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Why Aren’t Young People Getting Into Dogs: Part Two

I promise part two will be a bit more exciting and maybe one can consider, a tiny bit biased. The second installment of Why aren’t young people getting into dogs? Is that sometimes breeders do a great job at discouraging young people who want to buy a dog.
You’re probably thinking, what? That’s totally crazy, I didn’t have any issue getting my dog. Well I’m glad it wasn’t an act of congress for you to get your dog – really I am. I’m also very jealous as well.
I decided at 17 I wanted to show dogs. I wanted either an Akita or a Shiba Inu, I decided on the Shiba due to size and a more even temperament. I called up a breeder and we were to meet at a local handling class. I showed up, we chatted and that was it. I made contact several times over the course of maybe 4 months but she wasn’t interested in selling me a puppy or teaching me to handle dogs. Luckily an amazing Samoyed breeder took me under her wing, taught me to handle dogs, allowed me to show her dogs, and sold me my first show dog. We are still great friends.
After finishing Chi I started looking around out of state for a Shiba breeder as well as making contact again with the local breeder. The local breeder was concerned that I would move away to college and leave my dog behind. Even after I assured that a) I wasn’t moving out anytime soon b) I had no plans to go to college and c) I wouldn’t leave any of my animals behind. She told me she would put me on her waiting list and would let me know when a litter was in the works. I was so happy that finally I was able to be put on a waiting list for a Shiba! I’ll say here, sadly, I never heard back from her.
Slightly discouraged, I returned my attention to an out of state breeder. I went on the NSCA website and started looking at different websites, deciding which dogs I liked best. I emailed many breeders with dog people references to prove to them I was very serious about getting a Shiba – very few even bothered to return my messages. Most weren’t willing to part with a pick bitch. Yes, I get it – it’s a lot to ask but I’ll be darned if I spend a lot of money on a mediocre finishable dog. I want to start a bloodline. I was not trying to play catch up or spend more money for another better dog later on. The out of state people that emailed me back replied that I would be put on a waiting list. I never heard from any of them.
Finally I got a promising return email, kept in contact, pestered the crap out of her with my million questions, and waited 2 years for my chance to own a Shiba. They say good things come to those who wait – I couldn’t be happier with Nekora! We finished with 4 majors, a group 4 placing in regular groups at 11 months old, and we are currently starting our agility career. She’s smart, willing to learn, adventurous, and gets along with all my critters! Plus she’s my favorite color to boot.
But back to the subject, who would go through all of this to get a dog? Wouldn’t it be easier to go get one from a newspaper, pet store, or shelter? 2 of the 3 choices would be cheaper initially, and I think all 3 would be less frustrating and time consuming. To think this was to get a show dog – something that has the breeder’s name on it and would bring some kind of bragging rights. This wasn’t just a couch potato pet, this was a dog that was going to do something, make a name for herself! Isn’t that what a breeder wants, to promote their breeding and breed of choice, a chance to pass on the torch to a younger person who has the breed’s best interest in mind? No one lives forever my friends.
Young people need more encouragement and friendliness to save our sport and preserve the breeds we all love. We’re competing against buy here/pay here/here they are, no lines no waiting pet stores, cheap newspaper puppies, #adoptdontshop rescues and we are losing. We need to be welcoming to everyone interested in our breed and sport. We don’t have to sell them a puppy but we should take the chance and try to guide and educate them. You’ll never know what you will accomplish. The worst case scenario is that people leave you feeling like they met a friend who shared their love of dogs with them.

Why aren’t young people getting into dogs? Part One

The question is often asked, “Why aren’t young people involved in showing dogs?” While the answer is not just black and white there are some obvious responses.  First and foremost it’s damn expensive!  Young people are often just beginning their careers or have entry level jobs which is not allowing for discretionary spending that accompanies the relationship between a dog and owner.

