DANELINKS.COM                                                                                                                                                                                      9.1.05 

Ray Cataldi
, Jr.

As just one longtime breeder who is actively breeding, I am becoming increasingly more annoyed by the constant insinuation that no one in the past ever knew anything about their dog’s HEALTH, that the so-called new technology and/or science replaces all prior knowledge just by itself, and that longtime breeders are just ideologically opposed to it because they are not "with it," or that they're all hiding all kinds of secrets.

Is having technology even new anyway?  Is health screening new?  Genetic markers are new but are still just another tool to be used wisely to help produce excellent Great Danes.  The tools don’t produce good results themselves, the brains of the breeders do.  The breeders are who maintain the gene pool.

There are dangers when scientific data and health screenings are used incorrectly, that render them useless with little or no chance to enhance results.  Misuse can then result in a setback instead of an improvement, especially when technology itself is just being used as a "cop-out" to allow people a means to pretend to have real answers, without thinking they have to do anything except read them.

There is an attempt to misuse health screening underway right now by the GDCA; a naive attempt to level the playing field, saying all opinions have equal value regardless of background or experience.  So many, or even anyone involved in any aspect of the sport, can now declare how Great Danes should be bred.  It is an attempt to give the right to non-breeders or inexperienced breeders to impose their simplistic untried theories on others just because they have the time, desire or calling to spend in club activities.

Just who do these self-proclaimed experts think they are, and why should experienced breeders take them seriously?   It's becoming a bit too insulting to constantly be hearing how they, who seem to have just noticed health testing, have decided that longtime breeders are just not up to these current, new, innovative ideas.  Ha!  Just who is deciding all this “written in stone baloney” about what breeders should or should not be doing?  And based on what?

The first Champion I bred was Ch. Rojon’s The Hustler, whose OFA number is 315.  What's your dog’s OFA number?  His sire, Ch. Von Riesenhof's The Boss, had an OFA number, too.
The Hustler was born in 1970.   Here is one of many documents regarding neck x-ray screenings for cervical vertebrae when we began to hear about Spondylolisthesis (what you now call wobblers) and were trying to protect our bloodline.  And, yes, we have documented EKG results and Chest Radiograph documents from when we screened hearts, too.  Did we use them to justify our breeding choices or to advertise the test results to draw interest and/or promote our particular dogs?  No.

And notice the birth dates of these dogs.  Now, thirty five years later, some people want to talk down to us and tell us all about health screenings, all they know about them, and to tell us their version of how to breed Great Danes.  I think not!

Did everybody do all this stuff? Some did, some did other things.  But we weren't just a bunch of people pompously walking around at dog shows trying to figure out shortcuts to "wins" and telling everyone else what to do.  (Now that I think about it, there were some of those then, too!)  And, we produced some excellent Great Danes, some even produced bloodlines, and we even did some winning along the way.

Speaking for myself as a breeder, we always took steps to protect our bloodline and our dogs from genetic disease using all possible means, as well as protecting them from other bad circumstances, including landing in inappropriate homes or in rescue.  Frankly, I think we did a better job.  What we didn't do was just provide "lip-service."

Now I would suggest you re-think why longtime breeders could possibly know more than non-breeders about breeding Great Danes.  It's a no-brainer, a phrase I hear all the time.
In the year 2005, attempting old methods of coercion to force others to do what you want them to, while you do/did little or nothing yourself regarding the subject, is pretty revealing in and of itself.
Whether it was intentional or not, the people who implement and value health
screening were set up and let down by poor leadership at the GDCA on this issue and that should be the most revealing fact of all.  Good leadership is suppose to improve the environment so all others can flourish and excel at their jobs.

Because of the failed leadership on this issue, I'm sure many are now more frustrated and even more cynical than before.  But this setback will not be as difficult to overcome as the long-term effects of a mistaken and incorrect decision involving bad legislation.  Even if some choose to throw in the towel, others will begin to question and learn that there are far more appropriate answers about these complex subjects that can bring better results through breeding.  There are choices that would have fewer bad consequences than just a crude, inconclusive and uninformed attempt at legislation.

There were many things I heard experienced breeders say when I was a relative newcomer, things that echoed in my head years later and still do today, things I never really understood until I gained some experience to put them into perspective.  So keep listening, keep remembering, and understand-- no one is telling you not to question.  And that applies not only to this issue, but to everything.

Attempting to pass off longtime breeders as ideologically opposed because they are antiquated and afraid of progress is absurd.

Don't let useful technology be reduced to rhetoric people use to pretend they have real answers or valuable information, just because it sounds good, it's easy, or because they read it somewhere.  Your RESULTS (and not just determined by wins) are what will validate the choices and decisions you make about breeding.  Without good results one will never earn respect, and after all is said and done, your work will seem meaningless and unrewarding even to you.

So... is having technology really new anyway?  Is health screening really new?  For those who claim to be so "with it," it's so obvious and easy to see how much they really don't understand.  They are thirty-five years too late on this one, and they keep bragging about it.  And now the slow learners want to blame everyone who came before and to proclaim leadership............ "they have seen the light" and can save the breed by broad, sweeping, faulty, legislation.  They want to dismiss the very breeders that have known and actually have been doing all this NEW stuff for the past twenty, thirty and forty years.
It would be more innovative (you'd look better) and your time would be better served asking the right questions and learning some correct answers so you can actually get better RESULTS.  And, constantly reducing the point back to "for or against health testing" is exposing your simplistic thought process.  If that's where you're stuck, how would you ever understand or be able to implement any of this?  If that's where you're stuck, how could you ever become an outstanding breeder?

It is not legislating that is going to have any profound impact on the improvement of Great Danes, health-wise or in any other way.  You have been walked out onto a plank by unqualified leadership on this issue. That is unfortunate, not only for you but for health screening itself.  Now, if you are smart, you'll get past this and get on with the real task at stake.  And you can do it. 

This is not the only, but is one longtime Great Dane breeder's opinion regarding this issue.

On a personal note, my accomplishments as a BREEDER are more rewarding than any other accomplishments I may have achieved in the sport of pure bred dogs thus far.
It is also the hardest part and takes the greatest degree of skill and commitment.

Breeding Great Danes has been my lifetime work and that is why I feel compelled to write this.

Ray Cataldi
Rojon Great Danes

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