Category Archives: General

Amazing coat patterns on dogs

Check these coat patterns out.  Genetics are an amazing thing.

33 Dogs with Unique Coats

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Happy Mother’s Day!!!!

Mothers Day Card Front

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May 11, 2014 · 10:09 am

Where Should I get a Puppy/ Dog From – Rescues Part 4 and 5: Rescue Types

Rescues are a great way to help a life if it fits in with your lifestyle, family situation and reasons for wanting a dog.  Unlike with breeders, almost all rescues are going to be good places to rescue from; after all, how can you go wrong when you open your heart?

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Estimated numbers of adoptions and shelter statistics are eye opening to say the least.

  • 3,500—Number of animal shelters
  • 6 to 8 million—Number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year
  • 25 percent—Percentage of purebred dogs in shelters
  • 3 to 4 million—Number cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year
  • 2.7 million—Number of adoptable cats and dogs euthanized in shelters each year
  • 30 percent—Percentage of shelter dogs reclaimed by their owners
  • 2 to 5 percent—Percentage of shelter cats reclaimed by owners

According to these number obtained from the (former) National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy only 1/2 of all animals that enter shelters are adopted.  39% of these animals are put to sleep because they didn’t find home.  These numbers speak volumes as to the reasons that someone should adopt a pet.

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Open your heart but be smart!

Just like with any important life decisions, logic needs to lead the heart.  It is important is that you make the decision based on facts, and ensure that you are ready to bring home a new dog.  Do your research ahead of time so you have everything you need; food, food and water bowls, leash and collar, crate and a whole lot of patience.

I had a friend growing up who adopted a dog from an animal shelter.  Needless to say he was not prepared.  The dog was super high energy and they both worked and attended school full time.  They didn’t know anything about training and left the dog to run their house during the day while at work.  One day they came home and the dog had eaten their entire couch.  You can probably guess what happened to the dog; he ended right up back in the shelter.  The entire situation could have been avoided had they rescued a dog that would better fit their lifestyle along with receiving a great education on how to care for a dog.

In addition to paying an ‘adoption fee’ for the dog they are about to adopt, new perspective pet owners should be required to take a day long seminar on how to care for a dog.  Perhaps they should raise the price of adoption as well and include a ‘care kit’ with the dog that has the essential items needed (crate included) and a few lessons for training.

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Education is KEY!!!!

I want to give a quick run down of the various types of places where you can adopt from.  A slight word of caution:  While these are all places you can and should adopt from, they are not all places you should support with charitable donations.  I want to give two specific examples of places you need to think twice before donating to.

ASPCA

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We’ve all seen the heartbreaking ASPCA commercials air at some point on TV.  When you donate to the ASPCA you believe you are donating to an organization that is going to help pets across the U.S.  The truth of the matter is that the ASPCA is a local branch of the SPCA in New York.  When you make a donation to the ASPCA you are making a donation to one shelter in New York.  Now, scroll back up… I’ll wait.  You’ll want to check the numbers again on how many shelters there are in the U.S.  That’s right.  There are 3,500 shelters in the U.S., of which, the ASPCA is only one.  This particular branch is extraordinarily wealthy and claims to give donation proceeds to other branches.  The truth is that less than 1% ever leaves this particular shelter in the form of donations to other SPCA shelters across the U.S.  Why would you want to give your hard earned money to a huge organization that spends less than 1/2 of the donations it earns on things other then the pets they want to help?  Giving to a local no-kill shelter or breed specific rescue organization is a much better way to help.

HSUS

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The Humane Society of the United States has been under fire lately.  I have seen a ton of articles floating around Facebook these days about allegations on mismanagement of funds, politics missteps and general ideology that you would be surprised to find in an organization such as HSUS.

HSUS doesn’t actually own or run any particular shelter. Nor are they personally associated with any animal donations, food or well being.  What they are is an extreme group of lobbyists and activists that use their name to gain donations.  Like the ASPCA, HSUS spends less than 1/2 on their budget to helping animal shelters.  When you consider their operating budget is over 99 million dollars you have to wonder what they are spending it on, if not for the welfare of animals.

HSUS is more akin to PETA an extreme animal rights activism.  CEO of HSUS was even recorded on record saying he didn’t like animals.

“I don’t love animals or think they’re cute.” – Wayne Pacelle

There are more shocking accusations of scandal that involve HSUS giving money to Michael Vick (you remember, the dog fighter) and misrepresenting and misusing funds for Hurricane Katrina pets.  If you want to read more you can do so here:  Merry Grinch-mas: the truth about ASPCA and HSUS spending.

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Sad but true.

Don’t let these two organization scare you away from donating or helping.  You don’t have to spend money either; many of the organizations could use your donation of time by dog walking, cleaning kennels or by helping to organize events.  Personally, I am a huge advocate and supporter for local no-kill shelters.  Just use the internet to find shelters in the area that could use your help, investigate them to ensure it’s an organization you want to support and then start supporting!  While I may not personally be in a position to adopt a rescue, I do my best to support them.

I just want to close out this section on rescues by pointing out the different types of shelters that you can adopt from to further help make an informed decision. NOTE:  The examples below are just that…examples.  I am not suggesting they are either good or bad, just using to further illustrate.  As always, do your own research before making a decision.

