I want to share an article with you written by Diane Klumb in 2002. I’ve posted it on this blog in the past and ran across last week as I was searching my files for something else. The point of the article is probably more important today than it was 16 years ago when the article was first published.
Diane Klumb is a monthly columnist for ShowSight magazine, an award-winning dog author, and dog breeder. In the article that follows, Klumb discusses the ensuing "war" on dog breeders and makes some logical arguments.
With so many economic problems, natural disasters, uprisings and wars across the globe vying for our attention, it's easy to gloss over the difficulties animal rights activists are creating nationwide in all areas related to animals. For dog breeders and dog owners, as city after city and state after state are besieged by anti-dog legislation under the guise of protecting animals, and as animal rights activists strive to make anyone who breeds dogs a criminal or an object of disdain, the worry is that our own rights as citizens will be compromised in the process. I lost count of how many of my own puppy buyers shared with me that some of their very best friends chastised them for buying a purebred instead of "adopting" a rescue dog. One even said that a friend of hers for many years was no longer speaking to her because she decided to by a purebred Lhasa!!
Legislators fall victim to smooth talking lobbyists, big contributions, and tear-inducing commercials on TV. Many choose to support legislation that will negatively impact who can breed and own dogs. Not one single reputable breeder of purebred dogs wants any dog, be it purebred or mutt, to endure the conditions many dogs are found in due to poor breeding and housing practices in many rural kennels across the country. However, all breeders should not be punished for the sins of those who mistreat dogs with shoddy breeding and housing practices. As a result, some dog breeders are giving up, laying low, or hiding their heads in the sand, hoping the endless battle is all a bad dream. Others are standing proud and fighting back. The battle continues and, while it often seems as if the other side is winning, it is refreshing to hear a voice such as Diane's "tell it like it is." It’s just too bad that so few improvements have been made over the past 16 years.
"Hi. My name is Diane, and I am a Breeder. I am good at it, and I am damned proud of it. I bought my first show dog in 1969 and whelped my first litter in April, 1975.
I have, since that inauspicious beginning, in partnership with my long suffering husband and a few good friends produced a few dozen champions, some top producers, a handful of Specials, and a lot of superb close-working grouse dogs and well loved companions. We kept a fair number over the years and sold the rest. (NOTE: I said sold, not 'placed'...we'll address that particular idiocy later.) We owned a kennel for many years, and trained gun dogs. This involved the killing of untold numbers of game birds, all of which we ate. I have more recipes for pheasant, grouse and woodcock than you can shake a stick at. We showed our hunting dogs and hunted over our show dogs.
I do not believe for a minute that the whelping or sale of a single one of those purebred dogs is in any way responsible for the euthanasia of a million unwanted dogs a year at shelters around the country, any more than I believed that cleaning my plate when I was a kid could in any way benefit all the poor starving children in Africa, no matter how much the nuns or my mother tried to make me feel guilty about it.
I couldn't see the logic then and I can't see it now (although today I would maybe refrain from suggesting that we bundle up Sister Edlita's meatloaf and actually send it to the poor starving children in Africa.)
Look at it this way: If I go to a bookstore specifically to buy Matt Ridley's The Human Genome (which, as it happens, I recently did) and that bookstore does not have it, I will do one of two things - I will order it, or I will go to another bookstore that does carry it and purchase it there. What I will NOT do is take the same money and buy Martha Stewart's latest cookbook instead, because this is not what I want.
Guilt without logic is dangerous.
Show breeders are simply not responsible for the millions of unplanned and unwanted mongrels produced in this country. Period. So don't let anyone make you feel guilty about it.
I do not understand why the top horse farms in this country are not in the least embarrassed by the fact they make a lot of money doing it, yet in the world of dogs if one is to be respected, one is to lose one's ass financially. That is a load of horse shit, pure and simple, yet we accept it meekly and without question.
Why is that?
Basic economic theory suggests that if we are not turning a profit, one of two things is wrong - we suffer from poor management, or we are not asking enough for our product to cover our production costs.
