Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Question About Buying A Dog...And...Some Stuff On Kate

So, I am curious about the process of deciding to buy a dog. Not just any ol’ body, but those who have had rescues in the past (or still have).

This is not a trap.

I am not going to get all rescue-judgey on you and try to shame you for you spending your money on a dog when there are so many homeless ones.

I am just curious as to how you made the leap, as it were. Really curious if the rescue dogs you had (or have) have been healthy, loving family members and/or successful at sports.

I can see the thought path for a “failed” pound dog. I totally get having a bad experience with a dog of unknown background whether it be health, temperament, whatever and deciding to go to a breeder for the next one.

I don’t understand having a fantastic mutty-mutt – great friend/family member, healthy, fun and successful at sports, and then going to a breeder.

Again, not judging. Don’t feel like arguing about it. I just don’t understand. Would like to know how you made that decision. And how you feel about it now? Was it what you expected?

And if this doesn't apply to you, ask the folks you know who it does apply to. You know that you know at least one. :-)

And, no, I’m not buying a dog. Not even adopting one.

Isn’t this enough?





  1. My first dog, Sophie, was a stray. She's awesome! I bought my next dog, Taz, because I wanted a border collie purpose-bred to work stock.

  2. I grew up around a mix of English Setters we bred, bought, or rescued. The rescue dogs were often as good or better at hunting than the ones we bred or bought. However, they often had health or temperament issues.

    Now I own a muttly mutt. Lab mix is our best guess, but all I really know is that he's 92 pounds and brown. He's got a good temperament, good health, he's doing well with Obedience training, he's just a great, great dog. I love him to pieces.

    I'd consider buying my next dog (Dad just bought a puppy) because sometimes you want as close to a guarantee of health, drive, and abilities as you can get with genetics. Rescuing is a gamble. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it blows up in your face. Often as not the reason it blows up is related to issues in puppyhood. Buying, either a young pup or a dog that didn't cut it as a show dog, is more likely to give you a dog with a stable foundation, provided the time and effort is devoted to early socialization.

    Puppies aren't a walk in the park. People forget that "cute and cuddly" is followed by "attempts to eat the house and pee on everything".

    Now, if all I wanted was a pet, not an animal to go out and work with me, I'd head straight for the pound and pull a dog from death row. But because I want a dog to work with me, I'm planning on checking breed rescues first, then talking to breeders.

    If I ever start breeding, I'll need an exceptional specimen, who's proven in the ring (Obedience or show) why they're a worthy animal to add to the gene pool. I'd only buy from someone who health tests and works or shows their dogs.

    I don't think conscienous breeding or buying effects shelter numbers too much, because in my circle of friends, the breeders are often running unofficial breed rescues out of their homes, taking in and rehoming dogs as well as breeding and selling the best pedigreed animals they can lay hands on.

    Depending on who I talk to, I get scorned for daring to "breed or buy while shelter pets die" or I get scorned on the other side for daring to own a "mongrel" and "supporting puppymills" or "unethical mutt/backyard breeders".

    Personally, I look at it like hiring a new employee- any employee can fill the "sleep on couch/bed, beg for food, provide motivation for walks" roles, but few can fill "enjoy rigorous, finicky, nitpicky Obedience classes and shows without overstimulation or shut down, have decent scenting abilities, drive to find prey, willingness to work with humans in pursuit of prey, intigrate into established pack without causing tsunami of rank drive behaviors, etc" If I can find a rescue to fill all the requirements, I'll adopt them. If I can't, I'll buy one with genes that predispose them to the activities I want to do, then train and reward the things I want.

    So long as a person's motive goes beyond "so cute, must buy"- and I don't care if it's a shelter pet or petstore or breeder, I want them to put thought into the life they're taking control of- I don't care much about where people source their animals. I think health testing before breeding is worth the cost, and I wish more breed clubs would add it to their registration requirements (Irish Setters do now, I believe). I also wish people stopped thinking that any "sweet" animal with working gonads was "breeding quality".

    But I don't have a hard preference to breeding or rescuing, so long as the animal is well cared for.

    *amusingly, my verification word is "kater"

  3. Sure - bought from a breeder, became a breeder. Still rescue, still have (amazing, fabulous) rescue dogs. Still buy from breeders.

    For me, it was the logical progression to becoming a "serious" dog person. Breeding your first litter teaches you more about dogs, structure, growth, temperament, training, and a whole bunch of other nouns than owning the same number of dogs ever could or would. When you've bred your twentieth litter (and I am not there yet) you start to be qualified to speak about the state of your breed as a whole, and you have run the gamut of great owners, terrible owners, fantastic successes and huge failures. You've had to wrestle with nature/nurture and you can speak with authority about why socialization is necessary, why structure matters in sports, and so on.

    The word "predictability" gets thrown around a lot, usually improperly, as in "If you want to know exactly how big your puppy will get, buy a purebred." That's crap; anybody who knows dogs can tell you that you're going to get a small, medium, or large dog at the end of this process, no matter how mixed the puppy. What predictability really means is this: There's a reason you went looking for a certain breed or breed mix and not another. When you ask someone why they want dog x and not dog y, they talk about the fact that Border Collies are this or that, or that Jack Russells do this a certain way or that another way, or that Poodles have this temperament or that one.

    Those distinctives, the things that push a dog out of the generic goodness that is dogdom and into specific talents or desires or personalities, are what breeders fight to maintain. If you can say that your dogs are "like" Border Collies in certain ways or "like" Aussies or ACDs or whatever else is in the mix in other ways, the people you have to thank for that were the ones who cared what that meant and worked so hard to isolate those traits and fix them in their dogs that even generations of careless or thoughtless breeding cannot completely drive them out.

    Sooner or later, a lot of dog people decide that they want to experience a dog who doesn't have the generations of crap breeders between the good breeder and the puppy, or they decide that they want to take on the task of fighting for those traits themselves. That means buying.

    Because I am a breeder, and that could not have happened (or could not continue to happen) without purchasing from other breeders, I am a MUCH better rescuer. I am a better owner, I am a better trainer, a better mentor, a better person.

  4. All my dogs are rescues, but I just had to say your pictures are amazing!

  5. I have two rescue dogs, and I adore them.

    My next dog I will get from a breeder. Why?

