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How Did Zeek Die?

written by Christopher Glaeser
published in Golden Retriever News March-April 2001

Bob and his wife Sheila recently acquired a Golden Retriever puppy for their family. While visiting a local pet store, Bob purchased a book about Golden Retrievers that included a picture of a handsome stud dog from the past. According to the caption below the color photo, the dog's name was Savanna's Royal Flush, call name “Zeek”. While researching his puppy's pedigree, Bob learned that his puppy was a Zeek descendent. Bob showed the picture of Zeek to his six year old daughter Andrea, and read to her several pages of Zeek's titles and accomplishments. When Bob finished reading the chapter, Andrea asked, “How did Zeek die?”

“I don't know,” answered Bob, “the book doesn't say how he died.” Being an inquisitive and resourceful fellow, Bob decided to subscribe to a Golden Retriever list server on the Internet to find the answer. Bob figured he would have an answer to Andrea's question within a few mouse clicks.

Below are Bob's original post and the discussion that it generated. As you can see from the responses, Bob learned far more than he had expected. Is there a lesson here for all of us?

Bob: Hi, my name is Bob and I'm a new member of this list. Can someone tell me how Savanna's Royal Flush aka “Zeek” died?

Jennie: Oh good grief. Here we go again.

Harold: I was thinking the same thing Jennie. Seems like we rehash this old topic every six months.

Bob: Oops, sorry, I just subscribed to this list. I was just curious to know how Zeek died.

Jennie: Why? So you can save the breed? It ain't that simple Bob. There's a lot more to a good breeding program than avoiding one dog.

Trisha: You go girl! After thirty years of working in this breed, the more I learn, the less I know.

Bob: <VBG> I don't think it will take me thirty years to know less. I already know so little, I don't even know how Zeek died. :)

Sarah: Yeah, well, then know this. No dog is perfect, and all dogs die.

Rosanna: ROTFL!!! That's a good one Sarah. Next he'll probably tell us how he plans to breed a dog that lives forever. :)

Athena: I remember when I saw Zeek at the '81 National. Wow. What movement. And what a great personality. I can't understand why people have to trash him now that he's dead.

Bob: I wasn't trying to trash Zeek. I just wanted to know how he died.

Deedee: Can we just drop this thread? We go over and over this Zeek thing, and for what? We have more important problems in the breed today! Why can't we focus on those problems!!!???

Shirley: It is common knowledge that I line bred to Zeek and I'm glad that I did. Zeek had so much to offer this breed. I don't understand why anyone would want to avoid his lines in their breeding program.

Hanna: If you want to know how Zeek died, you should ask Zeek's owner rather than spreading gossip and resorting to innuendo and negative attacks.

Bob: It wasn't my intention to attack Zeek. I was just curious to know how he died.

Therese: Zeek's owner is not on this list to defend herself, but she is a long-time personal friend of mine, and I can assure you that she is the most ethical and honest person in the breed today. The only reason to attack her is sour grapes.

Mike: Yeah, sour grapes or ignorance … or both.

Maria: My mother always told me, “If you can't say something nice about someone, then don't say anything.”

Deirdre: Why does this list always degenerate into personal attacks? Zeek's owner knows more about canine genetics than most people could hope to learn in ten lifetimes. I'm sure she had good reasons for breeding to Zeek.

Loretta: Bob, please don't take this personal, but can I ask you a question? How many litters have you bred?

Bob: I haven't bred any litters. I'm not a breeder. I was just curious to know how Zeek died.

Loretta: Well, before you start judging others, may I suggest you read some books on genetics. Read, research, study, learn. When you've been in the breed as long as I have, you'll discover there are no easy answers.

Tracy: Yeah, I remember when I started ... I was going to save the breed too. It's not that simple.

Sandy: Bob, you have a lot to learn before you start breeding dogs. There's a lot more to breeding than just avoiding dogs with problems. No dog is perfect; every dog has its problems. If you avoid all dogs with problems, then you won't have any dogs with which to breed. That's Canine Breeding 101.

Bob: I wasn't planning on breeding. I was just curious to know how Zeek died.

Dana: He's dead. He's been dead for fifteen years. Can't we just let him rest in peace?

Luke: BOB, YOU'RE AN IDIOT!!! YES I'M SHOUTING!!! If you think you're so damn smart, then why don't you breed the perfect dog. Reputable breeders work hard, yes, very hard, to improve the breed. It's the five-year wonders that think they know everything who are the problem. I've had my share of heartaches. Believe me, if you breed enough litters, your turn is coming.

Trisha: I just talked to Zeek's owner Audrey on the phone and told her about this ugly, hateful discussion on the list. She said when Zeek began his stellar show career, that's when other competitors started making vicious and vindictive comments about her and her breeding program. They are just jealous of her accomplishments, plain and simple.

Bob: I'm not jealous. I'm just curious to know how Zeek died.

Carroll: I agree with Trisha. Audrey is not on this list to defend herself, so let's just end this discussion.

Patty: This world would be a better place if we could be as kind to our dogs as they are to us. What did Zeek ever do to you?

Bob: I never met Zeek, but I'm sure he was a fine dog. I'm just curious to know how he died.

Zelda: Why does everyone blame the stud dog? Doesn't the dam contribute half the genes?

Bob: I'm not blaming any sires or dams. I'm just curious to know how Zeek died.

Henry: Bob, I'm sure you're a nice fellow and you mean well, but genetics is very complex. It's part science, part art, and part luck. If breeding dogs were easy, we wouldn't have the problems we see in the breed today. Before you start breeding, my advice to you is to ask questions ... lots and lots of questions. That's the best way to learn.

Bob: Thanks, that's good advice. Speaking of questions, I do have one. How did Zeek die?

© 2001 Christopher Glaeser. All Rights Reserved. 

(c) Salmelin