Those thinking about breeding please read, re-read, and re-read again
to remind yourself..........

With Kind permission of Mrs Jo Davidson-Poston (Spinillons)

To Whom It May Concern:

I put your puppy to sleep today. He wasn’t a puppy anymore, of course. But he was the last time you saw him at eight weeks of age, or seven, or six, or … just how young was he when you sent him out into the world? You remember him, don’t you? He was probably the strong nurser, the pup who dominated his littermates, the one who took charge of the food dish, who barked first, who growled first. He was a cute, assertive puppy then. You remember, don’t you?

Some three years later he came to me, a big, strong, adult. Through how many hands did he pass before he came here? I wonder.

Did you stay in touch with the people who paid you for the cute puppy? Did you tell them how to feed and care for him? Did you tell them to be sure to socialize him well? Did your contract (you did have one, didn’t you?) specify that you be contacted if his first family couldn’t keep him any longer?

Were they able to ask your advice when they couldn’t house break him quickly? When he chewed up a shoe? When they decided it was easier to put him in the back yard and ignore him? Were you there to help when they moved and couldn’t take him along? When he was shuffled from place to place? When no one wanted him because he’d never been trained, because he had no manners, because he had never bonded with humans?

Did his sire and dam also have a high prey drive? Were they temperament tested? Have either of them ever turned on a human? How many other puppies did you send into the world? Do you know where they are? How they are?

I thought you would want to know how this puppy turned out. He could have been a loved and loving family member. He could have earned obedience titles. He could have excelled in agility. He could have been a kind therapy dog. He could have enjoyed the comfort of a loving master at the end of long and happy life.

But, I put him to sleep today, at a little over three years of age. No, he wasn’t sick or hurt or old. He could not be trusted. He would have hurt someone. Even someone who wanted to help him, wanted to find him a forever home. And the saddest part of all is that he didn’t care. He didn’t even know that I cared. It was just another place to be sent.

Your pup of long ago is fine now. He romps happily someplace where there is only love. Don’t give him another thought. I’ll think of him, day after day. I’ll cry for him. After all, it was I who put your puppy to sleep today.


Bonnie Blink
A Heart-Broken Rescue Volunteer


Author unknown

A Breeder (with a capital B) i
s one who thirsts for knowledge and never really knows it all, one who wrestles with decisions of conscience, convenience, and commitment.

A Breeder is one who sacrifices personal interests, finances, time, friendships, fancy furniture, and deep pile carpeting! She gives up the dreams of a long, luxurious cruise in favour of turning that all important show into this year’s "vacation".

The Breeder goes without sleep (but never without coffee!) in hours spent planning a breeding or watching anxiously over the birth process, and afterwards, over every little sneeze, wiggle or cry.

The Breeder skips dinner parties because that litter is due or the babies have to be fed at eight. She disregards birth fluids and puts mouth to mouth to save a gasping newborn, literally blowing life into a tiny, helpless creature that may be the culmination of a life time of dreams.

A Breeder’s lap is a marvellous place where generations of proud and noble Champions once snoozed. A Breeder’s hands are strong and firm and often soiled, but ever so gentle and sensitive to the thrusts of a puppy's wet nose.

A Breeder’s back and knees are usually arthritic from stooping, bending, and sitting in the birthing box, but are strong enough to enable the Breeder to show the next choice pup to a Championship.

A Breeder’s shoulders are stooped and often heaped with abuse from competitors, but they're wide enough to support the weight of a thousand defeats and frustrations.

A Breeder’s arms are always able to wield a mop, support an armful of puppies, or lend a
helping hand to a newcomer.

A Breeder’s
ears are wondrous things, sometimes red (from being talked about) or strangely shaped (from being pressed against a phone receiver), often deaf to criticism, yet always fine-tuned to the whimper of a sick puppy.

A Breeder’s eyes are blurred from pedigree research and sometimes blind to her own dog's faults, but they are ever so keen to the competitions faults and are always searching for the perfect specimen.

A Breeder’s brain is foggy on faces, but it can recall pedigrees faster than an IBM computer. It's so full of knowledge that sometimes it blows a fuse: it catalogues thousands of good bonings, fine ears, and perfect heads... and buries in the soul the failures and the ones that didn't turn out.

The Breeder’s heart is often broken, but it beats strongly with hope everlasting... and it's always in the right place!
Oh, yes, there are breeders, and then, there are BREEDERS!!


Videotape Intended for all those who want to breed little fluffy in order to let their children experience the "miracle" of birth, this real-time video tape set can either substitute for home breeding or guide you in making the most of your breeding decision.

Experience the joys of seeing a live puppy pop effortlessly from its mother's body and see her consume the bloody afterbirth! (Most children will squeal with delight when seeing this for the first time - many will make a life-long commitment to celibacy then and there.) Enjoy watching the frantic efforts of a breeder trying to resuscitate a still-born puppy.

