Sunday, June 22, 2014

Broken Dogs as a Consumer Choice

What is the function of a Pug?

Is it not to be a dog that does not demand too much exercise?

I am deadly serious.

The notion that brachycephalic breeds that cannot move is a DEFECT assumes that the people who buy these dogs want dogs that do NOT get winded crossing the rug, and that CAN chase and kill the neighbor's cat.

Think about how many hours a day you are on a screen -- a television, a computer, a cell phone, a Kindle, an iPad. Is it 8 hours a day? Is it 12? Where is your time for a dog that needs to be walked twice a day? Not there! This is the world we live in. And so, more and more people look to pugs and English Bulldogs.

Noses that cannot breathe and legs that cannot walk are not seen as a defect, but as a FEATURE.

And the Bulldog does not live long? How is that a defect in this throw-away society where a cellphone is tossed in a bin every two years?  The sickest bulldog seems to last longer than most marriages these days. Plus, a dead dog is a chance to get a PUPPY! And who does not love puppies?

Why do people gravitate to rescue Greyhounds?  Simple: because they are told they are "couch potatoes." That's the sell -- not that these dogs are great dogs on the lamp at night, on rabbits or fox. The sell is that they will get up on a couch and stay there all day while you watch TV next to them.

Now, to be clear, I do not think too many people consciously look for dogs that are crippled.  Instead, they look for dogs that are "easy to take care of," "low-energy," "couch potatoes," which are "funny looking" and which have "personality" because they waddle or snore or pant all day long with the tongues hanging out of their mouth.

But that's all language -- the gloss of words used to rationalize selection for defect.

At Starbucks this morning, a number of people stopped to inquire about Moxie. When told she is a Jack Russell, they tell me they are a "high energy" breed that "are always leaping" and which they cannot have because of "cats".

Yes, a real Jack Russell Terrier is a REAL dog. It is not broken. It barks. It runs. It lives for 15 years. It has prey drive. 

And no, it is not a cat.


Rebekah and My Rotten Dogs said...

Love the infographic. Brilliant post. I get so aggravated when people ask me what dog breeds are "easy" or are couch potatoes. I have three neurotic mutts, but am constantly looking for ways to keep their bodies and minds exhausted. I have been told I "care about my dogs too much" because of this...

MaryC said...

As usual, love this post ... and the graphic at the end.

And if they cannot have a cat, they do not need an "easy pet" like say, a domestic rabbit.

My warning to potential rabbit adopters is brief. "This is not a hamster. This is a dog."

June the rabbit is doing laps in my kitchen. June spent 252 days in a small cage last year. If I can help it, she will never be caged again.

There is no such thing as an easy pet! GRRR!

Easy for person = hard for the animal.

PS: I saw a video of my friend's 11-year-old JRT the other day, running like the wind at an empty dog park. How anyone can breed these dogs and give them to "typical" dog owners blows my mind. I see it on Craigslist all the time.

Mary Cvetan
Co-founder, Pittsburgh House Rabbit Club

seeker said...

Good work for the JRTCA for spreading the words that Jacks are not an easy dog. Hopefully that will keep too many of them out of our Rescue Groups and pounds for kid biting and cat killing. Not that I forsee your Moxie and bro doing either.

Debi and the Jack/Rat Pack.

Peter Apps said...

I often wonder if some people buy "needy" dogs because they have to have something to care for ? These are the dogs with inbuilt physical defects that mean continual trips to the vet, or developed behavioural problems that mean continual visits to training classes and remedial dog psychologists. They get special food, elaborate behaviour modification rituals and expensive dog toys. Their owners continually talk and internet post about their dog's problems, and the heroic efforts that they are making to solve them. They never go on holiday because the dog would get stressed. A cat cannot substitute for the dog, because a cat is too little trouble. A human baby is really what they are looking for.

John said...

