I am a huge advocate for adopting shelter and rescue pets. But alas, I know there are at least a few people out there whose minds will not be changed no matter how long I stand on this soap box. So It's important for you folks to know what to look for in those few quality breeders out there. I am clearly biased and I will just get that out of the way right now. I have been on the rescue side of things since day one. All the pets I have had in my adulthood have been adopted. All of my adopted pets have given me unconditional love, and much more. I most certainly have loved them back. I have been a volunteer for rescues and shelters. I have known of breeders handing over packs of puppies and adult dogs to rescues because they couldn't sell them and didn't want to or couldn't afford to care for them. I know of the wrath of puppy mills and the havoc reeked on the lives of animals and people touched by those filthy places. I have overheard young people at parties, calling themselves breeders and sharing phone pictures of the puppies they bred and hearing young women coo and ask how much. I know it doesn't take much to say the words "I'm a breeder" and there is no contract protecting the lives of the animals involved. Very clearly I am biased. Being biased, doesn't mean that I am wrong. I am not wrong to advocate adoption. Neither am I wrong in educating you about the responsibility of finding a good breeder if you are set on that path.
Here are some things
* Talk to people in person. Don't trust newspaper and online ads. It's easy enough to make a website or place a newspaper ad. What isn't easy is developing a good reputation with customers, researching blood lines, doing vet checks, providing proof through documentation of health and providing appropriate socialization for dogs and puppies. (But a good breeder will do all of these things!)
* See the dogs. See the puppies and both parents. Spend time with the puppies AND the parents. The parents should be friendly to people, if they are not, that can be a trait passed on to the puppies. Are the personalities of the parents what you desire in your dog?
*See the space where the pups are raised. Are they in a shed or a barn closed off from people? Uh oh! The dogs and puppies should be spending time with people from day 1. Ask the breeder how they have managed this feat. And do your own research about puppy socialization.
*Ask for proof of the health of the parent dogs. A good breeder will absolutely have this.
*Is the breeder asking anything of you? Are they trying to interview you to see if you are a good home? Or are they trying to sell you a dog? If the second is true, walk away. Good breeders care deeply about the dogs they breed and will want you to agree to return the dog to them if ever you are unable to care for it.
I have not yet ever met a breeder I could recommend to you. Not for any breed of dog. Perhaps I am just running in the wrong circles. If you have a recommendation I would love to hear it and please put in your comment, why you think they are so great.
To be fair I will share with you that I have only 1 recommendation for a dog rescue at this time. You can see a link to their site featured on the side bar of this blog. As much as I would love to recommend 1000 rescues across the country, and I'm sure there are as many and more great ones, I have only known the inter-workings of 1 and still felt compelled to recommend adoptions from them. That said, here are some things to look for in a rescue.
*While fostering is not always possible it is the best possible place for an adoptable dog to be. A foster home can help ease a dog through the transition of re-homing.
* Talk to the people. Talk to the foster home or adoption coordinator and ask as many questions as you would like. Again, the rescue group should be doing the best they can to find the best home for the dog, NOT trying to sell you on the dog.
*Ask lots of questions. What sort of history can the rescue provide for you? They may say "We found him in a field 2 weeks ago" and that's all the history they have. So start with 2 weeks ago. Has he seen the vet? How is he around new people? How often does he bark? etc. etc.
*Rescue groups and shelters should be tending to any and all veterinary needs of the animal in there care. After adoption, you should also take your new dog to visit the vet.
Fostering to adopt is also an option with some groups. Before you consider this ask the group what they would do if you could no longer care for the dog. While a foster home should be understanding that someone could not arrive at your door quick snap because Fluffy peed on your rug (something a proper foster home should be working on!) a rescue group should also be understanding if a dog is not the right fit for a home and do whatever they can to assist that dog in finding a more appropriate place.
Last week while I was at work a co-worker confided in me that she had been offered a promotion. She would get a better schedule and a pay raise.
"But I'm worried my quality of care for each individual will go down." She said.
"It will." I bluntly replied.
As I explained to my coworker, you may be able to do more good by helping more individuals. When that happens the quality of care you can personally provide to an individual will diminish at some level. Spreading the wealth, gives less to an individual. With dogs, you can foster one and do a great job, or maybe you can foster 2 dogs and do a great job. But at some level your quality of care will go down. If this was not true, and money grew on trees I would have 20 dogs and other animals as well. Beware of the bedraggled yes man who like to sell you their burden.
For goodness sake! Most people I have run into in the world of dogs mean to do the right thing by dogs always and forever.So instead of ending this post feeling like evil doggy doers are around every corner lets celebrate dogs with some silly, informative, and touching videos of our furry friends.
Oh geez! Dogs are special creatures.
Check out this link to the recent PBS special NATURE : Dogs That Changed the World . There is a really great intro video with some really neat dog footage that is sure to get you interested in the show.
And in case you need one more, check out this snip-it of Comet when I brought home a new ball for him to play with.