Breed Standards: Creating Prejudices in Dog Training

Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.     

Maya Angelou

bootsandbee.com

bootsandbee.com

We all have prejudices.  Those who claim they aren’t prejudice at all strike me as imbeciles, unwilling or incapable of introspection. Prejudice can take so many forms, the most obvious being in regards to race, gender or sexual orientation with humans, but there are so many different forms.

felon

I’m prejudice against the home made frosting you make.  I don’t even need to taste it to know my mom’s/grandma’s/great grandma’s cake frosting is the best (I’ve even included it at the bottom of this post so you can agree and change the error of your icing-ways).

I think I can honestly say that I’m not prejudiced against people based upon their ethnicity (having so many different ethnic groups making up my DNA, it would be pretty hard for me to be prejudiced based upon a person’s ethnicity or religion). But I’ll admit that I’m prejudice against certain people in other capacities. I realize that the skewed beliefs I hold against these people are stupid and lacking merit, and I’m working hard to eradicate them, but sometime you’ve been “educated” too thoroughly to stop the knee-jerk reaction and let go of those ignorant beliefs, regardless of how hard you try to rid yourself of dysfunctional thinking.  But I realize I’m not perfect, and that my job is to try to do better every day, and to make sure my children aren’t poisoned by ignorant thinking. So far, so good.

But as this is a blog devoted to dog training, dog life, and just the joy that is the canine world, I completely digress.

So let’s talk about something we all tend to ignore:  prejudice of breeds.  The obvious prejudice would be pitbulls.  We’ve created entire sets of laws devoted to the prejudice of one little block-headed dog.  It perplexes me.  I hear the same tired adages from the same group of ignorant people:  pitbulls are dangerous.

To which I reply, “No shit!”

Of course they are dangers: they’re predators!  Every single dog I’ve ever worked with is potentially dangerous!  If it has teeth and can move faster than I can, it’s dangerous!

 

Yes, even this little doll-faced munchkin can be dangerous.

 

We tend to focus so much on which breeds are dangerous that we lose focus on which dogs are dangerous.  We banter around the term “breed” like it’s a make, model and year of a car.

 

 

But a car is a machine.  A dog is not, and regardless of how carefully a dog is bred, there is still plenty of room for deviation within that breed.  But we are still fed the same bullshit that Golden Retrievers are the perfect family dogs, Chihuahuas are lap sharks, and Rotties require “special training/handlers”.

We all know that’s just a bunch of Benedryl Cramplesnutch

 

(side note: Buttercup Candysnack fans, click here.  You’re welcome.)

I’ve worked with quite a few aggressive “family dogs”, and lost count of the Rotties who should be therapy dogs. By judging a dog based exclusively upon the breed, you are missing the potential of the dog.  Work with the dog, not the breed.  Focus on Fido, not the fact that he’s a rare Blue Ridged Appalachian Banjo Dog.

 

Most times, when booking a session, I don’t even ask what breed of dog you have, because the operative word here is “dog”.  I want to meet Fifi, Ollie, Peaches and Brutus. And they are so much more than just a Chihuahua, Doodle, Spaniel and Shepherd.  They are individuals, not brands of merchandise.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, there are a few breeds of dogs that I am prejudiced against.  Remember, I’m only human, and I’m working every day towards being better.  No, I’m not going to tell you which three breeds of dog I’m prejudiced against because prejudice is stupid. I know I’m being stupid, I accept it, and I refuse to spread stupidity around like a crop duster full of ignorance.

 

And every single time I work with one of the three (rare) breeds that I’m prejudiced against, I’m reminded again how stupid and misguided my apprehensions were about the dog, and each time I have less and less prejudice against those three.  There used to be four breeds I was prejudiced against, but I finally learned better and accepted new information upon which to make my decisions.  Facts win (eventually).

So I have an idea: rather than referring to purebred dogs as “breeds”, let’ refer to them as “families”.  Because there are a bit of similarities between families and we can acknowledge that.  But we always treat the individuals within the family as, well…individuals. It’s fair to say that a Weasley family member will probably have red hair. But you’re willing to accept deviations without a second thought.

