Havanese Righteous Babies Teaching Lessons

So, I’ve got a new righteous baby to show off.

This is “Cover Girl.”  She is a Havanese puppy from a local responsible and ethical breeder.  CG will be helping me spread some information I hope will dispel the myth that breeders are directly responsible for rescue and shelters being overwhelmed with animals.

Years ago, when I began telling some family members and friends that I was researching Havanese breeders and saving a pretty big sum of money to invest in a healthy and balanced puppy, I received, to put it bluntly, a load of crap.

Mostly, I was being told by my well intended friends and family, that if I was truly a dog lover and responsible pet owner I wouldn’t give my money to any breeder.  I would do the right thing and I would rescue a dog from a shelter.  Meanwhile, they told me inaccurately that the main reason for so many homeless dogs is because of over population caused by breeders and puppies.

These are myths, that I hope to extinguish.

While, I do believe absolutely that there are many wonderful dogs in rescue, I had some specific traits and needs.  Knowing that this dog would be a huge and lasting commitment, I wanted it to be the best fit for our family it could be.

First, we suspected for some time, but didn’t want to acknowledge, the source of our son Sage’s snotty nose and runny eyes.  We had a feeling that he was allergic to our dogs. After, the passing of both our beloved border collie and dane, his allergies suddenly vanished.  That absence of nose blowing, was a pretty good indicator. Thus, not wanting to live without a dog in our family’s household, we needed to find one that did not instantly make the kid have a nasal passage-way shutdown.  Knowing there would be drawbacks to a dog who had hair vs. fur, I was still certain that as long as I could groom our dog indoors,  I would enjoy that work. (That was before I discovered the dreaded “cling-on.”)

Meanwhile, we wanted a dog under twenty pounds.  After watching our Great Dane’s large body literally fall apart, and witnessing episodes of him fall down whilst walking across the room,  I found myself helplessly watching him suffer.  I vowed I would never go through that again.  Weighing over 180 pounds there was no way I could help him when his body failed.  This time, I  wanted a dog I could carry.

Also, the dog needed to be good with small children and immune to the noise and constant activity of our household.  We didn’t want a dog that frequently barked, and Adam wanted a dog that was smart and fun to train.

When we told our family the breed we had decided on, most of them said, “a Hav a what? Is that some sort of hybrid/designer dog? ”

Absolutely not, I assured them.  I told them, they were originally raised in Cuba.  Get it? Havana?  Hava nese?

I began searching for local breeder clubs and rescue organizations.  At that time, there were no Havanese in rescue and thankfully none in Pet stores selling puppies. Unfortunately, as more people have been exposed to this awesome breed its easy to find them now in both places.

I found some great breeders who worked together, and this suggested to me that none of them ever had too many dogs to provide sufficiently for.  Nor did they have multiple breeds of dogs that they were trying to refine and make better.

What’s the saying,  “Jack of all trades, master of none?”

This network of breeders often established partnerships and co-ownerships with each other. They learned from one another and worked together on the betterment of their chosen breed.  With fewer dogs at each home they can do great things with breeding and showing, without sacrificing an individual dog’s needs.  The dogs bred are show champions, but, they are beloved pets first.

I believe that working together utilizes some checks and balances and from what I can see they do not assume that since the dogs come from Champions all of the pups born should go on to be breeding dogs. They place the pups who aren’t absolutely perfect or better than their parents, in good pet homes.   Meanwhile, they watch closely as a dog develops and after gaining several titles in conformation events, the breeders health test the dogs they plan to use, and then register the results of these tests.

Don’t ever take anyone’s “word” for it when it comes to health testing.  I made the mistake with my dane to fall for the breeders claim that all of her dogs were healthy and from “champion lines.”  This time around, having learned my lesson, it was easy for me to do a quick search using the names of the breeding dogs on the Canine Health Information Center’s website.  In fact, you don’t even need a dog’s full name to see if there are any results registered from a particular breeder.

