Breeding animals:
Someone has said that in the contemporary United States, a dog has a better chance of dying in a humane way than a human.  Most dogs are pets, which means that somebody cares about each dog.  When the dog is sick and miserable with no hope of ever again having an acceptable life, that dog will generally be put down.  A human usually does not have that option. 

The observation was brought to me without a shred of evidence to support it, but I have no reason to doubt it.  Nor do I have any evidence to support what I am about to say, but it seems similarly reasonable.  A dog in the contemporary United States is far more likely to be the result of a rational mating choice than is a human. 

It is not just a matter of dogs.  Horses are bred with great care.  The fastest horse I understand to be the quarter horse.  No other horse can match it in a quarter mile race.  On dirt I would bet on the quarter horse over a top of the class drag racer for the first fifty to a hundred yards.  Those who like horses recon that the quarter horse is the closest thing to a true wild horse – fast, tough, smart, agile and able to maintain its hoof care without human help.  But the greatest care in breeding is taken with the thoroughbred. 

The thoroughbred is the master of the greater distance.  It makes for a more interesting race because it lasts long enough for people to get excited.  And a horse cannot enter a thoroughbred race without a pedigree that proves it is a pure thoroughbred.  I suspect that is because something like a quarter horse-thoroughbred cross might be faster over the same distance.  That might make for a good race, but it is forbidden.  Any advantage of hybrid vigor is more than offset by the long term danger to the blood line.  Humans are able to look past the first generation when it comes to horses, but generally not when it comes to themselves.  An aristocrat has been defined as anyone who takes an interest it their grandparents and in their grandchildren.  They tend to be exceptional.

I once met a man who was expert in breeding the Florida cracker horse.  I shall not digress into boasting about this finest of mounts, but he did once say this:

Inbreeding is linebreeding that goes badly.  Linebreeding is inbreeding that goes well. 

He would have nothing to learn from me.

Consider cattle.  My understanding is that the most common is something called a Friesian-Holstein, a cross between two already excellent dairy breeds.  It is white with black blotches.  They number more than a billion, possibly multiple billions.  And the effecting genetic population size is something like a couple dozen or less.  Now we are talking about a species that is maintained purely for economic reasons.  The milk is valuable, and the cheapest way to have the milk is to have cows that are very productive of milk and very fertile.  The best solution has turned out to be to have a very restricted degree of genetic diversity.  When it comes to making money, we know how to do it.  When it comes to the welfare of our own children, we have a scotoma.

As for house cats, there is a bit of a puzzle.  They are not rare, and they are frequently simply let out into the neighborhood to work out their own social arrangements.  It would seem to be an invitation to an unlimited mating population.  Yet I have never heard that they had any difficulty with fertility.  Possibly the mating population is limited because in any one neighborhood there will be one dominant tom that sires all the kittens.  But it is hard to tell.  It all happens at night.  Certainly there is a lot of fighting among the toms, but I know of nobody who has taken the trouble of finding out just what is going on out there in the dark.  I do understand that there are two kinds of injuries.  Either a tom has cauliflower ears or scars on the neck from being bitten there.  It was explained to us in medical school that the style of fighting was that the dominant cat would go in for a neck bite and the less dominant one would box his ears.  If that is true, then it should be possible, if one is on good terms with the neighbors, to go around and look at a lot of cats to see just how many had mauled ears and how they were distributed. 

Animal breeders do not always get it right.  A few years ago there was a flurry of interest in the fact that camels seemed to be losing their fertility in Arabia, where they had served and thrived so long.  Given the amount of oil money going that direction, Arab love of tradition and the convenience of a car or truck once the infrastructure is in place, camels are probably pretty much the playthings of the rich right now.  It would be no surprise to learn that camels are moved around more than in the past and mate with camels less related to themselves than they did in times past.  The pets are suffering from urban infertility even while the owners are not yet.

So to the challenge, were it to arise, that I am suggesting children be bred like animals, I readily respond that there is no choice.  There is no mating strategy available to humans that has not been tried on animals.  It is just that some strategies work and some don’t. 

There have been 352 visitors so far.  Looking at the numbers, I would say that there may be a half dozen loyal readers who check just about every posting.  My deepest thanks for your interest.  I am planning to try to get you some company some day soon.  Meanwhile, if you read this and would like a “” bumper sticker, drop a note to and I shall see if I can mail you one.

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