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“Assigning Blame…”


“Assigning Blame…”

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									                                                                                                                 There has come a more subtle shift, and it's    avoid the "puppy mill" stigma.
                                                                                                            in "breeding philosophy." For some reason,                 And that is why we have puppy mills. Real

                “Assigning Blame…”                                                                          breeding several - not dozens, but several
                                                                                                            litters a year is, for the first time since humans
                                                                                                            started breeding dogs, socially unacceptable,
                                                                                                                                                                       An entire industry has sprung up over the
                                                                                                                                                                 last few decades to fill a market demand for
                                                                                                            no matter who you are.                               purebred dogs that breeders are now
                                                                                                                 There are an alarming number of                 discouraged from producing.
August 2002                                              Watches and Designer SUVs. (I'm not
                                                         denigrating this, mind you, I'm just making an
                                                                                                            "breeders" who breed seldom if at all, and
                                                                                                            honestly believe that anything over a litter
                                                                                                                                                                       Now, we can Educate the Public, and a lot
                                                                                                                                                                 of really dedicated people (including AKC) are
ShowSight Magazine column                                observation, and I'm as guilty as anyone else -    every year or two constitutes a puppy mill. (I       making an effort there. We tell the public "Buy
                                                         why, the SUV in our driveway has Eddie Bauer's     suspect people like Geraldine R. Dodge would         from a breeder" which we all know means
by Diane Klumb                                           very own personal signature on both the            be very surprised to hear themselves referred        "Buy from a show breeder, who knows the
                                                         driver's and the front passenger's doors, and      to as such, but in this current climate they         standard of his/her breed, attempts to breed
                                                         tastefully embroidered on the leather seats as     would surely qualify…                                toward it, finishes his/her breeding stock,
      One of the hottest topics in the Dog               well, if having someone else's name                     The concept of a "breeding program"             screens for all known health problems,
World this last year has undoubtedly                     embroidered on your car seats can by any           designed to produce a strain of quality              socializes his/her puppies, and doesn't make
been The Perfidious Puppy Mill                           stretch of the imagination be deemed               animals that both bears the breeder's stamp          any money doing it, although breaking even is
Problem, or, alternatively, The Heinous                  tasteful... I mean, think about it... in some      (which is no more or less than his own vision of     always nice."
High Volume Breeder Hassle.                              neighborhoods, guy you don't know from             the Standard for his breed in flesh and bone)              (“Oil, that is. Black gold...”)
      Various opinions concerning What We                Adam scrawls his name all over your damn car       and that breeds true (which depends upon                   But to what end? There aren't nearly
("we" in this case referring to the Truly                you'd be calling the cops, and yet we pay extra    generations of selective line breeding and           enough breeders to fill the demand, even if we
Concerned Fancy and/or the AKC, depending                for it - no wonder the rest of the world hates     therefore generally involves more than two           educate people to wait for a quality pup, and
upon which side of the fence you are hanging             us...                                              house pets) is entirely foreign to this new          screen out the less than desirable homes. The
your feet over) should be doing about this                     The sad truth is the All-American Mutt has   generation of dog person, it appears - they          difference between the supply and the
have been expressed in print both here and in            lost his appeal with America. Hell, you don't      honestly can see no difference between the           demand is the thousands of purebred pups
less erudite canine publications by                      even see mutts on TV sitcoms any more, or          numbers of litters produced in a purely              registered by high-volume kennels, with
