Posted by: jility | January 25, 2013

Who Died and Left You Boss?

Self-righteous indignation is everywhere. It has been around since the beginning of man. It inspired the Scarlet Letter, the Salem witch hunts, stonings and so much more. I am guilty of it myself at times and I hate it.

You see it in politics, religion, eating choices, dog feeding choices, training methods and in agility handling choices! I even know somebody who refuses to sell puppies to people who use a certain handling system! Now, on a stupid scale of 1 – 10, that right there, is a 12 stupid!

Why do people feel the need to make choices for others? Why, do they verbally stone others if, in their self-righteous mind, think people are making wrong choices.

What constitutes a wrong choice?

Anything that is different than the self-righteous do-gooder feels should happen?

Does badmouthing and judging others make the self-righteous  feel superior? Is their own life so empty, they feel better about themselves when they bash others? Telling anyone who will listen how evil other people are must put the self-righteous on a pedestal in their own mind.

I believe that people have the right to make their own mistakes. If I am asked for an opinion, I will give it, but I try very hard to not judge others for their choices. We are all doing the best we can with the information we have.

If I see a friend going down what I see as the “wrong path,” it is none of my business. That is their choice in their life and nobody’s business but their own. What if this is not really a “wrong path?” What if, they actually know better than I do about their choice? HOLY COW! Is that possible? Can somebody who makes a choice with which I disagree actually be right? But wait! Wouldn’t that make me wrong? GOD FORBID!

Well, if the people making the “incorrect choice” don’t want to hear what the self-righteous have to say, the self-righteous always have the option to go to anyone who will hold still long enough to listen and bash the person making those choices. That is certainly an acceptable behavior in this world.

Anything that justifies and validates the self-righteous indignation is worth pursuing, right? That seems to be the method of choice for some.

One agility related example of this is ETS (early takeoff syndrome). It is a real condition seen in some agility dogs. It is thought that this condition is due to an eyesight issue. Nobody knows for sure. I hope someday they do know for sure. Perhaps then the current witch hunt that labels every dog that takes a misstep before, during or after a jump as having ETS, will stop.

Is it expected by some of these self-righteous do-gooders that all dogs even distantly related to an ETS dog be removed from the breeding pool? This type of shortsighted, uneducated and ignorant thinking nearly ruined the miniature Poodle before they had the DNA test for PRA. SO many Poodles were removed from the breeding pool because they were related to dogs that went blind. That was what the self-righteous wanted to happen, so breeders complied. Consequently, genes from MANY wonderful mini Poodles were lost forever due to a witch hunt. Once they finally developed that DNA test for PRA, it was too late for so many great dogs.

I used to think we should throw the baby out with the bath water. I no longer feel that way. There will always be health issues in every line of every breed. Obviously, we do the best we can with the information we have at the time. Many diseases are thought to be polygenic. Hip dysplasia is a good example of that. It is just not cut and dried and that makes breeding choices difficult at times.

When we were raising horses and Connemara ponies, we began to see contracted tendons and club feet in some of our Connemaras. It was heartbreaking! Our stallion was amazing, but he was producing these conditions in some of his offspring. Most were coming from the same farms; ours and one other. We didn’t know what to do. There were many offspring from other mares, born to other owners that were fine!

Then we produced a magnificent Thoroughbred. He was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. He was my dream horse! He would mature to be close to 17 hands and moved as beautifully as he looked. When he was about a year or so old, he began to move very oddly behind. Then I noticed his front legs swung out to the side as they went forward. Long story short, he was a wobbler. We loaded him up in the trailer and drove him to Oregon State University. He could barely walk by the time we got to that point. My heart was broken.

Dr. Pam Wagner was there at the time and she had worked with Dr. Barrie Grant at Washington State University. They developed a procedure that helped horses suffering from wobbler syndrome  so we felt very lucky to have access to such a brilliant veterinarian.

As they were unloading our horse carefully from the trailer, I looked around the stable. It was full of huge Warmbloods. I asked Dr. Wagner why the barn was full of Warmbloods. She went on to explain that she had a grant to study osteochondritis dissecans; a condition that was seen more often in Warmbloods than other breeds. I asked her why. She explained to me that their studies had shown that the major reason for OCD in the horses they were studying was diet. Mares that were fed a diet too high in protein produced foals much more prone to OCD. It also depended on how much the foals were worked before they matured. The light bulb went on in my head! I asked her about our wobbler and the club feet and contracted tendons our stallion was throwing. She explained that these conditions were most likely also caused by diet.

It all made sense! Why did this happen in some Connemaras and not others? This is a breed of pony that developed on scrub in Ireland. The ones that could live on air and gorse made it. The ones that required more nutrition didn’t. Then we brought the ponies to America and fed them up. In the West, we fed rich alfalfa, grain and supplements. It was a lethal combination for these “easy keepers.”

Once we got rid of the grain, supplements and alfalfa, we never had another club foot or contracted tendon. I was very lucky to find Dr. Wagner or we would have castrated a fabulous stallion because of our ignorance and fiinger pointing by the self-righteous busy bodies.

Someday, we will know exactly what causes every health issue we have in our dogs, horses and ourselves. For now, we must do the best we can with the information we have. If breeders get rid of everything suspicious, we will have nothing left. We must use common sense (or as I am learning, there is nothing common about good sense, so I think we should rename it UNcommon sense!) when breeding dogs. We can’t be irresponsible, obviously, but at the same time, we shouldn’t throw out great dogs because of something we know nothing about. Someday maybe we will have that definitive DNA test as they do for PRA and so many other diseases, but for now, we just have to do our best.

Those know-it-all, holier-than-thou, chest-thumping, self-righteous, A$$#0!E$ will continue their gossiping witch hunts with anyone who will listen. We will always have those people in our society. Sadly, it is human nature. We do have a choice. We don’t have to listen! Tell them to clean their own house before pointing fingers at others!

Breeding dogs is not for the faint of heart. Things go wrong. Issues come up. Owners get pissed. I am grateful to all breeders who step up, take responsibility and continue on, trying to produce the best dogs they can so those of us who want dogs will have a great source.

Oh, and that Thoroughbred had the surgery to insert the basket of bones in his neck. Recovery was a bitch, but he did recover. We rehomed him and he went on to have a successful career in dressage.


  1. […] Of the hundreds of blogs I have written, one has evoked more emotion than all the others combined. Which one? My last blog titled, “Who Died and Left You Boss?” […]

  2. Did you see that some nasty people gave some comments the thumbs down vote? LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL Pretty funny.

    • You keep on saying it like it is Helen, as no one says it better then you! You make us laugh with your wonderful sense of humor as well as make us think about stuff that is passionate to many of us! Keep on keepin’ on!

      • Thanks Jan! I truly appreciate your suppport.

    • …that’s because theys thumbs in theys bums and theys minds are in neutral! …and they took them out and made room for their heads…A$$#0!E$!
      Cheers, Helen! xoxox

      • … I was referring to the thumbs downers.

  3. I am grateful to all breeders who step up, take responsibility and continue on trying to produce the best dogs they can so those of us who want dogs will have a great source. – A tribute to Karin Benker.

    Tami Bentley

  4. I just want to read a book on ‘MY LIFE AS HELEN’…SOOO interesting, you have so many wonderful stories to tell!

  5. Great Post as usual, Helen!

  6. EXCELLENT!!!!! Thank you so much for writing this!!

    Leslie & Kevin Whitney Kerales Farm Katahdin and Scottish Blackface Sheep Herding Smoke BBQ Team and Catering

  7. Hi Helen, Enjoyed reading, “Who Died . . . ?” Ron

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