New Year, New Developments

It’s been a while since I checked in so I thought I would write a line or two about current goings on around Tufts. The good news for me is that my next book, which finally has a name – The Well-Adjusted Dog: Dr. Dodman's Seven Steps to Lifelong Health and Happiness for Your Best Friend – is off my desk and off to press. It is scheduled be on the shelves toward the end of June with the formal release date being around July 11th 2008. I got some really good quotes for the back cover from the likes of Jon Stewart of The Daily Show fame, Bo Derek, John Gogan (author of Marley and Me), and top psychiatrists Drs Judith Rapoport and John Ratey. As trainer Bash Dibra says about the book, "Finally! A book that deals with the prevention of behavior problems.” Let’s hope the book lives up to all the hype. I sure hope so because I feel this is my best dog book yet.

Meanwhile life at the school goes on. The lecture course is over for the year and the students have taken their examination. There was no negative feedback (which is excellent) but we did have to nix one question the subject matter of which somehow got omitted from the syllabus and lecture.

The other big thing going on right now is our genetic testing of dog DNA samples at MIT. The first wave of this costly testing, which is ongoing, represents an attempt to find the gene(s) that cause flank/blanket sucking in Doberman pinchers. More detailed testing of these samples will follow the early look-see. After that we will run DNA samples taken from tail chasing bull terriers. This same laboratory has already found the gene that makes Boxers’ chests white and the gene that gives Ridgebacks their ridge – so our hopes for finding genes underlying Doberman and Bull Terrier compulsive behavior are running high.

Meanwhile we are looking into treatment of canine compulsive disorders using a new drug therapy that holds great promise. This treatment, which drugs that block the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, was first discovered by us here at Tufts using animal patients (horses and dogs). It has since moved on to humans and has been used successfully in scores of human patients at Harvard’s McLean Hospital OCD unit. This is one example of a treatment idea moving from veterinary patients upstream to human patients. No drug company has taken us up on this patented idea yet so if any readers know someone with connections who wants to help us get this treatment up and running for people with OCD please let me know! An equivalent veterinary patent has been licensed to a company in England who hopes to make the first veterinary drug labeled for use in canine OCD.

Clinic cases continue to pour in, and many of them are really novel and interesting. I just treated a dog who ate leather, whether his owners were home or not. He was a leather hound (my term). Another had REM sleep disorder while yet another had fear of her male owner (only) sneezing. We sure do see the most interesting cases and thoroughly enjoy meeting these interesting dogs and their owners. Oh well, I’d better get going now. I have to see a man about a dog.

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