proponents, opponents, and people who really             movies. Used to be, Americans (OK, I'm talking     puppies-for-profit enterprise and the numbers        mediocre quality at best, on an annual basis.
don't have any solutions but presumably just             the Eisenhower Administration here, so these       required in one that is striving to achieve a        Do the math, folks. How long can a potential
like to get hate mail from perfect strangers...          were pretty naive Americans) could recognize       goal of consistent quality, whether those pups       pet owner be reasonably expected to wait -
      I guess I must fall into the last category. It's   maybe half-a-dozen purebreds tops -Collies         end up in show homes or as companion dogs            decades? (That's a rhetorical question, by the
not that I don't give a damn, because I do, I just       (like Lassie). German Shepherds (like Rin Tin-     on limited registrations.                            way).
don't see what we can do about it unless there           Tin) Dalmatians (as in 101 of them) and                 Pets, to this new generation of "show                 Now, we could attack this problem by
is a sudden shift in philosophy, and frankly, I          probably a couple more media darlings whose        breeders," are those very few pups (if any) who      trying to soften Market Demand, but I doubt it
don't see it happening anytime in the near               names I can't remember offhand. Oh, yeah, and      don't measure up to "show quality," and given        will work, frankly. It's pretty damned hard to
future.                                                  Weiner Dogs. Everybody knew what they were,        the incredible number of dog shows every             convince Americans they don't want
      The whole puppy-mill issue is not about            they just couldn't pronounce it.                   weekend, and the overall quality of dogs             something that they do want -I mean, the
ethics, it's about economics. (And don't start                 Now we have Brussels Griffons, Jack          exhibited and finishing, I think those would be      Surgeon General has been trying to do it for
with me on the "AKC's just in it for the money"          Russells, alien Pugs, Dogs de Bordeaux and         the ones born with perhaps only one ear...           decades, and millions of us still light up. All the
crap, either, because I just had lunch and I'd           God knows what else right in our own Media              (“When up from the ground come a-               exposes in the world about the perils of
like to keep it down). I didn't say it was about         Rooms, (which during the Eisenhower years          bubblin' crude...”)                                  buying from pet shops hasn't made a dent, as
money, I said it was about economics, which              used to be the "rumpus room, " in case you are          The term "pet," it appears, (as used in the     far as I can tell - perfectly intelligent people
you'd know was entirely different, if, like me,          wondering) to say nothing of actual dog            phrase "Oh, she breeds pets") has about the          still pay $2,000 for a "purebred" of
you'd actually majored in Economics for a year           shows on Animal Planet every time you turn         same connotation in the lexicon of today's           questionable quality and health from pet
before you found out it involved higher                  around, and the annual Exciting Canine Sports      breeder as "puppy mill," which absolutely            shops on a daily basis.
mathematics ("higher" in this case involving             Extravaganza Live From Madison Square              baffles me... we are supposed to be breeding               Why? Because they can't get one from a
numbers greater than seven) and sensibly                 Garden on ESPN every year. No wonder               to the Standard, right?                              breeder, that's why. (Even though they could
switched to Fine Arts, where you had a prayer            everyone wants a purebred. Purebred dogs are            Exactly which Standard describes the            get a better dog usually for a lot less money if
of getting a passing grade or two...                     the subject of some serious "Moichandising,"       function of its breed as a "show dog," anyway?       they could only figure out how to do it... The
      Well, OK, so Economics was not my finest           as Mel Brooks would put it... and this has been         I've actually heard breeders say “ALL my        problem has not been improved by the
hour academically, but just because you don't            accomplished with no master plan, and              puppies are show dogs,” honest to God... and         current attitude about advertising - Tsk! How
like something does not mean you don't                   represents no conspiracy whatsoever. The           since when do only people who plan to show           "commercial!" - which forces the potential pet
remember it. (If you don't believe me, just try          whole thing has just sort of evolved...            deserve a well-bred dog? We have gone                owner to find us only by employing the
as hard as you can                                             ("Then one day he was shootin, at            seriously astray, I fear... and the worst part is,   services of a Psychic) And they want a Shih-
      NOT to remember the tune, or the rest of           some food...']                                     we've all bought into this crap (which I             Tzu, or a Schnauzer, or a Pug, same as you or I.
the idiotic lyrics, which I can almost guarantee               Now, unfortunately, right about the time     strongly suspect is the result of subtle             That's what they want, and they are going to
you NEVER liked, to the following musical                this started happening, or maybe shortly           machinations on the part of the Animal Rights        get one. And if good breeders won't produce
masterpiece:                                             before, another trend was taking hold, and this    folks, if you want to know the truth) even those     them, puppy mills can and will.
      "Come listen to my story 'bout a man               one has had even more serious implications -       of us who should know better.                              Now,we could try and convince people to
named Jed, A poor mountaineer barely..."                 namely, the demise of the Breeding Kennel.              Because of this, many breeders, perfectly       forget all this "purebred" nonsense and that
      I rest my case. And I am sincerely sorry I               When I started in dogs, which was, for the   good ones, are now reticent about actually           they are actually better off with a mutt, since
had to prove it in such a cruel manner, since            record, when Tricky Dick was still in the White    telling anyone how many dogs they own, as            the shelters are full of them, but this is unlikely
that God awful ditty will undoubtedly be stuck           House, there were still a fair number of them      though they kept them under the porch or             to work, either. (You think it's hard to keep
in your conscious brain for weeks now, rather            around, and some lasted well into the              something, and are paying the rent with the          people from wanting what they want, try
than lying buried in your subconscious brain             seventies, and maybe even a few into the           puppy-money, instead of losing their shirts          convincing them that they want what they
where it has been lurking for years, like a genie        eighties, although their heyday was long gone.     and holding down two jobs to support this            don't want - remember "New Coke")? I don't
in a bottle, just waiting for release. Oh well... go     These were Kennel Names, with "lines" of dogs      passion of theirs. Some simply don't include         want a mutt and neither do you. Neither,
lay it on somebody else, it'll make you feel a           about which dog writers still wax poetic, often    the pensioners in the head count, or the             apparently, do millions of other people just
little better... just hum it while standing in line      with 40-50 dogs of a single breed in them, and     puppies they may be running on, to make their        like us...
in the supermarket - everyone will hate you,             they literally churned out puppies, many of        numbers "more acceptable."                                 ("Texas Tea..."
but then it will be stuck in their heads, too...         them the stuff of legends, but many more of             To whom?                                              Sorry, I can't seem to stop...)
      Anyhow, what I remember about                      them simply pets or sold to the hunting                 Well, to their peers. The people who raise            So there's Economics 101. Create a market
economics is Market Demand, which is what                market, if there was one, because that's the       their eyebrows and murmur "puppy mill" at            demand using the media, refuse to produce a
we have in the Wonderful World of Purebred               way breeding works - it's an inexact science.      the drop of a hat, and certainly when a dog          product for the demand you've created, and
Dogs right now…                                          Truth is, many of the Famous Kennels in your       you've bred goes Best.                               then sit back and watch an industry develop to
      (“...barely kept his family fed...”)               own breed (I know one jumps immediately to              And no one uses the word "kennel" any           fill that demand, at inflated prices, with an
      For some unknown reason, probably                  mind in my breed, and dominated it for much        more.What's with that? Why, I remember when          inferior product and no competition.
having to do with the fact that we are a                 of the seventies and eighties), if viewed          the big kennels would register their dogs that             Then try to legislate that industry out of
disgustingly rich and spoiled society, people            through today's eyes, would be considered          way: "Owner: Draherin Kennels, Reg." Right in        existence.
don't seem to want mutts any more, which is              puppy mills. With a Capital P.                     the catalogue. We were all hoping to reach the              Remember the old line from Pogo?
really too bad, since the production of them                   The trend away from large breeding           point where AKC would register our kennel                  "We have met the enemy, and he is Us."
does not seem to have slowed down one iota,              kennels was probably inevitable, and is usually    someday, and now that we've gotten there, we               (Well, Us and the guy who wrote the
at least, judging from our local shelter...              blamed on the price of real estate, zoning, and    don't want to admit we have one... go figure.        damned theme song for the Beverly
      No, we ("we," here, referring to we Rich and       the lack of reliable kennel help, as well as the   It's better to have 37 dogs crated in your           Hillbillies…)
Spoiled Americans) want "name-brand" dogs -              demise of some very rich people whose hobby        basement? Yeah, right, they're "housedogs," I              See you at the shows!
Designer Dogs, if you will, to go along with our         it was to own them, but that's not the whole       keep forgetting…
Designer Clothes, Designer Sheets, Designer              story by a long shot...                                 And so breeders breed less and less, to          Reprinted by permission of ShowSight Magazine

                                                         National Dog - The RingLEADER Way                       12            Volume 5 Number 10

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