See the hilarious actions of a bitch who searches for the puppy she thinks she just dropped but which was quickly tossed into the wastebasket because it was only a blackened, half-developed foetus. Reserve a full 36 hours to see the entire set of tapes in one sitting to really share the drama, boredom, and exhaustion of the breeder as she labours to help her struggling bitch in extended labour. Watch as a breeder tries to recruit several helpers to carry her dying bitch to the car for transport to the nearest animal hospital in a futile attempt at saving the beloved family pet (Seeing the children crying and asking what is happening is half the fun!) Follow the fun as a breeder and his wife alternate duties during a full week of 4-hour bottle feedings with a fading puppy while also trying to keep 13 others dry and healthy! And, as an extra added attraction: Laugh with us at the madcap antics of a typical shelter worker as she accepts new animals while keeping a straight face as mom and dad assure little Kevin that the n ice lady will take VERY GOOD care of 8-year floppy. Enjoy the thrills as she later shoves unwanted puppies and adult dogs into a gas chamber as she chokes back tears and goes home to try and explain to her children just what she does at work! And, for a limited time only, we will include free of charge the
video tape of a recent arrest made by the local animal control officer who discovered that someone had falsely declared his male dogs neutered (to save on license fees) and then discovered he was planning to do the job himself at home!

The second half of the same bonus tape shows the chagrin of a backyard breeder who was tracked down from her telephone number which was all she ever gave out. This wonderful person would arrange to meet people at local shopping malls where she handed over her 4-5 week-old puppies for $120 each! We were all amazed to find that those 20 puppies she was selling each year all came from the same single bitch and dog. Yes, if you, or a friend, are considering breeding Fluffy to show children the "miracle" of birth, be sure to get this video and show them the miracle of death at the same time! We have high hopes for this video, following as it does on the tremendous success of our first effort: "Do it yourself home vasectomy, featuring George "squeaky" Baker," and its sequel, "Do it yourself home explosives mixing, by Bob "lefty" Anderson." !Special to the first five purchasers, one frozen still-born puppy - just wait until you take it home and see how the kids' eyes light up as the pup thaws!!

Copyright 1996, John A. McCormick, President and CEO, Nocturnal Aviation Videos. Reproduction and distribution of this advertisement in its entirety strongly encouraged. Phone, e-mail, or postal orders NOT accepted, this tape is sold ONLY in person because I REALLY want to meet you.

The Journey

When you bring a pet into your life, you begin a journey - a journey that will bring you more love and devotion than you have ever known, yet also test your strength and courage. If you allow, the journey will teach you many things,
about life, about yourself, and most of all, about love. You will come away changed forever, for one soul cannot touch another without leaving its mark.

Along the way, you will learn much about savouring life's simple pleasures - jumping in leaves, snoozing in the sun, the joys of puddles, and even the satisfaction of a good scratch behind the ears. If you spend much time outside, you will be taught how to truly experience every element, for no rock, leaf, or log will go unexamined, no rustling bush will be overlooked, and even the very air will be inhaled, pondered, and noted as being full of valuable information.

Your pace may be slower - except when heading home to the food dish - but you will become a better naturalist, having been taught by an expert in the field.

Too many times we hike on automatic pilot, our goal being to complete the trail rather than enjoy the journey. We miss the details - the colourful mushrooms on the rotting log, the honeycomb in the old maple snag, the hawk feather caught on a twig. Once we walk as a dog does, we discover a whole new world.

We stop; we browse the landscape, we kick over leaves, peek in tree holes, look up, down, all around. And we learn what any dog knows: that nature has created a marvellously complex world that is full of surprises, that each cycle of the seasons bring ever changing wonders, each day an essence all its own. Even from indoors you will find yourself more attuned to the world around you. You will find yourself watching summer insects collecting on a screen. (How bizarre they are! How many kinds there are!), or noting the flick and flash of fireflies through the dark. You will stop to observe the swirling dance of windblown leaves, or sniff the air after a rain. It does not matter that there is no objective in this; the point is in the doing, in not letting life's most important details slip by. You will find yourself doing silly things that your pet-less friends might not understand: spending thirty minutes in the grocery aisle looking for the cat food brand your feline must have, buying dog birthday treats, or driving around the block an extra time because your pet enjoys the ride.

You will roll in the snow, wrestle with chewy toys, bounce little rubber balls till your eyes cross, and even run around the house trailing your bathrobe tie - with a cat in hot pursuit - all in the name of love. Your house will become muddier and hairier. You will wear less dark clothing and buy more lint rollers. You may find dog biscuits in your pocket or purse, and feel the need to explain that an old plastic shopping bag adorns your living room rug because your cat loves the crinkly sound. You will learn the true measure of love - the steadfast, undying kind that says, "It doesn't matter where we are or what we do, or how life treats us as long as we are together." Respect this always. It is the most precious gift any living soul can give another. You will not find it often among the human race. And you will learn humility. The look in my dog's eyes often made me feel ashamed. Such joy and love at my presence. She saw not some flawed human who could be cross and stubborn, moody or rude, but only her wonderful companion. Or maybe she saw those things and dismissed them as mere human foibles, not worth considering, and so chose to love me anyway. If you pay attention and learn well, when the journey is done, you will be not just a better person, but the person your pet always knew you to be - the one they were proud to call beloved friend. I must caution you that this journey is not without pain. Like all paths of true love, the pain is part of loving. For as surely as the sun sets, one day your dear animal companion will follow a trail you cannot yet go down. And you will have to find the strength and love to let them go. A pet's time on earth is far too short - especially for those that love them. We borrow them, really, just for awhile, and during these brief years they are generous enough to give us all their love, every inch of their spirit and heart, until one day there is nothing left. The cat that only yesterday was a kitten is all too soon old and frail and sleeping in the sun. The young pup of boundless energy wakes up stiff and lame, the muzzle now grey. Deep down we somehow always knew that this journey would end. We knew that if we gave our hearts they would be broken. But give them we must for it is all they ask in return. When the time comes, and the road curves ahead to a place we cannot see, we give one final gift and let them run on ahead - young and whole once more. "Godspeed, good friend," we say, until our journey comes full circle and our paths cross again.

