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Friday, August 2, 2013

The Controversy over Breeding dogs

We are Dog breeders.

The act of stating "I am a dog breeder" doesn't always come with wide eyed appreciation.

And that's okay...

• We get it.  We completely understand what the hobby breeder has to contend with.  And we're not just talking about a breeder like ourselves that has an agenda of diversity planning and outcrossing, we're also talking about breeders of show, trial and hunting dogs who also have a goal of producing champions and specialized dogs for service and hunting.  The main thing that unifies us in what we're doing is the fact that we love our dogs.  And we enjoy the process of whelping and socializing our puppies as well as the process of meeting new families that are interested in buying one of these puppies.  The daily interactions with our breeding dogs and the time we spend essentially designing a playtime with them that also contributes to training them and promoting their natural abilities.  That's our daily job, its something we do because we love the fact that these animals respond in a wonderful way to how we provide all these wonderful activities for them.  And in the long term we also breed with a selective process to bring more of these dogs into the world and fill a desire for people who want some of the same magic we've discovered in them ourselves.

• There is never a hesitation from any of our children when they answer the question "what does your mom and dad do for a living?".  They are actually proud to say "My family breeds dogs"(even though dad has a career that takes him off to NYC daily so he can help support his family and the entire pack of dogs).  Its the fact that we breed these wonderful dogs that takes priority in their young minds.  As a parent we don't get to see the reactions from their peers or the adults in their life that may ask this question of them.  And If there was any negative look in the face of those asking, our kids would more than likely not notice or even understand why if they did notice.  They are actually proud of what their family does and how we do it.  The entire process is in their eyes just normal for them and the wonderful things we do on a daily basis are just taken for granted by our kids.  Because for them its just the right way to do things.  And for that, as parents we feel blessed.  Because they will grow up... getting it too.  

• These living creatures are not our hobby, they are our pets and often the line can blur 
between whether they are our property or an actual extension of our family.  The actual hobby is the entire process of raising, nurturing, and caring for them.  These dogs and their life in our care is our responsibility by choice, therefore we own them physically and in that regard they are our property.  But, because they can feel and react and elicit emotions as well as show emotions they also become our family.  Its very much like having children and  since most parents proactively plan to have children, its a choice and we as parents claim ownership of our children.  When you're a responsible human being you find your soulmate, you marry and when you feel the time is right, you plan to have children.  Granted even humans will have an oops, just like breeders can have the oops litter.  But, responsibility would still see to the raising of that oops and still nurturing it until its ready to be on its own.  To actually care enough to make sure it finds a wonderful life, is safe and will thrive as it grows older.  

• Controversy often comes from the other side of a line drawn in the sand by people who would rather see all animals die than have to be owned by anyone.  And hobby breeders get thrown into the radar as people who are adding more into a shelter system of
unwanted and abandoned dogs.  And their ideologies will target us as horrible people, disgusting exploiters of dogs for profit and housing our dogs in deplorable conditions without access to immediate veterinary care.  Oh how far from the truth they are really doesn't matter, because they are determined to champion the cause of animal rights and will come after us with pitchforks and torches if they could and burn us out of operation.  Without having ever witnessed anything about how we actually do things or having met us.    And as evidence of this blind anger they have... you often see them attempting to leave derogatory statements on either our Facebook fan pages or on this blog.  It really just makes us shake our heads at the thought of how brainwashed they are and quick to group all breeders together in one big negative void without really learning the difference.

•We may have animosity regarding Show and Trial people with long standing outdated and poorly thought out breeding practices.  But, beyond that, just like the Chatham Hill
Gang, they love their dogs.  They love the vicarious nature of the relationship they forge with their dogs and in that feeling we have a common bond.  Chatham Hill enhances this magic by breeding our dogs with a purpose to promote diversity and strengthened immune systems while providing the best possible  environment for them to thrive.  Providing what we hope to be a very long life as a companion with a family that will love them just like we would.

