Friday, August 10, 2012

The Best "Mistake" I Ever Made (and Learned From)

About a month ago, I discovered a website called  One of the main attractions on this site is the discussion forums, where people can post questions or comments about Dobermans and other members can reply.    After Lexie’s third eye surgery, I started a thread in the Doberman Health forum asking other members for advice about helping her adjust to her blindness.  I received many kind comments, and after Lexie passed away, I also received many sincere condolences.  Based on that experience, I thought was a warm community of Doberman owners/enthusiasts who were there to share stories about their Dobes and to help one another.

As it turns out, there is also a “dark side” to these discussion forums, which I learned firsthand a couple of nights ago.  I decided to post a few photos of Margot to the Doberman Puppies forum, just to kind of brag a little and introduce her to the other members of the site.  I mentioned in my post that we “adopted” Margot shortly after losing Lexie because we wanted so desperately to ease the pain of grieving.  While some of the feedback I received was very kind and welcoming, I was quite surprised when I also received several negative, scolding replies.   I was actually offended at first because I felt like some of the more judgmental, know-it-all members of the website were just ganging up on me for the sake of being be mean. 

First, they scolded me for using the word “adopted” instead of “purchased,” because apparently “rescuers find it offensive when people who purchase their puppies say that they ‘adopted’ them.”  This kind of blew my mind, but okay, whatever.  For the record, though, I used the word “adopted” simply because in my mind this means the same as “became the mother of.”  The word “purchased” just sounds so cold to me, like I merely paid money for some new thing.  Furthermore, doesn't money exchange hands during any sort of adoption process?  We certainly do not consider adopted children to be "purchased children," so why should I have to call Margot my "purchased puppy?"  Regardless, for the sake of not OFFENDING anyone, I will no longer use the word "adopted" in reference to Margot.

The other reason why some members of the forum lashed out at me was because I purchased Margot from what they call a “back yard breeder” (BYB), which is apparently highly frowned upon.  I’m not quite as surprised by this scolding, however, as I have been learning quite a lot since I first purchased Margot, and I must say that I have to agree with them on this point.   

While I liked the people from whom I purchased Margot, and I do believe that they care about placing their puppies in the best homes possible, in hindsight I probably would not have answered their ad just based on the fact that the puppies were being sold at 6 weeks of age.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I have since learned that it is actually very important that the puppies stay with their mother and siblings for at least 8 weeks because they are still learning some very important lessons at that time, which are best taught by the puppies’ mother and through playing with their siblings.  A “good breeder” should definitely know that.  I hate to say that I purchased Margot from a “bad breeder” because, again, I do not think that they were bad people, I just don’t think they are educated enough about good breeding practices. 

Regardless, I obviously cannot say at this point that I regret answering their ad because it brought Margot into our lives, and Justin and I couldn’t be more in love with our little girl.  However, I strongly encourage those of you who are thinking about purchasing a new puppy to PLEASE do a lot of research before you even start looking.   I did some research before I began my puppy search, but I mostly only researched what types of questions I should ask a breeder.  My intentions were good, in that I wanted to make sure I didn’t purchase a puppy from a puppy mill or anything like that, but I obviously didn’t do enough research because I didn’t realize that Margot’s litter was being sold two weeks too early.

The bottom line is that it’s important to know good breeding practices from bad breeding practices before you start looking for a new puppy because you never want to support a BYB who views having litters as a source of income.   I don’t know for certain if that was the case with me, and I certainly hope not, but it’s definitely possible given the fact that the puppies were being sold too early.  I have definitely learned from this experience, though, and I will never make that mistake again.  Not that I consider Margot to be a “mistake” (that sounded bad), but I do consider her to be my first very valuable lesson about BYB’s. 


