Sometimes I’m not politically correct. When I look for a dog I go to a reputable breeder. I research the lines and the breeder’s record. I get references. I test the puppies and then I select the new family member. Make no mistake, a dog entering my home is a family member with an individual personality, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. No dog is perfect, thank goodness, what fun is there in training that? The reason for the research is to get a dog that is going to fit with our family and be healthy. It hurts when that four-footed friend crosses the rainbow bridge. Getting a well-bred pup is not a guarantee but it is the best insurance to having that canine friend for a long and happy time.
According to my son’s friends, the only right place to get a dog is a shelter. They said buying from a breeder was politically incorrect and my son needed to re-educated me.
I know some SAR people prefer to get shelter dogs. They look for one that likes to chase a ball. They work with the dog for several weeks and decide if it has potential. If not, they place it in a good home and go back to the shelter. According to them 25% of these dogs will make it in search and rescue. They take great joy in saving a canine life so it can save human lives.
One of the reasons I do the upfront work and pay breeder prices is the success rate. On our team we have around an 85-90% success rate with dogs purchased from a breeder. I know how loyal a German Shepherd is, and I’ve seen the hurt in those big brown eyes when their handler doesn’t want anything to do with the dog. I can’t do that. If the dog doesn’t make it in search and rescue it will remain a pet in my home so a 25% success rate just doesn’t fit my life style.
One of my son’s friends watched my son work with Rosie and decided to show us the error of our politically incorrect ways. The friend, I’ll call Andy (not the real name), went to a shelter and picked up a big, two year old male mutt after “donating” $200 to the shelter. A few days into dog ownership, Andy took Mr. Mutt to the vet for shots and a checkup, $150 later Andy learned Mutt had parasites and had probably given them to Rosie. I was not thrilled.
After about ten days Mr. Mutt started to consider he had a territory. Andy’s parent bent down to get a close look at what appeared to be a scratch on Mutt only to get bit in the face. Andy started to do obedience with the dog. The mutt tried to bite Andy. When yelled at for climbing on the counter to steal food, Mr. Mutt responded with aggression and dangerous snaps.
Andy took the dog back to the shelter, reporting on what had happened. The shelter took Mr. Mutt back and suggested Andy needed to learn how to act around dogs so he stopped “provoking” bites. They plan on placing Mr. Mutt with a “good” home next time. Andy has $350 less in his bank account, no dog and an injured parent. We won’t talk about my vet bills from Mr. Mutt’s visit with his parasite or the danger the next adoptive owners are in.
I don’t think this isn’t a common occurrence. I am sure there are some wonderful shelters and sweet dogs in them through no fault of their own. I know my sister has had good results with fostered and rescued German Shepherds. It is what works for some people. I think Andy could have improved his odds of finding the right canine friend at the shelter if he had done some homework and researched the shelter and its’ policies. I don’t think all shelters should be considered a bad place to get a dog because this particular one was a problem but I do think there are other places to get a dog besides a shelter. For me, I guess I’ll stick with being politically incorrect and spend my money supporting ethical breeders.