Here at BaxterBoo.com, we love dogs! ALL dogs! This includes little dogs, big dogs, working dogs, companion dogs, pretty dogs, ugly dogs, mixed-breed dogs, and purebred dogs.
In years past, it was fashionable to own a purebred dog and it reflected a certain amount of status. Then the pendulum swung the other direction and it became fashionable to only adopt dogs from shelters or rescues, and preferably a mixed breed. This is understandable, especially here in the melting pot of America where we appreciate diversity and often root for the underdog. In the spirit of that idea, I often proudly say I'm a mutt when asked about my own genetic heritage.
Along with the elevation of the mutt and promoting their adoption came a backlash against purebred dogs and purchasing them. Even at BaxterBoo.com, we've jumped on the bandwagon and said, "Adopt, don't shop" in previous blogs. "Spay, neuter! Prevent pet overpopulation!" These ideas definitely have their place.
But the truth is that if there are no dedicated dog breeders, the dog breeds that have faithfully and joyfully partnered with mankind in countless ways for hundreds and even thousands of years will cease to exist. In fact, some dog breeds are already endangered, even critically so.
Yet dog breeding has become vilified. And those of us with purebred dogs often feel we must explain ourselves. People look at my cute dogs and ask:
"Is your dog a rescue??" Trust me, I've considered lying and saying, "Of course!"
"Why would you even consider buying a dog when there are so many dying in shelters?"
If you got your dog from anywhere other than a rescue, you know you've been tempted to fib about where your dog came from too.
Most rescues and shelters are reputable. As a company, BaxterBoo and individual staff members continue to support rescues, have adopted from shelters, and have volunteered as foster parents for rescues.
But make no mistake, there is big money in rescuing. I've seen it firsthand. I gladly hand over my donations to my favorite local shelters I've adopted from. When attending their fundraising events, I've applauded the big-name donors and corporate sponsors. We all give ourselves pats on the back. We feel good.
Over time, I have come to understand that in some cases, "rescue" was becoming very retail-oriented, even under a nonprofit umbrella. In some areas, the demand for rescue animals has become so great that dogs are being moved across state lines to meet the need to feel that we're doing the right thing. Some shelters are even importing dogs from foreign countries to meet the demand for adoptable dogs. An unintended consequence of this practice has been the importation of canine diseases we've not had to deal with previously in this country.
The worst stories that have surfaced, however, are the ones of people's beloved pets being stolen from their backyards only to be rehomed by "rescues" for profit. It's becoming more commonplace. (Is your dog microchipped?)
Here's the thing... If you walk into a shelter or rescue and give them money to take home a new pet, you're still buying a dog.
If you spend a lot of money to bring home a new pet from a breeder to become a member of your family, that's still an adoption.
There. I said it.
Are there great dogs in shelters that might be a good match for you and your family? Absolutely.
Do your research, be patient, and you just might find your new BFF (best furry friend) in a shelter. But if that dog seems a just little bit too perfect, he or she may very well have been stolen.
If the dog was surrendered because of behavioral issues, time, training, and patience can help your new pet become who he has always wanted to be.
Are there great dogs from dedicated breeders out there that might be a good match for you and your family? Absolutely.
Do your research, be patient, and you just might find your new BFF in a breeder's home or kennel.
Your new and hopefully well-bred dog will still take time, training, and patience to help your pet become who she has always wanted to be.
As for me, I've been blessed to have pets from all kinds of situations - from rescues, shelters, ethical breeders, backyard breeders, and have even had a few fish dropped off at my front porch with a note (twice). My wallet is lighter because of all of the critters, but our family's life is richer with them in our life. Our capacity for compassion and stewardship has increased, as well as our budgeting skills!
Just as there are bad rescues out there, there are also bad dog breeders out there. But as I've begun rounding out my dog-centric lifestyle to include participation in dog shows, it has been gratifying to meet other dog owners and breeders that are just as crazy or even more nuts about dogs than I am.
These are genuine patrons of their breeds. Just looking around the parking lot at an event, you'll see dog-related bumper stickers plastered all over their vehicles and RVs that have been converted into dog limousines. Their dog-related gear is astounding. Their dogs are stunning.
If you get one of these dedicated folks talking about their breed, you'd better be ready to sit for a spell. In fact, you might want to have a pre-rehearsed and polite excuse in case you are short on time. But if you do get to take the time to talk to a dog breeder in a show venue, you'll hear the passion in their voice. You'll hear the sad stories of favorite dogs that have crossed the rainbow bridge, trials, and triumphs.
You'll also begin to understand how these dedicated breeders willingly sign over their bank accounts to their breeding program. And it's no wonder that many breeders claim to have no income with the expense of health tests, veterinary care, long-distance travel to obtain the optimal mate, reproductive specialists, registrations, continuing education, dog food, supplies, grooming, and more.
You'll also notice that startling phenomenon where the breeders start resembling their breeds. Or perhaps they became attracted to a breed because it reminded them of themselves? (I feel a photo blog coming on in the near future!)
Either way, these people don't just have dogs as pets. Their dogs and their breeds are their life. They are one. You can be sure that they know every puppy's name that they've placed and that every dog they've produced has an open door to come back home if needed.
You may have to go through a lengthy screening process before getting on the list for one of these dedicated breeder's puppies or retired adults, but the wait will be worth it to receive a health-tested, well-socialized and pre-loved pet. And while the initial investment into a purebred pup from an ethical breeder might be higher, you're getting much more in return. Ideally, you'll have fewer health issues, a longer lifespan, and a dog without the some of the hangups that some shelter dogs can have.
Additionally, with the purchase of your purebred dog from a reputable breeder, you're supporting the future of your favorite dog breed to ensure it stays viable for future generations to enjoy.
It's time to have some grace and understanding for our fellow dog lovers, no matter where their dogs came from.
"It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them." - John Grogan
"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace." - Milan Kundera
And my favorite:
"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." - Roger A. Caras
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