A friend shared a very interesting article today. If you are interested, you can read it here – http://dogbehaviorscience.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/100-years-of-breed-improvement/.
It is quite similar with a past post I have written about selective breeding versus natural selection. Selective breeding seemed to be human’s way of tweaking nature into freaks and usually against natural selection where animals morph into hardier beings based on their adaptability towards the current environment that they are in. One thing that is for certain is that, animals with short nostrils or muzzles suffer more in warmer environment. They tend to overheat faster and we can see how this physical trait can change rather quickly. Changes to physical traits can be quite obvious in animals as they go down the food chain. Rabbits being animal of prey must adapt faster to survive when environment changes and we see that locally bred dwarf rabbit breeds lose their short muzzle as fast as just one generation. Well, maybe it could be a coincidence, maybe an obvious fact or even could be an inaccurate observation.
Like the dogs, physical characteristics of pedigree rabbits are also governed by the so called Breed Standards which are changed every few years depending on which standard one subscribes to. The different standards itself do raise doubts if there is really a true standard at all. It is a very contradicting argument at the end of the day and it is better be left to “agree to disagree”.
And so I wonder…
I wonder if physical characteristics or beauty ever equates to health and vigor. Based on my observation, I strongly believe that good looks almost never equates to health and vigor. By good looks I do not mean when the animals have beautiful and shiny fur because nice fur do tell us that the animal is rather healthy. On the contrary, if an animal have all the physical traits as suggested by the standard, it does not really mean that the animal in question is absolutely healthy and adaptable to harsh environment.
I also wonder when will the changes to the standard of perfection stop because my mind cannot stop asking why change what is called the standards? In other words why should the standard be changed when it is already perfect?
The problem lies in our human perception. Our perception of things changes all the time and with it so goes the standards that we set.
As per the article shared at the beginning of this article, the dog breeds mentioned has been pushed to the brink of destruction. It was because of what we humans perceive as “standard” that has brought about the destruction of the breeds. We keep on changing to suit our tastes. We keep on changing so that we do not lose followers. We keep on changing so that more will find the hobby more favorable. We keep on changing to stay ahead. We keep on changing to stay profitable. We keep on changing so that we can stay where we are while others follow. We change to suit ourselves like how we justify a wrong is right.
Just imagine that nature is moving ahead while we humans try to work towards a totally opposite direction. Many things can be said about why I am writing this article. I am neither for nor against the breeding and creation of pedigree animals. Everything must be done in moderation. And I am just “writing out loud” what I currently feel and think about the subject. I tend to ask questions rather than following blindly what others do.
The latest debate in the Holland Lop world is about changing the breed standards to cater for a more colorful range in the breed. If you have been following this blog since the beginning, you may have noticed how I was really gungho about achieving the “Standard of Perfection” in my rabbitry but after observing the many changes that has taken place and those changes that is going to take place, I started to question the main objectives as to why I should subscribe to the changes.
It is very simple for me regarding this color topic. A good rabbit remains as nothing but a good rabbit. Color has got no importance if a rabbit is healthy and represents the standard perfectly.
There is nothing wrong with the standard at the end of the day. If there is anything wrong at all, in my opinion it is the mechanism of judging! If a boat is found to have a hole, do we keep on scooping water out of it or do we patch the hole?
Changing the standard will not eliminate human errors, human weaknesses and human nature like favoritism, influence and politics. Just like how the standards are never perfect in the first place and that we find the need to change them.
It is high time we go back to basics and realize the objective of the standard – to produce not only (physically) beautiful animals but healthy ones as well. It is time to tell ourselves that nature decides and we are only stewards.
When Noah was asked to gather a pair of each species into the Ark, I wonder what was the criteria and what was the standard of perfection given. I believe that it was two of the healthiest he can find to help each species survive the great flood.
Noah sure did not choose two flat face lop ear rabbits to begin with…
And I wonder…
I wonder what is perfection…