Close Your Eyes, Open Your Heart – How Do you Adopt Again After Your Dog Dies?

How Do you Adopt Again After Your Dog Dies?

This post will explain the grief and anguish people go through after they have lost their beloved dog and how hard they try to replace their dog that has passed away with an identical copy.  “How can I adopt after my dog dies?”

There is a puppy mill that advertises they will create a special order Border Collie just for you.  All you have to do is tell them what you want.  The manner in which they can produce an identical replica of your deceased dog is frightening.  For example, you can go so far as to request a red merle female with one brown eye and one marble eye – and they will produce it.  So what happens when you purchase a dog that looks identical to your dog that has passed way – will they be identical?  I say no – it’s impossible.

Finding the Perfect Dog After Your Dog Passed Away

At least 50% of the emails we receive to adopt are from people who have recently lost their dog.  The other 50% are from either people who want a second or third dog, or people who are ready to adopt their first dog.  Many times, people who are grieving the loss of their dog are looking to adopt one exactly like the dog they lost.  Maybe it’s a red merle Aussie female, or a classic black and white Border Collie.  Throughout our interview process, I gather information about their home environment, their experience, the dogs they have had in the past, and I focus on recommending a dog that has the right temperament for them.

Most of the time, adopters are wanting to adopt a dog they see in a photo.  The problem with that is that they are completely overlooking the dog’s temperament.  Many times, I am forced to recommend a dog that they did not notice, a dog that they did not look at, a dog that they are not interested in because… it doesn’t look like their dog that passed away.

I totally understand this, because I did it too!

How I found my first Border Collie

In 1981, while living in Houston, a friend of mine found an abandoned litter of puppies under a shed at the Herman Park Medical Center’s rose garden.  I took as many puppies as I could, found them good homes, and kept one, that I named Troubles.

Troubles 1983

Troubles 1983

I didn’t know what breed she was, until I asked a friend, who without hesitation, said, “border collie”.  I didn’t know what a Border Collie was at the time.  I had Troubles until 1994, and she was amazing dog.  Her focus was on me, and only me.  She never took her eyes off of me, and did everything I asked.  She was incredibly trained, yet she had no training.

When Troubles died, I was a complete mess.  Back then, there was no email, no internet, no cell phones.  I faxed flyers to local humane societies asking them to help me find a dog just like her.  My faxes went unanswered.

I visited a local Border Collie rescue, and met dozens of border collies, all of them unhealthy, and unbelievably hyper to the point that they were insane hyper.  I looked around at other border collies on the property that appeared to have great health and great temperaments, and asked if I could adopt one of them.  The answer was, “no, that one is mine.”  After pointing dogs that was I interested in, I learned that they were all owned by the rescue.  How many dogs can one person possibly own?  I left without a dog, and going home to an empty house was brutal.

After a few more days had passed, my grief did not subside one bit.  I even asked to take on projects at work that would cause me to work overtime.  I wanted to avoid going home.

After seeing my despair, my then husband took it up on himself to look in the local paper, and there it was!  An ad for Border Collie puppies.  He called them, and there was one female left.  She was expensive, $450.  We didn’t have that much money, but somehow we would manage our bills, and go without a few things for a while!

Can I Replace My Dog That Just Passed Away?

When I arrived I had the luxury of meeting the puppies parents, and the female mommy was a real love.  I went to their back porch and met the baby female.  There she was hiding under a chair.  She was gorgeous.  We brought her home and we named her Reckless.

Reckless quickly became my third heart dog.  First was my Collie, Nelson when I was just a kid, my Troubles, and now Reckless.

I want to Clone My Dog

Reckless, 2002

Reckless, 2002

Much to my surprise, Reckless was nothing like Troubles.  So even though my goal was to replace Troubles, and I did get another Border Collie – the two were as opposite as day and night.  Troubles was anti-social and a one-person dog, Reckless loved the world, and wanted to visit people!  Many times Reckless was sneak off and visit a neighbor and just hang out.  Neighbors would knock on my door and ask if they could take Reckless on their walk.  Reckless was a social butterfly.

