Shimi Shake

Shimi is coming along. She is 5 months old now and is it halfway through puppy class and is also going to Nanaimo Pet Services daycare.  She has her interview with Dog & Suds later this week.

Living with a puppy is something I haven’t had to do for 10 years so it’s been a bit of a curve but she is starting to sleep through the night and I am starting to get used to walking more. I am logging 10,000 steps on my Fitbit everyday more often than not. I have lost 10 pounds. Sometimes I think I’ve lost my mind but this was probably done prior to Shimi.

It’s funny how things come full circle. Shassi came into my life almost 24 years ago, in 1993. Susan, the same breeder who bred Shassi, bred Shimi – Shassi’s great-great-ad-nauseum-great niece.

I’m going to show her and, if things go well and she passes all the health tests, we might breed her but that’s in the future. Possible future.

After all the hell of last year, it’s nice to have something to look forward to.  It’s been easier to use Facebook because it was such a micro-blogging format and I just didn’t he the  but I also wanted to develop this blog but I just didn’t have the energy. And I realize that all the energy that I was putting into Mischa and the problems that we were having the health issues and like money stuff and everything that it was taking away from that and I’m just now getting it back.

So, here’s the first post in a long while and we’ll see where this goes.


Yep, we have our own stacking guides.

So this happened.  Our little velociraptor in fur.

I can’t help being a little overwhelmed; Tierce was a puppy 10 years ago, back when I still had some pretensions of youth.  I’ve probably lost a few pounds due to the fact that Little Miss has a little bladder and can’t go too long without needing out.  Add to that the fact that she’s constantly moving and destroying and walks tend to look like the lesser of the many evils a bored Shiba puppy can visit upon its home.

Once you’re used to people in full armour, you’ll never care about the mail carrier.

Socialization is, of course, a high priority.  We’ve been covering the below list… with a few additions, like ‘plate armour’, ‘chain mail’, ‘Elizabethan court dresses’ and ‘thrown knives’.  The Society for Creative Anachronism: simply the best way to accustom puppies to the real world.

Oookay, so some of the terms are… dated.

And then there’s Tierce. Oh, how I still worry about his feelings. However, he seems bearing up under the stress well, with only a snap or snarl to give our little darling a hint that he is not a chew toy. We keep them separate when not actively supervised.  Of course, there was the one time when we came back from outside and Shimi came dancing up to us.  She later demonstrated that she can scale the walls of the ex-pen like a goddamned spider.  She’s been a lot better about not bothering Tierce… coincidence?  Probs not.  I think a ‘gentle discussion’ of appropriate boundaries went on.

The Guilt Bed. AKA a bed big enough to hold that massive ego.


Oh hai, doggy

If you’re on the TMS Facebook, you’ll know that we’re all still here.  Battered, bruised, tired as fuck, but we’re all here.  TMS kind of takes a backseat to everything when there’s a health issue or a financial crisis or whatever.  Fortunately, due to the auspices of fate and friends and connections, it turns out that we’re keeping going and the humans, at least, are holding on.

Which is why we’re getting another Shiba.

Ummm… yeah.

You see, Tierce had a birthday.  We threw him a party.  And we realized that he is 10.  TEN.  Ten years have elapsed since we were introduced to ‘the terrorist’ (no shit, that’s what they called him).  Ten years of sarcasm and scorn cleverly hidden as ‘well, that’s just how Shibas are’.

 And, after we had gone through all the years past, we started thinking about the future.  I don’t want a future where I’m suddenly WITHOUT A DOG.  It’s one thing to lose a dog; it’s inevitable, like losing family, friends, things you cherish, places you loved… but that doesn’t mean one has to worship the gaping hole in your life.  I want another dog now so that I can face the eventuality of Tierce’s death with a little more equanimity.

There can be no replacements, only successors.

I would get another dog anyway, no matter if Tierce died tomorrow or 10 years from now.  My breeder is slowing down her kennel breedings and that’s another reason to get a pup now, because I want another Sunojo dog.  It’s been nearly 25 years since Shassi first came home and it seems suitable that the third Shiba in my life be another Sunojo dog.  Tierce was bred by a different breeder, but his sire and dam were still Sunojo.

