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Left Coast/Right Coast: Dogs are people too!

We’ve been “dog people” since our kids were little. My wife was a dog breeder for over 15 years.
The Gold family's newest bulldog, Gilbert, at three months and two weeks of age. Photo credit: Mike Gold.

By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."

We’ve been “dog people” since our kids were little. My wife was a dog breeder for over 15 years.

First it was Chinese Shar-Pei’s. Those are those wrinkled dogs. Check out these Shar-Pei Puppies at play. Great family dogs but very possessive about their owners. One of our males, named Gigabyte (hey, I’m a computer guy!), would insert himself between me and my wife whenever I would do anything near her.

Two of our breeding females, didn’t much like each other. You would never want to get between the two of them, so we would keep at least one of them in a cage in our kitchen.

On one occasion, I was kneeling down between the caged one and the other one who was right behind me. The “free” dog decided to go after the caged female and that was one of a number of occasions when I needed a trip to the emergency room for some stitches.

One thing about being in the dog breeding business, you get to meet the “public at large” when you advertise dogs for sale. Frankly, it’s not a great place to be. Just about everyone wants to play with puppies. Especially if there are kids involved. But then you inevitably have to deal with the supposedly “grown ups.”

When Shar-Pei’s first became popular in the U.S. (early 90’s) they cost about $500 each. As they began to get “over-bred,” prices dropped to about $250 and there simply was too much hassle for the return. Oh, you rarely make money in the dog breeding business. It is done more for the love of the breed.

We would have the “general public” make offers such as, “Can I take the dog home for a month or so – to see if we want to keep it?”

While at some points we might have a dozen or more puppies, you simply can’t let a dog get acclimated to a new family then have it come back. It's not fair to the dog. What that type of offer was often really about was, “The kids have been nagging us to get a dog for months. So we thought we’d bring home a puppy – and get the ‘dog nagging’ over with.”

Chinese Shar-Pei’s were simple compared to being a bulldog breeder. Let’s start with the fact that bulldogs don’t reproduce naturally. The problem is the dogs have too much belly to successfully breed on their own. So you often have to do artificial insemination. (You really don’t want to know!).

It’s like the expression often attributed to Otto von Bismark: Two things you don’t ever want to see made are “making laws in Congress” and “making sausage.”

We all know about the miserable public view of Congress. For a good read about making sausage, read: "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair. I guarantee you’ll never eat another hot dog again!

The second problem with breeding Bulldogs is that most often you have to deliver them via Caesarian Section. Some sort of problems with the female birth canal. So you have the added expense of the breed male and the delivery. No wonder Bulldog puppies cost from $2,000 upwards.

Last, the litters tend to be small (our largest was four puppies).

Now dogs are “people too.” By that I mean we all recognize personalities in dogs. We tend to anthropomorphize them. (That means attributing human characteristics to non-humans).

In fact, most dogs do tend to resemble their owners. I don’t mean they look like the owners (although some do), but they can wind up having some of the personality of the owners.

The noted Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan’s TV program will often show the behavior problems of the dog are directly based on the same personality disorder of the owner.

Here, just watch this: "Cooper is impatient!"

Or this: "Denver - Bad Dog!"

Last, we’ll leave the “dog vs. cat people” controversy for another time. But watch this cat (very unusual) protect its charge: "Hero cat."

Reminds me of an old joke:

A visitor to a farm sits down to dinner. Into the dining room walks a three-legged pig. The visitor asks the farmer about it.

The farmer says, “That there is a hero pig. See one day my tractor fell over on me. I was trapped underneath it. The pig dug me out. On another day a small fire started in the house. The pig ran through the house squealing and everyone got out.”

The visitor asks, “Well why does it have only three legs?”

The farmer says, “Well, it would be a shame to eat it all at once.”

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