Let me explain it this way.  You may have a family of four children, and they even look alike, but one is a Saint, one is a Trouble-Maker, one may be a Scholar, and one may be a Drop-Out!  Dogs may be similar, but even siblings are different.  We see it all the time when we rescue a litter!

Reckless died in 2009, and for the next few months I knew that I was incredibly lucky and grateful to  have had three heart dogs in my life.  I figured – this is it, I can’t possibly be blessed again.

Ozzie, Adopted 2009

Ozzie, Adopted 2009

Ozzie was owner-surrendered, and while he is a purebred Border Collie, and a very good boy, he’s not my heart dog.  Many other dogs found their way into my home, and The Dog Liberator was born.  Finding great homes for great dogs was easy for me, and even though many of them reminded me of Nelson, Troubles, and Reckless – I did not keep!  Why would I keep a dog for myself and rob a family of having the experience that I  had.  I came so close to keeping great dogs like Trixie Belle, Tim Tebow, and Jake.  The temptation was unbearable, especially when I had two young kids constantly asking me, “can we keep them?”  Oy vey!

Several months had passed, and I rescued Lady Di and Goldie Hawn.  I expected to keep Goldie, but she passed away.  I eventually kept Lady Di, and she is amazing.  I really thought that she would be as close as I could get to having a fourth heart dog, but I was wrong.

Princess Lady Di, Adopted 2009

Princess Lady Di, Adopted 2009

I didn’t keep Ozzie and Lady Di technically for myself or my family, I kept them because they created a fantastic pack environment.  Ozzie is the walmart greeter, and Lady Di is the sheriff!

China, Adopted 2010

China, Adopted 2010

Months later, we rescued China, and against my will, we kept her as well.  The bond between China and my daughter was too great to break.  China fit into the pack taking on the roll as the cautious player.  China had another purpose to serve.  Her job is to be the Deaf/Blind icon of our rescue.  She has served her role very well, because of her work at representing deaf and blind dogs, we have been able to rescue and adopt dozens of dogs like her.  She has been the reason for Deaf Dogs Hear with Their Hearts, and The Chosen Ones.

These three gorgeous dogs have been helping me rehabilitate and resocialize rescued dogs for almost five years now, and they do a fantastic job.  I couldn’t rescue without them, for it takes years for a human to teach a dog what another dog can teach them  in five minutes.

Your Dog Can’t Be Replaced

The TDL Pack

The TDL Pack

This past January, I received a phone call from Lily’s Dad, Dusty.   Dusty’s friend had to surrender her 2 year-old Chihuahua.  Seriously?  What am I going to do with a Chihuahua – one of the breeds I dislike the most.  Dusty begged, and I had no choice but to say yes.  When that little red cutie pie entered my home and sat in my lap I knew I was in trouble.  She won me over in less than five minutes, her name was Athena, but we named her Rosie.

Later, when I picked up my children from school, they both screamed, “can we keep her?” Thank God they felt the same way I did.  It has been four years since I have said yes to the word Keep!  Rosie doesn’t really have a job here with our rescue, other than to represent her breed, which unfortunately is probably one of the most homeless and desperate breeds there are right now in our country.

Finding Your Next Dog Might Be Easier Than You Think

No one can resist Rosie!

No one can resist Rosie!

In 2007 only 800 Chihuahuas were homeless on Petfinder.  Today there are over 18,000 homeless Chihuahuas.  If there ever was a breed that people should be trying to adopt, it’s the Chihuahua.  That’s not the only reason why I was so excited to keep her.  Ozzie is now 7 years-old, Lady Di is estimated to be about 6 years-old.  We believe China is approximately five years-old.  Their life-span is estimated to be approximately 13.  Combine that with I’m getting older too (yes, I sing Stevie Nick’s Landslide often).  My hopes are that as I am forced to say goodbye to each of these amazing dogs, I’ll have my Rosie to console me.

Rosie has been part of our pack now for 7 months now, and she is my new Heart Dog!  She barks when she hears even the slightest noise, she steals toys and bones from every dog every chance she gets.

Rosie, we can take her everywhere!

Rosie, we can take her everywhere!

She serves absolutely no purpose here except to make us laugh and give us unconditional love.  She will rub her little face on yours and make funny grunting noises expressing her deep love for us.  She’ll sleep with anyone, anywhere if you let her.  She is the most wonderful dog I have ever known… and she is a Chihuahua!

