In today’s article I am not going talk about what to feed your Husky or how to tame your wild beast. Today I am going to talk about something that I am unfortunately all too familiar with, the unseen and seldom talked about emotional price that is paid for living with and caring for a sick Snow Dog.
Far beyond the monetary cost of caring for a sick dog, there is another cost associated with this issue; the immeasurable cost of heartache, sorrow, and angst of watching a dog that you love suffer and struggle. I am also going to talk about how you can help reduce the chances of this being your fate as a dog owner.
While it is true that not all dog illness are a result of bad breeding or genetics, the vast majority of them are just that. Sadly we will never have any control over the actions and behaviours of the people who knowingly breed poor quality dogs or lack the specialized knowledge of what is required to produce healthy dogs. We only have control over our own thoughts, choices, and behaviours. So what then, if anything, can we do about people who choose to produce poor quality dogs? We can be informed and know what to look for in a good quality dog and breeder.
Think With Head And Not With Your Heart
Regardless if you are purchasing a dog from a breeder or adopting a second chance dog, you are agreeing to meet all of these dog’s needs, including all of its health needs.
When you adopt a dog, you are taking on a dog “as is”. You really do not get a choice about the health or genetics of the dog. I shudder to think how often dogs end up shelters once owners realize that their dog has health issues.
But when you buy from a breeder, you do have a choice. I am dismayed at the number of people who overlook the signs of a terrible breeder and purchase their dog from them anyway. It does not matter how badly you want a dog, a dog from this kind of breeder may not bring you pleasure and joy. It may instead bring you a dog that either has medical problems or emotional and behavioural problems.
You have a choice about not setting yourself up for a lifelong series of problems with this dog. Think with your head and not with your heart.
Signs That You Should Walk Away From The Purchase
The Breeder Will Not Let You Inspect The Premises
This is a big give away that he has something to hide. Yes, he has a right to ask that you make an appointment to visit his place, but as a consumer of his product, you have the right to see where your dog is coming from. The mother and the puppies should be on site. Ideally, you should be able to view the father too. If the breeder comes up with constant excuses or continually stalls about the visit, assume he has something to hide and pass on this purchase.
The Parents Have Bad Temperaments
The temperament of your puppy is going to be influenced greatly by the genetics and temperament of the parent dogs. If the parents are timid, fearful, aggressive. or unapproachable, pass on this purchase unless you want to spend a lot of your time dealing with your dog who is very likely going to have emotional issues surrounding being social and approachable.
The Puppies Are Kept In Filthy Conditions
I shook my head in dismay when I read just the other day that someone (in an a Facebook group) was asking what she can wash her puppy with because when they brought the puppy home it was covered in dried excrement and stank to the high heavens. This was not due to something that happened on the trip home, this was due to the way that these puppies were housed with the breeder.
Upon seeing the lack of hygiene and care that these puppies received, why on earth would someone go through with this purchase? How healthy do you think this dog is going to be? Puppies reared in filthy conditions are likely going to full of worms and GI tract infestations of bacteria borne illnesses associated with drinking polluted water and eating feces contaminated food. If you see filthy puppies and filthy housing conditions, pass on this deal.
Ask To See A Record Of How Often A Female Has Been Bred
When a female is bred often and over long periods of time, this causes the quality of the puppies to suffer. Your puppy is only going to be as healthy as the mother is healthy. Having only one female likely means that this dog is being bred over and over again. Walk away and pass on this deal.
If A Breeder Has Lots Of Dogs And Lots Of Litters On The Ground At The Same Time
Far too often this has all the earmarks of commercial breeder who cranks out a supply of puppies to sell. Another name for this is called a Puppy Mill. These breeders supply pet stores and online “stores” with puppies.
These parent dogs are usually house in cramped quarters and have no social interaction with the outside world. The quality of puppies these dogs produce are deplorable. If you see this, walk away from the deal.
Buying A Dog Sight Unseen From An Online Breeder
There is no question that we live in an online world. Buying goods online is commonplace these days. But a dog is not toaster, a TV, or a handbag. It is a living animal and you will be assuming responsibility for its care. When you buy a dog over the internet, sight unseen, you are taking the breeder’s word for everything.
That is not to say that there are not good and ethical breeders who also sell dogs online. There are wonderful breeders who use the internet to help reach a wider base of consumers for the goods they produce.
No, this is about the unethical breeder who hides behind the anonymity of the internet and produces horrible quality dogs to sell to unsuspecting buyers. Unless there is way for you to verify the quality of the product that a breeder produces or unless you can plan trip to visit the premises before you agree to buy a dog, walk away from a sight unseen deal.
