Monday, August 1, 2011

Puggles, Labradoodles, Breeders and Death

The names sound like cartoon characters, or words a group of 5 year olds would make up while playing make-believe:  Chiweenie, Puggle, Labradoodle, Goldendoodle, Schnoodle, Pomapoo. 

There's something disturbing about these childlike names. 

The breeders who created designer dogs were cold, calculating, cynical, their only intent to cash in on their creations.  And they were very sharp and skilled marketers.

Understanding the power of labels, they chose names that not only conveniently reflected the two breeds from which the designer dog sprang,  but more importantly that made the cute pet shop puppies sound even cuter and more appealing:  Schnoodle -- it sounds like a sweet breakfast roll, a reward you give yourself on weekends; Pomapoo -- a wind up toy to play with; Labradoodle, Godendoodle -- doodles, little scribbles you don't take seriously, but that are so much fun. 

And that's the message:  these dogs are fun, fun, and more fun.  They weren't bred to do jobs, like German Shepherds or Black Labs, Great Pyranees or Border Collies.  They're even less serious than lap dogs, such as Pomeranians and Pugs.  Designer dogs are the quintessential play thing, with names more akin to toy stuffed animals than to real dogs.

But they are real dogs.  They bark, shed, tear things up in their teething and teenage years, create messes and need to be house trained, fed, watered and walked.  Only their names are toy-like.

Of course these pet shop pups, like their purebred counterparts,  come from puppy mills.  Anyone who buys one, whether because they've been swept into the Schnoodle fad or they couldn't resist the adorable puppy with the cute name when they idly wandered into the mall pet shop, supports puppy mills.  And puppy mills are a living death for the mill breeder dogs.

And now designer dogs show up not only in pet shops, but as older pups or adults in rescues and kill shelters as well. They're listed for free on Craig's list and even simply abandoned when no longer wanted.

Perhaps they get adopted in the kill shelter; perhaps a rescue pulls them.  This is terrific.  It is not their fault they ended up homeless, facing shelter death.  They did not deserve this fate in the least.  It is not their fault that they were created when there was already an over abundance of dogs in the world.

But because breeders created these dogs and because, predictably, some end up in shelters and are adopted or rescued,  another dog -- a mixed breed dog who is perhaps rather plain and who lacks a cute, cuddly "breed" name for people to latch onto -- dies.

 Dog breeders: the problem is they create more death than life.

Puggle for Adoption at the Kenton County Shelter, KY