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Wellbeing: Choosing a Healthy & Happy Pedigree Puppy

Boston-Terrier-bitch--pups.jpg

In case you didn’t know, I don’t actually own a dog right now. Coming from someone who writes a blog about dogs, I appreciate that this may seem somewhat crazy. Due to personal circumstances I shan’t bore you with, I’ve lived a dog-less adult life so the blog has been my outlet for my love of man’s best friend. 

FINALLY, I’m in the fortunate position to be able to have a dog and I can’t wait. Well actually I can and here’s why. For almost five years I’ve hankered for a bug-eyed, squishy faced, bouncy, cheeky chops Boston Terrier to call my own, all thanks to numerous encounters with the breed when I used to live in New York. This is not the first time I’ve had to wait for a dog either. For almost a year I’d write letters to the ‘dog-fairy’ at bedtime and send them fluttering down the stairs until we eventually got a Cocker Spaniel called Jake, who was my best pal throughout my childhood and teen years.

Now that I had my ‘green light’ on getting a BT, I could have quite easily spent 30 minutes browsing the internet, scoured my local papers for ads or even popped to my local pet shop to see what they had ‘in stock’, and my much-wanted Boston Terrier could be mine faster than you can say ‘internet shopping’. However, if I’d chosen to go down that route it’s highly likely that he will have come from a puppy farm and I would have never seen the horrid conditions he’d come from or met his mum. 

Attending Diva Dogs Day recently, TV Vet, Marc Abraham, chatted to guests about the cruel trade of puppy farming, which involves the mass production of puppies purely for profit. The puppy is the product, the mother and father are breeding machines, all are usually kept in horrific dark conditions, completely unsocialised and riddled with infectious and inbred often incurable diseases. Through underhand practices from those involved in the trade, buyers never buy direct from the farm – the pups are always passed on through a third-party (web, paper ad, pet shop or agent) - and the buyer never sees their pup with its mum.

To illustrate his case, Marc brought Zoe a Labrador bitch, to the stage. Zoe, who was fortunate enough to have been rescued from a puppy farm, had been bred every season for more than seven years to pump out pups and the effects on her body were horrific – she’d had at least four caesarians, an extremely saggy tum from being continuously pregnant causing problems for her back, her teeth were worn down from gnawing at the cage she was kept hostage in and she had a deep scar on her leg where she’d been tied up. Had she not been rescued, she would have most likely to have been shot or disposed in some other inhumane way once she was no longer capable of producing pups. It doesn’t make for pleasant viewing but watch the video below and you’ll see Zoe and hear other stories of puppy farming.

Instead of making an impulse purchase and potentially ending up with a pup likely to end up fraught with health issues, I’ve tried to do my homework. I’ve researched the breed so I know what questions to ask, sourced a list of approved breeders from the Kennel Club, spoken to the Breed Club, chatted with various breeders at length, met with some and am two thirds of the way through a 150 page book on the breed. 

I’ve finally settled on a lovely lady in Nottinghamshire, who’s bred Bostons for almost 20 years. Her website states ‘all our dogs are first and foremost our beloved family companions’ and this has shone through in all the dealings I’ve had with her to date. She’s been happy to chat to me for 30mins at a time, has befriended me on Facebook so I can interact with other people who’ve had her dogs, sends me weekly updates with their progress and even made me fill out a three-page questionnaire to ‘vet’ my suitability to take one of her babies. The dogs are bred and socialised in her home and I know when I visit her in a few weeks, I will meet my pup’s mum Pheobe and the rest of her Boston brood. I also know that should I encounter any hiccups with Basil once I take him home, she will be more than happy for me to call her up for advice rather than rush off to the vets at every sniffle, which as a prospective dog-mum is a massive reassurance.

My experience with my breeder has made the impending arrival of my pup all the more exciting. I feel confident that my little man will be handed over in a healthy psychical and emotional state, which justifies my epic five-year wait. If like me, you’re considering getting a pedigree puppy, please make sure you invest some time in checking out where he’s coming from and always make sure that you see his mum. For more information and advice visit Pupaid.org and Thekennelclub.org.uk.

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