Most handlers and lots of instructors do not notice these very subtle beginning signs of ETS. Many dogs are checked and found to have normal retinoscopies by Veterinarian Eye Doctors.  There is no vision test for depth perception or lack of it. The perception problems can be minimal or extremely severe, usually starting at a couple years of age. The tragedy of this disease is the progression and for many dogs the total end of their careers.  The dogs cannot actually see exactly where the jump bar is and this leads to them taking off very early and over jumping to compensate for their inability to really know where the jump is. When they guess wrong, they land on the jump. Every time they land on a bar, they lose more of their confidence to jump and so the condition deteriorates.

I have a BC named Wicked that probably has ETS. She had a wonderful starting career.  She won the 26 inch USDAA National Championships at 3 years old. She continued to compete until she was 11 years old, first at  26 then 22, then at 16 inch performance. It became obvious over the years that she just could not jump the higher jumps safely. Wicked took off early for spreads and tires.  She rarely took down bars but she did totally crash into jumps at times when she could not judge the distances. Her jumping looked like she just did a little “pop up”. She had a sibling in England that totally measured all the jumps, and had devastating crashes. Another example of hereditary ETS. Wicked was only minimally affected by ETS, and I did not recognize it as such because she has a variety of other health issues that I blamed the problem on.  She is 14 now, and her vision still continues to deteriorate, pretty normal for an older dog, but it is a lack of depth perception that we see, not just a general old age vision change. As I look back at her videos now I can see the subtle signs, the minimal head drop, the early jump on spreads, the “pop up” rather than nice running jump style on all the jumps.

If you have a dog that takes off early it may or may not be ETS. Your dog could have a detectable vision problem, and believe it or not, some of these dogs can be fitted with contacts to help correct the difference in vision between the eyes. Dogs can have long or short vision just like people. If your dog has a disparity from one eye to the other, a contact could help. Any dog with a jumping problem should have their eyes checked. Recently a dog that was thought to have ETS was found to have a floating retina, a totally different kind of vision issue that of course complicated the dogs’ ability to see where the jump was and the result was taking off early.

If you have a dog that takes off early, please write and let me know. I am going to be helping the researchers get blood or saliva samples of these dogs so that they can begin looking for the DNA marker that will help identify the hereditary nature of this disease. If we all are honest about our dogs’ health problems, we will all benefit from having healthier dogs with longer lives and careers. We put too much into our dogs and into our sport to hide our heads in the sand about these devastating diseases.

We need to help all the great breeders of our wonderful pets to identify which dogs may have the disease, and so make good decisions about which dogs to use in their breeding programs. No breeder ever wants to make a pup that isn’t perfect. We can’t just blame breeders for these diseases. We need to get out there and protect our dogs by being informed buyers, readily discussing problems honestly and publicly without placing blame and also do our best to participate if possible in studies on the health issues that every one of us will deal with sooner or later if we stay involved in dog sports long enough.

I hope you are lucky and have a dog who seems totally healthy like my Scoop, any day those issues can change though and I hope if you have a border collie and can help on the studies that you would be willing to do so.



48 responses

  1. Hi my BC has suffered from the age of about 3yrs with ETS it has got worse ,she can just about jump standard height jumps but can no longer compete at KC shows as she measured into large,had xrays done all have come back normal also had eye test done but nothing has shown up. Her Mum has had a couple of litters since and lots of the other litter mates are showing the same signs if there is anything that will help to find out the actual cause would be great. l live in England do you know of any -body doing any studies other here

  2. Hi
    l live in England and have read with great interest, l too have a Border collie with ETS, she started showing signs at about three years old she was doing so well at Agility ,it has been totally devastating too see her struggle to jump when she used to just fly over large jumps,Had all the normal tests done xrays of legs went and saw a dog chiropractor all came back normal, some of her litter mates are also showing signs of ETS as well.Good to see all the work you are doing.

  3. Hi Nancy,

    Mia directed me to this for several reasons. First, THANK YOU for addressing epilepsy. It is a terrible terrible disease and (since I inadvertently produced it which effectively ended my lines) it hits very close to home. I am more than willing to share info on this if anyone wants to ask about it. (Cetrulo7@aol.com)

    Second, I am on the fence as to whether or not Cinder has ETS. She does take off early, always has, but it has not gotten worse and she is now 11 1/2 years old and still competing quite successfully. I did numerous eye exams (and a depth perception test!) and nothing ever came of it except the eye doctor said she did have some depth perception issues but nothing major. One major thing pointing to the chance that Cin might have ETS is that all of her relatives jump the same way: horribly. 🙂 They all “superman” jumps. I am more than willing to send in samples on her if they might be helpful.

