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River tragically left us at the age of 14 months. She was diagnosed with Progressive Neuronal Abiotrophy (PNA), a rare genetic neurological disease.
Back in 1995 I discovered the joy of the Kerry Blue, it was two more years before my first Kerry arrived in this world and into my life. Her existence changed my world in so many ways. She gave me intense joy and brutal agony and shaped who I would become over the next 15 years. It was because of her life, and ultimately her death that I became passionate about this breed. I spent countless years and funds working for a solution despite political pressure, threats and slander. There were some who quietly supported me and they helped me through the rough times more than they will ever know. The scars of the abuse I took are still visible, those wounds run deep. In the end I hoped it would all be worth it and the work would yield the necessary fruit that would help us all defeat the disease that took my beloved River.
On August 21st, 2012 I got a call that made all the struggles worthwhile. The puzzle had been solved thanks to River's DNA and the geneticist who refused to give up the search. I've kept this quiet until the test was ready and available to everyone. Today is the day I finally get to share the news with you all. We have a test for PNA (now called CMSD). It is a simple and affordable cheek swab that can be purchased through OFA. PNA can finally be buried along with those puppies it took from us, and never again cause the Kerry community strife. If we all work together to test breeding stock, breed wisely considering carrier status and cooperate with one another it will be gone from our gene pool in a few generations.
It has been a long and difficult road, many people don't have any idea about the history of the disease and what it has done to Kerries and breeders over the last several decades. We can finally talk about it now with the knowledge that the solution is here, no more specter that was PNA lurking in the shadows. I know this means more to me than it does to many of you, but I hope you all can acknowledge the importance of this breakthrough and the huge positive impact it will have on our breed and it's future. For more information about this test and how to place an order for a test kit visit The CGD website
Please join me in raising a glass to Drs. Johnson & O'Brien & their staff at the University of Missouri - Columbia.
We are members of the United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club.
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