Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Thought Re: Dog Breeding

"We only breed when we want something for ourselves."

I don't like this line of thought. I spend a lot of time thinking about dog breeding considering it's something I never want to do. I'm for it, of course, the risk and responsibility is just too much for me. I've been mulling over ideas about titling stud dogs, because that would be a way to train and trial dogs for things I enjoy without dealing with hard to deal with pet owners (not that I expect dog people to really be any easier), but that's neither here nor there.

But I don't like a lot of the "passwords" of responsible breeders because when you go a little deeper, it reveals really unhealthy thinking.

I read a lot of Ruffly Speaking (those are two links, go read them and then come back because that's what I'm thinking about as I write this), and that one blog influences my thinking a lot, and that first post is based it looks like solely on Nathan Winograd, so, bias alert. And then read this one too because I just found it and it's relevant too.

So what does this have to do with breeders that just breed for themselves?

First of all, they're no different that the people who say, "Oh we just love her temperament and think it would be wonderful to have a litter of little Lady's running around the neighborhood." Now, the show breeder may be able to say that other people think that's a grand idea too because Ch. Kennelname's Little Miss Moppet finished in three shows and is getting her therapy dog certs next month, but still. The goal is not to produce pet puppies for other people. It's to get something for them, and then place the other puppies that they don't want. That sounds a little cruel, but it's not wrong.

The problem with this is that more pet puppies is exactly what is needed.

The problem with more pet puppies is the majority of breeds make pretty lousy pets. If you're breeding to maintain the original breed with the original drives, where are normal people supposed to get their dogs? People that love their dogs and are great homes for dogs, but homes where the dog never sees a sheep, never fetches anything more than ball, certainly never hears gunfire, a home where the dog must never show aggression? Where do these people get their dogs? Are they restricted to the companion breeds? Do we go the way of the Klee Kai, start breeding dogs that look like other dogs in miniature, without the extra work the original breed needs?

From my observations, your average suburban prospective dog owner thinks a couple hundred dollars is a reasonable price for a puppy. Interestingly, he's probably more likely to research and move up a level on equipment - fancy collars, roomy crate, good food, puppy K - than do the same for breeders (part of this I feel is because he doesn't know there's a spectrum of breeders, to most people there's puppy mills, show breeders, and then the sensible people in the middle, but that's another post). I think when educated on the breeder costs and owner benefits of a responsibly bred puppy he can be persuaded to move up a price point, the upper hundreds. But $1,000 for a dog that the kids won't walk and that will occasionally eat something incredibly important to people and also incredibly dangerous to dog stomachs seems a little excessive.

So, I don't know. How do you balance between what's good for dogs, what's good for the breed, and what's good for the breeder? There has to be a way to fill the BYB market with better bred dogs.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

It really pisses me off when people don't know how to use dog parks

Gatsby, for all his issues, is a model dog park dog. I 100% trust him to make good choices while off leash in an enclosed area. All he wants to do is sniff and pee on stuff, and maybe chase the bird that thought a really good place to sit would be the middle of a dog park. He has good off-leash greeting skills and has appropriate play (chase me!).

So no, I don't appreciate the Husky wearing an inside out prong collar with the martingale part dragging on the ground who keeps assertively sniffing my dog even though he's showing all sorts of appropriate "Yes you're better than me please leave me alone" signs. And tensely yelling the Husky's name is not doing anything, and in fact is making him more aroused.