Op Ed on Small Dogs -- A Breeder's Quandry

I've been breeding and showing for coming up on 30 years. There is the awful power that I have over the end of my dogs' lives, it's literally the power of life and death, but far more powerful is the god-like capacity I wield at at my dogs' start.

Every time I hold a wet bundle of new life in my hand I also hold in my palm the future of this creature, a concern that will last until the day he or she dies.

What will his training be? How about his early good nutrition? I determine all that.

But this is the most awful responsibility: almost every dog I breed will eventually go elsewhere for his forever home. No matter how carefully I check and qualify, I can never have a 100% positive answer to the question: will this person make a good home for my dog?

It is my job to ensure that he does, yet in some small percentage I know I will fail.

You might say that the answer is not to breed, that it's too painful. And it sometimes is.

But the joy is there too. I once had a prospective buyer dither and question and go away and come back with another article and what did I think of this and that, and he just wasn't sure and...

We emailed back and forth for over 6 months before he was finally ready. A girlfriend asked me why I was taking so much trouble.

"It's simple," I said. "This man needs one of my dogs."

And he did and he's been a great home. Mine is a bright penny of a breed. Shiny and joyous. They clean out the dank cobwebby corners of our mind. I'm sure it is similar in other breeds as well.

So my awful power, though it only really completes at the end of my dogs' lives -- and by mine I mean any dog I have ever bred, whoever owns him -- it actually starts with their birth.

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