Don’t fall for the marketing, part 2

Because I have…disparate interests, I got invited to a party by a friend involved in another hobby of mine, and a young woman asked how I knew the hostess, and what I did for a living.

I told her I was a dog groomer, and—I get this all the time—she s got all excited and shrieked, “I love dogs!  I had a dog when I was growing up.  I’m going to get a puppy!”

“Really?  What kind of puppy?  And why a puppy?”  I asked her.

“Why not?  Puppies are so cute!”

‘Yeah, they are, but are you away from home over 8 hours a day, like, for a job?”  I asked her.

“Of course,” she responded.

“Then, how are you going to housebreak a puppy?  A puppy can only barely hold urine for about 2 hours for every month of age it is.  So, say you get a 3 month old pup.    That means the pup can only hold urine for about 6 hours at most.  Are you going to get a crate to keep the pup in & hire a dog walker, or what?”

I could see the wheels turning.  “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that.  What do most people do?” she asked me.

“Well, some people hire a dog walker, or spend a lot of money sending a pup away for training for  months—which sort of counters the reason for getting a very young pup for bonding.  Smart people understand  and get an adult dog.  Others just don’t housebreak the pup, & then, when they are totally fed up, post it on Craigslist for ‘rehoming’  & say they don’t have time, or have to move, or have circumstances…& many of us have had the experience that if the dog is not totally housebroken by the age of 6 months, it may never be.”

“Really,” she responded, surprised.

“Really.  & what kind of dog?”

“Oh, I don’t know.  I think a cockapoo or a Pit Bull.  I mean, a dog’s a dog, just one that needs a home” she said.

“Ah, no, a dog is not just a dog. They are not all the same.  A Pit Bull is a terrier. Bred to be bold.  A cockapoo is a mix of 2 breeds.  Much different personality.  You don’t really know the  adult personality of a dog until it matures.  Just as an example, I’ve had either Afghan Hounds or Salukis for over 40 years. They are  pretty funny puppies, but  many times, when they get to be adults, they turn out to be much more aloof and dignified and much less playful than they were as puppies.  I don’t know if you know this, but there is a temperament test, the Voolhard Test that you can give to a litter of puppies to give you some idea of what the adult personality—at least in terms of  trainability, would be like.”

“Wow. I had no idea it’s that complicated,” she said, and laughed.  I know she was still thinking  she wanted just a dog.

“It’s not that it;s complicated. It’s that dog lovers know more about dogs than we did even 30 years ago. People who want to do stuff with a dog, like hunt, or do agility, use the information.  Unfortunately, people looking for a puppy  usually go to a pet shop and trust the sellers.  People who sell dogs to make money  don’t car about any of the information.  All they care about is if your credit card will be declined.  &  even veterinarians, if they are not dog fanciers, don’t know that much about the breeds or animal behavior.”

“So, how do I find the dog I want?”  she asked.

“I know this sounds strange, but call area dog grooming shops or kennels & ask if anyone  employed there either shows dogs or knows people who show dogs or do performance events. These days, many groomers have just gone to dog grooming school and really don’t know dogs, but the old timers do.  Talk to those groomers. Talk to dog trainers. They don’t all do performance, but they know other dog people.  It’s a network. You can google  ‘dog clubs’ or ‘obedience clubs’ in your area, or AKC professional dog handlers.   Many of them don’t breed dogs, but they know people who do, and they have experience with many breeds.  You can talk to hobby breeders who show dogs.

“Don’t fall for the marketing. Not every dog that looks cute & cuddly is cute. Very few of the small ones are cuddly.  The Maltese & Shih Tzu are cuddly, and an Italian Greyhound will get under the covers with you, but Schipperkes, Dachshunds, and most terriers are not cuddly dogs.   A  Mastiff—a huge breed, will  try to sit as close to you as possible.  & remember, you won’t be getting Lassie.   They all need training.  And I have to tell you, I have gotten several purebred dogs, several that turned out to be show quality, and  all were housebroken and obedience trained, from breed rescues.  & many of the shelters have great older dogs.  The shelters don’t necessarily get  bad dogs, sick dogs, or spoiled dogs.  They get dogs because owners die, people  lose jobs, and in many cases, they did not get a dog from a hobby breeder who would take a dog back,  but from a backyard breeder or a pet shop that really doesn’t love the dogs they sell.”

“You really know  a lot. Can I call you ? Like I said, I don’t think I am ready now, but I think you can help me find what I am looking for.”

Sure, but I  have to tell you, tha, especially in this economy, it may take months to find a puppy, but  virtually all the breed rescues will have dogs.”

Did I  stop  1 person from going to a pet store?  I sure hope…


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