What are our costs? Well, if we are breeding good dogs, besides basic food and veterinary costs we ought to be adding in the costs of showing these animals, and advertising, and health testing, which are not expenses incurred by the high volume breeders (puppy mills).
OK, so we have much higher costs involved in producing our healthier, sounder animals. Yet the average pet shop puppy sells for about the same as the average well bred pet from show stock, and often they sell for much more. What's wrong with this picture? We're stupid that's what's wrong.
Q. Why does a Jaguar sell for ten times more than a Hundai?
A. Because it's worth more and everyone knows it. "And everyone knows it" is the key phrase here, folks. But somehow no one knows our puppies are worth more and we're embarrassed to tell them. Why is that?
The difference between the sale price of a multi million dollar stallion and what he's worth as horsemeat on any given day at a livestock auction is quality. Yet we cannot address this issue in dogs because we are embarrassed to talk about money and dogs in the same breath.
Why is that?
OK, I'll tell you, because someone has to come out and say this sooner or later. There is a war going on. Unlike most wars, however, this one actually has three sides rather than two.
1. We have Show breeders, who are producing a small number of purebred dogs.
2. We have High-Volume breeders who are producing a large number of purebred dogs.
3. We have Animal Rights Activists, who believe that neither group has the right to breed or even own purebred dogs, much less make a profit at it.
While the first group is busy trying to get rid of the second group because they don't like the way they breed dogs (which by the way ain't gonna happen as long as the American public wants purebred dogs and the first group won't produce them) the third group is winning the war.
You think I'm making this up?
Then how come we've started saying we "placed" our puppies instead of sold them? We talk about the new "adoptive homes" instead of their new owners. What's next? Instead of price of a puppy, we'll charge an "adoption fee?" What's wrong with this new language? I'll tell you.
We didn't come up with it, the Animal Rights Activists did - we are just stupid enough to use it. We are stupid because it's based on the premise that we have no right to own dogs. It is based on the premise that dog ownership is the moral equivalent of human slavery, and that the species Homo sapiens has no right to use any other species for any purpose whatsoever, be it food, clothing, medical research, recreation or involuntary companionship.
Now, I don't know about you, but my politically incorrect opinion is: Our species did not spend the last million years clawing our way to the top of the food chain to eat tofu. The stuff tastes like shit no matter how you cook it, and there is absolutely no sense pretending otherwise.
Zoology 101: Animals who kill other animals for their primary food source are called predators. Their eyes are generally on the front of their skulls, they have teeth designed to tear flesh from bone, and a digestive system designed to digest meat (like us). Animals that live primarily off vegetation are called herbivores. They have better peripheral vision, flat teeth for grinding, and the most efficient of them have multiple stomachs, which we do not (like cows). And lastly, Animals who live primarily off what other have killed (carrion) are called scavengers (think about that one long and hard.)
Man like the canis, is a pack-hunting predator, which is probably why we get along so well. (If that fact bothers you, get over it.) How did we get to the top of the food chain? We are the most intelligent and efficient pack-hunters ever to suck oxygen from the atmosphere, that's how. We are certainly intelligent enough to understand that maintaining that position on this small planet depends on responsible stewardship, not guilt. And we are so damned efficient that we can support a tremendous number of scavengers in our midst -- Like the Animal Rights Activists, for instance. (Me, I think we should dump the whole lot of them buck naked in the Boundary Waters and see how well this egalitarian philosophy of theirs plays out, but that's probably too politically incorrect for anybody else to consider )
So what do we do?
Well, to begin with we need to regain control. The first way we do this is with language, which is the tool they have been using on us. These people who don't want us to "own" dogs are likening themselves to Abolitionists. That's a fallacy, unless you accept the premise that dogs are really little humans in fur coats, which frankly is an insult to a species that has never waged war on the basis of religious differences.
No, the group they really resemble is the Prohibitionists - remember them? A particularly annoying bunch of zealots who firmly believed and somehow managed to convince our duly elected representatives that alcohol was a bad
thing, and any beverage containing it should be illegal in these United States of America. Very few Americans actually agreed with this, by the way, but by the time Congress got its head out of its collective you-know-what, a whole new industry had developed - Organized Crime.
