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Saturday, November 13 2010

Please indulge me for a moment while I climb up onto my soapbox:

In this age of political correctness, dog breeders are often colored as the enemy. National Animal Rights organizations tell us that breeders are the cause for the high number of dogs that end up in shelters each year. People who show dogs are painted as arrogant, irresponsible airheads with too much money who are out of touch with reality.

What they fail to tell us is that there is a giant, yawning cavern which separates the Responsible Breeder from the people who have a purebred dog and "want to get their money back out of her." After all, she has papers, why not "let her have a couple of litters?"  I argue that papers are meaningless unless you actually know what they say. If you don't know the dogs on those papers, they are useless. 

A Responsible Breeder knows the dogs in that pedigree.  They know their strengths and their weaknessness. They know their health problems and if they breed working dogs, they know their working ability.  Not everyone is breeding for the same goal, and that's why even among responsible breeders, controversy can arise.  But the singlemost important trait that separates the Responsible Breeder from the Irresponsible Breeder is this:

The Responsible Dog Breeder assumes responsibility for EVERY dog they have produced for that dog's ENTIRE life.

If you cannot do that, spay Fluffy. If you are not willing to devote countless hours on the phone and on the computer and driving across the country to pick up and deliver dogs that you bred four years ago who now no longer have a home because of death or divorce or a myriad of other tragedies that befall them, neuter Bruiser.

I have never bred a litter. This is not because I'm not willing to accept the responsiblity, but because when I'm ready for another dog, I can usually find a responsible breeder out there who produces exactly what I'm looking for at the time. I need working dogs, and I'm lazy, so I want to stack the deck in my favor.  Just because you can train and "shape" many behaviors, doesn't mean I want to have to do that. I'm too lazy for that now.  I research and buy a puppy that has been specifically bred for that job. 

But what if I'm not looking for a working dog or a puppy?  What if I'm looking for a pet?  What if I'm looking for an older dog? My mother faced this issue after cancer took her beloved Penny. She scoured ad after ad of rescue dogs looking for a companion. Days later she was overwhelmed and disillusioned.  We discussed it, and despite all the fluffy little-old-lady-dogs she was looking at, what she really wanted was another dog of the same breed as Penny. 

"Well then, that shouldn't be a problem," I said.  "Call the breeders." 

Because of Responsible Breeders, we can be reasonably certain that we can find a dog with the traits we desire. I'm going to go out on a limb here to state that if you properly research your chosen breed, and if there are enough Responsible Breeders in that breed, the buyer can be fairly confident that most of the dogs of the breed possess certain traits.

The key components are this:

1) if you properly RESEARCH the breed
2) and finding Responsible Breeders

For years my chosen breed has been the Belgian Tervuren. Since I am no longer doing Search & Rescue work, I am slowly moving to the Border Collie because I must have a working stock dog.  This is not to say that Belgian Tervuren cannot work stock, but the vast majority are not bred for it, and as I have stated, I am a lazy dog trainer.  I like for genetics to do most of the work for me.  But I shall always have a fondness for the Belgians and will probably always have one - which brings us back to my mother.

My mother has had two Belgian Tervuren and simply adores them. She doesn't need a dog that works, she needs a companion, but she wants a companion that has traits common to most Belgian Shepherds -

A) a near-fanatical devotion to the owner
b) a watch dog
c) the inability to allow the owner to go to the restroom without canine assistance

For the most part, not many Belgian Tervuren end up in a formal rescue situation.  The breed is rare enough, and the breed fanciers are responsible enough that most dogs needing rescue are fostered somewhere until an appropriate Forever Home can be found.

Many times the dogs aren't advertised except for word of mouth. That is why it is so important to do your research.  Meet the breeders. Get in contact with fanciers of your chosen breed. You can find them on the internet. If you don't see the dog you are searching for in the Rescue System, don't lose hope of finding it.  Contact a Responsible Breeder. Many have dogs that have been returned to them through no fault of the dog.  A good breeder is responsible enough to take that animal back and find it another home.  YOU could be that home.  These dogs are not called "rescues," they are called "re-homes."   

I've had three re-home Belgians. Both my Mom's Belgians were re-homes.  There is nothing wrong with these dogs! In fact, if you are looking for a particular breed as a companion, then you cannot go wrong with contacting a breeder for a re-home dog.

Because many formal rescue organizations have developed a thick, indifferent skin from years of dealing with the horrors and the absolute stupidity of the public around them, many potential good homes are lost when the grieving become intimidated and overwhelmed by the system.  And that's where Responsible Breeders and Fanciers of the Breed step in and shine.

As soon as my mother admitted that she really wanted another Belgian Tervuren, I contacted breeders and breed fanciers. I explained my mother's situation and described the home she could provide. And I asked the people who love this breed if anyone "knows of a dog who is in need of an old woman in need."

 The response was overwhelming.  Many people had dogs in their homes, waiting for a loving Forever Home. My mother's tears of grief turned to tears of gratitude. And she is now eagerly counting down the days until she receives her Special Dog. He will be her constant companion. He will want for nothing.

For years Responsible Dog Breeders have endured the stigma slapped upon them by politically correct rescue organizations who often look down their noses at anyone with an unaltered dog. But those of us who benefit from the time, tears, hopes and fears of Responsible Dog Breeders should take a moment to stand up and thank them.

I would personally like to thank:

Linda Newsome of Tacara Belgian Tervuren
Marilynn Reichel of Prelude's Belgian Tervuren
Elly McCarthy of Rockaway Belgian Tervuren

and now Melody Jensen of M.A.J.I.C. Belgian Tervuren & Groenendael for allowing Stone to become my Mother's Special Dog.

God bless you all!  Bless all the breeders and fanciers who are the unsung heroes for preserving and protecting the dogs and the genetics, so that future generations can be fairly certain they can find a dog with the traits they need - even if it's just making an old woman feel safe while she lies in bed with her dog and watches Jay Leno.  

I'm stepping down from my soapbox now . . .



Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:04 am   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email
I'm so happy for your mom and Stone. And I'm proud of the people who preserve the Terv for those of us who consider them our perfect companions and work mates.
Posted by Libbye on 11/13/2010 - 06:12 PM
Posted by Lynn (in Katy, Texas) on 11/13/2010 - 07:56 PM
This is the second time that your posts have gotten me a little misty. The first being tears of sadness on 11/2 when your post brought back memories of when we had to let my husband's heart dog pass. Her last action was to reach up to kiss him as we felt her leaving her body. This time was tears of happiness that your mom is going to be able to bring another of these special dogs into her home and her heart. Please extend our best wishes to your mom and to Stone. p.s. One of my Tervs was rehomed with us by Melody. :-)
Posted by Vicky on 11/13/2010 - 08:52 PM
I think you hit the nail on the head with this... "The Responsible Dog Breeder assumes responsibility for EVERY dog they have produced for that dog's ENTIRE life." It's the Tom/Dick/Harry/Mary/Susie that breed dogs to make money, that make the media stand up and get angry about pure bred dogs. I am all for breeding dogs for their wonderful qualities and the jobs they do. Breeding them so you can sell them on the side of the road makes me angry.
Posted by CeeCee on 11/16/2010 - 09:32 AM
Awww Vicky! Your message got me all weepy again! Oh my! There is nothing like the pure love of a good dog.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 11/16/2010 - 11:43 AM
Thank you for such an excellent post!! Get up on that soap box anytime! ;)
Posted by KrystalB on 11/16/2010 - 07:45 PM

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