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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Can the Bulldog Be Saved?" the cover of the November 27, 2011 The New York Times Magazine questions.  As a lover of Bullys as well as the mother of one, my interest was piqued.  Well, that and the fact that the picture of the sweet baby on the cover looked just like my Bartholomew. I peeled the pages open to find the article and devoured it.

The gist is this..bulldogs have changed over the years. Writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis interviewed some who cite breeding practices to be at fault for the move from taller, leaner more athletic bodied dogs to shorter, heavier less agile ones. In an attempt to create a certain aesthetic, health may have been compromised. The article cites this as the reason for many problems afflicting the breed- heart disease, respiratory issues, birthing/reproductive difficulties, abnormal tooth placement, thyroid issues, skin allergies, digestive disorders, cherry eye, dry eye, hip, elbow and knee issues as well as altered gait.  Some see these health issues as a threat to the longevity of the breed. Can we 'save' the Bulldog from this? Sources cited in the article do believe that the Bulldog can be saved but only if new standards are set and criterion put in place to select for taller, leaner, healthier dogs.

 As I am reading this I actually started to laugh, yes laugh. I couldn't help but to see the parallel between the bulldog and the human.  Both were leaner and healthier not all that long ago.  Both continue to pass on traits that could compromise the health and well being of the entire line.  I'm laughing because for SOME REASON this is something we should be soooo worried about for the bulldog, but NOT the human??? WHAT??!!!! PETA and veterinarians alike are pushing for the American Kennel Club and Bulldog Club of America to change judging standards to favor the physique of a healthier, more resilient dog. They see this as a better representation of the breed, the ideal, if you will.

I am all for making anything healthier, that is for sure but why not start with ourselves? Why must we be so concerned about dogs and have so little reverence for humans? When a dog's health and longevity is compromised we do something about it, yet when our own health and longevity is compromised we just change the standards so we don't look so bad.  WHAT?!

Instead of looking deeper in to this situation we have chosen to modify our definition of what is normal or healthy for humans..but not for dogs? Why does this make sense? Oh yeah, that's right- IT DOESN'T!!!!! Clothing companies have modified the definition of their sizes.  I KNOW I am not smaller than I was in high school, but for some reason I wear sizes that are much smaller than I did back then.  All of this in an effort to keep people from feeling bad about themselves.  Changing the size of airplane, movie theater and car seats as well? Yep, wouldn't want anyone to have to squeeze in too much.  If we were bulldogs PETA would argue that we are endangering our line and that we should do something to stop moving further in the direction of total demise. Denizet-Lewis says:
"Jemima Harrison, the director of "Pedigree Dogs Exposed," told me it is possible to produce a healthier phenotype in most breeds pretty quickly (in three to four generations). ..."If breeders were willing to breed dogs with fewer exaggerated characteristics and judges in the show ring began rewarding those dogs, change could happen."

So, might it also be possible to change the direction of the human population? I certainly think so, but it will NOT happen on accident.  Continuing in the manner in which we have will find us in the same place as the bulldog. Just as the ideal bulldog may be redefined, we too must redefine the ideal human.  When I say 'ideal', NO I am not talking the Hitler-esque 'ideal'.  I am talking about a healthy individual.  Healthy physically and mentally.  We are responsible for the continuation of a healthy human population.  Today is the first step..commit to making a change for the better.  Lead by example for your family and friends.  Be the shining light of truth regarding nutrition and exercise. If we commit to starting NOW we can begin to undo our own demise.  If not, well...I don't want to go there.

Someone once told me that when you point your finger at something, you have 3 fingers pointing back at you. Let's stop pointing our finger at everything else and talking about what is wrong with IT, let's look at the 3 fingers pointing back at us and let's start with what is wrong with US!


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