    Once again, thank you so much for addressing these health issues. If people keep hiding things and pushing them under the rug, we will all find ourselves in a corner where all breedings are a risk. No breeder WANTS to produce epilepsy – it baffles me that people are unwilling to share information in order to prevent this.

    Kristi Cetrulo

    • Kristi,

      Thanks for writing! Can you write and describe the depth perception test? I have been told that their isn’t one for dogs, and I am excited to find that there might be? I do believe that the vision deficit has *something* to do with depth perception because of the different kinds of tests we do with ETS dogs, and simply seeing them totally unable to run a straight line of jumps with competition type spacing, and yet they can do a circle of jumps just fine, and they seem to see the perspective on jumps which they need to slice.

      I have a test I have wanted to do for years,I just need someone with an ETS dog to step up and get it done. One of the dog’s eyes needs to be covered by patch, tape or dark contact for a period of time and then the dogs’ jumping ability tested. Then the couple day test could be repeated on the other eye.

      What are the odds that both eyes are affected if it is an actual eye anomaly? How do dogs’ eyes work or not work together? Many dogs with only one eye jump fine, could this help ETS dogs? What would it prove if it did/didn’t? What if any is the connection between the dogs’ eyes, brain, perception, and subsequent behavior.

      I wish I was an animal opthamologist, I wish more handlers with ETS dogs would acknowledge the problem and put a fire under every vet and eye doctor they come into contact with. How is it possible that multiple dogs from the same litter are affected? If it is indeed hereditary then we need to find the disease and the cause, and if we find the cause then maybe we find the cure.


  4. I have a sheltie with severe ETS who no longer will jump. I also have Wrigley a minature poodle who has ETS with a compensatory overjumping style. She rarely hits jumps but will frequently measure her approach.

  5. Kathy,

    Wow, that would be wonderful! We need to get the word out to anyone in the Bay Ara that has a border collie with seizures that you will be available. Let’s talk offline and get organized!
    powerpaws@aol.com NJG

  6. Hi Nancy, I found out about the study from Laurie Dana in Florida, who has my BC Koa’s brother Burn. Both have had seizures. Koa’s started at age 5, and he has had 4. I just sent off his sample today. I would be willing to draw samples from dogs at Haute Tracs, Bay Team or SMART ( I’m an RVT) the paperwork is easy and they pay the FED EX!

  7. Hi,

    You are absolutely right that we can only assume it is hereditary, and therefore should able to be proved genetically. When the same dogs create offspring time and again that take off too early for a jump, there is more there than just structure or behavior or injuries. Those of us that have run our own visual tests on dogs who jump early believe their is some kind of visual deficit. All dogs who take off early do not have ETS. Some dogs do have ETS.

    Why not just educate breeders and hope that they do not breed dogs that might throw traits of ETS? The genetic tests will help us to pick pups that do not carry the gene(s), the test would help us to knowingly not breed dogs carrying the gene. Not all dogs that are used in breeding programs are used in dog sports which requires jumping and some ETS symptoms do not show up until a dog is 3 or 4 years old. So dogs could be in breding programs that have never been jumped and therefore it is not known in advance if there is a problem.

    We also hope that more awareness is brought to everyone in the industry about this problem and that eye specialists and researchers and others interested in this phenomenon will become involved and help us with other ways to diagnose the dogs, and possibly learn ways to help them have long happy careers.

    Once the actual vision problem is found, maybe dogs can have eye surgery or contacts to correct the problem. Just because we cannot see the problem does not mean it does not exist. For instance there is no test for epilepsy other than elimination of all other diseases which might cause seizures. And we also know epilepsy is hereditary, and it certainly does exist.

