The Case for All Dogs From a Rescuer’s Perspective

Hey all! It’s been quite a while since we’ve posted anything other than our usual series but I recently read a post over at BlogPaws that prompted a writing spree. I started trying to write a comment but quickly realized I had a lot to say! I feel it would help to at least skim the post to see where I’m coming from.

I’ll start by saying I understand the very basic point the post is trying to make but it seems to be stretching to prove that point. We here at ILRA are certainly advocates for rescue but we have always recognized that there are some good breeders out there. On our site we say “We advocate always choosing adoption over buying an animal. (Note: We do not condemn responsible breeders but still feel you should consider adoption first.) We have no preferences for mixed breed or purebred animals as both can be found in shelters and rescues.” I once read an article about how truly responsible breeders practically lose money on it what with all the genetic testing, vet care, vaccines and hours of work they put into making sure each and every puppy is properly socialized. I wish I could find that post again because that was the one that finally cemented in my mind how I feel about responsible breeding. The problem is, responsible breeders as I define it probably only optimistically account for about 10% of the breeders out there, and probably something as ridiculously low as 1% of the dogs.

RufusI will never understand why a responsible breeder would fight legislation regulating the breeding of dogs. If, as the post suggests, breeders love a dog so much because of its history and how much it meant to a nation or a people, or even if it’s based simply on the characteristics of the dog, then they should care that breed standards are kept up to par. Regulation should in NO WAY affect a responsible breeder because they would A. Be taking proper care of their dogs and thus B. Not be breeding a huge number of dogs at once. Regulation is almost always based on the number of breeding bitches or total number of breeding dogs a breeder can have at one point in time and set a minimum standard of care for the animals. If this regulation comes anywhere near affecting a breeding operation then I can’t help but posit that that operation may not be as responsible as they would like people to believe. In order for there to be proper time, care, and attention given to selecting the right animals to breed, to ensuring that their temperaments are taken into consideration, and that every puppy is properly raised and sold to the right people, there HAS to be a limit on the number of dogs any given breeder can have at one point in time. Anyone needing more animals to make more money is not in it for the breed but for profit. Dogs become a commodity at that point, not a beloved breed representing tradition and heritage. That is what a puppy mill is. If you are truly in it for the breed, then you should ALWAYS be against puppy mills and should support legislation meant to bring them to an end. You should want there to be licenses required for breeding dogs so there aren’t backyard breeders out there diluting the breed standards and having no regard for temperament – one of the MAJOR reasons pit bulls have such a bad rap right now.

I was particularly taken aback by the author’s nonchalant way of throwing out what is actually a very reprehensible attack. “I’ve always known what we as individual dog owners stand to lose if animal rights groups have their way…” Excuse me? You want us as animal rescuers to look at breeders individually and recognize that there are responsible ones but you just lump every single one of us together? Yes, that is what I rescue animals for and why I support animal rights. Because I want to take away everyone else’s rights. That is my ultimate goal. It’s about screwing people over, not helping animals in need. Come on now. If you want to be taken seriously, leave the insults at home. As I’ve said, I believe there really are good, respectable breeders out there who LOVE the breed and want to preserve what is good about it. They are animal lovers as well and I can’t see them being so brazenly hateful towards other animal lovers. Many truly responsible breeders set up or at least volunteer for breed rescues. They care about the dogs first and foremost, and they appreciate that animal rescuers are doing the same thing. If you want people to respect you, you first have to extend them respect. We may not always see eye to eye on everything but if we attack each other, we’ll get nowhere.

SnarfAssuming that slant was not thrown in there, the author has some valid points about why SOME people like purebred dogs. I, myself, am fascinated by the histories of different breeds. I certainly have my favorites and would love, at some point in my life, to share my life with some of them. But I’m not adamant about HAVING to have a purebred “just because” and I will only ever get those breeds if I happen upon them in a shelter or rescue. And that’s the real issue here. Most people don’t care about a breed’s history or even their characteristics. People get a purebred dog because they just saw the latest cool movie or some celebrity toting around their newest fashion accessory dog. It happened with Lady & the Tramp, 101 Dalmations, the Obama’s getting Bo, Paris Hilton carrying a chihuahua around in her purse. Most people do whatever is popular at the time and don’t even bother to look into what the breed is like. They just have to have a certain breed of dog but never even realize the special characteristics that dog has that might make them a bad match for their lifestyles. Most dogs do not have jobs anymore but, yes, they still have it in them to perform those jobs! Responsible breeders make sure that people have the correct lifestyle to let that breed be what they are meant to be.

