Sunday, May 31, 2009

Puppies - puppies!

We definitely have some puppies on the way! Violet is as big as a house and she still has about 10 days to go! She's so big she mostly lays on her back to sleep at night.

Today I can just about feel some slight movement in there. It so exciting! This is the first litter here in about two years - and it's a repeat of the singleton litter that was BPISS CH WoTeH'sin S'Dandi's Black Tie-N-Tails, aka "Tuxedo".

Dang, I can't wait to see these puppies! Please let there be a beautiful little girl in there for me!

Reeves update

Well, Reeves is doing great these days! I've tinkered with his pain meds and increased the dosage a smidge and he's doing great! He's eating everything he's served daily and he's alert as he lies in his bed for a good portion of the time I'm home. He even found his way into the group food dish the other night about an hour after I had spoon fed him his dinner (and he ate it all up)! Just amazing. When I get him up on the table to feed him, he perks right up and can smell the wonderful smells of what he's about to dine on - usually warm chicken meat mixed with wetted down food, some cheese (so I can get his pill down) and a smidge of peanut butter for desert!

So every day is a gift - and I'm blessed that my little guy is hangin' in there.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Getting Old Sucks

Sixteen years ago a decided I wanted to get a playmate for my dog Gizmo. Gizmo was about 1-1/2 and she was a Shih Tzu-Lhasa Apso mix. Today she would be called some kind of designer name, probably a Shih Apso or Lhazu or something trendy. I just called her a mutt. But Gizmo was such a great little dog and she was very active and I decided, much to my then fiance's dismay, that Gizmo needed a playmate. I was travelling a lot and Michael was working and going to school, and Gizmo spent many of her days alone baby gated in the kitchen. It seemed to me unfair when a little buddy could make her days a bit brighter.

I had gotten Gizmo as a referral from a veterinarian I had met that knew of someone that owned Gizmo who thought she was just a bit too active. So I guess in hindsight, that was a good way to find a dog. The vet knew her history and knew the people that bred her and knew they just wanted her to go to a home that would love her and be able to take care of her. Michael and I fit the bill on that one. But when it came to Reeves, being the normal pet buyer, I went to what I would now term a backyard breeder. I remember it was a sunny day in May when I pulled into this lady's front yard. There she was under a big shade tree with a puppy pen just brimming with black and white little puppies. They were all so tiny, except for one big ol' goofy looking dog that had a zest for life it seemed. The lady and I talked about prices and I asked about the big goofy looking dog. She said that he was the last one from his litter - the pick of the litter she said. He was five months old but she hadn't been able to find a home for him yet. In retrospect, that pick of the litter line was garbage. This poor little guy was still there because he was the homeliest Shih Tzu I had ever seen during the course of what little research I had done. But he was just the happiest little guy and was bouncing around like crazy. I picked him up and asked his price and the lady hemmed and hawed and said, well he was the pick of his litter, but because he's so much older than the rest of the puppies (which were all between 4 and 8 weeks old), she would let him go for $100. I paid the lady and left with Reeves and never looked back.

Gizmo and Reeves were like peanut butter and jelly. They hit it off immediately! They played and played until finally they would collapse together and pass out from sheer exhaustion! The loved one another and formed a very special bond. It was because of them that I decided to get further involved in dogs.

Eventually Michael left the picture and I was on my own again, but I had custody of the kids. Michael never did like Reeves, and I'm sure that my bringing Reeves home when Michael and I were in the middle of a power struggle over finances, well , that didn't sit well with Michael. But I'll tell you what, I don't regret for a minute that I brought home this little dog that warm, sunny, Spring day in May. I remember the ride home - Reeves was terrified. But once he got to the house and met his sister Gizmo, all was right with the world.

Now, 16 years later, Gizmo is gone. She has been for about seven years now. I miss her and so does Reeves. Loosing your first one is always hard. But I had Reeves to hold on to. And then there was the rest of the crew here too. As I got involved with showing, my family grew. But now, Reeves is nearing his time. It's so hard to watch him deteriorate in front of my eyes. I cry everyday after I feed him and love on him. He's in extreme pain daily now due to his bad hips and awful topline. His structure was awful from the day he was born because his breeder wasn't breeding for structure. And now he is paying the price. His poor little hips hurt him terribly. Even with heavy pain medication, he cries when he moves lately. His walk is slow. He has lost his hearing and his eyesight, but he maneuvers through the house pretty well. He still finds the doggie door on some days. And the days he doesn't I don't really care. I am his servant, and I gladly serve him. He gets special meals spoon fed twice daily. We have our ritual of feeding, drinking, medication, eye drops and vitamins. He loves his yogurt and his peanut butter. The other dogs stand around begging and whining. And Reeves is up on the table in his little bed getting spoon fed his last meals. I can't even pick him up anymore as he cries out in pain. I have to lift him up by the sides of his little bed and put him on the table to feed and love him. Although they are painful days for both of us, I am grateful for these remaining days as they are gifts from God. But Gizmo is waiting at the bridge with Crystal right there beside her, both of my girls waiting for their little goofy buddy to dance again with them, joyfully playing without pain.

I love you baby boy. With all my heart. You will let me know when it is time. Until then I give you everything I can to make your days easier. I wish I could make you young again and hold you in my arms when I tell you I love you. I pray your final moments are peaceful and I hope you know how much I love you.
Shown above is my little sweet pea Reeves, resting in his little bed which is right next to my chair in the dog room.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

They have a website - they MUST be ethical!