25 years with Shibas.  Damn.

The potential puppy was born on March 28.  I’m thinking of naming her ‘Shimano’.

Shiba Rage


This was a response to issues in one of my Shiba Inu Facebook groups, where queries about testing or purposeful breeding are often met with accusations of superciliousness.

I, for one, am sick and tired of how “breeding this dog is not in the best interest of the breed” is equated with “All cream Shibas should be shot while simultaneously kicking a homeless war veteran while screaming NUKE THE UNBORN BABY WHALES FOR JESUS AND MUHAMMAD.”

Look, we like cream Shibas. We don’t advocate breeding them because the cream dilutes the strong red and black and sesame that is one of the distinguishing features of the Shiba.  That doesn’t make them bad and it doesn’t mean that breeders stab pale puppies to death while invoking Cthulhu.

Likewise, saying that not testing for *known genetic health issues in the breed* makes someone a crappy breeder is because it… does. You have the tools to make a real difference to the breed and dogs in general and you don’t do your utmost to ensure your pups have strong joints and eyes?  You are what every responsible breeder, rescuer, and owner learns to hate, because you knowingly create animals without doing your best to keep them healthy and pain free.

Anyone who has a knee injury, stand up. Does it hurt?  Now imagine that happening all the time because you have no other choice of locomotion and you have no way of telling someone to get you to a goddamn doctor.  Welcome to luxating patella.  It’s genetic and it’s painful and it gets worse over time unless you shell out for a surgery that can cost several thousand dollars, depending on whether one or both joints are affected, severity, health of the dog, etc. etc.  And the happy companion you were supposed to have to walk and play with can’t go on any kind of long walk and spends a lot of time not doing much because it hurts. 

People who give a shit about their dogs don’t want to produce this. They fight actively not to produce it.  Anyone who doesn’t is doing their puppies and their puppies’ owners a huge disservice.  That’s why we say ‘responsible’ breeder. Responsible. Response. There is no apathy in serious dog breeding; there is active research and evaluation, not wilful ignorance and a casual assumption that Nature can take care of everything. (Nature sucks, by the way. Examine the physics of the human knee sometime)

Yes, it can happen to dogs from tested clear parents, but the thing is, it happens LESS and, gradually, through a dedicated breeding program, it can systematically be eliminated to the point where affected animals show up extremely rarely. That doesn’t mean you can stop testing, though… oh, no. You keep testing, you keep checking because you don’t want a random gene dance to bring the nasty back into what you’re breeding.

And then, of course, you’re online and someone blather on about how there’s no point to genetic testing ‘because it can happen even if dogs are healthy and tested’.  It’s like you spend your life trying to eliminate drunk driving, only to have a bunch of people tell you that there’s no point to prosecuting or restricting drunk drivers ‘because drunk drivers are going to happen anyway’.

And then you ask a few pointed questions about whether someone with adorablesweetcuteomg puppies has thought about this and we’re back to Shiba jihad again.

RIP Apollo and Kisu


Apollo (left) and Kisu (right)


Me:  Tierce, I’ve got something to tell you.

Tierce:  What, that you’ve finally decided to give me a block of cheese for Christmas?

Me:  No.  It’s not about food.

Tierce:  We’re going for another walk with Rowan?

Me:  No.  It’s not about walks.



Tierce:  Don’t tell me we’re going to visit the chamber of horrors again.

Me:  No.  We’re not going to the vet.  Besides, Dr. Forbes is a nice lady and has done a lot to help you.

Tierce:  *sniff*  So you say.  You’ve never had a thermometer shoved up your a-

Me:  ANYWAY.  What I’ve got to tell you relates to Apollo and Kisu.

Tierce:  Who?

Me:  Apollo and Kisu.  Your sire and dam.

Tierce:  My sire and dam?

Me:  Yes, Tierce.  You remember Kisu.

Tierce:  The one who didn’t want to play.  Tenshi wanted to play.  And Apollo, wasn’t he the one who said he could wipe the kennel with me when we visited Susan that one time?