-- Crystal Ward Kent

The following article was written in 1969 but still has valid points in today's world.


Written by Peggy Adamson

Text of a speech given before the Annual Symposium of the "National Dog
Owners and Handlers Association" in Feb. 1969; and published in their newsletter.

The breeder is the mainspring of the dog world. Without the breeder, there would be no dogs. Without the dogs, there would be no kennel clubs, no dog shows, no judges, no handlers, no trainers, no dog food companies, no dog publications. Despite their importance, the breeder represents a very small segment of the dog world, which in turn, creates the dog business.

Furthermore, they are the ones who seldom, if ever, make a profit, even in the most popular breeds; and since they cannot take a livelihood from their breeding activities, they must be able to rely on some other source of income. Why then, do people ever become Breeders?? A breeder has, in his mind, a perfect dog that he someday hopes to create. He presses on to breed his ideal dog, unfettered by desires to be a conformist, or to pander to the buying public. Like the artist or sculptor, he is activated by a creative, inner drive which is totally unaffected by considerations of what will sell or what won't. Unlike the sculptor however, he is working with living flesh and is constantly fighting time. He can never put his work away and come back to it later. The raw material on which he labours is constantly changing - sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse; sometimes as a result of his efforts and sometimes in spite of them. Nature and Time are his greatest adversaries, yet when he least expects it, they may prove to be his greatest allies. The sculptor can use the chisel to chip away at his mistakes, but it may take years for the breeder to see where he has made a mistake - a mistake which in some cases may never be remedied. True breeders speak the same language, whatever their breed. Without the slightest previous communication, they discover that they think the same way, they have the same ideals and goals and standards of behaviour and the same awareness of responsibility. Like the Beautiful People in the social world, they immediately recognize each other - not because they know each other's names or who they are, but because as kindred spirits they realize what they are.

Just Who and What IS a Breeder?
Technically, anyone who owns or leases a bitch and produces a litter out of her is a breeder of dogs. It is of no matter what considerations were involved in the choice of mate or what the puppies were like, or how they were disposed of- perhaps to the nearest pet shop. This person has bred a litter, the minimum requirement to becoming a Breeder. He is now on the lowest rung of the breeding ladder. How far upward he goes will depend on many factors, some of which are under his control, and some of which are matters of luck. Some people paint all their lives but never become real artists; some people raise hundreds of litters of puppies, but never become true Breeders.

Let us consider how people buy their first pure-bred dog. It usually comes about in one or two ways. In the first case, the person passes a pet shop with a litter of puppies, frolicking in the window, lingers to watch and impulsively decides to buy one of them. Presto! he has now become a dog-owner. In the second case, a person sees a dog in the street, in the movies, or on television, likes it's looks and makes up his mind to have one just like it. How does he go about it?

He picks up the newspaper, sees a litter advertised, goes to look at it, and comes home with a puppy. Few people in either group have ever seen a dog magazine or been to a dog show. They want to buy a dog (and I say this in quotes) "with papers" although they have only the foggiest idea what they mean. The dogs that these people buy are like children who grow up with no family.

A much smaller portion of pure-bred dogs are bought as a result of advertising in dog magazines and other trade publications. These are the dogs which form the bulk of our dog shows. For the most part, they are bought from Breeders. They are not usually the result of impulse buying, but of considerable searching, looking and even waiting. Many of these dogs are the second pure-bred dog for the owner, the first having come from one of the two groups first mentioned.

How does a dog-buyer move from the first or second group to the third? Some never do. But if, by sheer luck - and it is often just that- the buyer gets a reasonably good breed specimen, he may become interested in the breed and want to find out more about it. He may attend a dog show, read books and magazines, seek out training classes and dog clubs and by his own efforts come what the cognoscenti regard as a "Dog Person". But he has to do this all on his own .Had he bought his dog from a real Breeder, everything would have been much easier for him. Just what does he get from the Breeder - or let us say, what can he expect?

Family Pride
First and above all, he gets a pride of ownership, not only in a breed but in a family. The pedigree he gets with his dog will mean something to him -the real Breeder will see to that. It will come alive to him - if not immediately, certainly eventually! There is magic in a name which stands for something, and it will rub off on all that possess it.

We see this in the case of our great families in the social and political world, the Rockefellers and Roosevelt's, the Astor's and the Kennedy's. In the dog world we find it in illustrious kennel names. These names do not become illustrious overnight, nor are they illustrious merely because they are familiar to people through aggressive advertising. A name which is synonymous with quality in the mind of the public is that of a great store, "Tiffany's". How long would it retain it's aura if we began to hear television commercials shouting its' prestige, or urging "Rush to Tiffany's this weekend for the greatest sale of the year"? Thus, because a name is known to the public is no assurance that it is a great name. Only years of high standards and good taste will create a name that is an asset to a human being, to a product, or to a dog.

