Murphy, the life of a puppy farmed dog – Why it’s Important to Watch Out for a Responsible Breeder!
Contribution by Sally Ann
The sad fact is, buying a puppy is like buying a car, there are a lot of dodgy dealers out there and many of them are very good at looking like wonderful, caring breeders to the unsuspecting puppy buyer. Make no mistake about it, they know what they do is wrong, they know they cut corners and sell ill and in some cases dying puppies and they don’t care. They just want your money. If you buy your puppy from one of these you can land yourself with huge vet bills and years of heartache and the pain of watching your beloved puppy suffer instead of having the joy of watching it grow and develop happily and normally. I want to show you how to avoid the pitfalls that are so easy to plunge into when buying a puppy. I have learned the hard way, through sad and painful experience and I want to show you how easy it is to find a really good, ethical breeder who breeds healthy puppies of whatever breed just by following a few easy steps.
Relaxed Mum, relaxed babies.
First though, let me briefly tell you why this is so important to me. Many years ago, we were in the process of buying a Border Terrier puppy. We didn’t want to show or breed, we just wanted a pet. Living on an island makes things difficult because you can’t just nip down the motorway to view puppies, so I knew I would have to find someone I could trust to send me photographs and build up a relationship with. In time I found such a breeder, or so I thought. I missed the fact that the brickwork on the front of their house looked different to the brickwork on the back. I could have noticed how much his head shape changed over a couple of weeks, but I didn’t and anyway he was growing and changing and I thought that was obviously what they did. I believed I had nothing to fear because we were picking up from the breeder’s home where we were going to meet his Mum and the rest of the litter so everything was going to be fine. The afternoon before we were due to travel I received a phone call from the breeder who was clearly very agitated and upset. He explained to me that there had been a problem with the gas supply in the street where he lived and the whole street had been evacuated. He had moved his young family in with friends and his dogs had gone somewhere else, but he was most concerned that we might lose the money we had paid for our ferry tickets since it was such short notice. He offered to pay me for the boat tickets and return my deposit for the puppy so that I could find another puppy. Alternatively, he said we could meet him at a train station, I jumped at the chance. Emotionally already attached to the puppy and in no way looking forward to telling our young girls that the puppy would not now be coming, it seemed like a great plan. When my husband, who was then a serving police officer, got home and I explained what had happen he didn’t agree. He said it sounded ‘nooky’ but I stuck to my guns and said his job made him suspicious and that he had no empathy for the poor family who had just had to leave their home with no notice. In all truth, I sulked until he gave in and agreed that we could go. The following morning as we boarded the boat Neil was no less concerned, he said that when we got to the station if everything was not as we expected with the puppy he would gesture for me to leave and he would deal with it and meet me a few minutes later. Sighing at him for making something so simple seem dramatic I agreed. Within a few hours we were stood at the station waiting for the breeder; I noticed Neil prickle and looked around to see two very scruffy young men approaching us, one had what looked like a dirty towel in his hand. Neil looked at me meaningfully signalling for me to go, but I felt like I was stuck to the platform. I can’t even remember any greetings or conversations but I can still remember as clear as if it was yesterday the sight of the tiny puppy only just visible in the towel. He was less than half the size I expected him to be and as the man moved his hand and the towel opened my eyes were drawn to his hugely distended tummy and half closed sticky eyes. Again Neil looked at me, this time not even trying to hide his signal for me to go away. I heard myself say, give them the money. Again, the look – ‘just give them the money’ I said. I meant it to be firm but it came out rather shaky and verged on the hysterical really. The man with the puppy smiled, I reached out and took the tiny bundle and with that turned on my heels and walked away. I heard Neil swear, not for the last time that day either, and before long he was standing beside me, looking as concerned as I was with the carefully prepared cat box with freshly washed bedding and toys, water and food bowls suddenly looking very out of place. As Neil shook his head at me I told him that the puppy would be fine, but Neil and I both knew he might not even survive the boat journey. For the four hours on the ferry we kept putting water on our fingers and dripping it into his mouth, Neil put him into his jumper and warmed him up. Once the boat docked we went straight to the vets who gave him a less than 50/50 chance of survival, he gave him an injection took some blood and fecal samples and sold us puppy milk and a bottle as he estimated he wasn’t old enough to be weaned yet. He also gave us some wormer to use in a day or two and we left with the words ‘if he gets that far’ ringing in our ears.
He took to the bottle well considering how weak he was and the antibiotics helped with the stomach infection. More treatment was needed when the results of the samples came back and slowly but surely he gained strength. He didn’t come with paperwork or insurance as we had been promised and of course since he was at the vets within hours of us collecting him, insuring him wasn’t an option. Our credit card bills grew quicker than he did. So what began as a happy thought of adding a puppy to our family very quickly became the biggest learning curve of my life. Our little Murphy was always tiny and sickly, never a month went by that he didn’t have an injury or infection and he was plagued by a dreadfully weak stomach for all of his short life. He also had every behavioural problem you can think of from separation anxiety to OCD. He could be vicious and unpredictable with any other animals and he wasn’t that fond of strangers but he loved us with such devotion and he was gentle and loving with any child. He seemed to instinctively know that they needed him to be calm and gentle and so he was. I decided that joining a dog club would help. So off we went with our bag of treats, they advised yanking on his lead and giving treats at regular intervals until we were asked to leave. We just need a private trainer I thought, within minutes of his arrival he pinned Murphy to the floor to show him who was boss – well I showed the trainer who really was the boss and that was the last we saw of him, then last but certainly not least came the behaviourist who advised euthanasia. Clearly that wasn’t an option, we hadn’t fought for his survival only to kill him. So, with no other options available I bought books, hundreds of them, which still line the shelves in our hall. Rather ironically they are now overlooked by his photograph. To cut a very long story short, Murphy survived a little over six years when he then succumbed to a form of meningitis. By then he was the perfect pet, I’m not even sure we owned a lead for him and if we did I wouldn’t have been able to find it because we didn’t need one. He followed us everywhere and trotted along next to whoever was having the most fun. We adored him and I don’t regret a second of the time, money, energy or tears I spent on him but neither would I wish that journey on my worst enemy. Quite simply, it is not how it should be, no dog should ever suffer as he did.
He should have been loved, cared for and protected from the moment he was born and every dog deserves that at very least.
Last picture taken of Murphy
Thank you Sally Ann for this great story! If you want to read more from Sally Ann and her dogs visit her blog:
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