I'm going to continue this dog thing for one more post, whether it's interesting to anyone or not. Because it's my dumb little web site. And I don't have an FAQ, though maybe I'll do one and pretend that people ask me lots of questions.
Why did you buy a dog from a breeder instead of adopting one from a shelter?
It's a very exciting story, so get yourself some popcorn and settle in.
After adopting god knows how many cats from shelters, we decided that after the last one had died and we had moved into a place that allowed dogs, we would get a dog. Would we get a dog from a shelter? Tricky question. We looked at shelter dogs. They were all full-grown! No puppies; puppies at shelters are fairly rare, it seems, and Jack was clear about wanting a dog that no one else had had a chance to fuck up. If it was just the two of us we'd be able to take a dog with some quirks (as long as one of the quirks wasn't biting the shit out of us). But with a young child at home we really, really, really wanted to know what we were going to get from a dog, temperament wise. Hi, I'm Overprotective Mom! Nice to meet you.
Jack had spent time working in a vet's office and came to believe that the English Bulldog was the breed for him. Sweet! Mellow. High IQs. Didn't need to run twelve miles a day. Might even be taught to drink beer.
Long story short, we found an ethical breeder of exceedingly healthy dogs, not an outlaw breeder or a "puppy mill," as Belinda calls them. (Scroll down to the bottom for Belinda's e-mail to me in response to some of the comments on my last post.) When we picked Katie we knew we were getting a healthy companion with a good, predictable temperament, and we were committed to her lifelong care and happiness. We're not breed snobs, we don't believe that pure bred dogs are somehow inherently superior to mixed breeds, and I can't imagine saying a word against shelters and rescue organizations, they do fantastic, hard, necessary work and I support our local shelters with donations. But at this time in our lives we bought a dog from a breeder. Who knows if we'll ever do it again.
So why haven't you spayed her yet?
Part of our agreement with the breeder was that Katie would have one litter of puppies and then he would spay her. We get one male puppy from the litter, and he will be neutered as soon as he's mature enough for that procedure.
Here are some links to people and organizations with many different companion animal philosophies. Pick one! Then do everything they say and maybe you'll be right.
PETA (beware of occasional gruesome images)
Bob Barker: game show host and elephant lover
So! We had to go up to the doggie ophthalmologist again yesterday. Yahoo! maps and driving directions believes this is a two-hour drive, but if you're me you make it in 90 minutes, even in an occasionally blinding rain storm. And I can take pictures while I drive! Amazing. Good think I bought that new self-piloting hybrid robot car with hemp tires.
Katie, as you can see, was a bundle of nerves:
She's also very safety minded. Not enough to clip herself in, though. I think she just likes the view from Jackson's car seat, even though sometimes it's hard to get comfortable:
Katie, look! A rainbow!
She hangs on my every word.
Katie, will you FUCKING OPEN YOUR ONE GOOD EYE AND LOOK?! At the end of that rainbow is your veterinary ophthalmologist's office! Could it be a sign from God? Or perhaps a bunch of fanciful lephrechauns will greet us when we arrive. We could certainly use their magical pot of gold to pay all these vet bills.
Here we are! Katie's looking for the leprechauns with pots of Beggin' Strips.
Goddamn it, I know there are leprechauns in there if you would just let me off this leash, woman.
AAARRGH! A BIG HAIRY LEPRECHAUN IS STICKING SOMETHING IN MY EYE!
It's actually just a tear test to see how much moisture Katie's bad eye is producing. Unfortunately, Katie didn't study enough and she failed the test.
The vet, however, was surprised and pleased with her progress and said I only have to put drops and ointments in her eye six times a day now. So to celebrate Katie took a big poo on the beach,
and had a little jog with Jack,
and then stayed up half the night with Jackson and his sleepover friend on the air mattress in the living room.
HEAL, DOG, HEAL!
Belinda's e-mail to me:
Mary asked, "I wonder how many people would actively breed their dogs if they had to give the litter away free? The only people who should be breeding are service dog organizations and certain certified/registered breeders who breed a very, very limited number of dogs."
Well, I can tell you absolutely without any vestige of a doubt that *I* would still breed my purebred showdogs even if I had to give away the puppies that I don't keep to show and breed myself. AND I would do it with the same frequency that I do now, and that is when *I* want something for myself, to show and to continue on with, to protect and preserve the breed that I love. As for selling puppies, I have yet to so much as break even on a litter, EVER. Not once. As far as putting a purchase price on a puppy...how much value are you placingon the dog, in the mind of a person who gets a dog for free? Even in my rescue work, we charge *something.* If someone can't afford or doesn't see the point of a purchase price, then that person is less likely to be able to financially care for the dog for its life--the purchase price is the cheapest part of owning a dog for life! And if someone has the attitude, "It's just a dog; why should I pay that much for it?" then I don't even want to adopt a dog out to them. They'll be the first to dump it at the slightest inconvenience.
And who in the world are these "certified/registered breeders?" The only body in the U.S. that "registers" breeders is the USDA. And what type of breeders do they register? The HIGH-VOLUME COMMERCIAL BREEDERS, AKA PUPPYMILLS (insert as many exclamation points as you like). The onus here falls on the consumer, and on those of us "in the fancy" to do as much education as we possibly can. But as long as there are petshops, brokers, commercial breeders who supply them, and irresponsible people who patronize them and then don't take responsibility for their pets, there will always be poor unfortunate dogs in shelters.
AND, every conscientious breeder of purebred dogs that I know, not only show their dogs as an evaluation tool, but they are actively, fiercely involved in breed rescue. I know that we are. I can't even count the "If You Don't Rescue, Don't Breed" bumper stickers I see at dog shows. It is NOT the fault of good breeders that dogs wind up in shelters. It is the fault of commercial (i.e. "certified/registered") breeders and the uninformed public who buy their "product," and the irresponsible/uneducated owners who don't properly care for their dogs.
Also? For puppies placed as pets, there is alway the option of early spay/neuter prior to placement. That's what we're doing with our current two that are going out as pets.
The salvo about how "for every puppy born, another dog has to die," while effective rhetoric, is just ridiculous. An absolute CROCK. There exists a desire for purebred dogs for many reasons, including showing, agility, competitive obedience, etc., as well as other specific needs such as allergies, that require a hypoallergenic dog. These needs/wants are best met through buying from a good breeder or going through a breed rescue--indeed, my most favorite, cherished dog of all time, who was in my wedding, for crying out loud, was obtained through a breed rescue organization. Purebred dogs are NOT dying in great numbers in shelters. Breed rescues pull them out as fast as they can when they show up there, and then put them in foster homes for as long as it takes to find them forever homes. My current record for fostering a dog is over 2 years! When puppymills are shut down, advocates for the breeds confiscated always step forward, and in my experience there are usually more homes waiting for these unfortunates than there are dogs who need them.
If good breeders do not continue to breed good dogs, soon there will BE no good dogs, no discernable breeds; just poor quality specimens from USDA registered "breeders" and the mixed-breed "mutts" (not that there's anything inherently wrong with mixed-breed dogs; I have loved my fair share) that are the result of irresponsible ownership.
Education on these issues is great. It is not best done, however, with a sledgehammer.
Please note that I am not particularly qualified to respond to comments aimed at Belinda's message, you'd be better served by taking your thoughts over to her site.