    Because I don't want to have to undo months or years of bad training before I can even start pressing towards work in obedience or a CGC/TDI.

    Because, while I love all dogs, I actually would only own and raise a select few breeds. Even the rescues I have were found by doing breed searches. And the breed I most adore almost never has rescue puppies, so if I want the puppy experience, and to have a chance to raise a dog properly, without tons of weird quirks and bad habits brought on by bad situations, abandonment and time spent in pounds or kennels, I have to go to a breeder.

  6. My first dog is a dog from petsmart and before was originally from a shelter. It was a dog that was discounted, I got him for 50dollars, microchiped, neurterd, shots and got to say if he was good with cats or kids. Which is is. He is a Rhodesian Ridgeback mixed. The only eh, thing about is they may miss tag your breed dog name, if you decide to buy from a shelter. They said Mo was a shepard and totaly didnt look nothing like one. He is mixed with we beleive to be putbull but mostly Ridgeback.

  7. We did ours a little backwards - got our first dog from a breeder and the second from a rescue, both Beagles. Although now that I think about it, we found out years after buying from the breeder that the guy was keeping his dogs in terrible conditions...the sort of BYB you'd hate to support. :/ I can't remember now if getting the rescue dog was motivated a bit by guilt or if we got him before we knew. (The rescued dog was a sweetie but not a good fit for our family - he ended up being adopted by his foster family instead.)

  8. I'm addicted to dog sports and so I want dogs that are able to keep up with me... If I wanted a companion dog, I probably would consider rescue.
    We did have a rescue when I was a kid and though she was the sweetest dog she had also a lot of fears, she got panic attacks during storms... It's not easy to reverse traumas in adult dogs.

    ps. I never would have guessed Kate wasn't a border collie, her pictures (the look in her eyes especially) remind me soooo much of my working sheepdog... :)

  9. I just loved that last photo!

  10. i have the perfect new addition for you if you want...she'd fit right in...

    kinda smooth, pointy ears, pointy face, a little sassy...

    I have both- rescue and bought from a breeder. I think it's your own personal choice. I like my purebred, bought from a breeder dogs because I know exactly how they will look, what their temperament is likely to be, and if they have any health issues in their pedigree.

    my rescues have been wonderful also, and being that I used to work in rescue of course I am going to say RESCUE. but- often they come with baggage, unknown health issues, temperament issues, and all that unknown stuff. but i do like skipping the puppy stage, and if it's an adult you already know what they are going to look like...

    I love all my dogs for different reasons, but at this point it would have to be a pretty amazing rescue dog to make me go that route again...

  11. I'm one of those annoying "don't breed, don't buy from breeders, until every dog in a shelter has a home" types. Sort of. I think there should be very, very, very few breeders all of whom must be held to very, very, very high standards. Unfortunately, that is not the case and far too many breeders churn out far too many dogs (sometimes in the hope that one of those pups just "might" win them some wonderful titles and honors), and far too many breeders refuse to take back dogs they have bred that needed rehoming, fail to do homechecks or followups, and wouldn't in their lifetime take on a rescue unless they could flip it for big bucks. (I am not saying this is true of ANY of the breeders who have commented on this thread; I'm saying that in my rescue work, that is what I find to be true when I contact a breeder through a tatoo on a stray or seized dog to let them know one of their pups is in need).

    However, what Flo and others have said helps me to understand the other side of the argument, which is particularly important right now as my best friend (and mom to two rescue dogs) has just arranged to buy a dog from a breeder and I am REALLY struggling to sound happy for her. But she wanted a well bred dog for all the reasons Flo gives. My friend is big into agility and other dog sports. While many rescue dogs DO become terrific at dog sports, and many bought dogs do not, the real reason she is buying is because of the regulations of the various activities she wants to pursue - they require a KNOWN pedigree. If the breed clubs would eliminate that requirement, perhaps more rescue dogs would be considered by dog-sport enthusiasts.
    And, not want to make trouble, but I really have to ask people who buy dogs from breeders so they can win ribbons and titles - who is it that wants those accolades, the dog or the human?
    I did take one of my rescues to agility - he loved it. Never did well, never won ribbons, but gosh he had fun. And that is what it was all about. It wasn't about me - it was about giving him mental and physical exercise.
    Sorry if that comes of sounding high-horse, but I feel the same way about children and competitive sports - let them have FUN and be FIT and forget the trophies and boasting rights.

  12. I'm not a serious dog person, my dogs are "just" companions.

    My current breed of choice are pit bulls - I'll continue to get mine from rescues for the very basic reason that I have never seen a website for a "pit bull" breeder that didn't scare the sh*t out of me.

    But I think if I wanted a working dog, I'd at least start my search with a breeder, to set myself up for success. Reputable breeders need to be patronized so that they continue to produce sound dogs, rather than leaving the stewardship of a breed to novice BYBs.

    Just my two cents...long time reader, but I don't think I've ever commented. I covet your photogenic dogs!

  13. I've never had a purebred dog. I currently have three rescues from shelters and would love to foster but one of my dogs vehemently says no. LOL. My experiences with friends who have bought dogs is varied.

    One couple I know had a couple of mutts when I first met them. One was a purchased mutt to guard their llamas. Then they had gotten a mutt from an accidental breeding and he turned out to be neurotic. So when they got into bird hunting their next dog was a purchased purebred who has a nice temperament but lots of health issues. The next dog they got, a Gordon Setter that was supposedly an all-around hunter (they explained that it is an all-around dog because it can point and retrieve) turned out to be a bust in spite of championship parents. The dog doesn't hunt for them but only for itself as near as I can tell from what they have said. Over fears of the dog getting killed (no fence and lost for 3 hrs on a hunt, and running away) he is going back to the breeder who is willing to take him back and refund money. I abstain from commenting to my friends since the dog at least has somewhere to go where he can just be a breeding machine. The breeder wants him to be a stud.

    Another person, more an acquaintance, bought a retired show dog that had had the breeder's max # of litters. The dog is a French bulldog which lives in a crate at the owner's mother's house most of the day due to owner's divorce and mother's daycare liability. It has developed lick granulomas and I refuse to look any closer after I had a talk with a family member about rehoming the dog. It caused friction.

