Sunday, December 7, 2008

Simple Things Rarely Are

This may seem like strange Blog topic but it is related to breeding Bernese Mountain Dogs, which is definitely related to puppies! Today I want to share some thoughts on the placement of puppies, and especially in homes that do not want to spay/neuter.

There are two reasons that I can see why a person would want an intact dog. First, some people want a show dog. A dog can be spayed/neutered to be shown in performance events (obedience, agility, etc.) but s/he must be intact to be shown in the Beauty Pageant. The second reason that a person would want an intact dog is because s/he would like to breed the dog.

As anyone who has tried knows, getting an intact dog from a reputable breeder is like finding the needle in the haystack. Good breeders are very, very careful with their puppy placements. Why? Because the future of the breed is in our hands and good breeders feel the weight of that responsibility.

Rolling the genetic dice is always a risky thing, and doing so without a great deal of knowledge about what is on those dice is gambling in a really unfortunate way. There is no need to handicap ourselves with ignorance when it is possible to have much useful knowledge before we play this game.

And so I had a lot of information about Cadi and her relatives before she was bred. She had health tests to ensure she is not affected by common genetic diseases. Further, her close relatives had similar tests. In order to make certain she meets the standard for a Bernese Mountain Dog, Cadi was shown to her championship. Temperament is also important – Cadi has working titles showing that she is smart and willing, and she also has received the Canine Good Citizen award from the AKC.

But again, it is not just about Cadi –– she represents many dogs behind and around her. Those dogs tell a piece of her story as well, and so they are important. We have a great deal of information about Cadi’s extended family, and this helps to illuminate what might be on that genetic dice we planned to roll.

Armed with knowledge about Cadi and her family, we looked for a male that would complement Cadi. Again, it is not enough to just have information about her husband, Jed. We needed information about his family and the kids he already has produced. It is very useful to have a Ph.D. and know how to do research when doing something that seems as simple as breeding dogs!

We cannot control or know everything, but we can know all we can – and that seems like an important responsibility. Breeding is easy – just put the dogs together; breeding well takes a lot more than that. Those of us in purebred dogs have an obligation to the breed and to the future owners of our puppies to do this as well as we possibly can.

And part of that responsibility is influencing future generations, and that gets us back to selling intact puppies. I do not sell puppies for other people to breed. This presents a conflict for me because how is someone supposed to get started on the ethical high road if nobody reputable will sell her/him a puppy that can be bred? Someone trusted me – what about the idea of paying forward, or passing along that trust? But these puppies represent such devotion to the breed and so much work – not just by me but by the wonderful people I have worked with for four generations of dogs; I have an obligation to those people as well.

I have met some wonderful people who would like to co-own intact puppies with me. I am hard wired and educated to help people, and it tugs at me to get requests for a good puppy. So how do I balance my innate desire to help with my fierce commitment to protect this small breeding program I have started? And how do I both honor my commitment to those whose integrity has allowed me to have such wonderful dogs, and those who have the integrity to want a quality dog and maybe even one that can be bred someday?

Our Glitter Litter is in demand and this is good – people are recognizing all that has gone into rolling this set of genetic dice. But more than any other litter, it has created dilemmas for me and I am losing sleep over it. There are no easy, neat answers and that is what I wanted to convey this morning – not a solution but a process, and a hard one.

Thankfully, at fifteen days old, the puppies are all safely here with me and will remain that way for six more weeks. My only big decision for today will be selecting what color fleece to use in their whelping box!

Yesterday the Glitterati had four visitors. I am very bummed at myself – I got so busy enjoying Gail and her wonderful husband last night that I forgot to take their pictures with the puppies! They live about two hours from me and stopped in for a visit, and I so enjoyed meeting them. Cindy and her daughter, Rebecca, also visited yesterday and that was really fun also. Cadi is completely happy to have visitors in her whelping box – in fact, she thinks they come to see her!

The puppies all have at least partially opened eyes. They are all walking pretty well, but as Cindy noted, they get milk drunk and so there is a lot of staggering and just falling down and going to sleep. They are interacting with us by mouthing hands and face, and are very cuddly and content to be held and loved. They are also amazingly beautiful and perfect :)

I have included pictures of both Rebecca and Cindy with puppies, and one of Cadi with Cindy and a puppy. Cadi likes to just throw herself into everything, including visitors! There is a nice close-up of Whitby, and one of Jamaica's eye opening progress. I liked that picture of a puppy on Cadi's paw as it shows how they are growing, and then there is a sweet picture of Hudson and Sutton.

We will spend today packing up and getting ready for the Big Adventure tomorrow. We aren't going so far as Liz and Sam, who are heading to South America for the holidays, and we aren't going to be as warm as the pug in Orlando, but we will be happy to have our family together in Utah soon!

I hope your day is free of dilemmas and filled with loving people and fun. Thanks for stopping in today.


  1. I agree - people often talk about responsible breeders, but responsible owners are equally important.

  2. Great photo of Cadi & Cindy. Looks like Cindy's hand didn't quite meet with Cadi's high-expectations of cleanliness, hee, hee.

    Have a safe trip to UT. :D