Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jack x Sienna Puppies

These puppies are bred and owned by Deb St Myers, Agate English Cocker Spaniels. The sire of the litter is CH Calypso's Fortunate Series Of Events, Jack, and the dam is Quinlan's Burnt Sienna RN OA OAJ OF, Sienna. The black boy, Jasper, is available to a home that will show him in conformation. He is located in Northern California. You can visit the Puppies page on my website for more information.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dog Legislation

I don't know how many of you realize this, but there has been an important piece of legislation in WA recently, SB5651. There have been similar pieces of legislation introduced all over the US, including a Bill in New York which will ban tail docking and legislation in certain states which will REQUIRE spaying and neutering.

Our personal rights in the US are under attack. Normal, ordinary people read about these bills and feel that the laws make sense and prevent puppy mills. In reality, current animal cruelty laws prevent the puppy mill cases such as those that were recently featured on the Oprah show and the recent puppy mill case that was uncovered in WA State. New legislation is introduced under the guise of preventing puppy mills, but the legislation is actually a move to license ALL dog breeders.

Many dog owners do not realize that these bills are pushed forward and sometimes introduced by special interest groups such as PETA and the Humane Society Of The United States. (DO NOT give these special interest groups donations. If you would like to donate to a rescue, please choose a local rescue in your area. You can find many of these by searching the web.) These two groups are special interest groups that do very little to help animals. Their donations go towards paying salaries and funding lobbyists. These special interest groups intend to make dog ownership in the US very expensive and, at some point, nonexistent. For those of you who have owned a dog, you realize that dogs truly are an integral part of everyday life. Dogs were not bred to be our companions, they chose to be our companions. They adore us and we adore them. It is entirely natural and mutually beneficial. Dogs are a part of our families, they help raise our children, they are a shoulder to cry on, and they love us wholeheartedly. Dog ownership should not be something that is meant only for the wealthy.

Much of the legislation that is introduced is touted as being put into place only to prevent puppy mills. This is not true, but is the language used to keep ordinary dog owners from realizing that they are being affected negatively by these laws.

One bill that has been introduced in many cities and states requires mandatory spay/neuter of all dogs and cats and requires a large fee to keep an intact dog. These have a HUGE impact on hobby breeders as many of us not only have our own intact dogs, but some older puppies we grow up and others that may not live with us but we co-own on the hope that they may turn out to be shown or be a part of our breeding program. Large fees to license all of these dogs with the "intact" license can be thousands of dollars. If these bills pass in multiple states, purebred dogs will soon be outrageously expensive to purchase due to the price to keep a dog intact. Also, many people purchase a well bred dog with the intention of possibly showing. These puppies are sometimes kept intact until they are a year of age or older while their owner visits a few shows to see if it is a hobby they would like to participate in. These people, who start with just a little bit of interest in trying out a dog show or two, often go on to become the future of their breed and of the sport of showing purebred dogs. Laws requiring spaying and neutering take away people's rights and the ability for people to make their own decisions and choices about what they want to do in life.

Also, spaying and neutering can have a negative effect on the health of dogs, especially large breed dogs. For those of you, like me, who have never owned a large breed dog, you may not be aware that altering a dog too early in life can change the way growth plates close and can seriously affect the bone growth and development in large breed dogs. Many breeders of large breed dogs are now recommending that dogs not be neutered until after two years of age. Here is an article which discusses the health effects of spaying and neutering: http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongTermHealthEffectsOfSpayNeuterInDogs.pdf

Some of these bills put a limit on the number of dogs that a breeder can own. One popular limit is ten dogs. This does not take in to consideration the variables such as the number of people caring for the dogs, the number of hours spent caring for the dogs, the home that the dogs live in, etc. I always tell people that it is entirely possible for someone to have two dogs and one litter of puppies and be more neglectful of that one litter and those two dogs than a breeder who owns 10 dogs and has multiple litters of puppies each year. The NUMBER is not what is important, what is important is the conditions that the dogs are kept in and the way they are taken care of. Animal neglect and cruelty laws are what is needed to take care of situations of neglect, not laws regulating breeders.

