Placing the "BLAME"
by Dorothy Kendall, Orlane Lhasa Apsos

I read an article in The Lhasa Apso Reporter about dog auctions in the Midwest, with anger, sadness and a sense of resignation or futility. Growing up and living in the Iowa during the first half of my life, I'm well aware of dog auctions, the dealers, the wholesalers, puppy mills etc. that traffic in purebred dogs. I've fought the good fight, and am still fighting against exploitation of our dog in filthy commercial kennels ... but I've come to realize that what we're fighting is greed, hunger for power and the attitude of those breeders who think if everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't they? This attitude is hosted by many breeders, from the neighbors with their one pet
female bred once a year for pocket money, to some of the most respected "show" breeders advertising their wins in national magazines!
So where do I place the blame for outrageous situations like those Robyn described? Squarely at your own door, dear reader, go look in the mirror - stop shedding those alligator tears for the poor little Lhasa wretches pictured in last months issue and ask yourself if it isn't possible that some of your own dogs are behind those pictured (and the thousands that suffer terribly across
this nation that AREN'T pictured)?
Oh, I can see your astonished looks and open mouths now - but let me ask you a couple of questions before you start sending hate mail, OK?
1. Have you ever had someone that you didn't know personally ask to breed to one of your stud dogs; they seemed nice enough and their little bitch was of decent quality, and you felt your stud was so good that they would get a really quality litter - if you didn't breed her, someone else would - and it might not even be to a good dog? Did you go ahead with the mating after Vet tests, etc.? Did you offer to help sell the puppies?
2. Now, can you tell me what happened to every puppy in the resulting litter? Multiply this occurrence hundreds of times across this country, and what do you get? Lots of pups, raised by amateurs, quickly tired of, hastily sold - with AKC papers, of course. Can you guarantee me that none of these pups ever wind up in commercial breeding situations?
3. Have you ever sold a female puppy as a pet, with AKC papers and no breeding restrictions, because the buyer thought he/she "might like to have a litter someday, didn't believe in spaying - it's unnatural, thought it was their right to have an `intact' dog since they were paying so much, etc.", even though he/she assured you that was the last thing in mind in purchasing this dog? You
just knew this buyer would never breed his little pet, right?
4. Have you ever sold/placed a Champion, top producer or other adult dog to someone you didn't know personally who wanted to "upgrade" their line with one of your quality dogs, and then you kind of lost track of what happened to all (not just the winners) of the puppies from that dog?
5. Have you ever sold a "show" puppy to a potential show home, and found out later that it wasn't going to be shown, and was producing puppies that were sold with no restrictions?
6. Have you ever sold a "show" puppy to a show home because you knew the dog would be finished quickly, even though you knew the buyer was careless about where they sold their dogs? After all, one or more puppies to chalk up as winners for your name, right?
Listen, I made those mistakes starting out, but I wised up when I saw what was happening. That was in the Sixties, and it wasn't difficult to find out what was going on ... there were dogs turning up in puppy mills with my name behind them, and it made me sick! I vowed that I would be responsible for the dogs I loved and raised, that I would make sure this situation would not happen again. Sure, I got "taken in" a couple of more times, but it just doesn't happen any more, at least, not with the restrictions I've put in place on sale of puppies.
So, I'm pointing blame at those who DO know what they're doing, but do it anyway -
because they're afraid the pups might be around too long, and they don't want to be bothered. Because they're afraid too many restrictions might put off potential buyers ... and they might have to cut down on breeding as the pet market just won't support it. Breeders who are anxious to rack up statistics, "numbers" of Champions, Top Producers, records of all kinds, may be a little less than careful when they sell their puppies. It might be for profit for some breeders, but I don't think that's the principal reason for most. Puppy sales do help support showing our dogs, but breeding is not a profitable business unless you're a commercial kennel with 100 dogs, and pups sold at 5 weeks to dealers - I'm not suggesting that.
I guess I'm talking about the hobby breeder, working diligently out of his home, who's trying to build a win record of quality animals to be proud of. Nothing wrong with that, is there? But - if you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions, there is something wrong, whether you admit it or not. You've got a good pet puppy market, and no problem selling pets - but what will happen in a couple of years when those little females you sold with papers start producing, and you start seeing the classified ads for "Lhasa Apsos, AKC champion lines - $150.00" in your local newspaper? Or someone calls you about a puppy they purchased from someone local, and they're having problems with (housetraining, grooming, temperament, you name it), and they called you because one of the parents came from you (and once the pup is sold, the seller wants nothing more to do with the pup).
You say, that can't happen to me, I sell all my puppies on spay/neuter contracts - but how do you enforce those contracts? Is it even possible to do so? Well, you say, all AKC papers for pet puppies are signed as non-breeding status ... and I say Good For You! You are being a responsible breeder, and I commend you - but did you answer yes to any of the other questions above ... come on now, be honest. If so, you're part of the problem.
What can you do to avoid these bad situations? I can only tell you what I've done that works 90% of the time, and I modeled this after two Yorkshire breeders, Anne Serranne and Barbara Wolferman of Mayfair Kennels and authors of "The Joy Of Breeding Your Own Show Dog".
1. Absolutely no public stud service. None. Period.
2. Only females owned by people we know personally are ever bred to one of our dogs, and we insist any resulting puppies are either kept by them, or will be sold on non-breeding papers.
3. We don't even register pet puppies, only those we keep and show. These pet puppies are sold without AKC papers, but a copy of the full pedigree is given, along with a written contract stating our guarantee of purebreeding, and a lifetime health and temperament guarantee. (PS - don't tell me this can't be done, people won't buy puppies without AKC papers! Hogwash, I've been doing it
for years, and when buyers understand we are doing this to protect our beloved breed, we've had no problems whatsoever!)
4. Any adults (champion or not) are sold with the understanding that they are for the buyer's use exclusively. No puppies from them will ever be sold with breeding rights to a third party, under any circumstances. If the dog cannot be kept by the buyer for any reason, we will take them back, and hold them until such time as they can go home. And, again, if these people are not known
personally, all this is contained in a written contract, with appropriate penalties.
I've been told these are "unreasonable" restrictions, and no one will want to deal with me. Well, be that as it may, if we (Linda and I) never sold another puppy, we know in our hearts that we are not responsible for the waifs pictured in Robyn's article. We love our dogs, and know that we are protecting them from the "profiteering" going on all around us.
So, where does the blame lie? Ask yourself, dear breeder.