It isn't often that I get truly fired up - the kind of fired up where you want to get on the phone and call someone and ask them what are they thinking.
Today was one of those days.
I have to give credit where credit is due in cases where a breeder/owner/handler has been successful. But my definition of successful is guarded. How many litters did it take to accomplish your goal? Further to that - what, exactly, was or is your goal? And even further, when you sell a dog with breeding rights, what exactly are your terms? And why? What happens when that buyer can't care for the puppy YOU were responsible enough to bring in to the world in the first place?
HEAR NO EVIL - SEE NO EVIL - SPEAK NO EVIL
I personally give thought to where each of my puppies is out there in the world. I remember every litter - every puppy. I know where they are. I think of them and their families often. I treasure the pictures, the notes, the phone calls. I love knowing that my little ones sleep in warm beds every night with full bellies with the families that care for and love them. If there is EVER a moment when one of those puppies' future is in a state of flux or doubt, there is no question about where they will go. They will come home. To me.
No matter what, I will always be responsible for every puppy I breed. If there should ever come a day when I can not do this, then I will not be producing any more puppies. Period.
I have been close to this point before. I made difficult decisions. I asked for help. And I moved forward. I realized at that point in my life that I had to rethink my motives. I had to rethink my numbers. I had to regroup. I had to slow down. I had to make changes in my life if I were going to continue being a hobby breeder.
I constantly review my plans and work towards a positive future. I have a disaster plan in place. I know it's necessary - I've been there.
What fires me up is when I see breeders out there that don't keep or maintain a policy that puts the dog first, no matter what. Especially when they are still actively breeding puppies. Especially when they are members of a national breed club. Especially when they are AKC judges.
HEAR NO EVIL - SEE NO EVIL - SPEAK NO EVIL
Why do we do this? Why do we propagate life in the first place if we can't maintain control over what we have already produced? Don't we think about this before we breed the next litter? We should. We should think about each canine resident in our home and wonder how keeping another will effect the others. We should think about each puppy or young adult we have placed out there and remember that even though those dogs don't physically reside with us at this moment in time, they still reside within our realm of responsibility. And if you can't take in a puppy that carries your kennel name due to any reason the original buyer gives you, then shouldn't you rethink breeding your next litter of puppies???
Shouldn't you be where the buck stops?
When it comes to money, I personally know that there are more dollars flowing out of my bank account to take care of my dogs and this "habit" than what comes in from my puppy placements. I don't do this for money.
I often define to myself why I do this. I think it's healthy to remember the root reason or cause, mostly because if I find the need for this to be a profit center it has gone too far.
There are lots of folks out there that make dogs their livelihood. There's a fine line in my book when it comes to responsibility. The "sport" of dogs has taken on a life of it's own. The pet business is a multi-billion dollar industry. I know there are people out there that make their living in this business. Handlers handle, dogs win, money is exchanged. I use professionals when it makes sense, and even sometimes when it doesn't. But why do I want my next champion? So I can pump out more puppies? So I can say I have "x" number of champions? So I can show on my website that puppy A is champion sired? Or so I can be most confident that what I do produce, sparingly as it is, is of good quality? So I know that moving forward every Shih Tzu I am responsible for producing is healthy, conforms to standard and has a permanent home ready - be it my own. Personally, for me, it's the latter.
The dirty side of this business most folks say are the puppy mills and the pet stores. Is that really where the problem lies? I think not. I think part of the problem lies within the ethics, or lack there of, within our own community of those terming themselves as responsible under the guise of showing dogs. Just because you show dogs you aren't automatically a responsible breeder. The reverse argument rings loudly with all of the folks advertising in newspapers.
The true guide of responsibility would be the facts. And those facts each have an AKC number associated with them. And if you choose to call yourself responsible, your responsibility lies with each of those numbers, where they are and how you've dealt with each of those little lives.
HEAR NO EVIL
SEE NO EVIL
No, I speak of evil every chance I get to educate the public of irresponsible breeding practices and red flags they should look for in their search for a new puppy.
I will tell you of evil - but you have to listen.
Be a champion of your breed and do something about it today. I did.