The problem is there are too many irresponsible breeders and puppy mills out there, flooding the market with ill-bred dogs that people then dump at shelters because they didn’t know what they were getting into in the first place. And none of this is the dogs’ fault. I don’t think you could find an animal rescuer anywhere who would say they hated a purebred dog. Did the dog have any choice in that? No. So it’s ludicrous to suggest that anyone thinks the only animals worth saving are mixed breed. Again, sounds like author has a chip on their shoulder for one reason or another. Any responsible breeder, i.e. actual animal lover, should be glad that animal rights groups want to be rid of puppy mills. That would mean less dogs would die unnecessarily. See that? DOGS. Less mutts AND less purebreds. And THAT is what matters. And let’s be really, truly honest here: ALL dogs are mixed breed dogs. How do you think breeds are made? Ah yes, that’s right, by crossing different dogs together until you reach the desired outcome. All dogs are mutts, and ALL DOGS deserve to be saved.

Never A Dull Moment

Ah the joys of being the mom of, well, a zoo. Having all the kids around us is always so nice. There’s always someone right there for you to pet, kiss, scratch or tell your secrets to. Unfortunately, as we all know, with the happiness also comes some not-so-nice moments. Our loss of Brody is probably the most poignant example I have right now. Well, that and every other furbaby I’ve lost over the years. Some are tougher than others – not that you necessarily love some more than others – but if you can see it coming then it’s a little easier to digest. Anyway, this post is not about Brody. There will be one coming soon. I need to write more about my grieving/healing process because I think it will help others who read it. I also need to write his real memorial about all the good memories we have with him. That will come with the introduction of our Brody Fund, which will be a used to help rescue animals in need. But like I said, this is not about him.

This is about the scares we’re having with all of our other animals. When it rains, it pours, you know?I know a lot of you have noticed my recent tweets about Spunky and so many of you have told me that you’re thinking of us and hoping everything’s okay. I can’t tell you how much that means to me, to us. To recap, last night Spunky acted strange and uninterested in his food. If you knew Spunky, you’d know how incredibly strange that is for him. Spunky is one of those dogs that is obsessed with food and no matter what I’ve tried we can’t stop him from gulping his food. So right away I wondered what was wrong. Then Nikki noticed that Spunky had eaten a whole lot of cauliflower soup sometime earlier. Then I remembered that there were almonds in it and got nervous because I thought they weren’t good for dogs. So we rushed off and googled and found out that the biggest worry is with bitter almonds, not sweet almonds. Still, it was a big reminder of everything I DIDN’T know about poisonous foods (for instance, until recently I didn’t know the dangers of onions & garlic). So we started to calm down some but were still worried because Spunky’s stomach was very big and hard. Of course my mind jumped to bloat but since I’ve never seen it personally your mind can just run wild with all the different symptoms of it you can find online. There were lots of people trying to offer advice or make me feel better on twitter. I’d like to thank @winecountrydog, @RubyTheJRT, @WebVet_com, @LindaJosey & @GreenSpotOn for caring enough to comment! Anyway, we called an emergency vet in Knoxville since there aren’t any here and she said the only time we really needed to start worrying was if he tried to vomit but couldn’t. It should have calmed us but I was a nervous wreck last night. We stayed up with Spunky until 4 in the morning, checking his tummy for rumblings (apparently a sign it’s not bloat) and seeing if the swelling went down. After a few hours he seemed to feel better – his tummy wasn’t hard anymore and he was back to acting like his usual self. So we went to sleep but I still set my alarm to wake us up every hour to check on him again. Yeah, not much sleep last night. This morning we noticed that ever since the soup he has been urinating frequently in huge quantities and it’s been completely clear. Back to worrying…

So I’m sure some of you have also noticed that I’ve been tweeting about how our rat Chunky has been sniffling and sneezing and gurgling. We tried treating it ourselves with vitamin drops in his water and steam treatments (keeping him in a room with a humidifier and showers). Anyway, he’s been up and down, up and down. I really thought he was better for about a week but then he relapsed. I finally decided over the weekend that I was going to bring him to the vet today. So this morning I called up and made us an appointment. I had already decided that I wanted to do a Baytril suspension that I could give to him orally (wanted to avoid sub-cutaneous if possible). We decided to bring the girls (Morgan & Meetu) along too since they’ve been sniffly and I’d like to nip their problem before it gets any worse. Well we’re bringing 3 animals already, so why not add the dog?  We were thinking we might get bloodwork done on him to check his kidneys & also have his teeth looked at since we want to get his broken tooth fixed soon.

So skip past the part about us always being late & running around like chickens with our heads cut off and we’re sitting there in the end room at the vet’s. Now don’t get me wrong, I really like the people at our vet. We’ve seen both vets and they’re both wonderful. They also don’t talk down to me – they can tell that I know what I’m talking about so don’t try to dumb anything down for me. The vet techs are nice too and one even remembered us from the last time we were there over 3 months ago. But I hate being at vet offices if it’s not for a regular check-up and vaccines. And our rats were the first ones they’d ever treated there. That makes me nervous. I went in asking for Baytril & he looked it up and has supposedly done all the calculation but I’m still a bit uncertain. I know they’re not idiots but rats are different than cats & dogs so… Also, they couldn’t give us a suspension so we’re supposed to make our own. Not quite sure how that works. If any of you have suggestions, please let me know. Also, if any of you are vets knowledgable with rats, is this the right dosage? We were given 22mg Baytril tablets that were quartered and told that that is the right amount per dose (2x daily) to give Chunky who weighs roughly 1 pound. The girls weigh about half a pound (9 grams) so we’re supposed to give them 1/8th of a pill. I am not trying to be disrespectful of my vet at all! I just want to be responsible.