Me:  Uh, maybe.

Tierce:  He was just boasting.  I liked Kisu better, even if she didn’t want to play.  She snarled at me once, you know.  I was just minding my own business, trying to jump on her to get her to play.

Me:  Well, Kisu was quite a bit older.  As was Apollo.  And you know that sometimes when dogs and people get older, things stop working so well.

Apollo and friend

Apollo and friend

Tierce:  They pee inside the house?

Me:  Well, sometimes.  What I’m talking about is their bodies stop working.

Tierce:  So they go to sleep.

Me:  Well, kind of.  They go to sleep forever.

Tierce:  What, like until next morning?  I’ve done that lots of times.

Me:  It’s a little longer than that.

Tierce:  Tell me about it.  Sometimes I don’t drag my ass out of bed until one.

Me:  Even longer.  So what I need to tell you is that Apollo and Kisu died on Monday, the 23rd of November.

Tierce:  Died…

Me:  Yes.

Tierce:  So they’re sleeping for a really long time.

Me:  A very long time.

Tierce:  When will they wake up?

Me:  They won’t ever wake up again, Tierce.  They’re sleeping forever.

Apollo getting away from it all

Apollo getting away from it all

Tierce:  But they’ll want to get up for breakfast.

Me:  No, Tierce, they won’t.  Their bodies aren’t working any more.  They can’t eat breakfast.

Tierce:  Or lunch?  Or dinner?

Me: No.

Tierce:  That’s horrible.  What a terrible thing to happen!  Aren’t they sad they can’t have food?

Me:  No, they aren’t sad.  They don’t feel anything any more.

Tierce: Well, that blows.

Me:  At least they had happy lives.  Kisu lived with your breeder and Apollo was adopted into a wonderful home where he could be the top dog of the family.

Tierce:  Like me!

Me:  Like you.  They both lived into their teens.

Tierce:  And they both died the same day?

Me:  Yeah, it was really funny; they didn’t live together, but your sire and dam ended up dying on the same day.

Tierce:  What’s ‘sire’ and ‘dam’ again?

Me:  Oh, it’s dogspeak for ‘father’ and ‘mother’.

Tierce:  Wait, so I’m an orphan?!

Me:  Uh, well, technically, I guess yeah… but we’ve kind of stepped into the parental role.

Tierce:  Yeah, about that.  I thought you were my parents.

Me:  Well, not technically, but in every way that matters, we are.

Tierce:  But you’re saying these dogs were somehow my father and mother.

Me:  Yes, they were.

Tierce:  But Mischa calls me his little boy.

Me:  It’s a term of endearment.

Tierce:  So you’ve been lying to me all these years.

Me:  Well, not really.

Tierce:  Liar!

Me:  Okay, you want the truth?

Tierce:  Yeah.  I want the truth.

Me:  You’re adopted.


RIP Apollo and Kisu.

Thanks for producing the second Misanthropic Shiba.

Don’t Call Your Dog Your Furkid

I’m pretty sure that Elizabeth Broadbent is either afraid to step out her front door or rubbing her hands together and saying, “Yes… yes… let the outrage flow…” after writing No, Your Dog Is Not Your “Baby” — Saying That Is An Insult To Moms.  After all, she did write How Dogs Prepared Me For Kids, where she extols some of the shared issues that dog owners and parents have to deal with.

Oxytocin: Worth about $500 plus $10 for the Rubber Ducky Thermometer.

Oxytocin: Worth about $500 plus $10 for the Rubber Ducky Thermometer.

And I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of “furkid” and “furbaby” myself.  I’m on the side of “dogs are dogs and humans are humans: we have to remember and respect that difference”.  However, I can’t deny that looking into Tierce’s eyes spikes my oxytocin.  And Mischa’s, since the dog’s still alive after chewing through his dialysis cord some 6-and-a-half years ago.

Oxytocin: for situations such as these.

Oxytocin: for situations such as these.

