MEMORY DOGS

I have to give a nod to Gaupola’s post today, Linda’s Brain Peanuts Remembers Soda Pop. It got me thinking. There’s just one big perk to getting old, other than senior discounts: memories.

Everything reminds me of something. No matter what anyone is talking about, it brings back something that happened a long time ago or maybe yesterday. I may not have money, but I am rich in memories. Or would be, if I could remember whatever that thing is I can’t quite recall. It’s right on the tip of my tongue. Never mind. I’ll remember later. Something will remind me.

Last night was the final night of the Westminster Kennel Club show. It’s the 138th year of the show.

westmisterhotel

“Westminster gets its name from a long gone hotel in Manhattan. There, sporting gentlemen used to meet in the bar to drink and lie about their shooting accomplishments. Eventually they formed a club and bought a training area and kennel. They kept their dogs there and hired a trainer.

“They couldn’t agree on the name for their new club. But finally someone suggested that they name it after their favorite bar. The idea was unanimously selected, we imagine, with the hoisting of a dozen drinking arms.”

— Maxwell Riddle, from a newspaper story quoted in
“The Dog Show, 125 Years of Westminster” by William Stifel

Westminster is my Superbowl. I love watching beautiful dogs, seeing what the newest “official” AKC breeds are. Watching the show reminded me about the dogs I grew up with. Not only my dogs, but the dogs that belonged to the kids I played with.

havanese
Havanese

When I was a kid — that would be the 1950s in case you’re wondering — everyone owned purebred dogs. Not just rich people, but working people. Even poor people. Garry grew up with a Collie. We had Doberman Pinschers. My friend Betty had a Shetland Sheepdog. Mary had a Chihuahua. Carol had a Havanese. I thought she was making up the breed because it wasn’t listed by the American Kennel Club, but now it is. Sure enough, it’s the dog she had. Apologies, Carol. I shouldn’t have said you were making it up.

People make a big deal these days about purebred dogs being an elitist thing, but they weren’t then and I resent the label now. When I was growing up, if you wanted a dog, you went to a breeder and bought a puppy.

There was nothing elitist about it. It never occurred to anyone we were failing to save doomed dogs by getting the puppy we wanted. Maybe there weren’t so many doomed dogs in the 1950s. Regardless, it was simple. We bought a puppy. Raised the puppy. Kept the puppy until he or she died of old age.

We didn’t abandon our dogs or let them breed randomly … mostly, not at all. We kept them in fenced yards or on leashes, had them spayed, though rarely neutered. It wasn’t something anyone did back then.

I still own purebred dogs. Two are re-homed from owners or breeders who were no longer able to keep them. Bonnie, our Scottish Terrier was a puppy farm rescue who we bought from her rescuer. She is a joy to our hearts and brightens every day of our lives. Amber, the miniature dachshund was the only one we bought “on purpose.” She was supposed to be a birthday present for Garry, but somehow wound up Kaity’s dog. Sometimes the puppy makes the choice, not the human.

DangerDogs

I love breeds. I love knowing this puppy will grow up with this set of characteristics. Will be this size, have this personality type.

All of this came up because watching the dog show reminded me of all the dogs we had as kids. Everything reminds me of something.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

14 thoughts on “MEMORY DOGS”

  1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting a purebred so long as you can afford it and you get it from a reputable breeder. I think that the problem a lot of people have right now are the fact that many purebreds are born in puppy mills and there is a certain… I dunno… way that people breed for certain characteristics that’s not always healthy for the dog. Take bulldogs for instance… they have so many problems because of designer breeding that it’s not even funny (This article touches on it http://dogbehaviorscience.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/100-years-of-breed-improvement/) and the German Shepherd I knew as a kid isn’t the same Shepherd we see nowadays. I used to LOVE German Shepherds… they were one of my favorite dog breeds. I wanted one SO bad when I was a kid. Now, they’re just not the same dog.

    I don’t mind purebreds, and would kill for a Rottweiler. But I generally buy rescues and they usually end up being mutts. (I love my mutts)

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    1. Not counting intentionally dwarfed or extremely tiny breeds (English bulldogs, basset hounds, teacup anythings. etc.) purebreds as no more likely than mixed breeds to have genetic problems. The difference is that you KNOW what problems you are likely to have with a breed because fanciers keep records and make efforts to not breed a dog or bitch with known problems. Mutts/mixed breeds have whatever genetic issues were in the various canines who form their DNA. No one keeps records on these dogs. Owners just deal with whatever comes up. They aren’t healthier. They are (mostly) average, like any dog. Sometimes worse, sometimes luckier. You can’t know that your pet will never have medical issues because they all do eventually. They get old. Like us, but sadly, so much sooner.

      Almost every breed club — except some rare breeds where numbers of the breed are very small — have rescue organizations. You can look them up online. Rottweiler rescue is VERY active. Dobermans too. All the big breeds really. German Shepherd, Labs, Goldens …all of them. People get them, decide they’re too big, too hard to manage and dump them. The situation is made worse by the puppy mills and pet stores that sell sickly pups from horribly abused, starved parents … producing puppies that come with problems they wouldn’t have had if they’d had a decent start in life. Puppy millers, along with dog fighters, are people high on my list of those deserving a long stay in Hell.

