If You Insist On Buying From a Breeder...

 Follow-up to my previous post. CLICK HERE to read: Maybe They Just Don't Know...

Today, I'll attempt to explain the differences between different types of breeders... in an effort to reach those who insist on buying their next pet from a breeder. 
Save a life! ADOPT!

But before I go there... let me just say this:

I'm clearly NOT a fan of breeding, in any way. I'm actually very against it. In my personal opinion, it's insanely reckless and irresponsible for anyone to intentionally (or unintentionally) bring even more pets into this world, when MILLIONS of beautiful, deserving, healthy pets are needlessly dying in shelters each year. 

I just can't understand how anyone could disagree with me on that...

Further, I personally believe that EVERYONE who is looking for a new pet should always ADOPT a pet from an animal shelter or rescue group. Or... at the very least, adoption should always be their first consideration (before even thinking about going to a breeder).

But... that being said... I do realize that some people disagree with my personal feelings on this subject... or maybe... they just aren't willing to hear me out. Either way, no matter what I say, those people aren't going to change their opinions or behaviors regarding their pet decisions. Meaning: they're not going to adopt their next (or any) pet from a rescue or shelter; they're going to buy from a breeder. Period.

So... knowing that I'll never convince them otherwise... maybe --at the very least-- I can educate them on the differences amongst breeders, and explain how to identify (what we'll call--for lack of a better term) a "responsible" breeder, versus an "irresponsible" breeder.

Okay, so, if you INSIST on buying a pet from a breeder, please try to make the most "responsible" purchase decision possible. If you don't know how to go about doing that, then READ THIS FIRST:

Here goes...

Within the highly-unregulated breeding industry, there are many different types of breeders. There are "backyard" breeders, "accidental" breeders, puppy millers, "hobby" breeders, etc. 

Since many people classify the smaller, hobby-type breeders as the most "responsible" and/or "reputable" group within this industry, I'll aim to compare and contrast the "irresponsible" breeders (backyard, accidental, puppy millers) against the "hobby/responsible" breeders.

First, let's start with a general overview of the different types of breeders:

Backyard Breeders-  This group represents the vast majority of pet breeders. In short, a backyard breeder a person who intentionally breeds their animals in order to produce offspring, which can later be sold for profit. The backyard breeder may have one or more motives for their breeding decisions, such as: generating a profit, making their "money back" from their initial purebred dog purchase(s), allowing their children to experience the "miracle of birth," etc. However, this person often has little --if any-- understanding or concern for aspects such as breed history, breed standards, genetics, and so on. When it comes to backyard breeders, breeding ethics are poor at best, often engaging in dangerous practices such as inbreeding, over-breeding, breeding genetic defects, etc. In addition, living conditions for the breeder dogs and offspring may be substandard (or even deplorable), and the health of the animals isn't always a priority, which leads to many current and future medical issues. Further, these types of breeders tend to have little consideration for the long-term welfare of the purchased offspring. Meaning: the puppies/kittens are sold to anyone who can pay the asking price, with no screening of new homes, no refusal of sale to unsuitable candidates, no contracts, no follow-ups after the sale, etc. (often resulting in irresponsible pet ownership, animal neglect, and animal cruelty). Backyard breeders often advertise "puppies for sale" in newspasper classifieds, online ads and/or websites. Or... you can see them selling puppies on the side of the road, in Walmart parking lots, and so forth. They may also sell to pet shops. In general, backyard breeders tend to be smaller-in-scale than puppy mills, but equally as unethical in their practices. 

"Accidental" Breeders- An "accidental" breeder is a person who doesn't attempt to prevent unplanned pet pregnancies through spay/neuter. Thus, their unaltered (meaning un-spayed or un-neutered) pet inevitably becomes pregnant, or impregates another dog/cat, resulting in unwanted offspring... which are often dumped in animal shelters, sold, or given-away "free to a good home." While this form of breeding may be classified as "accidental," it's fully preventable through spay/neuter. Plus, it's every-bit as irresponsible as intentional breeding. SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS!!!

