How much is that doggy in the window? The one with the wiggly tail?
How much is that doggy in the window? I do hope that dog is for sale.
I remember the pet store in my hometown. I would walk by it every day on my way to school and stop to watch the puppies playing. I desperately wanted a dog, but we could never afford one. I don’t recall an animal shelter in my town, but there were plenty of farmers looking to unload litters of pups all year round. I was 12-years-old when my mother finally let me have one of those farm dogs — and I was in love.
When I went to college I would take study breaks at the local pet store off-campus and spend an hour or two playing with the purebred puppies. The salespeople would see me coming. I’m sure they would roll their eyes because I was never going to buy one. They were way too expensive. I couldn’t believe people would spend well over $1,000 on a puppy. Just the same, I reasoned, those dogs were alive and in cages and surely some playtime with a stressed-out college freshman provided them the same emotional comfort I got during our dates.
One of my friends got a job there and he only lasted a few months. I don’t remember a lot of what he said when he told me he had to quit. But I do remember him saying, “I couldn’t handle seeing all of the death.” He said that his shift began an hour before the store opened so that he could remove the dead and sickly puppies before potential buyers arrived.
I researched the buying and selling of dogs and was horrified to learn about puppy mills and abused or neglected dogs. All for money.
I decided that adopting animals from shelters and rescues was the only responsible and ethical way to bring an animal into a home.
I held this belief until October of 2019.
I was working side by side with a woman who owned and operated a breeding business. I had my preconceived ideas at the forefront of my mind when I asked her to talk to me about her dogs. I was ready for some civil discourse and pointed questions about the welfare of her animals.
The next morning my wife and I found ourselves the guardian home of an English Cream Golden Retriever.
Suddenly, we were supporting a breeder.
Infinity Goldens is the childhood dream of Alexa Suarez. She told me that she has always loved animals and thought working for a kennel would be perfect. This job inspired her to start her own business, but not because of a positive experience.
“In fact,” she said, “it was more of the opposite.”
She described over fifty dogs living in cages all day with only three short breaks. They were over-bred, unloved, and not socialized. She knew she could do better with guardian homes and a limit on litters.
A guardian home, such as ours, means that our Luna has a family and a loving environment to call her own. There was an application process and vetting to make sure we would take proper care of her. She is free to us aside from annual check-ups and the cost of food. Luna had three litters of puppies in her three years of life and now she is spayed, which Infinity Goldens paid for.
This has been amazing for our family and we are only mildly conflicted about it. But we now know that responsible breeding is much different from backyard breeding. The dogs are health tested and raised in homes with extensive socialization.
We have also adopted a dog from a rescue.
The application process was extensive and they also made sure we would be able to take good care of the animal. A home visit was completed and we were approved to then start looking for our pet. The limitations were vast because nearly every dog could not be adopted by a family with children younger than 13-years-old. This makes sense, of course, because the history and trauma of rescued animals can make them somewhat unpredictable and no one wants a child to be hurt. We ended up adopting from a foster home that had small children and other dogs. It was a great experience.
My cousin owns and operates Good Karma Pet Rescue. She has been an animal lover since she was a small child. When she relocated to Florida she noticed that the stray dog problem was much bigger than she had seen anywhere else. Good Karma was born. She has very strong feelings about adoption versus purchasing an animal. She said, “It just goes back to the fact that there are dogs out there that need help. Your family having purebred dogs influences others to want dogs like that, and where are they going to come from?”
This is a polarizing issue for many of us.
When I brought up the topic at a dog training class, I was asked if I felt the same way about adopting children versus paying for fertility treatments.
“When there are so many children that need homes, is it selfish to spend money on what you want?” I was taken aback and wasn’t sure how to respond because, as a lesbian couple, my wife and I spent money on fertility treatment! Perhaps the question is absurd. Apples to oranges, so to speak. Honestly, I still haven’t processed that one.
What are your thoughts?
Do you think buying a dog is okay from breeders with great reputations and ethical business practices? Do you feel adoption should be the only option for all families? I’ve found that this topic is one that fuels passionate conversations, hurt feelings, and judgments.
Like so many conversations these days, when you comment, please respond with civility and open your mind to other points of view.