 

Nobody is surprised when they meet my daughter, who at 12 is already 5’6″, because I’m 6″ tall, and my mother was 5’8″. Family tradition of tall women.

 

But with family, we allow for deviation from the norm.  My son is actually a little smaller than normal.  And besides, “normal” is just a setting on a washing machine.

That’s not to say that there aren’t certain concerns within a family that may need to be addressed.  Epilepsy seems to travel in my family, as well as asthma.  And we have a high number of ADHD and some autism swimming laps around the family gene pool. But I’m not automatically going to assume that any child born into my family will have ADHD. It’s a case-by-case basis. Similarly, learn about the medical conditions your dog may be prone to, but don’t automatically assume that your Mastiff will have cherry eye, or that your GSD will have bad hips.

A lot of people are commenting about what breed of dog they’d like to get, and with very little deviation, they are picking out dogs based upon their experience with one single dog.

“My best friend ‘adopted’ a Gaggledoodle from a local breeder, and I just love that dog, so I’m going to go to a ‘breeder’ and get a Gaggledoodle, too!”

Problems:

1) Your friend did not ‘adopt’ a dog from a breeder.  Best case is they bought a dog from a backyard breeder.  Worse (and most likely), they are supporting puppy mill industry.

2) You can’t recreate the same exact puppy as your friend’s dog just because they’re the same breed!  They are individuals, not lines of code that can be rewritten to create a carbon copy of an original.

Judging a dog by their breed first, you’re falling into the trap of prejudice.  Judge the dog by who they are.  Let your dog tell you whether or not they like to play fetch. If they are scared of other dogs, or if they actually prefer to be lazy rather than hyper. I’ve come to accept that my training sessions are so much more productive when I’m not battling against preconceived ideas of how a Pug should act, but focusing on Bailey, the individual dog in front of me.

Learn about your dog and you’ll be well on your way to building a healthy partnership with Fido, Fifi, and Peaches.  Communicate and train with the dog you have, not the breed you bought.  Plenty of Labs hate water.  I’ve met some seriously lazy Border Collies.  And most pit bulls are more interested in belly rubs and treats than murdering anyone.

trash panda

Now, as promised, here is the recipe for the best tasting custard frosting you will ever have, courtesy of my grandma.  My mom wrote out a cookbook of family recipes for me when I was 5 years old, starting in 1982, and this was in it.  Thanks, Mom!

image0
1 cup milk
3 heaping Tbsp flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
Whisk together milk & flour in a saucepan over low-medium heat to create custard base. Careful, as it will burn.  Once thickened (almost to the point of runny mashed potatoes), remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Beat together powdered sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add the milk/flour mixture until well incorporated.  Add vanilla.
Skip the cake and eat this shit straight from the bowl while binge watching The Witcher.  Toss a coin. No regrets.


Keep calm and pilot on

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

 

How to End Puppy Mills & Brokers – Starting with Tom Collins

Heartbreaker, soul-shaker I’ve been told about you
- Nazarath

puppies

I feel as if I can legitimately call myself an animal advocate.   I’m not vegan – I have dog hair in every meal. #ShepherdLife

 

But still, I will help an animal in need, and speak for those who have no voice.  Right now the focus for me is puppy mills, and their slimy colleagues, puppy mill brokers and puppy mill flippers.

Puppy Mill Flipper (n): A person who knowingly goes into a puppy mill to purchase a  puppy with the intent of flipping the puppy for profit.  See also Tom Collins and Pick of the Litter.

So recently I (kinda) met The Man.  Tom Collins.  He showed up to the council meeting on October 1 to defend his actions. To bring you up to date, there have been many grievances filed against Tom Collins and Pick of the Litter, which were eventually brought to my attention.  I wrote an open letter to him, asking to hear Tom’s side of the tale (tail?) but I never heard back. So after doing some research, I held the first protest against his establishment on January 2017 (to all 35 of you who stayed 2 hours outside protesting in 11 degree weather: thank you,and I’m so sorry!)

I froze my tauntauns off!!

I froze my tauntauns off!!

We’ve had subsequent protests where we have fried in the heat, frozen again, and then finally had nice weather, but let me ask this:  who goes to these events, in this kind of weather, missing Game of Thrones, to protest a pet store?