    Another friend's husband's dog died and they ordered a puppy off of She supposedly knew better since she read all the internet stuff about puppy mills. The dog is supposedly a lab but it weighs 180 lbs and looks like a mixed breed to me. It has papers. There are hundreds of dogs that look more like a lab that I have seen pass through the shelter. I don't talk to the friend's husband at all since he is already an asshole. I was told two weeks ago or so he wants her to order another dog and my friend has refused to do so. His justification for another dog is that "she ruined the lab".

    My only exposure to people buying dogs from breeders is a negative one. I have only seen dogs bought from BYB and people who treat their animals as tools, or like they are stuffed toys, or as simply replaceable. Each dog is a unique individual to me and as I understand it there are dogs like them dying in shelters for lack of people to take them. I don't see the dogs as replaceable, not the ones I work with at the shelter as a volunteer trainer. I could understand some purchases of dogs where you want the qualities of a working dog and you aren't dealing with a BYB or puppy mill. But that hasn't been my experience with people who have bought a dog.

    I have decided I will never go to a breeder. I really like certain kinds of dogs, as do each of you, and I see plenty of them passing through rescues and shelters. Since my criteria is related to companionship I can easily find what I want.

    A little knowledge about dogs and temperament allows me to walk into a shelter and find what I am looking for. Our shelter is working with assessment tests that give some ideas of the personalities of each dog and we are willing to work with adopters. The old days of walking down the aisle and choosing a dog with no idea of what it will be like are hopefully over. But, any dog, including purebred ones like the aforementioned Gordon Setter, can provide some surprises.

  14. Even though you're one of my favorite bloggers, I don't think I've ever commented. This is an issue that's extremely close to my heart though. I've had 3 dogs in my life so far, and they've all been rescues. The first was a mutt - shepherd, husky, retriever, etc. She was never good with other dogs, but I think that's because my parents had never really had dogs so we didn't really know how to socialize her properly. She was AMAZING with people though, probably because she grew up with my sister and I.

    My second dog was my first dog as an adult - I adopted her 3 1/2 years ago, when she was just over a year old. She's another mutt - looks like chihuahua/Italian greyhound. I was determined that I wouldn't have another dog who wasn't socialized, and even though she doesn't necessarily LIKE other dogs, she deals. And again, she's wonderful with people. We're not a perfect pair, but we've learned together.

    My third dog was my only rescue who I would consider "unsuccessful." They said he was a Shar Pei/Great Dane mix but I strongly suspect he had some pit in him. What they didn't tell me was that he had been abused - he had scars everywhere and a very serious fear of men. He also had heartworm, although because of the timing of his tests, I didn't find out until about 8 months after I got him. I absolutely adored him but he was sick, and had very serious emotional issues, and after he turned on me, I had to put him to sleep.

    My dogs are companions. I don't have any interest in agility or hunting or competing. In spite of the fact that I had to put one of my rescues to sleep, I've had success with the others and I just don't have any reason to ever buy a dog. I want the old or the ugly (my Chi-IG is only adorable to ME) dogs. I see why people buy dogs, but it's just not for me. I can't look at all the dogs who are already here and are never going to be homed and turn around a buy a dog that was purposely brought into the world.

  15. Man, I'd never buy a dog. Why would I? I have access to so many rescue dogs, and there are very few things that rescues can't do and purebreds can. I've never seen the thrill of "showing" a dog and I certainly can't appreciate the thrill of breeding one. My rescue dogs can do anything I need them to do - agility, flyball and even stockdog work. One of my foster homes competes in Open with 3 working dogs and only one of them he bought. The other two are rescues.

    I grow very tired very fast of hearing that rescue dogs come with baggage - you know what? Most of them don't come with baggage, and the quirks they do come with are shit they'd have anyway, no matter who raised 'em. If you can turn a puppy into a "perfect" dog, you are a miracle worker and should be cloned a kazillion times. Fact is, every dog has its challenges, and if you can work on them with a pup, you can work on them with an adult rescue too.

    And of course, you don't need to adopt an adult rescue if what you want is a puppy. All my rescues were pups when I got them ... I was looking for something specific and I waited until it came along in rescue to get it. My most recent adoptee comes from better working lines than many of the pups available on the ground now, and I wouldn't touch a sport bred dog with a ten foot pole. Seven of the pups went to sport homes and one to a working home. We have placed so many entire litters through rescue in the last 10 years that if I hear that the only dogs available in rescue are "baggage ridden adult dogs" I'm going to barf.

    I don't think going from rescue to buying is a natural progression at all. I think what happens is people start out in a sport with a rescue, get hooked on the sport, keeping hearing they need a well bred dog to do better at it and eventually buy a dog. And they do better at it because THEIR skill level has improved. If they'd got another rescue, they'd probably do better at it too, because it's way lots more about the training than it will ever be about the dog. Most people are just not as good at training as they think they are.

    The most natural progression in the world to me is someone who gets a dog, has a lot of fun with it, learns a lot from handling it and goes and gets another one that can benefit from the lessons that handler has learned - no matter where that other dog comes from.

    I know a rescuer who used to be a breeder, but when she saw how many dogs were out there needing homes, she couldn't bear putting more on the ground. Now she's been rescuing for 15 years and has saved more lives that most people will in a lifetime. THAT is a progression I can admire.

    I could tell many many stories of people who bought super pricey dogs from super big deal breeders and ended up with duds, sick dogs, etc. but it'd just be a red herring, as much as "rescue dogs have too much baggage" is a red herring. People who buy dogs do it for themselves, period. It's too bad they have a million justifications for it, all of them red herrings.

  16. Love your blog and haven't commented before but I thought that this was a really interesting question.

    I have two dogs now, one from a breeder and one from a rescue. My first came from a breeder. I chose this because she was to be the first dog I have ever had. I didn't grow up with dogs and although I did a lot of research into the breed and training, etc., I wanted to have a dog with a clean start and without the "issues" we hear so much about with rescue dogs. I think that with what I know now, it was still a good choice in that I had the support of the breeder for any issues that came up, and I couldn't blame any of her behaviours on her being a "rescue dog". Sounds weird, but as a new dog owner, I had to own up to her "bad" behaviours being a combination of her innate personality as well as my lack of ability. The important thing was it ensured that I didn't give up on training her and tried really hard to do everything I could to mold her into the dog I wanted. Looking back, this was especially important as it took over a year for her to be completely housebroken--can't blame that on prior "issues" as it HAD to be something I was or was not doing!

