Breed Your Dog?
5 x Oops!
Growing up we had Shetland Sheepdogs. I had one called Bonnie and I showed her in both confirmation and obedience. I loved that little dog, my first, and she was with me for thirteen years. She had three litters and the only part of that I was really involved in was keeping them clean, feeding and playing with them. I have had a number of dogs since. Three and a half years ago we bought a male Papillon whom we called Pippin. He was and is an absolute delight and a story unto himself. A year and a half ago we bought an older female Papillonpuppy and we called her Karma. Our family had been through a number of trials and tribulations and the thought of saying Good Karma and Bad Karma amused me (one’s humor can get a little “black” when one has been through trials and tribulations).
To cut to the proverbial chase, while I had experienced the delight of raising a my husband had not and he wanted Karma to have a litter before we got her fixed. No harm in that, she’d make a good mum and Papillon's have small litters. Papillon’s are super little dogs being ranked number one in intelligence in the toy breeds and number six overall, beautiful to look at, small and bright – who wouldn’t want one? In a lapse of attention on our part Pippin and Karma “got together” sooner than we had planned on. No harm done, we were going to breed them anyway but would have preferred a litter that didn’t arrive in the middle of winter – oh well! We knew from our own experience in acquiring Pippin and Karma that Papillons are not as easy to come by as many other breeds are. They have been, in fact, called the toy breeders’ best kept secret and as a result they haven’t “enjoyed” the popularity that makes them fodder for puppy mills. In short, responsible breeders breeders have a reputation for being just that, responsible. The word, responsible, turns out to be a very important word when it comes to making the decision to breed one’s pet(s).
The other “fact” that lent itself to our decision to breed our two pets was that Papillons have small litters, two to three puppies. On December 13, 2009 Karma presented us with three healthy Pappy Pups who were born between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. It was a flurry of cutting cords, and cleaning up and drying off, and keeping the puppieswarm. I was running back and forth from the whelping box to my computer where I had bookmarked a list of instructions just to reassure myself that we were doing all that needed to be done. Once the puppies arrived the magnitude of what we had allowed to happen really hit me – the responsibility for not only Karma’s well-being but also three new little lives. It was after midnight and I was posting pictures of the puppies arrival so that my children and friends could see them the next morning when I got a frantic call from my husband who was already in bed. There was another puppy on the way……and then another. Five puppies, five lives entrusted to us and dependent upon us.
It is work to raise a healthy litter of puppies, definitely not without its rewards but work nonetheless. But the hardest part of all turned out to be the responsibility of finding good and forever homes for them. Not long after our litter arrived I heard on the news that Chihuahuas were being taken in at shelters in California on the average of three hundred and eight-five dogs a month – A MONTH! Airlines were actually flying the homeless dogs to the eastern states for free in an attempt to alleviate the loads on the shelters. California alone was taking in this number of one toy breed alone. That was my first inkling that a very vital piece of information had been left out of our planning to breed our dogs.
Finding Happy Pappy Homes
It had been over forty years since my Shetland Sheepdog had her first litter and I was in for a real eye-opener about how much things had changed since then. Back in the day people had either purebred dogs or mutts – period. When I started researching about finding good homes for our puppies, research a sane person would have done before they made the decision to breed their dog, I came across “breed” names I had never heard before, concocted names of blended this that and the other thing. No longer were these this and that dogs referred to as mutts. Instead they had some co-joined name, blending, or anagram of whatever was thrown into the pot. And, there were thousands of them,not just puppies looking for homes but grown dogs whose people for one reason for another did not want them anymore. There were huge pet warehouses (see footnote) wherein all manner of purebred puppies and crossed puppies and blended puppies were for sale. There were people who had twelve week old puppies that were already trying to find new homes for the pups because “they didn’t have time for them anymore” (What, you didn’t know that a month ago?).
If the responsibility of ensuring that the puppies were all nursing and getting enough to eat, shots, worming, vet checks, keeping them clean wasn’t and reassuring myself they were all breathing wasn’t stressful enough – finding good homes for them all just about put me over the edge. I had some sleepless nights. I posted their pictures on the internet and I got a few emails. I thought I would be very lucky to place them all but then just placing them wasn’t good enough. They had to go to good and stable homes with people that were willing and able to take on a commitment that lasted the lifetime of their dog.
