Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bogie's Journey

A perfect gentleman!
This is Bogie.  Bogie spent the first five months of his life in a cage.  He was born in Sharon, Oklahoma on January 21, 2005.  Bogie was one of three Cavalier King Charles puppies born, in a cage, to litter #n5008.  When he was a mere eight weeks old, he made a 430 mile journey, in a cage, to a pet store in Pueblo, Colorado via puppy broker. There he sat, in a cage, waiting for someone to love him.  On March 31, 2005 he was sold for $899.00 to a couple that just had twin daughters.  They thought it would be really cute to have a puppy to round out their new family.  A few months later, they realized that a puppy was a really bad idea in an already too busy household.  They put an ad in the local paper, and that’s where I entered the picture. 

Tallie & Bogie as pups
Tallie & Bogie were inseparable
I was raising Tallie and she was the same breed.  Tallie was well on her way to becoming a perfect lady after some bumpy escapades as a puppy.  I happened to see the ad and called them to offer encouragement to get them through the puppy stages.  Instead, I ended up making them a greatly reduced offer for this little guy, along with the promise that he would have an excellent, loving home.  They quickly agreed and seemed relieved to get rid of him.  It was an expensive lesson for them.  Bogie spent most of his time crammed into a kennel that was much too small as they tended to the needs of their infant daughters.  As a result, his little legs were bowed and he had no clue how to receive or give affection to a human.  That quickly changed…

I tracked down the breeder, who mostly bred goats, but had a few dozen dogs on the side.  He knew nothing of the heart problems that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were prone to and had never had his breeding dogs tested.  I asked for information about Bogie’s parents and their health, since I had an appointment to have him neutered and worried about the anesthesia.  All the breeder was able to tell me was, “The mama is mostly tri (colored) and the daddy is kinda tri (colored).”  His parting advice to me was not to have Bogie neutered.  “If you wanted you a girl dog, you shoulda got you a girl dog.  Boys need their testicles.  That’s what makes them male.”  The kennel is no longer in business.

Bogie was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Disease, which is very common in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.  He sees a cardiologist regularly to monitor the progression of his heart disease and is on daily medication.  His care is not cheap, but I am committed to giving him the best quality of life possible, for as long as I am blessed to have this furry angel in my life.

Bogie & Jolee
The message here is two-fold.  First, know who you are buying a dog from and how the parents of the puppies are treated.  Responsible breeders have a goal of bettering their lines, so they will always do proper testing on their dogs.  Breeders who simply have dollar signs in mind don’t give much thought to the puppies beyond getting them sold.  They aren’t concerned about genetic issues that may arise from their breeding program.  It is all about the money.  They certainly don’t care about the health of the adult dogs, just as long as they continue making puppies for profit.  Once they stop “performing”, they are given to rescue groups … or worse.

Screencap from "I Breathe"
Second, be a responsible pet owner!!!  Not every household needs to have a dog!  Puppies poop, puppies pee, and puppies chew things up.  They are a lot of work.  Puppies grow up and become dogs that need your love and attention.  Ask yourself if you are committed for the lifetime of that pet.  Are you going to give affection, proper daily care, and spend money on your dog when it gets sick?  What happens when the kids move away?  God forbid that your dog should make a mess on your new carpet!  Too many puppies are purchased on a whim and end up in shelters when the owner gets tired of them.  Too many dogs die each day because of adults who took a puppy home, and then grow weary of it, much like a child gets bored with a once-favorite toy.  If you are uncertain about your level of commitment, foster a rescued dog.  Or volunteer at your local animal shelter.  Think about pet sitting for a friend or neighbor.  Those are avenues that will lead you to the right decision about whether you will be a good pet owner.

Ignorance and impulse are poor excuses for bad choices.  We are better than that!  Six to eight million animals enter shelters each year in the United States.  Three to four million are euthanized.  Those are shameful numbers.  We live in a great country and have a responsibility to set a good example.  Do your part.  

Jene Nelson is a veteran journalist and the producer/director of I Breathe, an eye-opening documentary about the secretive commercial dog breeding industry.