My decision to keep her did not go without ridicule and sarcasm.  People who know me took advantage of embarrassing me with comments like, “excuse me but that doesn’t look at all like a Border Collie.”  I took the sarcasm with grace, and watched how each and every one of my friends couldn’t help but hold her… knowing that they wanted one too!

Dianna's ChiChi, adopted 2014

Dianna’s ChiChi, adopted 2014

Recently, former adopter, Dianna Noreen found her own Rosie, and named him Chi Chi – now that’s one lucky dog, and one less Chihuahua on death row.

While I’ve had nothing but collies all of my life, Rosie taught me a valuable lesson.  Close your eyes, and open your heart.  You never know what dog will bring you the joy you’ve been missing.

Saying Goodbye To Your Dog is Never Easy

Update:  Just as I finish writing this, I received a text message from our Brittney, that Laddie passed away this morning.  For those of you who attended our reunion last year, you’ll remember laddie, a big gorgeous Collie that was surrendered to us.

Laddie, RIP

Laddie, RIP

It wasn’t until after Brittney decided to keep him, she learned from her vet that he had a stage 3 heart murmur.  Laddie died in his sleep.  He enjoyed the company of Brittney’s family, adored her young son, and enjoyed playing with this new pack.  He died knowing love, family, and companionship.  Ironically, the first thing Brittney’s sun asked her is, “can you find us another one?”  Unfortunately, the answer is no.  Every dog is unique, as unique as each of us are.



Let it Go – Stop Feeling Sorry For Your Dog

This article explains why it is unhealthy to pity or feel sorry for your dog. No matter what your dog has been through, pity will create behavioral issues. This article explains that most dog-owners, especially those who have adopted a rescued dog, don’t realize that feeling sorry for your dog does emotional harm.

All Dogs Should Be Expected to Behave


I was listening to Cesar Milan on a radio station a few weeks ago trying to answer the question, “why do you think so many dogs get returned from shelters and pounds?”  What Cesar tried to explain was that people feel sorry for the shelter dog, and when they bring the dog home, they treat it with a tremendous amount of pity, they treat it like an orphan, and let it get away with very bad behavior.   They won’t correct the dog, because it has been through so much. As I was listening, I realized that he really wasn’t explaining it well enough for the average person to identify with.  I felt that people listening would say, “oh, I would never do that,” when in fact they do!  I don’t think people truly realize what they should and should not do when they bring a dog home.


Be Proud of Your Dog

If you think about it, and you purchased a pup from a phenomenal breeder, you would be proud of your new pup, showing it off to everyone and bragging about its bloodline, the titles its parents have won, and your dreams for your new pup.  But that’s not how people act or feel when they bring home a pup from the pound; a pup that is emaciated, maybe is full of worms, has runny poop, cries all night long, and is confused.

Do Not Reward Fear

People who see a dog cower at the sight of as human hand for some reason want to embrace it, pet it, tell it it’s okay, and that just makes the dog even worse.  The dog has actually been rewarded for being afraid of the hand. I have had many people come to my home with their adopted dog, asking to adopt a second dog from me to keep their dog company.  Many times the potential adopters discuss in detail the horrible conditions that their dog originally came from.  They treat their dog like it’s still being abused, in other words, carrying the pity that they have for their dog in their heart and on their sleeve.  It doesn’t take me very long to realize that their dog is neurotic, and stuck.

Don’t Make Excuses For Your Dog’s Behavior

What I witness is a very nervous and unsure dog.  The owners make up excuses for their dog.  Their dog may growl at another dog, or show it’s teeth at me, and they make excuses for their dog.  Their dog may be food-aggressive, and they make excuses for their dog.

Is Your Dog Stuck, Living in the Past?

A few times, I’ve literally asked the couple to leave their dog with me, “go have lunch and leave me alone with your dog for an hour so I can properly introduce the two dogs to each other,” I beg, because I know that it’s their energy that’s preventing the dog’s joy.  They refuse to leave, they refuse to give me a chance, they refuse to give their dog a chance, because they enjoy seeing their dog needy, confused and unsure so they can be their dog’s savior. Their dog is stuck living in its past.  To the dog’s owners, he’s always seen as the pathetic, needy, starving dog they brought home from the filthy pound, and that’s NOT what your dog wants – and that’s not what your dog is today.


