Getting Your Dog From A Breeder Isn’t A Bad Thing – It Can Actually Help Rescues More Than Adopting A Stray

Adopt Don’t Shop is a little saying that has been pounded into the heads of everyone I know. People don’t want to encourage puppy mills, and they want homes for abandoned dogs all across the country. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But discouraging people from going to breeders is actually contributing to the problem in a couple of ways.

Now, before you light your torches and come after me, know this. I have personally rescued many animals in my lifetime from the Humane Society, the local dog pound, the side of the road, and strays. As a matter of fact, I’ve adopted 7 cats and given them a loving home until they passed. 2 are still with me today. I’ve also adopted 5 dogs. One of them is still with me, the others have passed. So don’t think I’m against adopting. But there are issues here that people need to know about, because, like with everything in life, there is always more to the story. Here are two huge reasons some people shouldn’t rescue.

First, many families want puppies. If you go to a responsible breeder, you know EXACTLY what kind of  a dog you are getting. This easily solves the problem of all of the dogs being dumped at the Humane Society and pound because the dog – got bigger/had more energy/didn’t fit some other imagined ideal – than the owner was expecting.

Second, Adopt Don’t Shop has created the most insane business venture you can imagine. “Rescue” dogs are actually being shipped into the country. And it’s big business. And you should be incredibly concerned. Many of the dogs coming in are bringing disease with them. See more in this article from NPR:

https://www.npr.org/2015/01/01/374257591/with-rescue-dogs-in-demand-more-shelters-look-far-afield-for-fido

Or this more recent article from The Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/investigations/dog-auction-rescue-groups-donations/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.49118b3a1915

And there’s also no shame in wanting, in loving, a specific breed of dog. My rescues have all been incredible mutts and I wouldn’t have them any other way. But that doesn’t mean that bred dogs aren’t amazing as well. All animals are incredible. And society shaming breeders and the people who want bred dogs is just ridiculous. It’s time that it stops.

Puppy Mills are obviously a serious issue. But all breeders are certainly not puppy mills. It’s your responsibility to find a reputable, reliable, responsible breeder. And they absolutely exist. I happen to know one. And that’s where I just got my dog.

A few years ago my husband and I went to dinner at a local restaurant and ended up being seated at the bar because it was too crowded. We were sat beside a couple who we immediately began talking to. They bred German Shepherds. One of my all-time favorite dog breeds. Talking to them was amazing. This woman, named Jean, flew dogs in from all over the world. Russia, Germany, etc. These dogs placed first place in competitions worldwide. They were the best of the best. Her passion, love and excitement were incredible to see. When I told her I’d always rescued and spoke of our current dogs, Bruno and Brautigan, she stopped me. She said, “Brautigan?” (Lots of people need me to repeat his name because they’ve never heard it.) So I said yes, that he was named after an author. She said, “Yeah, Richard Brautigan. My first dog’s name was Brautigan.” Let me tell you, I about fell off my chair. NO ONE knows who Richard Brautigan is, let alone names their dog after him. It was kizmit. We connected on Facebook so that I could see pictures of her Shepherds and so that, maybe someday, I could get one.

A couple of years went by and then, as you know, last October we had to put my beloved to sleep. His name was Bruno. He was actually rescued by a couple who would go to pounds, pull dogs off the kill list, fully vet and test them, and then find them homes. He was the world’s biggest baby and the love of my life. You can look a few blogs back to read all about him. Putting him down was so hard on me, and I really had a tough time getting over it. I still miss him, I think I always will.

But a few months ago my husband and I started to consider getting another dog. I contacted Jean and we discussed options. We didn’t think we wanted a puppy because I wasn’t ready to deal with a puppy as well as 3 kids under 5. So I went out to Jean’s house to meet some dogs. She introduced me to a couple of dogs, and then I met Queenie.

Jean opened the door and Queenie ran over to me, jumped up, and then snuggled me. It was love at first sight. A couple of months went by and we decided to get her. Queenie will be 5 next week, so she still has energy to play with the kids, but she is out of that destructive puppy faze. We introduced her to Brautigan. The first time didn’t go so well (I love Brautigan, but he’s kind of an asshole.) So I studied how to introduce a new dog, followed the steps, and the second time was the charm! They’ve been perfect!

Queenie is definitely my dog. She is always at my side. She is so loving and sweet and gentle, you would think she was raised with my children. When children walk into the room, she excitedly greets them with a gentle kiss. Their loud antics and wildness don’t bother her. She isn’t fazed by our cats. She behaves as though she was trained by me. When I take her out with me, like to PetSmart, she walks right beside me, and when I stop to look at something, she sits by me. When we walk, she is gentle on her lead. She is the perfect dog. And until she was here, I don’t think I realized just how much I was missing my Bruno. Queenie has filled a place in my heart and has made me feel complete and happy and content. She is an incredible specimen to behold. She is beautiful, elegant, and perfect. She is obviously bred from the best in the world. Her name suits her perfectly. She is, indeed, a Queen. But breeding aside, I have found my new best friend. And while I would have gone to the mat in the past to state that rescue dogs were the best dogs, what I’ve learned is that bred dogs are also the best dogs. And whether you get one from the shelter or a breeder, you can count on having a best friend for life.