Dedicated animal lovers do.  It’s not fun for us.  It kinda sucks.  But we develop a solidarity. We know why we are here: for the animals.  So we suck it up.  Just as we did tonight (though I wizened up and moved the meeting to City Council…indoors!).

#Solidarity.  No, literally, we were frozen solid. #YetWePersisted

#Solidarity. No, literally, we were frozen solid. #YetWePersisted

So we took it to Strongsville City Council.  First, I would like to thank Council.  It seemed to me that they took our grievances quite seriously.  Strongsville Law Director, Neal M. Jamison addressed our concerns and made note that due to legislation HB60 (“Goddard’s Law”) passing back in 2016, City Council’s hands were tied with regard to regulating puppy mills and brokers, as governance had remanded to the state level.  He also made note that Tom Collins & Pick of the Litter had been visited by Animal Welfare over 20 times in the last year, yet has found no violations.  Well, things have changed since a year and a half ago.

HB 506 passed this year, governing the regulations for how the dogs are to be treated.

Cage Space:
- Ceiling must be at least 6 inches higher than the dog’s head
-Floor space should be length of dog, tip-to-tail,  plus 9 inches, squared, x 2.  We had Sheldon do the math for you.

 

For dog below, that would be roughly 15.12 sq. feet of floor space.  Doesn’t look like he’s getting it.

pitbull pol

 

Exercise:
Daily exercise of at least 30 minutes, given opportunity for mental stimulation and socialization, and run at full stride during daylight hours.

I spoke with a former employee (Tom calls them “volunteers”) of Pick of the Litter, who, under condition of anonymity, stated:

“Tom didn’t like the dogs to run around.  They were kept mostly in the cages at all times. He didn’t allow volunteers to take the dogs out to play.”

Finally, and most importantly under Ohio’s new animal welfare law, H.B.506:

-Prior to purchasing a dog, broker [Pick of the Litter/Tom Collins] MUST request breeder sign document stating compliance with standards of care established.  If breeder doesn’t supply documentation, broker shall not purchase dog. Documentation available for inspection during store hours. Effective immediately.

There was absolutely no documentation available.  No standards of care, no inspection availability, regardless of which employee was asked.

So let’s delve deeper.

Rescue vs. Pet Store

Tom Collins keeps stating that he “rescues” dogs. Let’s see what HB506 has to say about that (emphasis added):

“Animal rescue for dogs” means an individual or organization recognized by the director of agriculture that keeps, houses, and maintains dogs and that is dedicated to the welfare, health, safety, and protection of dogs, provided that the individual or organization does not operate for profit, does not sell dogs for a profit, does not breed dogs, does not sell dogs to a dog broker or pet store, and does not purchase more than nine dogs in any given calendar year unless the dogs are purchased from a dog warden appointed under Chapter 955. of the Revised Code, a humane society, or another animal rescue for dogs. “Animal rescue for dogs” includes an individual or organization that offers spayed or neutered dogs for adoption and charges reasonable adoption fees to cover the costs of the individual or organization, including, but not limited to, costs related to spaying or neutering dogs.

Sorry, Tom. You're a pet store/broker

Sorry, Tom. You’re a pet store/broker

Average cost of a puppy is $1,000 at Pick of the Litter. Sorry, Tom.  Pick of the Litter is a pet store, not a rescue.

“Pet store” means an individual retail store to which both of the following apply: the store sells dogs to the public; and with regard to the sale of a dog from the store, the sales person, the buyer of a dog, and the dog for sale are physically present during the sales transaction so that the buyer may personally observe the dog and help ensure its health prior to taking custody.

Falsified medical records given by Pick of the Litter, as presented and taken into record during the Strongsville Council Meeting on October 1, 2018, show that the animals’ health conditions are not being observed and recorded, as required as a pet store.

Dog Brokers

Tom Collins claims he is not a dog broker:

“Dog broker” means a person who buys, sells, or offers to sell dogs at wholesale for resale to another or who sells or gives one or more dogs to a pet store annually.

If Tom is buying the dogs through various puppy mills (it’s okay, though, folks; he shops only at local puppy mills), that means Tom is the broker who is then selling as an entity, Pick of the Litter. Tom is the broker.  Pick of the Litter is the pet store. So how does HB506 apply to brokers?

