hummingbirdmadgirl: (Default)
[personal profile] hummingbirdmadgirl
these two articles are amazing:

i love irish wolfhounds, i think they are the most regal and beautiful dogs in the world. i'm sure the fact that i grew up around them influences this, but they are huge, gentle dogs that are just astounding. they also don't live very long as they are super prone to mast cell cancer, bone cancer, and a whole host of pulmonary problems. the breed went extinct in the 1700s and was revived using deerhounds and great danes in an attempt to bring back the massive wolf killing dogs that one would read about in the book of kells. however since this was done quickly, you end up with a giant dog that has a heart and lungs more optimal for a smaller dog, meaning that its body worked twice as hard, even at rest, resulting in a very short lifespan. the last time my parents were looking into getting a wolfhound (about ten years ago) they noticed that the ones being bred by the most reputable breeders were smaller than the ones they had previously had, and didn't really like that aesthetic, which is a shame because even though it wasn't as awe inspiring, it meant the dogs might stand a chance at being healthier. sadly over the past few years the wolfhouds i've seen have been fucking huge, way larger than any of the ones I had growing up so I guess that more breeders are aiming for aesthetics again vs overall health of the dog.

when i decided i wanted a dog, i knew that getting a wolfhound was a bad idea. we live in an apartment, we move a lot, we don't know if we're putting down roots in LA, ethan had never owned a dog before, there were a whole host of reasons why getting a giant breed was not a good idea. plus there is a part of me that sort of feels guilt in the whole idea of helping perpetuate a breed that is not healthy, or helping perpetuate the current standard which is not particularly healthy. in reading about breeds i realized i really liked a lot of the characteristics of bulldogs.

before we go any further, yes i know that i could totally be viewed a privileged asshole for buying a dog vs adopting. but at the time we had a very old cat and i wanted to bring a puppy into the house. i also wanted a dog that wouldn't be a detriment for finding an apartment and considering how many dogs/puppies in shelters out here are part pitbull that wasn't a tenable situation since most apartments out here won't rent to you if your dog is even part pitbull (which is a shame because they're awesome dogs). but even aside from that, i wanted a dog that i wanted. i wanted a puppy since it would more easily integrate with the cats and wouldn't be bringing any baggage into the house with it (since hey, dogs don't like being abandoned), i wanted a smaller dog, so i made the choice to buy vs adopt. i've always been responsible in not buying from mills or pet stores, adopting when i can, not buying wild caught exotics, so i sort of feel that if i want to be selfish in selecting a companion animal, whatever. it's not like we don't already know i'm selfish.

one thing that i noticed the more i read about bulldogs was how unhealthy they were. heart disease, allergies, skin disease, eye problems, palate deformation that could lead to a massive host of breathing problems, just every goddamn problem in the book seemed to be wrong with this breed. which was really disheartening because they are so adorable. but the idea of spending $x on a dog and then piling up massive vet bills (or even worse vet bills that we might not be able to pay) seemed like a really bad idea.

from there i started reading about french bulldogs, another small breed i've always liked, and found that if they were bred well, they might still have some health issues, but markedly less than the english bulldog. so we started looking at breeders and Ethan found a woman in the OC and set up an appointment to meet her.

the first thing that struck me was that her dogs were zipping around her substantial yard (she owns a ranch as she also has horses). frenchies are more active than english bulldogs, but they're not really known for their stamina...but even before meeting the puppies we got to see their parents and even a grand parent tearing up the yard like nobody's business. the fact that the puppies grandmother (the grandfather was not on the premises) was alive and happy and super healthy was a sign in the right direction. we had to talk to the breeder for a while about what we wanted in a dog, what my experience in caring for dogs had been, what sort of time/money we were willing to dedicate to this pet, it felt almost like a job interview. she explained that she bred her dogs for health first and foremost. her dogs were all champions in agility as well as show, meaning that they were bred for endurance as well as appearance, however they all tended to have more accolades in the agility stuff. looking at pictures (as well as being there) it was obvious her dogs were more slender, had longer faces and larger noses than other frenchies that i'd seen. their chest's weren't as barrelled, their torsos were longer, their nostrils were wider, their heads weren't as massive, their hips weren't as thin, they mated on their own, their eyes weren't as big, they still looked awesome and clearly like french bulldogs, but slightly different. more like little boxers vs little torpid tanks. she was also super against fad or rare colors so i was sold on her ethics. then we met the puppies and bones just killed me. he was honestly sort of the opposite of what i thought i'd wanted but when i saw him i just knew he was perfect for me. i also talked with other reputable breeders in the SoCal area and the ones vetted by the AKC all said that the breeder we were thinking of getting bones from was a phenomenal breeder and also very picky who she sold dogs to.