Getting A “Deal” On A Dog That Some Novice Breeds In Their Backyard
It does not matter how good your “deal” is, dogs, especially Huskies and Malamutes, need to come from clean lines and from breeders who know and understand how to produce health dogs. Far too many people think that easy money can be made from tossing a male and female dog together and allowing them to procreate.
These dog breeders do not seem to give a second thought to the expense, anguish, or heartache that will be caused to the unsuspecting person who buys their badly produced dog. No matter how much money you think that you are saving yourself by agreeing to buy a “good deal dog” it will not prove to be such a good deal when you find yourself having to pay for endless vet visits because you have a sickly dog.
If no one bought dogs produced in Puppy Mills, there would be no market for their product.
If no one purchased dogs from hack breeders who keep their dogs in deplorable conditions, then there would be no market for them to sell their poor quality dogs.
People who purchase dogs from questionable breeders help keep them in business.
While we don’t have any control over people who choose to be bad breeders, we do have a choice about not buying their horribly bred puppies. Please, be aware and informed. Do not unwittingly support these businesses. Do not set yourself up for everything that comes along with caring for a sick dog.
The Reality Of Life With A Sick Dog
Not being well informed or not walking away from a bad deal even when your instincts told you something was not right will cost you dearly in the end. Even if a breeder has a replacement policy for sick dogs, the reality is that you have fallen in love and bonded with this dog. How easy do you think it is going to be to return him to the breeder? It’s not like returning a pair of shoes after discovering that they hurt your feet.
And if you choose to keep the dog, the reality that becomes your life can be overwhelming. Secondary to the cost associated with owning a sick dog is the emotional toll it takes on you. Worry. Struggle. Heartache. Pain. Feeling helpless to be able to help or fix your dog.
My Dog, Jhett
As some of you may or may not know, I just recently lost my 4 year old Siberian Husky to a cluster of epileptic seizures. Jhett had a cluster of 13 back to back seizures and died in my arms. He started having seizures at only 14 months old. He had 34 seizures in his young life not counting the cluster that took his life.
It was not until Jhett was gone did I realize exactly the true “price” that was paid for sharing my life with a sick dog. Even after Jhett’s passing, for quite a while when I heard nails scrabbling on the floor I leaped up to run and assist with the seizure. When dogs have a seizure they will fall wherever they are at the time. They can get wedged or hurt themselves by banging into a hard immovable object.
Jhett frequently ran to hide in his crate when seizure was about to happen. The confines of a wire crate is not the best place to be having a seizure. I cannot tell you how many times I had to dive in there with him to hold his head so he would not get hurt while he convulsed. I cannot tell you how many times I rushed home after running errands because I was worried about Jhett having a seizure while he was crated.
I cannot tell you how many times I sprung out of bed in the middle of the night because of what sounded like the silent “acking” sound that was made by Jhett having a seizure in the middle of the night. You learn to sleep with one ear open when you have a sick dog. Jhett was gone for a quite a while and I was still living my life in a state of high alert.
Chronic Sickness Isn’t Always A Result Of Bad Breeding
Yesterday I got news that made my heart sink. One of the puppies from Skylar’s litter has had two seizures. The breeder gave the owner my number because of the specialized information that I have regarding Zinc and Seizures in Huskies and Malamutes.
Even though this breeder uses proven clean lines and feeds correctly, we are dealing with a puppy who is having seizures. This is not the first breeding of these two lines. They have never had any epilepsy in their lines before. It happens.
And if it happens to with expert breeders who know what do and to look for imagine how often it happens with negligent, inexperienced, or unethical breeders.
Even though there are more than one reasons that a dog can have seizures, now I am going to have to watch Skylar for seizures too. I have already lived with two dog Snow Dogs that had seizures. I honestly hope we won’t have to go through this again.
Things To Avoid When Buying/Adopting A New Dog
- If you are thinking about buying a dog sight unseen …. don’t.
- If you are thinking about buying a dog from bad breeders because you have “always really wanted to own this breed” …. don’t.
- If you are trying to save yourself money by getting a “deal” from a hack backyard breeder …. don’t.
- If you think that just because you have a male and female dog that you should breed them … don’t.
By arming yourself with information you can hopefully avoid living the reality of sharing your life with a sick Sled Dog.
As always we welcome your questions, comments, and stories regarding this topic. When we share our stories and our wisdom we may be helping someone who is struggling with their Snow Dog.
Helping all Snow Dogs … one owner at a time.