The group of breeders I discovered here in MN, and many others around the country are active about educating prospective puppy owners.  These particular women-Carol Krueger of Jefe Havanese, Mary Ellen Vickery of Deja’s Havanese, and Charlene Renslow of Picosa Havanese hosted an Open House where I  and other interested people, were exposed to a variety of Havanese dogs.  Some were show dogs, some were not, some were puppies, some were five year old dogs, all were pets who were loved.  There was no pressure at this meeting to give any money. The breeders answered my questions, let me take pictures, and asked me about my lifestyle.

Ethical breeders are dog fanciers first, they are passionate about their dogs!  Which, honestly makes them slightly and wonderfully a bit odd…:) So passionate, in fact, that if/when you get a dog from them you have to promise that if there is any chance you will ever need to relinquish your dog that you will contact them first.  They do not work from a first come, first serve basis.  They take deposits from the clients, but only place dogs into homes for which they consider to be good/healthy matches.  These puppies are not born in a barn or a big factory type kennel setting.  They are handled daily, evaluated, and exposed to a variety of stimuli from the first moments they are born.

Breeding a dog is not for the weak, or for anyone trying to make an easy buck.  It is hard to see your beautiful champion bitch a tired mother with her hair falling out.  Puppies die, bitches die.  You must be ready to bring your dog into the vet clinic for an emergency c-section in the middle of the night.  Frankly, it is a ton of work and one you might even lose money on.

Even after the puppy goes home, these types of breeders encourage, and have formed lasting supportive relationships with the families that have purchased their dogs.  They become your friends and “go to” people when you have questions or brags.

Also, contrary to popular belief, many of these show dog enthusiasts support and encourage those interested in a puppy to consider a less glamorous and truly needy rescue dog.   In fact, Posh’s breeder is now finding that her true calling is in fostering needy pups from Havanese Rescue Inc.  Char gives these dogs new sound beginnings on their ways to joyful lives with a family to call their own.

So you see, the myth that all breeders are contributing to the problem of rescue organizations and shelters is just that, a myth.

However, are there some breeders who are feeding this fire of a problem?  You bet.

There are the well intentioned folks that get two unaltered dogs together because it would be “fun” to have puppies.  They don’t know a thing about breeding a dog, or what to look for in terms of quality physical traits or soundness and usually won’t be able to ask for much money when they sell their dogs.  Often times they will give these dogs to almost anyone who will take them and so they place these dogs in a home where there is not a lot of investing in the dog going on…i.e. they won’t be taken to the vet regularly, potty trained, or taken to dog obedience class.  These things just listed, are the direct causes of so many dogs in shelters.

Meanwhile, there are ugly greedy people who see dogs as livestock to be roughly manhandled, as a consumer good, not a living and breathing creature.  This product is to be sold as quickly and as easily as possible to other breeders at auctions and to pet stores, including “fancy” or “quality” pet stores.  Ethical breeders never sell their animals to stores.

Then there are the other folks who sell their Hava-poos in my area who don’t give a damn about quality, health, or disposition.  They don’t care if you plan on crating your dog 12 hours per day.  A sale is a sale.  You can find lots of sad puppies like these locally at the Crossroads Mall or at Amaze N Farmyard.  It would be Amaze N to me, if that place was shut down because people refused to support greed at the expense of an animal.

So, I can only hope that the CG cards give folks a new way to think about the role of breeders and pets in rescue.  Many will still see it as a black and white issue, and vow only to rescue an animal from a shelter.  However, I have a tendency to see my world in shades of gray.

DISCLAIMER:  GET TO KNOW YOUR BREEDER.  The inclusion of a breeder in any blog entry, product, etc., does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the MyAnimalActivist or Amy Sparks. It is the responsibility of potential buyers to ask questions and decide for themselves if they wish to do business with any particular breeder.

  1. Great post – ADORABLE puppy! We recently got a Havachon – half Havanese, half Bichon. She’s now 4 months old and quite the bundle of fun! It’s so true and so sad about these puppy mills, and I was surprised when our vet told us that all puppies from shops, including the pricey ones, are from puppy mills. Sad. But they’re already in this world and need love too…somewhat of a dilemma. I’m an animal rights advocate also, glad to have found your blog!

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