DOG FANCY Readers Bark Back

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Here’s what DOG FANCY readers had to say about our January 2007 issue. We welcome our readers’ letters. Send correspondence to barkback@dogfancy.com. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may appear in DOG FANCY magazine and on DogChannel.


Mals do love food
Thanks for the great article on the Alaskan Malamute (“Northern Power,” January 2007). It's true that our Mal Yukon would walk on hot coals or through broken glass for a scrap of food. We could write a book -- he's a piece of work. He has, however, proven to be quite territorial and protective of his family members over the years, which is somewhat unique in the Malamute world and goes against the author’s description of the Malamute’s traits. Advanced training and animal behavior sessions with an expert in the field modified his protective nature to some degree, but never solved it. We love him, but restrict his presence around strangers.
Dick M.
Massachusetts

The Editor says: Thank you, Dick, for sharing your experience with other DOG FANCY and DogChannel readers. The Malamute is not a dog for the average pet owner, and it’s good for prospective owners to know this.

Leave breeding to pros
Thank you, Dr. Rugh, for your response to a question in Ask the Vet (“No puppies, please,” January 2007). Too many people breed their pets with the intention of selling the puppies to make money. Breeding should be left to the professionals, and as Dr. Rugh says, people should seek a reputable breeder. The problem is most people don’t know what constitutes a reputable breeder (actively involved in showing, officer or member of a breed club, devoted to maintaining the integrity of the breed.) Dr. Rugh mentioned that reputable breeders ensure every one of their puppies has a permanent home with a loving, responsible owner -- never to end up unwanted, mistreated, or sad and alone in a shelter.

If people would do their homework by researching the right breed for them and finding a dog through a rescue, shelter, or reputable breeder, as Dr. Rugh suggests, there would no longer be a need for shelters. But people buy dogs on a whim, and then blame the dogs for any behavioral problems that arise, not willing to put in the time and effort required to be a responsible pet owner. It’s such a shame. The dog is always the one to suffer in the end.

Sabrina T.
New Jersey

Rugh a voice of reason
As the founder of a working dog rescue in Southern California, I wanted to express my gratitude to your staff veterinarian, Dr. Rugh for her response to a reader wondering about breeding her Yorkshire Terrier. That response is the kind we wish to see from everyone in the professional dog world. Breeding in the United States is out of control, and my rescue group gets all kind of dogs, many puppies even, who just "weren't working out." Too much supplies and not enough demand are causing thousands of loving dogs to be euthanized in our shelters each day. So thank you, Dr. Rugh, for being the voice of reason for responsible dog owners everywhere. Your words summed up perfectly why reckless breeding is causing a crisis.

Lisa B.
California

A heartbreaking idea

My heart broke when I read the Ask the Vet question from a woman asking when the appropriate time to breed her Yorkshire Terrier mix would be. It saddens me that she would consider breeding her dog who is only a baby herself and a mixed breed! She has no clue that a responsible breeder breeds for the qualities of that specific breed. This person would only be adding to the overwhelming number of unwanted dogs (purebred and mixed) who are in desperate need of loving homes. So thank you, Karla Rugh and DOG FANCY for not supporting this woman and giving her the proper advice which I hope she will take very seriously!

Sheri K.
via
DOG FANCY e-mail

The Editor says: We have to agree with Dr. Rugh and her supporters. Breeding is best left to those who study the breed, know what traits need work, and tirelessly work to improve the breed, regardless of the expense.

California's BSL not the answer

While I applaud Gov. Schwarzenegger’s efforts to make California a better place for animals, I am appalled at the signing of SB 861 (Newshound, “California takes steps to protect animals,” January 2007). This bill makes it legal for city and county governments to enact ordinances that could result in mandatory spaying or neutering of potentially dangerous or vicious breeds. California is on its way to a dog-prejudiced future if any more breed-specific legislation is passed. I am very surprised that DOG FANCY didn’t address this. We need to take a stance for responsible dog owners everywhere. Banning any one breed is not the answer. It doesn’t matter if the breed in question is an American Pit Bull Terrier or a Labrador Retriever.

Katharine G.
Wisconsin 

The Editor says: You’re absolutely right, Katharine. Breed-specific legislation is not the answer. As a matter of fact, this is one of the criteria we consider in selecting our annual DogTown USA winners. No city with BSL is considered by DOG FANCY to be a good place for dogs to live. However, Newshound is a monthly news section, not an opinion piece, therefore we did not add our position regarding BSL to the article. Fortunately, we have well-informed readers such as you who go on the record to share their opinions on legislative developments.

Choose a groomer wisely

Finding a professional groomer can be a trying experience, and your article on professional grooming was an education (“Professional help,” January 2007). I took my Collie to a local groomer, but when I picked him up, his hind featherings were hacked to bits. When I called and complained, they told me that three groomers had to hold him down because he was acting up. I wondered why they didn’t call me and ask me to help out if he was upset. Nevertheless, they offered to try and fix it as long as I stayed with him. Walking toward the grooming area, we passed rows of caged, barking, howling, whining dogs. That was when I decided to take a correspondence grooming course, bought some equipment, and learned the proper way to groom my own dog. I now have a small business on the side and have many happy clients.

 

Thanks for alerting people about the importance of keeping their dogs tidy and making sure they find a good, professional groomer. Many people have no clue what goes on behind those grooming shop doors. I know I didn’t.

Marie C.
Indiana


Vaccination proof before grooming

Thank you so much for the article on how to find a quality groomer (“Professional help,” January 2007). As a veterinary technician, I am asked for groomer referrals on a regular basis. The article brought out many good points, but forgot one: Ask the groomer what vaccinations are required for pets to stay in the facility. This is so important! If they only require the rabies vaccination, they may only be worrying about themselves. What about bordetella, an airborne respiratory infection passed on to others through sneezing? This is a commonly spread virus among dogs when they are stressed out and in close quarters. What about parvovirus and coronavirus? These are spread through ingestion of feces. If a pet comes into the groomer’s with diarrhea and the owner isn’t aware that the dog is sick, the virus can contaminate the holding pen and infect the next dog. A good, quality groomer looks out for the welfare of her clients. She will ask for proof of vaccinations and not just accept the client’s word.

Again, thank you for your article and the other many great articles in the past.

Danielle C.
Texas

The Editor says: Thank you, Marie and Danielle, for furthering our readers’ knowledge so that they can choose a groomer wisely. It’s easy to be more concerned about the cleanliness and cut of your dog’s coat, and forget about the importance about what goes on in the “back room.”


Iditarod is cruel to dogs

I predict you will get an e-mail in-box full of letters from horrified readers in response to the fluff piece on sled dog racing in the January 2007 issue, “Snow Kings: What drives dog sledders?” While it may be true that certain breeds love to run and pull, the translation of this into a competitive and goal-driven sport is nothing short of animal abuse for fun and profit. Every year, hundreds of dogs die or sustain debilitating injuries training for and participating in sled dog races in the United States and Canada, and this does not even address the many more “culled” by professional sledders because the dogs become injured or are not of competitive caliber.

 

The Iditarod is, of course, the most popular and well-publicized sled dog race. More than 130 dogs have died during Iditarod races, and many more die during the intensive training programs. More than half the dogs who start the race are unable to finish. During the race, four in five dogs develop lung damage, three in five develop stomach ulcers, and many others get broken bones and teeth, torn footpads, penile frostbite, and other ailments.

 

USA Today sports columnist Jon Saraceno called the Iditarod, “a travesty of grueling proportions,” and, “Ihurtadog.” Fox TV sportscaster Jim Rome called it, “I-killed-a-dog.” Orlando Sentinel sports columnist George Diaz said the race is “an illegal sweatshop for dogs.” The animal rights and welfare communities are unanimous in their opposition to competitive sled dog racing.

 

Yet you have chosen to publish an article that glorifies sled dog racing, thus promoting public acceptance while omitting full disclosure of the abusive aspects of this practice. I was disappointed to see this from DOG FANCY that I hardly knew what to think.

John P.
Texas

The Editor says: Thank you, John, for sharing your thoughts about the Iditarod. “Snow Kings” was about recreational sledding, a sport dog owners might want to enjoy in the winter. It was not an endorsement of the Iditarod. By the way, yours was the only letter we received criticizing the article.

BARK BACK!
We welcome our readers’ letters. Please e-mail your letter to barkback@dogfancy.com

Correspondence may be edited for length and clarity. Please include your name, address, daytime telephone, and e-mail address. Letters may appear in DOG FANCY magazine or on DogChannel.

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