Make Your Dog’s Pity Party Brief

Since I recently worked with Winter, Shep and even before then Shy Sharon, I go overboard with potential adopters explaining to them that under no circumstances are they to feel sorry for their dog.  Even in the worse cases, like Bart and China, for example, I too feel a lot of empathy for the abused and neglected dogs that I rescue… but only for 24 hours.  After that dog is with me for a day, I brush it off and the dog and I begin a new day, begin a new journey, and the dog knows that there is not one ounce of pity in my heart for him any longer.  Those days are gone, it’s time to move on and be proud.

They call it tough love

Only on a few occasions I’ve allowed someone to adopt from me not knowing that they want the dog because they felt sorry it-it always ends in disaster.  Yet people are more attracted to the damaged dogs than the perfectly fine dogs.  Dogs like Chaz, for example, has never been in a pound, he was never abused or neglected, he’s just a great dog.  Yet 99% of potential adopters want to adopt the sad abused and neglected dogs, like Shep. While I was trying to explain this to a friend last week, I used an analogy that just came out before I realized I had just had a major Ah Ha moment.

Tiny Dancer

Your Dog Is Not an Orphan Anymore

As a young teenager, I was quite a handful.  I was disrespectful and rude to my parents; I thought I knew everything.  I didn’t appreciate how hard they worked for the family, and how lucky I was.  Every heated argument ended with my Mom or Dad saying, “if it wasn’t for us, you would have died; we saved your life.” Those words always ran through my veins like ice.  Instead of being grateful that they adopted me (a sickly three month-old baby abandoned by her mother and given to a catholic orphanage) it did the opposite-I resented it.  I did not ask to be there, I did not ask to be adopted, and at three months of age, I certainly had no say in selecting my family.

My Collie, when I was just a kid

My Collie, when I was just a kid

The statement itself infuriated me.  Why?  Because I did not want to be seen or treated like that pathetic and unwanted orphan.  I wanted to be appreciated for who I had become.  I did not want to be a sickly orphan, I wanted to be their healthy yet combative teenager daughter! I remember thinking to myself, if they were so unhappy with me, why did they adopt? Today, of course I realize that this was normal teenage rebellion and if we wouldn’t have fought about that, we would’ve fought about something else!

But I do understand that when a dog is adopted, he should be adopted because he is wanted.  He should be adopted because he will add to the family, not give the family a sad story to hang onto.  Stop the Drama!


If you have ever met me, and met China, you’d understand my energy.  China is probably one of the most abused dogs I’ve ever rescued, yet when I introduce her and show her off to people, I do it with great pride.  I don’t dwell on her past, I don’t want people to feel sorry for her, I want people to see her beauty, recognize her intelligence, and more importantly witness her incredible loyalty and joy. Yes she was unwanted, abandoned, surrendered to a kill shelter, scheduled to be put down and deemed un-adoptable.  Yes, she was beaten and took months to rehabilitate, but that shroud does not follow her because we will not pity her.

I work very hard when I rescue and foster a dog with a horrible past to close that door and lock it permanently.  If you are thinking of adopting a dog from a shelter, rescue or pound, or if you are getting a dog off of Craig’s list, or a parking lot, realize that if you’re stuck in the dog’s past, your dog will never grow emotionally, because of you.

It matters not where your dog came from, it’s up to you to undo the past, and help your dog find joy.

There is no joy in pity.

I was Just a Kid

How to Adopt From Us

Our Favorite Things

The Chosen Ones

Read our Reviews

Amazon Gives Back

Ebay Helps Rescue

Hate Mail and Adoption Fees

About Gisele

Over-the-Counter Medicine for Dogs

Canine Reboot

Nutella, labeled a fear-biter

I’ve done this dozens of times… talked to owners who are frustrated with their dogs.  Wanting their dogs to be balanced, and happy.  Sometimes it’s the wife that hates the dog, sometimes it’s the husband.  Sometimes the dog doesn’t like the kids, or the grandparents.  Dog fights, cat fights… you name it.