Municipal Shelter

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Wyandotte – Municipal Animal Shelter example

These are your local shelters run by the city and state.  They are operated by taxpayer dollars and as such almost always have an ‘open dog admission policy’.  This means they have to take anything that is dropped off with them regardless of space or resource available to their shelter.  They simply cannot turn an animal away even if this means putting current ones to sleep.  These shelters are the ones who tend to euthanize more-so than others simply because they are first thought of when someone needs to get rid of a pet.

No Kill Shelter

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No kill shelter example

These shelters are selective in who they are going to take but only because they are going to keep the animal for the rest of it’s life until it’s adopted.  This can mean a lengthy stay and with these longer stays comes longer and higher costs of care.  Once the shelter is full they stop taking animals in.  These shelters are typically run mostly by volunteers and donations.  Most no kill shelters are also not for profit shelters.

Not for profit Shelter

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Example of a Not for Profit Animal Shelter in Michigan.

Typically run by either a board of individuals or just a few good Samaritan types who want to help animals in need.  They will rescue animals from shelters who are set to be put to sleep, take in animals off the street or from individuals who otherwise can’t care of their animals.  These tend to be smaller in type and are all run by 100% volunteer work.  They make no money on what they do.  Anything you donate to them goes 100% to the animals they are helping.

Breed Specific Rescue

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Cascade Bulldog Rescue/Rehome, Inc. Example of a breed specific rescue located in the Pacific NW.

Rescue organization run by volunteers who take in a specific breed.  These types of rescue groups are good to adopt from if you want a specific breed of dog but still want to rescue.  Usually there is no central ‘home’ to these types of organizations but rather a network of people in a geographic area working together.  When you contact them they will usually put you in touch with the closest rescue volunteer to you.  You will meet with them and surrender the dog.  They typically ask you to fill out a detailed history, provide vet history and any other information that will be helpful in finding the animal a new home.  The dog is then placed in ‘foster care’ for evaluation, further medical treatment if needed, and will live with it’s ‘foster parents’ until a suitable adopter is found.  They do extremely rigorous checks of background and homes to ensure they are placing the dog in it’s new forever home.  They are also 100% non-profit.

Thanks for sticking with this very long series!  It’s a serious issue and I wanted to make sure I gave it the attention it deserved.  At the end of the day it’s about being a responsible pet owner and ensuring that you are well prepared before you get a dog.  I personally feel the animosity held towards reputable breeders needs to stop.  A well bred dog is just a rewarding companion as a shelter one.  Individuals who chose to go down the path of a purebred shouldn’t be made to feel any guilt for their choice. Just as in all things, research, understand and don’t make blanket assumptions. On the other hand, I have the utmost respect for people who rescue.  It really is becoming a hero in the eyes of an animal.

At the end of the day, what is needed is just better education for all people about responsible pet ownership.  I firmly believe that the path to decreasing the number of unwanted dogs is through education.  This is especially important right now in the U.S. as we continue to thrive in a ‘throw away’ society.

I hope you enjoy this series!  Check back soon for some product reviews as well as some fantastic information about healthy living for your AND your dog!

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Where Should I get a Puppy/ Dog From – Rescues

Since my posts have been exceedingly long lately, I’ll cover Part 4: Municipal shelters vs. no-kill in the next post.  What I want to cover in this post is a look at rescues overall.

In the previous posts I’ve covered off in detail (maybe too much) on the different types of breeders you can purchase a dog from.  However, there are other options that might make sense for prospective dog owners.  With the exception of backyard breeders, puppy mills and pet stores, neither is better than the other (purebred purchase from a reputable breeder vs. rescue adoptions).  Where you purchase or adopt a pet from is a highly personal choice that someone makes for their particular situation.

I absolutely respect people who rescue dogs.  My good friend has two pitbull rescues and they are absolutely fantastic well adjusted dogs (just ask my kids who spent some time with them this past weekend).  If I lived on a farm or somewhere with the room I’d probably have a few rescues myself.  However, right now in my life a rescue is not something that makes sense so I do purchase purebred dogs from a reputable breeder.

What I dislike about many rescue organization is they act like they are the only way to go and look down at those of us who purchase purebreds.  I remember an incident, many, many years ago at a local adoption.  I was looking for a cat to adopt (this was back before I developed a severe allergy to them).  I found one I liked was fine with the $150 adoption charge and happily filled out the paperwork.  The woman handling the adoptions took one look at my paperwork and told me quite briskly that I couldn’t adopt.  When I inquired as to the reason (all my paperwork was in order and I even had my lease showing I could have cats) she told me coldly that it was because I had a non-spayed dog at home.  *GASP*  I did indeed have a 1 year old Golden Retriever female who I had not yet spayed.  The reason?  She was a co-owned conformation dog and we were growing her out a bit to see how she’d do before making that determination.  It didn’t matter how responsible I was.  It didn’t matter how many dogs I had in my life that never had an unwanted litter.  It didn’t matter if I was involved in 4-H and the teaching of responsible dog training and ownership.  As I politely explained this all to the woman my irritation grew as she just kept telling me I was an irresponsible pet owner.  Here I was, wanting to adopt and I was denied and told how horrible a pet owner I was.  I don’t understand why there has to be such animosity on the part of rescue organization towards those of us who purchase or even breed purebreds.

