More Dog stuff, Min. Schnauzers, The end of the AKC Gazette, and the economy

There is a difference  between (or I should say ‘among’) animal shelters, pounds, & rescues.  A big difference.  Not all dog ‘pounds’ are shelters.  Shelters are generally  not government connected, but may get some government funds. Rescues  usually are privately run—don’t deal with any government entity.  I’d like to say it’s all in a name, but  if you are supporting  humane care of animals, it pays to check out the agency’s policies.   There is a rumor spread among the constant animal sellers on the internet in the midwest that I work for an animal shelter, get pets for free, & RESELL them.  The original poster, a bona fide animal seller/broker, & proud of it, started this rumor to discredit me.  He didn’t have to give any real facts—or even make  one up.  I mean,  he could have  posted the shelter I ALLEGEDLY work at and get animals from.  I would never do this for a bunch of reasons. The biggest being—I could never afford this.   I can barely afford to keep 2 healthy dogs.  Plus, I also know that adding another animal to the mix changes the dynamic of my household, and would stress out  my dogs. Why do that if you love dogs?

Because there are people who ‘work for’ (I believe they actually volunteer, but  I don’t really care)  shelters who DO take dogs to resell (I believe the  logic is that they are finding homes for these animals, & that’s the most important thing—right?), the rumor is believable enough.  But the fact  is that there is really no money in selling adult dogs. None.

In the mid 1970’s (yeah, I go back a long way…) I coordinated rescue for the Afghan Hound Club of Greater Chicago.  Using common sense, I contacted all the animal shelters I knew of….& we averaged about 1 dog a week for over a year.  Yes…one Afghan Hound was either  turning up  abandoned in a shelter, or an owner who bought a dog from the breeder directly was asking to surrender the dog so they would not have to euthanize the dog.

Why didn’t they want the dogs?  Either it was because the dog was not housebroken (I’d have to tell people to not lie to me) & there were no dog walkers back then, next big reason was…the dog kept running away(it’s the Lassie syndrome—-people think they are getting Lassie, but Afghan Hounds aren’t going to rescue anybody), & finally, they didn’t want to groom the dog.

Most of the Afghans in shelters were runaways.  The problem was overwhelming, but, as the market became saturated with Afghan Hounds,  and breeders were having to take dogs back (because—after all—that is what ethical hobby breeders do…), the breeder either started euthanizing their own pet puppies  or  slowed down their breeding, or…BIG SOLUTION…left the fancy or became involved in another breed.

I learned a lot from the experience  and understood that it would be unlikely for me to ever be in a position to be an ethical hobby breeder.  I became really demoralized & disgusted,  left the club, because so many really good , honest breeders rallied to the defense of  a breeder who had become a puppy mill & was actually inhumane to her dogs.  As in all clubs, there was  almost a complete turnover in membership in about 10 years.  Attitudes changed…but it was too late for me.

When I first started learning to groom, I was lucky enough  to bathe dogs for one of the top hobby breeders of Miniature Schnauzers in the country: Dale Miller.  She usually had 8—10 breeding bitches in her kennel, and one stud dog.  She was—as virtually all  hobby breeders were—of the mindset that you bred your champion stud to  the pet bitches because if you didn’t breed to them, they would breed theiri bitch to a lesser quality dog.  This was the mindset until the 1970s, when congenital juvenile cataracts  were discovered in the breed.  Dogs were going blind at the age of 2 years old.  The hobby breeders wanted to weed this out :   What is the point of breeding a dog with gorgeous conformation if it is blind? So they  started doing test breeding & worked with geneticists.  It’s too complicated to go into in this blog…but my point is, they all stopped breeding those pet bitches that were not tested clear of CJC.

Because Dale was so well known as a breeder of good dogs, she always  had a waiting list for puppies.  However,  finally, her husband wanted a Wire-haired Fox Terrier.  They got one, showed her, she became a champion, & they bred her….& discovered there was virtually no market for Wires (not at the time, anyways).  They had the last puppy, a gorgeous male, very sweet, for over a year before they found him a home.  Meanwhile, the club started realizing that many people were getting puppy mill bred Schnauzers, and there was a need for rescue.  & why were Schnauzers going into rescue? Seems that —again—people has a vision of Lassie in their minds…they would spoil the dogs, the dogs would be barkers (people reward dogs for barking because they don’t know how to train a dog), & then they’d decide to move—what a great time to GET RID OF a problem dog.  & the fact is, there are very few good homes for adult dogs. Michelle Smith in the metro Chicago area did an outstanding job of coordinating rescue for a very long time, until she became ill…but it seems that most of the Schnauzers in rescue are coming from either puppy mills or backyard breeders…the people who didn’t make a big deal about taking the dog to obedience classes & being in control of their dogs.

This brings me to  the demise  of the magazine: Purebred Dogs: American Kennel Gazette.  The American Kennel Club has decided it is too expensive to continue to publish the magazine in print form…it will be available online.

Never mind that the average purebred dog fancier is over 55  and can barely use the internet.  Or, that it is a pain-in-the-neck to  read a magazine—or any lengthy document on a computer. They decided to continue to publish their  magazine aimed at the general nonfancy public, Family Dog, and just  disrespect the  fanciers who have kept the AKC going.  Never mind that there are about half a dozen magazines in competition with family dog for readers.

I grew up reading the Gazette,and I learned not only about dogs, but about research,  good breeding and training practices, the performance sports,  just so much pertaining to dogs that was written by real dog lovers…most of whom were not getting paid.

I know the economy is the reason  everyone  is affected…but  think about it:  if  the average person with a college education can no longer afford to own a home, and is tenuous in his security, who will  buy—and fancy  purebred dogs?

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