Bringing home a dog is an important decision; where you bring it FROM is just as important.
I will say up front that I did not adopt Maxie or Mia from a shelter. I will admit the homes I purchased them from may fit the description of a backyard breeder.
When I visited the country home where Maxie was part of a recent litter, her owner first introduced me to the parents. She explained her practice of how she rounded up the pups for playtime outside so they would get accustomed to the feel of the grass under their feet. She had a routine of setting up a playpen in the kitchen to keep the pups safe as she prepared dinner and still be around the family. I found these explanations heartwarming and sincere. Maxie has been a part of our family for almost 14 years – a testament I think to the care provided to her parents by their owner.
But there’s a back story here that is not as pretty. Two weeks before I was able to find Maxie, I visited another backyard breeder. As I drove down the lane to her drive, I could see kennels lined up in 2 long rows alongside a barn. Each kennel was occupied with a breed I will not mention.
I should have followed my instincts and turned and drove away. But I had just lost a very beloved dog, I was grieving, and I wanted so badly to fill that void.
I picked out a female pup that the breeder explained had been payment for breeding services. I had never heard of such a thing. I paid her for the pup and left; I ached with doubt the entire drive home. Something didn’t seem right – the pup exhibited behavior towards my son that was unsettling and by the next morning it was clear this pup had a serious issue with worms. I was an inexperienced dog owner, but I was intuitive enough to know that things were just not adding up right. I called the breeder and told her I was bringing back the puppy. She was quite unhappy when I met her in her driveway. She gave me back my money and I drove away in tears.
When Maxie was six, I decided I wanted to add to my dog family, I again found a breeder about 40 minutes away in a small town. I stepped out of the car just in time to see a small herd of mini’s galloping across a wide open area like it was recess time at the local elementary school! The owner greeted me enthusiastically and explained she insists on meeting all potential buyers and did not (and still does not) sell to pet stores or brokers and never ships her puppies. She had been raising schnauzers, at that time, for almost 20 years. (& Mia is now 7.) From her obvious dedication to her dogs, to the tour of their living quarters, everything seemed right. Again, Mia has been very healthy and I attribute that in a large part to the great care her parents received.
Bringing home a dog is a big decision; and where you bring the dog FROM is just as important. When deciding to add a dog to your family, research the dog you are considering, whether from a shelter or an independent breeder, get help from others that are more experienced in dog ownership and most importantly, trust your instincts: if something doesn’t seem right, then turn around and walk away.
This first week of May is designated Puppy Mill Action Week. These small and large scale operations need to change. But that can only happen if awareness is raised about these mills and when dog owners – and potential dog owners – are educated.
Please get the facts about Puppy Mills. We have posted a Puppy Mill Fact Sheet on
our Miss Maxie page. Visit www.thepuppymillproject.org for in-depth information and how you can change dog’s lives for the better. Together we CAN make a difference!
Thank you for stopping by this blog hop and thank you for your support.