| Whether you own
a retriever, setter,
a pointing or spaniel breed, a beagle or one of the coonhound
breeds, they all have one thing in common: they are canine athletes
bred to perform specific task in what can be a very harsh environment.
Your sporting dog may be one that competes in field performance
events or is used for hunting or both. You have invested many
dollars in training, feeding and veterinary care for your dog,
because he/she is worth it, he/she is your hunt
| ing companion. He/she
provides countless hours of dedicated service to you as you pursue
your hunting passion. And nothing can ruin your day or hunting
season like when your dog is injured or becomes sick.
The AKC Canine Health Foundation, the non-profit world leader
in funding sound canine health research, has allocated more than
$450,000 over the last several years to investigate prevention,
treatment and cures for injuries that occur in the field. More
than ten grants have been funded to
| study anterior and cruciate
ligament rupture and nearly twenty grants have been funded to
study various infectious diseases that threaten our sporting
dogs including ehrlichia, bartonella, brucellosis, leishmaniasis
and leptospirosis, among others.
The most recent grant to benefit sporting dogs investigates "mean
seeds" and the role they play in grass awn migration disease.
In the sporting dog world, there is a perception among owners
that there has been a dramatic escalation in the incidence of
grass awn migration disease in the last 20 years.
Grasses occur in a single large plant family that contains approximately
11,000 species (Chapman 1996). Although the grasses share many
important characteristics of their reproductive structures, only
a portion of the species have awns and an even smaller group
possess barbed awns of the type of concern to dogs. The awn
is part of the sheath that encloses the grass "seed."
The awns extend beyond the seed and those with barbs aid in
dispersal of the seeds. One of the ways the seeds disperse is
by attaching to things that come into contact with them. Animals
and their fur are important ways grass seeds get transported
to new locations. From an ecological standpoint, the attachment
of grass seeds to sporting dogs is an important natural process.
From the perspective of dogs and their owners, it is a danger