“AS PEOPLE RECOGNIZE THE VERSATILITY OF THE BULLDOG, POPULARITY HAS SURGED.”
can be. Diesel-Joker opens doors, helps her dress, brings her tools and helps her get in and out of her chair. Diesel-Joker is truly an amazing dog; he accompanies Rebecca on speaking engagements at schools and churches, where the topic is “Being Successful and Never Giving Up”. Bulldogs have in recent years become valuable members of Paws and Strips, an organization which provides veterans with service dogs. Th ese Bulldogs live with family members and assist veter- ans dealing with PTSD and other men- tal and cognitive disabilities. A number of organizations qualify dogs, includ- ing the Bulldog, as therapy dogs which are trained to give comfort and relieve loneliness and boredom. Th ese Bulldogs visit nursing homes, hospitals, psychiat- ric wards, shelters and schools providing a welcome change in routines and form lasting friendships with patients. At the performance level Bulldogs are not just another pretty face in the con- formation ring; their inherent strength and vigor has led the Bulldog to success- fully compete in rally, coursing, carting and agility. Th is versatile breed can be a wonderful performance companion. Bulldogs consistently earn titles in all manner of sports from fly ball, to weight pulls, dock-diving and freestyle dance. Bulldogs were among the first breed to earn the new Coursing Ability title o ff ered by the American Kennel Club. Bulldogs have earned invitations to par- ticipate in prestigious national competi- tions in obedience, rally and agility—
and have represented their breed well. More and more people are discovering what an animated and capable partner a Bulldog can be. As people recognize the versatility of the Bulldog, popularity has surged in recent years. According to AKC they consistently rank in the top ten breeds. Unfortunately, this popularity has actu- ally created many problems for the breed, mainly in subpar quality dogs being bred to fill the demand. Th ere has been a culture of acceptance that has evolved over the years that implies the Bulldog is inherently unhealthy due almost com- pletely to his unique conformation and ultimately the o ffi cial standard for excel- lence. Th e casual breeder often regards health issues as “typical” for the breed and propagates these health issues by careless breeding practices. Accepting buyers have been told for decades that these health problems are somehow “normal” for the breed and veterinarians see in droves the result of these careless practices. Th ere is a growing trend among people breeding for “designer colors”. Th e Standard calls black undesirable and the new dilute col- ors are equally undesirable. Th e making of undesirable colors for retail without focus on the more important health and temperament aspects is creating dogs who are destined for problems. Th e reality is that it should nev- er be expected that a Bulldog will be unhealthy. We live in an age of pro- gressive technology with health testing techniques and genetic research being
more advanced than ever. Th e Bull- dog Club of America (BCA) actively promotes health testing for all breed- ing stock. Th e BCA is a CHIC mem- ber and requires the following tests for those interested in entering the database: cardiac, patella and trachea. Tests rec- ommended but not required include; hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, autoimmune thyroiditis, CERF (Canine Eye Regis- try Foundation) or OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) for eyes, BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) for deafness and Hyperuricosuria. Th e BCA has implemented the Ambassador for Health program, which rewards dogs for their participation in health testing. Many top performance and conforma- tion winners have achieved the platinum status—the highest award. Th ere is an active campaign among concerned fan- ciers to perpetuate the breed as it was originally intended and described by the Standard—a vigorous, sound and healthy dog free of any medical condi- tions that would diminish its quality of life. Th is requires no change to the o ffi cial Standard. When considering a Bulldog, puppy or adult, first and most important is to be patient and not rush the process. Before adding a Bulldog to your home one should do extensive research on the breed. Th e Bulldog Club of America has the breed standard, breeder referral ser- vices and other educational information available online at: www.bulldogclub ofamerica.org.
216 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , S EPTEMBER 2014
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