One of my many jobs is raising dogs. If I were to write a resume, it would be varied indeed. There is not one thing that connects with another thing to make any kind of sense. Two Etsy stores that have me in the sewing room so many hours per day (which I love), photography (which I also love) and the kennel. (Who doesn't love puppies?) I am good at photographing dog collars. I guess you can connect those dots. And I always have dogs to model things. But really, what kind of a job is this going to land me? That's why I just keep doing what I'm doing.
Well, that, and all my varied jobs allow me to be a stay-at-home mom with incredibly flexible hours, and that is of utmost importance to me. Just because of the weird dynamics of our family. And I don't work well with others. I'm pretty much a loner with zero social skills. And I love dogs.
But that's not where I'm going with this.
As a kennel owner, I sometimes struggle with what I do. One of the first struggles is with my title. The ASPCA has made it so that one can't call themselves a backyard breeder or a hobby breeder anymore, and a "professional breeder" makes me sound like a definite puppy mill. The other titles have been sullied as well in an effort to discourage breeders because nobody is supposed to want to buy purebred dogs; all dogs need rescued. I'd agree that all the shelter dogs need homes. I wish I could adopt one. Honest, I do. (I'm not allowed. I'm an irresponsible pet owner who does not spay or neuter my pets. Because I use them for breeding. Which isn't allowed because the shelters are overflowing with dogs. This is what my local shelter told me.) My wonderful online friends have started referring to me as a "responsible breeder." I like that. I'm using that. It's what I am. But I won't shout that too loudly because the ASPCA will find a way to make that look bad as well. So there is one struggle solved.
Another thing I struggle with is a bit more complicated, and less easily fixed. Dogs can have puppies until they're about 5 or 6 years old, and then they should be retired because they've kind of done their time. Just because they CAN have more puppies doesn't really mean you should tax them to death. It's not fair to the dog. Personally I wouldn't want to have babies until menopause just because I can, so I won't do that to a dog of mine. That's part of the "responsible" part of being a responsible breeder. But because of this, those dogs that retire from the breeding program then need re-homed. We sell these dogs at such huge discounts that sometimes new owners end up with free dogs. But I am far more particular where my mamas go than my babies because everyone is tolerant of a baby and expects them to soil in the house and chew things. My mamas are well trained dogs because they live in my house, but my rules aren't necessarily your rules and sometimes people forget that. They are far less tolerant of an adult dog that makes a mistake, so I am far more particular in choosing a home that completely understands this. Not that my girls have ever come back with a bad report, but I don't take chances. Those ladies work so hard for me, the least I can do is make sure they retire to the best homes ever. Or more like The Best Homes Ever.
And that's one of the hardest parts of this job. Re-homing a dog that we've lived with for 5-6 years and loved as part of our family. The heart and mind don't always see eye to eye on this point. But there are state and federal laws prohibiting how many dogs we can own while in this business so we just can't keep them.
Our french boy, Jack, is the one needing replaced this time. There are some cosmetic flaws with him that we're not entirely in love with, and while they sound trivial and superficial, if we are asking good money for puppies they have to be as near perfect as they can be. Jack is throwing his cosmetic flaws into his babies on occasion. We are not happy about this.
Oswald joined us today as a replacement for Jack. Ozzie, however, isn't as fabulous as he looked in photos. So now I've got this dilemma. My heart loves Jack. My mind knows neither dog is best. For crying out loud. And this is another struggle I have with raising dogs. I sound incredibly heartless when I turn into a dog broker. The easy-come, easy-go string of dogs we have here makes me look like I could really care less and just use dogs as a means to an end. And I guess I do to an extent. I have learned to separate myself from the dogs, while loving them immensely. Weird, but it works for me. Call it a coping mechanism. I look at the dogs as business. That I love.
Except I love Jack. And now I have Ozzie. And today this job is hard because I don't like the choices that I have to make. Some days, even the fact that I have puppies is hard. It's because of those puppies that I have to be so ruthless. Darn this job.