Shiloh Shepherd Health Initiative

 

Three Rivers Ringer for Love as a puppy, with his 24 hour holter monitor on. With a holter monitor test, as well as an echocardiogram and cardiologist exam, we know that Galen has a healthy heart!

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This page is dedicated to Kerri Gallagher, a founding member of this group who always placed the well being of the breed before politics or profit. May she be watching us from above, and be happy with all the good that came, with time, from her hard work.

Let’s be who we say we are.

The Pacific Northwest Shiloh Health Initiative was born out of the determination of a community of Shiloh Shepherd owners who realized that our goal is to ensure that Shiloh Shepherds remain a strong, healthy and vibrant rare breed.

While our group built friendships and worked with other Shiloh owners on projects such as dog shows, fundraisers, charity parades (and parties!), we realized that we were hearing more and more concerns regarding health issues without clear direction as to how these issues were being identified and addressed. Many owners facing heartbreaking issues with health or temperament had been encouraged to believe it was “just their dog”, or even worse, their fault, that issues were cropping up. When large groups of Shiloh owners got together and compared notes, it was obvious that it wasn’t just one dog, or one owner, but a pattern that defied the motto of a perfectly healthy “Beauty, Brains and Brawn” out-of-the-box puppy.

We were drawn, as are most Shiloh owners, to the idea that when developing a rare breed, careful dedication to healthy lines, eradicating genetic issues as they crop up, breeding for strong hips, strong hearts, good temperaments and healthy dogs was a noble goal, and we wanted to be a part of creating this stronger, healthier dog, free of genetic issues. We believed some internet site’s claims to a stronger, smarter, healthier Shiloh, and trusted when we were told our Shiloh, sadly, was the exception. We were gullible. But, we learned from each other, and see how truly special Shilohs are, even if they aren’t the perfectly brilliant, perfectly healthy, perfect temperament and huge size of some claims.

After a short term in the ISSR local dog club as officers, (a term that Thomas Hobbes would have aptly described as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”), the PNW Shiloh club board had made our motto “Let’s be who we say we are”, a pure and simple motto that reflects our faith and belief that we can actually work towards the dream of a Shiloh Shepherd with health, vigor, few genetic problems, with strong hips, strong hearts. This would require adequate health and temperament data to allow for careful breeding going forward.

It is possible to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. We wanted to walk the walk.

This goal requires truth telling, admitting when breedings are less than successful, and we cannot imagine how it won’t require shared data of health issues even if it makes our line, or our prized dog, less enticing to be used in the breed programs. This goal asks us to put the well being of the breed, and of the dogs, above our own egos, our own pocketbooks, our own friendships. It requires us to do what is best for the Shilohs, all the Shilohs, and not necessarily what is best for our “in group”, our kennel, our favorite club. This goal requires that we work together with people we may not enjoy socially, may not understand or relate to. It requires a change in the way we do business.

We want to be a part of what we originally thought we were joining, not what we found when we got too close to the politics. Realizing that the health of the breed we loved will be endangered without a commitment of working together to increase the usable data from all Shilohs, plus realizing that we could pull together enough money to do something about it, we formed the PNW Shiloh Health Initiative.

The three resigning members of the board of the NWC Shiloh club (Winn Maag, Karin West and Kerri Gallagher)  realized that we had promised in every advertisement that profits from local fundraising would go to benefit the local group, not national advertising campaigns. We chose to invest our small amount of money and skill into making health testing more affordable, and available, to breeders and puppy owners. This idea would, with our first purchase of a holter monitor and vest, allow testing of most Shiloh puppies for a fraction of the cost, allowing widespread testing, hopefully eliminating one genetic disease within a few generations. And with shared knowledge and expertise, we could slowly build a coalition of breeders, puppy owners and Shiloh fans to create healthier, stronger puppies that survived and thrived.

While our registry worked to say that health was their priority, politics often got in the way, and health data was often not available, or not reliable, or just plain false. Other registries were viewed as evil, and it seemed some even hoped those “other” registries would be overwhelmed with health issues. Without casting blame, we realized that expecting “someone else” to do the work was the problem.

We can, and will, mount an aggressive campaign to dig out and eradicate these genetic problems before they become further entrenched in our rare breed. We are asking all registries, all clubs, all owners, and all breeders to help us build a community that will protect and ensure the health of our breed going forward. Not for the registries, not for the clubs, not for the community. For the Shilohs.

 

Goals:

First: Holter Monitor and Vest; loaned out at cost of shipping, to any Shiloh puppy.

Update! Since SSHI was formed, multiple Shiloh breed clubs and registries have initiated holter monitor projects. Our goal, working with every other group, is to make sure every puppy is screened for iVT. Our holter monitor is available for cost of round trip shipping and a few dollars for supplies each testing requires. Please let us know if you would like to be on the waiting list. Ideal time for testing is between 5-9 months of age, with 12 months being the age at which the results might be questioned for genetic use. It’s a good idea to test any pup under the age of 24 months, though, to rule out a need for medical treatment. This condition is rare, but often fatal. If a puppy is affected, we can begin immediate care so that they live to 24 months, when most dogs outgrow this heart arrhythmia. Given that affected dogs can outgrow this arrhythmia before we test for it, we ask that breed quality dogs be tested between 5-9 months old to rule out this concern.

 

Second: Build a resource and database that includes data and information to help Shiloh owners make wise decisions regarding their dog’s health, and breeding options. This will include information on DM, VT, hip dysplasia, EPI, GDV, and a host of other preventable health concerns.

Update! We have worked alongside the National Shiloh Breeders Registry and the International Shiloh Shepherd Dog Club to form a genetic committee that actively gathers information into a database that will be available to breeders seeking to make the best possible genetic matches for breeding plans going forward.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/865234056838982/

This genetic database is very labor intensive, and our thanks to Cheryl Mundy for leading the way in creating an inclusive team to monitor Shiloh health, genetic markers, and data on each dog and their progeny that help us make wise decisions.

Third: Work with all registries and clubs to ensure reliable health information, and support for owners and breeders hoping to improve the breed. This is a difficult goal, as a few registries are extremely sure they want to be the “only” registry, and refuse to work with other registries. The ISSDC has brought together all but 2 “closed” registries to build a strong foundation of genetic data collection and health initiatives. Given that many Shilohs, with their owners, will leave those closed registries, the health data from these dogs is important data for every registry’s databank, so we continue to seek any and all information regarding health and genetic issues for every Shiloh Shepherd. Shiloh Shepherds share a common ancestry no matter what registry they are registered with, and we continue to work with all registries who support open and transparent genetic databases and collection.