Puppies to Go - Purebred "Designer Dogs" (and I'm not talking Labradoodle folks!)
I doubt this is a new trend, but I'm certainly noticing it more these days. With all the fast food, fast everything the new trend is Puppies to Go...what am I talking about? I'm talking about when people contact a rescue or breeder and feel entitled to have to certain traits in their new dog - it must be a certain color, a certain coat, a certain personality trait - as if we have control over nature. What ever happened to unconditional love? An open mind? TRAINING and NURTURING to get the traits you desire? Puppies are not made to order. Just like when you have children - you don't typically get to pick their hair color and sex (at least you used to not be able to) and you'd love him/her anyway. You couldn't be assured she'd be talented musically or a mathematical whiz. You get what the genes throw at you!
It's one thing to request a dog the breeder or rescuer feels may be good with kids, cats, other dogs - that's a legitimate concern for safety as well as harmony in the home. But harmony does not depend on color or coat style. You are supposedly getting this puppy forever, for who he is, and while it's nice if he IS good with kids (or cats, other dogs, whatever) it's still YOUR responsibility as the owner to socialize and guide him in that direction. I think it's the sense of entitlement people seem to have these days. Because you are paying good money for this puppy, you expect perfection, and feel you are entitled to get whatever you want down to specific markings or coat style - in spite of the fact that there may be other families that feel just as entitled to get what they want. Puppies are not erector sets that you choose parts off a shelf and put together - each is a tremendously unique and special live creature. It's not a toy for your kids, a "replacement" for a dog that died, a companion for another pet, or something cute to only appreciate because it has "puppy breath". If that's your intention GET A STUFFED DOG as you'll be much happier with the fact that it is perfect - it doesn't pee, doesn't poop, doesn't dig, doesn't howl, doesn't whine, doesn't nip, doesn't run away, doesn't jump out of the back of your pickup, doesn't demand attention, doesn't require feeding, doesn't chew, will stay the color it was when you bought it, doesn't have to be spayed or neutered, and will sit on the shelf and be perfect forever.
One of the reasons puppy mills flourish is because of this whole "Puppies to Go" mentality. They will give you a puppy no questions asked, you don't have to justify your ability to care for it, and you certainly can "choose" the one you want - even if it's totally wrong for your household. Along with that you get all it's health and temperament problems, but hey, you don't have to answer any questions or even pretend to be a responsible pet owner. The puppy mill doesn't care. They just care about your money. With no thought to temperament or health, they'll even breed you the color you choose and will tell you anything you want to hear about it's personality to make the sale - and charge you big bucks for the privilege. The thing that amazes me is that someone will pay a puppy mill a huge amount for poorly bred but "right color" dog, but if a responsible breeder or rescue asks for basic reimbursement of their (sometimes extensive) expenses - it's "too much". Breeders and rescues put much more time and effort into their charges - and to deny a rescue a reasonable amount because it's a "rescue" is just ludicrous. It will still be your loving companion and will bond to you just as well as any puppy. Same for the hobby breeder's pup - sure, I could make lots of money by keeping my dogs and puppies in filthy cages, and still charge you the same amount - but I don't. I provide a healthy, mentally stimulating environment - I clean up their poop immediately, I socialize them and make sure they have their shots, are wormed and yet, if I ask anything near what the puppy mill is asking, it's too much. The really bizarre part is this is it's often justified because they are "in business" and for us (hobby breeders) it's "a hobby" or "fun" - well, we are up a lot more nights with our puppies than that puppy mill owner was! Believe me, if they were a real business, they would have a lot more respect for their "product". But instead, hobby breeders and rescues are subjected to a sort of "you owe us" mentality as if the adopter is doing us a favor taking this (healthy, well socialized, evaluated) dog off our hands (for cheap).
In Malamutes this seems to manifest itself particularly well with the woollies. People either love them or don't want them - though everyone admits they are absolutely the cutest. My frustration as a breeder is when I have the perfect puppy for your household and it is or is not a wooly and you have adamantly declared you do/do not want that. First off, woollies are no worse or better than any other Malamute - actually they can be quite beautiful and no one is going to mistake them for something else if it's groomed well. If you are combing your dog like you SHOULD (daily) a wooly is no more or less work than a regular coat - but how many of us groom our dogs daily? Yes, I'm guilty too...maybe woollies were put on earth to make us realize care of a dog is a daily thing. You don't just take it off that shelf to play for a few minutes then put it back until the next time you're in the mood. Granted some people have much busier lifestyles, sled their dogs, have several small children occupying their limited time or other reasons that might make a wooly impractical. No argument there. But to arbitrarily say "I don't want a wooly" is like throwing the baby out with the bath water - you may be missing out on the sweetest, most loving and fantastic dog you've ever owned.
Color is another area that lends itself to this "designer dog" mentality. It's understandable to like a certain look - we do too. Some like eye shadow, a bar, darker colors, some prefer lighter colors, some like the unusual reds and whites. Fine. Go to a breeder that has a style you like - but DO NOT expect them to breed just for you. Do not expect to the the ONLY black and white just because it's what you like. They show their dogs, they are looking for certain characteristics to continue their lines and are not going to give you the masked puppy if it's the one that will fit best into their breeding program. Often characteristics are not apparent until 8 weeks anyway (or later) so to expect the breeder to let you choose or demand to know which puppy you are getting before that is asking him to be just like the puppy mills (and I'm assuming if you went to a breeder, it was because you had enough sense to avoid puppy mills). It's not like he can order up what everyone wants. Momma dog, I'd like an order of 3 black and whites, 2 grays and a side of seal to go please...it doesn't work that way and you know it as well as I do. If you don't feel you would get something from this breeder you would like, don't ask for a puppy at all! If he's willing to "wait and see" you should be willing too. You'll appreciate your new family member if he is matched to you for his temperment and personality - and he'll fit in better than if you pick based on markings or coat.
It's time to open your mind to the possibilities. To love the dog that loves you back unconditionally. It's ok to "prefer" certain traits, it's not ok to demand them...if you feel that way, get that stuffed dog. You'll be much happier!