January 10, 2005 – Mozart,
seen on the left, is shown here with his dad, SudZ, in a family portrait
I created in 2003 for their owners, Larry and Margo Gaither. (You can
read their original story as it
appeared on DaDane of DaWeek.) I
originally shot both dogs separately at the 2002 GDCA National Specialty
in Kentucky. At
the time, SudZ was nearly five. Mozart was fifteen months old. I had
the pleasure of shooting SudZ again last year at
the 2004 GDCA National Specialty in Texas. He will be seven next
month. Although his muzzle is now gray and he looks a lot older, SudZ
is in very good health and he is a wonderful example of an older Dane
who has lived well, and aged well.
Unfortunately, Mozart is no
longer with us. He died last February at the tender age of two and
a half. His death was an avoidable loss, which makes it twice as
sad. Mozart had suffered through a series of health
problems for a year or more. At first his problems seemed unrelated,
but as Mozart's health gradually deteriorated, Margo and Larry realized
something was fundamentally wrong. They begged their veterinarian
to do everything possible to determine the source of Mozart's bad health.
Throughout the process, they spared no expense. All sorts of tests
were run. More
be tested for Addison's
Disease, but her vet said it would be a waste of time because
there was no indication Mozart had Addison's. Finally, when Mozart
was lying in the animal hospital struggling to stay alive, Margo INSISTED
an Addison's test. It came back positive. Mozart
in fact had
Disease. In theory, his condition could have been managed, enabling
life, but it didn't work out that way. Mozart died less than a day
later. The diagnosis had come too late to save him.
would be easy to blame Mozart's vet for his death, but that might be
an unfair over-simplification.
Addison's Disease can be a very tricky disease to recognize because
of Addison's mimic those of many other diseases. Furthermore, most
veterinarians have no idea that Great Danes are among the
five (yes, FIVE) breeds
associated with this life-threatening disease. When it comes to Addison's,
too often Dane owners, owner-breeders, and veterinarians are
under-educated, or worse, ill-informed, about the symptoms. Not too
ago, I ran a series
of articles on
Canine Addison's Disease. If you missed it, I urge
you to take the time to familiarize yourself
with Canine Addison's Disease. It may save your dog's life!
Great News for Great
A very important study
is currently underway at the University of California (UC Davis) to
characterize the mode of inheritance for Canine Addison's Disease,
with the ultimate goal of identifying a genetic marker and developing
screening test. This ground-breaking research has been funded by the
AKC Canine Health Foundation with additional monies contributed by
the Great Dane Club
of America, the Bearded Collie Club of America,
the Bearded Collie Foundation for Health, the Poodle Club of America,
the Leonberger Club of America, and the Portuguese Water Dog Foundation.
You can help...
the mode of inheritance, with the ultimate goal of identifying a genetic
marker linked to the disease, we need information
on dogs that are affected AND unaffected with the disease. If
you are willing to participate in this study, please request
a kit that contains a questionnaire on your dog’s health and swabs
for the collection of DNA. The FAQs
link will answer many of
your questions regarding the study. We appreciate your support
and interest in the study. "
— Canine Genetic Analysis Project
Department of Animal Science, UC DAVIS
The Addison's study kit is completely
FREE, and it even includes return postage, so it will cost you absolutely
DNA collection is simple and painless to administer. Follow this
link to request
a kit for your Great Dane. Those of you with more than
one Dane can order as many kits as you need.
If your Great Dane – or
one of his/her relatives – has been afflicted with Addison's,
then it is extremely important
that you participate in this project. But even if your Dane is perfectly
healthy, your participation can help the researchers achieve their
goal. Please be aware that the kit is not a test to determine whether
or not your dog has Addison's. (You'd need to see your vet for that.)
submissions to the study will be kept strictly confidential. Results
for individual dogs will not
be made available to you, or to the public.
This is a good thing, folks, a VERY
good thing. I
ordered a kit for Merlin yesterday.
I hope you'll order a kit for your Great Dane today.
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