• To really get this to hit home for our children, we actually took them to visit a licensed and registered commercial puppy producing kennel.  Which is the formal description of what the animal rights groups have defined as a "Puppy Mill".  And to have
our children literally see for themselves the difference between a family that does this purely for profit versus a family that does this for the love of their dogs.  It was a hard experience for my children to absorb.  They had to come to terms with the fact that for people who used the dogs as producers, the dogs are considered just livestock, not a pet.  And that the coveted registration papers that most naive buyers have been brainwashed into thinking is an indication of a better than average dog has now become a value added bonus for these breeders to inflate the price of the unhealthy puppies they mass produce.  We found ourselves looking at tear filled eyes as they tried to make sense of why the dogs in front of them were

confined to small open air cages and walking on a filthy wire bottom with bowl of green water in the corner and a box with a hole in it attached to retreat from the hot sun or huddle in from the cold.  It was a very difficult thing to witness, but they GOT IT.  They understood why some people who hear the word breeder don't always consider it a good thing.  Because there are different categories of breeders.  The one they just witnessed on this day fit the definition of a "Puppy Mill".

•They Got it, they actually Got it.  But, then a while afterwards our oldest son encountered a different perspective from one of his closest friends, who tried to define us as breeding
our family pets to produce lots of puppies to sell to anyone willing to pay for it, keeping a male or two and a harem of females to just pump out puppies like a cookie cutter whenever a female comes into season and thus grouped us into a category referred to in a derogatory manner as a "Backyard Breeder".  Its an offensive term nowadays and used as a blanket catch all by the same animal rights factions to account for all other breeders that don't fall into the bigger "Puppy Mill" description.  This wasn't the first time we've had to deal with friends who live by their own ideologies.  But, it was the first time our children got a taste of it and they took it upon themselves to educate their friends and even teachers.  

•Unfortunately, we are friends with a family that owns several dogs, cats and perhaps a few other creatures they call pets.  And they seem to feel that because they choose to only adopt a dog or cat from a shelter that they are by far more responsible and ethical than our family since we do the dog breeding thing and accept a fee for our process of selection, birthing, whelping and socializing.  It doesn't matter that they never take their
own dog to a vet when it is sick or to never allow their dogs to spend time indoors with their family.  It doesn't matter that they will allow a dog to die from the effects of a heavy intestinal worm infestation(which they did).  Or that they would leave a dead dog lying in their back yard for several days still attached to the chain that it had around its neck from the day was adopted(which they did).  Or that they would not effectively treat their free roaming cats for fleas and ticks and just accept that they have them as a normal thing(which they do).  Or that they never walk their dog or let it run and play because they have the other end of their dog's chain attached to a zip line so it can pace back and forth in a set pattern everyday tracking back and forth over the area it defecates in and urinates on.  Yet they can somehow find reason to feel how we manage our dogs as highly unethical?  Perhaps if they knew we would be shut down for doing the things they do they might change their tune....or maybe not.  Stupid is what stupid does, after all.

• For them Its somehow unethical in their mind for us to know the parents of our dogs.  To know the history of our dogs.  To know the genealogy of our dogs for many generations.  To welcome them into the home and provide more than just a chain and a doghouse
outdoor all year round for them.  To vaccinate them regularly.  To provide well visit checkups for them regularly.   To socially interact with them daily.  To to actually hug them and touch them like we enjoy them.  To be there for a momma when she is having her babies.  To provide a place for them to grow and thrive.  To do everything possible to keep them from winding up as a part of the overburdened shelter system.  To effectively qualify our buyers to prevent more people like these idiots from owning a dog.  To microchip all our dogs so that we can have some way to identify our dogs if lost and ACCIDENTALLY put in a shelter so they again won't wind up with a stupid family like the one we know...

And yet, with all the neglect they are guilty of, they think we're a "Backyard Breeder"?

• We've also witnessed the fallout experienced by other close friends of ours looking for a specific breed by actually researching the directory of suggested breeders provided by the AKC.  Only to visit the home of a listed breeder and discover a home more conducive to raising emaciated filthy dogs.  The utter surprise encountered when they looked at these unkempt dogs and the smell of a house that is more outhouse than actual home with both owners and dogs sharing rooms full of tattered and stained furniture with
areas of urine stained carpets and what can only be feces in areas around the home.   And after having already met our dogs and saw how our family runs our operations here on our ranch they also GOT IT.  They now know firsthand there is a major difference between an ethically responsible breeder and one who leverages the papers of a registry service like the AKC to sell dogs for profit.  They met in this situation an example of  breeders who keep a harem and one or two studs to continually breed as long as they can turn a profit.  And the living conditions are a reflection of the care they take in the process they employ for caring for these dogs.  By trying to do the responsible thing and actually go to these breeders to visit the parent dogs they discovered an operation that possibly caters to the internet market and relies on people to basically electronic order their dog and pay for shipping.  So the occasional visitor is witness to what our friends got a taste of.  