However, the article does come off as self-centred and entitled.  After all, as long as you care for your dog properly, control it, pick up after it, and shut it the fuck up when people are sleeping, do I care what you call it?  No, I do not.

However, according to her article, Broadbent does.  Very much.  Because, as opposed to pointing out the fact that dogs aren’t people and it’s problematic when people view dogs as little people in fur coats, Broadbent is more concerned with the perception of dogs as baby-like creatures that hold as much or more esteem as her children do for her.

So, hey, why not go with that attitude?

Don’t call dogs your furkids

Say you love them, but don’t call them that.  Because they ain’t the same.

After all, you didn’t go through nine months of body invasion, followed by…

All the pain is after the dog arrives.

And even if you adopt, you go through paperwork and waiting hell before you find yourself weak in the knees, hands a-tremble, as you weep with joy when someone hands you your child for the first time.

I won’t say I cried with Tierce or Shassi, but my hands were a-trembling.  Mostly because I was pretty sure the dog was going to take a piss on them or something.

Getting a dog just didn’t stack up.

Shassi woke us up in the night constantly, just screaming.  This was partly because we were going by the dog training advice of the day, which was to abandon her in the dark in a crate in a strange place to get her ‘used’ to it.  That lasted less than two nights.  She slept on the bed or the couch for the rest of her life.

Tierce was carefully placed, in his crate, by my side of the bed.  He got up once during the night to pee, otherwise was absolutely silent.  Until he figured out that whining got him out of the crate.  We put a stop to those antics pretty quickly with a thump on the crate and muttered death threats.  Once he figured that he wasn’t getting out a second time, he settled down pretty quickly.

And hey, if you’re a mom going through the screaming needs of a newborn, give yourself a medal or a T-shirt or whatever.  That’s cool, but you signed up for it, just as I signed up for being treated like a servant for the next 15 years.  Waaait… just how different are we?

Let’s not talk about the time Tierce dug up the landlord’s extension cord to his fountain and chewed through it.  Mercifully, it wasn’t plugged in at the time.  Or the time he chewed through- wait, I’ve mentioned that before.  Several times.

The Internet Confessional

One symptom of both sides is the blogging about it.  Because if there’s anything more annoying than a mommyblogger, it’s a doggyblogger.  So far, I’ve chronicled my failures as a Shiba parent, only to have people constantly contacting me, convinced that I’m the last word in Shiba ownership.  (I usually direct them to Shiba Inu Canada, National Shiba Club of America, a reputable breeder, reputable behaviourist or a good puppy class.)

How Can You Not Say We’re The Same??!

The dog world is a lot like the mommy world, where The Kids Are Okay; it’s the parents that keep jumping on each other like starving bitches.  Now, I’ve met tons of awesome people in the dog world, but I’ve met tons of people that have convinced me that Dog People Are Crazy.  Some are crazy in a good way, where they spend a lot of time and money making their dogs’ lives awesome.  Some are crazy in a bad way, where anyone that doesn’t completely espouse their ideas of what A Good Dog Parent does is just awful.

And we do like our judgemental crap just as much as the Sanctimommies.  “I’d never buy from a breeder.”  “Oh, that’s just a mix?”  “Anyone who feeds their dog plain kibble is basically murdering it.”  “If you don’t rescue, you’re responsible for dogs dying in shelters!”

Have you ever heard two dog people competing?

“My Sammi has just completed her Puppy Resonance Training and will be enrolled in Tracking, Obedience and Conformation in the fall.  Our instructor says her responses are way above normal.  I think we’ll be putting our CD on her before she turns a year.”

“Well, my Rollo has just qualified for Open and we’re going to be getting our Hunt Titles this year; I don’t see why not, since he’s been raving for the bumpers since the first time we introduced him.  Not to mention, he’s going to be getting his St. John’s Therapy Dog certification…”

No, really.  I have been there.  Not myself, because I have a Shiba who is dedicated to non-conformity.  But I’ve seen this.  It’s right up there with “Little Muffie is two centimetres taller than her age group and is enrolled in Chinese, French and full-contact gymnastic yoga!”