Puppy millers- A puppy mill is a large-scale breeding operation, with a primary focus on profitability over animal welfare. Puppy millers will often house hundreds of dogs in horrific conditions, by utilizing tiny, overcrowded crates, stacked one on top of the other... in order to get the maximum use out of the limited, inadequate space that's available for housing of pets. For the puppy miller, the value of the animals lies in the profitability that can be generated from the offspring... instead of in the value of each precious life itself. Meaning: these are not "lives" to them; they're "products." Therefore, puppy millers focus on producing as many offspring as possible, from as many breeds as possible, as often as possible, to make as much money as possible. The true welfare of the animals is of little importance to the puppy miller, because it's all about the numbers, and the money. As a result, these dogs are subjected to insane-levels of neglect and cruelty, receiving inadequate food, water, space to live, socialization, and vet care. This leads to immense physical and emotional suffering for these dogs, in the short-term, and long after. 

"Hobby/Responsible" Breeders- "Hobby/responsible" breeders represent a very small portion of the breeding industry. A "hobby/responsible" breeder is a person who breeds a particular breed of dog, due to their love of that specific breed. This breeder is focused on the animals and their well-being, instead of on the potential revenue that can be generated from those animals. A "responsible" breeder is knowledgeable about the breed, genetics, animal health, etc, and they strive to be ethical in their breeding practices (only breeding dogs that meet the breed standard, limited number of breedings, genetic testing, etc.). Animals and their offspring are housed in sanitary, adequate living conditions, with exercise, socialization, and comprehensive vet care being provided. Further, a "responsible" breeder will screen potential buyers to ensure the quality of homes, refusing to sell to unsuitable candidates. Lastly, some breeders within this group will attempt to work with reputable rescues/shelters, in order to find homes for some of the remaining offspring. Again... this group is the MINORITY; very few breeders actually qualify for the "responsible" category. (PS- Many irresponsible breeders will use descriptions like "small, hobby breeder" in their ads, in an attempt to fool you. Most "hobby" breeders don't actually use the term "hobby" to describe themselves.)

Okay... now that you have a general understanding of the different types of breeders, let's talk a little more about that "irresponsible" group of breeders... and why you should NEVER purchase a pet from them.

Irresponsible breeding operations utilize unethical, inhumane, and illegal practices. For starters, an irresponsible breeder will likely have several different breeds available for sale (This is a RED FLAG: they clearly have too many animals to properly care for each). In addition, many of these breeders "market" the majority of their animals as "purebred." However, this often means inbred. In other words, the breeding of those who are closely genetically related. Inbreeding and over-breeding (excessive breeding of the same female) lead to a massive list of genetic defects and medical problems for the offspring.

Further, irresponsible breeders often house their animals in horrific conditions... forced to live in tiny, over-crowded cages, or small outdoor kennels with insufficient space, bedding, and shelter. Animals often receive inadequate food, water, space to thrive, socialization, and vet care. This causes immense physical and psychological issues for both the breeder dogs, and their offspring (thus, the puppies/kittens they sell to you). 

You may wonder: Why would any breeder do such a thing?
As I've said, when it comes to irresponsible breeders, the value of their animals lies in the profit generated by the offspring... not in the welfare of the animals. Producing more offspring... means making more profit.

BUT... producing more offspring also means having an increased number of animals in their care... each needing food, water, medical attention, etc. In addition, having more animals in their care also requires more SPACE to house those animals. At least... it should...

Yet... it costs money to provide adequate space, staffing, food, and so on to care for the very-large number of animals they're breeding and housing. Therefore, many irresponsible breeders cut their costs by stacking crates, crowding cages, and limiting food, water, vet care, and the number of caregivers. Cages are rarely cleaned, which forces the dogs to live in massive piles of urine and feces.

Due to the poor living conditions, most buyers are never allowed to view the kennel areas where the irresponsible breeder keeps their dogs (RED FLAG). Sure... that breeder will meet you somewhere else, or take you to their "showing area," or sell their dogs to you on the side of the road, but they'll rarely let you see the reality of their operation... because it's heartbreaking, inhumane, and illegal.

Okay... so WHY should this matter to YOU? 
Well, if you plan to purchase from a breeder, then you MUST do so "responsibly." Here's why:

1) When you purchase from backyard breeders and puppy millers, you provide them with the monetary incentive and support they need to continue their operations. Therefore, you directly contribute to the neglect and cruelty forced upon hundreds of other existing and future puppy mill dogs, as well as the deaths of millions of shelter dogs. While you may feel like you "saved" this particular dog from the breeder/puppy mill... you've actually just ensured that many, many more like him/her will be born into that same horrific environment. While I'm not saying that was the intention of your decision, I AM saying it was the outcome of your decision. 

