Being a New Yorker, I read the New York Times and being a veterinarian, I read about pets. So when the New York Times started a new online column, “The Puppy Diaries,” I was compelled to read it. “The Puppy Diaries” is a weekly series about the challenges and satisfactions of raising a puppy through its first year of life.
The puppy star of “The Puppy Diaries” is Scout, a Golden Retriever. The first column generated over 100 reader comments, many criticizing the author’s decision to purchase a purebred dog rather than rescue a mixed breed mutt or adopt a dog from a shelter. Being a lover of dogs in general, and no breed in particular, this criticism swirled in my mind since the first column. I couldn’t decide who was right, the supporters of purebred dogs or the supporters of mutts. Both would bring happiness, companionship and challenges to their family.
I cannot think of an exact parallel, but I did think of some similar situations. Take for example, blue jeans. One can purchase wildly expensive designer jeans or much cheaper no-name jeans. Both types provide coverage and comfort, but owners of the designer jeans swear they are better and those with no-name jeans would never think of spending a large sum on blue jeans. The same is true for other apparel, such as shoes, scarves and handbags. Possibly a better example is children. Some families have children of their own and complete their family by adopting even when they could have more children of their own. Some families adopt, because they want to provide a good home for a child without one.
Similar reasoning may explain prospective dog owner’s choices. Some families, like Scout’s family, want the experience of raising a puppy and other families prefer to skip the puppy stage and adopt an older dog. Because of the dependable characteristics (size, personality and coat) of purebred dogs, selection of a particular purebred dog may be required. (Think Obama here, whose children required a hypoallergenic dog.) A mutt may fit better into a family wanting to share life with a canine companion.
Be it shoes, children or dogs, it is all about what you like, what is best for your family and how you chose to spend your money.
In the end, I think the two sides, mutts and purebreds, will need to agree to disagree on this topic. But in our disagreement, let’s not lose sight of what’s important. All pets should have a loving home, nutritious food, quality healthcare and an education so they become good members of society. Hey, but isn’t that true for humans and canines, alike?
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