There’s nothing wrong with having your dog or your kid enrolled in stuff or excelling in stuff.  It’s just if you’re using it as some kind of bat to hit other dog people or parents with to prove how great you are.  Take pride in the accomplishments of your mini-mes, not hubris.

At The End Of The Day

We’re kind of the same.  Not in terms of what we have to do, necessarily, or how long it takes or how haaard it is.  We’re the same because we place such a ridiculous amount of ourselves into the beings we’ve chosen to harbour.  Whether by accident or design.  (I’ll admit, not a lot of people get children because the kids followed them home.)

We love, we worry, we pay (and pay, and pay), we teach, we bleed a little when they get hurt.  It’s not really a competition about who loves better.  Anyone who tries to make it one is pretty much telling me that they have insecurities that have nothing to do with dogs or kids.  You take care of those and then get back to the rest of us.

No one likes a person who puts themselves on a pedestal.  You don’t like the term ‘furkids’; that’s fine.  It’s the litany of how hard your life is compared to people who only have dogs to care for.  It’s the smug inference that dogs can’t possibly add to someone else’s life what children have added to yours.  And it’s the idea that because you personally dislike something and feel that it’s wrong for you, that it must be wrong for everybody.

Get over yourself.  The furkids are okay.




Rubber ducky, you’re the one…

Sunday, June 7th, at around 23:30, Tierce was not feeling well.  Hunched over, shaking, panting, didn’t want food, didn’t want to walk.  Took him to Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital where, after several hours, he ended up with a diagnosis of pancreatitis.

Tierce:  I hurt.

Me:  Normally he would be trying to claw his way through the door to get out, but he’s not even doing that much.

Vet:  Well, let’s have some X-rays and a blood panel.

Tierce:  Do not care.  All is gone.  Hurt.

Vet Tech:  Okay, now were just going to lay you down on this table and take a little picture, okay?


Tech:  No, seriously, all I want you to do is Lie. Down.


People waiting in the vet’s office:  What are they doing to that poor dog?

Me:  He’s a Shiba.

People:  Is he hurt?

Me:  He’s probably convinced that his immortal soul is in danger, but they’re just doing an X-ray.  No one’s being hurt.


Me:  Well, some people might have lost a couple of decibels in the higher register.

Vet Tech:  All done.  We put a cage muzzle on him, but he didn’t try to bite or anything.

Me:  Better safe than sorry with a dog in pain.  How’s our puppy?

Tierce:  I might have lost the battle, but we have not lost the war.

Tech:  He screamed a lot, then stopped when I kept him on the table.

Me:  Sounds normal.

Tierce:  All is pain.  And I’m hot.

Vet Tech:  We’ll take some blood for the panel.

Tierce:  I just want you to know that I hate all of you.


Four hours later


Vet:  Okay, it’s pancreatitis.  Take him home and watch him carefully. Boiled chicken and rice.  If he spikes a fever or vomits, bring him back or to your vet right away.

Tierce:  What the hell are you doing to my back?

Vet:  Just some fluids to combat dehydration.

Tierce:  This is some kind of truth serum, isn’t it?  ISN’T IT?

Me:  Tierce, I swear.  Do not give me attitude right now.

Tierce:  But she’s poking me!

Me:  I don’t care.  Look at me.  Focus on me.  Good boy.

Tierce:  I would just like to register my objection to this entire procedure.

Me:  I would just like to remind you that it’s 03:30 and I have had a half-hour’s sleep in the last 20.

Tierce:  You’re all in this, aren’t you?  You’re all conspiring to make me miserable.

Me:  I could do that more comfortably at home.

Tierce:  I really don’t like any of you right now.

Vet Tech:  That’ll be $462.38.

Me:  The feeling is mutual.


Twelve hours later


Tierce:  What’s that?

Mischa:  It’s a rubber ducky thermometer!

Tierce:  What are you going to do with tha- HEY.

Me: Hold still.

Tierce: I really don’t have a concept of this except GTFO.

Me:  Well, your temperature’s down.  That’s good.

Tierce:  Keep that thing away from me.

