Monday, December 26, 2011

I Don’t Want A Show Dog; I Just Want A Pet.

I wish I could take credit for the following article, but I can not.  I saw the link to this website on Facebook that was posted by Stephanie Schultes, a Chihuahua breeder and fellow member of the AZ Toy Dog Fanciers.  The blog where I found this was:  Blacksheep Cardigan Welsh Corgis.  My thanks to the author for putting this so succinctly.  I hear this all the time:  I don't want a show dog - I just want a pet.  My first response is usually - "Well I wouldn't sell you a show dog because I have no idea who you are."  But further to that - this should be required reading for all puppy buyers.

I Don’t Want A Show Dog; I Just Want A Pet.

This is one of the most pervasive sentiments that puppy buyers, especially families, express when they're looking for a dog. What they really mean, of course, is that they don't want a show BREEDER – don't want to pay the high price they think show breeders charge, don't want to go through the often-invasive interview process, and think that they're getting a better deal or a real bargain because they can get a Lab for $300 or a Shepherd for $150.

I want you to change your mind. I want you to not only realize the benefits of buying a show-bred dog, I want you to INSIST on a show-bred dog. And I want you to realize that the cheap dog is really the one that's the rip-off. And then I want you to go be obnoxious and, when your workmate says she's getting a puppy because her neighbor, who raises them, will give her one for free, or when your brother-in-law announces that they're buying a goldendoodle for the kids, I want you to launch yourself into their solar plexus and steal their wallets and their car keys.

Here's why:

If I ask you why you want a Maltese, or a Lab, or a Leonberger, or a Cardigan, I would bet you're not going to talk about how much you like their color. You're going to tell me things about personality, ability (to perform a specific task), relationships with other animals or humans, size, coat, temperament, and so on. You'll describe playing ball, or how affectionate you've heard that they are, or how well they get along with kids.

The things you will be looking for aren't the things that describe just "dog"; they'll be the things that make this particular breed unique and unlike other breeds.

That's where people have made the right initial decision – they've taken the time and made the effort to understand that there are differences between breeds and that they should get one that at least comes close to matching their picture of what they want a dog to be.

Their next step, tragically, is that they go out and find a dog of that breed for as little money and with as much ease as possible.

You need to realize that when you do this, you're going to the used car dealership, WATCHING them pry the "Audi" plate off a new car, observing them as they use Bondo to stick it on a '98 Corolla, and then writing them a check and feeling smug that you got an Audi for so little.

It is no bargain.

Those things that distinguish the breed you want from the generic world of "dog" are only there because somebody worked really hard to get them there. And as soon as that work ceases, the dog, no matter how purebred, begins to revert to the generic. That doesn't mean you won't get a good dog – the magic and the blessing of dogs is that they are so hard to mess up, in their good souls and minds, that even the most hideously bred one can still be a great dog – but it will not be a good Shepherd, or good Puli, or a good Cardigan. You will not get the specialized abilities, tendencies, or talents of the breed.

If you don't NEED those special abilities or the predictability of a particular breed, you should not be buying a dog at all. You should go rescue one. That way you're saving a life and not putting money in pockets where it does not belong.

If you want a purebred and you know that a rescue is not going to fit the bill, the absolute WORST thing you can do is assume that a name equals anything. They really are nothing more than name plates on cars. What matters is whether the engineering and design and service department back up the name plate, so you have some expectation that you're walking away with more than a label.

Keeping a group of dogs looking and acting like their breed is hard, HARD work. If you do not get the impression that the breeder you're considering is working that hard, is that dedicated to the breed, is struggling to produce dogs that are more than a breed name, you are getting no bargain; you are only getting ripped off.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Eight Weeks Old

Violet x Magic puppies - as stacked up as I could get them to be - at 8 weeks old:

Little Girl

Big Girl

Little Boy

Big Boy

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Why Does Everyone Want A Cheap Girl Puppy? Or - My Rant On Why Boys Are Best And You Get What You Pay For.