The Influence of the Real Breeder is Far Reaching He invests the people that buy his dogs with the desire to become breeders themselves and an appreciation of all this entails. From him, they learn a philosophy of showing, a code of ethics in sportsmanship. They learn how to train their dogs, or where they can be trained, how to handle their dogs and where and when or whether to show them. The breeder encourages them to go to training and handling classes, read books and dog magazines, advise them how to breed their bitches, raise their litters, take care of their old dogs. He answers innumerable questions and gives out emergency advise when they can't get a veterinarian. All this, a good Breeder attempts to do. Unfortunately, as the years go on, he realizes he has created a Frankenstein, which grows constantly bigger and threatens to devour him. For this reason, all Breeders eventually reach a point where the more conscientious they are in recognizing the demands on them, the more difficult they find it is to take care of all of them.

The Breeder is Like the Head of the Family He gives those who buy his dogs a sense of "belonging". This is of the utmost to people with their first or second dogs. They develop an interest in the dog's ancestors, about which the breeder can give them a wealth of information, and in the dog's relatives. Thus is built up a great family pride-- in their own dogs and in all the other dogs that carry the same kennel name. They learn from the breeder more about their breed and what constitutes a good specimen of it than they could ever find out from any book. The breeder, in a good many cases, is also a specialist. This is to say, he is an authority on his own breed and can be expected to know more about it than any judge who is not a specialist. He teaches those to whom he sells his dogs to evaluate their own dogs, many times encouraging and training these people so that some day they may be able to become specialists themselves.

The real breeder disciplines himself not to expect gratitude or appreciation for his services-- which is well, because those who benefit most will rarely give public recognition to the fact. The real breeder does what he does because of what he is. he can not do otherwise. Breeders have a great deal to say about their Breed Standard. They give generously of their time to the national Breed organization and it is through a consensus of the breeders that the Standard is arrived at, or changed.

The Breeders are the Aristocracy of the Dog World If there is a caste system, they are at the very top. Each breeder has a great sense of his own worth. Individually, that is. He is proud to be what he is and what he stands for. However, he rarely thinks of his worth collectively with other breeders. That is because Breeders are independent and individualistic. Therein lies their strength - and also their weakness. It is why their importance as a group is constantly overlooked in the hierarchy of the dog world. There are many more women Breeders than men Breeders, yet the American Kennel Club , which could not exist without breeders, allows no women to be a part of it's governing body. (**NOTE: Remember, this was written in 1969) Even an all woman club which is a member of the AKC must be represented by a man. Obviously, this discrimination on the basis of sex is a matter which advocates of equal rights for women have not as yet taken notice of!

The great advances made by any breed - and I am not here referring to registration increases - have all been brought about by the Breeders. In distinguishing between the Breeders in the best sense of the word and those who fall short of it, I shall refer to these people as The "Breeders" and the "Puppy Raisers" The primary difference between the Breeder and the puppy-raiser is the awareness of responsibility; responsibility to his breed, to his goals, to the dogs he has bred and to the dogs he hopes to breed. He also has a never-ending responsibility to the people who have bought his dogs, to the people who are about to buy his dogs and to the public image--not only of the dogs he has been producing but of the breed itself.

The Breeders are essentially givers. They give to their chosen breed much more than they will ever receive. Their rewards are intangible rather than financial. Here again is the great difference between the Breeder and the puppy-raiser. The latter produces puppies in order to sell them, getting them off his hands as quickly as possible before their cost has eaten up his hoped-for profit. The breeder, on the other hand, has an entirely different motivation. He breeds a litter only when he can devote the necessary time, money and work to it. he never breeds when he knows he will be up against a deadline; that is to say, a time when he knows all his puppies must be sold.

Never, never does he breed a litter unless he plans to keep something from it, which hopefully will bring him one step closer to producing his ideal dog. If the litter is disappointing, he may sell the whole litter; but the better the breeder, the less often he will find it necessary to do this. The Breeder is constantly selecting and pruning his stock, sometimes because he no longer needs it, and sometimes because he has discovered a reason why he does not want it. The two reasons are very different. In the case of a dog he no longer needs, the reason may be that he has gotten from that dog what he wanted in order to further his breeding plans. In the case of the dog he no longer wants as breeding stock, he may have uncovered a reason why this dog would be detrimental to his breeding program.

The Breeder is Constantly Faced with Difficult Decisions Actually, the latter are his breeding cast-offs. Yet they may be delightful as individuals. They are not so faulty that they should never be bred, yet they fall far short of the Breeder's standards. They are like the so-called "seconds of sheets and towels by Famous Makers" that stores advertise as "slightly irregular"

The breeder does his best to put these dogs in the homes of people who are not primarily interested in breeding, but all too often they turn up later with litters advertised in newspapers and magazines, trading on his name and reputation to help sell the puppies. Though the dam and/or sire may carry his kennel name, the puppies are not of his breeding, a distinction that the dog buying public seldom realizes. Sometimes this causes the Breeder embarrassment. Much more often, it fills him with annoyance. Many years ago, this situation occurred in one of the dog magazines with a Collie Breeder, who proceeded to feature the following statement in all her advertising: "The purest water is at the well".