For the record, I did end up adopting a couple of amazing kittens from a different organization.  I can’t deny though that the experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth.  Let me assure you that this post is not a rip on rescues.  I think rescues absolutely have their place and am happy that someone is there to help out dogs who are no longer wanted or needed.  As I said earlier, a rescue isn’t right for me at this point and time in my life.  I live in a house in the suburbs and while I do have a backyard I am not only limited by cities ordinances but have to be realistic about how much space I have for another family member.  Also, I have kids and I want to know the temperament of whatever dog I’m getting.  When we decided to get a dog for the family both my husband and I instantly agreed we wanted a Golden Retriever.  They are loyal, patient, smart (or are supposed to be at least), and tolerant.  I knew that if I got a Golden I would never have to worry about the dog snapping my kids, gaining a neurosis due to the chaos that can be my household and would love the attention it would receive.  The only way I could guarantee this was to get a purebred Golden Retriever puppy.  Adopting an older shelter/rescue would mean I wouldn’t know anything about temperament, the past history, what mom and dad were like or even anything about its health history.

Recues are a mystery.  For some people that is perfectly acceptable but for someone with a family and limited space I can’t take a ‘mystery dog’.  I don’t think they are inferior, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them; they simply don’t fit with my life right now.  While a rescue isn’t in my cards, I do support some rescue organizations because I believe in the work they do and want to help them out with donations, time and other little ways here and there.

As a prospective pet owner you have to decide for yourself what works best.  Ask yourself the following:

–          Do you want a particular type of companion or do you just want to add a four footed friend to your family?

–          Do you care about health guarantees for the life of the dog?

–          Do you need to know what breed or breeds your new dog is?

–          Do you want a detailed history or pedigree of the dog?

–          Do you want to sell out big bucks for a particular type of dog?

–          How much patience and knowledge do you have to deal with any potential behavioral issues?

Rescue dogs aren’t going to give any guarantees in terms of temperament, history, or health.  The organization you’re adopting from will do their best to past on any history they have but often times they simply don’t have any history to give you.

The great part about adopting a rescue is that you’re saving a life.  You are taking someone’s ‘trash’ and giving it a second chance at life.  Instead of the thousand plus dollars you can spend on a purebred you pay an adoption fee, typically around $200, for your new dog.  This money goes back into the organization to cover the rising costs of taking care of an animal.  Rescue dogs also usually have had a health check, are neutered/spayed, microchiped and up to date on their vaccines.  Getting a rescue dogs means you’re getting a total package.

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As I stated when starting this post, neither a dog from a reputable breeder nor a dog from a rescue is better.  If you purchase or plan to purchase a purebred do not let anyone make you feel bad or feel guilty.  Likewise, if you are getting a rescue don’t let someone scare you or talk you out of it.  So long as you’ve done your homework and are prepared either way is a great way to go!

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Where Should I get a Puppy / Dog From? Part 3 – Backyard breeders, Puppy Mills, and Pet Stores

Before I tackle today’s topic, I want to revisit Part 2 as I was remiss to give important information and pointers for perspective puppy owners.  I outlined what a good breeder should do but what about the things that a perspective puppy buyer should do?

It’s important for a potential dog owner and puppy purchasers to do their homework.  Potential puppy owners shouldn’t be shy about asking tons of questions to any breeder.  If a breeder doesn’t answer these satisfactorily or seems to get mad or frustrated it puts up a huge red flag.  Likewise you should be prepared to answer their questions; honestly.  Just like you want to know where your puppy is coming from they want to know where it’s going.  They’ll likely want to talk to you via phone, get to understand the type of dog you’re looking for, the reasons you want one and what experience you have.  I recently contacted a breeder about a potential puppy and she asked for a vet reference, something I’m more than happy to get for her.  This ensures that you do what is needed to keep your dog safe and that you are a responsible dog owner.  Don’t feel that they are trying to be intrusive; a good, responsible breeder wants to do everything they can to ensure they are placing a puppy in a forever home and one of their dogs isn’t going to end up in a shelter.

I can’t say this enough but please do your homework before contacting a breeder.  Make sure you understand the breed enough to know if it will be something you can handle and will be a good fit with other family members and your current lifestyle.  Go to shows.  Find people who own the breed you’re looking at and ask for a meet-and-greet.  Call potential breeders to find out about the breed.  Check out breed sites or organizational sites like the AKC or the UKC.   Most importantly, don’t buy a dog on impulse.  Dogs are a lifetime commitment.  They cost money beyond just the cost of the dog itself; food, vaccines, medications like heartworm, neuter/spay, toys, equipment…etc.  Make sure you have given it enough thought and are truly ready.  As a good and responsible dog owner you’ll want to do your part!

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Now, with that said, let’s turn our attention to today’s topic:  Backyard breeders, Puppy Mills and Pet Stores.

If there are 3 places that you should never, ever get a dog from these are it.  Under no circumstances is it ever okay to pay money for a puppy from any of these 3 sources.

Backyard Breeder

These individuals breed solely for profit or other misguided reasons such as ‘it’s fun’.  Often times they think their dog is cute and they have a friend or neighbor who happens to have a cute dog too and they think the puppies will be just adorable!  /facepalm

They can make a profit because they don’t do any of the needed clearances or testing to ensure they are breeding dogs that are healthy and a good example of the breed.  They have no understanding of genetics, bloodlines, or even have a base concept of breed improvement.

