Talking with Millie

Mildred/Millie/Team Spirit Fair Play

Born: 24-04-2009
Deceased: 24-01-2015
At 18 months: epilepsy
By the end of 2014: problems walking
January 24, 2015: pneumonia and put to sleep due to negative prognosis.
Donated her body to science.

Pathology results: Advanced pneumonia, described as serious multifocal acute fibropurulent pneumonia with necrosis.
Moreover, the cervical spinal cord showed multifocal degeneration. This explains the clinical presentation.
The cause of this is unknown.
Cerebrum and hippocampus show light to moderate satellitosis. Diagnosis: Pneumonia and deterioration of neural tissue in central nervous system.

This means that it was impossible to save Millie, even if she had not caught pneumonia. One of my conversations with Millie follows.

Sweet Millie,
I'd like to have a few words with you.
Do you remember when we came to pick you up? You were 1 year old and jumped right into my arms as if you were delighted that, after waiting for us for a year, we had finally arrived.

You forgot all about that bad first year straight away, you totally enjoyed every day of your normal doggy life here with us. Even your epilepsy attacks didn't faze you; you'd just take a moment to recover and on you went, living a happy life.
What a shame, though, that this happy life could not to last a little longer...
It was certainly what we all wanted, but your body let you down way too soon. You couldn't walk anymore. We did everything we could think of to get you up and going again, but nothing worked. And then, when you got that serious pneumonia on the day you were 5 years and 9 months old, we finally had to let you go.

After you died, the neurologist thoroughly examined your body once again, and discovered that your nervous system was really failing, and that's why you couldn't walk anymore. I hope you don't mind that we donated your body to scientific study?
No, I'm sure you don't, because one day this might help other dogs, both Irish Wolfhounds and other breeds.

It might just be possible that you are not the only one with this condition which is deeply hidden and not visible from the outside.
They say that the average lifespan of an Irish Wolfhound is only 6.5 years, isn't that young? Would that be caused by those hidden conditions?

You also knew our Irish Wolfhounds Charlie and George, and before them, we had James.
Our life with Irish Wolfhounds began 14 years ago; you were our fourth and last Irish Wolfhound. The average lifespan of our 4 Irish Wolfhounds was 5 years and 9 months, and we owe this to medication and equipment, which had probably given them an extra 2 years of life.
That's not a lot, is it? The very worst part to me was to see you getting sick, and not being able to help you get better. I would so much have loved to see you grow old and to enjoy your old age, but it was not to be. Could it be the in-breeding or line-breeding that caused you to become sick so young?
I have read about in-breeding and line-breeding and a small gene-pool.
In your pedigree I also saw the same names appear on both your mother's side and your father's side.
This is like making a copy of a copy and repeating it over and over again.
You start with a black original, but eventually the copy is such a pale grey that it's hardly legible anymore.
This cannot be any good for the body's internal organs, including the immune system.

There are people who are trying to enlarge the gene pool by outcrossing to a different breed; they have studied this process in depth and know a lot about it.
And some other people don't think that such outcrossing is necessary.

There are people, too, who want to stop such outcrossing because they say it's not good for the breed.
Where were all those people when you and all those other dogs that were born sick were created?
Why didn't they stop THAT?

In my opinion, your breeder is a bad person because he did not take good care of you and all those other dogs, however he was breeding dogs that were bred by others. It would be so easy to just blame your breeder for your condition, but it did not start with you, and do you think you were the last? No, I don't think so either.
People are very busy studying the health of the Irish Wolfhound; they have been conducting heart tests for years. A score of 0 points makes you suitable for breeding. You had zero points, too, so you would have been allowed to breed, do you understand that? You wouldn't want your children to become so sick, too, would you?

And your brothers and sisters, did they also have these same hidden diseases? That is quite possible, but they may have been lucky, so that those diseases stay hidden. And what of their children, would those diseases stay hidden then, too? And their grandchildren? And their children again? No, I don't think they should have children, either, because we don't want any more dogs and their owners to have to experience all we went through.
But it does happen anyway, you know, in other dog families with the same kind of hidden diseases, and lots of people know about it, but nobody says a word. Can you understand that? No, I don't get it either.
We say thank you to the breeders who entrusted us with their puppies, but we are very sorry that after all our experiences, we will not buy an Irish Wolfhound puppy again.

I’m sure there will still be plenty of people who do want to buy puppies. They should be careful, however, not to talk about their opinions about outcrossing to a different breed, since we already know one breeder who will not sell a pup to you if you think outcrossing is a good idea. You don't believe it? Well, it's true, take it from me. It’s so bad, that you hardly dare to give your opinion without people getting angry. Yes, I agree, just let them be and focus on the nice things in life.
Whatever all these people do while they are breeding Irish Wolfhounds, whether they want to outcross to a different breed or not, the only thing that matters is that your family becomes more healthy. I will keep an eye on this for you, and will let you know.
I am so happy to have known James, Charlie, George, and you, Millie, but I am so very sad you could not all be healthier, which now means that when I had to say goodbye to you, this was also to the Irish Wolfhound breed in our family.

Bye-bye, my darling, I'll see you later.
Your friend.