Feeling too cheerful? Too upbeat? Try clicking on any one of the Rescues at the right of this blog. Still too cheerful? Go to the A.K.C. website; click on the various breeds and find their rescues and visit those sites. Or, if you really want to cry, visit your local humane society or animal control site and click on adoptable dogs.
Petfinder.com lists over 200,000 dogs in need of adoption. Some of those dogs are purebred. Most are mixed breeds. The fact is simple and undeniable: Too many, many too many dogs are being bred. The lot of homeless dogs in our country is a national disgrace. Humane Society and Animal Control staffs are overworked and close to burnout. Private shelters, whether long established and endowed, upstarts with a staff of one or two, or somewhere in between, do their best. But some dogs--actually many dogs--spend their final days in a cage before they are mercifully euthanized.
The newest trend is for "no-kill" shelters. Believe me. I am all for the end to euthanizing innocent dogs whose suffering and deaths are the price paid for human ignorance, negligence and greed. But what advantage is there in a "no-kill" policy for the dog if there is no home for it, if its life must be spent in a cage with limited human interaction and no opportunity to do the doggy things for which it was bred?
You have probably heard this before. But let me repeat. If you MUST, absolutely MUST have a purebred puppy, educate yourself on your chosen breed. Look honestly at your lifestyle and the demands you will make of a dog. Be ABSOLUTELY sure that you will be able to accommodate the predictable behaviors of the dog you have chosen.
Search your soul. Even small dogs are puppies well beyond their first birthday. Some dogs are puppies for at least THREE years. Some dogs are puppies their whole lives. If you cannot tolerate puppy behavior, DO NOT GET A PUPPY!!!
Ask yourself, "What would make me get rid of a dog?" Moving? A new love interest who isn't a "dog person?" DO NOT GET A DOG!!!
Look around your home. I promise you that if you bring a puppy or a dog into your home, SOMETHING that you now possess--perhaps even treasure--will be chewed, peed, pooped, or vomited on. If you cannot bear for that to happen, DO NOT GET A PUPPY!!! DO NOT GET A DOG!!!
If you have educated yourself on your chosen breed and know in your heart of hearts that you can tolerate puppy behavior for a VERY LONG TIME, find a breeder who is involved in showing the breed. This will not guarantee a responsible breeder, but it is a start. Expect the breeder to ask you many questions, the more, the better. The best breeders like to interview the entire family. At the very least, the puppy's mother should be on the premises for you to meet. The best breeders will take the puppy back if things don't work out.
In spite of what I have said and will say in the balance of this post, I am not opposed to breeders of purebred dogs who devote themselves to dogs that they love. Without them, the great variety of dog breeds would disappear--robbing us all of the fun and delight that the diverse dog breeds bring to our lives.
BUT: JUST BECAUSE A DOG HAS "PAPERS" DOES NOT MEAN THAT IT SHOULD BE BRED! Odds are great that it should NOT be bred.
Some really, really BAD reasons to use a dog for breeding are:
1. To give the kids an appreciation for "the miracle of birth."
2. To make some money. Currently a sizable number of breeders in this category are breeding so-called "Designer Dogs." These breeders range from Totally Ignorant to Consciously Unscrupulous. "Designer Dogs" are mixed breeds, and if you want to own a mixed breed, look for one of many that are now up for adoption in various rescues and shelters. Yes. You will find both "Golden Doodles" and "Labradoodles" in shelters and rescues.
3. To give the dog the "experience" before being neutered.
4. To give the owner the experience of puppies.
Then, there is the issue of pet stores. DO NOT BUY A PUPPY FROM A PET STORE!!!!. Pet stores sell dogs from three sources.
1. Puppy Mills--i.e. Dog Hell. Any doubt? Have a strong stomach? Click here and read the information on the right hand column if you are thinking about buying a pet store puppy.
2. "Backyard Breeders" or "Kitchen Breeders" or "Basement Breeders"--See Some really, really BAD reasons to use your dog for breeding.
3. "Non-Show Quality Puppies" from show breeders who should--and do know better. These breeders know that they should neuter the dog in question and sell it for a pet. But it's easier and more profitable to sell the poor dog to a pet store that will, in turn, sell it at an inflated price.
The result of all this ignorance, negligence, and greed is ENORMOUS suffering of ENORMOUS numbers of dogs.
If people would stop buying dogs from pet stores and irresponsible breeders, the suffering of dogs could be greatly reduced.
Meantime, there are The Rescues. You want a purebred dog? Chances are good that, if you persist, you will be able to adopt the purebred of your choice who is in need of rescue--or "re-homing"--if euphemisms are more comfortable for you. If you want one of the better-known breeds, you will have many, many dogs from which to choose. Check out Labrador Rescues in your community, or Golden Retriever Rescues, or Chihuahua Rescues or Cocker Spaniel Rescues.
If a mixed breed is what you are looking for, your choices are almost limitless.
In another post, I will discuss some of what you might expect when you bring a rescued dog into your home. Hint: You will need to do some more Soul Searching. But keep the picture of the havoc even the best, highest quality purebred puppy can wreck on a house while you are doing that Soul Searching.
To Be Continued.