Early Takeoff

If you are interested in finding out more about ETS, Early Takeoff Syndrome, please start by reading Linda Mecklenburgs article on the subject. There is a genetics study planned for this disease and as I have details about how you can participate I will post them here and in the blog posts.


8 responses

  1. Hi Nancy,… I have a sheltie that has ets… she has had an extensive eye exam and all of her vision tested normal.

    She did not develop ets until she was about 3… she is now 8… her symptoms have only gotten worse.

    There is no doubt she has ets… I have read much about it and read Linda M’s articles. Here’s some typical signs of ets performance issues in agility.

    Tires are almost impossible. Triples are difficult,… doubles are hard.
    Weaves,… no problem,… contacts,… no problem.
    Jumps after a stop on a dogwalk,… problem,… especially when coming around my body and seeing jump at last second… dog panics.
    Tables became problems.
    Jumps after coming out of a tunnel …. PROBLEM. I think this is due to change of light and eyes cannot adjust quick enough.

    All of the testing by vets have not resolved this issue for my little sheltie… She is very fast and would have been competitive if she did not have this issue develop.

    I truly think it is genetic in cause… probably recessive… possibly linked to other genes so hard to diagnose.

    Linda Embleton

  2. I have a 4 year old golden who out of nowhere developed a stutter step. This started just after she turned 3 and has brought out obedience career to a screatching hault. She earned her CDX 10/09….directed jumping became the casualty of the stutter problem and we have not been able to recover. Now she can’t manage the broad or hi jump confidently either. Do you have the name of the vet/university where I can have her tested for near/far sightedness?

  3. My Papillon, Taylor, exhibits this syndrome and those of you at Nationals saw it on display when he won the 4′ Preferred National Championship last week. He has always had trouble judging his jumps and stutter steps, most noticeably when he is tired.

    I wrote it about it on my blog, View from 4 Inch last year:

    His did have knee surgery several years ago, which is the main reason why I dropped him to Preferred, but he also seemed to be, for a lack of a better term, “near sighted”. I could see this in obedience and just a number of things where his ability to sight things seemed to be affected.

    It wasn’t until I brought him in this past spring for a back injury that a brief in-office test showed some slightly irregular ocular reflexes. I made an appointment with a veterinary ophthamologist, and one week before Nationals, Taylor was diagnosed with PRA at 8 years old.

    PRA is late onset in Papillons, commonly appearing between the ages of 6 and 8 years old. Taylor also has a family history of the disease.

    Based on the fact that I could detect comparative deficiencies in his vision…for years before the actual diagnosis of an eye disease, it may be that defects in vision to small to detect may be enough to affect performance of training behaviors.

    Basically, difficulty in performing visually-related tasks may be one of the first noticeable symptoms of an eye disease, and might even be in evidence for a long, long time before a disease can be medically diagnosed.

    Perhaps, based on Taylor’s case, could there theoretically be eye problems to faint to be authoritatively diagnosed, but be enough to throw off things like depth perception, distance vision or possibly eye reflexes.

    I would compare it to the fact that many people who are nearsighted can have their vision corrected by glasses, as opposed to people who have dramatic vision loss and blindness. At this point it could very well be that veterinary medicine is able to diagnose “blindness” but not mild deficiencies in vision.

    It is likely that dogs could be as likely as humans to have slight visual deficiencies, but because most dogs are not subjected to measurable “tests” of their vision, these deficiencies are never detected.

    It is only because high level performance of agility demands good vision to support judgement of approaches, etc., that these slight deficiencies are now being detected in practice.

    Of note, our opthamologist noted that eye disease detected at early stage as Taylor was usually comes in the case when a person has a working relationship with the dog, not only in agility, but in activities like hunting.

  4. I have a Pap with ets, his eyes were thoroughly checked this week, they are fine. We work on jumps with various visual presentations, a straight fast approach proves most difficult. Please let me know if there is a study involving multiple breeds. Thank-you.

  5. Wendy,

    Have you had your whippets eyes checked? There is a study on vitreous degeneration. http://www.schostercerf.com/

    In the recent past a dog who seemed to have ETS actually had this disease. Stay tuned for more information which will be coming about how to participate in the ETS study. I am uncertain at this time if it will only include border collies.


    • Hi Nancy,
      he hasn’t had an eye-exam yet but it is on our to-do list along with a backcheck. As it doesn’t seem to affect anything other than agility he does do that anymore.
      Unfortunately the link to the vitreous degeneration study site doesn’t work for me.


      • Animal eye consultants of Minnesota is the clinic when Dr. Schoster is doing the study on vitreous degeneration.

        They will come up on google.


        Sent from my iPad

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