The Breeder's Greatest Problem is to Hold Down His Dog Population The better the breeder, the difficult this becomes and each time he breeds a litter, he increases it. For this reason, the breeder does not, and cannot, breed often. He keeps more dogs than he should, not because he wants to but because he will not part with a dog unless he is sure it will be for the dog's best interests. As a result, many of these dogs live in his house to the day they die, as treasured pets, even though they are no longer used in the breeding program, either because they have already contributed or because they can not make the contribution he wants. Occasionally, in the case of the one who has already contributed, he may either sell or give this dog to someone else, who will indeed be fortunate and can thus benefit from the Breeder's handiwork. This person may be another breeder, or he may be a novice. In the case of the dog he does not wish to use in his breeding program, it may be sold or given to someone who is not interested in breeding and who wants just one dog as a lifetime companion.

The one dog owner who gives a dog his individual attention for the duration of its' life, loving it, training it, perhaps showing it, can do for the dog what no Breeder ever can. Because the breeder is so well aware of this he sometimes parts with his very best dogs, often to the surprise of others. If this dog happens to be a male, there will be no loss to his breeding program unless the dog goes to a distance place, but in the case of a bitch, he usually reserves some breeding rights. Where a sizable sum is involved, this usually is a right to select the stud and chose a puppy from the first litter. In this case, the Breeder is taking a calculated risk, and one which he frequently finds disastrous; namely, the gamble that there will be a bitch in that litter that he can select to carry on with. If there is not, he has lost far more than the one fine dog he has sold, and there is really no way of estimating the full extent of his loss.

The breeder is always thinking in terms of the past and the future, while the single dog owner is concerned with the present. The Puppy-Raiser does not Care to Whom he Sells His Dogs The important objective for him is to get them sold, and as quickly as possible. He is like the gardener who scatters his seed all over the ground with little regard for it's subsequent growth and cultivation.

The breeder, on the other hand, has deep concern for the ultimate destination of what he has produced. To him, a dog is not an over-the-counter commodity to be sold to anyone who wants it and has the money to pay for it. This matter of attitude is another one of the great differences between the breeder and the puppy-raiser.

When the Breeder sells or disposes of a dog, whether very young or grown, he is parting with something that is much more than what it looks to be in the eyes of the prospective buyer. The buyer sees a beautiful specimen of the breed- healthy, sound and a look of quality. The breeder sees all these things, but a great deal more. To him, the dog represents years of hard work-- often menial work-- years full of excitement, exultation and disappointments. He does not merely see the beauty in the individual dog before him, but a long line of ancestors, dogs that he knew and loved and that went into the making of this particular individual. When the Breeder looks at an animal he has bred, his view has an extra dimension-- he sees that dog in DEPTH.

The Breeder Carefully Screens Prospective Buyers He knows that changes of ownership can have a traumatic effect on a dog, especially if there are several of them. The dog becomes confused and loses his sense of security, an absolute necessity if he is to have confidence. This situation is as disastrous to a dog as it is to a child, in fact more so because there is no way to explain to a dog what is taking place. From the standpoint of the breeder, the ideal one-dog owner is a pearl beyond price. The more such people he can enable to possess his dogs, the more successful he will become as a Breeder, and the more successful he is as a Breeder the more likely he is to have more good dogs than it is practical for him to keep. Unlike the puppy-raiser who breeds his bitches every season and often has several litters at a time, the breeder rarely breeds his bitches more than three or four times in a lifetime, and some times not even that many. The expenses of maintaining his dogs year after year are exorbitant, and coupled with this never-ceasing drain on his resources is the gnawing awareness that even though they get the best of food, veterinarian care, and love, he cannot possibly give them the advantages which would be theirs in the case of the ideal one-dog ownership. For this reason, he is usually reluctant to sell to other breeders, feeling that the dog would not be bettered by the change of homes where it would still be one of many. He can give each dog he owns everything that money can by and his limitations of his can allow - he can literally give the dogs his entire house, and all his furniture - piece by piece! But the only thing he cannot give is the important feeling of being # 1 dog in the household, and the chance for constant exposure to the outside world.

The Puppy-Raiser Rarely Asks Questions If the buyer wants a dog and has the money to pay for it, he has met theonly requirements necessary to take possession of the dog. But the Breeder's attitude is very different. The Breeder not only asks many questions to which he must get the right answers or he will not sell the dog--he must also know something of the buyer's background. What dogs did he have before? How old were they when he got them, and what eventually happened to them? What were the things that he liked about each one and what were the things that annoyed him? From these answers, the Breeder will have to determine what kind of dog-owner this buyer has been, and what kind he is likely to be. Did he have only one dog who lived to be 13 or 14 or more, or did he have several dogs, each of which he disposed of for a variety of reasons. Obviously, the latter buyer is going to be a bad risk. He is like the car driver who has many accidents, none of which he believes to be his fault.

When considering a buyer, the breeder must project his thinking into the future. He must decide whether the germs of future trouble are lurking in the buyer's present situation and thinking. If a young man, is the buyer likely to go into the Army, or to college? If an older man, does his wife want this dog? If a bachelor, who will care for the dog if anything happens to him? What attitude does the buyer have toward his past disappointments? Does he blame everyone except himself? Is he the type of person who is always trying to get as much as possible for as little as possible? Would a really good dog be wasted on him?