There is also a bill recently introduced in New York State which will make it illegal to dock tails on puppies. This is so absolutely ridiculous it is not even funny. For those of you who have not seen a puppy have it's tail docked, you should know that it is done at between 2 and 4 days of age and is very quick and while not painless, is not something that bothers the puppy for more than a few minutes. The puppy's tail is not fully developed at that age. I have docked a tail on an adult dog once and it is something I have sworn to never do again. My dog came home from the veterinarian with about 30 stitches in his tail and I considered it a major surgery. Tail docking on a baby puppy is much, much simpler and is not surgery. Tail docking in many breeds, such as sporting spaniels, is done to prevent injury while working in the field.

Personally, I do not like docking tails and would prefer not to. Currently the English Cocker Spaniel breed standard requires tail docking, so I do dock tails on my puppies. I hope that some day the ECSCA changes the breed standard for the English Cocker so that I can be allowed to leave tails on my puppies and still show them in conformation. I do think, however, that tail docking should remain legal and those who prefer to dock, should be allowed to do so. For the many that still hunt with their ECS, docking tails is a necessity.

I am writing this with the hopes that those of you who may not understand or realize that breeders are fighting an ongoing battle against special interest groups will learn something from this post. I hope you will write to your senators and state representatives to tell them your position against anti-breeder legislation when this legislation pops up in your state. This is a battle that breeders cannot fight alone. We need the support of those who own and love their purebred dogs.

Yes, rescuing dogs is a wonderful thing. I send people to rescue groups all the time. However, a rescue dog is not for everyone. A family with young children, a person who knows exactly what they want in a dog, a person who needs a certain size of dog or a dog bred for a certain activity or energy level, a person who wants to hunt with their dog, someone with allergies... these are all people who may need a well bred, well socialized, purebred dog who will develop the look, type, and personality that is written down in that breed's standard.

Please do not make the mistake of believing that these anti breeder bills will not affect you, whether you are a hobby breeder, a pet owner, someone who participates in obedience or agility or just a dog lover. These bills will eventually affect you. Please do not believe that these bills are *only* anti puppy mill. This is simply not true. These bills are genuinely meant to regulate and license ALL dog breeders and to make it incredibly difficult and expensive to own an intact dog.

These bills usually allow for entering a person's home who meets (or is suspected of meeting) a minimum number of dogs (this can be quite a low number) WITHOUT A WARRANT. I find this incredibly scary. Those of you who have visited my home realize that my dogs are very, very well cared for, my house is extremely clean, my dogs are in excellent condition, always groomed and my dogs have tons of toys, exercise, bones to chew on, are fed excellent food, get regular veterinary care, etc. However, if you came to my house on a day when perhaps I am getting home from a 4 day dog show, with dirty dog bedding carted in from my van in bags waiting by the washing machine, dirty dogs because we stopped at the park on the way home for them to play, all my dog show stuff carted inside but not yet put away, and puppies who need their bedding changed, my home is not going to look immaculate. It is rare for all of this to happen at once, but I *have* had those days. Would this be a reason that my dogs should be taken away from me? If I lived in an area with mandatory spaying and neutering, my dogs could then be spayed or neutered immediately without my permission? These are real life situations that are in danger of happening in several states and cities in this country.

If you are willing to help, breeders all over the US will be grateful. For those hobby breeders who feel that this legislation will not affect them, please wake up and smell the coffee. These extremist groups are well organized, well funded, and have lobbyists working for them. We need to become our own advocates.









Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Life is Short

It seems like so many people I know have problems with their health right now. It is a big reminder that life is short and it is important to make each day count. It is so easy to just go through the motions. Snuggle up with your cocker, call your relatives, have lunch with your friends. Life is too short to be too busy to enjoy it. On the same note, don't forget to have compassion for those around you.

This is one of my favorite songs: