Did We Create The Doodle Craze? Part 3

In the last installment, I looked at how a growing middle class started looking at purebreds as one of the luxuries their income and leisure could now well afford.  Mid-century modern society wanted the mid-century modern dog to keep up with the Joneses.  Supply followed the demand… to excess.

The Star That Tarnished

Gradually, the star of the purebred started to dim, with more and more reports of unhealthy, inbred animals.  The changes in some breeds and a growing awareness of the problems with breeding for extremity also didn’t do the purebred fancy much good.  Resistance to allowing new blood into the stud books was also a contentious issue.  As the years rolled on towards the end of the 20th century, the purebred’s image was getting worse, not better.

Whether or not one agrees with any or all of the claims in the links above does not change the fact that these sentiments are widely circulated and widely believed.  Also, they are rooted in truth, as most kinda-sorta-well-a-little-bit-but-not-really things are.  There are some lines of purebred dogs that are flawed genetically – with recessive genes that cause debilitating problems or bred for a look that does not lend itself to a healthy, long life with minimal structural problems.  There are people who breed dogs they are well aware are passing on recessives that will ruin the lives of future puppies.  Not all of these people exist on remote farms with dogs permanently installed in cages, either.  Some of these dogs are trotting around show rings even now.

With every report of a defective dog or puppy, with every news article on unhealthy purebred dogs, with every expose on the dog show world that highlights English Bulldogs who can’t whelp on their own or German Shepherd Dogs running on their hocks, the image of the purebred dog in general got a bit more grime on it.

Author’s Note: If your dedication to breed purity/your bloodlines/your reputation as a breeder/producing puppies is greater than your desire to produce healthy, temperamentally-sound, long-lived dogs, you have failed as a breeder.  FAILED.  If you are part of a group that ignores or promotes breeding practices that do not result in said healthy, temperamentally-sound, long-lived dogs, you have also failed.  Grade F.  I don’t care if you breed purebreds, mixed breeds, your own new, special breed or whatever.  You don’t produce the best possible dogs with the best possible future within your power, you are contributing nothing to the dog world.  Zip. Zilch. Thank you for calling, please don’t try again.

The animal rights groups had the perfect ground for promoting adoption and casting an evil light on breeding.  Purebreds, they argued, were not one whit better than mixed breeds and no one should be breeding

Image Problems

Meanwhile many dedicated breeders were breeding dogs that were hardy, healthy, suitable for the work they were bred for, and reasonably long-lived.  Of course, few people heard about them, because a purebred Labrador who is purchased from a breeder, lives a healthy, happy life and dies at the ripe old age of 15 does not make the news.

Purebreds were still popular, but their image was damaged by a virulent combination of puppy mill dogs and growing unrest about the proliferation of genetic problems that seemed to plague purebred dogs.  After all, despite the dawning realization that breeders were going to have to challenge the image of the purebred dog as a weak, unhealthy, unsound animal, their voice in the general population wasn’t that loud.  Also, when you try to make a point about inbreeding vs. linebreeding vs. outcrossing coefficients, the only thing the average person sees is ‘inbreeding’ which equals ‘bad’.

A lot of breeders who woke to this realization tried to repair the damage, but in every case, it was overshadowed with the purebred vs. mutt/mixed breed/crossbreed controversy.  Yeah, sure, we could talk about hip tests when they started to be in vogue and eye tests when they started being a thing, blood tests when they came out, and DNA testing when it appeared… but all we managed to teach people was that it was a case of purebred vs. crossbred, not a case of serious breeder vs. look-I-stuck-two-dogs-together-and-they-have-PAPERS.

On to Part 4: Enter the Doodle.

Charity Begins At Home

Max was missing for over a month.  He may not make it, but we're sure as hell going to fight for him.

Max was missing for over a month. He may not make it, but we’re sure as hell going to fight for him.

Help Bring Max Home

Tierce:  What is this?  What are you posting on my Facebook page?

Me: Friend’s cat is sick.  Needs help in the form of money.

Tierce:  I don’t help cats.  Cats are the enemy.

Me:  You were okay looking at him through the window.

Tierce:  Yeah, through the window.  He wanted to kill me.

Me:  He did not.

Tierce:  Yeah, when you weren’t looking, he stared at me.  And showed his claws.

Me:  He probably didn’t know what the hell you were.

Tierce:  But he was willing to see how I tasted.

Me:  Don’t be ridiculous.  He might be a little nuts, but that cat-

Tierce:  Threatened to shiv me if I came inside.

Me:  Well that was why you were left outside.

Tierce:  At the mercy of the elements.

Me:  It was spring!  It was sunny!  It was 18 degrees!

Tierce:  Could have changed at any moment.  Abandoner.

Me:  We were right on the other side of the damn drywall.

Tierce:  Petting the cat.

Me:  Look, if you were in this state, you’d better believe I would be trying to help you.

Tierce:  Because it’s your job.

Me:  So you should try to help other beings in the same situation.

Tierce:  Catshit.  Which is tasty, by the way.

Me:  Don’t be disgusting.  I’m putting this on your page.

Tierce:  What do I get out of it?

Me:  Maybe if you’re a little more enthusiastic about it, they might give you some Kraft Singles or something.

Tierce:  Really?!

Me:  Uh, sure.  Totally.  Never a doubt.

Tierce:  Wow, this is awesome!  Put that on my page.  And maybe I could write a poem.

Me:  That’s the spirit!

Tierce:  The spirit of self-interest?

Me:  Whatever motivates you to charitable work.

Tierce:  Reason enough for me.

Help Bring Max Home

It's for a good cause.

It’s for a good cause.

 

Road Trials for Bicycle Dogs

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“That wheel is definitely out of true.”

 

From March 23rd to May 1st, I am at Quadra Island Bike School for a mechanic course that covers pretty much everything that a bicycle has in it or on it.

Cyclists and dogs sometimes have a very wary relationship, bordering on hostile.  This is, I believe, largely because irresponsible dog owners do not control their animals and don’t socialize them around bicycles.  Nor do they train them what to do when near a bicycle.

Certainly, one can socialize their dogs around cyclists and bicycles, but for the people who want their dogs to bicycle with them and not be the dogs cyclists love to hate, I have an idea:

The Dalmatian Club of America has a Dalmatian Road Trial (DRT) certification for Dalmatians who are trained to work with and around horses.

The above page states:

A Dalmatian Road Trial is a performance event designed to evaluate the Dalmatian’s ability to “coach”, or follow the horses. Exhibitors compete as handler on horseback or in a horse-drawn cart or carriage, with dog(s) off leash…. Road Trials demonstrate Dalmatians’ ability to behave in public places, such as riding trails, in the presence of other dogs, in a manner that will reflect positively on the sport and on purebred dogs.

I’d like to develop something similar for all dogs in regards to bicycles.  While today’s dog may go its whole life without seeing a horse, most dogs regularly see bicycles.  Bicycles can also be a good source of exercise for a well-trained and -controlled dog.

While not everyone will be comfortable letting their dog off-leash for this kind of activity, the rules of a DRT could be adapted for bicycle use.  Training a dog to stay within a safe distance of the bicycle, to stay, to sit, to come to the bicycle, to keep speed with the bicycle for an appropriate distance are all useful behaviours to shape in your dog.

For people who like to bicycle with their dogs off-leash, these behaviours become even more important.  How does your dog react when biking around other dogs, other people, horses or wildlife?  It’s better to teach and proof your dog before you do serious mountain biking with him or her.

Shibas often don’t bicycle with their people due to their size and lack of concern about pesky things like ‘command’, but Tierce sometimes comes with me if I’m going somewhere on a bike.  He’s decent at trotting along, but his limit is around 10K, which means if I want to go somewhere farther or faster, it’s the bike trailer for him.

Tierce in his bicycle trailer. I'm not even gonna tell you how much that cost. We bicycle in unfenced locations.

“Drive through the park; you know how I love the park.”