I am working tonight, so I can’t do the conditioners-silicone post I promised. Which I am mad about. But no mun equals no fun, so I’ll do the work and be glad I have it.
So my alternate question for you all tonight is about how we can teach puppy buyers to be wise consumers of dogs.
As you know, one of my big soapboxes is that the BUYER is the one who can save the world; the buyer controls demand, and if demand for poorly bred puppies stops production will stop. It doesn’t work the other way around; if we try to legislate breeding and slow the production, but the demand is still high, production will continue underground or (even worse) price will skyrocket and horribly bred puppies will become the next Wii.
(Not that we don’t love Wii, Emily 🙂 ).
I think that mainstream puppy buyers do get some messages, very strongly. They understand that breed means something, which is why people who rescue are often SO obsessed with figuring out which breed(s) their dogs are, and why bad breeders don’t just breed “mutts.” They “create new breeds” or “design dogs” or ” make the best of both worlds” and other completely nonsensical statements, but they always tie it to some form of breed = predictable and desirable characteristics.
Mainstream puppy buyers care a great deal about looks. That’s not a bad thing; we do too. Right now they’re often stuck in the realm of fluffy and round eyes and light color being desirable, but they DO recognize a beautifully put together dog when they see it, even if they’ve never seen one before. Just like someone can say “That’s a beautiful house” without knowing that it’s beautiful because of its balance and angles and proportion.
Mainstream puppy buyers also care, pretty deeply, about how long their dogs live and are healthy. And at least a significant minority are beginning to do stuff with their dogs; dogsport is moving out of the realm of the few (breeders and hunters and sportsmen/women who use the activities to put food on the table or prove that their dogs are worth breeding) to the many. This move is a GREAT thing.
So I think it is more than past time that puppy buyers understand what good structure is, and specifically how good structure leads to beauty, long life, and the ability to do fun things.
What I am looking for from the collective genius of the Interwebs is how on earth we actually teach this to people. The basic rules aren’t that hard – the dog’s elbows should be in a straight line from its shoulders; the angle of the stifle should equal the angle of the shoulder; the neck should come up and not out, the topline can be straight or a little roached, but can’t sway, stuff like that. The rules of biomechanics and what makes a structure that can withstand stress and aging apply across all breeds.
What I don’t know how to do, and can’t imagine how to do, is to get that message across to puppy buyers in a way that is simple, memorable, and visually striking. It needs to almost be “viral” in terms of the idea, in the same way that all everyone “knows” that it’s really stupid to buy a Zune instead of an iPod, or that mobile homes are less sturdy than custom-built, so if they’re the same price you’re an idiot if you buy the mobile home. I think puppy buyers need to have the feeling that they’re shooting themselves in the foot if they take home a puppy that has crappy structure or whose parents had bad structure.
Startle me with your awesomeness!