One woman who emailed me seemed like a perfect match. She already had a Papillon, a female that she had purchased for her daughter two years ago and she was looking for a companion. We emailed back and forth for about a month before she was able to come and see the puppies. I was excited, one down, four to go, but, when she got here she started talking and talking and talking about all the dogs she had bred, raised and fostered. And then something fell out of her mouth that killed the deal for me. In addition to the female she already had, she told me that she had “part ownership” in another Papillon female. She was interested in one of our male puppies – she planned on breeding him with the two females. By this time I knew that all I would be contributing to if I sold her the pup she had her eye on is more puppies being cast out into a world already teeming with puppies – especially toy breed puppies. I had also discovered that very few people even know what a Papillon is and that makes them difficult to place. People who do know what they are go to an established and reputable breeder to get their dog, period. I had received several emails from people asking me for information on the breed. With all the information available at the click of a mouse I should think one might delve into that a tad before looking at a specific breed. All the dogs I have owned in my life have been purebred and I have always known the attributes and abilities of the breed before I made my purchase. The beauty of buying a purebred dog is that each breed has specific characteristics that will either suit or not suit your life style and temperament and you know that going in. So…..I killed the deal. The woman was extremely irate with me but I wasn’t looking to make a new friend I was looking for the best possible home for the pup. One in which he would be a family’s much loved pet!
Home At Last
Two of the puppies I did sell from internet ads but I struck up a relationship with the potential owner weeks before the puppies would be ready to go to their new homes. I researched what to look for in a new pet owner, questions to ask, things to watch for. Both parties visited “their” pup a number of times before they took them home and I am extremely confident that both pups – two females – have been well-placed. This left me with three males to find owners for and two of these homes came about by chance. My youngest daughter was working at the local A&W and she took one of the males in to show her co-workers. An older lady was there having lunch with a male friend and she instantly fell in love, I mean deeply in love with the little guy. My daughter gave the woman our phone number and the next day I got a call. It turns out this woman and I had Shetland Sheepdogs at the same time and both of us were showing our dogs in obedience. We spent a good hour and a half on the phone just reminiscing about people that we both knew. This lady was ideal and when Dexter, as she named him, left with her at ten weeks old it is hard to say which of the two was happiest.
Then, about a two weeks later my husband and I went to the A&W for a burger and we had two of the male puppies in the car with us. I had gone out to the car to check on the sleeping brothers when a woman walked by the car on her way into “the dub”. She spied the puppies and that was it – she was a goner. At her request I gave her my phone number and the phone was already ringing as we arrived home from the restaurant. Smitten she was and again it was mutual so now Bailey has a wonderful new home too.
So that leaves puppy number five. He too found a wonderful home with wonderful
people who already have two Papillons – US!
I never got another hit from one of my ads and I wasn’t about to hang
out at the A&W waiting for the next miracle meeting. It’s all good, he is happy with us and we are
very happy with him. Karma and Pippin are "fixed". I call him Bobby, my husband calls him Buddy will be "fixed" too - when he's old enough.
Footnote: We live in British Columbia where puppy mills are illegal. People here are very vigilant about reporting them where they do exist and penalties are harsh. I discovered in the selling of our puppies that, criminals like water have a tendency to find their way around obstacles. It is not illegal to import dogs from the United States where puppy mills and farms are not illegal so what we now have instead of puppy mills are “puppy brokers”. These people bring puppies across the forty-ninth in box loads and I do mean the pups are in boxes, to sell up here. They get them in the states for x amount of dollars and sell them up here at a profit. Most of these dogs are cross bred toy dogs that for some reason or another are “all the rage” right now. Reputable breeders are hard pressed to compete. I have a friend whose sister-in-law just paid $2500.00 for a “labradoodle”. I have another friend who raises and shows Rhodesian Ridgebacks. She has stopped breeding her dogs altogether because she cannot place them.