Hvgolden4, I agree with a lot of what you say. You do make some excellent points.
Just want to point out that breeders who can get a test, write the check, lick the stamp and mail the envelope, should be able to do so on all the clearences.
Ok, lets step back again.
We are talking about long time breeders....when Barbara D passed away, she was well into her 80's and yes, she was still active with her dogs up until the last couple years. So, you believe that someone who has been doing things a certain way for 30, 40 or 50 years is all of a sudden going to change the way that they do things because the GRCA says it is easier for people to verify things that way?? Again, in that perfect world.
I am not making excuses, but I just don't see this happening.
We have also had many discussions about the costs associated with raising and breeding and showing goldens. The costs are obscene and I don't think anyone would disagree with that. There are also many breeders who have a big beef with the fact that these charges are on top of the clearances themselves and they have issues with the fact that the OFA will accept a heart clearance from a practioner, when it is supposed to be done by a cardiologist and that CERF charges every year on top of paying for the actual exam and they also charge the parent clubs for any information that they need. So, there are also some politics involved with the issue, as well.
As the costs, yes, it is $8 per year to recertify a dogs eyes. The GRCA is also now asking that all dogs who have ever been bred have their eyes done annually. A lot of breeders also don't agree with that. If the dogs are in their possession, they will continue to have their eyes done. But, many are placed after they are retired and while they can ask someone who then owns the dog to take them, it then becomes out of their control. For example, we usually do place our girls after they are retired. I explain to people about the eye issues and tell them I will pay for an exam, if there is a clinic nearby, great-many will take them. I do however, have one that the closest optho would be 5 hrs from her. Sorry, I do not see this pet owner, who is a single woman in her late 60's driving 5 hours one way to have a dogs eyes checked and I am not going to beat her over the head about it. We all do the best that we can. So, now we have $8 for every dog that we are currently showing, breeding and every dog that has ever been bred and then we also have to factor in the fact that the exam is anywhere from $35 to 50 per dog as well. This is not something that is inexpensive, as many would like to think and this is also something that is part of the new COE.
Moving on thru the COE. It is a guideline, it was never meant to be punative in nature. As I had stated in a previous post, nothing will happen to any breeder who does not follow the COE and it is a guideline because breeding dogs is not black and white. The longer someone is involved in dogs and breeding, the more shades of gray they will see. There are many things that need to be taken into consideration. For example, with elbows...other countries(notably in Europe) do not have an issue with breeding a dog with a grade 1 elbow, if the dog is asymptomatic. WHAT, you say?? Why would anyone ever do that??
Well, again, things are not black and white. There are many times that dogs are submitted to one registry and don't clear and will be submitted to another registry and do clear. This is a radiologists opinion from a 1 dimensional xray of a 3 dimensional joint. Because of the nature of the elbow joint, it is also more susceptible to wear any tear, than the hips would be. If you were to ask a radiologist if you could difinitively tell from an xray that a dog that was said to have grade 1 elbows, truly had elbow dysplasia, the answer would be no. There are different things that they look at with the elbow and some can be seen without question. But, many elbows that don't clear, appear to be normal on an xray. This is where we get into a gray area. The only true way to tell that one of those dogs had elbow dyslpasia would be to do surgery and look. Well, obviously, that isn't acceptable as a means for a clearance to have every dog have surgery to look at their elbows. So, we work with what we have available.
I do know of breeders who have bred grade 1 elbows(the dog had been hit by a car and was grade 1 on the side they were hit by a car on) and is now 4 generations removed from that dog and none of her offspring that have been checked have failed elbows-and a considerable number of them have been checked because they were in show homes.
I think that most people who are involved in any facet of conformation with their goldens knows who CH Amberac's Asterling Aruba was. Aruba's mother did not have a hip clearance. There are many, many generations removed from Aruba now and those lines don't show a higher rate of hip dysplasia than others. Another very well known dam is CH Aspenglo Angel Fire. Angel was a BIS winning girl who had quite a few littermates that did pass hips, but she did not. She was bred and her production record for hips is actually above the breed average, probably due to the stud dogs that were chosen for her and the fact that their hip production records were very strong.
I could go on and on about dogs that were bred "against" the COE that is in place right now-I should also state that back when Angel and Aruba were bred, there was not a COE but it was accepted practice at the time that hip and eye clearances were done.
We also now have DNA tests available for goldens. I see a lot of posts saying that all breeders should be doing those tests as well. The GRCA has not made an advisement in regard to those tests because there are a lot of things to consider with the decision to test or not should include considerations such as: the seriousness of the disease, the reliability of the test, the prevalence of the disease in the breed, and the presence of affected or carrier dogs in the vertical pedigree.
So, we now need a dog with a great temperament, a dog that possesses good aptitude in the field, a dog that meets the golden retriever standard, a dog who passes hip, eye, heart and elbow exams and along with all the DNA tests and has titles to demonstrate their abilities. Hmmmm....then I see posts about how bad linebreeding is and how high is too high for a COI. As we do more and more testing, we will limit the gene pool further and further and continue to decrease the genetic diversity of the golden retriever. Because of all these things, the COE is a guideline. The dog who fails a clearance while the littermates have all cleared, statistically is better off than the one dog from the litter who passed its clearances when the rest of the litter failed.
These are some of those gray areas that I am talking about when breeding and why I say that breeding is more of an art than just a science. There are far more considerations involved with breeding than I could ever really touch on in a post here.
I understand that we are all passionate about the dogs that we all love and hold dear. I ask that people not be quite so judgemental and sometimes understand that you have to look and think outside the box to "get it". It truly is one of those "until you have walked a mile in my shoes" kind of things. I read some of the posts on the forum and I used to be that person 20 years ago, before I knew how very much more was involved and how many more things needed to be considered.