Let me explain. While I hate to discuss animals like they're products, it's the only way I can describe how the mind of an irresponsible breeder works. So, you must look at your purchase decision in terms of demand and supply. If you cut the demand for the irresponsible breeder's offspring (Meaning: you --and others-- don't buy from them), then there will be no profit incentive for that breeder to continue breeding. Thus, they'll cut the supply (number of breeder dogs/offspring). Eventually, with a goal of profit and no resulting revenue, they'll stop breeding altogether. 

Even if it doesn't seem like your individual purchase matters... IT DOES! Because they'll NEVER stop breeding... if YOU keep buying from them. Trust me on that. 

2) If you're looking to pay a premium price for what you consider a "premium" dog, then you should never, ever, EVER purchase from an irresponsible breeder. Irresponsible breeding practices lead to a massive list of ongoing, lifelong health problems for the offspring, which means insanely-high vet bills for you, and an extremely poor quality of life for your dog (and likely, a shorter lifespan). In truth, these "premium" dogs are actually the lowest-quality dogs you could find (in terms of health). Further, due to the emotional stress these dogs are forced to endure during their time with the irresponsible breeder, the dog will likely exhibit some extreme mental and behavioral issues, even after you bring them into your loving home. Some of these issues will take years of training and positive reinforcement to correct; some issues may last a lifetime... 

Obviously, there's so much more to this issue... more than I'd ever have time to write about here. But here are the main points I hope to get across:

-Adoption is a life-saving decision, and it should always be the first (and hopefully-- ONLY!) consideration when looking for a new family pet. 

-If you INSIST on buying a pet from a breeder, PLEASE do so "responsibly." Meaning: do your research on the individual breeder, ask questions, and make sure you SEE things for yourself. Don't just take their word for it! 

-A "responsible" breeder will also have important questions for YOU (requirements may include an application, interview, home visit, vet references, contract, spay/neuter, etc.), which is a critical distinction. 
Therefore, if a breeder has nothing to say to you, other than: "I'll take your money; here's the dog" ... then, that person is an irresponsible breeder. DO NOT purchase from them! 
If they won't let you view the living conditions of the puppies, see the parents, etc., DO NOT purchase from them! If any of their dogs look unhealthy, DO NOT purchase from them! If they have many different breeds available for sale, DO NOT purchase from them!

-PLEASE DO NOT support irresponsible breeders by paying them money to continue their cruelty!

-Lastly, if you run across someone you believe to be an irresponsible breeder, please report them to Animal Control, the local police, or another animal welfare agency. Please.

And above all else, if and when you do bring a new pet into your home, PLEASE be a responsible pet guardian... by loving, caring, and providing for that pet for his or her entire life, no matter what.


Maybe They Just Don't Know...

[The following blog post provides a broad, general overview of the importance of pet adoption, versus buying from a breeder. I'll write another post later, more-focused on the distinctions within the "breeder portion" of the "buy" equation. But for now, I'd like to speak to the potential buyers... in an attempt to show them another way...]

*If you're looking for a new family pet, please read this first! 

Today, I want to discuss the subject of pet adoption. 
Lucky Dog: Diamond, Available for adoption

Since the term "adoption" is often misused, let me clarify: 

By "pet adoption," I'm referring to the act of adopting a dog, cat, or other pet from an animal shelter or animal rescue group... versus buying a pet from a breeder. 

Now, you may be asking: What's the difference?

Well, I'll tell you...

Purchasing a pet from a breeder is not "adopting." It's buying. And while I'm NOT here to judge or condemn everyone who has ever made the decision to buy a pet versus adopting, I do want you to understand the difference between the two. It's an enlightening distinction, so please keep reading...

First, you need to understand the difference between an animal shelter or animal rescue group... and an animal breeder. Here's a general overview: 

Animal shelters and rescues are organizations that take-in the pets who have no where else to go. These agencies obtain their animals from many different sources: other shelters, owner surrenders, seizing of pets, strays, unwanted puppy/kitten litters, breeders, puppy mills, hoarders, etc.

The most basic goal of shelters/rescues is to find loving homes for the pets in their care, while also focusing on efforts such as spay/neuter, which help control the pet population... reducing the number of animals euthanized each year (Millions of beautiful, loving, deserving, healthy animals die in shelters each year, due to the pet overpopulation).

Conversely... breeders bring more pets into the world. In short, irresponsible breeders breed their animals, in order to sell the offspring for profit. (Distinctions between different types of breeders will be made in another post.)

Clyde, available for adoption with Lucky Dog Rescue
Okay... quick summary: 
Shelters and rescues work to reduce/control the pet population through spay/neuter, with focus on finding adoptive homes for as many animals as they can.
Irresponsible breeders work to bring more animals into the world, increasing the pet population, with primary focus on making a profit.

Adopt a pet; save a life.
Buy a pet; contribute to the problem. 

Got it? Good. Let's keep going...

While breeders are bringing millions of new puppies and kittens into existence... millions and millions of OTHER puppies, kittens, and adult animals are being killed in shelters each year. Why?? Because there are just too many animals waiting for families... and not enough families adopting them. 

Yet, there ARE many families out there who are looking for a new pet... but so many of those families choose to buy their new pet from a breeder, instead of adopting from a shelter or rescue. 

So... let's talk about WHY this choice is made... and what happens as a result of that choice. Then, most importantly... the alternatives to that decision.

Obviously, there isn't just ONE reason why people buy pets from breeders. There are many. But common sense tells me that the most important factor for the buyer is: the breed

Reece, Choc Lab, Lucky Dog Rescue
Example: Joe is looking for a specific breed of dog... let's say: a Lab. So, he goes to a breeder, and buys a Lab. Makes sense, right?

But here's the issue with that... and the part that Joe may not realize: there are sooo many Labs, and puppies/dogs of every breed you can imagine, who are living --and dying-- in shelters across the country. 

Many of those dogs are "purebred" dogs (same goes for cats). While the term "purebred" means nothing special to me... I do realize that it does matter to some people, especially those people who buy from breeders. And that's why it's important for me to talk about it.

So, if you're one of those "purebred" people, then let's talk about what it is you really want in a dog. When searching for a "purebred" dog of a particular breed... what you're really drawn to --at least, initially-- is the look of that breed, right? Meaning the size, the color, the face, ears, body type, etc. And then... secondly, you're probably interested in the perceived character traits, intelligence, energy level, etc of that specific breed, correct?

So then, ask yourself: if I found a puppy/dog (or cat) who had the "look" I desire, with the character traits I seek, would it really matter if the dog had "papers" to prove those things to be true? Does the "purebred" label really matter to me... if the dog looks, acts, and most likely IS --or is pretty-damn-close-to-being-- a "purebred" dog of the breed I want?

If your answer to those questions was: "Yes. Papers matter to me; the purebred label matters to me; I'm buying from a breeder" ... then... sorry, I can't help you. Not even a little.

But... if you thought to yourself: "You know what... the DOG is what's important to me, not the papers or label. And if the dog looks like a [insert breed] and acts like a [do it again], then he's probably a [you get the picture], and that's good enough for me!"   ...then keep reading :)

Mimi, Available for adoption, Lucky Dog Rescue
There are sooo many "purebred" (and damn-near "purebred") puppies and dogs available for adoption with shelters and rescues. In fact, there are also breed-specific rescue groups for every breed of dog, and those groups have many adoptable puppies and dogs of the exact breed you seek! AND... instead of paying a breeder to buy the dog, and then turning around and spending tons of money at your vet for spay/neuter, vaccinations, heartworm test, etc... guess what? The adopted dog will already be fully vetted, for a fraction of the cost! (Yes, I'm totally serious! Yeah... I know it's friggin' awesome!)

So... if you want a Lab, I can promise you... there's a gorgeous, loving, amazing Lab waiting for you in a shelter. If you want a Yorkie, English Bulldog, Pit Bull, Pug, Shih Tzu, or Peeka-Poma-Peter-Piper-Poo, they've probably got those too. But if that shelter doesn't... then guess what? Another shelter or rescue does

Why is adoption so important? Because... when the families who are looking for a new pet choose to buy from breeders, instead of adopting from a shelter or rescue, a couple of things happen...

Each and every pet purchase provides the irresponsible breeder with an incentive to keep breeding. This means: bringing even more animals into the world, when there are already too many. Therefore... whether or not the buyer realizes it, their purchase has directly contributed toward the already out-of-control pet population, and ultimately, the massive killing of perfectly healthy shelter pets each year. How so? Well, each time a pet is purchased from a breeder, a shelter pet who could've been adopted by that family... dies.

Missy, Available for adoption, Lucky Dog Rescue
But why? Well... while the animals in the shelters continue to wait for homes, more and more animals come into those shelters each day. Eventually, there's no more space. The consequence? With no where else to go... and no one offering to adopt them... millions of beautiful, loving, healthy --often "purebred"-- puppies, kittens, and adult animals are euthanized each year. 

But why would the shelters do this? Well... if no one is willing to adopt the many, many pets in their care... what other choice do they have? Should pets be forced to live in shelter cages forever, while people purchase dogs from breeders instead of adopting? Are YOU willing to help... by changing your "new pet" decision, from buy to adopt?

Trust me... every single "new pet" decision --including YOURS-- matters. Because every single "new pet" decision is a life-or-death decision. Even if you don't realize it... even if you refuse to acknowledge it... purchasing from irresponsible breeders contributes toward the overpopulation and the deaths of innocent pets; adoption works toward resolution, while saving lives. It's really that simple.

Okay... so... at this point, you may be thinking: "But if no one buys from breeders, what would happen to all those puppies?!"

Good question. Let's talk about that for a sec.
Breeding is a business (for at least 90% of breeders). For the VAST majority, profit is the goal. Without profit, most breeders would be forced to go out of business. Therefore, the majority would stop breeding, which would lead to a much-needed decrease in the pet overpopulation. What about the leftover puppies, you ask? Well, the puppies and breeder dogs would go to shelters and rescues, where they'd be placed up for adoption.

Warren, Available for adoption
Important note:  just because a puppy or dog is available for adoption with a shelter or rescue, it DOES NOT mean that there's something "wrong" with the dog. Shelter dogs are NOT "less-than" or "unworthy" or "lower quality" than another dog. They're actually quite the opposite: amazing

If you don't believe me, then you haven't experienced the joy of adoption for yourself. And if you haven't, you're truly missing out on the experience of a lifetime. So... maybe it's time you learned what it feels like... to save a life.  

Please don't buy from breeders and pet shops. 
Please don't contribute to this massive, heartbreaking, deadly problem. 
Please adopt from shelters and rescues. 
Please save a life. 
Please do the right thing... now that you know what the right thing is.

Of course... even as I say all of this, I do realize that today's post won't "change the world" ... and that's okay with me. I don't need to change the world today... I just need to change one person's perception today. Or at least... plant the seed...

If I can do that much, then maybe one more shelter dog will have a shot at hope. Because right now... that very dog... doesn't stand a chance. 

And for those of you who think: "She's wasting her time. People aren't going to listen, because people just don't care." Well, here's my response to that:

In my heart, I have to believe that people don't want innocent animals to die in shelters. I have to believe that most people buy from breeders... simply because they don't know the alternatives. I have to believe that people are capable of listening, caring, and changing their behaviors to prove it. 
Roscoe, Available for adoption, Lucky Dog Rescue

Maybe it's not that they "just don't care" ... maybe they just don't know.

And maybe now... they will.

It's worth a shot anyway. Shelter pets are dying as I type... 

[Note: if you're aware of this information, but you still choose to buy from irresponsible breeders, then maybe you don't truly understand the impact of your decisions. Or maybe... you just don't care. But for the sake of my sanity, I'll choose to believe the former... and I'll hope to one day change your mind. Innocent animals are dying, people! YOU could save them! Wake up!]

If you'd like to help my rescue dogs, please click the link below to donate:


Patrick Star UPDATE

Patrick BEFORE
 In case you missed my original blog post about Patrick, CLICK HERE to read: "Patrick Star."

Many of you remember my special rescue dog, Patrick. 

AKA Patrick Star.

When Patrick came to me last September, he looked like this (see Before Photo, left). Patrick was emaciated, weak, and extremely sick. 

But with lots of love and care, Patrick was able to heal here with me, at Lucky Dog Rescue. 

And today, he looks like THIS:

Yep... that's the SAME dog! 

Today, Patrick is insanely happy, healthy, and fun. He's super-loving and playful, with the sweetest kisses ever and the most adorable little personality.

Rope toys are serious business...
Patrick's new best friend is Wonder (see photo, right). Many of you probably remember her as well... from my many blog posts about my special Wonder-baby, and how Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) forced Wonder from her home and sent her back to me at Lucky Dog Rescue. 

Patrick and Wonder LOVE each other, and they can play together for hours. They love rope toys... each grabbing one end, and tugging on it with all their might... daring the other to let go, so they can "win" the toy. Or... they're content to just "wrestle" for the better part of the day. It's so much fun to watch them, and they bring my heart a crazy-amount of joy.


