Sunday, January 23, 2011

Leaving Normal

Today I'm off to my parent's house to enjoy some roast beef dinner and do some research and planning with my mom for our trip to New York. Oh ya ...and to hopefully catch Zero on TV during the ABC broadcast of the Eukanuba show! I hear this is an edited version of the show so there is no guarantee we will see him being shown but keep a weather eye out!

Yesterday I had a very nice couple come to visit the dogs to get an idea of whether the Ridgeback is the right breed for them. I have my standard run down of what the breed is like to live with, what I offer as a breeder and general information on the dogs and what Invictus is all about. I don't pressure people or grill them, I try to hold a normal conversation and allow them to ask questions as they arise.

The dogs, for their part, were super star examples of sound stable Ridgebacks. I had taken them for a walk and they were feeling nappy so after their usual effusive greeting at the door they settled into slumber on the couch and the dog bed. While curled into a little ball on the couch Leeloo demonstrated her ridiculously good temperament by allowing Carolyne to squeeze and manipulate her toes, play with her tail, tug on her ears and stroke her face ... and Carolyne is a grown woman. A girl after my own heart since I routinely harrass the dogs while they are sleeping. Her husband demonstrated his extreme patience by putting up with Ceilidh who is by far the most persistent and friendly cat I have ever known.

Raimi, as always, was a hit. Of course, the first thing anyone ever says is "Wow. He is so big." Well, yes. He is also a marshmallow, despite the significant muscling evident on his large bulk, and he quickly relaxed into napping at my feet. People are always a little in awe of him and I have to admit he does make my livingroom seem a little smaller, but he is a gentle soul and gives people a good idea what a boy Ridgeback is all about - simple, adoring and impressive.

The most interesting aspect of my conversation with this nice couple ocurred just before they were heading out when they mentioned they'd been to see a few other purebred dog breeders. This is not unusual and in fact I take it as a good sign that they'd make the effort to visit breeders to really see what those particular breeds are all about. The interesting point came when they told me that so far I was the most normal of all the breeders they'd met.

Oh. Now, I know I don't have a lock on koo-koo-banana when it comes to the dog fancy but I've often been called the crazy dog lady by friends who are not in dogs. What concerns me is that I know how 'into' the dogs I am and yet these people made a note of how 'not crazy' I seem to be. To be honest I try to down play the super serious breeder information when I talk to people who are interested in a companion dog simply because they don't need to know all the technical breeder stuff. I almost never go into show win details or any records except straight up championships and health testing - show records are largely immaterial to companion homes.

What also concerns me? That the other breeders these people were referring to are the purebred dog fancy's worst enemy. Why do people turn to pet stores, backyard breeders, internet Paypal puppy purchases and the like? Because crazy purebred dog breeders make buying a puppy such an insane and scary prospect that normal people are driven anywhere but to them.

You want more people to do their research and buy a healthy purebred dog? Stop being so whacko when normal people want to know about your obsession. The dogs might be your life, but they are dogs. You have chosen to entrust yourself with the care and management of the breed of your choice, but they are still dogs. They fill your life with joy and make you feel like being a human is worthwhile, but they are simply dogs. They eat deer poop, lick themselves and each other, would kill squirrels(or any other vermin) given half a chance, roll in dead things, poke you in the crotch every chance they get, would gorge themselves until they were sick, and destroy your possessions. All people really want to know is what are they like to live with because they are looking for a dog that is designed to suit their lifestyle.

Crazy is as crazy does and people want to know your dogs are normal and will act like real dogs. They also want to know that you are not going to be in their backyard monitoring how they raise their dog. Go ahead and be obsessive with other obsessive people but when perfectly sane people enter your house to visit with you and your dogs, put the Normal Suit on and for an afternoon pretend like you didn't just spend the last hour smashing out a blog to rant about crazy dog people.

1 comment:

RiderWriter said...

I wanted you to know that I have been a loyal reader of yours for a very long time...very. I'm sorry I haven't commented in so long - don't know why, or how come others don't comment, because you do a GREAT job and you're a wonderful writer!!!

I had to say something about this post, however. I, alas, live in Missouri, aka the puppy mill capital. I HATE that. I hate the fact that there's a Petland right around the corner and loads of my neighbors and acquaintances have gotten a pup there. I hate that my extremely smart, financial whiz millionaire friend, who vowed never to do so, bought a puppy on Long Island that came from some place called "Happy Acres Farm" (or some such similar twaddle) in you guessed it, MO. Glad poor Matty survived the trip as many don't (he's turned out fine, thank goodness - friend got lucky).

I have pondered quite a bit about why people buy dogs at Petland or the other places you mentioned (my own sis-in-law had her dog shipped to OH from NE, via Paypal). My favorite theory is two-fold: they think they're getting a "better" dog because they paid a fortune for it (hah), and it's EASY. No pesky research involved.

I must admit, I never thought of the koo-koo-bananas purebred breeder syndrome as a deterrent. But I think you are absolutely right. MY dog's breeder, thank goodness, is a nice sane lady in Cleveland. We're still in touch and my Springer girl is almost 8. But I was scared to call her the first time, lest I didn't pass muster in some way (we scraped by with the electric fence... no choice in our n'hood and I live in quiet area). I've met other people in dogs who yes, are way too nutty for the average family to deal with.

Thank you for being (relatively :-) normal, for writing this blog, and for promoting responsible dog breeding and ownership. The next time I advise a family looking for a purebred, I think I will mention that some breeders can be a little "out there," but to persevere. They just have the dogs' best interests in mind.