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Puppy Paradox


Shame on you.

Hate mail comes in quite often in this field. It’s part of the job.

I will never read your magazine.

Write something and publish 69,000 copies of it, and someone’s bound to disagree. Over the years, I’ve been called idiot, moron and schmuck (among other names not fit for print).

If you’re going to do an article, please research the downside as well, and don’t romanticize the issue.

An editor’s skin grows tough as concrete.

But these comments came in regards to yet-to-be published stories. Never in the six years I’ve toiled in this industry has that happened—anger before the publication hit newsstands.

All the previous hate-mail logic was thrown out this month over the most controversial of issues: puppies.
The aforementioned comments were in response to our pet issue. I’d posted an advertisement on Craigslist looking for so-called Designer Dogs (dogs that are intentionally crossbred) to be featured in photos. More than a hundred proud parents emailed us pictures with pleas to help launch their pets’ modeling careers.

Hi, are you getting a lot of dog pictures? Well I think ours is pretty cute…

I saw your notice for mixed breed dogs and couldn’t resist sending in mine…

Then there were a handful of email writers who were not so happy, to say the least. To them, breeding dogs is synonymous with the most heinous acts of animal cruelty (raising calves to produce veal, testing makeup on mice, and so on).

“Designer dogs” are nothing more than mutts…hundreds of these so-called designer dogs (mutts) can be found in shelters…these dogs are bred by irresponsible breeders who do no health testing on the parents and are not breeding to better a pure-bred line of dogs…

This kind of feedback was certainly surprising. When I think of puppies, I imagine cuddling one and giving it a life of bacon, soft beds to nap in and a huge, fenced in yard to roam around. I was missing the dark side of the industry.

First, there is the concept of over-breeding that is linked to severe health issues and overcrowded animal shelters. There are many designer dogs as well as typical mutts and purebreds abandoned for a litany of reasons, waiting at the pound for a loving family. Then there are operations that pump out litters of puppies, keeping them confined to small cages and other inhumane treatment until the pup finds a home.

These stories make me want to cringe.

But I am not here to judge animal lovers who want to find a family pet via a responsible breeder. Shelters work for some, while others want a trail of papers for their pooch or a certain type of dog.

Quite frankly, a Puggle is pretty freakin’ cute.

Nor am I one to question a reputable breeder who uses dogs to produce litters in a responsible manner. As with any industry, there are those who do good and those who do bad.

In respect to the bad, the concept of this section has been tweaked from simply featuring designer dogs to how to responsibly pick the perfect pet—purebred, mixed-breed, mangy mutt or otherwise.

I can defend promoting responsible pet shopping even if this disclaimer won’t satisfy these angry letter writers.

In that case, my skin’s tough enough to deflect the criticism.

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