Now that he's all better, Patrick is ready to find his forever family! So, if you're looking to adopt an AMAZING, loving, fun, super-sweet boy who LOVES other dogs and all people, he may just be the perfect pup for you! Patrick is a 1 year old, male, fawn-colored, Pit Bull mix (about 45 lbs). He is neutered, up-to-date on all vaccinations, and heartworm negative. Patrick has the best personality; he's gentle with good manners, but also outgoing and playful. He's well-behaved, super-smart, and housebroken. He'd love to join a family with at least one other dog, because he's really social! [Patrick is available for adoption through Lucky Dog Rescue, Meridian, Mississippi.]

He loves YOU already!

If you think Patrick is the right dog for your family, please click the following link to complete the online Adoption Application: http://luckydogrescueblog.blogspot.com/p/rescue.html 

[NOTE: Wonder is ALSO available for adoption!]

If you'd like to help other dogs like Patrick, please click the link below to donate:

***Link to video of Patrick & Wonder playing: http://youtu.be/Ru8_rWMamDI


Don't Give Up

When making the decision to adopt a new pet, there are so many factors to consider. The first --and most important-- factor, in my opinion, is whether or not you're fully willing and able to take on the responsibility of caring for the pet... for his or her entire lifetime. 

Not just UNTIL he potties inside. 
Not just UNTIL he chews up your shoes. 
Not just UNTIL she misbehaves. 
Not just UNTIL she's no longer a puppy anymore. 
Not just UNTIL you decide to have a baby, or move, or get new carpet.

A pet --any pet-- is a huge commitment... one that should never be taken lightly. Of course, pets bring so much joy and comfort into our lives, so they're totally worth the extra responsibility.

The pet experience is what you make it... which means doing everything in your power to ensure a happy, healthy life for your pet in your home... no matter what.

Yet... I'm constantly amazed by just how many people are willing to give-up on their dog... without even giving them a chance. Apparently, some people think that the "responsibility" of owning a pet... shouldn't require any "responsibility" on their part at all. The dog should just come into their home... perfect, well-behaved, and fully-trained... with no adjustment period, no need for structure, exercise, positive reinforcement, or patience. 

Well... now, that's just banana-sandwich

[Note: this post is NOT intended to place judgment on everyone who has ever had to re-home their pet. I understand that legitimate reasons do exist for having to do so, and I don't wish to condemn every person who's been forced to make this decision. Instead, I'm simply trying to present this issue for what it is, so that maybe someone will change their perception, and think twice before they give-up on their pet.]

 Okay... back to the purpose...

Here's a real shocker (sarcasm): dogs are super-smart creatures... BUT they need a leader: someone to guide them, correct them, and reward them for good behavior. Much like children.

(While some people hate it when I compare dogs to children... those people aren't writing this post. Plus, the comparison of dogs and children is simply made to prove a point. So, calm down, Mrs. How-Dare-You-Call-My-Child-a-Dog! Seriously... no offense intended. Let's proceed...)

Children aren't born with the inherent knowledge of what's expected of them. They're taught. In fact... for us human folk, learning is preeetty much a lifetime gig, with the most important lessons being taught, learned, re-taught, re-learned, and thus, reinforced, throughout our lives. 

Parents teach us right from wrong. Rewards teach us what to do. Mistakes teach us what not to do. 

But... what if someone gave up on you, every time you made a mistake? How would that feel? Especially as a child... when you didn't know any better... what if your parents had simply given-up on you... and sent you away to live with whoever would take you... just because you did something wrong? 

When it comes to dogs, that's often what happens. Families get fed-up, give-up, and/or stop caring... and therefore, they carelessly make (what SHOULD BE) a heart-wrenching, unthinkable, not-even-an-option decision: "Let's get rid of the dog."

Yet... the dog can't understand why his family would ever desert him... He loves them. He never meant to make them angry. He truly wanted to please them

And honestly, to that dog, it doesn't matter how "bad" the family feels, or where they plan to send him, or why they're doing it. For him, all that matters... all he wants... is his family. He'd do anything for them.

How can people just throw that kind of love away?? Especially when so many solutions exist...

Here's the reality: dogs don't want to be "bad." Actually, they strive to please you. But when they don't understand what's expected of them... when they aren't redirected from bad behavior... or rewarded for good behavior... or given the chance to learn and grow... then yes, they will probably act in ways that seem "bad."

