"Suki's Project"


The following is an email posted to the SHOWBOXER list on Dec. 22, 2005 which marks the beginning of a much needed study of Renal Dysplasia in the Boxer breed, named "Suki's Project" in memory of J. Dara's Scintillation, "Suki", whose story you can read on Suki's Page.         

Before sharing that email notice with you, I would like to personally thank all involved in making this study a reality. In particular, Bob Blumberg, Katherine Nevius, and Ellen Bradley. I have long prayed for this day. The fact that these three agreed to name the project in memory of Suki is simply divine. The words of the poem I wrote to honor Suki, about her being a 'shining star, and understanding her plight spawning new thought and making worthy the battle she fought'  are now so much more meaningful....

I felt compelled to do what I saw as 'my part' by caring for Suki throughout her illness, and spending countless hours of researching the internet and reading everything I could get my hands on pertaining to RD, and to try to bring forth an awareness of the problem to the boxer community.   It wasn't an easy battle at times.... many thought I had lost my mind to try to prolong her life, but I wanted to give her the best life she could have with whatever time she had, and I knew from my research that she would need to live long enough that the ravages of the disease itself on her kidneys, could later, after death, be examined and clearly identified as having had RD. I was being met with such opposition, that I really felt pressured to be able to prove what I knew in my heart to be true. Some breeders seemed insulted that I asked about kidney disease within their lines, and others were very forthcoming. Some suggested that Suki's  was an isolated case, and therefore 'my problem'.  Some thought it cruel and unbecoming to put pictures of Suki in her diseased state on a website I created for her. Some thought it ludicrous of me to not only spay Suki's dam, but to also have a kidney biopsy done on her as well. There were many moments I felt really alone in my quest to somehow help Suki beat the odds, and to keep this from happening to some other unsuspecting breeder..... but I couldn't give up......somehow I knew in my heart from the beginning that it was indeed RD, and that it was a hereditary issue......

I had a strong motivation to find out all the answers I possibly could... and that motivation came from looking into those beautiful brown eyes of Miss Suki, and seeing the love and the trust she had given me.... unconditional love... love that was there no matter how many times I had to hydrate her and relieve her body of the toxins with sub-q fluids, no matter how many pills I shoved down her throat, no matter how many diaper changes we went through in a day... a love that has changed me forever.

I thank God for answering my prayers in making it possible for this study to happen. Nothing ever changes if we don't first recognize that there is a problem, and be willing to take steps to fix it. Since the original publication of Suki's Page and the Boxer Kidney Survey, I have heard from many boxer owners who have lost their beloved boxers to kidney disease, many many juvenile cases. To accomplish change will mean putting aside pride and concern for what others will think, and participating in this study fully, and modifying whatever we need to within our breeding programs to nullify this disease.

Please do your part.


Rebecca A. West

Here is the email posted to the SHOWBOXER LIST:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Katherine Nevius" <
boxerkate at cox.net>
Sent: Thursday, December 22, 2005 6:14 AM
Subject: Renal Dysplasia study -- at last!

I know how busy everyone is at this time of year, but I hope you'll take a
moment to digest what follows.  It's potentially very important to the
future of our dogs.  Renal Dysplasia is a real and present danger, and we
now have a means to begin to address it at last.

Two weeks ago in Boston, Ellen Bradley and I had the pleasure of meeting
with a very enthusiastic and encouraging member of the Dog Genome Project
crew.  Kerstin Lindblad-Toh raised our spirits considerably when she agreed
that the Project, run under the auspices of the Broad Institute of Harvard
and MIT, would be more than happy to become the repository for blood samples
from RD-affected Boxers and their relatives.

Currently their focus is on canine cancers -- among them the dreaded
lymphoma that clearly strikes our breed, and is also thought to be
genetically-linked in some way.  We will be able to piggy-back the study of
renal dysplasia on the cancer study, as only a single vial of blood need be
submitted in order for the study to investigate *both* diseases.

This is an enormous step forward, as Kerstin indicated that with as few as
20 samples from affected and 20 from carrier or clear Boxers, they will be
able to begin a study aimed at identifying the particular gene(s) involved
in the transmission of RD in our dogs.

Yes, many of you may not have experienced this heartbreak.  Unfortunately,
many of us who are related, in canine terms, *have* experienced it, and the
results to both puppy and family are devastating. In fact, I know personally
of three responsible folk who are leaving their current lines entirely
behind and starting over with new stock because of it.  If we had a marker
right now, that wouldn't be necessary.  But since we don't...

The RD study has been named in memory of Suki -- a puppy owned and loved,
before her death, by Bob Blumberg, who has agreed to fund this undertaking
once adequate samples have been collected.   Suki's story, for those who
didn't have a chance to see it a few months ago when the URL was published
on various mailing lists, can be found here:


Renal Dysplasia is incurable.  It strikes in puppyhood and, depending upon
how early it's caught and how severely it's expressed, a Boxer may die well
before its first birthday, or, if lucky, live a few years with expensive
kidney management techniques.

If you aren't dealing with it now, feel fortunate.  And consider supporting
the good work of the Dog Genome Project as they add RD to their list of
genetic diseases that may just have a solution one day -- a marker for which
we could test any Boxer and discover whether or not he or she is a carrier.

To participate in both the Lymphoma and the Renal Dysplasia study, please
send a sample.  Here are the guidelines:

1. Print out the form that needs to accompany the sample (see URL below)
2. Have your vet collect 5 ML of blood in an EDTA (purple top) tube
   (Do it when he or she is performing a routine heartworm test or other
   and you may be able to get it done for free)
3. Label it "Suki's Study" and "Lymphoma Study," following the additional
    instructions on the form
4. Either send it yourself (if you have appropriate packaging materials) or
have your vet send it to:

Dog Genome Project
Broad Institute
One Kendall Square, Bldg. 300
Cambridge, MA 02139

More information is available here:


And here is the form you'll need to print out to send with your samples:


Do this, please, for the sake of our breed's future.  Just because you
haven't experienced this tragedy doesn't mean you won't -- especially if we
don't nip its consequences in the bud before it becomes a breed-wide issue
like so many before it. Print out the forms, and keep them somewhere where
they'll remind you, after the holidays perhaps, to get this done.

If you need further information on blood collection, you may contact Tara
Biagi at
tbiagi at broad.mit.edu
Thank you so much for considering participating in this important work.

Katherine Nevius
Minstrel Boxers
BoxerKate at cox.net


This page has been visited Hit Counter  times since 12-27-05