I got into a semi-heated conversation about the infamous Puppy (Mill) Alley. For those of you unfamiliar, the AQHA Congress is the largest horse show in the United States, runs for two weeks and has every imaginable class and many, many purchases. Well I never have been because living in California meant it was SOYYYY too far away and since I moved east I mostly had Paints.
And frankly, I don’t understand Congress. I’ve never ever done it. For me it is a lot of money for a set of points. But for the folks at AQHA it’s like winning the equivalent of Westminster in the dog world. So yeah, I get it, I just don’t get it.
But in Congress, this area is called Puppy Alley. Puppy Alley has lots and lots of adorable adorable puppies. Lots and lots of soft and cuddly squeezables like dickens, take one home and love it puppies forever. For a nominal fee, the people of Congress allow you to install and sell your puppies.
The dark side is this, guess where the puppy mills bring their pups, and the Amish production breeders and clueless backyard let the deer breeders come to, well, CONGRESS! Because how can you resist a beloved puppy of sweetums?
And yes, there are some good breeders doing genetic testing there, but for the most part see above. Oh, and the best part? When Congress ends, many of these surplus puppies end up thrown into the pound. Columbus Animal Rescues Must Love October.
A friend of Rottie and I regret this on Facebook. A lady intervened who took her Golden there, who ended up with serious problems and was put to sleep at nine months of age. Some others too, sick puppies, puppies that weren’t socialized but of course a couple who got their beloved friend on the show weren’t happy.
They didn’t want to know anything about their dog. And I get it, I really do. We love our pets, but the fact is, for the most part, none of these dogs were well thought out with the proper genetic testing done on their parents, they were just made to make money. I’m so happy it worked for this guy but not everyone has a happy ending and all this does is allow people to keep making money and dogs to suffer.
So the discussion deteriorated (no screaming or hurt feelings) and it came down to this. He proclaimed that he did not care that his dog did not meet the breed standard, he was a pet.
And it really got me thinking. The breed standard is, by definition, the definition of our breed and without it our dogs have no identity. Now I have no idea what he meant by that, maybe it’s the wrong color or his legs are too long or short or whatever.
But think of it this way. For horse people, doesn’t it bother you when someone proclaims that they have a registered quarter mile and that the horse has the hip of an Arab, the legs of a percheron, a large Roman nose, a sheep’s neck, and a stock knee that would make an envious Clydesdale? Oh, and then they want to breed him because he’s REGISTERED.
Oh yeah, horse people wince and wonder how the hell they can keep their faces straight. Well for dog people when you buy a dog and it doesn’t meet the breed standard and you don’t think about it other than dollar signs, this is how we feel.
Or maybe I should brag to people about my performance car and then point out my hybrid Prius. Hell, you can’t legally go over 65 and if you put it downhill it can go up to 70, so what’s the difference between a car and a car, right?
When I see an Australian, I want to see a dog that looks like an Australian, not a large border collie or a blackbird-like Corgi. Australian Shepherds should look like Australian Shepherds. Same with any other breed – the standard was made for a reason. They need to have some structure to do the job they were raised for. When they don’t, they most likely have physical problems.
And of course even with genetic testing you can run into problems, but through testing a good breeder can find ways to correct it or cut the line from their show and spay or neuter and go home. If you never test, you never know, and the risks are much lower in a good breeding program, then the uterus meets the sperm breeders.
I have spent so much money and time to find the perfect dad for my Australian, to make the progesterone, to do the genetic tests, the AI costs, etc. However, you talk to people and they think that if it is a pet, all of that is unnecessary. Well, tell that to the lady who had to put her nine-month-old pet to sleep – she spent thousands and yet he’s gone. I’m sure the * breeder * will have another batch brewed this year, and another batch of heartbroken owners this time next year.
And even sadder is despite the drum beat of people warning people: people are eagerly awaiting the arrival of those adorable puppies. A friend of mine suggested that instead of Puppy Alley I should open it up to rescues. Wouldn’t that be something much better? I would prefer that breed rescues and other rescues had the opportunity to find good homes to care for them.
Just a thought.