    When I decided to add a second dog (my second dog ever), my first thought was that I didn't want to go through puppyhood (and housebreaking!) again. And the more I read yours and other peoples' blogs (Hello Food Lady!), I was really inspired by what could be done with a rescue dog. Really, you people made a believer of me. So I have had my wonderful Barney for five months now, and other than a few weeks of (in hindsight) minor separation anxiety, he is a WONDERFUL dog, free of "ISSUES"! He has some behavioural quirks, but I have read and learned enough to know that they are part of his personality and can't be blamed on his being a rescue dog.

    So the big question is whether I would buy another dog or get another rescue? I have had the best rescue experience with my big boy so I can't imagine not getting another rescue dog. There is a small part of me that wants to eventually get another puppy--mostly to see if I could do better with the abilities and the knowledge that I have now. I work with a breed rescue that occasionally has puppies, so I can't imagine buying another dog, but as my first and second dogs are 2 and 4yo respectively (and my allergies won't allow for a third dog), I hope I have many years to debate this question!

  17. Well I do agree that breeders should be put up to VERY high standards. I know I will only breed a dog when he or she will be so perfect I'll really want to pass his abilities on. I don't like breeders who breed mediocre dogs just to see what comes out (though I do admit exceptional dogs come from mediocre parents, too).
    However, I don't think anyone can seriously hold up anything against me, as long as I make sure no dog becomes homeless because of me by advertising responsible ownership, supporting decent breeders and of course keeping my own dogs from producing unwanted offspring.

  18. You are BRAVE to ask this question and invite comments! But you did so in such a nice, open way that I too, think I'll chime in here...

    I'm of the same mind as The Border Collies although they spelled out my thoughts better than I. I haven't had a whole lot of experience with dogs. In fact, my current dog is the first one I've had in about 20 years. I knew I wanted to rescue a dog vs. buy from a breeder. I couldn't bear that idea when so many woofers were homeless and unwanted already.

    I did spend A LOT of time researching online. I didn't have a particular breed in mind although I was particularly drawn to the herding group. I live in the country, have lots of land and I was interested in having a companion dog that could work outside with me all day (horticulture business). I also had a close friend who owned the best well trained border collie that I had ever met. Her relationship with that dog was phenomenal and I knew that I wanted to develop a similar bond with whatever dog I adopted. I knew that I needed to be trained before I was ever going to be able to train my new dog, but I was up for the challenge.

    I was EXTREMELY fortunate to finally hook up with a border collie rescue in my area and the wonderful woman who runs it is adamant about pairing the right human with the right dog. A reputable rescue org is KEY in my mind and I will go to her for my next dog, too. Turns out my fur gal is what's called an "old-fashioned farm collie" - a mix of rough coated collie.

    My dog was about 2 years old when I adopted her. We've had many, many learning hurdles together. She knew nothing when I brought her home - not how to play with toys, go up the stairs (2-story house), ride in the car, nothing. She watched me constantly for clues & commands because she was so nervous, and together we learned. She's a gem of a dog and just needed the opportunity to shine. It has definitely been very tough at times (her fear of men, her huge prey drive) but we are working through all of it. We do agility - just for fun and to increase our bond - which she thoroughly enjoys. We will stop when she's not having fun anymore (or I can't run around like that, ha!).

    I've rambled on long enough. If I haven't made it already, the point I'll make for myself is that the decision was very personal...I just went with my gut and paid attention to not only what my own goals were, but what kind of life I could provide for a dog. Would I ever buy from a breeder? Highly doubtful. Would I adopt another rescue? Absolutely. I wish I had the time to have 10 of them!

  19. lol, some stuff on kate. that last one is SO cute!

    i'm definitely a rescue person. i bought my first dog (from a pet store, the HORROR, though i told myself i was rescuing him from that situation) because i was young and uninformed. i rescued my second (a former puppy mill stud) nine years later, because i'd developed a passion for rescues. i'm SAVING THE WORLD, ONE ANIMAL AT A TIME! he's definitely a basketcase, but seeing him progress and grow into a "normal" little guy is so gratifying. but THIS is what i love to do - not sports or shows or work - so i don't know if my input really counts.

  20. I have 3 rescues and one dog a got "free to a good home" by a family that hadn't spayed their female and had an accidental litter of pups (i tend to loop him in and say i own 4 rescues). My sister's dog we got from a semi-questional "breeder". Two of my rescues have hip dysplacia, one has a dislocating hip caused by weak ligaments in his leg. the pup is just an idiot. I WANT to do dog sports, but i'm limited in that my dogs physically CAN'T, (or there's Trophy who's just too darn stupid).

    My next dog has to be perfect. Clean, healthy hips being my number one goal. As well as being a sports candidate, flyball, frisbee, and scootering mainly.

    I also LOATHE raising puppies! SOOOO when i am finally ready to bring home dog #5 (it's a while off still) I'm going to search all the rescues first to find a potential dog 10months - 3 years old that fits the bill. If that doesn't work out i would consider buying a pup from a breeder, but would demand their health guarentee be altered since if i buy a pup and he is diagnosed with hip dysplacia down the road I'm already totally bonded to him, i'm not giving him up, the breeder better give me a replacement pup without me returning the original or pay some of my vet bills or something....

  21. My friends are adopted or strays. Not us. WE LOVE those pictures you silly dilly head!
    Benny & Lily

  22. I was surfing the net one day and clicked on an ad just out of curiosity and it brought me to a rescue site. I began looking at the pics of dogs. I came across a 4 month old male staffordshire terrier. I fell in love with this little dog. I really wasn't looking to get another dog, I have an older dog and I had just lost a dog a few months before. But like I said I fell in love with this little guy, something about him. Anyway, I kept coming back to the site for about two weeks, then finally made the decision to fill out an app. and the rest is history. ;)

  23. I get a little nervous when I read people saying "I had such a great experience with rescue that I can't imagine buying." That's the kind of thought process that leads to all kinds of bad stuff when it comes to dogs being produced or purchased. All the time I get "I had such a wonderful experience with XX person" (who I know to be an absolutely HORRIBLE breeder) " that I send everyone to her because we love our Pookey so much."

