Some of my best friends are Smiths.

race_exhibitIn high school, I saw a play of the same name as the title of this post. I never forgot it. I later was judging a high school theater competition in Illinois when I saw this play again. The play deals with the illogical thinking that causes racism or judgmentalism in our world (the play is actually set in England) in a very simple way. I often use the title trying to explain the absurdity of judgmentalism. Some get it; some don’t.

Having only experienced life as a white person, I can’t begin to try to expound on the complexities of life as an individual of color, but I am a member of a community that has been harassed, had our rights stripped and found ourselves on the receiving end of some of the most vile and degrading lies and insults that you can imagine. That’s right; I am a BREEDER!

In fact, I am a damn fine Breeder, but that doesn’t matter to some people. To them, the mere fact that I cause additional life to be born I am an evil person because somewhere some dog unknown to me is supposedly going to die because the people who “buy” from me have made a choice to buy a purposely created dog rather than a dog of unknown origins with unknown problems. The absurdity of this argument is further laughable by the mere fact that the majority of these people also have produced children of their own while real-life children suffer through their childhoods without a family of their own. That is what I call hypocrisy.

These hypocrites also fail to note that the most recent study I have found puts “purebred” dogs in shelter make up about 5% of the shelters canine populations. 5%! Over the last 15 years I have kept track of dogs in my primary breed through Petfinder and our national breed clubs rescue organization (the only rescue in the nation for the breed). In those 15 years, the annual intake or dogs in the breed is an average of 0.8 animals a year. Let’s repeat that– the average number of dogs in my primary breed that end up in a shelter or rescue is LESS THAN A SINGLE DOG A YEAR! That number would be even lower, but several years ago, an aging breeder asked a girl at her veterinarian’s office if she knew anyone looking for part-time work because she needed a new “helper.” Well, that girl called her friend the local Animal Control officer and the AC bullied the woman into getting rid of the majority of her dogs, and the lady’s lawyer placed several in a shelter out-of-state. (I picked up those dogs from the shelter, and was able to blow the whistle on the injustice of what was happening by the excellent shape the older dogs were in. The lady eventually was able to get ALL of her dogs back, and the AC lost her job because of this and several other incidents like it). If I remove the dogs that were placed because of an out-of-control Animal Control Officer, the annual average drops to 0.2 animals a year over the last 15 years, and none of those are dogs that I bred. So, how exactly am I killing innocent dogs? My other breed is very popular. It is a family favorite, so there are almost always puppies available anywhere in the country, so you would expect that shelters would be over-run with them, right? Well, there are so few that RESKEWS are actually importing dogs FROM OTHER COUNTRIES to supply the demand for dogs of this popular breed. So, again, how am I killing innocent dogs? It’s easy– I am not! We need to do away with blaming breeders for dogs in shelters. That onus should fall solely on the owner. We don’t automatically blame a 70 year-old mother because of the actions of her 50 year-old son, so why should a breeder be blamed for the actions of a buyer? They shouldn’t.

The truth is that there ARE bad breeders out there– people who do not take adequate care of their animals, who abuse or neglect them. The same is true, though, for every group of people on this planet! If a white cop illegally murders a person of color, does that make all white cops bad or evil? A black man who commits a crime against a white woman does not make ALL black men evil or criminal. You can no more blame a whole race of people for the actions of a few than you can blame all breeders for the actions of a few. It is insanity!

So, the next time you see these Animal Rights Terrorists picketing a breeder, or starting an on-line lynch mob based on little to no evidence, remember that the breeder may very well be one of your best friends– a SMITH.

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Say What?

aphisThat’s what the government told us! The same government that had an open comment period for concerned citizens to offer their opinion on the proposed new APHIS regulations. They heard from every segment of the population and made exactly ZERO changes to their new proposed regulations, and then told us just to call them and describe our situation and they would tell us whether we fell under these regulations, Well, “Yeah, umm… NO! Do you really think I can trust you?”

Of course I can’t! The USDA has become overrun with Animal Rights Extremists and Terrorists, so if their mission is to outlaw animal usage by humans, do I really think they would apply logic, science or even a common sense approach to dog breeders?

One of the sticklers, for me, is the very lack of definition of “breeding females.” One would think, hope and expect that an agency of the Government would provide clear directives and definitions to the regulations they impose on those they are charged with regulating, but if they did that, it would be so much harder to catch unsuspecting, and well-meaning, individuals in those “gotcha” moments that could ruin the lives of its tax-paying citizens. (You know, those tax-paying citizens that pay their salaries.) BUT, they have zero definition of what a breeding female is. It could be any female of any species that is not surgically altered, but they won’t just say that. They tell you to call them and they will make a case-by-case decision. Say what?