To the extent that the breeder can make these evaluations successfully, he will save himself many future complications. No matter how many dogs he has, as long as his money and his health hold out, his dogs are a problem to him, but only a problem. The problems of keeping them well fed and comfortably housed may seem difficult at times, but they are not serious. In the hands of the wrong buyer, however, the dog becomes a hostage. Why?? Because the breeder cares. It could not matter to the puppy-raiser because he would not concern himself about such matters.

Regardless of how carefully he screens the buyers, the Breeder will still have occasional disappointments. Human nature being what it is, this is inevitable. Dogs will be returned to him-- and he will accept them-- not because of any fault in the dog, but because the buyer himself, or the conditions of his life, have changed. What happens to These Dogs? Few people realize the number of older dogs that live to the age of 13 or 14 in the homes of Breeders. In the business world, these dogs would be considered obsolete equipment and destroyed. But the Breeder's world is different. He recognizes a responsibility toward anything that he has brought into the world and takes care of it until the dog is dead-- or he is. If he can find the right person to sell or give it to, he does; but if he can not, he continues to keep it himself. The drain on the breeder's strength and finances is merciless. Occasionally, when faced with severe illness or drastically reduced income, he may have to decree that some or all of his dogs be put to sleep. And even this costs money. When a breeder makes this decision, few people understand it.

The general public and those who have never known the responsibility which goes with more than one or two dogs will probably regard this as cruelty. But, as previously stressed, the Breeder has a responsibility for whatever the brings into the world until it goes out of it. If the dog is in the wrong hands, he must try to get it back, and then either keep it or see that it is put into the right hands. If the Breeder is no longer able to do this, there is only one way he can be sure his dogs will never know hunger or abuse. That is euthanasia. To the breeder who loves his dogs, there is no more tragic decision he will ever have to make. when he himself is faced with incapacitating ill health, or even death, he must recognize the cold hard facts regarding the future of his dogs. Without his guiding hand and sense of responsibility, the dogs are much better off dead. A breeder will make any sacrifice to avoid this situation, but when it arises, he will do what he knows is necessary. Why? because he is a Breeder and feels responsibility towards his animals.

Now, what of the Breeder's Responsibility to His Breed? A successful breeder usually becomes something of a public figure. He may be requested to write about his breed, to speak about it, to judge it. His relationship to his breed is something very different. As a judge and as a writer, he must be completely objective. Indeed, he must bend over backwards to achieve this impartiality.

The breeder's responsibility to his breed does not permit him to use opportunities either in judging or writing to exploit his own stock. He is abrogating this responsibility to the breed, not to mention considerations of good taste, if he uses a magazine's breed column to promote his own breeding, or in judging to favour the same. He can make known his bloodlines and his winning through the paid advertisements, providing they are honest and factual, but never uses the public space to get free publicity. When the breeder writes for the public, he is representing his breed, not himself or his stock, and it is this broader perspective that sets apart the true Breeder with a sense of responsibility from the commercial one whose only consideration is to promote his wares.

A Breeder has Great Care for the Public Image of His Breed He tries to inoculate these values in the people to whom he sells his dogs, and in everyone with whom he comes in contact. He is reluctant to criticize what he considers the shortcomings of other Breeders, or to fault the products of their handiwork. He scorns high pressure salesmanship and the advertising techniques of Madison Avenue. Giving straightforward answers to the people who have bought, or are about to buy, his own stock, he neither glosses over the faults nor makes exaggerated claims or predictions. He is forthright in his thinking, his talking, his actions. People instinctively trust him, not because he asks for their trust, (which he does not) but because of what he is.

The real Breeders are the heart and soul of the dog world. They stand proud and often alone, resisting commercialism, criticism, undeviated in their search for perfection and idealistic in their code of ethics.

The Breeders Code of Silence - By Sierra Milton

What do most modern-day breeders and the Mafia have in common? What a strange question, you may say. It is, sadly though, a very real commonality. The answer is simply what Padgett, a well-known geneticist refers to as the “Code of Silence” for breeders and perhaps more commonly discussed as “omerta” for the Costa Nostra. Both are deadly silences. It’s easy to understand the reasons for the conspiracy of silence when it refers to criminals, but what reasons can a breeder possibly have for maintaining “omerta”?

The reason most often given for not sharing genetic information is the fear of being made the object of a “witch hunt.” It lies much deeper though. It begins with ownership and the human need to see what one owns as being the best. Remember the “keeping up with the Jones” mentality? Everyone wants the very best and the accolade of owning the best. Admitting that what one owns or has bred may have faults is difficult for most people. Also at fault is the huge financial and emotional investment that breeders have in their dogs. Discovering that there may be defects in the sires and dams that breeders have so much of themselves invested in becomes frightening and causes many to refuse to even contemplate that their dogs may possess defective genes. Egos and fear of being labelled “poor breeders” are ultimately the reasons for breeders maintaining this detrimental code of silence.

Even more dangerous than the Code of Silence though is the refusal to contemplate defective genes may exist within a breeding program and be present for generations, quietly meshing through many bloodlines before manifesting itself. Could it be possible that dogs which appear healthy can actually be spreading dangerous, sometimes lethal genes throughout the breed community until finally two healthy, but gene-defective carriers combine to produce that first tell-tale affected offspring?