Now on to Spunky. The vet checked him out and everything was good until he felt his abdomen. He said it was still swollen (though we know it’s better than last night) and Spunky whined a bit. He said that with pain in the abdomen the first thing he’d do would be a urinalysis. We debated over whether we should try to do a free catch or if they should use the ultrasound & use a needle to go directly into his bladder to get a sample. We were worried, of course, but decided that a sterile sample would be better than a potentially contaminated sample. Spunky wagged his tail as they took him into the back & he was back within minutes, reaking like rubbing alcohol. The pup even made himself sneeze over his stank! Anyway, then came the big wait. The waiting is the worst part. At this point I was feeling good. Then the vet came back in and said that we were right and his urine wasn’t concentrated at all and that that was a problem with his kidneys. He went to do another test. More waiting. That’s the point where I wished that I could just burst into tears. What was wrong with our son? When he finally came back in the vet didn’t have much more information. He doesn’t know why Spunky’s kidneys aren’t concentrating his urine but they aren’t. I started to panic some more but he reassured me that if he had kidney failure, we’d know it. It takes a 70-75% drop in kidney function before the diluted urine would occur, apparently, and at that point Spunky would be sick as a, well, dog. (Why is that a saying anyway?) He told us that there were some very rare conditions that could lead to this (some type of special diabetes & a few others) but that they’re hard to diagnose. So here’s our plan for now. We’re taking Spunky home and watching his… urinating habits. Then on Thursday we’ll collect a sample and take it to them for another uranalysis. If his concentration is back to normal then we can breathe a sigh of relief. It it’s not, then we’ll take him in for bloodwork on Friday and then go from there. So it’s a wait and see, which I hate, but at the moment I’m hopeful. Perhaps he got way too much salt and that has messed him up temporarily. When we got back from the vet, Spunky’s pee was already more yellow. Possibly TMI but you’re all animal people so I’m sure you can handle it.

Oh! I would also like to thank @godlikescoke, @tinka_bell, @lovingpaws, @rachellereese, @SwissFamily, @MrsDazzle, @angelicinsights & @TheArtOfKaren for sending us good thoughts when I was freaking out at the vet.

Also, when we go in on Thursday I’m going to pick up enough dewormer for Spunky, the 3 cats & possibly the ferrets. Then the cats will be all caught up on everything except their feline leukemia shots. Yes, it scares me, but we can’t afford to get them all tested and vaccinated. It’s $40 per test per cat – not including the vaccines. The ferrets are good except that I’m pretty sure Drake & Nate both are in the beginning stages of adrenal gland disease. I hate not having enough money to do everything perfectly right but we are doing our best. Sometimes it’s just not possible to fix everything. Nikki and I need jobs but it’s hard right now for anyone to find one. So if any of you know anyone who wants to hire an animal psychologygrad or a fantastic web designer? I’m serious here. We’re willing to relocate! Heh, twitter is helping to save animals, maybe it can help save us too! ^_^

Mindful Mowing

I’ve been trying to think about what to write. I always want it to be meaningful but then the definition of that changes from person to person so it’s hard to know what everyone would want to read. So today I’ll just give you some random thoughts that I’ve had over the past couple days.

Two days ago I had to mow the lawn. Now I say ‘had’ because I really don’t like doing it. If it were just grass that’d be one thing but we have a wonderful yard full of wildflowers and mosses and other beautiful plants. I hated that I had to run down so many of the pretty flowers just because they happened to be growing in the grass. As I was mowing I got to thinking. What most humans find nice (i.e. grass, some very organized flower beds and hey, more grass) is very boring. Nature is not so tame and monotone and I don’t know why we try so hard to stray from it. As I mowed I tried my best to avoid the flowers where I could and was even able to leave a few large patches of clover spaced around the yard. As such it’s not all one, flat, bright green expanse, and that makes me happy. I also, of course, mowed slowly to try and let all the little grasshoppers have time to hop out of the way. I also said sorry when I had to mow down the flowers and clover. I was also rewarded because below the big clover that got cut, there were hundreds of tiny baby clovers so it made me feel better. Call me crazy, you wouldn’t be the first, but I think we should thank the Earth for what she gave us. And if I have to alter what’s there because humans like it (or rather the home owner’s association says it must be like that) then I just want to make sure that she knows I appreciate what she gives us. So with all of that in mind, I decided that what I practice is mindful mowing. How’s that sound?