I will use a real life example of a friend of mine: Say person Z is a dog breeder and has 20 dogs, 3 cats, 5 chickens, 2 Nigerian Dwarf goats and 3 horses. Now, of those 33 animals on Person Z’s farm, 22 are genetically female. This person would fall under APHIS if they ever place an animal sight unseen– even if they send a dog across the country to their cousin, their FAMILY!
Now, let’s take a closer look at those 24 females: 5 are hens. There is no rooster, so no breeding would be taken place, but technically they “could” be bred! 2 are ancient goat does! There is no buck, so no breeding would be taking place, but technically they “could” be bred! 2 are horses (mares) and of those 2, only 1 SHOULD or WOULD ever be bred. The other has too many health issues to even attempt to list, but she technically “could” be bred. 1 is a cat, and is spayed, so she can’t count as “breedable.” 14 are dogs (bitches). {Now, remember, this person is a hobby/ show breeder} Of those 14, A, B, and C are 12 years old or older and spayed because of pyometras and in their lifetimes they have combined to produce exactly 2 litters for a total of 3 puppies. D is 9 y.o. and has produced a total of 1 litter of 2 puppies in her lifetime. E is 9 y.o. and has never been bred and currently has T-cell lymphoma. F is 9 y.o. and has never been bred. G, H and I are 8 y.o. and have never been bred and didn’t pass a couple of their health clearances so wouldn’t be bred. J is 7 y.o. and didn’t pass a couple of her clearances and would never be bred. K is 6 y.o. and has passed EVERY health clearance and has been bred ONCE producing 4 puppies. L is 3 y.o. and had 1 litter producing 3 puppies. M is 2 y.o. and didn’t pass a couple of her health tests so she would not be bred. N is just coming 2 y.o. and has yet to finish her health tests. So, according to the term breedable, A, B, and C don’t count, but D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M and N do. That is more than 5, even though D, E, F, G, H, I, J and M haven’t been or wouldn’t be bred, leaving only K, L and N that as a hobby/ show breeder they would possibly breed. So, out of the 11 that are technically breedable, only 3 would possibly be. Add that to the possible breeding of 1 of the livestock animals (the healthy mare) this individual has, in any common-sense/ logical interpretation 4 breedable females.

But, what do you suppose the powers-that-be would say if this person picked up the phone and called the government and explained their situation? Does any logical person living in reality think the government would say, “Oh, don’t worry about APHIS, it doesn’t apply to you!” Of course NOT! They would demand to come onto the property and inspect and make their own determination. Question: When did Animal Ownership equate to invasion of privacy by the Government? What probable cause would they have to search and inspect such a person’s property? And if they can search theirs, what is to stop them from “inspecting” yours?

It is all a matter of perspective!

cecil4I guess some people don’t think that #ZebraLivesMatter. They matter to the zebras!

It’s just a matter of perspective! See, once again, we are in that lovely area known as gray, or as I call it… REALITY.

A recent online discussion came about surrounding breeders and the separation that exists amongst us all. No two breeders will do things the same way, or believe the same things. All of our past experiences make up who we are in the present, and they tint the way we see life, and they affect our very belief systems. Since nobody has lived my life, they can’t possibly see life the way I see it. At the very root of the human condition is a duality… the “spirit against the flesh,” the “yin and yang, the light and the dark, the very individual experience of lifeĀ  versus the common and shared experience of life.

“Judge not, lest ye be judged” — “Walk a mile in my shoes”

Somehow, it seems, the first reaction to almost any situation is to lay judgement on it based on our “perception” that is clouded by our experiences. As society has changed, and this country has changed, and technology has changed and government has changed, more and more people are disconnected with the actual realities of life. Life and Death are things that have become so sterilized, that most people don’t realize that neither of these events are truly sterile. Birth is a messy business; it is disgusting, wet and smelly but the most beautiful thing comes from it… LIFE. Very few animals (including people) are fortunate to experience a truly peaceful death. Death can be violent, disgusting, and messy, but it also brings peace. In death, there is no pain, no hunger, no struggle. It is the end of a journey, and no matter how death comes, it completes the cycle. We, as a society, try to avoid “death” and have sterilized our customs dealing with the dead. So, if you have never experienced the reality of these circumstances, you can’t really understand the perspective of those that deal with it on a daily basis.

