Articles Index/Buying and Selling
Posted 06/13/10

Breeders and Buyers ~

Both Have Ongoing Responsibilities

I have been fortunate to have worked with Sue Ely, who has been the driving force behind Norfolk and Norwich rescue for the past 20+ years, on a rescue/re-home of two Norfolk Terriers. These two dogs were ‘let go’ by their owner due to family problems centering around a divorce and an ill family member. The owner stated that the dogs were crated most of the time and they began defecating and urinating in their crates and then in the house. She also stated that no one had time for them and that they were randomly fed by whomever happened to think of it. This treatment in itself is bad enough, but after delving into the history of these dogs, many factors leading up to the present situation became quite evident.

The six-year-old dog came from a long-time breeder. He was sold too young as a breeding prospect, but he developed juvenile cataracts. The breeder refused to take the dog back. The puppy was neutered (the first responsible decision). Today he is grossly overweight at 22 pounds, and has developed compulsive behaviors: air biting, shadow chasing and mouthing anything that comes near him. His social skills with other dogs are almost non existent – he has the autistic characteristic of completely ignoring their presence. This dog is totally attached to any human and will not let people out of his sight. Crating this dog is a nightmare … is it any wonder?

The four-year-old bitch came from a puppy mill somewhere in ??? (no one seems to know). She was bought as an “AKC registered” brood bitch but no papers came with her and she was spayed due to extremely horrific seasons (the second responsible decision). Although she has a sweet temperament, she is an extremely poor specimen of the breed. She, too, has issues with crating, barking, and being extremely needy.

Why did any of this happen? Clearly, there were not proper, responsible lines of communication between the breeders and the buyers of these dogs. Why would a supposedly reputable breeder sell possible breeding stock to someone who had no idea of what to expect and the refuse to help when major genetic issues surfaced? Why would someone looking for a brood bitch prospect go to a less than reputable breeder? The only reason that comes to mind is money. Breeding Norfolks is a great way to get rich! Wrong!!! The breeders and the buyers were both irresponsible in this sad scenario.

A third responsible decision was that the owner decided, albeit far too late, to seek help in re-homing the dogs. This was a long and painful process that left the owner feeling major guilt and overwhelming sadness. But the right choice was made. For the dogs, this decision was the beginning of a happier, healthier and more secure life. The male is still in foster care, slowly but surely working his way through his compulsive behaviors; he has lost weight, is volunteering to enter a crate for his chow, and is learning to trust humans to take better care of him. The bitch is happy in her new home, gaining self-confidence and learning to love and trust her new owners.

Responsibility Runs Both Ways

Perhaps I am an idealist, looking through rose-colored glasses, but I believe that breeders should be responsible for every puppy that comes out of their kennel, that they should willingly take a puppy, or adult, back for whatever reason. Furthermore, they should do everything in their power to see that the puppy is placed in the best possible home, that the new owners be educated in responsible ownership, and that communication be ongoing between the breeder and the buyer.

The breeder should be a role model to the buyer. The buyer should be responsible enough to research the breed, ask for advice before it is too late, educate himself and his dog, and be willing to devote time and patience to his companion.

A dog should never be sold or bought without careful thought. Without that thought it is the dog who suffers. What must it be like to be trapped in a cage and have to sleep in its own feces … to be driven to the point of developing compulsive behaviors … to be overfed or not fed at all … to lack any positive contact with a human? As breeders we need to ask if this is happening to any of the dogs we have intentionally bred and sold. If so, then we did not act responsibly. We need to educate the potential puppy buyers and then maintain contact with them. We must support them and help them develop the best possible relationship with their new dog.

Working on this rescue/re-home has opened my eyes to the terrible plight of way too many Norfolks. What are we doing to this wonderful breed? One Norfolk in distress is one too many. Step up to the plate and become as responsible a breeder and owner as you can possibly be.

Peggy Metcalf

ANTIC, March, 2009

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