Wednesday, November 2, 2011
So, is anyone out there still reading? If yes... I figured this ought to be a moment as good as any to introduce Willow, the now nearly five month old Golden Retriever whom I've been chasing around after work in the evenings during what was previously in part blogging time. She's actually in temporary exile to the north, in my Red State hometown, hanging out with my parents for the next week to come. This is because (another lame partial excuse for the lack of writing) the ceiling in the living room started to fall in, and there are a team of guys at the house trying to repair it for the next week. We've had to move Willow's crate and all of her toys, in addition to all of our furniture and two bookcases full of books, out of there, letting her stay here was not such an attractive option. Not to mention what all the banging would do to her daily nap schedule...
No, Willow is not a rescue. She came from this breeder; here's her daddy (who is even handsomer in person), mommy, and sister who stayed with the breeder who might grow up to be a show dog. Willow not being a rescue dog hasn't been so much an issue when we walk her around the neighborhood or have taken her other places in the greater D.C. area, but yes, rescue sanctimony is alive and well, perhaps especially on the Internet. I've seen it mostly in places like unrelated Facebook threads and in a few randomly moralistic comments to my husband's blog post about a different dog-related topic. (Then again, there was the random moralizing comment about why we shouldn't get a golden retriever because Labs are totally better hunting companions, to which Ilya was all like, no thanks, actually we live in a suburb, so maybe the real lesson is that Volokh commenters are an unruly lot who like to ramble about their own preoccupations even when this is irrelevant or rude.)
Yes, of course rescuing animals is wonderful and lovely and noble. At the same time... subsidizing responsible breeders does help to diminish the supply of animals who end up in rescue. So many dogs wind up in rescue due to behavior or health problems that stem directly from an irresponsible breeder's bad choices. It's important to give the good guys financial incentives to keep trying to get things right.
Also... my parents and I had a wonderful golden retriever when I was growing up named Sasha. Sasha came from a small hobby breeder outside of Philadelphia. Sash had her mischievous moments, sure, but she was a sweet-tempered, easygoing girl who had almost no serious health problems until the day she died of hemangiosarcoma at ten years of age. Two or three years after Sasha died, I'd since finished school and moved out, and my parents felt that they were too old for another puppy. So they were applied to the local golden retriever rescue and (as a pair of retired schoolteachers with a fenced-in backyard and previous golden experience) they were apparently among the chosen few who were approved to rescue. China, a golden who was picked up off the streets of Philadelphia. China was... nothing like Sasha. Aggressive. Destructive. All manner of issues. They called the rescue association back, who recommended that they hire an expensive "animal behaviorist" who could deal with such aggression. The nearest one had offices in Philadelphia, more than an hour's drive away from them. They ultimately realized that the dog was too much for them and had to return her to the specialty breed rescue. This experience indicates that there are at least some dog owners capable of raising a pup from a good breeder who has no behavioral issues, but who might be overwhelmed by a rescue dog's needs.
Meantime, I promise I'll try to be around more often.