Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Importance Of Good Breeding

For those of us of a certain age, "Good Breeding" calls to mind our mothers' admonitions about good posture, prompt thank you notes,and crossing our legs at the ankles rather than at the knees--while keeping our knees together, of course! But this is a dog blog, and happily when we consider "Good Breeding" in dogs, we do not have to think about how far we have fallen from our mothers' expectations. Recently, I stopped by my veterinarian's office for a re-fill of heart-worm preventative. Seated in the waiting room, on her human's lap, was a vision of perfection: an exquisite Papillon--white, with black ears, perky and confident, polite to strangers, but not yippy or assertive. She was the embodiment of the breed standard. Happily, Bingley and Magic were not with me, and I did not have to beat a hasty retreat for fear of their making a light snack of this little darling. So I was able to discover that she was bred by a local breeder who truly loves and respects Papillons. This means that he is careful and selective of breeding pairs. He knows not only the physical conformation of prospective parents, but also personality and disposition. He breeds very few litters and selects homes for the resulting puppies with care. I have long been enchanted by Papillons, but had never seen a truly well bred representation of the breed. Like other toy breeds, Papillons have been the victims of gross over-breeding, careless mix breeding and--the ultimate horror--puppy mills. The vet tech who supplied me with all this information offered to give me the breeder's card. I thanked her, but told her that, much as I would adore the company of such a rare creature, I am dedicated to rescue, and I doubt that such a carefully bred and protected puppy would ever find its way into a rescue. When I got home, just out of curiosity, I searched out Papillon rescue on the internet. There is a nation-wide Papillon rescue sponsored by the breed club. And unlike many breed clubs, these dedicated Good Samaritans rescue not only needy Papillons, but also Papillon mixes. Among the forty-three expectant faces posted on their site were numerous "pure bred" Papillons that were cute and sweet, but obviously the product of ignorant or callous breeding. One of the "Happy Tails" was about the successful placement of a senior female whose life before rescue had been bounded by a small cage in a puppy mill, producing litter after litter of the sort of puppies who, themselves, had required rescue. And then there were the mixes. Why do people think that it's a good idea to breed two "cute little" dogs, regardless of their individual breeds? And some of these mixes weren't all that little--which speaks of still another form of neglect. In light of the desperate circumstances of millions of homeless dogs, many people involved in rescue are opposed to all planned dog breeding. The reasoning is that the over-breeding of dogs is so out of control and causes so much canine misery, no dog should be purchased. All dogs should be rescued. I understand that impulse. But, even though I will never again purchase a puppy from a breeder, I am glad that there are careful, responsible breeders who maintain the wonderful diversity of all the dog breeds we enjoy. The world would be a bleaker place without well bred Papillons, and German Shepherd Dogs and Pembroke Welsh Corgis and on and on. Furthermore, rescue is not for everyone at every time in their lives. Buying a pure-bred puppy from a responsible breeder offers a much more predictable canine companion than adopting a dog from a rescue or shelter. That's a fact that needs to be recognized. At this time in our lives, John and I have chosen rescue. But I am glad that there are careful, responsible breeders, who love dogs enough to perpetuate the breeds that make all our lives richer.

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