    Thanks for writing,


  8. I read this a few days ago. Very interesting stuffs. I had a friend e-mail me bits and pieces of “rebuttal” about ETS being genetically related. While I am slightly skeptical that we can say ETS is genetically related, I have seen it in several dogs from specific lines. Is it 100% genetic? Is it a structure abnormality? Is it just poor jumping skills? Is it an eye problem? The fact is, WE DO NOT KNOW!! Whatever the cause of it, if it has been produced in a line, wouldn’t it be safest to just not breed from that line until it has been ruled out that it IS NOT genetic?

    Just my humble opinion.

  9. Hi Nancy,
    your blog was just pointed out to me today from Sharon K. I am on my third generation of breeding borders along with the beardies. I do not at this time have any affected dogs or know of any but would it help to send in blood of dogs NOT affected? for the base study? My ages run the gammit of 12 years down to two years?
    cheers and hope all is well Kathy Pavlich

    • Kathy,

      I believe they only need blood work from affected dogs for both Epilepsy and ETS. A saliva swab is all that is required for dogs not showing signs of disease for the control group. These samples could also be used for the deafness study as well. If you write to me at powerpaws@aol.com and send me your snail mailing address I will get a package of swabs sent to you, and maybe you could volunteer to get samples from every border collie you know as well?:)


  10. Thank you Nancy for you time and effort I wish to participate in the study I will be happy to do all I can. My young dog started having seizures 3 months ago at the age of 2 ½ he is out of Borderfame and Lock-Eye lines to my knowledge none of his litter mates are affected. His seizures are being controlled with medication. Thank you again

  11. Hi I just got this e-mail forwarded to me from a friend. I have a 3 1/2 year old BC. His seizures started 9 months ago. he is on medications and we have just started with some Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. He seizes at rest 1st thing in the am. We are just starting our agility career.Bob who works on my dogs says this dog has know idea how to use his muscles!! His jumping seems to be good. I would like to receive the info on this study to see if we could help out :). This is a rescue dog but I have his papers and lines are from Wales. I would be willing to try and find out more info on his litter and parents.

  12. Hi Nancy, thank you for talking about epilepsy and ETS. The more educated we all are, owners and breeders alike, the more we can protect and promote our breeds. Geri

  13. Hi Nancy,

    Wynn(RedDawn Go for the Blue!)started having seizures last spring at the age of 4. He’s had 4 in the last year all triggered at feeding time.

    I’d be happy to participate in the study.


  14. Hi everyone:
    I will be coordinating the effort here in the East Coast since I have two dogs, Speedoggie Light My Fire, Stomp, with ETS and Speedoggie Stir Crazy, Frazzle, with epilepsy. I will have the DNA swab kits soon and will be putting together a blood draw to support this wonderful effort. Thank you Nancy for pulling it all together!!!
    Tinna, Frazzle and Stomp

    • Yippee! Let me know what I can do to help and I’ll be happy to come and assist with any blood drives if needed, Tinna!

  15. Hi Nancy,

    I have an 8yo, neutered male BC who started seizing at 3. I had submitted a blood sample through info received from Tinna Brown a few years back. ( i think it went to UCLA @ Davis)

    I’d be happy to participate if it would be a help.

    Ellie Hughes

  16. I have a 5-year-old neutered male BC who began having seizures at the age of three. He is on medication and we are always working to get better seizure control. Snce agility and excitement aren’t triggers, we are able to train and play on our good days. I would be happy to send in blood or swabs to help with this study.

  17. Hi Nancy, I have a dog who has seized who is related to Lori’s dog Puzzle – he is a great grandson of Red Spot…I sent paperwork and blood to UC Davis back in 2007 and the last correspondence I got in 2009 said that study was on hold…however, I would be more than happy to participate in any research study.

    Laurie Dana

  18. Hi Nancy,

    I have a border collie with ETS. She is 5 years old. Over time it has gotten progressively worse. I stopped competing with her over a year ago. I had x-rays and a retinoscopy done – everything looks normal. Her normal jump height is 22″. She doesn’t stutter step, but consistantly takes off too early and crashes chest first into jumps. She will even knock bars set at 8″. She has gone through progressive jump training, which did not fix the problem. It’s a shame, because she absolutely loved agility. We now try to keep her entertained by taking her hiking and swimming.


  19. Oh and Fever’s Father’s 4 siblings, grandmother and Aunt all have late onset deafness. I hear there is a son of one of the siblings who produced a puppy who is deaf, but I don’t have definite information. Quite the mix of issues in that gene pool.


