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Have we piqued your interest? Do you want to help us eradicate this disease from the Belgian gene pool? Well here are some answers to common questions.

Okay, I want to participate - Now What?

Contact UCDavis and let them know you would like to participate in the study, either by:

Anita M. Oberbauer, Ph.D. Associate Professor
Department of Animal Science
University of California
Davis, CA 95616

Once you have contacted UCDavis, they will send out as many collection kits as you request. You will need one kit per dog tested.

What is in a kit?

Each kit contains instructions for collecting canine buccal cells, 3 swabs for the collection, and a postage paid return envelope.

What if I want to be anonymous?

The strictly confidential email address trfamula@ucdavis.edu.

No individual dog will be identified nor will any individual owner receive information pertaining to a particular dog. This is a *research* study designed to identify a genetic marker associated with seizuring activity; we are not testing dogs to tell whether you should breed your dog or not or whether your dog will develop epilepsy.

What do I have to do to my dog?

1 If your dog has been eating or drinking, wait at least 10-15 minutes before performing this test.
2 Sample one dog at a time. If you are sampling several dogs in the same session, complete the process for one dog before beginning to sample the next dog.
3 Use all three histobrushes for each dog. Label each of the three brushes with the name of the dog sampled and the date of the collection.
4 The brushes are stored individually in paper wrappers. Tear ff the top of the wrapper and remove the brush by its handle.
5 Place the bristle head of the histobrush against the inside of the cheek and swirl it around 10 times. Please be vigorous, as these are the only samples we will have for the dogs. Please take each sample from a different location on the cheek.
6 Carefully return each histobrush to its original envelope, holding the envelope open so that the bristles on the brush do not spray.
7 Fold the open end of the paper wrapper and seal this end with a paperclip or a staple. Do NOT tape shut or place the samples in a zip-lock bag.
8 Return all the samples (each marked with the dog's name) and the form you are sent by regualr mail in the self-addressed, postage-paid envelope that comes with each kit.

Will this cause my dog any pain?

This is not painful to the dog, the bristles of the brush are not hard. Once your dog realizes what you are trying to do, most are very accepting of this procedure.

Does this cost anything?

This does not cost you anything except your time. An addressed, postage-paid envelope is sent to you with the swabs to facilitate the return.

Do you need a pedigree?

On the back of the instruction sheet is a form for you to complete. This form asks for basic information, such as your name and address, the name of the dog, his date of birth, any history or veterinary documentation of seizures can be attached, any knowledge of seizuring relatives should be included, a photocopy of your dog's pedigree is requested - but at a minimum you can provide the sire and dam. Any other information or background is appreciated.

Do you need family history?

If you know of siblings that have had any seizure activity or parents of your dog, please include as much detail as possible.

Do you only want dogs that come from seizuring backgrounds?

We need DNA from families of Belgian Tervuren known to be affected by seizures, not just dogs that are classified as epileptic.

What is the definition of a family?

  •  dog or bitch known to pass on seizuring activity
  • offspring from these dogs or bitches
  • dogs and bitches these dogs were bred to (even if the breeding did not produce any seizuring offspring)
  • parents of either the dog or bitch
  • siblings of either the dog or bitch
  • repeat breedings of dogs or bitches that have produced seizures, even if no seizures were produced by the repeat breeding dogs or bitches

 We need to know the seizuring status of dogs submitted and also, the parents and offspring (as well as can be defined). The seizuring documentation is critical to assign phenotype. Veterinary records substantiating seizures are great.

This study is not limited to dogs within the United States. We encourage breeders from Canada and Europe to contribute to the studies with families afflicted with this genetic disorder. This disease is not limited to Tervuren population in the USA.

Any and all samples from Tervuren or Groenendael are desired, affected and unaffected dogs alike.

What about if I don't know about my dog's background?

Fill out the family history to the best of your knowledge.

When will I find out the results?

Results will not be returned on specific dogs. However, if you are interested in the outcome of the study, there is an area on the form for you to check off. Study data will be sent to you once it is compiled.

When will the study end?

The AKC grant is for a two year study. This is an ongoing study and samples will be accepted at any time, but to provide the greatest chance for a breakthrough in this study as many samples as soon as they can be received will be appreciated. There is no endpoint to sending in samples. People should request kits and send them in whenever they have the chance.

Is this only for Tervuren and Sheepdogs?

Malinois and Laekenois are not being excluded, but the sheer numbers of Tervuren and Groenendael available combined with the pedigree evidence that we have, suggests that identifying a marker in those two Belgians will be an easier starting point. A marker effective for Groenendael and Tervuren will likely pertain to Malinois and Laekenois, and potentially other breeds as well.

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