Chinese Shar-Pei Information
The Chinese Shar-Pei has been in the United States since 1972. For over 20 years, it was commonly over-bred with little concern for its genetic weaknesses and indiscriminantly sold to whomever had enough money. The results were disastrous. Today's reputable breeders are waging a relentless battle to reduce those inherited problems, like skin conditions, kidney failure, hip and knee defects, entropion, cancer, and blindness. Even though questionable temperaments seem to be an issue of the past, the drawbacks of owning a Shar-Pei still exist unless buyers do their homework and research not only the breed but the person they buy it from.
Since being recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1992, the Chinese Shar-Pei stands proud in show rings from coast to coast, but in some cases, that too has had a negative effect on this breed's welfare. When breeders only concentrate on what will win in the ring, health issues can take a back seat to breed type. Therefore, when selecting a Shar-Pei, it is important to remember that titles alone do not guarantee good health. Only responsible, researched breeding against health problems will contribute to the improvement of the breed's health and help to insure healthy individual dogs. But regardless of all this, the breed has endured in the last 30+ years. The Shar-Pei remains unique, fun, and endearing from pupyhood to senior citizen status. Quality breeders are bringing health back to this fascinating breed, and choosing a breeder wisely will help contribute to the overall well-being of the Shar-Pei.
Gus seemed to be in a world apart and would wander off on his own adventures, unaware of his litter mates. With one look, we knew he was ours. He rode in our laps on the journey back home.
It was fortunate that little Gus was our dog. He had more than his share of health problems but we loved him no less for it and gladly committed to whatever resources were needed to take care of him. First came the Entropion surgery, then a "face lift" to further reduce his brow. He had his first bout of Familial Shar Pei Fever (FSF) at three months. His knee started giving him problems so back in for knee surgery.
Gus loved his walks and constantly lived in hope that one day he would catch one of those elusive cats he'd seen. Not that he knew what he would do with one if he caught it! Although Gus wasn't the brightest bulb in the lamp, he would remember every place where he had seen a cat and get excited each time we drew close to the spot. It was all we could do to hold him back.
Early on, we began to notice that Gus would tire on his morning walks and couldn't go more than a mile or so before he had to sit down or get a drink. Sometimes we would carry him home, but as he grew to 55 lbs, this proved to be a chore. Sometimes one of us would go back and get the car. He was a big boy with an even bigger heart.
Gus loved everyone and didn't have an ounce of reluctance in him to show his affection. Nothing bothered him. In turn, everyone who met Gus took to him, and he was an instant "Hit" at the local Dog Park. "Everybody likes Gus," one fellow dog walker commented. Some of the other dogs had never seen anything like Gus and they acted like they weren't sure if he was actually a dog. But most of the dogs quickly accepted him as just a big, friendly guy to romp with. Try as he might, though, Gus just couldn't seem to keep up with the other dogs as they ran and played.
One of Gus' new friends at the Dog Park, Ethel, a Rescue Pug, fell in love with him and the two would play and wrestle whenever they met. Because of her stubby legs, pudgy Ethel couldn't run much, either, and the two of them were a perfect wrestling match. A few months after they met, Ethel's mom had to move into an apartment where they didn't allow dogs and Ethel came to live with us. Gus and Ethel were the closest of friends.
Gus began to have ever more frequent bouts with FSF and his other knee began to give out. On morning walks, Alan discovered how to massage Gus' knee cap back into place to get him home. Fortunately, the veterinarians, and the staff at UC Davis vet center, were there to provide whatever help they could.
But it all became too much for Gus. Shortly after a major episode of FSF, his big heart finally gave out and he crossed the Rainbow Bridge two days after Christmas, 2001. We couldn't quite believe he was gone. We always suspected his life would be shorter than a normal Pei but that did little to prepare us for his exit so soon. We know Gus is happy to finally be free of that gimpy body so now he can chase after all the big fluffy kitties hiding behind every heavenly bush.
We could say that "Gus had it all," but not in the meaning you might think. We mean that no dog was ever loved more or received more care and attention than Gus did during during his too-short life.
A few months later, in our enduring grief (including Ethel) over Gus' loss, we began to allow ourselves to think about getting another dog. We were reluctant because we loved Gus so much and didn't know if we wanted to risk the pain of another loss like his. But one evening we were watching Animal Planet and saw a show on dogs from Rescue Shelters. We began to talk about it and allowed that, if we ever were to get another dog, we would get a rescue dog. With that, our fate was sealed.
The Internet is a truly awesome resource. An online search quickly located California Shar Pei Rescue and Debra contacted Anna. A few phone calls and visits later, we brought home Spin and Marty. Wonderful boys. Sad to say, Marty didn't like our cats so Anna found him a new home in Woodland. We were truly reluctant to give up Marty but knew that this was a better placement for him (no cats!).
Then Sasha came to live with us. Finally, we found Odie Bear and Amber, two dogs who were both "Special Needs" Kids. To our amusement, we discovered that somehow we started out with one dog from a breeder and ended up with five dogs from Rescue! More than that, we now manage this web site for Anna as one small way of helping her to help more dogs find loving homes.