Me:  Oh, Tierce.  For the next few days, you’re going to be friends with the rubber ducky.  Best friends.

Tierce:  You’re both sick.  I’m going to go lie in the sun now.

Me:  No.


One day later


Tierce:  And I’ll have some of that… and some of that… and some of that noodle thing, please.

Me:  Forget it!  Here’s your dinner.

Tierce:  What is this?

Me:  Steamed rice and chicken.

Tierce:  Well, okay… that wasn’t bad.  Where’s the rest?

Me:  There is no ‘rest’.  You’re to have small meals.

Tierce: Cheese is a small meal.

Me:  No cheese.

Tierce:  But… I want it.

Me:  Okay, fine.  Here.

Tierce:  This is crunchy.  I’ve never had crunchy cheese before.

Me:  It’s a special kind of cheese.

Tierce:  It tastes more like carrot.

Me:  You asked for cheese, I gave you cheese.  Look!  It’s orange, just like cheese!

Tierce:  I can only see in shades of yellow and blue.

Me:  Just take my word for it.

Tierce:  Can I have a stinky fish?

Me:  That’s what got you into this mess.  No.  Not for a long time.

Tierce:  There was some left in the bag after I climbed up onto the shelf and ate two thirds of it.

Me:  Have you ever wondered why you got sick?

Tierce:  … No.  No, I can’t say that I have.

Me:  That’s why you can’t have a stinky fish.


Notes On Breeder Contracts in BC and Canada


“Hang on. I just have to get the paperwork.”

Tonight at the Nanaimo Kennel Club (seriously, join your local kennel club and you too could possibly benefit from speakers like this), I had the privilege of hearing lawyer Jennifer Hubbard speak on contracts, specifically breeder contracts with purchasers.  It was very informative and I’ve decided to do a blog post based on my notes.

Disclaimer: The following is from my notes and should not be construed as legal advice.  Go see your own lawyer!  Each case is different and what is written here may not apply to you in its entirety.    Hell, it may not apply to you at all, depending on where you live and the laws therein.

Basically, what I’m saying is that I learned a lot, but this isn’t something you should use to base your contracts off of necessarily – I think it’s worth it for anyone looking into serious contracts to consult with their own lawyer. OR… get together with a bunch of like-minded breeders to consult with a lawyer and share costs.

What Is A Contract?

Our law is based on common law, which is – as I understand it – derived from English Common Law. Under common law, you need 3 things for a contract to be binding:

1. Offer (I’m going to sell you a dog for $1000.00 or a goat)

2. Acceptance (I will buy this dog for $1000.00 or a goat)

3. Consideration, which is something exchanged (Purchaser gives seller $1000.00 or a goat)

That is a contract. It does not have to be written to be binding. It’s easier if it is written, because then a court of law doesn’t have to devolve into a he-said-she-said debate.

Consideration can be as little as $1 or a dead gerbil – it’s anything that changes hands to pay for something.

If an offer is given and accepted, but no consideration changes hands, then that contract is not legally binding.


Representation:  Things you’re promising the other side.  Guarantees, including health and temperament.  Things you’ll have to live up to if the contract becomes legally binding.  Otherwise, the other party can get out of the contract.

Conditions:  Things that have to be met before the contract is completed.  Payment, perhaps a vet visit, shots… something that has to be done before the contract is made complete.  If conditions cannot be met – say the purchaser can’t pay for the dog, the contract is void.

Covenants:  Ongoing conditions.  Promises to keep the dog in the style to which it has become accustomed.  Agreements to never breed the dog, even if he sees a bitch he really likes.

Dogs: Chattel or Family?

The problem in British Columbia/Canadian law, at least, is that dogs have often fallen in between chattel (things owned) laws and ‘family’ law. In some judgements, there has been consideration of the best interests of the animal, making many cases involving dogs fall into one of those cracks that judges hate to have to deal with: the case where there is no clear course of action predicated on by a previous judgement.

What many courts are treating breeder contracts as is ‘adoption’ contracts. This acknowledges that animals are different from, say, a car or a house. BC and Canada law are fuzzy on this kind of contract. If the average purchaser’s contract for an item is a Beagle, breeder contracts are an ungroomed Poodle.

It’s a struggle for the courts, because legally, dogs are chattel. You either own a dog or you don’t. However, it’s become clear that, for many Canadian families, dogs are considered and treated as members of the family.  So this puts the courts in the position of disposing of chattel that is a member of the family… which can make them cranky.

In the rare cases that a breeder has been able to enforce a contract to have a dog returned to them, they needed to provide proof of neglect or abuse. What proof would sway a judge is unclear (not covered in the talk), so I would venture to say SPCA reports, photos taken of the dog, etc.

However, if an owner sells a dog in violation of the contract, the person they sell the dog to is not bound by the contract in any way.  They own the dog.

So what should breeders do to make their contracts more enforceable?

Unfortunately, you’re not likely to make someone return a dog or prevent them from breeding it solely with a contract that says they have to.  However, you may be able to make it very financially harsh to contravene the conditions and covenants set out in a contract.


Identify yourself by your legal name if you run a sole proprietorship.  If you run ABC Kennels, but your drivers licence says Jane Doe, the contract should identify you as Jane Doe.  If you represent an incorporated company called ABC Kennels Inc. you’re probably a commercial breeder and I probably hate you, but you should legally call yourself ABC Kennels Inc.  (Including the Ltd. and Inc. is very important when identifying yourself in a contract.)

Identify the purchaser by their legal name.  If they say “Call me Whizzy; everybody calls me that”, that’s fine, but on the contract you put down Throckmorton Twillingsworth III, if that is what is on their drivers licence or BCID.  The same goes if they are purchasing as a company.  I probably hate you both at this point, but be sure to put down the legal company name in its entirety.

Identify the dog in question clearly on the contract.  Identify the tattoo, microchip, markings, sex, etc.  Make it clear that it is this dog and no other dog that might be this dog or could be another dog or quite possibly be the dog down the road.

Representations: To Make Or Not To Make

Legally, it’s safer to make as few representations as possible.  It sounds good to guarantee health and temperament, but legally, how would you defend yourself if someone took you to court, claiming that their dog was unhealthy or vicious?

The example given seems more aimed at rehomed dogs:  “I know of no instances of aggressive behaviour…” is better than “This dog is not aggressive.”  The first you could successfully defend with the fact that you can only be aware of what you have personally observed.  The second is a lot more subjective.  You might have to prove that you were not, in fact, aware of said dog’s penchant for mailman al fresco.

If you make representations, be as clear as possible about those representations.  I interpreted this to mean that if you’re going to guarantee your dog healthy, do so for a limited period of time.  If you’re going to guarantee temperament, at least put a provision for suitable training and socialization (but you’d have to define that training and socialization, which could put your contract at War and Peace length).

As you promise things, your purchaser can promise things, too.  For instance, your purchaser should acknowledge – in writing – that they are accepting responsibility for all costs associated with health care for the dog.

You cannot go wrong with overkill.  It’s better to have exacting detail than ambiguous wording that a court would have to deliberate over.

Clear Covenants

If you are going to put covenants into your contract (and what responsible breeder doesn’t?), you will have to be clear.  If the dog must be spayed or neutered, how old must it be before the contract is breached?  Come up with an age and put it in there.  If allowing or disallowing surgery is an issue (cropping and dewclaws, etc) you’ll want to be clear about what the parameters are.  If you want the puppy to go to puppy obedience class, specify ‘an obedience class specifically for puppies under X months, which includes obedience, socialization, playtime, yadda yadda yadda”)

Clear Consequences

Approaching contracts with the attitude that they will just ‘make’ someone do what you want is not going to win you your day in court.  Since dogs are in that fuzzy boundary line between chattel and family, it is difficult for judges to know what to do with breaches of contract… unless you make it easy for them.

Make it easy for the courts to decide in your favour by including clear penalties for breaching contract.  Good things to include are a liquidated damages clause, which should reflect the probable costs of taking the purchaser to court.  (You may want to consult a lawyer just to determine probable costs of a lawsuit.  It will vary, but even one appearance in court could cost upwards of $5000 or more.)