I’ll use myself as an example of the grand money issue, because who would know better about this situation than someone living in it and I really don’t have anyone else to compare against without getting super nosey.  I work a full time job with health insurance partially covered by my employer, I’m off on weekends and the schedule isn’t too bad.  I won’t complain as I have a pretty good gig with no college education. But I take home less than $1,500 a month. Thank god I live with my parents otherwise it would be me, my dogs, rabbit, birds, cats, fish, and toads living in a cardboard box. Could you imagine how crowded it would be in there?

So now here comes the fun part – math! My most favorite subject ever, I’m kidding I hate math almost as much as it hates me. Let’s start our journey into the show dog world, first have to get a puppy – I mean this is a huge investment to your future. This darling ball of fluff will cost you from $1,500 a whole month of pay for me to – $5,000 for a fantastic NIPPO Shiba.   I’m not knocking breeder’s prices; I believe you get what you pay for and someone has put a lot of time, energy, and money into my pup. Now we have our puppy – let’s say we spent $2,500 on it. We need supplies for our puppy; I do a lot of online shopping because it’s usually cheaper, so I used those prices for calculating my costs.

Crate at Medium size- $30 on sale (normal price is $95)

  • Collar & Leash – $45.25 (White Pine collar & leather leash)
  • Water bucket – $6.49
  • Stainless steel bowl – $3.00
  • Crate Pad – $16

Our subtotal is about $2,600.

Show supplies for our new show puppy:

  • Show collar/leash combo – $12 (Alvalley slip lead)
  • Grooming table Medium – $122
  • Dog blow dryer – $175
  • Grooming box – $70 (minimum)
  • Brushes – $50 (minimum)
  • Shampoo 1 gallon – $45.95
  • Extra crate – $30 (minimum)

Our new total is over $3,100 which for me is more than two months of work! We haven’t even gotten to grooming products, entry fees, hotels, gas money, and handler fees (optional)

BUT WAIT! I’m forgetting something important – FOOD! And treats, bones, and toys.

Food and treats costs me $100 online and with my other supplies (supplements, treats, horns, hooves, and antlers) another $103.68 a month. I buy for 5 dogs so we’ll divide by 5, about $40 a month.

I haven’t even gotten to vet care, training classes, or even god forbid, a medical emergency!! Nor have I included people cost like rent, insurance, the cell phone bill, water and electric, and groceries! See how quickly that $1,500 a month has disappeared?! Maybe someone could stay afloat buy getting a second part time job, but that leaves one stressed out and I feel not enough time to spend with the puppy.

Honestly I think this is the number one reason young people don’t get into dogs – they simply can’t afford it!  I have other theories as well which I will share the next time.

Canine Good Citizen

Nekora passed her Canine Good Citizen test tonight! After 4 weeks of an hour class tonight was the night of our test. She passed – with Shiba attitude. She pretended that I was speaking a foreign language when I asked her to sit… typical Shiba

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My friend’s dog Marble also passed!

Supporting The Purebred Dog

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.

Agility Training

I started agility training with both girls – I’m more serious in competing with Nekora but Chi tags along because its good exercise & training for her. Here some pictures from the last practice we had:

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Nekora update

Leslie took Nekora in yesterday for her ultrasound to see if she is pregnant. Unfortunately she is not. It’s extremely disappointing, as I was so excited. All I can do is think about how excited Nekora be when I go to pick her up on Sunday. We’ll be trying again next year.

Finally!

Nekora finally came into heat! I’m super excited & just can’t wait! One of my breeder friends told me time will fly by. I am excited & a bit nervous as this will be my first time whelping a litter & raising one by myself. I do have a great support team, luckily for me!

I did some puppy supply shopping for food dishes, water buckets, & a large food dish for when the puppies are weaning. Cherrybrook is having an awesome “super bowl” sale on water buckets & stainless steel dishes. (check it it here: Cherrybrook Super Bowl Sale – the sale is until February 5th).

Please send us your positive thoughts for a successful breeding & safe whelping. We will continue to update everyone on this journey!

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