Scientific Discovery : Koch’s Postulates

Subtitled : Big Dogs and Harnesses


I have made a huge scientific discovery! Hold your breath just a moment more and I’ll share it with you. Now science, as we all know, is based on evidence. Evidence starts as a belief that must be supported by facts; a fact is something that can be proven. Facts are often supported by research. Do you remember Robert Koch from your school days? (From your science classes, of course). In 1890 he published a paper called “Koch’s Postulates” which outlined four criteria that had to be met to determine if a particular bacteria or microbe caused a disease. This was groundbreaking evidence at the time. Or possibly your school days were spent in other studies, as the Mock Turtle in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, who was only able to take the “regular courses”. When asked what he studied he replied : “Reeling and Writhing of course, to begin with, and the different branches of arithmetic- ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision.” Whatever courses you chose to study, I shall refresh your mind about Koch’s Postulates.


Dr. Koch required four criteria to be met (modified wording):

  1. The microorganism or pathogen must be present in all cases of the disease. (A pathogen is often a bacteria or virus that causes disease)
  2. The pathogen can be isolated from the diseased person or animal host and grown in pure culture.
  3. The pathogen grown in culture must cause the disease when given to a new, previously healthy patient.
  4. The pathogen must be again isolated from the newly sick host and identified as same.


In 1890 Dr. Koch created guidelines for the scientific community as researchers hurried to determine the underlying cause of many diseases. Badly needed at the time, Koch’s Postulates have come to be refined and modified as Science has become more sophisticated and modern technology continues to open up areas of exploration where truly, no man (or woman) has gone before.


I wish to invoke Koch’s Postulates as the gold standard upon which I have built my own fabulous contribution to the Body of Knowledge known as veterinary medicine or maybe Truisms of Life or maybe just What Always Happens When a Large Dog appears in a Pink Harness. Here we go.


McFadden’s Unvarying Inviolable Life Truth:

“Large Dogs in Pink Harnesses Will Bite You.”


Please, take your seat, no standing ovation necessary.


The pathogen here is the harness. The disease is uncontrolled behavior. And I fudged a bit – Large breed dogs in ANY harness will try to bite you. Dogs in PINK harnesses will probably try to attack you. Maybe it’s the embarrassment of being caught out in pink. Boy or girl dogs.

Number 1. The harness must be present in all cases of the not-well-controlled lunging dog.

Number 2. The harness can be removed from the dog and a proper collar replaced, one capable of delivering correction and asserting control, and dog manners will improve considerably.

Number 3. Large dog harnesses, cultured under grow lamps in a factory, will, when bequeathed to a new Shephard or Husky or what-have-you, produce equally out-of-control dogs without any sense of boundaries in their life. As they jump at you, clawing your legs or snapping at your hands their owner will assure you that they just want to play.

Number 4. Remove the harness from the poorly trained dog (yep, it’s the harness) and start over. Postulates fulfilled.


I’m definitely on to something here.


Christine B. McFadden, DVM


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