Right now, I’m LiveJournalling like a fiend, trying to convince a friend of mine why choosing a breeder who tests is so important. She wants a Japanese Chin, a breed prone to patellar luxation, eye problems and heart problems. She can’t find a breeder who does testing on their dogs. She’s getting frustrated and wondering if she should go to a breeder who doesn’t test, on the assumption that “all dogs can have health problems; it’s just the luck of the draw”. I sent her a few links detailing why that isn’t the case, but despair of actually explaining effectively enough so that she sees the risk factors.
It’s hard to show a non-dog-educated person how the dog world works. I don’t mean to sound supercilious; Dog knows that I’m not the first person to ask about the merits of buying a SUV vs. a hatchback. However, it seems to me that a lot of people are approaching buying a dog like they would a stack of plates at Wal*Mart. They don’t really care where it comes from as long as it does the job. If a plate breaks, well, back to Wally World to buy some more.
However, it’s been proven that dogs are not like plates. It does matter where they came from. If someone buys a dog from an irresponsible breeder who doesn’t test and doesn’t carefully consider each breeding, they are going to be at high risk for getting a dog that will cost nearly $2000 to address its health issues. If you break a plate, you generally don’t care very much, but when Pookie is unable to go for the walks she loves because her knees are too painful, you generally are unhappy that Pookie is hurting and because she can’t function as the companion you bought her to be.
To NDE people, you generally have to speak in terms of money, not ethics. Again, not a lot of people care where their stuff comes from, if it’s the right price. A lot of people are wondering, “But why do I have to pay all that money for just a DOG?! Why should I wait for the right puppy instead of seeking out someone who has what I want in stock? Why should I be anal about whether the puppy’s parents have the right testing and that the breeder isn’t just tossing a male and female in the same pen because they both have pricked ears and curly tails?
The answer that everyone can relate to is money. After spending around $1000 for a dog, finding out that you have to shell out $2000 for a preventable genetic condition, the charm of buying cheap is somewhat tarnished. Spending two grand because the dog escaped from the house and lost an argument with a Honda Civic is a lot different then money that you find out that you might have avoided spending if you hadn’t bought that puppy at Puppies R Us.
The biggest hurdle to get over is the fact that you can test your dogs clear of everything under the sun and still end up with a puppy with problems. I usually use some analogy involving kids… like if you were going to buy a car seat for little Eggbert Throckmorten III, apple of your eye. You see two identical-looking seats. The only significant difference is that one of them has been tested to make sure that the model’s straps are solid and that the seat won’t break and send little Eggy through the windshield at an inopportune moment. Which one do you buy? The one coming from a plant that regularly tests its products may still fail, but at least you know that measures were taken to prevent failure instead of the sunny assumption that, “well all our seats are safe!”
It’s late, I’m tired, I’m depressed and I’m quickly losing patience with the wilful assumption that dogs are somehow the same as inanimate products on the market.
The eyes of the Japanese Chin really freak me out.