So You’re Angry Because I Turned You Down

by Dori Stadler, Touchtone Shelties

Yes, you are angry, angry at me! Why? Well, you just told me about, or showed me, the wonderful Sheltie you bought from a pet shop, and you wanted a puppy of his.

I turned you down.

You are now thinking that I am one of those, you know, one of those who want to keep others like you from having puppies so I can keep all the money from puppy sales to myself. Or maybe I’m just stuck-up. Hmmm?

Well, maybe to you I seem stuck-up. But just for a little while, come walk in my shoes....

You called on Monday. After I got off the phone with you, my girlfriend called. She has to put down her two-year-old German Shepherd. She found out that the dog has hip dysplasia. The couple she got the dog from didn’t test for this terrible crippling disease because their two dogs are just pets...and they didn’t really plan on showing them....

Tuesday, the veterinarian called. He asked me to explain to him again about the Sheltie skin syndrome disease, the one that rots away the skin of the living animal, because he just got in a patient who bought a puppy from the local pet store and he thinks this puppy has the disease. The veterinarian knows that I have seen this disease before and have managed to keep my breeding away from it.

Wednesday, a young fellow came to my Obedience class. The Boxer that he bought has a very nasty~ temperament. He loves the dog, but the dog has bitten two~ people already; one more bite and the dog must be destroyed, according to our county laws. I have to tell him that I can’t change a temperament if it’s born in...and he should go back to the breeders of his dog and ask for help.~ His eyes got watery, and he told me he can’t go back to the breeders, for he doesn’t know who they are—he bought his dog at a pet shop....

Thursday, I talked to a gentleman who bought one of my puppies. He wanted to tell me that the puppy he bought is exactly what I said he would be, so different from his first Sheltie, who is uncontrollable.  He asked if I would have another litter soon, as he might be interested...if he can find somebody to give a home to his first Sheltie.

Friday, my friend from the Humane Society called to tell me about a puppy mill they finally closed. She told me that only half the breeds had to be put down, suffering from a number of inherited problems and serious diseases.

Saturday and Sunday were spent by the whelping box of one of my bitches. As I look at the five healthy, squirming puppies, I realize that only one may be a show dog, meet the standards that have been set...and the rest? Well, maybe I can regroup a little of the thousand or so dollars I have spent making sure that this litter was born healthy, free of disease, and genetically sound, by selling them as pets. And I know that most of the people will object to the neuter/spay contract I use, but, knowing in my heart that these puppies—which can’t contribute to the betterment of the breed—will not be bred over and over until they can breed no more, and will be able to enjoy life as a loved friend...well, that’s what I want. To know that they, or their offspring, will never end up in the Humane Society’s gas tanks, or left wandering on some country road to be hit by a car or starve to death, is my joy.

Then you come along. Your dog may be sweet, may look okay, but he came from a pet shop...the same pet shop that the puppy with the skin disease came from...and you want a puppy from him. A PUPPY! What about the other four or five in the litter? What’s to become of them? You’ve never seen your dog’s parents, you don’t know if there are any inherited diseases in his background that a breeding might double, and you can’t guarantee the puppies’ temperaments without knowing the temperaments behind him! Would you be willing to take the chance? Probably not.

Neither would I. Nor would anyone who has seen the damage to people and pets alike that breeding with ignorance of the Standards—and the resulting problems—can bring. So I turned you down. So go ahead, blame me. Say I’m stuck-up. But I know I may have saved many a puppy from the horror that awaits him in this world if he’s unwanted. I only hope that someday you will understand.