Opinion

Bob Mitchell: Tips for choosing man’s best friend

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Gathering numerous headlines recently, man’s best friend, at least a number of them, are stepping out of the circle of befriending certain folks.

From experience and reading recent articles, there are some people wondering if human beings might be responsible for that situation. Here are a couple of reasons behind this theory, coming from a devout dog lover.

First, experienced dog breeders and trainers have recommended for sometime to stay away from the larger breed dogs since so many have been trained and bred for military or law enforcement duties and some of that inbreeding might still be in these breeds. These folks cite only the larger dogs, which naturally might fit into this type of environment.

Oddly enough, one of those most commonly mentioned in this category was the Irish setter. Why this breed was singled out for the top ranking wasn’t certain. This breed at one time made a good hunting dog and was known for their beauty and kind nature around youngsters.

Again, did man develop a style in this dog that turned them into a possible dangerous animal?

Foreign bred

With the popularity of puppy mills and the possible revenue source that marketing dogs might provide, there is a wide source of obtaining some top breeds that could come from outside the United States. Here again, domestic breeders voice the opinion that there is no assurance in this situation, what the background of the animal might have been.

These experts express information from their sources of less than acceptable conditions and intentions of these animals that come from outside this country. They also question some of the activities and conditions of some in-country breeders that rush their litters with some not providing ideal weaning procedures and proper care and attention for the dogs as puppies.

Then there is sometimes a rush for commercial or personal security that often include a canine that has been trained to provide guard functions that again could change an animal’s personality or behavior.

Good example

My Navy doctor’s grandson and his wife really wanted an English bulldog while he was in AF medical school in D.C. So, they splurged, committing $1,000 to a breeder in Arizona for an apparently top-grade animal. The pup was flown to D.C. and when they went to the airport to accept the animal, its papers were in Russian.

Since neither they, nor anyone at the airport could read the information, they went back to the school to locate someone who could read the language. This worked and they took their pup home.

The dog was a wonder growing up, friendly and all the good points. He was a beautiful animal that many folks admired.

Then, on assignment at Vance AFB in Oklahoma, the animal was involved in three biting incidents, which rated him as a vicious animal and requiring them to put him down. They later learned this situation was not unusual for animals originating from this country.

Health problems

Experts have also written that dogs whelped in some regions of the United States are quite possibly likely to develop certain serious diseases. These can be costly to maintain the health of the dog into adult life, or result in early demise. Heart disease is the one most commonly mentioned.

Here again, there are ways and means of checking the breeder or the country from where the dog might have originated, so, that’s a step legitimate dog people recommend as the first toward your future Best Friend.

Kennels now overgrown

My kennels, several years beyond use, are now overgrown and have become a natural area on our property. The automatic feeders long ago went to a friend, but my love for dogs has never ceased.

Favorites around our house, both for our family and myself, were birddogs — a Pointer, and later in life, English setters.

Carroll Chenoweth introduced me to the world of setters, a move that never left me. There were Freckles, Judy, Jane, Sam, Kate and Maggie.

The latter two had to be the top of the line, although there was never any continuation of their generations. They both came to us as pups or young dogs and were “made birddogs” by reaching six months old.

They performed before lots of folks in Arkansas, Kansas and South Dakota. At many places where they did their thing, someone might have requested to hear a dollar price to own one or both, but their checkbooks weren’t thick enough to take either one home with them.

Maggie’s life was cut short by a lightning strike in the kennel. Kate never got over the loss of her sister and eventually went to another home to be around other dogs.

Take care of your best friends

Remember, dogs are not human (although sometimes they perform better) so, if your “best friend” is acting adverse to your wishes, there are steps that can be taken.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.