Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Logical Dog Lover

 The past couple of days have been a bit heavy for me as I've gotten back into the writing world and have been given the jolting reminder of what people can be like through social media. The same people who might politely hold their tongue when talking to you face to face, may be fire-and-brimstone hurlers when hiding behind a computer screen.

  Over the last month and a half, I've had an idea brewing that I wanted to try. I wanted to work with a English Shepherd breeder, and together we would raffle off a pup here on the blog. The perks to this idea were that the breeder would have a pup sold, get some free publicity, and maybe get a waiting list down for future litters. The English Shepherd breed would have gotten some much needed limelight, which was my main focus; I love this breed, and wish more people knew about them! I know of no other breed that is as intelligent, useful, or unique. The only perk I hoped for myself was maybe a few new readers. I wasn't in it for the money at all. I just wanted to make someone happy, when they found themselves the new owner of a working farm dog to help them with barn chores.

  Now, I am not stupid. I could easily see that there could be some bad outcomes of this idea. The pup might go to a bad owner, or a pet flipper, or what-have-you. But I figured with some very careful rules and guidelines, we could pretty well avoid the kind of people we didn't want.

  I got all the details written out; hours of evening work, scribbling away with pen and paper. My goal was to start the raffle at the beginning of December, and pick the raffle winner on January 1st. It took me days upon days to find the courage to put my little brainchild of an idea up on the English Shepherd Breeders Facebook page... I don't believe one knows true vulnerability until they've tried handing over their writing to the public. The public tends to have very sharp fangs. But I did it anyway. My plan was sound, the idea was fun, and someone would be blessed with a young farmhand to start their new year with.

  Three hours after posting my idea on Facebook, I deleted it. In frustrated, emotional, hurt tears, I took it down.

  The public has very sharp fangs.

  "Dog people" are an interesting breed of human. And I had forgotten just what they're like. The breeders, whom I had gotten to know over a year of being a member, were mortified and disgusted that I would even think of doing such a thing. They accused me of exploiting the breed and wanting to turn it into something as common as a Labrador. They claimed I was unfit to own an English Shepherd, if I thought we could simply give a puppy away without doing a home check first. And went on and on about how "their" breed was much too precious to share with the public. They call these dogs "the farmer's best kept secret", and couldn't understand why I would want to expose the breed to publicity.

  Trying to maintain my politeness at their harsh condemnations, I replied with an apology at bringing the idea up, and that I would wait until I had pups of my own to hold such a raffle.

 That comment only fanned the flames instead of diffusing them. Breeders who I had been working with to reserve a spring pup banned me from their wait lists. The comments became more abusive. The core message from them all was that I am not fit to own a dog because I am willing to give one away to a person who needs one.

 I love dogs. Always have, always will. All animals are special to me, but there is something that feels particularly right about having a good dog at your side. BUT, they are also "just dogs" to me. I retain a level of logic towards them. They are dogs; not furry children to have their picture taken with Santa or wear costumes. They are not creatures to be idolized above humans. They are not family members that need a cemetery stone, or an ash urn.  And they are certainly not too precious to withhold from decent homes, which is what most animal shelters believe. Shucks, I spent my entire summer trying to adopt an amazing female Akita that desperately needed a home; but the shelter wouldn't let me adopt her because she would have been in a one-income family, and they preferred a two-income family.

They would have preferred that she stayed locked up in a kennel all day, and gotten a quick 15-minute walk in the evenings, instead of being loved and exercised all day!

 America has gone to pot in a lot of aspects, but most notably where dogs are concerned. They have become our idols. Something to violently stand up and fight for on social media. I still remember all the flack I got when I rehomed Gyp. He was an amazing dog, but my life was changing and he couldn't cope with it. I was getting married, my husband was joining the military, and we were looking at living in town, where we most likely wouldn't have had a backyard. Gyp was high energy and needed to run a minimum of 5 miles a day, and be able to work livestock on a daily basis. Anything less than that made him hyper, explosive, and unpredictable. Knowing this, I did the kindest thing I could: I gave him to a gentleman who lived nearby on a farm, and wanted a running partner. It's been a year and a half since doing that, and I still get emotional when I think about him. But I don't regret putting him in a better situation. The "dog people" were horrified that I did it. To a dog person, you're supposed to keep a dog until it dies; no matter what. This sounds quite noble, really. The loyalty and perseverance of it all is not lost on me. But their passion is skewed; and so many of them own unpredictable, unhappy dogs that would be better off with a different owner who could give them what they need. Keeping a Border Collie as an apartment pet because you refuse to rehome him to a local shepherd is not kindness. America thinks it is, but the harsh, cold truth is that it's cruelty. There is nothing noble, loyal, or honorable about keeping an animal in the wrong situation. There is nothing kind and loving about forcing a Border Collie (or any other high energy, working breed) to live in an environment that turns him into a menace due to lack of exercise and mental stimulation. It's far kinder to sell the dog (and there is no shame in getting money for an animal!) to the RIGHT owner, and look for another one that better suits your needs.

