more on health studies

I am so happy to read all the comments from those of you who have taken the time to write and express an interest in participating in the epilepsy study. Your willingness to take the time to send a blood sample will make a great difference I hope in finding out more about this horrible disease. All of us with epileptic dogs hope to spare others our anguish as well as hope that we can avoid bringing an afflicted dog unknowingly into our homes and live in the future.

Allison Ruhe is in charge of the study and I have begun forwarding your emails to her as well as sending the instruction form out as quickly as I am able. I am teaching a seminar at clean run through tomorrow and when I get to a real live computer I will put up the files here. I love my iPad but it isn’t easy to manipulate files on it.

Just to clarify a few details on the early takeoff study. That study is one which had it’s inception a short time ago and was initiated by Linda Mecklenburg. Allison Ruhe is also organizing that study but it is more complicated than just sending in blood work. A video of your dogs jumping will need to be analyzed to determine if your dog does indeed have symptoms of early takeoff. A website may be developed and more information will be forthcoming soon on how you can participate.

I hope to be involved in helping with the study as much as I am able. Right now I am collecting names and emails and will be passing them along to those involved in the study. I am sure Linda will update those that she has spoken to in previous months about this same study.

I have been asked about other breeds participating and I believe the hope is that more breeds that have been shown to have a high incidence of early takeoff will also be included. I am not a vet as Linda is, nor a researcher or scientist so many of the questions I have received will need to be answered by experts but I hope I can help get you closer to those experts and us all closer to a diagnosis or understanding of this serious health issue.

I have had a couple great days teaching here in Hartford for Clean Run! Great handlers, great dogs, great dinners:) and lots of fun! One more day to go till I am back home with my dogs and husband and oh yeah….the computer!



7 responses

  1. I am rather confused on this whole “ETS genetic” thing. If it shows up in dogs that don’t have an eye problem, one then has to rule out injuries….and then what’s left? Structure? Dog was never trained how to properly jump? What else is there that would cause a dog to not know where it needs to takeoff from? If its that the dog was never trained how to properly jump and that’s somehow genetic then those dogs just aren’t naturally talented jumpers, right? We have concluded that eye problems, which can be genetic…maybe, can cause dogs to exhibit symptoms of ETS. IMO, if they’re exhibiting symptoms of ETS and it is an eye problem, it’s still ETS. But if its not eye problem, and not an injury. My mind tells me that it’s either structural or untalented jumpers that need to be taught and conditioned for jumping. JMO and if there is a genetic marker for untalented jumpers versus a dog being a very naturally talented jumper then there’s a handful more border collies being weeded out of the breeding population to further piss off the die hard working BC enthusiasts and give them even more argumentative backbone into how breeding for anything but working ability divides the breed.

  2. Hi Nancy,

    Taylor has exactly the jumping style you describe. He has also always had trouble going up steps and dithers on his doggie steps while our other dogs go gracefully up and down. It’s like he can’t sort out his back end and only realizes control of the front. As mentioned he has been diagnosed with PRA as of a couple of weeks ago, so I would guess this would make him ineligible for the study?

    I do plan to send samples this summer to the Michigan State University study that is working to find a DNA marker for PRA in Papillons. Of note, the researchers are searching for an intact male Papillon who has confirmed PRA. They have an intact PRA female and would like to produce a PRA-PRA litter believing that this is a key to finding and confirming the marker.

    He has had jumping problems from the very start of his career. I guess early on I thought he could be trained to jump better, but nothing worked. I decided on my own to stop trying as I felt drilling only wore on his structure and also disheartened him. He is a dog that gives his all and more again, so it was not fair to ask him for beyond what he could give.

    That he was able to earn the PNAC with his issues was a sheer miracle and a testament to the heart of this tiny dog who has always had such incredible accuracy and somehow consistently produces 300% more than he should be capable of. He’s always been an unstoppable little tank and that’s what pulled him through.

    Heartbreaking when you have a dog with an incredible mind and unbreakable focus who has a body that is unable to live up to that potential. I am very sad that he will now be losing his vision completely and he wants nothing more than to work. I am trying to wean him away from working, but so far it has not been easy. He comes to me waiting, pestering, sad and endlessly pacing when I take my other dog away to work without him. This disease truly is so unfair to this big-hearted little guy.

    Barb Scanlan and PNAC Taylor the Papillon

  3. Gayle,

    Normally ETS does not present itself at such an early age. I would suspect that your dogs actual testable and verifiable vision deficits could be causing most of the problems. I am assuming you did a retinoscopy? You might consider another consult with an eye doctor. One of the symptons that can rule out ETS is to have an actual eye disease. ETS dogs typically are within somewhat normal vision range. I am not an eye expert, or doctor of course. Linda Mecklenburg who wrote the article on ETS IS a veterinarian.

    Stay tuned for more information about the studies and how you might be able to participate.Thanks for writing


  4. Hi Nancy, thank you for your efforts on this topic. My ETS dog is a 3 yr old Australian Shepherd. I noticed problems quite early with problems going up stairs – at about 4 months. Downstairs is no problem. These problems persist. Other: getting up into car, onto table, onto any elevated surfaces. Lots of head ducking, general dithering. Jumps are with a very shallow trajectory.
    Agility: did all the suggested jump work – finally realized it was beyond a training issue and your CR article offered a great deal of comfort: THANK YOU! She jumps like the other dogs diagnosed with ETS. Lowered her from 22 to 16″ and that helps but doesn’t fix. Tires are a huge problem as most are not break away in my area.
    I had her eyes checked and she is short sighted so I have some contacts to work with. Some improvement but not dramatic. Need a longer test and decided to wait until spring when I can do a more consistent trial.
    Anyway I would like to get in the information flow on this topic.
    I have asked all who have these dogs what their behaviour is like on stairs and all so far have said there are difficulties – perhaps an early diagnostic tool?
    Breeder said an uncle is also ‘quirky’ about stairs.

  5. Hi Nancy, I placed a border collie that has the early take off problem. I got him when he was a year old, because his testicles did not descend. I had hin neutered and started training him. He is the sweetest boy ever!! I didn’t notice anything until he was 3 or 4. I did’t jump him until he was 2, and it seemed fine. Then when I started thinking about enetering him, he started stutter stepping and jumping way early. After a few months of this I had him xrayed, all was great. I also noticed he had trouble jumping into my truck. He could jump really high but could not judge how high he needed to to get into the truck without hitting his head. I bought Susan Salos dvd and set up the jump exercises for him, not a pretty sight. It continued to get worse, he could not judge the steps into the travel trailer, he would clobber himself every time. I felt so bad about asking him to run agility I stopped traing and decided he just be an obedience dog. I started the jumps for open and utility, I thought it might be easier for him. That was worse, he ran across the ring and would take off too soon and land on the bar, same thing with the panel jump. I tried teaching him where to take off, but it did not work, agility jumps with me running with him were easier for him. I gave him to some friends and he is very happy, but he tries to jump in their car and clobbers himself every time. I spoke to his breeder about the problem, and she has another one (I can’t remember if it his mom or aunt that is the same way. I will ask her. Streak was a single puppy, so no litermates to test. I talked to my friend who has him, we will take him to get blood drawn and have it sent in. Sorry so long, I wanted to explain everything I tried. Very athletic dog, could go from a sit and clear a 24 inch dog, I told the breeder I thought he needed doggie glasses. THanks Patty

    • Patty,

      How tragic for you and the dog. Did you ever get his eyes tested? If the effort and expense are not too great I would certainly recommend that you do so. Some dogs do have eye diseases that interfere with their vision and of course jumping. We would love to have you participate in the study. Stay tuned for details!


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