Monday, July 5, 2010

Ruthless People

An astute observer mentioned that I must have a strong will to be able to rehome a dog that I whelped and have raised for the last year. (Never mind Halo who I owned for 5 years!) I suppose I should explain how I am able to do this without seeming to be upset by it.

Well, for starters, I am upset by it. And disappointed. And conflicted. And all those other words to describe feeling guilty about making this sort of decision knowing that if it were Leeloo or Raimi who 'didn't work out' that they'd never leave my house and I'd never consider placing them.

There is no fooling the the heart when it comes to the connection to the animals we live with. I won't deny loving Archer for everything that he is but some part of me can't over look what he isn't. Therein lies the difference. I can overlook the things about Leeloo and Raimi and make peace with them - they are imperfect and made more perfect in spite of those flaws. Archer doesn't fall under my eye in that way.

I was raised by the old school brand of dog breeder. My parents have never had fewer than 10 dogs at one time, that I can recall anyway. We had house dogs, never more than two or three, who lived in the house with us and enjoyed the lives that most pet dogs do, but the balance of the kennel was in dog runs during the day. There were always older dogs who either had come to retirement age or had not developed as hoped. These dogs were placed in new homes and lived out their lives as beloved pets in a one or two dog home. I think that is where I get my philosophy about dogs like Halo and Archer. I cannot provide for them what I think they deserve and it would be wrong of me to deny them the very best. Of course, there were the Raimi and Leeloo's of my childhood; Cassie, Fay, Pebble, Tisza, Ruby, Pippin, Berry, Gemma ... the dogs who would never live anywhere else because they just somehow ... belonged. They were the house dogs, the special dogs, the ones who left indelible impressions not only on my psyche but also on Immerzu Pulis as I know them.

The 'old school' teachings of dog breeding have been replaced with what I refer to as 'bleeding heart breeders'. People who use the term 'adopt' instead of 'sell'. Find it hard to let puppies go to new homes (I can't wait for them to get out the door - another throwback from my childhood). And want everyone in the breed to be their buddy (let it go ... it's never going to happen). These are the breeders I have a hard time identifying with - that probably comes as no surprise. 

In order to maintain an objective view of your breeding program you must be ruthless in 'culling' the dogs who just aren't good enough or who have expired in their usefulness as breeding stock. My dogs are my life, I adore them - but they are show dogs, breeding stock and are intended to carry on the line of purebred Rhodesian Ridgebacks - they are not just pets, they are important genetic components in a dwindling pool of quality. Breeding is hard, unforgiving, expensive, traumatic, frustrating, depressing, engrossing, and terrifying. It is also exhilarating, engaging, uplifting, inspiring, fulfilling and some times even miraculous. They do balance out although some days it sure doesn't seem like it!

Making a decision to place a dog like Archer never comes easy but with a view to the future there isn't a doubt in my mind it's the right one. It's the best decision I have made for him in his whole life.

1 comment:

Kathryn said...

When you choose to bring an animal into a world where there are already enough, and then some, your most important responsibility is to provide that animal with the best life you are able. And then some. Wherever that happens to be. If that isn't with you, then so be it. Smile at your choices Tamzin, I know you well enough to know that more than a lot of thought goes into this decision.