a year and a half later and i'm still thrilled with the decision we made. honestly at first i was sort of concerned that he was too tiny or not husky enough (mostly because of seeing other french bulldogs that are way stouter than he is, because in the end i think i'm a big dog person at heart) but overall according to his vet, Bones is one of the healthiest frenchies she's seen. he has no spine or palate problems, his breathing is perfectly normal, he doesn't snore or click, overall he's just a happy, healthy, and awesome dog. i've taken some precautions like having him registered as an emotional support dog, (which is essentially the new medical marijuana) so that he doesn't have to fly in cargo when we travel since i don't want to risk the whole overheating thing...but he's small enough that he can fly in the cabin anyway since he fits in a carrier the size of carry on luggage. overall he's awesome except for being allergic to fleas, though to be fair, it's not like i want him full of fleas anyway so it's not like bathing him and cleaning the apartment is a real chore.

so when these articles started making the rounds, especially the ones about what breeds looked like 100 years ago vs how they look now, i totally got sucked into them. it's just really striking and sad in so many ways to see how breeds have been destroyed to attain physical characteristics that, like the irish wolfhound being ginormous, are in no way sensical other than aesthetics. so i poked around looking at vintage pictures of frenchies and was pretty psyched to see that the bear looks pretty similar to those pictures vs the ones of modern frenchies. obviously i completely lucked out when it came to this dog and i'm grateful that there are breeders who are being more attentive to health vs cartoonishly adorable dogs. the one thing that makes me nervous is if i want another frenchie (and i do) i worry that bones is an anomaly and the next dog we get will end up being some genetic train wreck or something. i'm trying my best to hold out and see what sort of frenchies are up for rescue, though truthfully i think i'd wait until wingnut passes away before bringing a rescue into the house since many of the ones i've seen aren't good with cats or just display levels of food or toy aggression that i think would be too much for a 10 year old cat. who knows though. i know i want bones to have a dog sibling at some point.

on a footnote completely unrelated but buried at the bottom because i have little faith that people actually read livejournal posts and that makes me feel most comfortable discussing this here vs fb or twitter because i feel like it could come across as some sort of self congratulatory bullshit, but that's not where this is going. there are a lot of homeless people in hollywood. one of the great things about the dog is that they want to play with him and he wants to play with everyone ever. which sort of turns into a good way to connect with people you might not otherwise. the end result being that i talk to a lot of homeless people (or in a lot of cases they just talk to the dog, but that's fine because he's kind of cooler than i am anyway). the weather this week has been unusually cold and is only going to get colder. so ethan and i decided to gather up a bunch of blankets and socks and clothing to give to people since it's going to be in the 30s at night. so last night was part 1 of a multi-night series of giving stuff out to people, which was moderately successful,but the best part, the reason it was only moderately successful? someone had beat us to it and had started handing out jackets earlier in the evening. how awesome is that? it's really goddamn awesome is what it is. i sort of went out there last night feeling like we were doing the bare minimum and feeling kind of disheartened about the world and my own contributions to it, and came home feeling so happy that someone else had taken some serious initiative in helping people out. i still feel so happy about it.

so yeah, my dog is awesome and i love him and i'm glad that while he really wouldn't exist in nature without selective breeding, i'm glad that he was bred ethically and that he's not a heaving snorting mess that can't walk a mile without passing out.
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