Violet & Magic's litter is nearly 7 weeks old!  They are growing so fast!  Next weekend they will get their first shot.  Each puppy is amazing.  All of them are beautiful.  This is going to be a tough decision for me - I'm not sure yet which puppy or puppies to keep for myself.  I have had a lot of calls for puppies but I have only chosen one solid home for one of my babies.  Why?  Because that person did their homework.  That person knew that a quality dog was worth the investment.  And she was at the right place at the right time to get the only girl that I knew would be available out of this litter for a pet home.  And you know what - she still doesn't know which of the two girls she will be getting yet.  But either way she won't be disappointed.

I don't play the waiting list game with the next litter just around the corner.  I don't have the puppy galleria that most "breeders" have on the internet.  I am not like most "breeders". 

I do this for me - I don't breed puppies for money making purposes.  Believe me - each litter is taken at a financial loss.  I am looking for my next show prospect and the next generation of my breeding program.  I get first pick - ALWAYS.  Not everyone understands this.  But that's what makes me different from most every breeder here in the valley of the sun.

I do this to move forward with a lineage of dogs that are healthy and sound.  Not to line my pockets with money to pay my bills (I have a real job for that).  And because I want the best for myself, that means too that my puppy buyers get the cream of the crop of puppies.  To me it's about the future, about making sure the dogs I breed are healthy and sound for their lifespan - to be champions - to produce champions - because those champions will be everything a Shih Tzu should be.  They will look like a Shih Tzu and act like a Shih Tzu.  I do my very best at screening for health issues as well.  To make sure that sound, typey package can live a long and healthy life - for ME.  And the gravy of that to the pet buyer should be obvious.  Today, as my only solid puppy buyer was visiting the litter, she even commented how all of the puppies in this litter would be hard to choose from.  They are all that nice.  And she was right.  And that makes me proud.  I have worked hard to produce the very best I can - and it shows in the puppies I breed.

One weekend of showing dogs costs close to as much as the selling price of one of my puppies.  FYI - to go on the road to show - gas money, hotel, pet sitter for the kids still at home - for a four day show weekend, that totals to about $700.  The show circuit in AZ is limited so travel is necessary to complete a title on a Shih Tzu here.  The reason a breeder should show their dogs is to get a fair evaluation of their breeding stock.  That's the purpose of showing dogs.  When someone tells you they don't show because it's just a beauty contest or it's political or that it's a waste of time and money - well they are simply giving you excuses - they are more interested in their own bottom line than whether or not you get a sound, healthy puppy.

The costs to breed a litter - to health screen my bitch, to bring in the right dog or health screen my own boy, wellness care for a pregnant bitch, proper nutrition, x-rays to determine how many puppies are actually in there, have the puppies vet checked and dew claws removed and have their shots given by my vet, well that total cost is almost as much as the selling price of one of my puppies.  I don't have ten or twelve girls that I breed continuously to any of a number of boys I may have, nor do I fore go appropriate veterinary care, so that I can have a steady stream of $350 puppies available to anyone that calls or emails me.  If that's what you're looking for - you've contacted the wrong breeder.

Ninety percent of the calls I get are for girl puppies.  Why is that?  Boys make fabulous pets.  Here's a newsflash for you - boys are easier to housebreak than the girls!  Boys will only be lifting their leg or humping your leg or their toys if you a) don't have them neutered young enough and/or b) you allow obnoxious behavior of your pets.  The fact is, boys make better companions than the girls.  Boys are sweet and just want to be loved.  And like I told one lady that contacted me recently - if you want a girl puppy from me you either have to be in the right place at the right time or be willing to wait a LONG time.  There are no guarantees that a girl puppy will ever be available out of this house as a pet.  Why?  Because the best girls don't go to pet homes, they stay here.  Because I only breed usually one litter per year, to prepare for future generations I have to keep the girls unless there is an obvious fault - like mismarking of coat or lack of pigmentation, or an obvious structural fault (which has rarely been the case in this house).  Typically there are more boys than girls born - for whatever reason - that's just the way the numbers fall.  But everyone wants girls.  For all of the wrong reasons IMO, but to each their own.

So if you are reading this and you want a girl puppy out of this current litter - sorry - they are taken.  And if you're looking for a $350 puppy, I don't have any available.