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Canine Trauma

Genetics Conference at Cornell

Pat McNamara

By Pat McNamara, reporting from the conference held at Cornell on October 4 and 5, 1997

Day One

The 1st day of the Cornell Genetics conference is over. It was really very good. There were people there from Kansas, California, Florida, CT, MA, Portugal and all over the states. It was amazing to see so many different breeds represented. Lots of Lab people, Port. Water Dogs, Akitas, Springers, Aussies, and at least 4 different Assistance Dog Programs.

Dr. John Pollak did a wonderful job on the elementary genetics primer and gave us a full section of notes. Dr. Marjory Brooks gave a very well prepared presentation on Inherited Blood Disorders. She had slides and overheads and notes for us to illustrate the heritability of different disorders and actual case studies on mutations and how they tracked them.

After a delicious and chatty lunch, Dr. Eldin Leighton, director of canine genetics for the Seeing Eye organization, gave his presentation on Selection Results. It was very fascinating, concerning selection and setting goals and criteria for screening, etc. How they improved their Qualitive Hip Score, Distraction Index, Trainability and Weight (which he explained really meant size) in their Labs and German Shepherds. He recommends reading Falconer's book on Quantitative Genetics for the formulas.

Dr. Gregory Acland gave an interesting presentation on inheritance of coat color and a computer lab on the same topic. Everything was very well prepared and we were all given notebooks full of material.

Tomorrow Dr. Gustavo Aguirre will present on Inherited Eye Diseases, and Dr. Stephen Mackenzie will talk on Behavioral Genetics. There will be a question and answer period and an internet resources session.

If you get the chance to go next year, this seems really good.

Day Two

Dr. Aquirre's presentation was wonderful. He covered many genetic eye problems with many different breeds. He recommended other breed clubs consider addressing their disease problems in the manner of the Port. Water Dog Breed club. That is gathering correct information and setting about to resolve the problem in an efficient and manner.

Dr. Mackenzie had us all rolling in the asiles with his wonderful stories. He had great information on puppy testing and heritability of temperament traits.

The question and answer session was equally interesting. I kept thinking, here sits seven of the world's greatest experts on genetics at one time waiting for our questions. What a wonderful opportunity!!

Dr. Toni Oltenacu gave us a fast and efficient computer Labs and gave us a list of resources with the warning that all inofrmation on the Web may not be true or accurate! I will pass some sites that seemed most interesting. I have not had time yet to visit them.

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I asked about availability of CD Roms, videotapes of the course, and papers. None of these are available at this time. You may email Cornell Special Programs and request book sources or information on next year's course. It was well worth attending!

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