  Buying a pup is often times harder than adopting a child these days. And that saddens me. Having to fill out page upon page of forms for the breeder to look over, give at least five references, get a signed paper from your vet, AND have a home inspection before you might get a "yes" from a breeder is insane. But that's what America is now.

 I am a dog lover. But a logical one. Yes, I do hope to have litters of English Shepherds and Scotch Collies in the future, but I refuse to stoop to the disgusting level of all too many breeders these days. There will be no forms for you to fill out, stating how much money you make in a year, how many kids you have, and if you smoke or not. There will be no home inspections done. And there will be no references required. Because I TRUST YOU. And it's really none of my business. If you're willing to pay $500 for a pup, and an extra $350 to ship it, then you're obviously committed to some level in caring for this creature. It's time we put dogs back in perspective of importance. A child should not be easier to adopt than a dog. We cannot expect this nation to make any progress while we sit around and dust off the pedestals that we've placed our pooches on. In fact, I really don't think there's much hope of change until we start making humans more important again, and dogs go back to what they should be: Fun pets that have a job. Nothing more, nothing less.

  And so, I deleted the Facebook post. Getting a spring pup will most likely be quite difficult now, since most of the breeders have my name. But I still think it was a great idea. The English Shepherd is too good a breed to keep a secret. And too good a dog to not share with one of you readers who would really benefit from having a working partner around your place.

 Oh, and for the record, Gyp is doing great.


Sarah G said...

There's a similar tone with cat people... Some shelters won't even let you take the cat home if it's going to be outdoors. o.O

Mama Char said...

You are right. Wow what a good writer you are. When I hear animal people getting so upset about such things I think about 60 million abortions since it was made legal. Americans have their priorities all mixed up! Until people in America wake up it will only get worse. I pray for a great awakening, a true revival and turning to Jeusus!!

Davi Parker said...

Very well said. I'm SO sorry you had to deal with that. Sadly a lot of "animal" people are incredibly cruel. I tried to get an Irish Setter a while back, that was impossible. Oh and same problem with a horse too. And all the requirements in the after sale contract of what you have to do with the animal, whether a dog or horse or whatever else, are crazy. Even after you own the animal, your don't "own" the animal.
I really hope you are able to find a really great breeder who wants to share the amazingness of their breed with the world. If you truly love something, don't you want everyone to know how awesome they are?
Anyways, you said all this way better than I ever could. Keep your chin up! It will all work out.

Tina :) said...

Very well said. So sorry you had to go through that. I love dogs and can't imagine not having at least one in my life, but I also realize that as life changes, so does the right dog. I have three wonderful dogs right now that will stay with me until then end of their days. But as I get older, I know the next dog(s) will be smaller and less active than the dogs of my younger days. You did right by Gyp. The raffle sounded awesome. Can't wait to join in when you do have it.

Janet said...

I am so sorry you had to go through that. How it saddens me that people are more concerned with being kind to animals than to each other. The order of nature is upset. You are right in saying that animals have become idols. Instead of man having dominion over the animals as God intended, many people feel that the animals' rights are more important than human rights. There are a lot of us out here who love animals and care for animals but keep in perspective that loving God and loving and caring for each other supersedes everything else. Please keep writing. I love your posts. And I do sing to my goats even before I saw the name of your blog. Of course, they're the only ones who can listen to me sing and not complain about the noise! But then, Scripture says to make a joyful noise. It never says it has to be pretty!

Davi Parker said...

"Scripture says to make a joyful noise. It never says it has to be pretty!"
AHAHA! I love that Janet! I'm going to use that on my Husband next time he makes fun of my singing. :)

Alycia Beam said...

That's so sad that they couldn't see the potential in the raffle. I'm sure there are other great English Shepherd breeders that aren't in the 'group' of those with closed minds and mean tongues. The perfect pup for your breeding program will be out there and we will be excited when you post about it!

P.S. Glad your back to posting!

Lindsey P said...

Yes, yes, and yes! The dog world has gotten so political and it's sad that it's so hard to find a balance... and the dogs are the ones who suffer, being made to wait for the non-existent "perfect" home.