In today’s world, if you use these words, people look at you like you’re a harlot. Even some of our own peers call us names like “puppy mill” or “backyard breeder”. If we reply that we are a “hobby breeder,” someone immediately asks how we can consider living creatures a hobby. Some of us try the word “fancier”. We fool no one.
The most pathetic response to the question is when we call ourselves “responsible breeders.” Responsible to whom? Who defines “responsible” and “irresponsible?” Some bureaucrat? A politician? Animal rights cretins who say there is no such thing as a responsible breeder? Animal rights fanatics would rather kill all animals than see someone love them. In fact, that’s their plan.
If we say we are not breeders, it makes us “pet hoarders.” We are tarred as mentally ill people in need of psychotherapy. The entire language about dog ownership has been hijacked by the rhetoric of the animal rights movement.
The worst part is that we have allowed it to happen. We have people in our midst that embrace this movement and try to beat everyone else down by trying to make us ashamed of the role we play. You know the ones I’m talking about. You see them on different “lists” and “forums” always beating people up and putting them down for their efforts to breed that always elusive “perfect specimen”. Their favorite slams are “How many dogs do you have?” or “How many litters do you produce a year?”. They boast of only breeding one litter “just to have something to show” and “every puppy in the litter finished their championship”. But then you find that these “perfect specimens” they produced had to be shown by politically correct professional handlers to very political Judges to accumulate those championship points. And you see these “Champions” skipping around the ring on three legs or hopping like bunny rabbits because their hips and legs can’t carry them. This is NOT dog breeding, folks.
I am sick and tired of watching dog owners constantly apologize for who we are and what we do. Let me state clearly and for the record: I am a dog breeder. I breed dogs. I raise puppies. I like it. I’m very proud of it. And if you don’t like it, you are free to take a flying leap. I don’t care what you think of me or what I do.
I raise Yorkshire Terriers! I breed several litters a year. I wish I could raise more puppies, but can’t figure out how to do it without driving myself into bankruptcy.
My dogs work for a living, just like I do. They have to be good at their jobs, just like I do. If they aren’t good at their jobs, I don’t keep them and I certainly don’t breed them.
They are show dogs, and they have to be able to perform to a very demanding standard of excellence to be worthy of breeding. They have to meet the exacting standard of championship quality performance in the toughest competition. They acquire their wins on their own merit by owner/handlers while pitted against professional handlers and political judges.
They are professional athletes.
Most of them do not make the cut. Those dogs make wonderful companions or family members.
On occasion, I have a puppy that has a serious flaw. I don’t sell those puppies, even though they would make many people very happy. I give them away free to good homes, and the definition of a good home is mine because it’s my puppy. I own it. You don’t.
My responsibility is to the puppy. It is not to you and it’s not to some breed club or gelatinous glob called “society”. I consider myself to be personally responsible for every puppy I raise, from birth until the day it dies. It always has a home in my kennel, if it’s new owner can’t keep it or no longer wants it. That’s a contract written in blood between the puppy and me. It’s mine! I made it!!
By now I assume I’ve pushed all of the buttons of the animal rights crazies and the e-mail lists slashers. They are calling me an exploiter of animals. They are saying that I ruthlessly cull and manipulate the genetics of my dogs. They say that I make the exploited poor beasts work for a living and live up to impossible standards. They say that I sell them for money and exploit them for personal gain.
I PLEAD “GUILTY” TO ALL OF THE CHARGES. KNOW WHAT ELSE? I DON’T FEEL GUILTY, NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT. I DO IT. I LIKE IT. I FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT.
Now I will speak in my own defense– as a dog breeder.
I happen to love dogs. I love being around them. I love working with them. I love watching a puppy grow up and discover its potential. I love having the privilege of experiencing a truly great dog in it’s prime. I love sharing supper with my dogs, wrestling with puppies, and sacking out with them on the couch. I lose sleep when they get sick, and work myself unmercifully to care for them. I spend almost all the money I have on them, and some money I don’t have. My heart breaks when they grow old and die. I have a dozen lifetimes worth of beautiful memories.
My life is filled with love and joy and beauty, and I owe most of it to my dogs. They have helped to keep me sane when sanity was not a given. They have given me courage on the days when all I wanted to do was die down and quit. They have given me strength to endure on the days when all I wanted to do was run away and hide.
I owe them my life.
The animal rights folk are right. To make the cut, my breeding dogs have had to live up to the most exacting possible standards and pass the most strenuous tests.
I am proud of doing that!
The result is that the vast majority of people who buy a puppy from me love it. When I sell a puppy, chances are that it has found a home for the rest of its life. The puppy will have a great chance of leading a wonderful life. I produce puppies that make people happy to own them and want to keep them. That’s my job as a breeder.
I have done this through rigorous selection. My puppies today are the result of 32 years of my stubborn insistence about never breeding a dog that does not have a wonderful disposition, perfect conformation, great intelligence, exceptional natural ability, breathtaking style and that mysterious ingredient called genius.
Every puppy born in my kennel has several generations of my own dogs in its pedigree. All of those ancestors possess a high level of each of those desirable traits. I have raised, trained and grown old with every dog listed in several generations of each puppy’s pedigree.
Simply put, my puppies today are a lot nicer than my puppies of 18 years ago. Today, there is a much higher percentage of good ones, a much lower percentage of deficient ones, a much higher average of good qualities, and a much higher percentage of true greatness emerging from my kennel today.
That’s what it means to be a dog breeder. It makes for happier dogs. It makes for dogs that lead better lives, find permanent families and homes, and get to experience love in many forms.
Yes, I am very proud of being a breeder. I did that. They make me smile a lot. I think I make them smile, too. But there’s always those whackos that say I am doing it for the money….. They accuse me of exploiting animals for profit. YES Every chance I get. I am very happy when I am able to sell a puppy for cold, hard cash. It makes me feel good because it shows me that someone appreciates the work I am doing. It makes me feel good because I have earned it and earned it honestly.
My only regret is that I have not made more money as a breeder. With all of the sacrifices I have made and the hard work, I should be rolling in money.
Alas, I am not.
It has been a long time since I actually made money on a litter of puppies. Usually, I barely break even.
For every puppy I sell, there is another that I keep to evaluate, and a couple of other ones that I am keeping for at least a couple of years to evaluate for worthiness to breed. Then there are dogs in competition, and that costs bushels of money, not to mention old dogs that are retired and have a home here until they die of old age. Nearly half of my kennel are old dogs that are elderly and retired, and it takes a lot of money to care for them.
And it takes money for dog food, supplies, veterinary bills, kennel repairs, vehicle use for transporting to and from shows, advertising, internet, phone bills, and four pairs of good boots a year. It takes money. Lots of money. Bundles of money.
Oh, Lord, please help me to sell some more puppies!!!
Besides, what’s wrong with making money? It is a rather fundamental American value. Making money is something to be proud of, as long as it’s done honestly.
It’s time for every dog owner and breeder to stand up proudly and be counted.
Each one of you has done far more to enhance the quality of life of both people and dogs than all these other animal rights activists and forum/e-mail list slashers put together.
So stand up and shout it to the rooftops! I’M A DOG BREEDER!! I’M PROUD OF IT AND I’M GOOD AT IT!!