Venting – Bear With Me

25 May

Crazy life these days – barely time to sleep so I haven’t posted in quite a while.

Pups are great. I found out their birthday was April 26th, so tomorrow they’ll be a month old! I thought they were younger, based on their development, but I guess if Lucy was malnourished when she was pregnant it could have an effect on that. I’ve got this insane socialization schedule planned for them. I’ll write it up soon and post. Let me know if you have any crazy socialization ideas for me to expose them to. They’re growing like weeds and are barking and tugging and playing already. I’m just beginning to wean them, though they much prefer momma’s milk. She’s being nice and letting them nurse even with super sharp puppy teeth.

OK, now for my rant.

I was walking one of my clients, Frisco. Frisco’s a huge (85#) long haired German Shepherd. Think coolest, awesomest, most beautiful dog imaginable, and you’ve got Frisco. Add in a blue backpack, a head halter, a clicker, and a bag of treats, and we’re quite a sight together.

He LOVES other dogs and blows up into a ball of frustrated reactivity when he sees other dogs and can’t get to them. So we’re working on keeping his brain functioning when he sees other dogs. We run into a cute 6 mo GSD female with her owners. I ask them if she’s friendly, and if they wouldn’t mind helping us train by just waiting there and we’ll make our way towards them (I use penalty yards when he pulls and/or barks, so it can take a while for us to actually greet). They were excited to meet Frisco, so they waited for us.

Two penalty yards in, the guy shouted out that I needed to put a choke chain on Frisco. Ugh. Gag. My desire to work Frisco to meet their dog just dropped exponentially. Thankfully Frisco caught on to the game quickly and walked beautifully for me over to their pup. I proceeded to explain that their dog (wearing a prong collar) only learned to escape pain, whereas Frisco was learning to actually walk nicely. I also told them that those collars can create and exacerbate aggression in dogs.

Next the guy proceeded to tell me that Frisco is, in fact, a Belgian Shepherd. Because he heard it from some guy who was an “expert.” Right. I won’t go into that snippet, he didn’t make much sense and I don’t think he took in much of what I was saying. But it led to him stating that all Search and Rescue dogs are “those Belgian dogs” because “you know, they’re lighter on their feet and smell good.” When I told him that yes, many SAR dogs are GSDs, but there are also plenty of Labs, and GASP even Pit Bulls, as well as lots of mixed breed dogs, he gave me the stink eye and ignored me.

Then we hit the money. His dog wasn’t spayed and just got through her first heat (Frisco was really giving her a good sniffing). And he asked me if he could breed Frisco to her. So then I tried to get in some information on the millions of dogs and cats euthanized every year, and that they could get a puppy from a shelter and save two lives, and that they’re not professional breeders, and don’t actually know what they’re doing, and their dog’s only 6 months old, how could they know they wanted to breed her, they don’t even know if she’s passed her health checks or what her adult personality will be like. And then they really gave it to me. They got her from a pet store. And tried to convince me that pet stores “won’t just sell a puppy to anyone.” Right. They said they paid $2,500 for their pup. I told them that anyone who walked into the store with that money would walk out with a dog. And that frankly, they got ripped off, seeing as their dog most likely came from a puppy mill and really wasn’t a great specimen of her breed (in the short time I was there she showed some worrisome nervousness, especially for a dog her age).

And to top it ALL off. This guy drives up in a huge SUV and shouts out the window that he’s got this gorgeous GSD from Germany who he wants to breed but he can’t find a good bitch. And the people I was “chatting” with then began to swap numbers so they could breed their dog. Meanwhile I’m yelling at all of them that they have no business breeding dogs at all.

I nearly lost my shit right there.

In order to keep my shit, I U-turned Frisco and we high-tailed it OUT of there.

I’m not sure what else I could have done. Stayed and argued another hour with them? It just makes me sick, I feel sick right now, knowing that these people are planning litters with dogs from puppy mills, with no health or temperament testing, and sending the breed to shit. I am all for a freaking license to own dogs. Pass a damn test, please. And owning intact dogs should be illegal unless you have a Master’s in genetics and animal behavior.

What do you think? I’m still so upset I can’t think clearly. I’m going to go snuggle some puppies and try to cheer up.

Oh, and Charlie was a super star at the KPA workshop. SUPER STAR.

11 Responses to “Venting – Bear With Me”

  1. Kari May 25, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    oh I would have yelled and screamed and called them a bunch of bad names


  2. jan May 25, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    That is so sad. People have no idea of the work, the expense, the marketing and all that is involved in producing and selling a litter of puppies.

    I know some people who were determined to breed their chocolate Lab. They paid some idiot an enormous stud fee and in the end had to just give away the last of the puppies.

  3. Diane McCornack May 25, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    All I can say is you handled yourself way better than I would have. I would have grabbed their dogs leash and ran with it and Frisco like a bat out of hell. You would be seeing my mug on the TV right now as the crazy dog napping women. It makes me SICK to think about the pup in the hands of sheer idiots. Just when I think that people are beginning to wise up I run into someone in petsmart who is shopping with their new puppy the they just “BOUGHT”. What are you to do you won’t change anything those people are lost in their own delusion of “BUYING STATUS” and nothing I say is going to change that particular person. All I can do is try to educate anyone that I know that is starting a search for a puppy. It’s quite frankly demoralizing and depressing.