We look back at that whole debacle now and wonder how anything that stupid and wrongheaded ever happened. Well, boys and girls, in the inimitable words of the great Yogi Berra: "It's deja vu all over again." The Prohibitionists are back.
And once again, we are buying it.....amazing."
~published in ShowSight Magazine September 2002
Some of Chance and Jenna's puppies have already left for new homes, and some of their new owners have sent notes and photos that I will share. Baron is still here and still lobbying to stay here and be my next show puppy. He is making a strong case for staying and will probably get his wish. Soon he will be the only puppy left from that litter. In the meantime, he and his sister Roxy are enjoying playing together and thinking up mischief. Like a true Lhasa female, Roxy bosses Baron around and, like a true Lhasa male, he's okay with that as long as I hold him first!
|Miss Roxy - 12 weeks - very full of herself|
|Baron - 12 weeks|
|Baron 12 weeks|
|Ginger - 7 weeks|
|Molly - 7 weeks|
|Jet - 7 weeks|
From Lynne about Stone: "Dear Joyce, Just thought I’d let you know that Stone is doing really well in his new home and with his new “big sister”! It took a couple of days for Lizzie to get used to Stone, but she’s been really good with him. They actually started playing with each other yesterday afternoon! … He’s just the sweetest little guy, it’s not hard to love him! He’s feeling much more comfortable here now and is keeping me on my toes. So many new things to check out and do. He’s been sleeping through the night with his “Snuggle Buddy”. He loves to cuddle with it during the day, as well…Thank you for trusting me to love him forever! Everyone he’s met have fallen in love with him, as well. He’s a snuggler now, but I’m sure as he gets older that will change. So I’ll take all the puppy snuggles I get get now!"
|Stone, obviously comfortable in his new home!|
From Barbara about Lovie: "Hi Joyce, I have to thank you for the perfect little puppy. She is doing AMAZING at potty training. She seems to know exactly what she is supposed to do when we go outside. Very very few accidents in the house – almost none! Everyone in my vet’s office fell in love with her. We have an appt Oct 19th for her second round of shots – my regular doctor at our vets had surgery and has been out but will be back that day and I am SO excited to show her. She is the smartest puppy ever - we are so in love with her. Pictures to prove how we are trying our best to spoil her!"
|Lovie (known at our house as Sparkle)|
|Lovie, looking like a princess|
From Mary: "Attached, cute pic of the big and the small. My pet sitter calls Belle the Hoover vacuum surrounding Rafe, from the ground to his mouth, looking for crumbs. Rafe tolerates." Mary also told me that her eventual goal for Rafe is rally. He’s a smart guy, so I am eager to see how he does. She worked a "miracle" with Belle who, when at my house refused to show and preferred to sit around looking lovely. Now she has rally titles and loves running agility.
|Rafe and Belle at Mary's|
|Shadow and the blanket I sent home with him when he left here|
|Shadow, again with his blanket near|
|Joyslyn's Moon Shadows|
What's next in my life is preparing for and going to the American Lhasa Apso Club's National Specialty Week, held this year in Maryland. I have a dozen or so lists of things to remember and things to pack. Things will have to come together by Saturday AM because that is when I'm leaving. I always look forward to the National Week. It's a great time to see friends from around the country and also to see so many beautiful Lhasas looking their best.
The schedule for the week is a busy one with very little down time. I'm taking Autumn, who will be 7 months old on the 21st. We'll be showing on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the 6-9 month old class. On Tuesday, I have a Board meeting and a Breed Standard Committee meeting. On Thursday, I will be presenting the Judges' Education Seminar and Workshop in the AM, then attending the Breeder Education presentation and annual meeting in the afternoon, followed by the Awards Banquet in the evening. It will be a full, busy week, but lots of fun!
As far as what is next regarding breedings -- because I know a lot of you are waiting for puppies -- if all goes as planned, we will be doing the next breeding in December or January.
That's it for now!