We’re all here because of our love of the purebred dog – more specifically the Shiba Inu. I’m writing this not to point fingers at anyone (honestly I wouldn’t know who to point fingers at) but more as a plea, a suggestion, or call it constructive advice. Purebred dog fanciers seem to be a dying breed. I don’t have an exact answer as of why, but I do have some observations.
A common misconception is the sudden need to save every dog out there and if you don’t save a dog you’re a cruel, hateful person. Animals should never suffer – which is why I have personally taken in a gambit of second hand animals from canines to felines, rabbits and chickens to fish. My love for animals is so strong that I became a vegetarian more than 10 years ago. I CHOSE to buy a dog. People may think of that as a contradiction; why would I, the vegetarian who saves even fish, buy a dog from a greedy breeder? Simply stated, because I want a dog that is reliable in temperament, health tested and bred for the purpose of maintaining and improving the breed, along with the never ending support of a breed expert.
The general public is so out of touch with what good, reputable breeders do for their breed and dogs in general. A couple of months ago I took my dogs out for Ice Cream at a dog friendly joint. These girls ran up and exclaimed at how well behaved my dogs were and asked what ‘kind’ dogs I had. With great pride I explained that Chi was a purebred Samoyed and Nekora a purebred Shiba Inu. One girl then asked “where did you rescue them from?” I gently explained how I didn’t rescue them but instead purchased them from reputable breeders. “Oh” she replied very disappointed in my choice. I kindly explained why I chose to purchase my dogs and that they’re show dogs, a sport that both me and my dogs enjoy together. This was the first “negative” reaction I’ve received in the 7 and 1/2 years I’ve owned a purebred dog.
We as breeders and purebred dog enthusiasts haven’t done a great job in marketing ourselves. I speak from experience. I’ve had multiple people, including my own mother, who have told me I’ve been the friendliest dog person they’ve spoke to all day at the MEET THE BREEDS BOOTH! How embarrassing is that? How is it that a shy, quiet, socially awkward me is the friendliest person at a large scale venue? It hardly seems possible that I, when compared to people who have been breeding, showing, and supporting the purebred dog longer than my measly 8 years, could be considered the most friendly and engaging. One lady even told me that purebred people were a bunch of unfriendly snobs. She was looking at different breeds she was interested in, wanting to add a new dog to her family but no one gave her the time of day! No wonder people turn to shelter dogs, not only are they cheaper but you don’t have to accept that behavior from a breeder. I know this is not always the case but if we are to perpetuate and encourage the continuation of purebred dogs, not only do we need to reach out, engage, and educate the public we must make ourselves and our dogs accessible and approachable.
That’s why I make it my personal goal to be as friendly and welcoming as possible to people who approach me and my dogs. I love to talk about my dog’s heritage, breed purpose, and why it’s so important to find a reputable breeder of any breed! When I take my dogs out in public I expect to be stopped and asked a million questions. I take my time to answer and let the general public interact with my dogs. I do it to show purebred dogs aren’t bad, reputable breeders aren’t bad, and picking a breed based on how well you can manage a dog is the way to go.
I even take my dogs to the school I work at where I give kids age 1 – 11 a presentation about dog bite prevention. But I don’t stop there! I talk about responsible pet ownership, purebred dogs, and about the breed. Some of it does go over the younger kid’s heads but the older ones listen! I even send home a packet of information of how to avoid dog bites as well as information about my dogs’ breeds, the good, the bad and the ugly! I do this so little Johnny doesn’t get a Shiba Inu just like Ms. Alexis.
I take them to my local high school explaining how showing and raising dogs is a labor of love. I explain how you need to research the breed and understand what that specific breed was bred for. I regretfully inform them that breeding dogs the correct way isn’t going to make them rich – you’ll hardly break even! I give tips on how to find a reputable breeder and things to look for when looking for breeders and how to be a responsible owner!
This is why I love the idea of the meet the breed booth. You get to talk all about your breed of choice. Remember, this is our chance to be ambassador’s not only to our breed, but to the art of showing dogs and purebred dog ownership. Whether you are manning the booth or even taking your dogs out in public, please be as pleasant as possible. I get it – I do, we get tired, we get hungry, we get sore, but that doesn’t stop me! Last year I manned the booth from 10am – 2:30pm all by myself and I made sure I answered all questions with a smile. Because I owe it to my dogs to put them, my sport, my breed, and I in the most favorable light possible.
We, as purebred dog lovers, need to support our dogs, our sport, and embrace the people who are interested in our breed. They may be the next breeder or owner handler. Don’t turn them away – embrace them, at least emotionally. Your behavior may just be what scares off a valuable player in our game that we’re so badly losing or you could be the reason they join our ranks.