If a price sounds too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.  Backyard breeders sell at a low price because they can sell all the pups and still make a large profit.  If they have a litter of 5 pups and sell each for $200 they still make $1000 and all of that goes back into their pocket since they aren’t paying for the upkeep of the dog.  Their dogs often don’t live in good conditions and puppies are born in make-shift set ups or no set up at all and are left to fend for themselves.  The puppies often grow up in unsanitary and deplorable conditions.  When you don’t pay anything in, even if you lose a few you’re still making money.

Don’t be fooled by a backyard breeder offering papers or registrations with their puppies either.  Just because a breeder offers papers doesn’t mean they are reputable.  Sadly, it doesn’t take much to get AKC registration on a dog or a litter of puppies.

Backyard breeder ad from Ebay classified.  Notice that they offer 'papers'?

Backyard breeder ad from Ebay classified. Notice that they offer ‘papers’?

Signs of a backyard breeder; poor living conditions for the dog.  Photo credit:  http://k9nation.org/breeders/kindsofbreeders.html

Signs of a backyard breeder; poor living conditions for the dog. Photo credit: http://k9nation.org/breeders/kindsofbreeders.html

Not all backyard breeders are evil.  Rather, they are ignorant and/or greedy.  Some backyard breeders have good intentions but are sorely misguided.  They devalue the life of a dog to nothing more than something that can make them money with little regard to where the lives they were responsible for are going to end up.  These breeders will not offer any health guarantees and basically forget about you and the dog once you walk out their door.  These breeders should not be supported under any circumstances.

Recent Craig's List posting for Husky Puppies.  Backyard Breeder.

Recent Craig’s List posting for Husky Puppies. Backyard Breeder.

chocolate lab backyard breeder

Backyard breeders. Puppies are not a Valentine’s Day gift.

Notice the 'rehoming' and 'adoption' fee?  It's how people get around Craig's List rules.

Notice the ‘rehoming’ and ‘adoption’ fee? It’s how people get around Craig’s List rules.

Below are some of the ‘red flags’ that tell you someone is a backyard breeder so you can avoid them.

  1. Advertises in the local papers, places like ‘Petfinder’, or on Craig’s List.
  2. Doesn’t ask you any questions.  They are interested in making a sale only and could care less where the new puppy is going.
  3. Gives you a price immediately before telling you any other details.
  4. Doesn’t offer any health guarantees.
  5. Doesn’t do any health clearances like hips, elbows, or eyes (depending on the breed).
  6. Doesn’t do any genetic clearances like CEA or TNS testing (again, depending on the breed).
  7. Makes excuses on why you can’t see mom or dad or simply flat out refuses.
  8. Won’t let you see where the puppies grow up.
  9. Always seems to have puppies available (a good breeder doesn’t breed until there is demand).
  10. Offers registration papers with full registration and no questions asked (one of the ways that backyard breeders are able to continue).
  11. Breeds dogs under the age of 2.
  12. Breeds dogs back to back in their heat cycle (you should NOT breed back to back as it strains the female).  Backyard breeders do this to maximize profit.
  13. Can’t explain the reason for a dog pairing; i.e. Why did they breed for these puppies?
  14. Often have puppies that are older; don’t have waiting lists.

So what should you do if you come across a backyard breeder?  Most places have laws, regulations and ordinances against backyard breeders.  If you suspect that someone is a backyard breeder call your local animal control or local animal shelter and report them.  There is also a group on Facebook called ‘Wobbies’ that was started in November.  Their goal is to wipe out backyard breeders.  Head to their page, like it, and report any backyard breeders to them and watch the community go to work.

Two key questions you can ask:  Can I get a vet out here to check to puppy before I take him home?  Can I have references from past puppy purchasers?  The backyard breeder is going to say no to both of these questions which tells you to immediately walk away.

Puppy Mills

If backyard breeders are greedy, misguided idiots then puppy mills are simply the embodiment of pure evil.

A puppy mill is a commercial dog breeding facility.  They care only about profit and their dogs are treated like a commodity.  They live in horrible unsanitary and heartbreaking conditions.  Most live in tiny cages that are overcrowded with no access to sunlight, regular fresh water or food and do not have adequate veterinary care.  These puppies have no socialization and are often weaned from their moms between the ages of 5-6 weeks instead of the recommended 8 – 9 weeks.  The Department of Agriculture is supposed to be in charge of regulation and licensing which should include regular inspections.  The reality is that the Department of Agriculture has their hands full with other issues and can’t be bothered to keep up with regular inspections.

Once a ‘breeder’ bitch reaches the age of 4 or 5 she is too old to produce and is killed.  Animals that get sick are left untreated to die or are simply killed.  Many of the dogs can’t walk; some can’t even stand from being in such tiny cages their entire life.  Grown dogs that come from puppy mills require special attention and years of rehabilitation to live a semi-normal life.

If you think I’m exaggerating I’m not.  This is real life hell on earth for the dogs that life in these places.

Puppy Mill Conditions.  Photo credit:  http://www.columbusdogconnection.com/PuppyMillBill.htm

Puppy Mill Conditions. Photo credit: http://www.columbusdogconnection.com/PuppyMillBill.htm

Puppy Mill conditions.  Photo credit:  http://www.columbusdogconnection.com/PuppyMillBill.htm

Puppy Mill conditions. Photo credit: http://www.columbusdogconnection.com/PuppyMillBill.htm

 

Your typical puppy purchaser (you or me) will never deal with a puppy mill directly.  They don’t allow just anyone onto the facility because they know that no sane, rational human would be okay with what they do.  Instead these puppies are specifically bred and sold in bulk to Pet Stores.