Sec. 956.03. (A)(9)(a) States that:

A requirement that an in-state retailer of a puppy or adult dog provide to the purchaser the complete name, address, and telephone number of all high volume breeders, dog retailers brokers, and private owners that kept, housed, or maintained the puppy or adult dog prior to its coming into the possession of the retailer or proof that the puppy or adult dog was acquired through an animal rescue for dogs, animal shelter for dogs, or humane society, or a valid health certificate from the state of origin pertaining to the puppy or adult dog;

 

I’m sorry, Tom.  You have yet to identify from whom you’ve purchased your dogs (aside from identifying them simply as “in-state breeders”). You mean like these? Nine of the worst puppy mills in the country are located less than a 45 minute drive away from Tom’s house.

ohio-webPhoto Credit: Bailing out Benji

Section Sec. 956.041.

(B) A dog broker or the owner or operator of a pet store that seeks to purchase a dog from an in-state high volume breeder or out-of-state dog breeder, prior to completing the transaction, shall request the breeder to sign a document prescribed and provided by the director of agriculture. The document shall state that the in-state high volume breeder or out-of-state dog breeder is in compliance with the standards of care established in rules adopted under section 956.03 and in section 956.031 of the Revised Code. The broker or owner or operator shall keep and maintain the signed document. If the in- state high volume breeder or out-of-state dog breeder does not provide the signed document, the broker or owner or operator shall not purchase the dog. The broker or owner or operator shall allow the director to inspect the signed document during normal business hours. With respect to a pet store, the requirements established under this section are in addition to the requirements established under section 956.20 of the Revised Code. (C) No dog broker or owner or operator of a pet store shall knowingly sell a dog unless the broker or owner or operator has obtained a signed document with respect to the dog as required under division (B) of this section. The director shall not assess a civil penalty under section 956.13 of the Revised Code against a dog broker or the owner or operator of a pet store for a violation of this division if the broker or owner or operator has obtained such a document with regard to the dog.

Which is legal-speak for, “Where did you get your dogs from again, Tom?”  For a complete break down of how the new law affects dog brokers, pet stores and “puppy mill flippers”, like Tom Collins, please check out this link.

So how do we solve this little problem?  A few ways.

1) Contact the Department of Agriculture. Like, now. Let them know that Pick of the Litter is non-compliant with regard to the information above.  Demand inspection. Send letters, emails, carrier pigeons or even owls!

Whatever it takes:

Office of Chief Legal Counsel
8995 E. Main Street
Reynoldsburg,Ohio 43068
Phone: (614) 728-6430
Fax: (614) 995-4585

2) Contact Strongsville City Council, as well as the Mayor’s office.  Find out why they are allowing pet stores in their city, whom they know are breaking the law.

The City of Strongsville
Attn: City Council
16099 Foltz Parkway
Strongsville, Ohio 44149
440 580 3100
Email(s)
michael.daymut@strongsville.org,
ann.roff@strongsville.org,
kelly.kosek@strongsville.org,
gordon.short@strongsville.org,
jim.carbone@strongsville.org,
matt.schonhut@strongsville.org
city@strongsville.org

3) Contact Southpark Mall, and demand to know why they allow puppy mill brokers and pet stores selling puppy mill dogs to do business within their mall. Let them know publicly, via reviews, that we will not do business at establishments that allow for animal abuse.

Southpark Mall
c/o Starwood Retail Managers
500 SouthPark Center
Strongsville, OH 44136
(440) 238-9199

4) Join us at our next protest.  You can find out when we are protesting next on the Darwin Dogs Facebook page.

So in short, protests bring a lot of attention to situations like Tom Collins and Pick of the Litter, but at the end of the day, not all of us are willing/able/crazy enough to protest outside in all kinds of weather.  The way to shut these establishments down can be as simple as one phone call.  One email.  One review.  Let them know this won’t be tolerated anymore, and that we demand better. And we will fight for it.

-  For more information on puppies and puppy mills, read this.

- For information about AKC and breeding practices, read this.

- For information on why puppies suck anyway and you should adopt an older dog instead, read this.

keep

 

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland Ohio