      You CAN adopt a breed dog. You just have to contact the rescue organization for the breed in which you are interested … and have the kind of home they think is suitable for that breed. Many — as you already know — adopted dogs have had a hard time. This applies to purebreds as much as to mixed breeds or mutts. Behavioral issues … lack of socialization … no training … fearfulness … The terrible things people do to pets makes my stomach churn.

      Animal cruelty is one of the few crimes for which I’d personally prefer to blow the perps away with a very large caliber weapon!

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      1. I hear ya about the animal cruelty, as well as puppy mills and those who fight animals. I mean you’re preaching to the choir here… (Don’t shoot anyone though, I hear they frown on that kind of behaviour). I also know that there’s no such thing as a completely healthy animal… Just like humans, each animal comes with its own set of issues.
        For example:
        My Brandy is a cattle dog mix. We’re her third (and last!) owners but although she’s relatively healthy, she’s fearful and skittish. She’s smarter than any dog I’ve ever owned, but because she’s so fearful, it makes training difficult. We’ve had her for nearly two years now, so a lot of that fear has toned down, but put her in a new situation and it’s tail between the legs and her whole body shakes like a leaf. It’s sad to see.
        My Cocoa, on the other hand is a Corgi/Chihuahua mix and he’s not afraid of anything… He chases big dogs around the dog park (a habit we’re trying to break him of because one day, he’s gonna chase the wrong dog…) He has joint problems though, and he’s a dumb as a box of rocks. But he’s cute and snuggly and we love him. They’re both about four years old now, so we won’t be in the market for another one for about… six to ten years, I guess? Barring any accidents. I’m not sure how long dogs live having never had one that died of old age (the last two dogs I had were struck by cars when in someone else’s care… it’s a long story.)

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        1. The worst thing about dogs is that they do not live long enough. We live in fear of our dogs getting let out of the yard by some delivery guy. The road on which we live is not heavily trafficked, but what cars there are drive way too fast. Which is why we have a “BEWARE OF DOGS” sign on the gates. At least people know there are dogs there and if it makes them afraid to come into the yard, all the better!

          One of our adoptees was very fearful when we got him. He’d spent his whole life in an 8 X 12 pen … and he’s a big dog. But 4 years and a lot of love later, he’s pretty normal. Not a shining example of doggie intelligence, but he can ALWAYS find his food dish. And he’s very well housebroken, so we’ve got the basics covered 🙂

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  2. I look forward to being one of those old men in the bar (or barber shop) telling stories with the other geezers.

    Never had a dog, but if I did, I’d like a mutt. Or a basenji.

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    1. I knew a Basenji. Belonged to a friend of ours. NICE dogs. QUIET (I could use some of that!) and very clean. They wash themselves like cats. Sweet temperaments, too. I think we should each be able to have what we want … as long as we are prepared to give it or them a good home. I can’t imagine life without our furry family. They really make a HUGE difference in the quality of our lives. Yes, expense and worry … but so worth it.

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  3. A nice growing old evening: Watching last night’s Dog Show with the the two Terriers nestled next to us and the big Aussie Shepherd camped on the floor in front of us. I loved the commentator’s line about the Scotties’ belief they are superior to their owners. We know it’s true.

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  4. I don’t think there is anything wrong with buying a purebred pup from a reputable breeder. Kizzie is purebred Cairn Terrier and, other than allergies, has no real problems. But you know before you buy a Cairn Terrier that they are susceptible to allergies. I love Kizzie and would go to a breeder again in an instant. I am not against adopting dogs from rescue organizations or the animal shelter, but therein lies a whole other set of problems, as you commented above.

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    1. Absolutely! Sometimes you get lucky. We’ve had purebreds who never had a sick day until one day, they died and others that had problems of one kind or another, though none with anything terrible. I love the highland terriers. Such great funny personalities!

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  5. That’s so true about our 50’s dogs being purebred. I never thought about that before. We had a purebred cocker spaniel named Spud — his papered name was Idaho Red Flash. We certainly weren’t rich. It’s just the way things were. I grew up in a very small town and knew, by name, many of the dogs in town. And come to think of it, they were all purebreds! HA! How about that? I remember the first time I saw a standard-sized poodle, I had only seen the tea-cups. Boy did I do a double take! Thanks for the memories Marilyn!

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    1. I never thought about it either until I was watching Westminster and saw the Havanese. Which reminded me of Carol’s dog … then all the other dogs we had as kids. One memory leads to another 🙂 But everybody had purebred dogs, rich and poor. I don’t think anyone put much thought into it. You wanted a dog, you went to a breeder and got one.

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  6. Even thought I am such an avid cat person, I grew up with dogs (cats, too). Mine was a Collie. Wonderful memories, especially when the cat got caught in the doggie bed!

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    1. I never thought it was an either/or choice. I’ve usually had both cats and dogs. They got along fine. We don’t have cats now because they are too destructive. Dogs don’t jump on the mantel and knock down all my antique pottery — but cats too! I love cats, but now, I love them at my friends’ houses 🙂

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