Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Truth About Breeding

Many breeders have different reasons for breeding. The biggest question that needs to be answered is, are we part of the problem of pet overpopulation? If we produce puppies, sell them to loving homes as a spayed/neutered pet, and offer to take back the dog at any time in it's life, we are not part of the problems of pet overpopulation.

If we sell puppies on full registration to a show or breeding home, we have to ensure that we are selling the puppy to a responsible home. Are we sure beyond a doubt that the puppy will not end up in a puppy mill? When considering a breeder home, we have to ensure that they have the same goals. Do they abide by the breeder's code of ethics and do they have goals beyond selling puppies? Some breeders only sell to show homes. But I believe there are breeders that can make a positive impact on the breed without showing. When a breeder fully understands improving health and quality of breeding lines, they are still making a positive impact, whether they are obtaining titles on all their dogs or not.

Show breeders want you to believe that only through showing, are the lines conforming to breed standard and the best quality. But three times in the last year, I have seen dogs that have excellent champion pedigrees and the dogs themselves had horrible bites and were not show quality. If the premises were true, then their bloodlines would be much better quality than those without as nice of a pedigree.

My point is, that just obtaining titles does not make a breeder. Just breeding does not make a breeder. A breeder has to have a comprehensive set of goals and an understanding of the big picture to make a great breeder. I want the whole picture in myself and I am constantly striving to improve, to learn, and to grow as a person and as a breeder.

There are greater goals than making money. I have talked to people who's goal was to make money and they weren't afraid to admit it. But I think they'll find disappointment when they have complications with breeding and whelping. My bigger fear is that the dogs will suffer if a breeder cuts corners to make a profit. This is usually what happens when someone has money as a primary goal.

A breeder has to make their budget balance unless they are independently wealthy. But most ethical breeders reinvest their profits into their dogs, improving facilities, showing, or purchasing additional breeding lines. Breeding is an expensive hobby but a few litters a year will balance the budget and if you're lucky and don't have as many complications in a year, you may make a profit. But you can count on the profit being gone with the next complication or replacement of dog supplies or facilities.

Showing is one of the biggest expenses and some may skip showing to skip the costs. But I will tell you up front that I skip showing right now because of the negative politics. I am very sensitive and I love breeding for the good feelings. I avoid negativity in life and in breeding. I plan to show and am supportive of showing, but every time I get close to stepping up, something is said or done that hurts my feelings and I retreat to my happy world that I have created for myself. Life is too short to be caught up in who has what bloodline, who beat who in the ring, or who is talking about who. I want to enjoy my dogs, and the families I meet through the dogs. When I am depressed and struggling, I can hold a puppy or sit and watch the dogs play and all feels right in the world again. There are heart breaking moments too, but in the's rewarding to see the smiles on the family that you send a new puppy home with.

I breed because I love dogs first of all. Norwich Terriers are the cutest little dogs. Have you ever heard that puppies are cute but then they grow up? Norwich Terriers never seem to grow up, they just get cuter! I love photography and taking pictures of my dogs is very rewarding. I enjoy a typey Norwich, grooming them, and trying to get a beautiful photo that shows them off. My second love is the social aspect of breeding. I get emails from people all over the states, sometimes just asking a question or introducing themselves as a Norwich lover. I love the relationships that you build with a puppy owner. They send updates or stories about the dogs and you know that you have done a good job. You've made someone happy! Even with questions or concerns that a family may have, you are support to them, someone to lean on even if you don't have all the answers.

I am an OB nurse and although I haven't worked since my youngest son was born, I tell people I'm still home! LOL Breeding is much like nursing. I care for the adults, ensuring they are healthy. With AI there is technical medical knowledge needed, and I enjoy the medical aspect of reproduction. I monitor their pregnancy, and assist them in whelping. This is the most stressful time because I don't have contraction and fetal monitoring like I would with a human. But I can monitor the puppies in the birth canal and we still have to make the call when we need a vet's assistance. As the puppies are safely delivered, I monitor the Mama's postpartum. We watch for infection, that the puppies are properly latching and "breastfeeding". We monitor the growth of the puppies. I am their nurse as I educate the new family about caring for their new family member. And finally, I send the baby home with their new family and I'm an educator as they adapt to their new family member.

By understanding who I am, one can understand why I am a breeder. This is the truth about breeding and the truth about me. I am eager to find other breeders with the same commitment and heart. Sometimes I wonder if I will find any, because the Norwich world is so small and so political. A breeder once told me, you have no friends in the show world. They're your competition. The only friends you may have are those with a different breed. I hope that isn't true. I honestly believe that in order to improve a breed, it has to be on a large scale and breeders have to work together. Breeders can benefit each other if they would just accept working together and not against each other.

I believe in honesty, integrity, community, and ethical breeding. Despite the negativity and politics, I finally realized that if someone doesn't like it, it can't hurt me if I stay true to myself.

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