    • Actually, Fever’s father, Cub, has only 3 siblings, two of which are deaf and both nuetered. Cub is the only intact dog left in that litter. That makes 50% affected, and 50% normal hearing at 8 years of age. Cub’s mother, Rose, went deaf, but produced no affecteds in the 3 other litters she whelped. His father, Moss, was nuetered as well. It appear that deafness might well be a simple recessive, which is great news for getting a genetic marker test. Unlike epilepsy, which appears far more polygenic. Breeding is incredibly complex, and while it is alarming to realize that there are genetic faults in lines, if you eliminate dogs on the basis that they MIGHT carry a recessive trait for a disease, you pretty much will eliminate the breed. I recognize it can be tempting to latch on to easily reccognizable names of famous dogs in pedigrees and target them as culprits and Dogs You Should Never Breed Too, but this can be avoided by taking a much larger and wider perspective. That would involve looking at the pedigree statistically–what percentage weight that dog carries, looking at all offspring, all other dogs, and determining percentages clear, percentages not, etc. Taking a scientific and dispassionate approach that focuses on the genetics and the dogs, and not the people, yields more accurate and reliable data, and also encourages discussion and openness. Secrecy is a major stumbling block in reducing these diseases–and getting data is critical to understanding modes of inheritance, so it is equally critical that we approach any discussions in a way that encourages participation. Just my .02.
      Leslie Whitney

      • And Fever’s father’s litter mate was bred, I believe once, before she went deaf as the late onset deafness often doesn’t show up until a dog has been bred. My information about the 4 pups in the litter may be referring to that litter as I have heard the same information from 3 or 4 different people in discussions about Fever’s lineage. Actually, I don’t need to pay any more attention to the information to believe that directly related dogs should not be bred.

        Personally, one affected dog is enough for me. There are plenty of dogs on the planet who have been bred, who also have progeny of breeding age and/or closely related dogs who do not suffer from nor have produced epilepsy or late onset deafness or any other major health issue in the world. In my opinion, that makes it even more unneccesary to breed dogs related to those who are not so lucky.

        I can’t wait for the day that the genes are identified and we can ask for DNA test results before buying a pup and breeders can use testing to make sure they are not breeding dogs who will produce these health issues. I hope this study gets us to that point in the future!

        ADCH Enna TM – Silver, MX, MXJ – rescued champion
        Ignited’s Molten Rush, aka: Lava
        Rising Sun’s Hot to the Touch – aka: Fever – retired due to epilepsy
        Flute AAD, AX, OAJ, OAC, OGC, NAJ – retired

  20. HI Nancy,
    No rush. I will ask the people I know with relatives who seize. Fever goes back to Johnny Wilson’s Red Spot. There are many, many related dogs that have epilepsy. It would be the perfect gene pool to pull from. As I mentioned, I already gave Fever’s blood when Tinna Brown was collecting for the study. If you send me contact info – I will see if they have it on file.

    Enna is my dog with ETS which showed up about a year and a half after I put her into regular competition. I was baffled for over a year and tried many different things to fix it. Enna can track and perfectly snatch a Frisbee out of the air at a dead run, her eyes have tested normal, she just can’t determine exactly where the jump bars are to save her life.


    • Jen,
      Was just reading your post and my Puzzle (see comment earlier today) has late onset epilepsy and her father is Red Spot and didn’t know others from her lines with issues. Would you be able to contact me at michewicz1@netzero.com when you get a chance.
      Lori in Michigan

  21. Hi Nancy,

    I have a Border Collie with epilepsy, too. She has three siblings with epilepsy. Mine was the earliest onset at about 2.5 years; the others’ onsets were later, up to 5 years of age. Otherwise perfect dogs. 🙂 I would be happy to participate in the study but cannot afford the costs — if that were funded, we would provide blood. I can also get you in touch with her affected sibs’ owners (and unaffected-so-far sibs). My dog’s seizures occurred only at rest and she has continued her impressive flyball career unabated (as well as agility training and anything else we want to do). I am eternally grateful for this. She is very well controlled. One of her brother seizes during exciting activity, so is not so lucky.

