Monday, January 21, 2013

Making the Cut

Within reason I understand why competitive people in both the dog world and the horse world sell animals and strive to purchase the best prospect for whatever sport they are competing in. To be competitive you need an animal that can go the distance and has the talent and drive for whatever sport you are pursuing.

However, animals are not pieces of equipment. They can't just be cast aside only to be used for later. They are living and breathing and require care.

As I've gotten deeper into the dog world I am realizing that people who want to be competitive, go through many dogs trying to find "the one". I know getting a talented dog can be difficult, but I also feel if you are patient and have the money, the right dog can be purchased. Too many times I feel like people want a certain look or a certain pedigree when the reality is you should be looking at a dog who has the ability and drive to do the job you want them to do. I know genetics can be a predictor of what your dog could be, but all too often you see dogs who do not live up to their dam/sire's ability.

When I've had people tell me they want a certain dog breed, or ask what the best dog breed would be for them, I often think - it's not about the breed. You should be looking for a dog that fits your lifestyle in personality and temperament, looks and breed should be secondary.  If you want to shoot for a certain breed that's fine, but you need to find the DOG that is going to be perfect for you. At the end of the day they are all DOGS and you need to find one that is the right fit.

I am of the mentality that you take care of your pets for life. You keep them until they die. Granted, I did not get Seppel with the intent of pursuing a particular sport. Now that we are working towards the sport of Schutzhund even if he's not the best at it, even if we try for a title and fall short - he's a good dog to start with. We've been able to get our feet wet, I can handle what he brings to the table so maybe someday I could handle a dog that is "more dog". The reality of my situation is I don't have endless amounts of money. We'll train and trial as I can afford to. That being said if I had wanted to purchase a dog for this sport, I would still be okay with a dog who was just "okay" at the sport. There's still so much I have to learn it only makes sense that I should find a dog I could learn with that wouldn't be too much for me to handle. A dog who can compete and get me there, but maybe needs more work and time.

I just don't think I will ever fully understand how someone can just get rid of a dog because it isn't meeting their expectations. I guess I ultimately wonder, why did you purchase this dog in the first place? You had high hopes and thought this dog was going somewhere, and now you've decided it isn't working out? Rehoming animals is so hard. It's hard to find dedicated owners who will be committed to the dog, for its lifetime.

I'm really not trying to condemn people who can easily get rid of a dog to "get a better one". Coming from the horse world, I have had friends, and I know people, who flip horses like it is going out of style. I guess I've always felt a little differently about horses because they are so expensive to care for - surely you can't be feeding or training an animal that won't take you where you want to go. In many cases with horses people buy them, train them, and sell them, without a second thought. Horses and dogs are a little different. The cost to keep them is very different, with a horse in most cases you have to pay to keep it somewhere, where a dog is only taking up space and food in your home.

I guess I will have to agree to disagree. I will never be someone who can move a dog because they fall short of my expectations. Maybe my opinion will change if I ever am able to be that super competitive person... but as it stands right now I don't envision my dogs ever being sent down the road because they aren't good enough. I certainly hope I don't become a person who views them as property over companions.


  1. At some point it becomes more about the human than the dog. Are they doing the dog sport because the dog loves it or they do? I guess that's my take on it. At the end of the day if your motivations are to find the perfect companion for the sport you love, and the dog is falling short, it is your right to rehome it although it is not a reason in which I would rehome my own dog. I can't empathize much with that line of thought because to me, dog sport is about the dog and how much THEY want to do it. If my dog didn't enjoy a sport, we'd change it and that's that. It's all about what they want to do.

    On a positive note, whoever adopts a dog that didn't make the cut gets a dog that's been well trained.

    I also think that over time people who do this type of sport hardcore view their dogs a little differently than the average owner. Less as pets and more as workers who earn their keep. Not saying that they don't love them or want what's best for them, of course.

    1. I totally agree with what you are saying.

      The thing is - if you have a lot of money, and you really can be competitive in the sport, you can afford to buy a GOOD dog. I realize it can be hard to tell a puppy's future potential, you won't know just how good they are, but if you buy from a reputable breeder who picks the dog out for you because it shows promise to be a good sport dog IMO you really shouldn't have to rehome the dog because the dog should turn out as expected.

      I understand many people view their dogs as property or a tool - much like horses I realize if a dog cannot perform why would you keep it? However, I also know a lot of people who do sports with their dogs, have raised them from pups, and they workout for the job just fine. I really think it comes down to purchasing the right dog.

      Back to what you're saying about it being does the dog love to do the sport? Again - as someone looking to buy a dog, you should be buying a dog who has the drive to do what you want to do. If you want to do agility, you're probably not going to buy a Basset Hound. But you might buy a border collie or a pit bull, something fast with a lot of energy or a dog that comes from lines of agility dogs. Yes, I'm sure there's a border collie out there who didn't cut it for agility, but many excel at it.

      Thanks for sharing your opinion. It's very much like your situation and the things you want to do. You purchased the best dog to pursue your goals/dreams with. You didn't settle for a lesser dog in hopes of making something out of nothing. I realize only time will tell how Yoshi will pan out but ultimately you have given yourself the best fighting chance by purchasing the dog that you did.