And yet, they called us a "Backyard Breeder"? 

Our son's friend eventually got a lesson in what Chatham Hill is all about and it got through to him...he finally GOT IT.  The other family we are friends with(still a big question as to why?) will just never change their skewed perspective.  We just sort of appreciate the
persons in front of us and block out the rest of the big flaw that they really are.  Call it an extreme exercise in tolerance.  Which means accepting their complete ignorance, regardless of the facade they put on for the world that they are such humane people when it concerns their dogs, simply because they "rescued" them from a shelter.  Never mind that their dogs had a better life in the shelter, protected from the elements and provided immediate veterinary care and more attention than the neglect they have now.  

• I won't go on labeling all people who believe in the shelter system as hypocrites, because many of them are actually providing excellent homes for these discarded pets.  But, in the end much of the blame for the bad situations is completely the
responsibility of the shelters.  Not all of them are the same and as evident in the family we described as an example, many shelters don't have the time or the resources to properly qualify the interested adopting parties.  And although the dogs in the shelter may have been placed there after some major rescue from an actual "Puppy Mill" or 'Backyard Breeder" situation, most of them were surrendered by people who caved into an impulsive buy and soon found themselves unprepared to deal with a dog.  Others were taken dog catcher style from roaming on the streets and the owners never came to reclaim them.  Many are not microchipped and are forever at the mercy of the shelter system.  So in fact when you go to adopt the shelter dog...unless you are specifically there to claim it

before it is put down in a shelter that does not have a "no kill" policy, you are not rescuing it.  It's not being saved from a burning building.  Its not drowning or choking.  Its actually very safe and being cared for.  And you don't have to feel compelled to adopt it until you are completely prepared to take on this responsibility mentally, physically and financially.  Many times Animal shelters are setup just like pet stores to take advantage of the impulsiveness of the browser in all of us.  They present you with a nicely presented dog with a nicely presented story and perhaps and associated breed description that is ideal for a family.

Then theres what our family does...

• We have visitors almost every weekend throughout the year.  And when they meet our family they are greeted by 5 children and two parents who immediately engage them in
warm friendly conversation.  We are trying from the moment we see them coming down our driveway to qualify them as an owner of one of our puppies.  And we expect them to meet our entire pack of dogs, because the dogs will also help us to determine just what kind of people we're talking to.  They read the body language and the inflections in their voices and will let us know if they are not afraid of these new faces.  The Parent dogs greet our visitors right out on the driveway and will either run around happily displaying joy at meeting new people or if the weather allows, they will run straight for the swimming pool or the pond and jump in.... then they'll shake off and shower their visitors with a wet welcome,
Chatham Hill style.  After which, we all walk into the barn where the pack now lives and visitors are then treated to the sight of the entire pack in their 1 acre indoor playground.  An arena bigger than the poshest doggie parks and completely lined with 18 inches of fine sand from wall to wall.  They can romp around in there, roll and play and the sand will absorb any impact from running hard or taking a spill.  It also naturally drains away any moisture from the dogs relieving themselves.  And it serves as the staging and training area for the rally courses the dogs use.  

• Then after seeing dogs run and play FlyBall inside the arena we open the swing gate and allow all the dogs to run past our visitors to the shower stall area and the kiddie pool
we have out waiting for them.  Then its all splashing and wet fun again as the pack cools down from playing hard.  They'll come sniff and greet our visitors and the little ones will even beg to be touched and petted.  Its so much to take in all at once and so much fun and excitement for everyone visiting because they find themselves in the middle of a pack just witnessing the dynamics of that pack from another dog's perspective and that's just cool.  Visiting kids will often kick off their shoes and run around with the pack. Following them into the arena and

kicking up sand with all the dogs.  And when all this winds down and the dogs get settled to return to the stalls our visitors come away from it knowing these dogs live a very charmed life.  And if there was any controversy over the fact that we're breeders, it left their minds somewhere during this experience.  And that was just meeting the pack., since they are expected to come back again and meet the puppies once they are 4 weeks old just a few weekends prior to finally taking them home.  