While the focus of this blog entry centered around breeding practices, I just wanted to add, if you are considering adding a new puppy to your family, PLEASE also heavily consider visiting your local animal shelter or finding a rescue group for the breed of your choice.  As I've mentioned previously, Sam and Jocie were both pound puppies, and I honestly couldn't have asked for a better couple of dogs.  Just as I've declared that I will always have a Doberman in my life, I should also add that I will continue to rescue pups from the animal shelter, as well, for as long as I live.  :)


  1. Everyone has different opinions. When we got our Lizzie (a beagle) the breeder insisted she was 7 1/2 weeks old... the vet said there was no way she was more than 5 weeks... but we fell madly in love with her, gave her a good life and we were all very happy.

    I think "adopted" is WAY better than "purchased"... I would never say we "purchased" Leo... he came from someone who had an accidental litter and I guess he was free, so it wasn't purchasing... but I always think of him as being "mine" or "adopted". I love you and I'm so glad you've found some happiness in your sorrow.

  2. If there is one thing I've learned from participating in the internet, it's that there are jerks everywhere. I urge you to please continue to say you adopted Margot, because you DID adopt her. Some people need to feel like experts about everything.

    As you know, I'm not a fan of breeding, at all. However, I know you had the best intentions and would NEVER purchase a puppy from a breeder who was deliberately mistreating the animals. You should not feel guilty because you purchased a puppy who needed a good home (because ALL puppies need good homes, no matter where they came from) from someone who wasn't aware of the laws and/or etiquette of what a few people who are experts think is right or wrong.

  3. A well written post.
    I think that every situation in life involves some learning.

    That being said, when it comes to bad breeding practices it's not just about the "income" that the breeder gets (or even blatantly abusing the dogs) but about what they do with their dogs to ensure that they are producing healthy puppies. Many breeds have health issues and dobes have a lot of them! Health testing of the parents (blood, eyes, heart, hips, thyroid, elbows) is vital in this breed. When you health test your dogs you know if they are or not well built and healthy. Unhealthy dogs should not be bred and breeding healthy dogs ensures that the puppies being produced with the best possible chance at life. So often dogs from less-than-stellar breeders (BYBs) end up in shelters because health issues pop up that the owner cannot or simply will not deal with - many times those issues can be prevented by health testing the parents and figuring out that perhaps they shouldn't be bred.

    Just my two cents.
    (I didn't even touch on titling.)

  4. I'm not going to rain on your blog, because really, that sucks. I don't want to ruin anybody's happiness, especially not puppy happiness. Who can look at that face and be angry? I want to scritch her ears and smell the top of her head and rub noses. I do that with Elka all the time! I was dismayed that Margot was 6 weeks when you got her, and that her breeder was on eBay classifieds, but attacking you about it isn't the way to go. It's a sure way to make somebody angry and resentful, not educate them. And it certainly isn't Margot's fault, that she was sold at that age. She is a cutie, and she certainly will continue to help you heal, as she has gone down that road with you some already. And she's still a Doberman, and will be amazing, guaranteed! I look forward to reading your stories with her and watching her grow.

    Purchasing a puppy is purchasing a puppy. I purchased Elka. Does it mean I care for her any less? Certainly not. I also wouldn't recommend Elka's breeder, who I found after doing a little research, but not enough, and thinking I was all smart. I worry all the time that Elka's casual origin will make for heartbreak when she's older, and I hope like hell that I just win in genetic roulette and she gets old and grey with me for many more years to come. I don't want people to have to go through that, and I don't want breeders that don't do their due diligence to be able to continue on their damaging paths.

    There are a lot of people who rescue dogs on Doberman Talk, from kill shelters, from people who left them chained out back for x amount of years and allowed them to get heartworm. Dogs who were found wandering and starving as strays, dogs who were abused, dogs who were bred until they couldn't be any longer, and then discarded. Adoption, to people in rescue, means that a dog was given a second chance after going through the horrible things that people do to dogs. It seems like a semantic difference, and while I understand it intellectually, I haven't been there emotionally, I've only read the stories of people who pick up the pieces.

  5. She's super cute! I am glad you found each other. Savor each puppy moment. They grow TOO FAST!