  4. Ximena May 25, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    You’re fantastic/amazing/spectacular for actually taking the time to argue your case against such an imbecile. Admirable. 🙂

    Also. I’m in 100% agreement with you about the license to have a dog. And the test to procure said license had better be one hell of a test. I can’t stand people who think of companion animals as objects. UGHH.

  5. Anna May 26, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    I hear you on the whole breeding thing. I really wish we had regulations here like in the UK about who is allowed to breed their dog… and basically if your breeding is not sanctioned you are not allowed to profit off the puppies. But that’ll never happen as it’s probably one of our “rights” to breed dogs, I mean look at what’s happening with the mutts being sold as designer dogs for obscene amounts of money. Sure I have an intact female, but she comes from good lines of both conformation and hunt and other dog venues. I am still debating whether I want to breed her as I am disappointed in where people are these days with their dogs, let alone some fellow vizsla owners. Too many should not have vizslas, as they are clueless and thus the dogs suffer from it. As is the case with a lot of GSD and pits too. The only way I will breed Luna is if in the end I decide she is a benefit to the breed in both health, temp, and skills… so far she appears to be.
    As much as it irritates me that people will pay that much for a dog in a pet store, I kinda laugh at the fact that they paid that much. But they probably have little sense of money worth anyway so I guess that’s pointless.
    Sorry you had to deal with such idiocy, people just don’t get it sometimes. Case in point the 5 year old unaltered male pit who is in for training right now. Luckily we are bringing him around and they are very happy with how far he has come, and he is getting neutered next week. So hopefully some of his peeing will cut down, as well as his pooping on the fence 3 times a day lol.
    Hopefully you have a better day today

  6. Terri May 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    Sigh… things like this make me wonder how the human race has ever made it this far. Sometimes you just have to walk away, and go home and love on your own four footers.

  7. Kristine May 30, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Ettel, I’m sorry you had to deal with all that. What a guy to run into when you have such teeny puppies at home that are doing all they can just to survive!

    People that like make me so angry as well. The choke chain comment would have been enough alone to have me walking out of there. I really admire you for speaking your mind and not backing down. Usually in these situations I just nod and then try to extricate myself from the conversation entirely. You may not have changed this jackass’ mind but you never know who was listening in.

  8. Tucker's Mom June 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    I think you did about all you could do. Unfortunately, stupid people are everywhere and they seem to be multiplying at a disturbingly rapid rate. I once had a guy show up at the dog park with his young pit IN HEAT just waiting for an “awesome stud” to happen in and breed her. It was horrible. A bunch of us tried to talk sense into him, but he wasn’t hearing it. Finally, under some serious pressure from a couple of the guys, he took his poor puppy and left. I still cringe to think about it. 😦

  9. Lindsay June 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    OMG. I can’t believe all of that happened! They guy in the van just topped it all off. What an experience. I think this is why I don’t ask people to help me out in my training, although I always want to ask.

    Can you explain what you mean by penalty yards? I think I have an idea but not exactly sure what you mean. I am working with my foster dog now. He has some fear aggression and growls at every dog and person we see, even though deep down he loves everyone once he gets to know them. I do use choke and prong collars with some dogs. I’m using a martingale collar with this guy. He is way too sensitive for a prong collar.

    • ettel June 14, 2011 at 12:09 am #

      Hey Lindsay –

      Penalty yards are used when a dog wants to get somewhere or to something – ie a dog who barks and pulls because he wants to meet another dog, a person, to get to the park, the dog run, etc. You decide beforehand what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t. The moment the dog exhibits the unacceptable behavior while you’re walking towards the goal, you make a sudden U-turn, and walk back a few feet, U-turn again, and continue to walk towards your goal. Rinse and repeat a gazillion times until the dog is able to walk to the desired object at your set level of criteria. Note: this is ONLY for dogs who WANT to interact with something. If your dog is showing fear aggression, he wants to get AWAY from people/other dogs, and this is NOT for him.

      I don’t know if you’re a trainer, or not, but either way, please please ditch the choke and prong collars (for all dogs you interact with!!) and pick up a book on clicker training. You should also consult a professional trainer about his problems because fear aggression can lead to serious bites, especially if you’re using corrections with him, and placing him in situations where he’s uncomfortable. Reading up on calming signals and displacement behaviors will also be very useful to you. Look into Turis Rugaas’ book.

      Martingales are fine, but only to keep a dog from slipping a collar, not for use with corrections. You should be able to train completely “hands free” – the leash is there only for safety measures.

      If you feel like you need more help with him, feel free to e-mail me at and I’ll be more than happy to help you out.

  10. Lindsay June 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Ettel, thanks for your suggestions. His issues are mostly fear related, although sometimes he does get excited and wants to get somewhere, so that’s where those U-turns will come in handy. I’m doing all positive reinforcement with him other than the occasionally “no” or “hey!” Corrections just scare him or make him more distrusting/frustrated. He’s teaching me to be patient and calm. I’ll look for the book you suggested. He’s in a beginner’s obedience class and loves it – really loves to show off his “skills.” 🙂

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