How not to raise a family

Fido… Come… Sit
By Yvonne Passmore

Recently I had the great displeasure of helping a friend of mine try to find an older dog to adopt. She was concentrating on retired breeding females, which brought us to the scene of the crime.
As we turn into the driveway, we encounter a beautiful private setting lush with trees. A gorgeous chalet type home leads to a pine bush. Further down the lane is a lovely building showing generous indoor/outdoor dog runs nestled in this bush. I size up and envy what seems to be a luxurious setup. This is where the fantasy ends and the nightmare begins.
As the breeder greets us and leads us into her kennel, the noise is deafening and the smell is unpleasantly overwhelming. We learn at this point that all of these dogs live full-time, and always have and apparently always will, in these kennels.
Issue One – Dogs should not live in kennels. I understand a breeder’s need to find housing solutions for dogs that are their bread and butter. As uncomfortable as I am with it, it’s there and a part of society that seems to get worse instead of better despite all the education out there. These were dogs that refused to leave their kennels, sadly because that life is the only one they are comfortable with. Once the breeder dragged the dogs out of the run, both females cowered in the corner of the viewing room refusing to make contact with us. They trembled and shivered because our presence.
Issue Two – The dogs that we went to see were six-year-old females that already had five (!!!) litters.
Issue Three ­– I don’t understand how these dogs could be so under-socialized to strangers if people are meeting them while viewing the mountains of puppies they already had. People that are buying puppies often feel they have no need to see the mother. They are buying the puppy. In reality these puppy buyers are also buying the mother and that mother’s life experiences. Those life experiences contribute to how the mother interacts with other people. The mother’s confidence level contributes to the pup’s confidence levels. It should go without saying that these mothers had nothing mentally to give their offspring.
Issue Four – None of these dogs, parents or puppies, have ever been in a house. The crucial early stages of a puppy’s mental development are barely met by being raised in a loud, cold, barking, and stressful environment such as this. Many breeders of kennel dogs manage to allow their female dogs and their litters some justice by having the whelping and puppy rearing in the house. They do this to provide the mother a stress-free environment to nurture her puppies, and for the puppies to benefit by learning the sights, sounds and smells of a home life before they reach their new forever homes.

The problem is…
That these dogs didn’t understand anything about children, about stairs, about doors, about leashes is something that careful and positive training could tackle.
That these dogs didn’t understand anything at all about how to about being handled, pet, stroked, love or life is something that my friend, a mother of two young children, didn’t have the time or know-how to tackle.
I know that the right person with the right circumstances could eventually teach one of these dogs how to lead a happy life, but it was best in this situation to walk away. To have to walk away because of the mental state of these dogs was heartbreaking. That this breeder made no excuses or saw no issues with how these potentially lovely dogs were in the psychological condition they were in brings me to issue numbers 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…

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