Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Word on Recycled Dogs (or Bo Obama gets a new home)

I’m normally not a politically outspoken person or even one who gets tied up in knots over current events, but this past week a couple of news items have ruffled my fur. Recently, Vice President Joe Biden selected a young German Shepherd pup, named Champ, from a breeder, and President Obama’s family is adopting a six-month old Portuguese Water Dog called Bo. The Obamas needed a non-shedding breed because one of their daughters has allergies. When Senator Ted Kennedy learned that a Portie pup was being returned to his breeder because the dog was not a good fit in his first home, he informed the Obamas, they met the dog and the happy result is that Bo moves into the White House today. He has a family – yay!

But what should be a joyous event has made some people upset, even highly
critical. Both the Obamas and the Bidens have been criticized for not adopting from a shelter or rescue organization. PETA, in particular, has long blamed the overflow in shelters to breeders of purebred dogs. Excuse me, but there are responsible and irresponsible breeders and Bo Obama’s breeders should be lauded for their care in placing dogs, not raked over the coals. They PREVENT dogs from ending up in shelters by re-homing their own, requiring spay/neuter agreements (Bo is already neutered), screening potential buyers and counseling owners throughout the lifetime of the dog. The Obamas’ choice was well thought out and a good fit for their situation.

The breeder of the BidensGSD has been
harassed by animal rights activists and forced to hire a lawyer. Instead of a source of pride, it has become a source of grief for this particular breeder. Rest assured, if I ever place a dog with someone famous I am not telling anyone.

My husband and I have bred Australian Shepherds for over twenty years. On average, I can count on having at least one pup in about every other litter returned. Sometimes, they are several years old when I get that dreaded call, but I would much rather take them back and get them in the right situation, than know they are unhappy or unwanted. Most are well-adjusted, but I normally keep the dog with us for at least a month to see how it behaves both in the house and out in public. Once I feel I have a good idea of the dog’s personality, I then offer them for placement. Aussies are not for everyone and not everyone who inquires, I feel, is qualified to own one. For some people, however, they are perfect. They are loyal, energetic and make great watchdogs. Purebred dogs were bred with specific traits in mind and some even to serve a purpose. We use ours to move sheep from pasture to pasture.

I’ve owned many a rescued cat or dog from the shelter in my lifetime, but I’m also wholly devoted to my chosen breed. So give the Bidens and Obamas a break, people. They didn’t buy from a puppy mill or backyard breeder, but from responsible breeders. They made intelligent decisions based on specific needs. If more people followed their lead, there would be fewer dogs in shelters, not more. Perhaps the animal rights groups need to focus more of their energies on supporting rescue groups and shelters, prosecuting animal abusers, shutting down puppy mills and educating the general public about the benefits of spaying and neutering, and less on giving puppy buyers and conscientious breeders a hard time?
(Pictured above is a pup, Dust, who was returned to us because her first owner had deemed her as troublesome and untrainable. Placed in her second home, she later became a multi-titled, national agility champion.)

Until later,


Lisa said...

One person's 'troublesome' is another person's 'isn't it cool that she never wants to quit?'

Dust rocks and I'm lucky to have her!


N. Gemini Sasson said...

And she's very lucky to have you, Lisa. Dust's mom, Domino, was a recycled dog and I don't think I've ever owned a more intelligent, more loyal or more trainable dog in all my life.

All the best,

Anita Davison said...

We had two dogs in our family throughout childhood, both cross-bred 'mutts' One didn't know how to play ball and he was four when he came to us, the second wouldn't cross the threshold to go outside for six months, terrified we would chuck him out like his last owner did. Both of them were the most loyal companions you could have. I honestly believe dogs know when they are well off and appreciate their good fortune. Recycled dogs are great, but I know some have real problems that sometimes cannot be helped - like people.
And Dust is gorgeous

Anonymous said...

As a mom to 4 cat rescues and 1 purebred Siberian Husky, I "feel" you on this one!

Sometimes people give us "that look" for having a purebred dog. But for us, we just love Sibes - a breed that happens to have a strong chase instinct, and most Sibes won't do well around cats unless they're raised with them.

Ah well :)