Saturday, April 6, 2013

Why Buy From A Breeder?

Elissa Kaminer O'Sullivan said it perfectly in a recent Facebook posting . . .

  • So, I slept on it... and I still feel the same way... so here it goes...

    I have been helping a friend find a puppy. She wants a specific breed, for a specific purpose, with a specific temperament. I have found her several responsible breeders who I think would have puppies that would fit all of her criteria. Then she says to me, "I just want you to know that I am not spending $1,000 on a dog. Not when so many need homes." And you know, if that was the end of what she said, and she wanted help finding a rescue dog, I would have been all about helping her. But she is still not opposed to buying a puppy... just not one for $1000. So, at first, it didn't really register what she said, but as I thought about it, I became more and more offended. Because basically what she said to me was that as a responsible breeder, my dogs are not worth any more than Joe-shmoe's down the block... that all the time, effort, and money that I have put into health testing, temperament testing, training, proving, and selecting my dogs for breeding has no value. I have to say, this really got under my skin. Maybe it's because I have driven my girls as far as CA to breed to the most perfect stud dog that I could find... or that I just spent over $2000 on progesterone tests, and I still don't have a litter to show for it... or maybe it's because I have proven my dog's over and over again, and it just plain pissed me off that someone doesn't see the value in that.

    So, what do you get for a $1000 puppy? Proven temperament and trainability... mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, and great grand parents for many generations are trained and temperament tested- and they have been to a million dog shows, earning titles to prove it all. Proven health... mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, and great grand parents for many generations have had their hips, elbows, knees, eyes, heart, & thyroid tested, they are clear of all genetic disease that I can possibly know of. They are to breed standard... which may not mean a lot to you, but it should. It's what keeps a Rottweiler from looking like a Black and Tan Coonhound, or a Bernese Mountain dog. It's what maintains structure and soundness, and what makes a breed a breed. You also get me. You get a knowledgeable breeder and expert in your breed. You can call me day or night, and even on holidays. I am there for you through all your joys and frustrations, sickness and health. I will do anything I need to do to make sure that owning one of my puppies is the most wonderful experience of your life. You have the peace of mind knowing that no matter what ever happens to you, your dog, your best friend, has a safe place to live out the rest of his life.

    So what about that $400 puppy out of the paper? You get a puppy with unknown temperament, health, and type. You get nothing else. You can potentially get a dog genetically predisposed to fears and aggression, a dog with debilitating health issues, a dog who will never be able to fulfill the goals that you have set out for him. And if you ever needed to return that dog (life can sometimes throw you a curve ball), that person will not take your 5 or 8 or 10 year old dog back... you will be stuck putting your dog up for adoption, or euthanizing him.

    So, who's making money? I have never actually figured it out, but I would guess that I lose about $1,000/puppy. I don't breed dogs to make money. I breed dogs because I love my breed and I believe that there are wonderful people out there who should have the opportunity to own wonderful dogs. The person selling the $400 puppy is making a profit of about $350/puppy. That person breeds purely for profit. Oh, I am sure they love their dogs, and their breed, but not enough to be any benefit to anyone other than themselves.

    I guess people don't really understand value. It is not about the price you pay, but what you are getting for that price. And in the end, if what you are getting for $1000 is not worth anything to you, then by all means, the $400 puppy is a much better value.

    I have not told anyone who I am talking about. She is my friend, and I would like to keep it that way, so please do not guess or spread rumors. And please feel free to share if you agree.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Wishing Away Puppyhood

Last night was Max's "graduation" from Puppy Kindergarten.  He did well, and I was pleased with how much he had learned.  Because our tester is a certified AKC Star Puppy instructor, Max now qualifies for his Star Puppy certificate and medal - once I fill out the signed application we received, and send it to AKC along with $10.00.  It's a good program, and a lot of fun to do.  I enjoyed watching Max's classmates too, a diverse group that included a Golden, a Lab, an Akita, a Frenchie, a Beagle mix, a Schnauzer, and a variety of others.  It was a good class, with happy well-adjusted puppies and committed owners.

It's such fun watching a puppy learn about the world.  Everything is interesting to pups, and they respond with such enthusiasm to life.  I've always enjoyed raising pups and attending puppy classes, and always assume that everyone else does too.  That's not true, of course, as I was reminded last night.  Puppies ARE a lot of work!  While chatting with the nice couple who own the enthusiastic Lab puppy, I mentioned how much fun class had been and how much I enjoyed watching the puppies learn.  Their response was that although they loved their puppy, they could not wait for him to be about three years old, finished with his puppy antics, and all settled down.  Their pup is very like Max, happy, friendly, enthusiastic about everything, and an eager learner who did very well in class.  Seems a shame to wish that away, rather than enjoying it!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Step One Completed

Step One completed, the whole house electrical check up.   The CurrentSAFE electrician worked from 7:00 AM until 4:00 PM, going over every bit of wiring in my house.  Lots of issues uncovered, but the good thing was that nothing was unusual or unexpected, and the current itself was fine, with no hotspots.  Biggest issue will be to replace the main panel and add a few more circuits, putting things like the microwave, window air conditioners, and fish room heater on circuits of their own.   Numerous outlets to be added, as the original part of the house had only one or two outlets per room, rather than at least one per wall.  Some old outlets need to be replaced with grounded outlets, and some existing outlets need to be GFCI outlets (primarily the ones in the kitchen).  This will be expensive, but it needs to be done.  One good bit of news was that the blown in insulation in the attic over the old portion of the house is in good condition - I did that myself, a huge project, and I was afraid the insulation might have settled.  No way would I attempt that job again!

Dogs had a rather boring day as they spent most of it in their crates as they would have had a wonderful time "helping" the electrician.  We made it up to them with long walks in the evening.  Sue took Josie running and I walked Watson for the first time in several years - Ron normally walks Watty.  I was delighted to see how sound and spry Watson was after the tough winter he had.  Really moves well for a dog who will be thirteen years old in 6 weeks.

Next step will be a visit from the original electrician who will go over all the findings with us (again), and price the various items out for us.  THEN we will decide which ones I can afford.  I can't actually afford any of them, but because I am going to refinance my house, I'll roll these costs in.  I know we will do the new panel, and dedicated circuits, and probably all the new outlets.  Might as well get all the damaged outlets replaced too.  Oh heck, might as well do the whole thing.  It's only money.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It's Only Money

Electrician working away, checking out the electrical circuits in this old house.  Dogs are crated to keep them for "helping".  It's gonna be a long day for the spoiled doggies.  All the lights are on, the dishwasher and washing machine are running, the microwave will be too when he gets to that circuit.  There will be some kind of spike in my electrical usage for today!  I have trouble walking through the house without turning off lights - have been trying to reduce my electric bill, and have actually brought it down every month this year (compared to the previous month and year).  The gas, not so much with the nasty weather and Endless Winter.

This is part of my "retirement planning", to get some major projects taken care of now, so I can concentrate on the smaller projects once I retire.  Need to be able to sell this house someday so I'd better get moving.  Lots of "deferred maintenance" to deal with.  What I really need is MONEY.  Oh well, I've survived this many years without much of it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Step One

Big expenses in my future as I took the first step towards getting my old house rewired.  A visit from the Electrician who did a quick walk-through of my house, and explained the CurrentSAFE program to me.  I signed up for the evaluation, and am scheduled for Wednesday - all day Wednesday.  They will be checking all wiring, outlets, junctions, fixtures, circuit breakers, and things I've never heard of, using a variety of equipment that does not require them to open up or cut into anything (increasing the danger of fire).  All risk spots will be identified and prioritized, we will meet again with the electrician to discuss the findings, and I can  then decide how much I want to replace, change or fix.  No matter what, this is going to be expensive!

It's actually a step toward retirement though, as SOMEDAY I will want to sell this house. but before I do that I need to put some money into it so it will be marketable.  And safe.  Because I am refinancing this spring, it's a good time to take on this project too and roll it into my new mortgage.  I'll never get the house paid off, so I might as well accept that and do some major work on it now.  Besides, I have to live SOMEWHERE.

Gotta start buying lottery tickets or something.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday Musing

Wish we had a Holiday called Easter Monday as I am so not ready to go back to work today.  A extra day off would be really nice about now, but no three-day weekends until Memorial Day.

Things will be getting tense at work as our busiest time is approaching and we are losing one of our best workers who just took a job with another State Agency.  Really bad timing for us as it takes forever to hire, and we're not likely to get a new person with skills that will help us anytime soon.  How I wish we had "loyal" employees, but we don't have "loyal" employers, and it works both ways.  Have to decide if I want to work overtime - not the ideal time of year to do it though.  Just glad I don't have puppies planned and am not campaigning a dog.  The person who is leaving is my backup, so when I'm off to the National for a week there will be NO ONE with either the time or the training to do my job.  Should be interesting.

A very nice Easter celebrated with family, following a spectacular Saturday that finally felt like Spring.  Back to cold and windy for a few more days, then some more Spring.  The overnight freeze meant that the pups could do no digging this morning, so the cold was not all bad!

Max will be missing his last night of the PetCo Puppy Class, no big loss.  The class was useful for a bit of extra practice and I don't regret spending the money.  I wish a couple of my classmates would sign up for a "regular" obedience class through a training school, but I suppose if they do any additional training it will be another foo foo class at PetCo.  None of my business, and at least they will get "some" training.  The test on Thursday night will be more fun, and hopefully will qualify Max as an AKC Star Puppy.

Instead of puppy class this evening we will have a visit from an electrician.  We're doing the CurrentSafe program that will detect any hotspots in my wiring - things that could cause fires.  Am SURE I have those as my house is 100 years old and has lots of original knob & tube wiring.  I'll get an estimate to on having my wiring brought up to code, something I will have to do before I sell the house anyway.  Have a feeling that it will be quite expensive, but it's gotta be done.  The joys of owning an old house . . .