Newfoundland Forelimb Anomaly - A brief history
Early in 1998, NCA member Barbara Jenness with input from NCA member and breeder Peggy Helming contacted Michigan State University regarding a condition reported in the Newfoundland breed. How wide spread the condition was had been masked by differing diagnosis from veterinarians and no central clearing house for the disease. As information was gathered, it became apparent that the problem had been seen all over the country and abroad.
It was first described in 1981 in Norway by Jorunn Grondalen of The Veterinary College in an article for the Journal of Small Animal Practice, titled "A generalized chrondropathy of joint cartilage leading to deformity of the elbow joints in a litter of Newfoundland dogs".
Armed with several x-rays of affected animals Barbara Jenness met Dr. Ulreh Mostosky and Dr. George Padgett of Michigan State University to engage their help in determining what was going on in these puppies and what could be done.
An initial report was published in Newftide in 1998. After x-raying 9 affected puppies Dr. Mostosky noted that there was an asynchronous growth of the radius and ulna coupled with a subluxation of the elbow. It was difficult to tell which came first, whether the elbow luxation caused the uneven growth or whether the growth pattern caused the elbow luxation. In this article the condition was referred to as elbow anomaly. Information regarding where to send x-rays, pedigrees and cheek swabs was included in the report.
Dr. Ulreh Mostosky, Dr George Padgett, NCA members Barbara Jenness and Peggy Helming worked together on collecting pedigrees, and cheek swabs. Dr. Mostosky spent countless hours interpreting x-rays from around the world, and helping to x-ray animals that were sent to him. NCA members Jennifer Beals and Dr. Jennifer Zablotny helped in the housing and transportation of several animals.
After this period of data collection another report appeared in Newftide in 1999. This report included x-rays and photos of affected animals, reported the incidence of the disease, and the suspected inheritance. It also coined the name “Forelimb Anomaly”, which was felt to be a more accurate description of the problem.
Based on the collected data and suspected mode of inheritance, a test breeding of two affected animals was done. This breeding produced two live puppies both were normal. The breeding was done in a controlled environment. The male was housed at a Veterinary clinic and semen was collected for insemination. The female was housed by an NCA member and was brought to the clinic for insemination. Shortly after the breeding the male was euthanized.
After the breeding produced two normal puppies. The outcome of this breeding certainly was not expected. It proved that researchers were not dealing with a simple recessive and finding a marker would be much harder than anticipated.
After this breeding and follow up x-rays on the puppies, Barbara Jenness, central contact person turned over information to the NCA Health and Longevity committee due to the growing demands of a goat dairy and cheesemaking facility, Dr. Padgett passed away in 2004, Dr. Ulreh Mostosky retired in 2008. Dr. Mostosky continued to work on the Newfoundland Forelimb Anomaly up to and after his retirement. He continued this work funding it himself., He continued to accept and read x-rays from around the world. Working with NCA member/ breeder, Kathy Whitney, he helped facilitate a second breeding of affected to affected animals. The second litter confirmed the results of the first breeding, producing 6 puppies, all normal. These puppies were x-rayed every other week from 3 weeks until 12 weeks of age.
In July, 2012, Dr, Mostosky suffered a major stroke. His recovery is progressing and it is reported that he continues to read x-rays.
In August, 2012, Dr. Mostosky’s facility at his home burned. The building was a total loss. Twenty years of research were destroyed. This included all his records on Newfoundland Forelimb Anomaly. This is a tragic loss. During his years of research, he collected DNA on affected and non affected animals, this data is stored at an OFA facility under the heading Newfoundland Forelimb Anomaly. So that data was preserved.
This brief history shows that the disease has been around and is not going away. Newfoundland Forelimb Anomaly has lacked a “cheerleader” over the last decade. It is time that Newfoundland owners and breeders push for more awareness and continued research.