 

 

The Love of an Animal

It’s hard to explain the love we have for our pets. Some people don’t understand it. They think animals are just animals – their worth not equal to that of a person. I disagree. Sometimes I think they may be worth more. They have the capacity to love and yet retain an innocence that people typically leave behind once they enter adulthood. I once had an idea – perhaps pets are angels. They are sent down to live with us, to comfort us, and help us in difficult times. To show us unconditional love and to remind us to be kind and to care for those who are unable to care for themselves.

When my husband and I moved in together, we decided to get a dog. We already had a couple of cats at the time. My cat Sadie, and his cat, Larry. I saw Bruno on Petfinder. His big, smiling, happy face made me smile when I saw it. He had been rescued by a couple who tried to rescue dogs who would be euthanized. Bruno was a Bernese Mountain dog/Rottweiler Mix. His foster parents had rescued him from the pound and gotten him up-to-date on everything and microchipped. We went through the adoption process for him and then we brought him home. They believed him to be about 3 years old. When we took him to the vet for  the first time, however, the vet thought he may be older than that.

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Our Bruno, in his youth.

Bruno would follow me around everywhere. He would just stare at me. He had come from a home with other dogs, so I though maybe he was lonely. So we rescued a puppy from the pound and named him Brautigan. They quickly became best friends. But Bruno still followed me. Still stared at me. I realized that I was his person.

Bruno was incredible. He loved other dogs, all people, cats, and children. Good lord, he especially loved children. We’d have to hold him back whenever kids were around. He’d knock them over trying to lick their faces. When we got him we were trying to figure out a name for him but ended up keeping the one he already had. I did give him an official name, however, as I do with all of our pets. He was HRH Prince Bruno Roth of Switzerland. Over the years he received many nicknames. Brune-Brune, gentle giant, baby bear and pupper. We had him 10 years, which means he was at least 13. That’s a nice long life for a dog whose breeds average a 9-year lifespan. But still, it was hard to let him go.

I think one of the hardest things in life is deciding to put a pet to sleep. Sometimes it’s obvious. A terminal illness or a vet recommendation. But sometimes, it sneaks up on you. A few years ago Bruno developed a tumor on his side. The vet said it was a fatty tumor, probably not cancerous. He lived with it for years. As he got older it started to interfere with his ability to turn around on that side. And then he started falling down. At first it was down steps. So we tore the outside stairs down and my husband built wider, less steep stairs that Bruno could use much more easily. And when those started to be hard again, we added non-slip coverage. The he started falling on the hardwood floors from time to time. Then he started falling everywhere. Now by this time he was practically deaf and partially blind. And he started to spend most of his time sleeping. But he still went wherever I was.

At night, after my kids were in bed and my husband went to sleep, I would do the dishes. Bruno would always join me. Sometimes he would lay right at my feet and I’d trip over him and say things like, “Dammit Bruno, do you have to lay right under me?” But even then I knew the day was coming when I’d miss tripping over him. I’d turn on some music and in the quiet of the evening, load up the dishwasher while my big old dog snored. It was a relaxing way to end every day.

Then Bruno started refusing to leave his kennel in the morning. I started reading articles about knowing when it was time to put a pet to sleep. No one really seemed to have the answer. Some said you’d just know. But I didn’t know. He was having good days and bad days. But then I read something that talked about pets having accidents in the house. And Bruno never had accidents. So then I thought, “That’s how I’ll know. If he’s going to the bathroom inside, I’ll know it’s time.” A couple of weeks later, he started to have accidents. It was a couple a day and it was like he didn’t even know it was happening. And even though I said that if that happened I would know, I was still unsure. But then I remembered an article that said something along the lines of it being better to be two weeks early than a day late. We have the ability to let them pass before they are in agony, so why wait until then. I had already made that mistake with my cats. Tony and Sadie. I waited longer than I should have and they suffered. I didn’t want to make that mistake again.

I called the vet and I set everything up. I prayed that he would have an awesome last day. And he did! He had more energy and seemed more like himself than he had in quite awhile. He seemed happy and full of life again. It made me second guess my decision. But that night, as I was doing the dishes, and crying, I looked over at him and he was looking at me. I said, “I just wish I could know that I’m doing the right thing. I wish you could tell me that it was OK.” And I swear to God the most incredible thing happened. My dog responded. He made 3 little growly sounds at me, and then laid down. He’s never done that. Not ever. So I decided he understood me and he told me it was time.

The next morning we took him in. I brought his blanket so he’d be comfortable and it would smell like home. He was laying in the waiting room and when it came time for us to go back he couldn’t stand up and the vet tech had to help us get him up. He’d lost weight, but he was still a big guy. We went back and he laid down. They gave him a shot and my husband and I petted him. I was laying on the floor with him, crying, but trying not to. We told him what an amazing dog he was. How much we loved him, and how much we were going to miss him. He fell asleep. We continued to pet him until the second shot stopped his heart. We left. I had made arrangements for the funeral home to pick him up and cremate him. He was too big to bury in the yard but we wanted to bring him home. The funeral home dropped his ashes off to us the next day.

It’s been several weeks since he’s been gone. I had to wait that long to write this because I knew I wouldn’t be able to. I’m crying now but not sobbing hysterically as I would have been if I’d tried to write this any earlier. I find solace in him being home. I find solace in knowing, in retrospect, that it was definitely time and that we did the right thing. But boy do I miss him. My big gentle giant. He was such a lovely soul. I wonder if I’ll ever have a day when I don’t think of him. For now, I keep his collar in my dresser drawer, and I do the dishes in the daytime – when the kitchen is filled with distractions.

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Us, on Bruno’s last day.