One of the questions I HAVE TO ask when someone is trying to surrender their dog to me is, “if I can fix your dog, can you… would you… could you… keep your dog?”  sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it’s no.

With the launch of Canine Connect, a service that I can offer to dog owners who truly care about the dogs, truly want the best for the dogs, but can no longer keep them, I’m asking that question more often.  “What if I can fix it?”

Over the past few weeks, the dogs I’ve fostered have really amazed me.  WiiGo transformed into the best little dog I’ve ever known.

McDreamy & McSteamy

McSteamy and McDreamy, terrified of everything, quickly became accustomed to home life and family living.  No longer afraid to walk through doorways, or put their paws on ceramic tile floors.  With their heads hung low all of the time, they were unsure, slow to trust, and not sure if I was friend of foe.  Just a few days later, I introduced them to the pack, one at a time.  Once they got to meet Lady Di… everything changed.  It was as if a light switch had been turned on, and they felt “safe”.  They exchanged play bows, and the heads were held high, tails were relaxed, and the playing began!  After that day they walked with pride, there was a bounce in their step, they greeted me with affection, and their adjustment period was about 48 hours.    Dogs do live in the moment.

Little Grace, being a happy dog!

And recently, Little Grace.  She was adopted yesterday, but before she left I had the pleasure of snapping a photo of her playing with the pack… and loving it!  It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it sure was a big deal to me!  It’s called joy!  If a dog can relax enough, be happy enough, have enough self-esteem, and know that it’s not going to be hurt, there’s absolutely no danger whatsoever, and it’s welcomed… they can play!  Way to go Little Grace… you made my day!

So if what if we could simply Reboot our dogs?  If I gave you a list of questions about your dog, would you know how to answer?

  • Is your dog shy, fearful, nervous, or anxious?
  • Is your dog aggressive, dominant or alpha?
  • Is your dog guarding you or protecting you?
  • Do you know why your dog acts like he wants to attack other dogs?
  • Does your dog have separation anxiety, or is he insecure?  Do you think the two are one in the same?
  • Do you think your dog is neurotic or bored?

Snapple, an Owner-Surrender

Snapple, Adopted

What would you think the main reason why people surrender or give away their dogs?

The Dog Liberator has rescued dogs that will otherwise be euthanized, OR at risk of being surrendered to a shelter or pound.

The Dog Liberator will help you rehome your dog through Canine Connect, thus preventing the dog from being adopted to the wrong family, which may ultimately lead to euthanasia.

Remember, owner-surrendered dogs are not protected under stray-hold policy.

Owner-surrendered dogs can and are sometimes put to sleep before their owners have left the parking lot.  


Chaos learns High Five

While I have spent over three years inviting strange new dogs into my home I:

  • introduced them to my family, friends, and neighbors
  • introduce them to new experiences like visiting the vet
  • going on walks
  • teaching them not to be afraid of the crate
  • teaching them to be quiet
  • starting them on housebreaking
  • show them how to properly greet strangers
  • teaching them not to bolt out of doorways
  • correcting them when they try to climb a fence.

My personal dogs have also spent three years inviting strange new dogs into their home, and they:

  • have showed them how to share a space
  • showed them that being rewarded has benefits
  • showed them how to interact with humans
  • showed them how to play properly
  • showed them how to come when called
  • but more importantly, my pack have taught dogs, how to be a good dog.

Deaf China takes Baby GaGa under her care

Dogs can teach another dog what a person can’t:

  • I can not teach a dog that greeting face to face is rude
  • I can not explain to a dog that sniffing the rear is polite
  • I can not approach a dog and correct their attempt to dominate… that’s Lady Di’s job
  • I can not initiate play with a dog who doesn’t know how to play… that’s China’s job
  • I can not show a dog that another dog is not a threat, that is Ozzie’s job

My home is what I used to call Border Collie Boot Camp.  Every fostered dog has had to find their way to survive and cohabitate here, eat side by side, enjoy bones without being growled at, and play ball without being attacked.  The result is probably the best gift I receive in rescue.  Watching a pack of dogs run together, play together, wrestle gently, and have a blast!

Lieutenant Colonel Di, Lieutenant Ozzie, and Private China!


There is no reason for the dogs to be nervous, fearful or anxious.  My pack clearly shows them that I am the pack leader, they can relax, and enjoy being a dog!  The true challenge is teaching the dog owners that their dog truly wants to be… just a great dog!

Maybe all your dog needs is a Canine Reboot!  Email me if you would like information on how we can Reboot Your Dog!


Crate Sores

I want to touch on this subject, to help those who pull from shelters and pounds, and those who adopt from them.  Many times, dogs have injuries, hot spots or sores throughout their body.  Sometimes that is a result from a food allergy, or a flea bite.  Sometimes these injuries were created by their handler.

I have reviewed the paperwork of hundreds of dogs from dozens of shelters, and once and a while they will comment about hair loss on the paw.  Understand that mange usually presents around the eyes, and on the face.  Hot spots are rarely on the top of a paw.

A crate sore is created when a human pulls a dog out of crate too quickly, the dog is scared, and slams on his brakes!  The dog applies all of his weight to his rear to prevent leaving the crate, and while the human continues to drag him out, the dog’s front paws get stuck under the bar of the crate.  If enough pressure is applied, this can seriously damage the paws, and sometimes result in a break of the bone.  When humans lift a dog from a wire crate, and do not lift the dog high enough, sometimes the back paws get stuck, resulting in the same injury.  This is very common in pups.

Goldie Hawn's paw

Recently Polly Pocket came to us with one severe crate sore on her hind leg, and she was shy fearful.  Goldie Hawn had crate sores on all of her paws, she was emaciated, and not socialized.  This type of sore does not necessarily need medication unless it’s infected, it present severe hair loss, and will clear up on its own, however, it could create a very shy and fearful dog.  The dog may be afraid of entering a crate, and the dog should be treated with patience, and motivated (maybe with treats) to over come their fear of the crate.

Please be aware of this when cruising the shelters and pounds, and know that a dog with crate sores may have been handled by someone with a heavy hand, or by someone in a hurry.   They are worth saving, rescuing or adopting, but at least you’ll understand why a crate by present fear.

How to Choose Your Next Dog

Know the Difference Between Reputable Breeders, Inexperienced Breeders, and Puppy Mills in Person and Online

Before I walk you through the difference between shelters, pounds, rescuers, and breeders, there’s one very important thing I must share. We all know that the average person hates—actually loathes visiting a pound or shelter. Let’s face it, most shelters are depressing, they smell, they are under-staffed, and most of the volunteers and employees aren’t very helpful. Today you can search Google for shelters and pounds near your area, or search on various pet rescue sites, and literally read all about the dogs that are currently up for adoption near you.

However, I would personally prefer adopting a dog that’s been living at a foster home. The dog itself may have very little history, if any at all, but while the dog has been with a foster, I can be told proof positive if the dog is aggressive or friendly, shy or hyper-active, housebroken or not! It’s really important to me, before I place a dog in a home with other dogs or children, that the dog has been carefully evaluated for several days, sometimes weeks before the dog is adopted.

PLEASE DO NOT FEEL THAT THERE AREN’T ANY CUTE OR PUREBRED DOGS IN SHELTERS AND POUNDS. Take a look at my rescued dogs, some rescued from high-kill shelters.

Every time a child is hurt by a family dog, I experience an overwhelming feeling of despair and sorrow. We invite dogs in our homes in hopes that they will provide us with companionship and protect us.

Regardless of whether you are bringing home a puppy, or an adult dog, there are always risks. Usually signs of dog-aggression and dominance take months to surface.

Gone are the days where a family can make sound decisions with regard to breed. Today, it seems that all breeds, even the ones that are known for being great with kids can bite.

Families that are faced with the decision to surrender their pet do so by either opting for euthanasia, surrendering the dog to a local shelter, pound, or a rescuer.

Are there steps that your family can take to ensure that the dog you bring home will be safe with your children? Of course there are.

The most important rule of thumb, is beware of what you read on the internet. There are thousands of breed descriptions that indicate “good with children” or “great family dog”, but this not necessarily the case.

