Ever since I can remember there have been people out to make a quick buck off their dogs. As a child, back in the very early 60′s, I can remember my neighbour getting a “Cock-a-poo” and being told that it would be a recognized breed soon. Here we are 55 years later – and there is still no CKC or AKC recognition.
I’ve been accused of being a “dog snob” many times and having Nazi-like tendencies, only believing that the purest blood should be carried on. These people don’t realize that these were my first two dogs – 5 breeds in two bodies. I don’t hate mixed breeds dogs – I hate the irresponsible breeding practices that create them, and the sellers who bilk unsuspecting buyers out of thousands of dollars by giving them cute names.
In 1985 I got my first purebred dog, and so began my life with purebreds. I did not ‘get rid of” my girls – they both stayed with me until I lost them 3 months apart at 17 and 14.
After that I had my Irish Wolfhounds and Cardigan Welsh Corgis, and at that point my deep involvement began, as I stepped into the pool of exhibitors and later breeders. I was fortunate to have in my life people who wanted to do it “right” and taught me how to do it the same way.
Around 1995 I joined the on-line world – and that is when I realized just how much poor breeding goes on in North America. Whereas these substandard breeding practices had previously been limited to selling their “products” through pet stores, they now had full access to the pet buying public, and Search Engine Optimization to push their listings to the top of Google searches.
Horrified breeders have watched the proliferation of Doodles – everything being bred to poodles and given “cutesy” names to make them more marketable. And then came the corgi crosses – yes everything in the world being crossed with Corgis and marketed. No one gave a care to the possible health issues that would be faced by these new dwarfs – “Aren’t they CUTE?!?!” was the response from the Millenials. And as their narcissistic desires to own these Frankensteins increased, so did the number of greedy puppy producers who felt they could profit from their “I want it and I want it now!” mentality. Corgis were bred with anything and everything – in fact Buzzfeed did a page of the Top 25 Corgi Hybrids.
The other way that puppy producers profit is to come up with “unique” and “rare” colours, and sell them for even more money! Again the puppy producers came up with a way to make even more money – they began to cross Pembrokes with Blue Merle cardigans and to market “Blue Merle Pembrokes”. And as the craze for these off coloured dogs spread, the price of them went through the roof – sellers getting $3,000 for a blue merle puppy and $1,800 for their tri-coloured siblings.
Last year I set up the Facebook page and Website for “The Truth About Blue Merle Pembroke Welsh Corgis”. The Website has had about 18,000 views from approximately 8,500 unique visitors since its launch in July, and received many thank you emails from people who were totally unaware of the fraud that was being perpetuated.
As a result of this page, and the education imparted, not only have we managed to somewhat slow down the production of these puppies, but the Continental Kennel Club has also started to cancel the registrations on the dogs that were previously registered as Blue Merle Pems.
As National Purebred Dog Day is tomorrow, I am reflecting on why I am continuing to try and fight this battle. I try and steer people to the educational site whenever possible to prevent them from getting sucked in by the “cute” factor of the Blue Merle coloured Pembroke crosses, and to try to make people understand not only are they being taken advantage of, and paying unreasonable prices, but they are contributing to a growing health issue by creating a market for these producers to continue to fill.
So after being attacked again for trying to help, I was asked today why do I care where people’s dogs come from and why don’t I just stop. This made me think and take a closer look at my own motivations.
Those who attack me for trying to educate say that I must be worried about my own puppy sales. That could not be further from the truth. I have a waiting list for puppies that will take me quite a while to fill.
The reason I care is that since I got on the internet, first on Corgi-L and Irish Wolfhound-L, then on IRC Corgi & Wolfhound chat forums, and now onto Facebook, is that the responsible and ethical breeders are the ones who must provide the “clean up service” for the puppies produced by these back yard breeders.
My puppy buyers are told to call me – day or night – when they are worried about their dog. After 45 years with dogs I have seen a lot. I can advise them whether they are likely to be okay, or if they should be rushing to an emergency vet. I can give input on treatment options, and if they need me to be there, I will go along for that final vet visit.
However, those who purchase from BYB don’t have that option. Once their payment has cleared the seller is no longer interested in knowing about the puppy. So when they have a worry, a concern or a question, they go to public forums to ask questions. Some are simple questions that anyone can answer. But I can’t begin to total up the hours I have spent on email and chat and the telephone with people I don’t know and who I will most likely never meet, discussing problems from growth issues, to housebreaking, from food to diarrhea.
As a breeder I feel a moral obligation to help dogs in need whether I produce them or not. I just can’t turn my back on someone who is frantically looking for information or advice.
Another reason I care is because of dogs like “Possum”. On the website I created a page called “Why is it a Dangerous Practice”. On it I explained how breeding merle irresponsibly could result in double merle puppies with the resulting deafness and blindness issues. A short time ago Possum came into rescue – the product of breeding a blue merle cardigan with a Pembroke that “appeared” to be sable but carried a cryptic merle gene – and he fulfilled that prophecy being totally deaf and minimally sighted. You can read read about Possum’s journey on his Facebook page Possum – the double merle Corgi.
Another issue is the lack of rescue. Because the people producing these crossbreds don’t take back what they produce, when they don’t work out they get dumped in shelters. And then the rescues need to go and pull them out, get them vetted, rehabilitated and rehomed. The people running these rescue programs are once again usually volunteers from the purebred dog clubs, and the rescues are funded in part by purebred dog clubs.
I was told today that I could hurt people’s feelings by saying there are possible problems with their dogs if they aren’t purchased from reputable breeders. To me the issue is not about the buyers – they should have done their research – the issue is about saving dogs produced by disreputable breeders, and preventing more “Possums” from being brought into the world.
So that is why I care about where you got your dog from. I want you to buy a dog from a breeder who will give you support when you need it, and who cares about the quality of the puppies that they bring into the world. A preservationist breeder who cares about the history, and the reason that your breed was created, and who does their very best to honour and enhance the work of those who went before. A breeder who takes the time to educate themselves and to mentor others to do the same. A breeder who, through their membership in a breed specific club has helped to develop testing for genetic markers to eradicate possible genetic diseases. When a breeders motivation is solely to produce puppies for sale, without a care to producing quality, they are obviously going to be cutting corners on health testing, and on puppy care.
If you want to find good breeders, contact me! I would rather help you to find the right dog in the first place, then to be trying to help you in the middle of the night because your dog is suffering from some genetic malady. Not only will you most likely save money since some of these people charge ridiculous prices, but the money you save in vet bills over the life of the dog will be be even more savings. Doing the right thing benefits everyone, especially the dogs!