• For our family, the pack and the puppies we're raising... its all about having fun and blending a happy lifestyle where the work involved in maintaining this pack meshes with
the fun activities that also train the puppies, dogs and the visitors on how we do things... Chatham Hill Gang style.  If there is any controversy then its not on our ranch.  Perhaps its just in the minds of the animal rights activists.  Because if they really knew us and took the time to actually review what we do.  They might just find themselves reaching out to offer help or to apologize for stereotyping us like many of them have.  That's right, many of these stone throwers have apologized.  As far as the ones who haven't, well we really don't care anymore.  If they find happiness in continuing to hate people they never met and don't intend to get to know, then they can suck it.  Yup Suck it.

• The pressure from the wackos who lumped us together with all the bad breeding practices convinced us to move operations to an equestrian ranch that is zoned for enough dogs to actually maintain a proper diversity breeding program.  We had to leave our previous home with a lot of protest from our children or actually contemplate removing all
the dogs from our lives and abandoning the breeding program altogether, because of pressure from animal rights advocates who chose to "type" us and place us in the "Puppy Mill/Back Yard Breeder" category.  Forcing the local authorities to check in on us and monitor us and constantly remind us that even though our dogs are healthy and what we do is beautiful that we are not zoned properly for what amounts to a business.  And we almost caved into the pressure.  There was a point when all the controversy over breeding actually had us considering giving up our own dogs and surrendering them to the same people who kept pressuring us.  These same people were the ones who would have forced our own very well maintained and cared for dogs into the same shelter system that we were effectively avoiding any of our dogs and their offspring from entering in the first place.

• At one time when we were faced with possibly giving up on The Chatham Hill concept, a
public note went out over a social media.  That note follows as an expression of what the author had to endure in finding some reason to try and cope with what he was about to do.  That author being myself.

A dog can forget the master that loves it shortly after it leaves your embrace.  Or so we would like to think, what hurts is when you truly love that dog and you try to find reasons to let it go.  I love all my dogs.  It pains me to think about losing or letting go of any of them.  But, I value my Wife and kids more than my dogs, I try to convince myself this is so and that my dogs are just dogs, but then why is it that I feel so much for them like I do for any child of mine?  I care about them because someone needs to.  I love them because unlike people, they are always forgiving and they don't hold grudges and will forever be your friend, even when you find reason to dislike something about any one of them.  They sit there in silence and look at you.  They wait for your approval and they perk up the moment you enter their field of vision.  And they can read when you are happy or sad.  They feel your emotions and therefore are very therapeutic companions.  Always known to the medical world as wonderful for therapy.  It hurts to say goodbye to anyone of them since they all gave me more joy than sorrow.  
But, If I have to let go in order to keep my wife and kids then I must.  But its not guilt or regret that I will feel will be a longing to see them back in my life again.  Waiting for me on the farm and looking for me to throw a ball or to just watch them play.  To fill the void of carefree freedom running flat out on an open field and returning to me.  The sight of them lounging about around me and then becoming alert and standing up when I get up. 
Its not a question of who I love more I love them all.  Its more a matter of how it will effect me down the road to take away a part of me that allowed me to live vicariously through it and to cherish my life even more because of that. 
But then, life goes on.    
Just had to get that off my mind. If you know me and like dogs, I hope you like it and understand.
• The hope is that everyone that reads this does understand.  That we are very proud of what we do with our dogs. And that how we do things sets us far apart from how so many
other breeders do things with their dogs.    We raise the bar for ourselves each time we plan to move forward and learn from each litter we raise.  And with each new litter we widen the gap further by distancing ourselves from others who choose to put more dogs in this world for all the wrong reasons.  

