Eye exams are important, not just for breeding pets but also for our sport (or semi-retired, sport) dogs.  The ultimate goal is to keep our pets running for as long as possible, so with that comes preventative health care and gathering as much information as possible to make informed decisions.

Bailey had a "puppy CERF" which is standard practice.  It gives the breeder feedback and provides the owner with a baseline.  I never sent her CERF form in, but I still have it.  It was clear, so no worries there.

We got started doing CERF exams in 2007 when the TCVESSA held a PRA blood draw in conjunction with their annual CERF clinic.  There was a discount on the price of PRA testing for dogs with current CERF exams, so I figured why not!  Both dogs had clear exams and I sent their forms in.  Test results came in a couple months later with Buzz being normal/clear and Bailey being affected (but not yet afflicted, per her CERF exam).

Since then I've learned a lot about inherited eye problems as well as some specifics of the form of PRA springers can be affected with.  At eye exams in 2008, both dogs were once again clear and Dr. Schoster didn't find it odd Bailey still had no signs of being afflicted with PRA.  She's been on some sort of eye vitamin (typically Ocuvite, sometimes Bilberry with Lutein) since the "diagnosis" and well... I just expected her to be normal.  I've kind of forgotten about the whole thing because so many dogs were unafflicted for years and years and years.

This eye exam went a bit differently than expected.  Buzz played brave boy and went first.  No concerns, only notation was his tarsal gland ademonas.  Still completely sighted at over 12 years old, and I couldn't be happier.  I let Dr. Larocca examine Bailey without any history because I've learned that professionals don't want to be given any kind of feedback that could sway their exam findings.  He told me she would be receiving a clear CERF which is when I chose to tell him she is genetically affected with PRA.  He looked at me, looked at her... and said "I don't believe that, your test is wrong!"

I had to hold in a laugh because he said it so emphatically.  I wouldn't have been laughing at the notion of it, but merely his... enthusiastic response!  I let him explain himself, "no dog still sighted at 10.5 years old can be affected with PRA, we would be seeing degenerative changes."  I casually mentioned she's been on an eye supplement since "diagnosis" in 2007, had a clear CERF in 2008 and did not have a CERF in 2009.  He was adamant the test is wrong!

Her sire is deceased, with no banked blood.  Her dam is deceased, with no banked blood.  She has a half sister on either side, neither of which has had the PRA test run, as far as I know.  She has full siblings, but I don't know of any, and I doubt her breeder has contact with any.  This is information I told him because he asked me how many affected offspring she's produced...




I promise I did not laugh when saying "she has produced zero offspring," though it was another pretty close slip.

He said we have to re-run the test.  I said there is only one laboratory currently doing ESS PRA tests.  He tried to find me another place to send blood... but there aren't any.  If I ever have money to spare, I'll ask if we can run Sarah and Addy blood, to see if it provides us with any kind of information.  If either tested normal/clear, then we would know somebody's test is wrong but the problem lies in them testing carrier or affected not giving us any valuable feedback.  As much as I would love to know "for sure," it really doesn't matter.  She has no offspring and all I care about is that she's still sighted.  The PRA test is what got me started doing regular(ish) CERF exams, so I don't regret doing it.  I just like definitive answers, especially when a professional doubts another professional's diagnosis.

To prove that I'm just a wee bit crazy... I seriously loved this appointment.  It amuses me to no end when something or someone is challenged.  It keeps everyone on alert and engaged.

I'd visit him again any day.  Informational entertainment with some seriously fun learning.  Yes please!


Lynnda said...

You know Kristin Elmquist has experience with tests -- genetic & testing eyesight -- that turn out to test differently that expected. [Her dog started losing its eyesight at something like age1 after the designer of the genetic test [maybe Optigen] vehemently assured the breeder that the blind sire would not pass it on to his puppies [but did!].
Fun Facts to Know [about some new technology/science].
Lynnda L

Megan said...

I didn't know Kristen had experiences with it. I'll have to chat with her about that.

I'm still trying to gather more information about this. And I need to remember to send in Bailey's CERF form, it just needs to be scanned in first!