I worked for a vet clinic just after high school that was the contracted/preferred vet who took care of incoming puppies for a local mall’s pet store.  These puppies would arrive on a truck, packed in like any other commodity that gets shipped.  They would be filthy, dehydrated and scared from the long drive.  The condition of these puppies was so bad that the vet clinic had an isolation room that was dedicated to just these puppy mill puppies.  Many came in with fleas, needed IVs, baths, and a large majority had to be immediately treated for parvo.  It was absolutely heartbreaking.  We saw many of these pups get put to sleep because they were already beyond help at just 6 or 7 weeks of age.  There were a few puppies that ended up being ‘adopted’ by vet staff (I use the term ‘adopted here loosely as they were simply taken home and never went back to the pet store).  If a dog needed expensive medical care the Pet Store asked for them to be put to sleep.  The ones that could be saved were and became property of the vet clinic.  One vet tech had 3 dogs, all from puppies that the Pet Store wrote off.  The vet’s prime job was to provide health certificates for the puppies that would go home with the new puppy once the pet store found a buyer.  The kickback to the vet was that the pet store would required these new puppy purchasers to get a vet check with him.  He had a revolving door of business and new clientele that way.  I honestly don’t know how the man slept at night knowing he contributed to the sustainability of both puppy mills and pet stores.

Pet Stores

Pet stores are the sole reason that puppy mills continue to exist.   Pet stores that sell dogs and puppy mills are symbiotic; they can’t exist without each other.  Let me clarify I’m not saying all pet stores are bad, just pet stores that sell puppies.  Again, it’s business and the bottom line on any business is profit.

Most pet stores don’t broker directly with the puppy mill.  Instead the puppy mills use ‘dealers’ who masquerade as purebred breeders.  They serve as a middle man and a buffer for the truth of where these puppies come from.  However, pet stores should know better; no and I repeat, under no circumstances would any reputable breeder sell to a pet store.

I’ve always been shocked by the prices that pet store charge for these so-called purebred puppies.  More often than not they are not purebred dogs regardless of what the pet store tells you.  Even so, if it’s a purebred their prices are astronomical.  An individual could find a reputable breeder, pay less, and get a better puppy.

$1,000 for a mixed breed?!  $600?

$1,000 for a mixed breed?! $600?

$1600 pit bull puppy and over $3,000 for the bulldog.  Bulldog's can be expensive but this a $3k gamble.

Over a thousand for a pit bull puppy and over $3,000 for the bulldog. Bulldog’s can be expensive but this a $3k gamble.

Pet stores also make a crisp business on designer dogs; Cock-a-poo, Golden Doodle, Chavachon, Chesadore, Chi-a-poo, Malshi, Puggle, Malti-poo, Maltzer, Morkie, Peke Tzu, Mini Bulldog (which is apparently a Bulldog, Pug mix) or whatever crazy name they come up with.  A mixed breed, is a mixed breed, is a mixed breed.  These ‘designer dogs’ also come with a steep price tag.  Pet stores can get away with it because people actually pay it.  I cannot even wrap my mind around the fact that people are willing to sell out over a thousand dollars for a mixed breed dog! These are not designer breeds… there is no such thing.

A Shitzu-Yorkie mix for over $500.

A Shitzu-Yorkie mix for over $500.

A list that one Pet Store's website had for all their 'Hybrid Designer Breeds'.

A list that one Pet Store’s website had for all their ‘Hybrid Designer Breeds’.

One pet store I looked at listed over 34 puppies arriving in February alone.  Many of the puppies incoming are already neutered or spayed at less than 8 weeks of age.

Almost all the websites I looked at said they sell only puppies from licensed USDA breeders.  Licensed USDA breeder is code for ‘puppy mill’.  Anyone who sells an animal to a pet store must have a USDA license.  The only reason to get one is so you can sell to a pet store.  The license doesn’t ensure anything more than a requirement for food, water and shelter but doesn’t specify or interfere with the manner in which they are housed.  They puppy mills can literally cram in hundreds of dogs in a small space and so long as they provide food, water and shelter it’s perfectly acceptable.  When a pet store says, “We only sell puppies from USDA licensed breeders they have told you flat out they purchase and resell puppy mill puppies.

At ‘XX Pet Store’ we offer a wide variety of puppies and designer hybrid puppies.

The vast majority of our puppies come from USDA certified breeders. We also enjoy featuring puppies from small independent breeders where licensing is not required. All the breeders names and addresses are proudly displayed on each puppy’s cage! Many of our breeders offer AKC, ACA, or APR registration. Also, many of our puppies come with microchips in case your puppy were to be lost or stolen.

Or this one:

All ‘XY Pet Store’ is the only one of its kind in the industry to be regulated and licensed to sell puppies. This means we must follow the laws with our puppies and only use USDA licensed breeders. When it comes to choosing our breeders, we have our research and development team seek out the finest kennels and ensure that they have the same standards, work ethics and professionalism as ‘XY Pet Store’.

Remember above where I said that puppy mills use ‘brokers’.  That’s exactly who these places are dealing with and regardless of the words they use they’re still perpetuating puppy mills.

Many pet stores also tout that if they don’t currently have the breed you’re looking for they can get it!

