Thursday, February 18, 2010

Purebred-induced guilt

Today's post in the New York Times' blog Room for Debate was called "Feeling Guilty About Your Purebred Dog?"

I couldn't help but read it. The Room for Debate blog gets opinions on a hot topic from four different people who are in-the-know. I think all of the authors who shared their opinions on purebred dogs made decent arguments, but I liked Francis Battista's opinion the best.

After I read the debate, I had to read the comments, too. Well, not ALL FOUR pages of comments, even I don't have enough time for that. But I did read the first page of comments.

One of the commentors (commentators?) went OFF on Ted Kerasote who happens to be one of my favorite authors and, I have to say, I mostly agreed with what the commentor said. Kerasote blamed some of our dog problems on shelters that are antiquated and not very creative in how they find homes for dogs. I think he's right in one sense -- the shelters are antiquated, mostly because they are underfunded -- but I think they're doing the best they can and their hearts are in the right place. Blame can more realistically be spread among irresponsible owners, irresponsible breeders, and ignorant people who adopt dogs from irresponsible breeders. There is plenty of blame to go around, I just don't think that spreading any of it to shelters is very productive.

I also don't understand some commentors' insistence on buying purebreds because they'll "know" what the dog's personality will be like. That sounds like something akin to racism to me, and maybe someday it will be just as taboo! I believe that a dog's personality has much more to do with its individual genetics combined with its early experience (just like people, eh?) than its breed alone. Breed alone might be a reasonable guide, but I hope that people don't actually believe that a Golden Retriever will be a great family dog just because it is a Golden Retriever. I guess the existence of breed-specific rescue groups proves that when we buy a purebred for its advertised qualities, we don't always get what we paid for.

Here in Mexico, purebreds are rare, but they do exist. Most of them are little tiny Chihuahuas and they are about as cute as can be. If I could find one to rescue, I'd stick it in my pocket in a heartbeat. Whenever I see any other purebred, I start looking around for the Gringo owners. Being surrounded by mutts is a bit of a relief from breed-crazy America!


Bri!!! said...

We are very proud of our blue healer/everything else dog. She truly is a diamond in the rough. She is as ugly as can be, but so so sweet that I sometimes find myself thinking she is cute. She definitely does not have the stereotypical personality of a blue healer. Not sure if it's because she is a mix or if her sweetness has come from the people around her who adore her. We bought her for $25 from the rescue. Dan has a fellow resident who LOVES her and I asked Dan if he would ever sell her for a lot of money. Of course I knew the answer. Nope, she is priceless.

Hillary Dickman said...

I don't know...I've seen photos of your mutt and I think she's pretty cute! And I haven't even met her!

As I was walking Libbie a few nights ago, I overheard some woman comment to her husband, "Oh, look at that dog. Beautiful."

"The black one?" her husband asked.

"Yeah. She's gorgeous."

I looked around to be sure she was talking about MY black mutt and not some other dog. Sure enough, she was looking right at Libbie. I've never really thought of Libbie as beautiful, but I looked at her differently that night. Thick, shiny fur, cute little stout body, and a curly tail full of character. I wouldn't change a thing about her.

Well...maybe her bunny-hunting habit.

Lisa Sharp said...

I have a Great Pyrenees mix that is a rescue, one of the best dogs I've ever had. I think rescues are best but you can get purebred rescues too.

I think it's important to keep purebred dogs but more for show dogs just so we have the breeds still. I think rescues are almost always the better choice.