    I also know a dog with apparent ETS. Razz is a flyball-bred Borderjack. Her four littermates all seem to be fine, including her brother, whom I acquired. The breeder kept Razz and her brother until age 2.5. They had early socialization and training but were in a pretty impoverished environment for two years until I took them out. Razz had high quality training in both flyball and agility and the jumps were just hell for her. She stutters, balks, and shuts down (leaves the area) when asked to do a lot of jumping. She double-strides all the way through the flyball course even though she clearly has the size and build to single (bounce) the jumps. We did Salo and Mecklenburg work with her and no matter how much we closed up the jumps (agility or flyball style), she would slow down and start stuttering — even at 5 feet. (She is about 14.5-15″ and muscular.) We had her in green dog warmups at one tournament; she did nice recalls over the jumps, but when we sent her to the box, she veered over a couple of feet and jumped the jump slats on the ground next to the real jumps. In practice she would take off terribly early and, after just a couple of practices, would launch a huge leap where the first jump was supposed to be, even if we had changed the spacing and it wasn’t there. In retrospect I feel terrible about all that jump shifting on her — it just made her more insecure. She is in a pet home now and much happier. I could probably find out her BC dam’s breeding if this were essential. She lives with my roommate so she is handy. 🙂

    Let us know if either of our dogs will be useful. Thanks,

    Greta Kaplan, CDBC, CPDT-KA
    Portland, OR

    • Greta

      We would love to have you participate with all the dogs. I will post sampling info soon. I could probably find a vet to do the sampling in your area at no cost. Another mission!

  22. Hi Nancy,
    I emailed you privately, but haven’t heard back.

    I have both a Border Collie with epilepsy, Rising Sun’s Hot to the Touch, Fever. I will be happy to send in blood and can also get at least one, if not two litter mates who do not seize to also send in blood, if that would help.

    I also have dog with ETS. I would be happy to send in blood from her as well. Her lineage is strict working lines from Wales. I do not know of anyone else competing in agility with a related dog, so that might be helpful.

    You can email me at jenkshipley@gmail.com.


    ADCH Enna TM – Silver, MX, MXJ – rescued champion
    Ignited’s Molten Rush, aka: Lava
    Rising Sun’s Hot to the Touch – aka: Fever – retired due to epilepsy
    Flute AAD, AX, OAJ, OAC, OGC, NAJ – retired

  23. My BC Typhoon has ETS. We went through many jump training programs. She mainly knocked bars with her front feet due to taking off to early. She is also dysplastic, so I wrote a lot off on that. However the older she got the worse it got, and it has been very obvious to me over the last year that she just cannot judge where to take off 😦

  24. Late on-set seizures with my girl Puzzle (MACH2, ADCH Blushs Puzzle Piece Girl MXF). No one else in her lines has seizures. Started at age 6 during meal time and then at rest. Had an MRI and no brain tumors. Bloodwork normal. We are in Michigan and she is now 11 years old. Luckily, it does not happen during agility, we are doing much less these days, and this year will probably be her last AKC Nationals and USDAA Nationals. Contact me if you would like her included in the research.
    Lori Michewicz in Michigan

  25. Are you interested in only info about BC? Or other breeds as well. I have a Belgian Sheepdog who has always had ETS – not severe, but definitely there. He managed to get his MX, MXJ, but is now retired. He kept bars up most of the time, but always “sized up” a jump, and when he guessed wrong, it all came crashing down. I have show photos of him in mid air, and it is apparent as you look at them, he is going to be very low in his downward arc before he ever gets to the jump. Interestingly, he has more trouble with stairs (all his life) than he did in agility. He comes to the bottom, sizes them up and down, then just flings himself at them, often with disastrous results. The 3 steps onto our deck, he has solved by just not climbing them – he just jumps from the ground to the deck. The 13 indoor ones are more of an issue! At 13 years old – he now can only climb them if I leave the light on.

  26. Hi Nancy,

    I have a BC related to Gosia’s BC Blink. He developed epilepsy at 6 years old. He is controlled at the moment on meds. Two of his litter mates were put to sleep under the age of 6 months due to uncontrolled seizures. At the time I thought it was due to an overdose of vaccine given by the guy that had them at the time. My BC did not receive the vaccine given to them and with him not having any seizures I thought my BC Cash was in the clear. Sadly I was wrong and another promising agility career was ended. Any way I would like to participate also.

    • Thanks Julie.

      I will put the information up here on my blog later today about where to send samples to participate.
      Thanks for writing. Nancy

  27. I have a border collie that has thrown epilepsy in 4 different litters, AND has late onset deafness. I would like to participate in this study as well if possible.

    I also have two of his daughters, that do not have epilepsy and hearing seems to be alright as well.

    Loretta Vojtech

  28. Hi Nancy,

    I follow your blog regularly and always enjoy reading about the trials and tribulations and all the successes training a new youngster in agility.

    Today your post tugged at my heart as I too have a border collie with Grand Mal seizures which started a week after he turned two. He’s now 4.5 and I am trying my best to manage them the best I can without the chemicals, just yet.
    They run in his family, another sibling has them as well. Another bc related to the same father has them as well.

    It is heartbreaking when the world just collapses on you like that. He’s a brilliant dog, with tons of drive, yet his brain misfires. Agility is too complicated for him, even though he can execute each and every obstacle brilliantly, but individually. Sequencing and the unpredictability of obstacle sequence is just too much for him to handle.
    His promising herding career was cut short as well, too much thinking.
    The only thing he seems to manage is flyball and only with monitored excitement levels and with no variations at all, i.e. always the same release point, otherwise he crashes trough the jumps as he cannot adjust his striding.
    I am also pretty convinced this dog is autistic, but that’s another story…..

    His motor skills vary, he can run full out, yet trot or canter seem to throw him for the loop as he can’t quite figure where his 4 feet have to go, so often he skips a step.

    Anyway, long story short, I’d be interested in participating in the study.

    Gosia and the Special Needs Kid Blink

  29. Nancy,

    I had a tri Sheltie that had difficulty jumping. We tried everything to fix it, and nothing worked. She is now 10, but retired with my parents in California. I don’t know if you want samples from just Border Collies, but if you want a sample from a Sheltie, I can arrange one.

    I have long believed it’s a hereditary problem, and in Shelties, we see it more in the AOC lines than the sable lines, for what it’s worth, certainly lending credence to the hereditary argument.



    • Leslie

      It is possible that all dogs with ets can participate. Shelties, border collies and tervs are often the dogs most commonly affected and I hope that If other breeds are not included yet they will be soon.


  30. I have a Terv who, at 3, started to stutter-step her way to a jump, which appears to be the opposite of ETS, in that she is taking of for the jump very late. I stopped trialling her and only did Susan Salo grids for a year to see if that could help her but it did not. I wonder if this could be a result of her not knowing where to take off so guessing when she’s really close? This is great work you are participating in. Thanks.

  31. Hi Nancy

    I’m pretty sure you are probably just looking for US dogs with ETS but I thought I’d let you know that my boy Cypher has it. He is 6 years old and is full Australian show lines (has Nahrof and Maghera behind him if that means anything to you *g*). He has the best attitude ever to train – was a very fast learner and went through his classes from the age of 18 months and finished his Masters titles by the age of 26 months. He started struggling with his jumping at around the age of 4 and a half. He has been fully health tested and has been used at stud twice between the ages of 3 and 4. Eye doctors have not picked up any abnormalities and his hips and elbows are excellent. He is still competing lightly – and I have adjusted my running style with him to accommodate his ETS – I run every single jump with him now (he does every other obstacle independently) as me running beside him tends to improve his judgement. Once I worked out what was happening I realised that stopping and withdrawing every time a bar came down exacerbated the situation and caused his very outgoing confidence to diminish. So now we just do a couple runs at each trial and more often than not if I stay with him – don’t move too far laterally or forward off him he judges his bars well and they stay up. If he knocks one we just keep going and he still has his tug party at the end of the run. His jumping is awkward, even from a standstill these days and especially when taking jumps at angles and given his much better style when he first started competing I can’t put it down to his structure. He is fairly short and compact in body for his height. He has one offspring competing and interestingly enough he is deaf and also jumps awkwardly. So whilst we are in Perth, Western Australia and therefore probably not a viable sample to use I just thought I’d let you know.

    Simone Tolhurst
    Perth, Western Australia

    • Thanks for writing. I will find out if you can participate in our study. I don’t know why not since they are looking for genetic markers and it does not matter where the dogs live:) I will put up a file soon giving info on sending a sample. Thank you. NJG

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