We always strive to keep a large selection of Breeds of every size, from Chihuahua’s and Yorkshire Terrier’s to English Mastiff’s and Saint Bernards. We generally have the largest selction of breeds in the area. If we dont have the certain breed you are looking for we may be able to obtain from one of our breeders.

 I left the above quote as is without editing.

I’ve also seen a pet store offer 100% financing for their puppies.  If someone can’t afford a puppy they shouldn’t be buying one and offering financing is almost guaranteeing that the purchaser isn’t ready for a puppy.

I blocked out the pet store name.

I blocked out the pet store name.

So why do people buy from a pet store?

First – impulse.  You’re out and about, and would you just look at the super cute puppy in that store?  We should totally get one!  Let’s do it because if we don’t do it then it might not be there later.  Dresses are an impulse buy, puppies are not.

Second – Easy, no hassle purchase.  Pet stores don’t ask questions.  They aren’t going to screen prospective buyers.  If you have the money they have the puppy.

Third – ignorance.  Prospective puppy buyers just don’t know better.  They don’t realize there is an entire world of reputable breeders that will help them not only find a breed that fits their life but will be a partner with them for the life of the dog.  I’m stunned by the amount of people that don’t even know the first place to look for a puppy.  Between reputable breeders and rescues there should never be a reason to purchase a puppy from a pet store; never.

To recap, there is never a good reason to purchase a puppy from a backyard breeder, puppy mill or pet store; never.  Ignorance is not an excuse.  I didn’t not pull any punches here because I don’t think this is a topic we should be sugar coating.

In Part 4, I’ll be talking about Municipal Shelters vs. No-Kill Shelters

Stay tuned!

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Where Should I get a Puppy / Dog From? Part 1 – Overview

It’s that time of the year when dog owners across the U.S. sit glued to their TV for two days, eagerly awaiting to see who will be crowned “Best in Show”.  That’s right; it’s time for the 138th annual Westminster Dog Show on February 10th and 11th.  For those who haven’t heard, this year also features the 1st annual Masters Agility Championship which will air on Saturday February 8th.  For more details click here.

I love watching the Westminster dog show.  I also know the politics behind it and like I said earlier one of these days I’ll post about the ins and outs of conformation dog showing.  However, I thought that with Westminster right around the corner it would be a great time to tackle an issue I often see debated; where should you get a puppy/dog from?

In 2012 a Forbes contributor authored a great piece about the issue.  The article, “Westminster, ‘Show Dog,’ and the Battle Over Purebred Puppies” is still a pertinent read 2 years later.

In this article he summarizes much of my own feelings.  In fact, there is one quote in his article in which I swear I’ve written myself.  The quote comes from Josh Dean, author of “Show Dogs:  The Charmed Life and Trying Times of a Near-Perfect Purebred”.  I haven’t read the book but promptly placed it in my Amazon Wish List and will do a more thorough review once I’ve read it.  His quote succinctly sums up the reason that people get a purebred dog from a breeder even if it does make the issues seem very black and white:

“They know the breed so well that they know what the puppies are going to turn out to be: Size, temperament, lifespan, how much they’re going to shed,” explains Dean. “They don’t sugar coat it at all. They’re very honest, because their worst fear is having an owner who’s unhappy.  If you go to a pound, you have no idea what you’re going to end up with.”

The issue isn’t as simple as ‘black and white’.  He makes it sound like all breeders are honest.  Are all breeders honest?  The good ones are.  This doesn’t mean they all are.

However, the issue is much more complicated than simply ‘purebred’ vs. ‘rescue’.  The issue is very much all shades of grey.  After all, you can get a ‘purebred’ from a rescue.  Also, in today’s day you can sadly get a non-purebred from a ‘breeder’ (and I use the term ‘breeder’ loosely here); Goldendoodles, Labradoodles, or whatever other crazy combination people are ‘designing’ now-a-days.

What it comes down to is personal choice and personal preference.  In the end it’s about getting a dog that becomes a member of your family and gets treated with kindness and love until they pass over the rainbow bridge.

With that said, there are some types of ‘breeders’ or places to buy/adopt dogs that should absolutely be avoided at all costs.  I think we all know what those are and I’ll get into more detail later on.  I just wanted to make sure I throw it out there so that you know I don’t think just any place is okay to purchase / adopt your dog.

Over the next few posts I’m going to discuss the various avenues for getting a dog.  Like I said, the issue is extremely complicated and I want to make sure I give enough time and attention to each venue.  Below is a rough ‘pros and cons’ list of getting a dog from a breeder vs. a rescue.

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I just did what I said was a ‘no-no’ earlier; I made it black and white.  The issue isn’t.  The reason?  There are numerous types of ‘breeders’ where you can get a dog and there are numerous types of rescues.  Below are the various types of people / places you can purchase / adopt a dog / puppy from.

Types of breeders vs rescues

Each of these also has their own pros and cons as well.  However, I wanted to start off looking at the big picture.  Over the next few posts I am going to be discussing each type in much deeper detail.  As with all things you need to do your own research, for your own opinion and make an informed decision.  No one can make the decision for you as getting a dog is a serious decision.  What I hope to do is enlighten you and give you some information to get you thinking and to jump start your own research.

Below is when you can expect me to tackle each of the types of places / people you can get a dog/puppy.

Check back on Tuesday for Part 2.

I also wanted to give a huge shout out to Amy for suggesting the topic.  It’s a huge topic to undertake but well worth it.  I hope I do it justice Amy!

