Friday, June 11, 2010

AKC Canine Health Foundation Breeder's Symposium

Last weekend I traveled to Ames, Iowa (Iowa State University) for the AKC Canine Health Foundation Breeder's Symposium.

You may wondering what I was doing there...  Don't I know that all of my Cardis are spayed or neutered?

This is true - I'm not a breeder, nor do I intend to become one (hopefully those aren't famous last words).  So why did I go?

I went because they had a great line-up of speakers and topics, most of them useful even for "civilians" like me.

I attended on Saturday only (I needed at least one weekend day at home), but would have liked to attend both days.

Saturday topics were:
  -  How Structure Affects Performance (by Pat Hastings)
  -  Breeding Options & Techniques (ISU Vet School Faculty)
  -  Hips, Elbows & Orthopedic Certifications (ISU Vet School Faculty)
  -  Canine Ophthalmology & CERF (ISU Vet School Faculty)
  -  Managing Genetic Disease (ISU Vet School Faculty)
  -  Dog Food Basics (Ohio Vet School Faculty)
  -  Vaccine and Vaccination Protocols (ISU Vet School Faculty)

What really attracted me was the keynote address by Pat Hastings - I am keen to learn more about the topic she addressed.  Her 1.5 hour talk gave me just a taste of topic, and the desire to learn more.  BTW - she has a book on the topic coming out later this summer.  

The other topics were great, too.  I find it very interesting to listen to folks who dedicate their lives to the research & practice around a topic speak on their area of expertise.  Excepting one of the ISU vets who had to leave early, all of them stayed for the weekend, and were more than willing to chat with the symposium attendees outside of the presentation.  Also, the most of the vets were breeders or dedicated dog people themselves which made the discussion particularly relevant.

Top 3 things I learned:
  -  Many things "depend on the dog" - type of food to feed, vaccination protocols, etc.  should be tailored to the dog and its environment.  
  -  The area of canine genetics is very exciting right now - with advances in the past couple of years (e.g., mapping the canine genome) have made finding answers easier (but still not easy)
  -  Genetic conditions can be "complex" - it may be a combination of genes at play or genes  plus environment - that lead to some conditions - which makes the puzzle harder to put together

After one day of the seminar and conversations with my fellow attendees (it's always fun when one can start an hour long conversation with the phrase, "so what breed do you have?"), I have an expanded respect for those of you who choose to breed dogs.  So many variables, so much to learn, so much potential heartbreak.  Wow - I don't know how you do it!!  But thanks for doing it!

For those of you who might be interested, the Canine Health Foundation is offering two more of these events this year - one in Olympia, WA, (Aug 28) and one in Athens, GA (Sept 11).  The fees to attend are reasonable, and - if it's anything like the one in Iowa - you'll walk away with lots of great information, and lots of handouts/goodies, too!


  1. Wow--sounds like a great event! I may have to look for the one in Olympia. I too don't ever plan on breeding a litter but I am deeply interested in health, structure and genetics and how those things relate to performance dogs.

  2. I looked online, and I couldn't find the speakers/topics posted for the Olympia event yet. If the topics are similar, I think you'd find it interesting - for the reasons you mentioned above (which track with the reasons I went, too).

  3. Wow! I would love to attend something like that. I will have to keep an eye open for Pat Hasting's new book.

  4. I don't think the Olympia one is as indepth as this one was, but I really hope to attend one of those big seminars someday! I'm thankful for all the studies, and learning opportunities in dogs. Most animal breeders, sadly, do not have this wealth of information, studies, or all these educational programs available, or widely offered.


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