Friday, September 20, 2013

Pound Puppies and Performance Land

Recently, Team Unruly wrote a long and thoughtful post on "Ten Reasons Why Your Next Sport Dog Should Be A Rescue." It's a good piece; it deserves reading.

It got me to thinking about why my next sport dog won't be a rescue.

I think it's important for shelter and rescue dogs to be welcomed in sport venues -- and their people, too. I remember vividly how much it bummed me out when I got the runlist for the first Rally trial we ever entered and, out of 55 or or so teams, there were three dogs that had obvious one-word pound puppy names and the other 52-ish were all fancy-schmancy craft-beer-sounding purebred names. (Later I discovered that some of those fancy-schmancy names actually belonged to rescue dogs whose owners felt they deserved to be saddled with the same silliness as any pedigreed AKC scion... but that first impression really stuck with me, and so did seeing only two or three other mutts at the show.)

I hold a strong conviction that sports are a good thing for dogs (all dogs! all of the dogs!!), and that sometimes people feel discouraged about entering them with pound puppies, and there is NO REASON this feeling should exist. For all the reasons discussed in that Team Unruly post, rescue and shelter dogs can do very well in many dog sports, and they deserve serious consideration as candidates.

But I'm still not planning to get one, and after reading that post, I felt a little guilty about it and thought I should examine my reasons more closely. I've been in rescue for a while now. I feel strongly that people who want family companions should look to rescues and shelters first, and that just about any kind of dog you could conceivably want is find-able in the shelter system eventually. And, of course, I don't dispute that strong sport candidates are dumped in pounds across the country every day. Many of these dogs, as the TU crew points out, are literally dying for want of homes that can handle their energy and drive.

So, having talked the talk, why am I not walking the walk?

Some good reasons, some not-so-good, some just idiosyncratic to my personal goals and past experiences. Originally I had intended to cover them all in one post, but it got way long even by my blatherful standards, so I'll break the discussion up into a couple of smaller posts and see where we get from there.

Again, this post is not meant to persuade anyone of anything. Nobody needs to be persuaded that purebreds are preferable as sport dogs; they already dominate all the sport venues massively. It's just sort of thinking aloud about why my own thoughts on that front have changed over time.

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