Dead end: a position, situation, or course of action that leads to nothing further. The question is, why do I keep engaging myself to these kinds of conversations. Well, probably because in the back of my mind there is a slight chance that someone is convinced (if not the person in front of me then maybe someone eavesdropping or overhearing the conversation).
Situation: I am invited at a birthday party. Among a bunch of strangers, there is a familiar face – and ex colleague who I hadn’t seen for years, so we catch up.
Her: So what do you do now?
Me: I am a blogger
Her: What do you blog about?
Me: Mainly dogs and cats, animal welfare stuff, rescues etc.
Her (confused): What do you mean? What’s the content?
Me: Usually it’s a stray, sick or mistreated animal that was rescued, treated and adopted.
Her: Oh, we got a dog recently!
Me: Oh great!
Her (too proud): A purebred!
Her: A German Shepherd!
I find an excuse to leave before I hear words like “breeder/breed/ money/ cost” etc come out of her mouth, because the night is young and I don’t want to show the real me just yet. After a couple of hours, a few drinks and the typical discussion about the Greek economic crisis etc, I find myself talking to the woman’s husband about their purebred. Enjoy:
Him: She is a purebred.
Me: What does this mean?
Him: She’s got the pedigree papers.
Me: I am not a fan of purebreds, they have health issues.
Him: No, you are wrong. Purebreds are the healthy ones, the ones that are mixed have health issues!
Me: Who told you that? The breeder? Purebreds are full of genetic health issues, mainly because of inbreeding.
Him: No, the ones with the pedigree are healthy – if you don’t cross them with other breeds.
Me: You are wrong. Animal welfare groups have been trying for years to convince the Kennel Club that it doesn’t keep some breeds as “pure” as they are now, so that future dogs come out healthier.
Him: No, purebreds are healthy.
Me: No, mix breeds are always the healthiest dogs.
Him: Eh, well, those strays are used to hardships.
Me: It’s not because they are used to hardships, it’s because they are the outcome of natural selection, and nature knows better than any breeder.
Him: We wanted a purebred.
Me: Well, yeah..but what does this really mean for you?
Him: She has the breed standards.
Me: Which means?
Him: She learns fast.
Me: All dogs learn.
Him: Purebreds learn, strays just wag their tails.
Me: Who told you that? The breeder? My dogs are very well behaved.
Him: What have you taught them?
Me: Everything they needed to know.
Him: Like what? Wag their tails? (laughing)
Me: No, they know how to sit, stay, roll over, walk off leash, eat at command, go to their beds, behave around people etc.
Him: That’s basic training.
Me: Yes, basic training.
Him: But the mongrels do not make good guard dogs.
Me: If you need protection you should get an alarm system.
Him: Are your dogs neutered?
Me: yes, all of them. It was the first thing we did after we rescued them.
Him: I want mine to give birth once.
Me: Do you know what would happen if everyone allowed his dog to give birth once?
Him: I can sell the puppies.
Me: What if the puppies she delivers have litters too? That means 25 new dogs in one year, and there are healthy dogs being put down right now because there are too many of them already.
Him: She is a purebred, do you know how much they cost?
Me: Do you wanna profit from your dog?
Him: No, not profit.
Me: Why would you want to sell them and destroy the work of responsible breeders?
Him: My breeder can have her mate with one of his own and sell the puppies.
Me: So you do wanna profit from her?
Him (agitated): No, not profit. I want her to give birth once.
Me: By letting her give birth you deprive stray puppies from finding a home. The best thing you can do is try to convince people like you who want a purebred to adopt a rescue dog. Besides, there are purebreds in shelters too.
Him: No there aren’t.
Me: Yes, there are. They get abandoned too.
Him: People don’t abandon purebreds. They paid for them so they don’t abandon them.
Me: Of course they do, what are you talking about?
Him: They don’t abandon dog that cost 600 euros.
Him: Besides, mix breeds don’t make good guard dogs.
Me: Dogs are not meant to guard anyone, they are companions.
Him: Come on, let’s not exaggerate. Dogs are tools.
Me: Ehhm, no they aren’t……
Him: So what do you call your dogs? Bastards? Hahahah!! (genuine laughter, he actually thought it was funny)
Me: Ehm, no, we call them Laura, Apollo and Pela.
Him: Laura is a French Bulldog, right?
Me: Yes, we adopted her.
Him: I wanted one of these too.
Me: You shouldn’t get one.
Me: Because they shouldn’t even exist. Breeding them is borderline abuse, they are full of health issues.
Him: Like what?
Me: Everything. I told you, purebreds are not healthy.
Him: Purebreds ARE healthy, the mix breeds aren’t.
When it comes to animal welfare, bigotry is very difficult to distinguish at first sight. If you are very involved, you can see it every day, when albums of purebreds are being shared per hundreds, and the plain, mix breed one barely get a couple of likes. This was a case where it was so obvious, that I was amazed with the audacity of it. Ι live in a country where the minimum wage starts at 495, 25 euros per month (!) and where every other Greek feels like the underdog of an entire continent. And yet people keep believing they deserve their purebreds and are willing to spend a months salary on one. Maybe that makes them feel less of an underdog.
We left after a while. The sad thing is that – despite everything that was wrong with him- he is a good dog owner, who loves and cares for Bella, his purebred German Shepherd. And while we were talking, I kept wishing that Bella had never been born and that he had adopted one of these mongrels he kept disrespecting. Meh…