We did something absolutely controversial in Silicon Valley: we got a puppy from a breeder. Without knowing anything about our search or where we got our dog, we were hit with judgment. Our sweet dog was called “horrendously inbred,” we were accused of getting her from a pet store fueling unethical breeding and spreading dog sickness, and rushing into a poor decision without research. None of this is true, and while I feel we owe no one an explanation, I find myself explaining. Maybe it’s my liberal guilt responding to the liberal nastiness of some of these questions. The bottom line is that we made a decision based on what was best for our family. If a shelter dog is best for your family, kudos to you, but that doesn’t mean you get to tell us what is best for us.
To relieve my guilt, we did look at rescue groups. Our last dog died 18 months ago and it took nearly a year to decide we were ready for another dog. Our dog Maddie has dementia for the last years of her life, and because of that, we wanted to put as much space as possible between now and old age with our next dog. This meant older dogs were out. Also, dealing with canine dementia is not fun, and while our hearts go out to special needs dogs, we weren’t ready to jump back in with one again soon. If you stalk rescue groups, as we did, there are a lot of dogs available who are older or have issues. Next up was breed. We weren’t caught up on a pure breed dog, yet we ended up with one because we loved the breed. We looked honestly at our lives and knew that while we loved many dogs, we weren’t going to run them daily or spend hours at the dog park. We weren’t great a grooming or high maintenance of any sort. We needed to laid back, chill dog. It feels like 85% of shelter dogs were pit or chihuahua mixes. Not the lazy, low maintenance dog that would work for us.
After nine months of looking at Craigslist daily – okay, sometimes four times a day – the right dog revealed herself. Everything was perfect about her: from her thoughtful and loving background, to when and how she’d fit into our home. She didn’t come from a pet store or a puppy mill, she doesn’t have health issues, she makes us happy and we love her tremendously. What right do people have to judge? The two most vocal critics we’ve faced aren’t dog people, yet they needed us to know they disapproved.
During our long search, we found many dogs available that were clearly adopted in haste. Many said their landlords didn’t allow pets or were moving and couldn’t have a dog or were going away to college or had broken up with a girlfriend or boyfriend with whom they adopted the dog. It’s a sad reminder that many people make poor life choices. Yet, some people want to lump us in with those people because we didn’t rescue a dog from a shelter. We made the right long term decision for us, yet because this isn’t the pc thing to do, we’re somehow open to criticism.
As we say at our house, haters gonna hate. We get to look at this face every day and know we made the right decision.