Without structure, exercise, training, and companionship, dogs will look for other ways to entertain themselves. Often, the things that seem most "fun" to your dog, are the OPPOSITE of fun to you... chewing, barking, digging, climbing, etc. While these issues aren't impossible to fix, they certainly don't "fix" themselves. 

That's where you come in. You're the leader. You're the "parent."

Honestly, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how to resolve most canine issues, but it does take time, effort, and consistency, on your part. In other words... commitment. You know... that same "commitment" you promised to honor for this dog's lifetime... on the day you brought the dog home. 

What happened to that promise?? 

If you're considering giving-up on your pet, there's almost always another option. An option that allows your dog to stay in your home, with his family. Whether you've had your dog for years, or you recently adopted, you should always exhaust every possible alternative before you even consider the need to re-home your dog. You owe them that much.

Since adoption-returns are a big issue for many animal rescues and shelters, let me touch on the subject of bringing a new pet into your home... and keeping them there...

When you adopt a new dog (or cat), there's always an adjustment period. Sometimes, it's a couple of hours, days, or weeks. Sometimes, it's a couple of months or longer. But trust me... there WILL BE an adjustment period, for both you and the dog. And if you refuse to acknowledge this aspect, and refuse to be patient, understanding, and compassionate during this process, then please... don't adopt the pet in the first place.

Seriously, returning a pet to a shelter within mere hours of adoption due to "misbehavior" is just about as ridiculous as trying to return your newborn baby to the hospital because he cried when you got home. That's just crazy-pants. (clearly, an extreme example, but still...)

So... in order to keep your personal frustrations at a minimum during the adjustment phase, just look at the situation from the dog's perspective: he or she is suddenly in a new place, with new people, new expectations, and a new routine. YOU know he's been "adopted," but he doesn't know that. Sometimes, there's some confusion,  uncertainty, and even a little fear involved. Other times... immense excitement and curiosity. Regardless, the dog has to adjust, get comfortable, and become settled in your home... and that takes time.

The new dog may come into your home with existing issues, or he may develop some new quirks in his new environment. Either way, you must be willing and able to deal with any issues that arise. Most importantly, you must be PATIENT. You can't just expect a new dog to enter your home as instant perfection. I mean... when YOU move into a new house, doesn't it take YOU some time to get settled? And let's face it: you're human; he's a dog. Cut the kid some slack.

If you've had your dog for years, and suddenly, you're beyond fed-up with this or that issue, well then... you have to acknowledge that YOU are much of the problem. The dog has learned these negative behaviors in your home... and if you didn't take the time and effort to correct the issues early-on, or in all of the years since, then you can't blame the dog for your lack of "parenting." Would you want your dog to kick YOU out of your house for poor leadership? Probably not, but guess what? Even if he could... he would never do that to you. Don't do it to him, either. Especially not for something that's your fault.

Training, exercise, structure... these things are every bit as important to dogs as to humans, and without these things, guess what? Issues develop. There are tons of resources available to help you with any issues your dog may have, so there's really no excuse to simply give up on your pet without even trying to resolve the problem. Again, this takes time... and your dog deserves every bit of time it takes... and then some.  

Why? Because... if and when everyone else in your life fails you... or abandons you... or gives-up on you altogether... there will be one "someone" still waiting there to love you: your dog

So... try harder. Do more. Don't give up on him!
Love your dog like he loves you: unconditionally... forever.



Lucky Penny

I rescued Penny nearly 2 years ago... on the day that her "family" threatened to shoot her if I refused to take her. Of course, I just couldn't bear to let that happen to Penny.

Initially, Penny lived in a temporary foster home, but soon thereafter, she came to live with me at Lucky Dog. 

Immediately, I fell in love with Penny's freckled nose and fun personality. She's an outgoing girl, to say the least. But what struck me most about Penny was her unwavering loyalty to anyone who showed her love. She was so eager to please, and I could just tell by the way she looked at me... she would do anything for me. Instinctively, Penny knew that I'd saved her life, and she thanked me for it, every single day.

A few months later, a family offered to foster Penny over the holidays... and of course, they fell in love with her. But even though they adored her, the family already had 2 dogs of their own, and they didn't want to commit to adopting a 3rd... which I understood.

Even still, every couple of months or so, they'd take Penny for the weekend, just to give her some special time.

Penny loved her special weekend trips, and she loved the family even more. In my heart, I secretly hoped they'd decide to adopt her one day, even though I knew it wasn't likely. So... meanwhile, I was still searching for the perfect forever family for this special girl.