Of course it is and time and again the geneticists tell us how this is possible. Simplistically, breeders cannot see defective genes and what they don’t see must not exist. Therefore using that logic, all the untested dogs must be as beautifully healthy inside as they are structurally beautiful outside. If only that logic were true! Unfortunately, far more emphasis is placed upon structural and superficial beauty simply because it is something that is easily seen, acknowledged and obtained. It’s also something without any “unnecessary” financial investments. One doesn’t need to pay for x-rays or blood tests or specialists’ knowledge in order to evaluate how a dog conforms to a physical standard.

The real danger, though, comes not from those dogs who are tested, but from those breeders who keep their heads in the sand and refuse to believe that their dogs could be less than 'perfect'. We can begin to fix that which we reveal, but that which remains hidden is a threat to the future. But here omerta, that “Code of Silence” is very evident. Not only do these breeders hold fast to the belief that their dogs are untainted by defective genes, structural defects or temperament problems, but they also believe that no dog that they choose to bring into their breeding program through mating with their dogs could possibly be carriers either. After all, they only “breed to the best,” and of course, that best just has to be perfect.

Now the truly criminal act occurs. These breeders are quite often very successful in the show ring; their dogs are thought to be the best – after all, they have ribbons and placings and titles to prove how worthy their dogs are! Because of their show ring success, they are seen as breed authorities, people that newcomers to the breed trust for knowledge and information. And the information these newcomers get is that there are no genetic problems to be concerned with, no need to do that “expensive testing when the dogs are all healthy.” Even more disastrous to the breed’s future is that these breeders’ attitudes begin to prevail. The newcomers see the success of these breeders’ dogs and buy them (even though few, if any, have had even the most rudimentary testing for structural faults, poor health or defective genes). The newcomers then have a financial and emotional investment to protect which begins to spread this attitude, with predictable results. Soon, because these breeders are the “powers” within the breed (quite often judges, people selected to discuss the breed at seminars, breeders who command respective prices for puppies and stud fees, breeders seen winning), they use this “power” to ensure that it becomes unethical to discuss any defects, in either health or temperament, found in any of the pedigrees of their sires, dams or progeny of their sires or dams. All too often one hears “I don’t dare say anything if I want to win” or “there are three lines with epilepsy (or heart or eye or pick a health problem), but you don’t need to know about them.” Of course we need to know about them, how else are we to make intelligent decisions about which dogs would best benefit the future we plan for our dogs unless we consider not only the structural beauty, but also the hidden genetics that we are attempting to also improve?

What about the breeders who openly discuss the defects found in their own dogs? Unfortunately, they are all too often labelled as “poor breeders” and their dogs said to be “defective”. They are shunned and spoken of in whispers and sneers. The very fact that these breeders are striving to share knowledge openly and to scientifically test their dogs make these breeders the subject of witch hunts by the very people who are either too cheap, too unconcerned, too egotistical, too uncaring about the future to even test their dogs, much less have the courage to honestly discuss their dogs. Instead of applauding these breeders who choose to share information, these breeders become shunned and hounded. As a result, and because human nature makes us want to be part of a group instead of outside the group, breeders begin to do what they do best – they maintain silence and lie or refuse to admit what they do know.

As more and more newcomers join a breed and inexperienced breeders and exhibitors all jump on the bandwagon of showing, owning and practicing the art of breeding, they turn to the breeders who are winning, equating winning with superior quality dogs. The breeders are, therefore, more determined to have nothing bad revealed about any of their dogs, further establishing in their minds the perfection of the dogs they breed and further increasing the financial and emotional investment that they have in perpetuating this theory. Winning in the show ring has nothing to do with genetic health. Indeed, a number of the winning dogs are carriers of genetic disorders at the least and, in some instances, are known to have genetic health disorders. While a genetic disorder itself, depending upon type and severity, should never preclude the dog from the genetic pool, it is absolutely mandatory that people be aware of any area of concern in order to breed intelligently. At the very least, the dogs that the dog is bred to must be tested and their backgrounds looked at carefully to limit the possibility of affecting more dogs or making more dogs carriers of the disorder. Yet, because the winners don’t want to be labelled as “poor breeders” and lose the accolade of being the best (as well as the possible financial loss in not being able to sell puppies or stud fees at as high a price), the “Code of Silence” becomes even more firmly embraced.

The newcomers, because they want to be accepted, avoid talking about the sires and dams that produce poorly, whether it is structure, health or temperament problems. Also, they too now have a financial and emotional investment in addition to wanting to be accepted into the “winners club.” They may even recognize trends in one or more lines in their own pedigrees, but refuse to acknowledge these trends and keep them secret for fear of being labelled.

Often, the breeders, while not openly acknowledging that there are any problems, will attempt to dilute the possibility of the disorder rearing its head by out-breeding to another totally different line. Dr. Jerold Bell, a well-known geneticist, has this to say about this method: “Repeated out-breeding to attempt to dilute detrimental recessive genes is not a desirable method of genetic disease control. Recessive genes cannot be diluted; they are either present or not. Out-breeding carriers multiples and further spreads the defective gene(s) in the gene pool. If a dog is a known carrier or has high carrier risk through pedigree analysis, it can be retired from breeding, and replaced with one or two quality offspring. Those offspring should be bred, and replaced with quality offspring of their own, with the hope of losing the defective gene.”