    Dog origins aren't brand names; it's not like going back to Subaru because your Forester has been a great car. A great dog who has been in rescue will be a great dog in your home; a freaky dog in rescue will be a freaky dog in your home; a spooky dog in a breeder's home will be a spooky dog in your home. It has a lot less to do with where the dog comes from than it does with who the dog is.

    The only difference I've seen has nothing to do with trainability or personality or baggage or anything else. It's that my purchased dogs come with the ethical and moral permission to breed them, should they turn out to be worthy of passing on their genetic material. Since that's very important to me, as much success as I've had with my rescues there will always be purchased or bred show dogs around too.

    In terms of whether the dog shows are for me or for the dog, let me tell you that the conversation usually goes "I really don't want to enter her, but she'll be so depressed if she can't go." Show dogs are in the ring for between four and five minutes of the showing day, and during that time are eating liver as fast as they can. The rest of the time they're being groomed, played with, trained, eating greasy hamburgers with you, going out to dinner, visiting friends, etc. There are some dogs that don't like "the ring," but virtually all of them love the day of focused attention and participation and the thrill of being with hundreds of other dogs. And there are a lot of them that really, really do love the ring; my Clue starts whining and whipping her tail around the closer we get to the judge. It's very much like any other method of being with your dog in a way that is totally focused on them, and actually puts less pressure on them than some of the other competitions because you never want to define for them whether they've won or lost. A great agility dog knows when they've screwed up and works to not repeat it. A great show dog thinks they won, every single time, and yes they absolutely do love it.

  24. My first dog, Sparky, was a rehomed mutt. He is my heart-dog, exceedingly smart and so in tune with what I want and when I want it. I couldn't ask for a better dog.

    And then there's Kota. I'd always wanted a BC "one day" and had planned to rescue/rehome one. Kota was one of an "oops" litter a friend of mine had. I knew she had the pups and wasn't even thinking of having one, convinced it wasn't the right time for me to get a puppy (student, full-time bar job, irregular hours, rented flat...). And then I met Kota and fell in love instantly. The other puppies in the litter had the usual "aww, puppy!" effect on me but somethig about Kota just clicked. And I knew he was meant to be mine.

    I changed my mind during house training...

    Now he's 9 months old and as wonderful as I thought he would be. Calm for a BC, intelligent and amazing with all the various critters in my house.

    Although I do have to go check what he's thumping around in the sitting room... BRB!

  25. My first solo dog (and only so far) is my Half Pint. I knew the breeder, and wanted a sheltie. The breeder's my mum, so I got a puppy free of cost as long as she has the option to breed her if she passes her hip and eye tests. Now, almost two, I love her to death, but know she's a shy dog around other dogs and humans. I'm hoping to bring her some self confidence through agility this summer.

    I hope to get another dog soon (next year or two), though I'm not sure of the origin. Part of me likes the idea of keeping a pup if Half Pint is bred (not my decision), but a big part of me wants to let her be, and find a rescue or pound pooch who needs us as much as we need them.

    There's another part of me that's always dreamed of having an old english sheepdog, and I blame Peter Pan for that one. I've always loved the look of the dog (well, any fuzzy, coat-blowing working dog), and wanted a Nana of my own.

    But, most importantly for me and my dog(s), I hope to some day have enough yard and job security to have all the dogs of my dreams-my shelties, my BCs, my old english, and a few sweet mutts as well-saving a few pitts would be great too. Until then, I shall continue to surf the 'tubes, looking for someone who speaks to me and Half Pint, saying, "take me home".

  26. I got my first dog on CL, and my second dog I adopted from a rescue. She was a pit-mix, who eventually developed DA. After a really hard couple of months, I decided she needed to find a one-dog home. I keep in touch with her new owners. After that, I did a lot of research and eventually found a breed I like. Because I want to do competition obedience and agility, etc, I went with a breeder.

    The new dog is absolutely perfect. He's everything we needed in a dog and I couldn't have chosen better.

  27. Interesting topic and I have enjoyed reading everyone's posts.

    As I was growing up, my family always had dogs. I think all of them were adopted from the HS or like. When I got A, my hubby and I had 2 dogs, Zoe and Maddie. Both adopted from rescue/HS. I got interested in agility and ran it with Maddie. Problem was, Maddie didn’t like it to much.

    We got our first dog with a pedigree from a GSD breeder that a friend of mine was also getting a puppy from. We didn’t know what we were doing, but we wanted a dog that could do SAR and agility. Strider is a great dog, and has a few issues (horrible allergies), but he’s a great dog. He became my husband’s dog pretty quickly.

    When I realized that Maddie wasn’t enjoying agility and I really did, I went to find another dog in rescue. Looked at many, took 1 home for a trial weekend, but it wasn’t until I saw Emma’s picture on PNWBC rescue page that I knew she was the one. And what a great little dog she is. Long story short, she’s got her MACH, ADCH, C-ATCH, ADP, Lifetime Achievement Award-Bronze in USDAA, multiple high in trials, multiple national finalist, etc. At 8.5 she still beats dogs half her age and 3-4 inches taller than she is. (She’s only 18.25 and doesn’t have a tail).

    I got my next dogs from a breeder. I needed a dog with a pedigree to do Agility World Team with. That’s my goal. So, I picked a breeder that I like. I choose the breeding because I *love* a dog that the sire produced. In fact that dog (Jenny) at 9.5 just won the local USDAA Grand Prix at 22 inches last weekend. While my Speck is weird and certainly has his issues, he’s a great dog.

    My husband went back to that breeder to get a herding dog. (He had to retire Strider from herding because he was going to kill the sheep or himself trying to get to the sheep). Merckx has done really well, qualifying and running at the Sheep Dog Championship Nursery runs before he was 2 years old.

    I also have another dog from that same breeder that’s just turned 1. She’s going to be an amazing dog.

    We will have more dogs in our lives, and some of them will be from rescue, of that I have no doubt. We still help with rescue as much as we can, home visits, transport and, had several foster dogs in the past. I think there is less unknown with a pedigreed dog, but having a pedigree does not tell you everything.

