Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sexy Dog

Ten years ago, a red fireball was born. I would bet that Travis has been a trouble maker from the get go. His brothers and sisters probably wouldn't play with him because I would guess that Travis was a bit overwhelming.... maybe even a bully. Wouldn't you just love to be a fly on the wall of the whelping box just to see your greyhound as a youngster? I am sure Travis was hell on wheels (or is that paws?).

Folks, you have to admit, but Travis has to be the most stunning greyhound that has ever lived. I know I am his mama, but I can be totally objective about this :-). He is just so perfectly proportioned, nicely put together, beautiful head, very photogenic, athletic looking, and a pretty color on top of all that. He has also aged better than any other greyhound I have ever met..... minimum amount of greying, great muscle tone, sound, and a perpetual youthful personality to go along with the package. Travis is 22 days from his 10th birthday in the top photo (and 3 years old in the photo on the left, 4 years old in the photo below right, and probably 5 years old in the bottom left). If there is such a thing as a sexy dog..... Travis is one heck of a sexy dog!.............. ok I'm done bragging and gushing over my beautiful boy............. onto my next tangent :-).

Typically when dogs are bred for just the conformation show ring only, you start to see certain physical characteristics start to become a little bit exaggerated. These traits thought to be of benefit to the dog's work and performance can actually become a handicap if allowed to go to extremes. In numerous breeds of dogs you find a "field" version and a "conformation" version. A fine example is the Labrador Retriever. You have stocky, fat, show labs and then you have your slimmer, athletic, field labs. It is important for purebred dogs to meet the breed standard which is designed to describe the ideal physical characteristic of a dog that does his working job well. A lab should be able to assist a hunter in the field all day, yet your conformation show labs can't physically do it anymore.

I think this has happened to greyhounds to some extent. Originally, greyhounds were bred for coursing hare and the breed standard was written to describe the perfect coursing greyhound. Racing greyhounds are bred for speed only, so they tend to come in all shapes and sizes. A greyhounds with a glaring conformation flaw may still enter the breeding program if the dog had the heart to overcome the physical flaws and win races anyway. Ears that stand up, overbites, baldness, and structure that can lead to unsoundess may be overlooked by some breeders for the need for speed. Conformation greyhounds are bred with a standard in mind. Like other breeds, some of the greyhound's desired traits can become exaggerated to the detriment of the dog. For example, a long, elegant neck is preferred, but when not combined with strength leads to neck problems.... a common problem in show greyhounds. Show greyhounds tend to have deeper chests than their racing cousins. The very deep chest is a good example of a trait being exaggerated without adding any benefit and I personally am not a fan of the look of it. Racing greyhounds seem to have a higher incident of bone cancer while show greyhounds are more prone to bloat. Show greyhounds have beautiful coats where as many racing greyhounds have bald thighs. I applaud the breeders (of any breed of dog) who strive to meet the breed's standard (even when the standard is not currently in style) and strives to preserve performance and intelligence.

Happy 10th Birthday, Travis. You are not at all what I expected..... thank goodness. I am so glad you let go of your issues and channeled all of that prey drive and energy into being a super agility dog. I could not ask for a better agility partner.