Monday, December 2, 2013

What's Going on Here?

What’s Going on Here?

The Blood-Horse Magazine which is one of my favorites is all about horse racing, breeding and sales trends.  One of the editorial sections is entitled “What’s going on Here?”  It seems apropos as one looks at the dog game to ask the same question.

Dog show entries are down as are registrations.  The AKC in their infinite wisdom has seen fit to license far too many shows just to help pay the bills.  Likewise they have recognized many strange breeds, some of which were created to kill, not for some silly purpose such as herding, hunting or killing vermin.  In further efforts to boost sagging income we have competition for Grand Championships and Reserve Best In Show along with various titles too long and numerous to mention.

Legitimate breeders are being legislated out of business or going broke because of the cost of vet bills, show expenses and the multitude of fancy dog feeds that modern canines seem to require.  Gone are the days of a few simple choices of what to feed and dogs that could thrive on them.  Today’s pampered pooches need to be tested for food allergies, fed small meals lest they bloat, and beware of raw beef bones!  The nasty cows get growth hormones, antibiotics, and all sorts of bad things.

With the exception of absolute puppy mills, most breeders are so fascinated with breeding the exotic show dogs that they forget what John Q Public wants in a dog.  They forget good health and sound temperament and concentrate on show points that in many cases create a dog that is a sad caricature of what a real dog should be.  There are many examples of such thinking, but one of my favorites is the Pekinese.

This breed used to look more like a Tibetan Spaniel than the Pekinese of today.  We have intensified the breathing problems, eyes popping out, and added coat that hides the characteristic lack of soundness.  How would you enjoy taking the Westminster BIS Pekinese for a walk around the neighborhood?  The poor soul would probably suffer a heart attack.

Just so you know I’m not picking on Pekes, the breed I’ve loved for sixty-five years, the Collie, has its own problems.  There are far too many squinty little eyes, excessively long, open coats, and little tiny phony ears that need to be molded in place.  The temperament of choice is one that shows non-stop and never mind if the dog ever relaxes and enjoys being with its owner.

More and more we see people adopting dogs from shelters whether purebred or mongrel in preference to going to a breeder for a puppy.  Though these adoptions are seldom cheap, and often come with lots of baggage, the new owner feels noble in having saved a life.  Now Phyllis and I have “rescued” several dogs and cats as well.  Some of the dogs were collies and some were not, but between vet bills and adoption costs, they weren’t cheap, but they did need help and I make no apologies.

Breeders need to step up and recognize what the puppy buyer in the real world wants.  They need to be responsible and be willing to take back dogs that don’t work out and encourage people to spay and neuter to avoid shelters full of unwanted pets.  If a perspective buyer wants to show or breed they need a clear picture of what’s involved and some help along the way.

Now I’ve been a dog person all my life and still am, but the cat is becoming very popular as a pet and, in many cased, is replacing the dog because of our changing life styles.  The cat doesn’t need to be walked, and does quite well with bowls of food and water and a clean litter box.  They are subject to ailments just like dogs and many can be annoyingly independent, but many people enjoy that trait.

Those of us who believe in Creation can also understand that things don’t stay the same.  Evolution is a process that is natural and occurs in wild creatures without our help as well as in domestic creatures that we control.  The wild creatures evolve in ways that help them better deal with the life they must face.  If we wish to truly be successful as breeders our goal must be to breed animals that can live as companions as well as show dogs.  One of our main goals should be to produce puppies that mature into happy, fun to be alive dogs.

Car companies over the years have evolved into some habits that are quite annoying.  To get item “A” you must purchase a package that includes “B” and “C”.  If we who love purebred dogs pursue that line of thinking and insist that people who want a happy, healthy, pretty pet must accept a lot they don’t want the shelters and cat breeders will be full of smiles and we’ll only have ourselves to blame. 

Think about it!

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