  28. All my dogs have been rescued, but I rescued an English Shepherd (I'd never heard of this breed, but she looked like a really nice dog), and she was the greatest dog ever. When she got cancer, I panicked and started looking for another ES. Couldn't find one in rescue at that time, so I contacted a breeder and bought an English Shepherd puppy. Poor Pearl (the breeder-bought ES) is reactive and fear-aggressive, so that's a problem I've never had before. But the short answer is that grief drove the decision to try to replace the dog I was losing.

  29. When my fiance and I decided to get a dog three years ago, we didn't have a specific breed in mind, but we did have general specifications:
    1) Puppy under 6 months
    2) Would grow to be medium-sized
    3) Short hair
    4) Enough stamina/energy/toughness to go on long hikes

    I don't see anything wrong with seeking a dog that fits your needs. Lucky for us, we struck gold and found Zelda at a shelter.

    With my first dog, I went looking for sport to fit the dog, not a dog to fit a sport. But now I'm hooked on agility AND on border collies. I never thought I'd consider looking at breeders for a dog, but I might for my next dog IF I can't find a rescue that fits my needs.

    I also admit there's a part of me that regrets getting Zelda spayed. She's healthy, athletic, and has a great personality and brains. I know there are plenty of dogs like her in shelters, but I can understand the urge to use the genes you have right in front of you rather than searching endlessly in the rescue system.

    My agility trainer competes her four rescue mutts in agility (to varying success), but has no problem recommending breeders to her students who want a purpose-bred dog.

  30. Ripley the Dog here. I was the product of unauthorized breeding. I was lucky to find a home with people who didn't care that I didn't have papers. The key is love and what's in people's hearts.

  31. Hi! Just finished reading through your blog, and this is my first post (I think ...). : D;

    So it all started when I was four, and started begging my parents for a dog. Eventually when I was seven, my parents got a dog from the pet store. He was some sort of messed up health-wise, and had to be put down (shock of all shocks). We then got a black lab from a breeder. Fantastic dog. Mellow and friendly and my best friend for a while.

    He died last March of a cancer that went into his lungs (I was 19), and I immediately knew I wanted another dog, and that I would have to pay for it, and that that was fine and I just wanted another dog okay right now please. Having done a lot of research, I was convinced that a big ol' drooly Newf was the perfect dog for me, but a) no breeder in my area seemed to be having puppies and b) no breeder seemed to be good enough (all are conformation-based and while I realize Newfs don't really have working ability to go by and I was kind of clueless as to show dog politics, even then I was pretty uncomfortable with dogs being bred for anything other than health and temperament) and c) my parents didn't want to go through house training again, and wanted an older dog. So, I looked in rescues. The Newf rescue "nearby" had not much. Neither did Petfinder. Mother refused the sweet-looking rottweiler/newf cross.

    Then, lo and behold, the local humane society put a picture up of a dog that looked like it would be perfect for me: six months old (not a puppy! sort of!), quiet, sweet-tempered, loving, and "seemingly uninterested in cats" (lieslieslies!). Which she was. At least the first three. They said she was a Bouvier mix, which I figured was not going to be too much energy for me to handle.

    Of course as soon as I saw her I knew she had some sort of shepherd in her, and lately I'm pretty convinced it's Dutch Shepherd, so ... a little different than what I was expecting originally : P, but I don't think I'd go back to breeders. I know that puppies go through rescues all the time (if I wanted a puppy), and I know what kind of temperament I like, and I know that there are endless breed-specific rescue, and I know what kind of remedial work I'm willing to do on a dog, and I know that there are good matches out there for me (this from obsessively perusing rescue sites). For me, there just seems no point to going to a breeder. *shrug*

  32. My kids and I have been competing in agility for 10 years now. Kids are not such kids anymore(20 and 18). A combination of eight wonderful Border Collie, Jack Russell, and BC mix rescue dogs have humored us on this journey called dog agility. Some say it is a natural progression to get a breeder dog to keep playing agility. Nope, not in our case. Zach and I even adopted mix breed dogs after starting with rescue pure bred Jack Russells and a Border Collie. Our young dogs are a Border Collie/Jack Russell and a Hangin Tree Cowdog(BC/Kelpie,Catahoula mix).

    Some of these rescue dogs were...
    on their way to the euth room- JRT Nub, trained by middle school aged boy, Steeplechase semifinalist and DAM team participant USDAA nationals 2009

    languishing in rescue for months-ADCH, CATCH, NATCH Max contestant on Animal Planet's Pet Star

    very soft-BC ADCH Nessa trained by a middle school aged girl, HIT Junior Handler CPE Nationals, Junior Handler showcase and DAM team participant 2007 USDAA Nationals

    Will I get another rescue dog to play agility or go herding, you bet!

  33. I could say a bunch of stuff, but The Border Collies (RDM) already said it all better.

    Not too long ago, I got hooked on stock work and thought about buying a border collie from a working breeder. It didn't take me long to realize that it's just not something I can do. Not with all the dogs out there who need homes.

    I wouldn't buy a dog to do agility with (a hobby), nor flyball (a hobby), so why would I do it for stock work (also a hobby)? My rescue dog excels at flyball, we're not doing half bad in agility and stock work is still a work in progress. Still, I couldn't ask for a better dog. Period.

  34. I have worked with rescue organizations for years, and I have owned several rescued dogs in my life. My current dog Penny is a rescued JRT who is silly and eager, a bit neurotic, and HUGE at a trim 35lbs. She is an excellent vole hunter, something I never thought of before but highly value now and will go out of my way to get in a future dog.

    For my next dog I would like a border collie for herding and agility. I would love to work through a rescue for this dog, but the rescue situation for BCs in Alaska is a little weird. I've kept an ear open for opportunities over the last few years, but I have not seen any dogs that come close to meeting my criteria.

    I have even expanded my search for any mixed-breed herding dog that I think would get the job done, but even with working with breeders that aggressively rehabilitate and re-home, I have had serious questions about either the temperament or the health of the animals available.

