A Disease of Breeders

A Disease of Breeders
by Lee Ann Carruthers

Reproduced with permission from The Lhasa Apso Reporter

We have identified a new disease probably caused by a virus among dog-owning people. It apparently has been in existence for a considerable amount of time, but only recently has science identified this disease, and begun to study it. We call it the Acquired Canine Obsessive Syndrome (ACOS). At first, ACOS was originally considered to be psychological in origin, but after two young researchers suddenly decided to become show breeders, we realized we were dealing with an infectious agent. Epidemiologist have identified three stages of this disease and its typical symptoms. Here are the stages and the symptoms, as we know them today.

You have early symptoms (stage 1) if:

1. You think a show within 300 miles is close by.

2. You begin to enjoy getting up at 5 a.m. to walk and feed the dogs.

3. It is fun to spend several hours a day grooming dogs.

4. You think you’re being frugal if you spend less than $3000 a year on shows.

5. You can’t remember what it was like to have just one Yorkie.

You definitely have the disease (stage 2) if:

1. Your most important factor, when buying a car, is how many crates you can fit in it.

2. When you look for a house, the first thing you check is how many Yorkies you can kennel on the property.

3. Your dog food bill is higher than your family’s.

4. You spend as much on veterinarians as family doctors.

5. You have no money because of showing dogs.

6. You have to buy more than one vehicle a year, because you keep burning out the 7 year or 70,000 mile warranty going to shows.

7. You have more pictures of your Yorkies than of your family.

8. Your idea of a fun vacation is to hit a show circuit.

9. Most of your conversations revolve around the dogs.

You are a terminal case (stage 3) if:

1. You wake up in the morning and find out you put the kids in the crates and the dogs in the beds last night.

2. You know each dog’s name and pedigree, but can’t figure out whom that stranger in the house is, and it turns out of be your spouse.

3. Your neighbors keep insisting that those kids running around your house bothering the dogs are yours.

4. You keep telling the kids to “heel” and can’t understand why they won’t and why they keep objecting to the choke chain.

5. You cash in the kids’ college trust fund to campaign dogs.

6. You’ve been on the road showing so long you can’t remember where you live.

7. Your family tells you, “It’s either the dogs, or us!” and you choose the dogs.

Do you have this dreaded disease? Well, there is hope. In the course of our research, we have found most cases seem to stop at stage 2, and remain chronic. We have, with great difficulty, managed to acquire several stage 3 ACOS patients. They are currently in our isolation wards where we are studying them to gain a better understanding of this disease. It is a sad sight, seeing these formerly vibrant people as they shuffle around their rooms in an endless triangle or L-pattern, making old hand motions (holding a leash) and making chirping noises or repeatedly saying “cookie” in a high-pitched voice. Merely saying the word “Westminster” can send them into an uncontrollable frenzy. Unfortunately, there isn’t much hope for these cases, but with time and research, we hope to further understand this disease, and come up with a cure. We are now attempting to isolate the causative agent, and may be able to develop a vaccine in the future.

An interesting sidelight of this disease seems to be that exposure at an early age has an immunizing effect. Several people with ACOS at stage 2 and 3 have close family members (children and spouses) who have absolutely no signs of the disease. It is thought by some of our researchers that his may be due to some environmental effects, to an age-related immune function, or may be due to the fact that people in these stages of the disease tend not to associate with their close family members. This is possibly due to the memory deficit induced by the disease-that is, in laymen’s terms, they don’t remember they have close family members.

What can you do to prevent this disease? Until a cure is found, prevention is the best measure. Avoid kennels advertising “show stock,” since it may be dogs who are carriers of the disease. Leave town on days the local newspapers inform you of a dog show in the area. If you inadvertently come into contact with an ACOS afflicted person, shower, preferably with germicidal soap. If you are living with one, take comfort in the fact that if you “haven’s succumbed yet, you are probably safe..