Saturday, March 18, 2023

Loving, and Losing , an All Time Favorite Poodle, to GOLPP

UKC Champion Prodigy's Content of Character, a/k/a Hudson When I saw an adorable photo of Hudson, in the snow, around age four or five months, on his breeder's Facebook page, it was love at first sight.I still remember commenting "if you ever decide to let this one go, please think of me!" Since she didnt know me personally,I never dreamt that a few months later she would actually write to see if I would be interested in co-owning this beautiful boy, with an agreement to show him and give him a forever home. Typically I don't co-own dogs with people I do not know personally, but I was so in love with this gorgeous puppy that I would have probably promised to name my first grandchild after her in exchange for the opportunity to have this dog come and live with me! We have had at least one Standard Poodle in our home since 1990. There was something special about each of them. But this little fellow (he was only 20 inches, 33 pounds, the result of an inter-variety breeding done for diversity reasons) was a big, extremely intelligent dog in a small package. He appointed himself the family watchdog right away. And speaking of watching, Huddy was the only dog I have ever owned who watched television, primarily just things that had horses or dogs in them, but occasionally he watched other things as well. One of his funniest TV habits was trying to help Cesar Millan when dogs were barking or growling on Cesar's programs. Hudson would actually lunge at the TV when dogs were acting out of control! He got in trouble a few times for that! But really one of the most special things about Hudson is that he never wanted to be in trouble. Call his name and he would come on a dime, inside or outside, including off leash in the middle of the eight acres we lived on up at the lake. If Mom or Dad said his name, he was by our sides in a flash. And he loved nothing more than "going on a ride", so much so that we had to spell things when we tried to sneak out of the house without him! Although his markings and thick coat with great texture made him quite flashy, Hudson did not love dog shows, he only tolerated them. We got his UKC championship quickly, only being shown in the United Kennel Club shows of course because although he was AKC registered, the American Kennel Club only allows solid colored poodles in the conformation ring. Actually it is the Poodle Club of America, the parent club of AKC, not AKC, who determines the Breed standard for conformation titles. Thankfully, we also have the United Poodle Association, the parent club for UKC, and UPA appreciates all colors of purebred poodles. Can a Poodle of any color be shown in the Multi-Colored classes at UKC events? Yes, with one exception. The merle gene does not occur naturally in poodles, so when it started popping up in advertisements on the internet, breeders trying to sell "purebred merle Stnadard Poodles", ethical UPA members quickly got a peitition together, petitioning UKC to disqualify poodles with this coloring from being shown. DNA testing has not been able to prove or disprove that merle poodles are not purebred but since the "originals" were bred by breeders who bred Aussiedoodles (Australian Shepherd/Standard Poodle crosses) it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how the merle gene crept into the gene pool. Sadly, merle coloring is connected with some serious health issues. As someone who used to show Australian Shepherds and was involved with Aussie rescue, I have seen puppies that were blind, deaf, and even one born without eyes. This is why it is a serious matter to ethical poodle fanciers--we do not wish to see any merle poodle or poodle mixes to be bred, ever. In fact, the way to find a healthy, non-shedding Poodle is to work with a Poodle breeder who doesn't breed Poodle mixes, but who breeds only AKC registered Poodles. There are many health clearances that we do on our breeding stock, and waiting until after a Poodle is two or three years old and has completed all of this health testing before breeding it, is one way to help insure, to help up your chances, of getting a dog that stands a good chance of living a healthy long life.
Sadly, the disease which took Hudson is not one that has a genetic test to rule out parents who are carriers--in fact, so far there is no proof that GOLPP is even genetic. Veterinarians and research articles typically state that the conditon affects elderly dogs, but Hudson was middle-aged when he first started showing symptoms of food getting stuck in his throat, gagging and other issues. GOLPP causes laryngeal paralysis, affecting the nerves that control the muscles in the throat. He was ten by the time that polyneuropathy kicked in, which includes vagus nerve involvement. He eventually had difficiulty swallowing as well as loss of muscle mass and rear-end weakness, causing some collapsing episodes. Unlike the rear weakness we see in elderly dogs who have arthritis in their spine or rear, GOLPP does not cause pain in those areas, the collapsing is due to weakness, sometimes combined as well with difficulty breathing. Dogs with GOLPP can be helped if diagnosed early on, with a procedure called Arytenoid laryngoplasty surgery (“tie-back” surgery, where a procedure is done on one of the laryngeal cartilages which keeps the throat from closing up, thereby decreasing airway resisteance and giving the dog a better ability to swallow normally). Unfortunately, Hudson was midsiagnosed at the beginning of his symptoms as having IBD, because of vomiting episodes, and by the time we changed veterinarians and got the correct diagnosis he was in the later stages of the disease, so he was not a candidate for this procedure. The disease is usually slow progressing, and the fact that Hudson was put on an anti-inflammatory med for IBD, did help keep many of the symptoms of GOLPP under control for almost four years, before we had to make the tough decision to let him go because he simply couldn't swallow and he was in distress.
I am not usually one to share the "gory details" but since so many people have never even heard of GOLPP, I wanted to make Poodle owners aware that it DOES occur in our breed, as I have since heard from others who lost a dog to it. Since it happens later in life, it is impossible to know if there is a genetic component, and so far, it is thought not, although the fact that it appears more often in some breeds (Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Borzois, Greyhounds, German Shepherd Dogs and Brittany Spaniels) this "may" end up proving that certain bloodlines are genetically predeposed. When my veterinarian diagnosed Hudson he said that the good news was that no pain was involved (at that time he was occasionally collapsing in the rear) but the bad news was, the disease is always terminal. Many articles on the internet also mention that no pain is involved, however I can attest that a dog who is having difficulty breathing and swallowing, definitely becomes distressed, even panicked. It does seem to be true that pain is not involved with the rear weakness, dogs definitely are in distress when they cannot swallow---when food is getting stuck in their throat, or when they epxerpeince things like aspiration pneumonia which make them miserable, and can cause an extremely high fever which doesn't always respond to medication, especially if they are already at the point where they cannot even swallow medication. So please, if you see a study in Standard Poodles trying to find a genetic marker which will help us eliminate this disease, donate! I would love to see this eradicated from our beloved breed, because I don't want to think of another dog going through what Hudson did in his last years. Hudson, I will miss you forever, and believe that God will give me the privilege of seeing you again in heaven. You gave so much love, what a precious gift you were to us.