    Once I thought I found what I was looking for in a dog--he was biddable and ignored our cats, but he just seemed bored with me, like his mind was checked out and he was just going through the paces. He and I never clicked. I was really disappointed, but he got a great agility and frisbee home afterward and is a happy fool for his new (male) owner.

    I would not mind getting a dog from out of state, but I am of the opinion that I need to see a dog in person for me to be able to evaluate, and it is prohibitively expensive for me to fly myself around to various places, and then bring a dog back.

    I was going a little crazy about the situation until I found an in-state breeder (who is still almost 350 miles away) whose dogs and track record I really like. There aren't plans for a litter until next winter, but if I still haven't found a rescue that meets my needs by then, you bet I'll be in line for one of those puppies.

  35. I "rescued" an Aussie from a breed specific rescue. She was in a foster home so I got a pretty good idea of what her "issues" might be. I've had her almost four years now, she's five, and she's the companion I always dreamed of. If I live long enough, I'll rescue again, an adult dog, from a foster home. My heart aches for all the dogs in shelters, but I would need to know more about the dog I rehomed. Breed specific rescue/adoption is what works for me. I would never buy a dog. I'm sorry. the world simply does not need any more puppies.

  36. I've been reading your blog for awhile but never been moved to comment until now. This is a great question! Here's our story:

    I've had dogs all my life, all rescues until recently. For many years I volunteered at our local shelter and fostered dozens of dogs. Many of the shelter dogs I've met have been incredible and I know how great the need is for quality homes. When our beloved aussie-border collie cross, Kanga, died four years ago we set out to adopt another shelter dog. However, we had a family member who hadn't been around when we adopted Kanga: our four-year-old daughter. The dog we adopted soon proved unsuitable for a household with small children in and out all the time. While I think she would have eventually been ok with our daughter she was never going to be ok with new children visiting our home. One day she chased the neighbor boy down our hallway and cornered him in the kitchen. We had to return her to the shelter. Completely shook my confidence in my ability to choose an appropriate dog for our family so I did what I never thought I'd do: found an extremely reputable breeder and got on her waiting list for an Australian Shepherd puppy. The puppy we purchased, Henry, is a wonderful dog in many ways but I still have to crate him when our daughter has friends over. Although he passed his puppy temperment test and was cleared for life in a family with children he has turned out to be somewhat high-strung and anxious. Not what I was hoping for at all.

    Ironically, two weeks after we brought Henry home we got a call from an aquaintance who knew of a stray Aussie that was about to go to to the shelter. We took her in to "foster" her, fell in love, and kept her. Bella has turned out to be our Aussie with a rock-solid temperment who charms everyone in the neighborhood, kids and adults alike. We have no idea what her background was. There are some indications she had been dumped and it took months for her to bond with us but she has the temperment we were looking for and didn't find in our carefully chosen, well-bred puppy. From now on our family dogs will always be rescues!

  37. Such wonderful photos... [happy sigh]

    I'm all about the pound: the local, municipal, open-admissions pound. My last three dogs [a pit bull, a border collie and a pit/shepherd mix] have all come from the local pound. Great dogs, every one. I'll always have pound dogs.

    Having said that, if I get another border collie I'll definitely buy a pup from a breeder of working sheepdogs, and if I ever take a trip through Texas and Louisiana I'll be tempted to bring home a cur dog from a good breeder.

  38. Ack, I'm late to the party! I guess I should say something like, "Long time lurker; first time commenter." The Food Lady may have the best dog blog going on the Intarwebz!

    I've been reading these comments for a couple of days (and reading Three Woofs and a Woo for ages) and couldn't keep my mouth shut any longer :D

    All of my dogs have been rescue dogs -- and they've all been awesome dogs, including the two that came with serious baggage. Likewise, if you look around, you'll see examples of rescue dogs excelling in all kinds of fields.

    There's no guarantee, when you purchase a dog from a breeder, that the dog in question will pan out as in any canine sport or as a working dog. Likewise, even if you buy a 'made' dog, there's no guarantee that she'll work well with you :D

    Being a farm boy by upbringing and inclination (if a web programmer by profession), I'm planning on acquiring some sheep not too far down the road (okay, I do love sheep -- but I'd be lying if I didn't admit it's at least in part so I'll have an excuse to have a border collie or two :D). I plan to find my dogs through bc rescue organizations.

    Not only will I have the satisfaction of knowing I'm doing a good turn for the dog (who, frankly, will do me much more good than I have ever done him or her), but every knowledgeable bc rescue I've looked into makes a point of identifying those dogs who have either good stock-work instincts or experience working stock.

    It's true that I could purchase a dog from an established working bc breeder -- I live only 75 miles from site of one of the oldest and best-established sheepdog trials in the United States, so it wouldn't be terribly hard to find good ones -- but if I did, there would be no more guarantee that I was getting a talented stock-dog who would work well with me (don't worry -- any dog I take will be with me forever, either way).

    I guess what I'm saying is that I don't object to responsible breeders -- especially not responsible breeders whose focus is not form, but function. But, frankly, there are a kajillion irresponsible breeders and far, far too many homeless dogs in the world -- and as long as that's the case, my dogs will always come from rescues in shelters.

  39. Ack, that should have been 'rescues and shelters,' not 'rescues in shelters.' Um ... can I claim low blood sugar or something? :D

  40. One more thing ... Egads, I'm an idiot tonight. I meant to write, "The Food Lady may have the best dog blog on the Intarwebz, but Just Another Dog Blog is definitely a contender for the crown!"

    I found my way here from there. Eeee.

    Okay, I'll shut up now...

  41. "I'm sorry. the world simply does not need any more puppies." So I assume you would like pet dogs to become extinct? That is what happens when no more puppies are born.

    If ONLY responsible breeders had litters, there would be NO dogs in shelters. There would still be some re-home situations, but since responsible breeders take responsibilty for ALL the pups from their litters, they assume the job of fostering/rehoming their pups as necessary.

    The problem is, only about 10% of pups born in the USA are from responsible breeders. About 30% are from puppy mills and 60% are from backyard breeders. So, about 90% of pups born may be destined for shelters if not a perfect match, or if their owners have a "lifestyle change."