You're quite incorrect about former racing ("rescue") Greyhounds being "marketed" as dogs needing little exercise. Look at any Greyhound adoption group's web site or literature, and you'll find that all of them state that former racing Greyhounds need to be walked and exercised just as any other breed of dog does. The "couch potato" term (which I personally find odious) was coined to debunk the old myth that racing Greyhounds are high-strung and that adopters need a lot of land for them to run on.

John Parker
Southeastern Greyhound Adoption

RescueTrain said...

Yes! Just one note of caution: When younger, cats swing in curtains, divebomb on you and your innocent dogs, get behind the books on the shelves and push them out ta-ploink, study gravity by swapping all kinds of things of horizontal services including one's desk, .... One of mine chews electrical cords, so all cords in the house covered. They climb up window screens leaving claw marks. They need veterinary care just like a dog and live 15 years plus. They piss, shit, produce hairball puke, and track litter over the house. They are highly intelligent and social animals who need daily interaction with their humans. If they can go outside, they don't always come back, and when they do, not always on time, leaving the worrying humans to worry. Life without them is unthinkable though! But it's not low maintenance. Yes, I have two very active dogs of working breeds, herding and terrier :)

PBurns said...

Pretty much anyone can use the Google to find rescues like Couch Potato Greys at >>

Over at The Retired Racing Greyhounds pages at >> we are told these dogs are, in fact, couch potatoes.

Southeastern Greyhound Adoption itself describes the dogs as "docile" and "low key" and "very laid-back" who "bark very little" and that they only need to get walked "three or four times a week". Right. A perfect cat!

Click here to read more about how rescue greyhounds are marketed. >>

Or go to Amazon where we get this title >>

Or go to one of the most popular beed books where we are told "they have not been called couch potatoes for nothing." >>

What you will not find from racetrack apologists, however, is any mention of "the gap" between the number of dogs bred for the track by greyhound puppy mills, and the number used by the track and then re-homed.

This is the "death gap" and one of the main reasons greyhound racing tracks are (thankfully) dying on the vine (even faster than the AKC is!).

PBurns said...

And then there is the title of this piece, and the quote from rescue folks at The Bark. >>

So yes, "couch potatoes" is indeed how these dogs are marketed/placed and it's the term that is waved about because it works-- it fits what "the market" so often wants in a dog.

Demiandogs said...

Well with the cat aspect,I don't mind a dog that will go after strange,running or aggressive cats. Pretty much all dogs I had would do that,but sense I have my own cats it would deter me from another cat killer that can't be trusted with any. Plus you can have a real dog like that.

Pamela Unger said...

I have always been particularly lucky when learning about dogs. The first trainer I ever used (with one of my first dogs) was also an animal behaviorist who spent a month or so living with wolves every summer. She trained ME to train my dogs. She also happened to have the first Jack Russels I had ever heard-of (back in the early '80s. She kept trying to get me to take one of her puppies and I kept saying "no" because I knew they were too much for me! To this day, if someone tells me they have a JRT, I always ask, "And does YOURS spend 22 hours a day bouncing off the walls?" LOL! They are great little dogs, but not for me!

PipedreamFarm said...

Having had a rescued greyhound (track flunky, rescued at 2 years of age) and a friend who rescued one at the same age; I can definitively state these ex races never (not even at 2 years of age) needed as much exercise as our Border Collies. Once our two ex-racers matured (by about 4 years) they needed VERY little exercise to be satisfied. A short leash walk or even time in a fenced yard was sufficient for them to be ready for a multi hour nap. Nowhere near the exercise requirements for our Border Collies; not even my 11 year old.

The couch-potato description is quite valid.

Jenny Glen said...

Wish the border collie club was just as effective. All I hear from "laymen" is "I was thinking of getting one of those. I heard they were the smartest dogs."

mokkeaia said...

It's weird to hear this... well, I don't live in the US, but I had no idea that somewhere an enegetic dog is a trouble.
For most dog people I know it's a trouble to find an active enough dog for walks and some minor sportive activity (agility etc). And now it's really a trouble as most dogs don't meet those requirements. So people go for working dogs.