You can specify damages for things like breeding without permission – $X per puppy.

If it’s easy for the courts to see what was agreed to in terms of damages, it’s easier for them to award it to you.  You may not be able to compel the return of the dog, but you may be able to make it very, very expensive for someone to violate a signed contract.

Agreed-upon and Involuntary Breaches of Contract

Say someone buys a puppy as a pet.  They sign a contract agreeing to spay or neuter it by 8 months, but attend a sanction match for fun and then decide they would like to try showing.  They ask your permission to leave little Sprocket with both his little sprockets so they can try it out.  You don’t mind, so you say yes.  Amend the contract in writing.

On the purchaser’s side, if they must breach contract for circumstances outside of their control, they need proof that they have done everything in their power to inform you.  One example is a dog that cannot be spayed or neutered due to anaesthetic sensitivity or something of that nature.  Sufficient proof might be a vet’s letter stating that the dog has a medical condition that precludes the operation, etc.


I’m glad I’m not a breeder.

This is by no means an exhaustive look at the subject, but I found it fascinating how contracts are treated in BC/Canadian law (and, I suspect, American law).  I’ve heard it, time and again, that dog sale/adoption contracts are not enforceable… this provides a better understanding of the matter.

It’s not that animal sale contracts are unenforceable; it’s that many contracts are not specifying damages that can be enforced by the courts.

You can’t make the courts force someone to give back a dog, but you may be able to spend their kids’ college fund if they breach your contract and you can a) prove it in court and b) have a contract that clearly specifies the damages the person has to pay.

All in all, a very informative evening and an important reminder to check over contracts to see if yours can be improved.

Disclaimer: The above is from my notes and should not be construed as legal advice.  Go see your own lawyer!  Each case is different and what is written here may not apply to you in its entirety.  Hell, it may not apply to you at all, depending on where you live and the laws therein.

Basically, what I’m saying is that I learned a lot, but this isn’t something you should use to base your contracts off of necessarily – I think it’s worth it for anyone looking into serious contracts to consult with their own lawyer.  OR… get together with a bunch of like-minded breeders to consult with a lawyer and share costs.

Relatively Speaking

Tierce: What are you so happy about?

Me:  I found some cousins.  Connected with them on Facebook.

Tierce:  What’s so great about that?  Everyone knows who their cousins are.  It’s in their pedigree.

Me:  It doesn’t quite work that way, Tierce.  Humans don’t always know if someone’s related to them.

Tierce:  Sure they do.  Just look in the OFA database.  My cousins are in there.

Me:  A) Humans aren’t listed in the OFA database.  B) Not every dog and not every relative of yours is listed in the OFA database.

Tierce:  Then look at your pedigree.  When did I become a service dog?  It’s like I have to guide you through this.

Me:  Look.  People aren’t listed by pedigree in Canadian records.  You can find out more about your relatives by researching your geneaology, but it’s not usually just sitting there unless someone’s into that kind of thing.

Tierce: I thought you have registration papers.  What’s that?

Me:  My birth certificate.

Tierce:  Looks official.  What breed are you, anyway?

Me:  Human.

Tierce:  You have papers, shouldn’t you have some kind of name that tells someone what you do?

Me:  I’m a dog daycare worker, but that’s not all I am.

Tierce:  What were you bred for?

Me:  Nothing, really.  My mom decided to have a baby, I guess.

Tierce:  Was she tested clear of anything?  How about your sire?

Me:  Uh… not that I recall.

Tierce:  Where did she get you?

Me:  You mean have me?  Vancouver Children’s Hospital.

Tierce:  So you have a fake registration, your parents weren’t tested clear of anything and they got you at some store.  Wow.

Me:  No!  It’s not like that!

Tierce:  Look, I’m not judging your worthiness as a human or whatever it is you call yourself.  I’m just saying it’s good that you’ve never decided to have pups.

Me:  Children.

Tierce:  Whatever.  Why did you decide that, by the way?

Me:  The knowledge that I would have conversations like these somewhere down the line.