    Responsible breeders cannot meet the demand for pups. Commercial breeders are more than happy to profit from that fact. And then we have the backyard breeders who just want their kids to witness the miracle of birth and conveniently forget about the reality of euthanasia of innocent but sadly "excess and unwanted" dogs.

    There is NO EXCUSE for financially rewarding commercial and backyard breeders. Trust me, responsible breeders are NOT profiting financially from their breeding efforts - they are lucky to break even. Their "profits" are NOT monetary - compared to commercial breeders who breed for profit. Backyard breeders often are trying to recoup the expense of their expensive pet store pup. So - if you must buy that pet store pup, do NOT pay full price. If you MUST have that pup that the idiot neighbor down the street bred, do not pay more than $100.

    Otherwise, visit the shelter or other rescue (including breed specific) OR get your pup from a truly responsible breeder - knowing that NEITHER of these options result in innocent dogs ending up on "death row."

    The recent protest at the Westminster dog show was ignorant. The vast majority - altho there are a few bad apples in any barrel - of the breeders who bred dogs being shown at Westminster are of the "responsible for the life of the dog" variety. Understand that these breeders are also selective about who can get one of their pups. Just having a credit card does not qualify. So, responsible breeders tend to sell pups to responsible pet homes (on spay-neuter contracts I might add). Irresponsible breeders sell to anyone who can pay the price (sometimes irresponsible and sometimes responsible - will spay/neuter but ignorant that their money is fueling a serious problem) - THESE are the dogs who end up in shelters and who contribute to future generations of shelter dogs.

    WHY is this such a difficult concept to grasp???

  42. Seems a lot of people start agility with their pet rescue dog. Dog is a great pet but tends not to have enough drive to do very well at agility. (And this is because they purposely picked a dog that would make a good pet. Easy pet tends to equal lower drive.) Lots of people tell them, "You should buy a BC." Person goes out and buys a BC and does well. Thinks does well because they bought a dog and don't consider they are doing well because their first dog was low drive and new dog is high drive. As Food Lady says, plenty of great BCs in rescue who will do just as well in agility as a purchased dog.

    Health issues can be a problem with rescues and purchased dogs. You like to think with a purchased dog you are stacking the deck in your favor, but what about something like allergies that there is no test for?

    I am not anti breeder or buying but when I considered buying I worried what if my pup turned out to be a dud, no matter how much homework I did? With a rescue I've saved a life and if something happens and the dog can't play games with me anymore, at least the life is still saved.

    I am lucky because there are lots of my breed available to rescue. I guess I'd be a lot luckier if there were none available, but what I mean is if I just had to have, say, a Otterhound, I'd probably have to buy one. Sadly, Malinois rescue is overflowing.

    All of my dogs are rescues and I like to think we do ok. My dogs are not the fastest (but they are also not BCs) and even if I bought a super fast dog, I probably wouldn't do any better since I am not a very good handler!

    If you want to buy a dog please do, just don't tell me I would do better if I bought one. And I also agree about the baggage. Out of 5 rescue dogs, only one has had baggage. And now she's over it.

  43. Another longtime reader, first-time commenter brought out of the woodwork by strong feelings on this issue.

    I've got two mixed-breed dogs who I adopted as adults from the pound. The older one, my first dog, came to me with lots of baggage, though I assume it was all due to undersocialization as a pup. We worked and worked on teaching her how to be a dog in the world, and while she's still not perfect by any means, watching her slowly let go of her fears and blossom has been one of the great joys of my life. When I got my second dog, a little lab-pit mix who had come from a documented situation of abuse and had three legs to show for it, I was prepared to use all of the skills I'd developed in working with my first dog. And then it turned out they were mostly unnecessary: the new dog, whose start had been much worse, has a beautiful, bomb-proof temperament, is extremely biddable for a goofy adolescent, and picks up commands in an instant. I say this to point out the fact that my "rescue dogs" aren't interchangeable, even though they both had bad starts and ended up at the pound: they have entirely different personalities, entirely different skill sets, entirely different ways of responding to the world. In short, they are dogs.

    I admire a lot of the long-term health and short-term socialization work that breeders do with their dogs. That said, I think many people buy dogs because "you know what you're getting" or because they want some kind of mythical Good Dog and they think their money can make that happen. It's simply not true: perhaps you have a little more predictive insight into a bought dog's future health, perhaps you can look at the parents and lightly extrapolate some aspects of the dog's future temperament, but you haven't paid for any guarantees about what that dog's personality will be, what he will love, what he will fear, what his needs will be. And you know another good way to evaluate a dog's temperament? Find an adult dog and hang out with him for 10 minutes. You'll gain insight into 90% of his personality, and you'll know a whole lot more about what he's like than you would by looking at a puppy's parents and attempting to make forecasts.

    I really hate the rhetoric of "oh, if you want just a companion, then by all means, get a shelter dog, but I have ambitions for my dog, which is why I bought him!" When I met my first dog at the pound, I could tell she was athletic, I could tell she wasn't a velcro dog and I could tell she wasn't afraid of new situations. We're in the early stages of agility right now: the other members of our class are all BCs and Aussies, and all but one were purchased. I get a lot of weird faux-friendly comments from their owners about how "brave" I am to try to work with a mix in agility and to "take a chance on an unknown" by adopting from a shelter. And then in class, my dog demonstrates that she is athletic, independent and not afraid of new situations, just as I'd initially thought. She takes obstacles fearlessly--she ran the teeter the first time it was introduced without flinching--and she works beautifully at a distance; she has no sensitivity to noise and has drive for days. And yet, the other people in my class seem totally comfortable thinking (and sometimes saying) that their dogs are the superior dog for agility because of breed and breeding. It makes me crazy.

  44. My dog is from a rescue (German Shepherd/Doberman Pinscher mix), but I'm thinking about getting my next dog from a breeder. Reason being is because my dog has been an absolute terror, even though she's now fantastic.

    She's skittish of everything, and had separation anxiety the first 2 years I had her (which can still happen with a dog from a breeder, but the chances aren't as great because if I get a dog from a breeder it wouldn't have been bounced from house to house...) As a result she ripped up my carpet, chewed a hole THROUGH my bedroom door, demolished her crate and ruined my $500 digital camera. Which, I know, puppies do this too, I just feel like it'd be easier to break with teething VS. separation anxiety