Unfortunately, refusing to acknowledge or test for genetic disorders doesn’t make them go away. What we can’t see still has a huge impact on the breed and continuing to breed these carriers of defective genes allows the defect to take a firmer hold in the breed. Those breeders who try very hard to breed healthy dogs and take every scientific precaution to ensure genetic health are shunned for the very passion that should be applauded; the efforts they take are trivialized at best and more often ridiculed as “unnecessary” or “fear-mongering.” As a result, these breeders work alone and, outside of their own kennel, their efforts make little impact on the breed as a whole.

Omerta can only be broken by people who have the courage, conviction and passion to ensure that the breed as a whole becomes stronger and healthier. Instead of witch hunts for those who have the heartache of dealing with the problems, the goal of applauding those with the courage and determination to speak out openly should be taken up by every breed club in every country. Awards in addition to those given to breeders who have the most winning dogs should be given to those breeders who work tirelessly to improve the breed. Prettiness and beauty doesn’t improve a breed; genetic health and the ability to live a pain-free, healthy life far surpass beauty, but are more difficult to obtain.

The cost of genetic testing is not high when one looks at the effects that refusing to test may have on the breed. Ask any knowledgeable breeder whose breed has rampant heart, blood disorder, eye or hip problems whether they blame the lack of foresight and the refusal of past breeders in making a further financial investment in the breed for the almost insurmountable problems now and the answer is predictable. In the UK, it is possible to do testing by certified specialists for hip, elbow, eye, heart, blood, immune disorders for around a total investment of £295.00 (far less in the United States), less than a cost of a puppy or a stud fee. It’s possible to do far less testing, but at what cost? Will the breed suffer from heart problems in the future because a simple ��7.50 stethoscope test (done through one of the breed-sponsored heart clinics, in this case the Boxer) was not important at the time? Will the breed be faced with trying to eradicate blindness years from now because a £16.00 eye exam (done through one of the many eye clinics held each month or free if done at Crufts dog show at the clinic they hold each year) was thought unwarranted? Will the descendants be filled with pain from bad hips and/or elbows because the breed moved well in the show ring and didn’t look dysplastic to the naked eye? (X-rays necessary for hip and elbow evaluations are the most expensive testing at a cost of approximately £110 for hips and an additional £80 for elbows when done with the hips; unfortunately it takes six different films to evaluate elbows and the cost reflects the number of films necessary.) Testing for things such as von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD) and thyroid testing (immune system) can be done inexpensively as blood tests at perhaps £30 and £50 each. Granted, testing for these genetic disorders won’t guarantee that a problem won’t occur in future breedings, but testing will greatly reduce the chances of problems and that is a good place to start.

If a breeder cannot provide proof in the form of veterinarian-issued certificates or reports that genetic testing has been done, the buyer should be aware that they purchase at their own risk! Caveat emptor! Breeders may claim that their dogs have never limped or that there is no need to do any testing because the breed is healthy. Some may even claim that their veterinarians have said that genetic testing was unnecessary. Those stances are irresponsible. Once again, genes are not visible and carriers of defective genes may themselves appear healthy to the naked eye. It is only with testing that we really know whether our dogs are affected or not and only then with honest evaluation of pedigrees having tested or affected dogs that the potentiality for carriers are realized.

What can we do to break the deadly Code of Silence? The majority, if not all, breed clubs have a code of ethics that require members to breed healthy dogs. One of the places to start is with the clubs. Instead of being social institutions or “good ole boy” clubs, these breed organizations could begin upholding the very real goal of protecting the future of the breed by demanding and requiring that genetic testing be undertaken prior to breeding. Far more serious than breeding a sixteen-month old bitch is the practice of breeding without taking every possible safeguard that genetic health is a priority. Yet, in many clubs “poor breeders” are identified by the age at which they breed or the frequency in which they breed rather than the very real criteria that proof of health be mandatory. Take the emphasis off winning – how many clubs determine “breeder of the year” based on the number of progeny that wins? Are there clubs that actually require that the breeder also must show proof that they are doing all they can do to ensure the future of the breed?

We can break the silence by commending those with the courage and determination to talk about problems, share successes and knowledge instead of ostracizing them. Omerta fails if every puppy buyer and stud dog user demands that proof of genetic testing is shown. The Code of Silence fails when we realize that it is not enough to breed winning dogs or to command the highest price for puppies or to have a stud dog that is used fifty, sixty, a hundred times; we must take back the passion with which we all first embraced our breeds and passionately work with determination toward a future where the numbers of genetic disorders are reduced each year.

If those you know breed without testing, ask yourself why – is it lack of courage in perhaps finding a carrier within their breeding stock? Is it because they fear a financial loss if they test? Is it because they truly believe that their dogs couldn’t possibly be less than perfect? Is it because they fear they will lose their “top breeder” standing if they admit that there are problems that need working on? Is it because they fear that it will be harder to breed beautiful and healthy dogs? Or have they lost the passion with which they first loved the breed while they were climbing the road to winning success? Or, more sadly, is it because they really just don’t care about that which they cannot actually see?

It’s hard work and takes great courage to develop a breeding program using scientific methods and tests, but the hope of a better future should drive us all to that very commitment. The key is being able to work together without fear of whispers or silence. Omerta, the code of silence, can be broken if more of us decide that we are not going to tolerate the quiet any longer.

Click here to read about the Downside of Inbreeding.


© Siddhartha Tibetan Terriers Ireland