“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
When you walk through our front door these days our house resembles a doggy day care center. Which, when you think about it, is absolutely true.
Four weeks ago Abby Rose joined our family, bringing us all joy after a month of illness and two giant losses. Of course Abby can never replace our Duffy and Ruby. What she did do was bring us pure, innocent love wrapped up in one busy little furry Lhasa body.
As I’ve watched Abby these past few weeks I’ve been amazed how different her behavior is from what I saw with my Ruby when she was a puppy. Ruby, as many of you know, was a Tibetan Terrier we had to euthanize a month ago due to genetic condition called neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinoses (NCL). What I see daily makes it important to me to help educate people before they bring a puppy or dog into their family.
I had so much help from other Tibetan Terrier owners and breeders when I reached out for help with Ruby. Many people spent hours with me as I tried to figure out what was wrong with my beautiful dog. NCL is a horrible disease and one I’d never heard of until I started asking questions. As things became clear, I had many loving people taking care of me while I awaited the confirming DNA tests.
One very special owner/breeder, Susan Hettinger, a lady involved with dogs since 1971, shared the following list of questions and advice when I asked her what she wished people knew before buying a puppy/dog. Until I talked with other owners and breeders, I didn’t realize I should be asking questions. I was surprised how much breeders knew about other breeders. Don’t be fooled by well run websites. When the time comes to get serious about getting a puppy, don’t hesitate to ask serious questions.
Question to ask your puppy seller:
1. Why did you breed this litter?
2. Do you have a pedigree for me to look at?
3. How often do you inbreed in your pedigrees?
4. What genetic testing / screening do you perform?
5. What are the results of those tests?
6. Are you a member of your parent breed club?
7. What is your source of continuing education with respect to your breed?
8. What do you do to socialize your puppies?
9. Do you do any performance training (obedience, agility, etc.)
10. How long do your dogs live? What are the ages of the dogs you have?
11. Are you dealing with any health issues?
12. What health guarantees do you offer?
13. What are your expectations of me as a buyer?
14. Which puppy are you keeping, and why?
15. What can you tell me about breed history, and breed standard?
16. Do have references from buyers or other breeders?
In order to know if the breeder’s answers are responsible, the buyer has to do THEIR homework. You need to check out OFA, and the Parent Club website. Puppies should be individually screened for temperment. Anyone that tells you they have never had health issues, is dishonest. If they are not keeping a puppy, they are breeding for money, not to advance their bloodlines for the breed. If they can’t talk to you about breed history, breed standard, how to socialize, care for, your puppy etc., they may not be responsible. For example, I have a 17 page booklet, I WROTE, to advise buyers, and it lists education resources. I advise them that I attend annual education seminars at my Parent Club’s National Specialty Week. I would take back, any puppy / dog that for whatever reason could not stay with you. (I once had a 14 year old dog returned to me, when the owner had to go into a nursing home). I would replace any puppy that was found to be ill in any way.
I was so pleased Susan shared her knowledge with me so I could pass it on to others. My goal is to educate others so we can put bad breeders out of business. Knowledge is powerful and we need to share it whenever and however we can!
“I, too, had set out to be remembered. I had wanted to create something permanent in my life- some proof that everything in its way mattered, that working hard mattered, that feeling things mattered, that even sadness and loss mattered, because it was all part of something that would live on. But I had also come to recognize that not everything needs to be durable. the lesson we have yet to learn from dogs, that could sustain us, is that having no apprehension of the past or future is not limiting but liberating. Rin Tin Tin did not need to be remembered in order to be happy; for him, it was always enough to have that instant when the sun was soft, when the ball was tossed and caught, when the beloved rubber doll was squeaked. Such a moment was complete in itself, pure and sufficient.”