Why it sucks to be a breeder

Missing Caleb is making me blue

Missing Caleb is making me blue

This morning, Caleb went to his new home. I know he’ll be happy there – Kathryn and her husband currently have Maximus, Tula’s litter brother, and they’re dedicated and loving dog owners. None of this is any consolation when you’re sitting and thinking to yourself that you just broke your own heart, and all in the name of the breed standard.

Caleb, who we brought home from Paula’s a few weeks ago, just wasn’t coming together the way he should be as a show prospect. I delayed admitting that for as long as could, because looks aside, Caleb is just about the most freakin’ awesome puppy I’ve had in ages.

Anyone who does obedience will feel their hearts race when I tell you that, no matter where I was, if I turned around I’d find Caleb sitting next to me, in an attentive, performance perfect sit, usually in heel position.

“What are we doing now, mom?” you could almost hear him thinking.

For fun, I spent fifteen minutes practicing sits with him, and within the first five he had it down flawless. Curious, I tried ‘down’ – something that, for some reason, can be an issue with a lot of Frenchies. Caleb got it in two training sessions. Did I mention here he’s only thirteen weeks old? Thirteen weeks old, flawless sits and downs, walking beautifully on  lead (and sitting in heel position, all on his own), house broken and car ride trained. As Sean put it, “I think we have our first genius Frenchie”.

His structural flaws, however negligible, were still apparent. A slightly too long nose, set a bit low on his face. Ears at ten til two, instead of eleven and one. A tail set that was overly high, and, much worse, carried gay. All of it added up to a still handsome puppy, but one who was verging on pet, instead of show.

Jacob has outstripped his brother in just a few weeks

Jacob has outstripped his brother in just a few weeks

In the meantime, his weedy looking brother, Hammy (now christened Jacob), had blossomed into a solid boned, big headed dog with none of his brother’s faults, and all of the virtues he was lacking. He also had a pesky hernia that was worrisome to his new potential owners, so I took a deep breath, and I did the right thing – I offered them Caleb, in lieu of Jacob.

Yesterday, I swapped Caleb for Jacob, and this morning, Caleb headed off in his new mom and dad’s car, bound for a life in Rhode Island that will include a big brother, tons of love and loads of spoiling. Jacob is settling in just fine, and he’s great – a fun little puppy who loves naps and snuggles, and has spent most of his time since getting here chasing Pickle around the yard and harassing Delilah.

And yet, he still doesn’t feel like my dog – not yet, at least. Caleb does, though, and I feel like a bad mother for having let him leave. I’m sure he won’t miss me, or at least not for long, but  I’m going to miss the hell out of him.

I’m left thinking, for the millionth time, that sometimes it really does suck to be a dog breeder.

Hope, Teddy and Luke

Hope, Teddy and Luke at the FBDCA Nationals

Hope, Teddy and Luke at the FBDCA Nationals

Check out Hope, posing with two of my very favorite boys – Teddy (on the left) and Luke (on the right). Can you believe how much they’ve grown? I think they both look fabulous.

Hope, Luke, Teddy and Luke’s owner, Andrea Morden Moore, are all in Wisconsin for the FBDCA National Specialty. Hope has a ton more photos over on her Flickr stream – check it out! Loads of Frenchie photo goodness.

“Transitioning” and “Detox” – Pet Food Myths?

A recent comment on a Pet Connection post regarding the Blue Buffalo pet food recalls brought up a frequently repeated pet food article of faith – the “slow transition” theory.

“Slow Transitioning” posits that, whenever we change a dog from Kibble Brand “A” to Kibble Brand “B”, we need to do so sloooowly, usually over the course of a week or so.  Specifically, we are advised to do so when switching from a lesser quality dry food to a higher quality one – or when switching to raw from kibble. In  a few cases, I’ve seen ‘experts’ advise taking as long as a month to change a dog from one food to another.  One of the reasons given for why we need to introduce foods so slowly is that the better quality ingredients in the food we are switching to will ‘overwhelm’ our dogs’ digestive systems.

