Bird Dog & Retriever News

February/ March 2011 issue page 17

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 ous threat. (AKC Canine Health Foundation Grant Application)
The barbed grass awns, or "mean seeds," attach to a dogs coat and pierce the skin or are ingested or inhaled. Once in a dog's body, these mean seeds tend to migrate, leaving a trail of infection behind. These infections cause illness that is difficult to diagnose, and can even be fatal.
It is suspected that the increase of grass awn migration disease is due to inclusion of problem grasses such as Canadian Wild Rye and Virginia Rye in the approved lists for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands. The CRP was first described in the 1985 Farm Bill and it has been reauthorized in each subsequent Farm Bill. The first land was enrolled in 1986. The most important feature of CRP is to encourage farmers to convert their marginal cropland acreage to perennial vegetation

 that will protect the land from wind and water erosion (Farm Service Agency 2010). In addition to the protection against erosion, hunters and sportsman have seen the favorable response from wildlife to the CRP habitat improvements. In a large number of contracts the perennial vegetation planted consists of a mixture of grasses. Country wide there are more than 31 million acres in active CPR contracts in 2010 (Farm Service Agency 2010). (AKC Canine Health Foundation Grant Application)
David Hopkins, AKC Delegate for the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Club of Illinois and Chair of the Delegate Field Trial and Hunting Test Committee was instrumental in bringing this concern to the attention of the AKC Canine Health Foundation's grants committee. Mr. Hopkins worked with Dr. William Lauenroth of the University of Wyoming and principal investigator for the study to submit the application to the AKC Canine Health Foundation
The primary goal of the study is to determine the frequency with which these barbed seeds are planted, so that sporting dog owners and field trialers can begin discussions with the US Department of Agriculture to modify their recommended list of grasses to
 be planted on CRP lands.
Dr. Lauenroth stated, "If it can be determined that there has been a dramatic increase in both the incidence of the disease and the quantity of barbed seeds planted in CRP lands, such determination would surely factor significantly into improvements in veterinary diagnostic and treatment protocols, overall education for dog owners, and preventative or remedial measures for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's approach to CRP plantings."
This important research has been sponsored by the Golden Retriever Foundation, English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association, English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association Foundation, National Amateur Retriever Club, Labrador Retriever Club, Spinone Club of America, German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America Boykin Spaniel Society and the AKC Humane Fund.
For more information about this and other research the AKC Canine Health Foundation has funded or how you can help fund additional research visit
For more information about research on the "Mean Seed" article above, please contact Cathy Lewis at or by phone at 262-215-1910.
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