Is where your dog comes from important? Absolutely!

If you think that buying a young puppy is safer than adopting an older dog, think again. Just because the puppy will live with you, be trained by you, and cared for by you, that doesn’t mean it won’t bite your children.

Inexperienced breeders and puppies born from puppy mills are not breed for temperament, but sometimes breed for greed. Experienced and reputable breeders, however, carefully breed with temperament , is if you can’t return the dog, there’s a reason. What does this mean? An experienced breeder will not breed a male and female with bad characteristics, especially temperament.

There are a few very important things that you can do to increase your chances of success:

First, you should physically visit the premises where you are going to purchase your puppy. Ask yourself if the home appears to be a loving and healthy environment. Ask yourself if the parents of your puppy are healthy, if they are showing signs of dominance or aggression. See for yourself if the litter of puppies have been with the mother consistently.

One of the main reasons for dangerous dominance and aggression is not only the temper-ament of the breed and the dog’s parents, but also the way the puppy has been reared. Puppies that do not have enough time to be with their mother, and with their litter mates do not get the chance to learn puppy pack manners taught by the mother.

If your puppy has been living with its litter mates and its mother for at least eight weeks, chances are you will have increased your chances for a well-rounded dog.

Never purchase a dog sight unseen, from the internet, from a pet store, or any other source where you can not personally inspect its current living conditions. Ask yourself, if there is no accountability on the part of the seller, don’t buy it. What I mean by that. A reputable breeder or respected rescue will always keep tabs on your progress, and will work with you if things go wrong. Why? Because they truly care about their dogs.

Buying a dog sight unseen also opens the door for enormous medical bills. Dogs born in unhealthy environments, and breed for the wrong reasons may have kennel cough, parvo virus, heart worms, and worst of all, may develop serious genetic issues as they get older. The origin of your puppy or dog is truly very important.

If you see an ad “free to a good home” be careful. There is no way for you to know if this dog is being “given” away because it’s a biter or is seriously ill. If a person knowingly and willingly gives a dog away that is a known biter, they are liable. In most cases, it can take a dog months before they start showing acts of violence.

Second, if you are hoping to rescue a dog from a reputable rescue organization, find a rescue that uses foster homes. Your dog’s foster family will be able to give you details about the dog, and you win by bringing home a dog that has already been kid-tested and approved!

Third, upon bringing your new friend home, plan on attending obedience classes. Obedience classes will increase your chances of having a well-mannered dog.

Studies show that dogs who have attended some sort of dog training classes are least likely to find themselves at a shelter or pound.

If you’re not sure which dog is right for you, visit local dog parks and talk to the locals! Volunteer at a shelter or rescue and ask questions. If you’re still not sure, volunteer to foster a dog before you make your final decision.

What is a Reputable Breeder?

Reputable Breeders show their dogs. They belong to breed-specific organizations. Their dogs have won titles, won in breed-specific contests. Because reputable Breeders’ dogs are considered the epitome of the breed’s standards, their pups are very valuable.

What about Registration Papers?
Just because a dog has papers that labels the dog as a pure breed, it doesn’t mean that he truly is. Many puppy mills create their own “registration company” and will give you phony papers that are worthless. Oh sure, they are registered, but they are registered with the puppy mill operator’s own company.

Important Notice: Just because your dog may have papers that are not recognized by any of the major AKC-recognized organizations, it does not mean that your dog is less beautiful, less loving, less obedient, or less deserving of your love and attention! The purpose of this page is to allow you to be aware that you may be spending quite a bit of money for a dog that you think is a champion, when instead, the dog you are buying may produce evidence of genetic disorders as your dog becomes older.

Don’t Know What to Do?
Ask your vet!
Never Buy on Impulse
Ask questions
Ask for references
Research the name of the breeder and the name of their company on the internet.
Visit the premises in PERSON.

The Bottom Line

There is a fine line between a hobby breeder, and a puppy miller.