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Using the Right Equipment – Walking

We all know that choosing the right equipment for any job, regardless of the job, is integral to getting that job not only done but done right.  You wouldn’t walk into a gym to work out if they only had boulders on sticks to work with (unless you were desperate…or maybe if it was the new fad but one would hope and recommend you do research before doing anything related to fads).  You want to use what’s going to work for the job at hand.  You can’t make a cake if all you have is a cookie sheet.  Well, you might be able to but it probably wouldn’t be what you had in mind.  Oddly enough out of pure curiosity I looked up ‘cookie sheet cake’ on Google and there are recipes.  You learn something everyday!    Likewise, when choosing the type of equipment for your dog you want to choose the right thing for the specific job.

I’ve already talked quite a bit about certain types of equipment for walking at night and walking in cold weather.  You can expect more posts on equipment since it’s so essential to owning a happy, healthy, well-trained dog.

This time, I wanted to focus on walking.  Nothing fancy, just walking with your dog.

Blizzard is 80lbs of almost pure muscle.  He loves walking.  He’s very… well…he’s exuberant about his walks to say the least.  It’s not enjoyable though for him or I when he’s constantly being told to take it ‘easy’ and being corrected for it.  It’s frustrating for me because it just feels like one endless exercise in trying to get him to stop pulling.  So I tried a few things before I found something I think will work:

First up was a choker.  Needless to say, he didn’t respond to that at all and just ended up endlessly choking himself in an effort to forge ahead.  I quickly scrapped that idea as it was doing more harm than good.

Second up, a pinch collar.  Good, fast reaction especially when combined with tons of treats and praise.  However, it turned our walks into more of an exercise in precision and while precision is great for other types of training I didn’t need to have a ‘precision walker’.

So…what was I going to do?!  I couldn’t stop walking and I wanted it to be enjoyable for both him and I.  After doing some research I decided to give a Head Halter a try.  The behavioral theory behind it seemed sound and it makes sense that if you can control the head you’ll control the rest of the dog.  Growing up I trained horses and the idea was extremely similar the way a halter and lead worked on horses.

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I purchased the Head Halter two weeks ago.  I have high hopes for it.  I am able to get Blizzard to wear it for short periods and very brief walks and he’s a different dog completely.  He’s happy, no pulling and we can do what we set out to do; just walk.

Now, you might be asking yourself, why just short walks?

The answer:  He absolutely hates the halter and will only wear it for short periods.  After having it on for a bit he fights tooth and nail to get it off.  He will get on both back feet and simultaneously pull at it with both front paws in a fight to get it off his nose.

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Dogs need to get used to wearing the halter. It’s different.  It’s new.  It’s not something they are going to wear or accept easily.  You have to train your dog to wear it.

My Advice:  Tons of mini sessions that are no more than 5 minutes at a time.  Tons of treat.  You want to make wearing the halter a pleasant experience and you can do so by association.  Put the halter on.  Be prepared to give tons of reassurance and praise.  Give treats.  Take it off.  Play ball or a special game for a reward.  Put the halter on.  Tons of praise and reassurance.  Take it off and feed them.  Put the halter on.  Tons of praise and reassurance.  Take it off and go for a walk.  Do this multiple times per day increasing the time you make them wear it once their tolerance starts to grow.  It’s going to take time so be patient.  Don’t expect to pick this piece of training equipment and have a newly reformed walker.  Like all training with dogs it is going to take training, time, patience and perseverance.  Even though Blizzard is still getting used to it this little piece of equipment will make a ton of difference when we go walking once he’s trained to wear it.  I can see it even with our short walks it makes a ton of difference.  He slows down (but not at heel position), keeps his nose off the ground and focuses on the task at hand.

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Crappy picture. Happy dog (for short periods of time at least)!

As we continue to train, I’ll keep you updated on the progress and provide video with some more tips and tricks!

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We’ve all been there…

Nothing serious today, just a fun chuckle!

Today was a fairly warm day (40s).  Since we got hit with the polar vortex we’ve been under a ton of snow and I haven’t had a chance to clean up the yard.  Between the rain and warm weather though all of that snow has had a chance to start melting.  So, today was the day… I went out and cleaned.  And omg…

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And that was only what I could get to where the snow was gone!  It’s going to be the ‘poop-pocalypse’ when it all melts!  Ha.  You dog folks out there know it’s true.

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Night Time Walking

Walking Blizzard is something that’s really important and due to my schedule I need to do it either before work or after work.  Either way, it’s dark by the time I have an opportunity to walk him.  Like, really dark.  I have a black hat, black scarf, black coat and often wear black pants.  Not exactly the safest color to wear while walking.  

I could get reflective clothing and will eventually but with the holidays just walking up don’t have the money to outfit.  

I was at my most recent ‘hang out store’ awhile back (REI for those curious minds) and found a little product that has shed some light on the issue of night time walking (yes, yes, I just made a terrible pun).

Let me introduce you to ‘Spotlit” by Nite Ize.  It’s a powerful little LED light that attaches via a small carabiner to your dogs color or leash.  Easy on, easy off.  

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The light has two modes; steady and flashing.  It is water proof, light weight and has a battery life of roughly 20 hours with replaceable batteries.  I have the white LED but you can purchase it in a variety of different colors including a ‘disco’ color if you want to have a little fun on your night walks.  

At around 7 dollars, it’s extremely economical.  

Pros:

  1. The light is very bright.  I had considered purchasing a reflective collar for Blizzard but as my husband pointed out, any collar I’d put on him is lost in his fur.  If you have a short haired breed then a reflective collar might work well, but I needed something more.  
  2. It’s lightweight so even a small dog could comfortable handle this on their collar.
  3. The carabiner is easy to use so you can quickly take it on and off your dog.
  4. Inexpensive.
  5. Replaceable batteries.

Cons

  1. If you do a ton of walking at night each day you’ll be replacing batteries fairly often.
  2. To operate, you just push the light.  However, it is tough to push.  I can see how some folks might have a hard time operating it and certainly young children would struggle.
  3. Works better if you have a doubled ring color.  If I put it on a single ring collar it flips back with the leash and lights the back of the neck.  I want it to light the front so I recommend using a double ringed collar to keep it on the chest.

This is a mighty little light.  If you do night walking, hiking, camping or anything in which you want to add some visibility to your dog I highly recommend this device.  Plus, it turned Blizzard into “Iron Dog” so it gets extra cool points!

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As I said, you can get this at REI in store or online:  http://www.rei.com/product/811706/nite-ize-spotlit-led-carabiner-light

You can also go directly to the Nite Ize site:  http://www.niteize.com/product/SpotLit.asp

Happy Walking!

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Deciding on a breed

I have to admit, I have a thing for rare breed dogs.  I think there is just something amazing about their look and uniqueness that I love.  At the 2012 UKC Premier that is held every year in Kalamazoo there was no shortage of rare breed dogs.  I almost ended up with a rare herding breed from France called a Berger Picard.  I think they are the most adorable dogs ever!  However, after meeting the breed at the UKC show I realized that this wasn’t a breed I could bring into my busy home with small children.  Someday I really want one but now is not the time.

Berger Picard

Berger Picard. Taken at the 2012 UKC Premier Dog Show in Kalamazoo, MI

After seeing the Pondegos, I wanted one of those.  I sent my husband a text and told him it was going to be our next breed.  I watched as they showed and snapped pic after pic after pic and sent to my husband.  I was sold!  After researching the breed and talking with breeders I came quickly to the realization that this also wasn’t a breed for me.  Pondegos are considered a “primitive hunting” dog.  They are used in Mexico on hunts and despite being a “domesticated” dog are still quite “wild” for a domesticated dog.  They require someone who knows dogs and you truly have to be pack alpha with them.  Again, not a great breed for a family with young children.

Pondengo

Pondengo Grande. Taken at UKC 2012 Premier Dog Show in Kalamazoo, MI.

There are plenty of dogs that look “cute” or like a dog you’d want to own, but you need to be extremely careful about what the breed is actually like.  What were they bred for?  What is their general temperament?  Will they fit your lifestyle?  Are there any special needs you should be aware of? 

As with any dog, not just a rare breed, make sure you do your homework make sure you talk to multiple breeders.  I cannot emphasis this enough.  Do not talk to just one breeder.  Many tend to be partial to their breed.  The more responsible ones will be extremely straight forward with you and tell you the good and the bad traits of the breed.  And do not let a breeder ever tell you that their particular breed doesn’t have a bad trait.  If a breeder says that to you, run, don’t walk from that breeder.

Case in point.  We have a Golden Retriever.  Now, I love the breed (which goes against my whole rare breed thing I have going) and I think they are fantastic dogs, especially for families.  My youngest daughter Braewyn will crawl all over him, she can sit on him, pull his fur and pretty much use him as a jungle gym if she wanted.  He’s a mellow, perfect dog for my family and kids.  However, Golden Retrievers are a needy breed.  They want to be touched.  They want to be in your face.  They need you to pat attention to them.  They are high energy and need a yard to run and plenty of exercise.  They are smart!  Oh, and let’s not forget the hair.  Dog hair everywhere.  If you get a Golden, don’t ever expect to eat something that hasn’t been seasoned in their hair.  They really are a great breed, but they aren’t perfect and they aren’t for everyone.

Now, back to my rare breed love.  I realized that when falling in love with a dog based on their looks and written description, you really need to dig so much deeper into the breed.  The Berger Picard for example is (to me anyways) an awesome looking dog.  They are absolutely adorable.  However, when I met one for the first time it could care less about me.  He didn’t want me to pet him and actively ignored me.  Huh…I thought that maybe it was just that one dog.  I then met about 6 of them, all hanging out together.  There was even puppies!  Surely puppies will want love and attention.  Nope.  Ignored.  Someone’s dog even growled at me as I approached her after permission to do so.  When I started talking to Berger owners they all absolutely loved their dogs.  As I talked with them though they all gave hints to what they were really like.  They were protective.  They were aloof.  They were single owner dogs.  Not something I wanted in a family dog. 

I got lucky.  I was smart enough to research the breed.  I still want a Berger Picard someday.  Now is just not the time.

So remember to do your research and not just Internet research or one phone call to a breeder.  Deciding on a breed needs to be an informed choice.

Now, I know many of you might be saying, “Don’t buy from a breeder.  Breeders are bad.  Rescue.”  And while I agree, we have many many dogs that need a home I also don’t feel that a rescue dog is the right choice for everyone, nor do I feel that purebreed dogs should get the constant negative wrap they do.  But that, dear readers is for another time…

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