Friday, August 26, 2016

Lord Banjo learns about genes

Did you know that genes are the reason some dogs pack on the pounds?  I didn’t until Mum read me an article, “Genes might be to blame for obesity.”  Not that I ever approached being obese, pleasingly plump maybe, but not obese.

The story leads off with a description of Labs:
If you’ve ever had a Labrador retriever, you know about one of the breed’s notable traits: an unrelenting appetite.  The dogs will devour anything from socks to rocks, and given the chance, they can be prone to eat themselves into obesity.
Thankfully, I’m not a Lab and don’t have that big an appetite.  Mum says that instead of an unrelenting appetite, I have an unrelenting desire to lie around all day.  Harrumph!  You just wait until the temperatures cool off around here; I’ll show her! I’ll walk her and Dad into the dirt.

The tales of the Labs and their eating antics are quite funny, at least to me.  One 176 pound porker was described as “a massive blob with a leg at each corner.”  I could easily mimic the actions of some Labs who sit beneath apple trees waiting for apples to drop, except I don’t care anything about apples.  I could, however, lie under a tree for hours on end. Okay, okay, I can lie anywhere for hours on end.

Researchers at Cambridge University conducted a study and discovered that lots of Labs are missing a piece of a gene that regulates appetite. The absence of that tiny part means they just keep on eating and eating because they don’t get any signal that enough is enough.

I admit that when Mum and Dad ration my food in the extreme, I may go in search of more, but for the most part, I’m content without extras. Now, if you leave a chicken breast or sausage on the counter, that’s another story.  The bad news for me is that the Royal Mum learned the hard way that I can snag food off the counter without my feet leaving the floor, and she’s gotten pretty darned vigilant about never leaving anything in reach. 

The funny thing is that the only other breed of dog with this gene mutation is the Flat-Coated Retriever, a cousin to the Labs.  Once upon a time, Mum and Dad thought I was a Flat-Coated Retriever because I looked so much like Tinker, the dog they had when I came along. Tinker was a Flat-Coated mix, but even she wasn't a huge eater.

I like to say I’m mostly a Great Pyrenees with a tiny bit of Golden Retriever thrown in.  The researchers didn’t find that weird gene in either of those breeds. It only shows up in Labs and Flat-Coats. When I heard the title of the article, I was kinda hoping I could blame my tummy size on this gene thing, but I guess not. We Great Pyrenees have only the best genes, thank you very much.