When a particular breed wins Westminster or stars in a popular movie or television show, fans consider the exposure a double-edged sword.
Of course they’re proud that their Whiffenpooch is in the news, but they also know that too much publicity can bring unwanted attention from high-volume commercial breeders (also known as puppy mills) or pet owners who decide to make a quick buck by breeding their little Missy or Max, who may be adorably cute but doesn’t necessarily have proven health or temperament.
“I see it all the time,” says Westminster Kennel Club spokesman David Frei. “The phone will start ringing in the home of the parent club secretary the next few days because everybody sees them on television.”
Beagle breeders are now facing this situation. They first experienced it in 2008, when Ch. K-Run’s Park Me In First (Uno to his fans) became the first beagle to take Best in Show at Westminster. Now Uno’s great-niece, Ch. Tashtins Lookin for Trouble, whose nickname is Peyton, or Miss P, has followed in his paw prints, taking home the coveted title. Beagle people are prepared for the onslaught.
“Uno’s win was unprecedented and caught much of the beagle world by surprise,” says Julie Wright, president of American Beagle Relief Network. “Many of us were not prepared for the heightened interest in the breed, but we stepped up our efforts and used it as an opportunity to educate people about the breed, which is not the easiest to raise or live with.”
You heard it here first, folks. Beagles are charming, but they also bark and howl, will run off in search of an interesting scent (or a bunny) in a New York nanosecond, and will find and gobble anything that might be remotely edible.
If you are interested in acquiring a beagle – or any other breed of the minute – look beyond the puppy lust occupying your mind and check out dogs available through your local rescue group. Choosing an adult dog can give you a better experience with a breed, especially one that’s new to you.
Rescue volunteers are a great resource for people interested in a certain breed. They are familiar with the breed as a whole and have spent time with the individual dogs available for placement. It’s their job to match the dogs with just the right “forever” homes so they don’t end up back in rescue.
“Rescue dogs are already spayed or neutered, fully vaccinated and have been checked out by a veterinarian,” Wright says. “The adoption fees are usually less than the cost to obtain these services and a fraction of the expense to purchase, raise and train a puppy.”
The dogs available through breed-rescue groups are often there because owners have died or divorced, or for some other reason unrelated to the dog’s behavior or health. They have usually been living with foster owners who can help you determine if the dog is a good fit for your family. They may already be trained.
A dog collar seems like such a simple thing. But in many parts of the world, collars are made from whatever is easily and cheaply at hand: chains, wire, rope and other materials that can be painful or injurious for animals to wear. A collar drive by World Vets, which provides aid for animals, has distributed more than 1,000 adjustable nylon collars to animals in need in Nicaragua. The organization wants to spread the love further and is continuing its “Every Dollar Buys a Collar” campaign for more animals around the world. New collars or financial donations can be sent to World Vets, 802 1st Ave North, Fargo, N.D., 58102.
▪ A two-year online study may help keep dogs in homes after adoption. Led by Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman at Tufts University and Dr. James A. Serpell at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, the Animal Ownership Interaction Study is designed to help reduce the risk that people will give up dogs to shelters. Any dog owner can participate by anonymously completing an initial online survey and being willing to answer additional questions every six months for the duration of the study. The goal is to help predict which owner personality types are most compatible with a particular dog they plan to adopt. Register to participate at centerforcaninebehaviorstudies.org.
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and Kim Campbell Thornton, author of many pet-care books. The two are affiliated with Vetstreet.com.