Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Best in Show

Recently I was asked to speak about Dog Shows, Pure Bred dogs and...adoption....? I know, they don't seem to go together, at least not at first.
Every year, 'dog show season' brings it's champions, and we see a rise in popularity of whichever breed finds itself in the winners circle.

So when I was asked to to a spot on a national morning show regarding the adoption of pure bred dogs, I was intrigued.

The thing is, buying a dog should never be an option. No matter what breed of dog people think they want, one can always be found, waiting in a shelter or rescue.

But let's back up. The first question people need to ask themselves is: "Why do I want this particular breed?" Is it because it is the type of dog that the 'it' celebrity has? Did this breed just star in a movie? Or win Best in show?

The next question you need to ask is: "What do I really know about this breed?" If the only answer is: "They're cute", then further research will be needed. People need to evaluate their lifestyles. Do they want a high energy or low energy dog? How much time do they have to spend with the dog? Will they get a puppy or an adult? People looking to get a dog too often go by looks alone and not by traits or personality.

I can't tell you how many Border Collies are surrendered to shelters or put down due to their 'destructive behavior'. However, when one looks at the facts, they find that the poor dogs were kept in crates for 9 hours a day and then not properly exercised or stimulated on top of it. Border Collies are extremely athletic and intelligent, but people get them because: "Oh, look he has blue eyes!"

Once one has done the research, and a breed has been identified, the question should be raised: What about a mix of this breed? A dog who is MOSTLY German Shepherd or almost all Chow. These dogs can give you the same benefits of the breed but with less health issues.

Finally, when looking for a new friend, don't count out your local shelter or County facility. 25-30% of all dogs in shelters are pure breeds. Out of the 55 dogs we had here last week, 18 of them were a pure breed.

If a specific breed cannot be found at the local shelter, try a breed specific rescue. EVERY breed has one. PetFinder.com will find one for you! Just enter your zip code and breed and they will find you a match!

And finally, just because that show dog looks like such a wonderfully behaved canine, doesn't mean that yours will be. Those dogs are worked with from birth to become a champion. Their owners lively hood revolves around them.

For the rest of us, our dogs should be a member of the family, a best friend and a constant companion. Sure they may never win a trophy, but honestly, that's just more to dust anyway.