One day, I received an amazing adoption application for Penny, and I could barely contain my excitement! Without another thought, I called the family to talk further, and during that conversation, I just knew: this family is absolutely perfect for Penny! 

But then, as we began to schedule the home visit, they mentioned the name of their town. Of course, I'd seen the town listed on their application, but in the midst of my excitement... I hadn't stopped to think about where this town was actually located. Suddenly, it hit me, as I was forced to choke out the words: "I'm so sorry, but your area has a breed ban on Pit Bulls (Breed Specific Legislation BSL)."

I felt like I'd been punched in the gut. 
Penny wasn't going home.

A few months later, the same thing happened: an amazing application came in for Penny... they'd fallen in love with my sweet girl... but... the family lived in a county with a ban on Pit Bulls. 

Once again, Penny wasn't going home

This same scenario happens to me all the time. And I mean... ALL THE TIME. Many cities and counties in Mississippi (as well as many other states) have restrictions or bans on the Pit Bull breeds and mixes of those breeds. And while my county doesn't have a ban, most of the surrounding counties do have some form of BSL. 

Therefore, the already-small adoption pool for my Pit Bulls is even-further reduced by BSL, which denies potential adopters in those areas the right to adopt a Pit Bull. 

What's even crazier is... most people don't even realize that BSL exists in their area, which is understandable, because these ordinances are often passed so quickly and quietly, that few residents even know about them. 

So, when one of those residents wishes to adopt one of my Pit Bulls, and I have to inform them of the breed ban in their city/county, they're honestly shocked... as they never knew a ban existed.

To say that BSL makes me angry ... well, that's a massive understatement. It infuriates me in a way that I can't quite describe. These laws are not only ridiculous, unnecessary, and unfounded, but they're DETRIMENTAL to the futures of my loving, deserving, insanely NON-vicious dogs. 

Every single time BSL ruins the chance for one of my dogs to go home forever, I'm nothing short of devastated. I've cried more times over BSL than I can even tell you. I cry for my own rescue babies, and for every other amazing Pit Bull out there... dogs who want nothing more than to go home. They don't want to hurt anyone... they just want to be loved by someone. And BSL denies their only request.

More on that later... back to Penny for now...

So, long story short, Penny has been with me for a very long time. All the while, she's been one of the happiest girls you'd ever meet. But even still... I've been hoping, wishing, praying for that perfect family to come along and take my Penny home forever. 

And yesterday, they did... 

I was contacted by a woman here in Meridian who was very interested in adopting one of my dogs. As we talked, she mentioned the fact that she'd fallen in love with Penny's photos and story, but she'd heard that Penny had already been adopted. 

When I said, "No ma'am... I actually still have Penny!" the woman became very excited. She said: "You're kidding?! Really?! Oh my goodness, I thought she'd been adopted! I'm so in love with her face! Could I meet her?!"

Yesterday afternoon, she came to Lucky Dog to meet Penny. As Penny ran to her and gave her a big, wet kiss, the woman looked over at me with tears in her eyes. She said, "Oh my gosh, I love her! I definitely want to adopt her!" 

Suddenly, I was crying, too. I said: "Penny, did you hear that?! You're going home, sweet girl!" Penny was so excited... I swear she understood what I'd said. She was running back and forth between us: her new mom, Cindy... and her old mom, me

I don't know how to describe that feeling... the bittersweet moment when your baby leaves for their future... without you. Penny has lived with me for nearly 2 years. Now... she'll have another place to call home, and another family to call her own. It's slightly heartbreaking, but beyond amazing. That moment meant ... everything... to me. But more importantly, to Penny. She's been waiting for that moment... for 2 years now.

I gave her one last hug, and said: "This is it, PP. This is everything you've ever wanted, and more." As Penny jumped into the car, I waved goodbye... and cried, realizing that the "Penny Chapter" of my life had finally ended... but Penny's future... had just begun.

Last night, Penny's new mom wrote this:
"I have found my new best friend. She is one of a kind in our eyes... fantastic dog... loving, gentle. As soon as we met, we had a connection. She's followed me around all afternoon... she's asleep on my bed right now. Meet my wonderful new best friend: Penny."

Then, she shared a photo of Penny, lounging on her new bed. When I looked at the picture, tears filled my eyes, and this caption entered my head: "Finally... I know what it feels like... to be home..."

If you'd like to help other dogs like Penny, please click below to donate:

Click HERE to read my original blog post about Penny