We had purebred dogs in my childhood but so did most people. As an adult, I adopted mixed breed dogs from the shelter and now I have purebred dogs again. Some dogs were great, some could be a drag - quite literally - but I loved them all as much for their quirks as anything else. I should mention that I was raised to reject any kind of snobbery, and it stuck.
Today, due to social media and other enhanced forms of mass communication there is a lot of misinformation that is either being deliberately spread or is just a result of a high-speed crazy game of pass the word.
The rescues slam the breeders, the shelters and pounds slam the innovators and social workers, the kennel club breeders huddle together and talk to each other. The puppy farmers make a killing while the USDA and Ag Canada do nothing to stop them, likely because the pet industry is b-i-g business and they don't want to piss off Hunte, or whomever. I presume that's why it's legal to raise dogs in outdoor chicken coops in Iowa, for example, regardless of weather, or to have 200 dogs in a barn in Grey-Bruce county here in Ontario.
The breed snobs play My Dog's Better Than Your Dog in their heads while the noose tightens and the money runs out because due to decades of propaganda, nobody wants what they are selling these days. The irony is something they never grasp: dogs are the least snobbish beings on this planet.
The raw feeders sneer at the kibble feeders, the cooked people scoff at the raw people and so on and so forth and everybody forgets that dogs will eat garbage (and worse) quite happily. I'm a fan of good nutrition and have read a fair amount about it, so I get it, but it's becoming pretty nuts out there. Foodies. Yikes.
Everybody looks down on somebody. The purpose-bred owners sneer at the pet fanciers who backstab each other relentelessly and of course nobody likes the flat-faced dog people but me. The doodle-dogs are almost universally despised except for the people who believe all the hype about 'hybrid vigour' and 'hypoallergenicity' and 'non-shedding coats'.
The 'pit people' keep acting as if they are under siege, even though everybody is telling them that war is over if they want it so they can come out now and play with the rest of us. The crackpots who promote discrimination based on the shape of a pet are such a tiny number (let's face it, most of us can name them all quite easily) that they really don't warrant any attention, but the 'BSL fighters' keep advertising them. It's like a symbiotic relationship of some kind, a bizarro yin-yang setup that I just can't fathom.
The people who own Heinz 57s want to play in the kennel club sport rings with the purebred people but those folk think the barbarians are at the gates so they resist, becoming more exclusionary and isolated from the mainstream. If they were smart - I mean really smart - they'd invite everybody to play in the sandbox because that is the only way to win them over. What's wrong with different types of owners getting to know each other? What's wrong with people wanting to get out and have fun with their dogs? What's wrong with mixed breed owners actually getting to know purebred breeders and owners, and vice versa? Knowledge is power, isn't it?
And as long as everybody is running on propaganda and hatred - you can just call it bullpucky if you like - the people with the nasty agenda are gaining ground faster than you can say mandatory neutering, breed ban or warrantless entry. Or, just call it what it is, class warfare. Why can't we all just stop buying what they are selling?
Everybody is exploiting dogs (for good and bad). Everybody is in the same business, you know. Rescues, shelters, pounds, dog fancy and working breeders sell dogs - they don't 'adopt' them out. Purebred breeders actually invented private rescue, decades ago. People who import pariahs sell dogs and so, of course, do puppy farmers. I don't see anything wrong with being paid for work and breeding or rescuing dogs is most definitely expensive work. That's not the point. The point is, everybody is doing the same thing so why not break down walls instead of reinforcing them at the behest of those who do not have your interests at heart?
Politicians use dog owners as whipping boys when their failings are obvious to even the most dim-witted constituent. Dishonest people use dogs to beg for money on social media sites and elsewhere. I wondered for awhile if the big animal liberation groups might be running their own puppy farms to assist with revenue generation. It's easy enough to do, according to them. That way, they'd have an endless series of poster pups and undercover filming opportunities readily available. I think it was just a flight of fancy on my part, though, likely after an especially hard year.
You know who doesn't sell dogs? Kijiji, Craigslist, Petfinder or your local newspaper or magazine. They are just tools to get the word out. It seems so obvious, doesn't it? Did you know that CKC members are strongly discouraged from advertising anywhere except in the Annual or on the CKC website? No? Well, it's true. Did you know that selling an unregistered, unmarked dog as purebred violates federal law in Canada? That's true, too.
And while CEOs at provincial shelter headquarters cry poor while receiving tens of millions of public and private dollars, they slam No Kill as they push a scheme with pet limits, restrictions on hobby breeders (and more) using a fifteen-year old poster of puppy farm inmates which shocks people who aren't hardened to that type of 'visual aid'. It works very well. They always forget to mention that hoarding is a psychiatric disorder and breeding or keeping dogs under squalid conditions is probably one, too, so a bylaw will have little effect. Meanwhile a private charity, which is unaccountable, is enforcing the law for monetary gain, but nobody seems to care about that because it's all about the puppies, isn't it? Isn't it?
I like to imagine how nice it could be if everybody got together and shared ideas on ways to improve the health and longevity of dogs, on strategies to help each other to keep dogs out of the pounds and shelters in the first place instead of swapping slogans and looking for scapegoats and being so nasty most of the time. Too much emotion, too little reason makes for a bad mixture.
Imagine the reaction among the bad guys of all stripes if everybody who truly cares about dogs started working together, or at least stopped being so damned judgemental about people they've never met and know nothing about. Let's defeat sleazy politicians, groups who don't want us to share our lives with dogs, and cruel people who only see the dollar value of these marvellous friends of ours.
Maybe people should start behaving more like their charges, who have an uncanny ability to see both the forest and the trees. They do have better senses than we have (and, I'd argue, more sense) and don't give a damn about trappings; that's not what they judge at all. They judge intent. Intent is everything to them, as it should be to us. But you have to be able to look past all bloody distractions, and there are a lot of them these days. Disinformation. Misinformation. Us and Them.
There are enough homes for dogs. There is room for everybody who has a heart to participate in dogdom. Your dog may be better than mine, although I doubt it, but if he is, it won't be because he's a member of a rare family or is FCI rather than CKC or isn't a Peke, Pug or Bulldog.
It will most likely be just because he is yours.
E pluribus unum, baby.
Josephine with one of her beloved Pugs