• The shelters in this country are not the answer for many people to find that perfect dog.  In most cases its just a convenient stop to find a dog quickly that was assessed by a person at that facility who is paid minimum wages to give their not so professional opinion of what this dog's temperament is.  You take a gamble by not knowing much about that dog besides how it looks in front of you and acts while in a
staging area at the shelter.  The history behind that dog can be a story that is heartbreaking embellishment along with what the shelter's best guess is on what breed that dog could possibly be.  And its usually a breed that is readily identifiable as a family friendly breed.... there are a lot of suspiciously bullish looking dogs being described as Labrador crosses.  Or what really gets us shaking our heads are the thousands of dogs in the shelter system described as Flat Coated Retriever mixes simply because they are black have medium wavy hair and resemble a retriever.

• For the record... there are no FCR in shelters, with less than 650 FCR registered a year its just not possible for the thousands of FCR to be in shelters.  And its highly likely 99.9% of all those labrador mixes... haven't got any Labrador in them.  But if it helps these shelters to find homes for all those dogs, then we hope it works.  Hopefully dogs can avoid being homed with clueless losers like the example of the family of hypocrites we gave here.  

• Education is the best answer to resolving the homeless dog problems that are burdening our shelter systems.  And raising
awareness that the actual value of a registration paper when you buy a puppy has nothing to do with guaranteeing the puppy you see in the pet store will come with a desired
temperament and social behavior or health expectations that would mesh well with your own lifestyle.  If more people were on board with actually knowing the source of that puppy they see in the window or the breeder of that puppy, the socializing procedures or better yet the genetic history behind the parents of that puppy.  Then there would be so many pet stores unable to provide the right answers, references and assurances... that they would just go out of business.  And in getting put out of business they would also likely take a step towards resolving the problems the shelters are having.

• Perhaps if the animal rights people were to focus on saving the ecosystems and maintaining a proper balance in nature of indigenous species by focusing on the real problems with feral and free roaming pets that are killing birds and small mammals by the millions, which happen to mostly be cats, then they might find time to emphasize more on education instead of trying to force spaying and 
neutering ideologies down on the public.  Maybe, if they were to focus on how to look for a properly socialized puppy and spread that way of thinking, then they would find less dogs ending up in shelters, more commercial breeders put out of business, which also takes the supply channels away from the pet stores and raises awareness in buyers for what to look for in a real backyard breed for profit operation.  It will build a momentum of placing good dogs in good homes with qualified families while putting more emphasis on the long term health of that dog as a return on our time and investment.  It will force a reform in the closed registries and put the spotlight on inbreeding and line-breeding practices that have decimated the immune system in many of the breeds we know today.  And it will finally start a movement of breeding for long term health instead of unrealistic cosmetic conformation standards.  

• We'll likely be called liars by the people who identify with and take offense to our
description of many animal rights activists and what can apply to many animal shelters.  
They'll likely try to say we're not fairly giving credit to the shelters and activists that are much better at pre qualifying families, homes and at preparing dogs for adoption.  But, then
if they can can lump us into one big group, then maybe they should be lumped into one as well?  We know there are excellent shelters and exceptional people who speak on behalf of animals.  But, unfortunately they are overshadowed by the bad ones and are easily overlooked and type cast into a stereotype that is continually perpetuated by their own peers who've taken their cause to an extreme.  Crossing the line beyond respect and understanding into hatred.  They march forward based on the stereotypes they prejudge all breeders with and unfairly lump the hobby breeders with a love for their dog's health and well being in with all the bad.  And therefore...what is good for them should apply to them as well.  

• We are the Chatham Hill Gang.  And we're here to stay.  I'll speak for all hobby breeders here.   So if you've got a bug up your ass about dog breeders and want to judge us before even knowing us... then you can either take the time to get to know us and allow us to show you the light of what we do  or if you would rather sit on your laurels and continue to make ASSumptions, then you can just kiss our asses.  



  1. Nicely done. It is a good thing you are doing, for your kids, your dogs and putting pressure on the breeders through education and example. It never hurts to raise the bar. Thank you.

    1. Thank you Ray,

      My family likes to push back harder when we're pushed. Makes it interesting and keeps us on our "A" game.

  2. You seem to have the perfect life with all of those dogs! I would love to have that many puppies for my family to play with. Hopefully I can another dog so my German Shepherd can have puppies in the future. I

    1. Not sure if you cut yourself short on this reply....Or if you got the message from the blog entry.

      Breeding dogs for us isn't to just have puppies to pay with... or to have a dog experience it.


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