I found this posted on a "breeder's" website recently:

10 Rules of Ethical Breeding

1) The only reason to be breeding purebred dogs is to preserve the best qualities of the breed. Breeding to supply any market is not a justification.
2) You need to do all of your breeding with the best interests of the breed in mind. Never your pocket book.
3) For this you need to be a serious student of the breed and devote years of your life to it. No "in one day, out the other".
4) As a beginner you need to engross yourself in the breed as much as possible and ideally find a suitable mentor.
5) In order to be a serious breeder, you must show and compete.
6) You need to keep track of all puppies you produce, whether pet or show, to know how your breeding program is working.
7) All pet dogs need to go on a spay/neuter contract.
8) All show puppies need to go on a contract that will not allow breeding unless the dog lives up to the quality intended and passes all health checks and certification necessary for that breed. If a prospective breeder does not want to do this, then I am sorry but they will have to mess with someone else's dogs not mine!!

Co-ownerships allow you a certain amount of control in this regard because they require your signature in order that puppies be registered. The latest news from the AKC is that there is a pending change to the rules that will not allow registration unless all papers are properly signed. If you have a difference with your co-owner it will need to be settled in court before the AKC will register litters or puppies. This is new and still pending, but a step in the right direction.
9) Every breeder owes to the breed and to themselves to be involved with rescue.
10) Every breeder should be prepared to take any dog back for whatever reason. If they do not have the space, then they need to be prepared to make other arrangements. But take back they must!

So if a person posts this on their website, does that make them ethical? Even when they themselves don't abide by over half of the items listed? Even when they don't show? Even when they purposefully breed substandard Tzu that don't meet the weight standard as outlined in the breed standard set forth by the AKC parent club? Even when they've only been experts for less than a couple of years? Even when they tout all of the AKC champions in the pedigrees of their "kids" but have NEVER set foot in a show ring, let alone titled a dog they themselves bred? Even when they don't rescue? Even when they will sell dogs for breeding purposes if the price is right without some type of ongoing relationship - i.e. having the dog complete a title? Even when they charge more money for "rare" colors when our breed standard says all colors are permissible meaning there are no RARE colors?

And when it comes to puppy prices, why are some more expensive than others? The price for a puppy should be the same no matter the color or sex.

WAKE UP FOLKS AND SMELL THE JAVA! Just because someone links to something or prints something on their website that eludes to ethics, it doesn't mean that they walk the walk!

ALL puppies are cute! Don't let your desire to find a cute puppy let you fall for the lies that are out there. A website does not make a person ethical. Count how many girls they have that are of breeding age - brood bitches - suppliers of their cash crop. Doesn't matter if they own or co-own them. More importantly - count how many puppies they have listed. Track this info for some time and you'll know EXACTLY what you are dealing with. Add up the money. Why does anyone that doesn't show their dogs need five litters of puppies on the ground at any one time? WHY? Well, let's see - let's say that totals 10 to 15 puppies at $1000 each and then you'll have an idea why. Especially when the don't have real jobs or their commissioned sales job has hit the skids lately.

Ethical breeders breed to improve the dogs that they have with every litter. They breed to improve on faults, to maintain good health, to maintain good temperament. Ethical breeders study pedigrees and can tell you why they bred their girl to the chosen sire. Usually they've gone to great lengths to find the right stud dog. They may have him in their house but if so, that dog's pedigree took some time to develop in order for him to remain in that house to be used on any of the girls that are there. He's not there because of his size or his color. Ethical breeders don't care what color is selling and they don't advertise mochas, chocolates, lattes and all those made up colors that make you pay more money. AKC says that Shih Tzu come in Gold/White, Gold, Black, Black/White, Silver, Silver/White, Brindle, Brindle/White, Red, Red/White, Blue, Blue/White, Liver and Liver/White. Some of these colors may have a black mask. That's IT! Don't fall for what the posers are trying to shove down your throat to make them sound like they have a quality dog.

Ethical breeders would rather pass on breeding a litter than overwhelming their household with puppies. An ethical breeder knows their limitations and they know what they need to do in order to give each puppy born the best possible care in their house. Ethical breeders will breed with intent, with purpose to improve the dogs, not the balance in their checkbooks.

As a puppy buyer, ask the right questions. If you don't get the right answers - MOVE ON.

You don't want a show dog right? So it doesn't matter, right? WRONG! Even the best pedigrees put together may result in not one single puppy finishing a title. But I guarantee you that out of every litter that an ethical breeder breeds, they will hold back a puppy for themselves to watch grow up before they make a final decision on the show worthiness of that puppy. Sometimes they will watch more than one.

Puppy buyers need to understand that THEY TOO DESERVE a well bred animal for their hard earned money.

Good breeders don't advertise their puppies on a website with cute little themes for each litter or catchy names or with the poor puppy next to a soda can to show off their size. Good breeders aren't going to advertise puppy galleries or notate a puppy with "puppy A", "puppy B", etc. Good breeders make you wait for the next litter because they don't breed to fulfill a market, they breed for themselves. Good, ethical breeders don't have puppies just waiting for you. Ask a breeder when their last litter was and how many litters they've bred in the past year, in the past two years, in the past five years. Then ask how many champions they've bred and/or finished. Out of their last litter, how many were shown, how many finished? Ask who their mentor is and check them out too. If you have half a brain, you'll know when things don't add up.

Most importantly, plan ahead and find a breeder that cares. Don't wake up one day bound and determined to bring home a puppy by the end of the week. Take your time. Look at what is out there and use your head. You will be grateful you did.