Take the lion. First-world countries are in an outrage while the third-world countries are wondering “what lion”? It is a matter of perspective! Here we complain about how someone could kill a lion, and there they are hoping some other wealthy individual will come and pay to kill another literal man-eater. I guess it is easy to love a lion that lives 9,000 miles away without ever thinking about the perspective of those that live with them in their backyard, literally.

The same can be said for the person that is looking at buying a puppy. Their experiences, or lack thereof, cloud their view or perspective of how a puppy should be raised. Most of the people who are buying a puppy have never actually raised a litter of puppies, so what they have most likely experienced is a sterilized version of what a breeder SHOULD BE, and what they have yet to figure out is that the sterilized version that they have been told come from other people who have never raised a litter of puppies. Very often, the people pushing that sterilized view actually don’t believe anyone should even be buying a puppy.

The truth is, raising multiple dogs is messy. Dogs make poop, they roll in the dirt, they slobber, they lick themselves, some eat poop, they lick each other, they shed, they shake the dirt they have rolled in off of their bodies, and that dirt flies EVERYWHERE, and with that dirt, hair and dander flies everywhere. It is messy, but most people have no experience with that reality, so they judge others on a reality of which they have never lived. They don’t walk a mile in my shoes, but they know what they have been told, and what they have been told is a lie.

I like dogs, especially mine. I respect dogs for being exactly what they are and don’t try to anthropomorphize them into little humans that walk on four legs. I would be doing them a disservice if I did that. My house isn’t always immaculate, but my dogs are happy. If given the choice between dusting or playing with my dogs, I will most likely choose playing with my dogs, unless someone is coming to my house. Then, I put them in their “room” like little hot-house flowers, and scrub my home from top to bottom. I have to prepare it for an unreal reality to appease the perspective of people whose only version of reality is based on a lie.

Then, even though most breeders feel this pressure to present an unreal reality, we then turn around and let our reality cloud our judgement of another breeder’s reality. Rather than learn from our own experience, we tread the same waters as those people with the sterilized view, and expect others to do the things we do for the reasons we do even though they have not lived our life or we theirs.

Floating about social media is an image of dogs in double-decker runs with more dogs in pens in the yard. The covering of the outside pens is tin, and tin rusts. Now, it is my understanding that the image is from the 1980s… THREE DECADES AGO, but, when we see that image, we automatically view it with the tinted lens of our experiences, and not that of the owner of those dogs, or even of the dogs themselves. I recently saw images of an Amish Kennel. Now, I, like most of you, have heard the horror stories surrounding the Amish. Well, this facility was not only immaculate, but it was CUTE! Who could disparage this facility? Almost anyone that has not experienced life in the exact same manner as that Amish breeder, and most especially, people who have never experienced the reality of a breeder. You see, dogs experience life as they know it. They are not born with an innate sense that they belong on a couch. Many dogs DO NOT belong on your couch, or even in your home! Many dogs would actually be happier if they were allowed to more dog-like and less like the baby-dolls we treat them as.

Here is a “for instance”: I got my old girl Ginny when she was 5. I had visited her several times at her breeder’s kennel. I liked her. I really liked her. She was as happy a dog I had ever known and everything a Golden should be and she had been raised in a kennel. I brought her home, and she became an anxious mess. The change in the house from wood flooring to stone caused her anxiety. The noises in the house flipped her out. She spent the first 2 years going outside and being happy as a clam, and a hermit that would run into her crate and stay there until she could go back outside. She slowly got to where she would sleep on the dog bed. Then the ottoman. Then the dog’s settee, and now, if she comes inside too late to get the couch, she walks around sulking, and at 12, will pick up a toy and start throwing it in the air, to get the couch hogs off to play, which is when she drops the toy and hightails it to the couch. The point is, given a choice at 5 years old, she would have chosen the kennel. She didn’t know anything else. She was happy. It was ME that changed her. I put my ideals and my perspective of what she “should” want onto her. It made me “feel good” to think that I was pampering her, when in reality I put her through much stress because I was making her be the dog that I felt that she should want to be.

It’s sad that we do this to our dogs– that we put our own emotional needs onto them– that they have to bear the weight or our own frail duality. What is even sadder, though, is when we allow that frailty affect our fellow man. It’s definitely all about your perspective.