This ‘overwhelming’ can manifest itself as diarrhea or other digestive upsets. We’re also told that this enhanced nutrition can result in our dogs undergoing something called “Detoxification” – Detox, for short. Raw foodies, in particular, say that we can expect our dogs to undergo detox when we switch them from dry kibbles to raw food.

Descriptions of the detox process vary, but the central idea is that your dog’s body will “flush” itself of all the toxins it has accumulated from being fed a dry diet. This ‘flush’ will be noticeable externally, via a long list of symptoms – vomiting, diarrhea, mucus pouring out of their nostrils and coating their stools, runny eyes, hives and even seizures (!). Pet owners are told that none of these symptoms are anything to worry about – that it is simply their dog’s immune system ridding itself of toxic poisons.

In one of my favorite descriptions of the detox process, the author writes that “dogs experience this (detox) process because their bodies have to build all new healthy cells to replace the old ones”. Isn’t science wonderful?

I’ve become very skeptical of the concept of detox. Over the years, I’ve switched literally dozens of dogs from dry food to raw diets, and in almost every case, I’ve done so cold turkey. No ‘transitioning’, and no signs of anything like detox.

In my experience, switching dogs from one food to another should be a relatively simple process, and particularly when switching dogs from kibble to raw. Take weaning, for example.

Anyone who breeds dogs has had the unpleasant experience of the weaning runny poops – puppies weaned onto dry kibble, no matter how ‘premium’ the brand, tend to get diarrhea for at least the first few days. As the puppies acclimatize to their new diet, their poop becomes more solidly formed, and their diarrhea ends. Like most breeders, I just believed that this was all a natural part of weaning, although I don’t know why – we don’t automatically accept our that our (human) babies will develop raging cases of liquid poop when we switch them to solid food, so we do we accept it for puppies? My wake up call came when I first starting weaning puppies onto raw. The change from nursing to solid food was seamless – no diarrhea, no upset stomachs, no reluctant eaters.

Most recently, I’ve changed the diets of our two foster Frenchies, Harley and Peanut, from dry kibble to raw. In both cases, I switched them almost instantly, and in neither case did they suffer from ‘transitioning’ issues or detox symptoms. If anyone should have, it was Harley – he came to me eating an overpriced Vegetarian Kibble with potato protein as the main ingredient, and with a diagnosis of severe protein allergies. You’d think that switching Harley over to a high protein raw diet would have thrown him into a state of detox panic, but instead he threw up once from eating too fast, and then settled down to being just another happy, raw fed dog.

Christie Keith on Pet Connection put it best –

I wonder if you’d find it odd that every time you ate a different food or, you know, changed brands of cereal, you got diarrhea.


If switching your dog’s food causes him to start pouring out mucus and diarrhea while having seizures,  there’s a problem, and you need to get him off the new food and to a veterinarian, pronto. If switching your dog between brands of kibble causes him digestive upsets and diarrhea, there’s a problem – and if this happens no matter which ‘premium’ brands you switch him to, maybe it’s time to rethink your entire feeding policy and switch him to raw.

It’s just a matter of common sense, really.

It’s Princess Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

Peanut the French Bulldog is Available for Adoption

Princess Peanut

Just in case you missed the part where I said she was “playful”!

Remember, Peanut is available for adoption via French Bulldog Village – http://www.frenchbulldogvillage.org

Zeus at Seven Months

Zeus - Bullmarket Absolut Notorious

Zeus - Bullmarket Absolut Notorious

I spent the morning at the Bullmastiff Fancier’s of Canada Specialty (photo link coming) this morning, and got a special treat – a visit from Zeus (formerly Simon) and his owner, Tamika.

Zeus looks fabulous, and best of all, he’s an utter darling of a boy. He loved everyone he met, adult, child or dog, and everyone loved him back. I can completely believe Tamika when she tells me that “people rush across the street just to be able to meet him!”.

Thanks for coming out, Tamika, and I can’t wait to see Zeus in the ring this fall!