Reputable breeders do not:
Post their dogs for sale online
Sell their pups to pet stores
Surrender unsold pups to a pound or humane society

Puppy Mills do not:
Vaccinate their animals
Give them any medical care
Provide a clean and safe environment for their animals

Because of the internet, a well-designed website could easily fool you into believing you are purchasing a pup from a quality breeder. The bottom line is, never purchase a pup without visiting the premises, meeting the breeders, and their dogs. Insist on seeing the medical records and proof of vaccinations on the parents. Inspect the facility yourself. If they are reputable breeders, they will be glad that you care enough about the dog to ask.

Also, if a breeder does not conduct a background check on you, your property, ask questions about your family, your home, and your lifestyle, they are not a reputable breeder. If you are purchasing a pup from a reputable breeder, prepare to be scrutinized as much, if not more, than you would be by a reputable shelter, pound, or rescuer.

If you do purchase a dog online or sign-unseen, be prepared to spend a big chunk of change on vetting costs. Purchasing a pup from a pet store is the same as purchasing a pup without verifying that the pup did not come from a puppy mill.

Backyard Breeders—Hobby Breeders

Some people who breed their dogs hate to be called Backyard Breeders. The name itself has a negative connotation. Just as the word Rescue has recently had a negative association with it. Instead, backyard breeders want to be referred to as families with dogs. Many believe that backyard breeders promote the puppy mill industry.

If you have had one accident with your male and female, and have only had one litter, and then spayed and neutered to ensure that your dogs will never breed again, (in my opinion) no one should judge you for your actions. However, if you are having multiple litters per year, you are either producing dogs for the puppy mill industry, or simply selling your pups for a profit and promoting our current animal overpopulation. For every unwanted puppy that is born, one dog killed at a shelter.

Most backyard or irresponsible breeders do not have enough buyers for their entire litter—responsible breeders do. I responsible breeder will never surrender their unwanted pups to a shelter, pound, or rescue, nor will they sell them to a pet store.

The caveat here lies in the hobby breeder that is serious and dedicated to the breed. I support these breeders 100%, but they are very hard to distinguish in person, and impossible to distinguish online. If we wiped out breeding all together, who would be continuously trying to protect our favorite breeds?

This reminds me recently, when I was emailing another well-known rescuer, who responded to me by writing, “I don’t even know who you are. Why haven’t I ever heard of you before? How do I know you are truly a rescue?” My answer was, “You have never heard of me because I’m new, just as I’m sure you once were new.” Of course, I had to be me, and advise her that “rescue” is a verb, not a noun.

When I meet and talk with breeders, I always have to remind myself, that no matter how much I do not believe that now is the time for anyone to breed, the breeder standing in front of me may one day be a Westminster winner, Best in Show even. Why would any of us want to stop that?

If only it could be like it was in the Good Old Days

If the puppy mill industry would vanish, couldn’t we then go back in time and breed our dogs that we absolutely adore, without having a guilty conscience? Times have changed, and we can’t turn the clock back. If you’re in your mid-forties, you’ll remember the days when all we had was the local dog catcher and the city pound. There were no such things as shelters and rescues. Remember those days?

Dog Over Population

So what’s wrong with having too many dogs out there? Maybe that doesn’t bother you. Maybe you don’t realize how many dogs are being euthanized every year (millions) and maybe you don’t realize that many are still be gassed and gassing shelters or what’s called “the kill box”. Maybe you would care if you knew how much it cost tax payers to catch, feed, vet, and then kill these dogs each year. If you only knew how much money could be saved by instilling a low-cost spay & neuter program.

For more information an innovative ways to bring attention to the plight of the puppy mills, visit or search the internet for detailed and graphic information.

How Can You Tell the Difference?

It’s just about impossible for me to tell the difference at first glance. Let’s face it, some people are doing it right, and some people are doing it only for money. Don’t get me wrong, reputable breeders make good money when they well their prize pups, but after all, they are PRIZE pups!

Even reputable breeders, whose dogs have been certified can have pups with genetic disorders, but the chances are very slim.

A puppy mill, or inexperienced breeder, however, has an extremely high chance of passing on genetic disorders.

What I fear the most is when inexperienced or non-caring people breed dogs that have bad temperaments—Those are the dogs that are cute when they are puppy, but they grow up and become dogs, they bite. A reputable breeder will never breed a dog that has a bad temperament.

More TDL Articles

National list of No-Kill Shelters


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: