22 August, 2006

Canine Classism

I'm trying really hard to not make every post about dogs because my problem doesn't need to be everyone else's pain. But I do a fair amount of research into our issues with Casey, which in part means reading what other people have written on the internet.

I know that our local blogosphere has been awash with the pit bull controversy, for good reason. Dog snobbery needs to be discussed. And so I'm coming at it from the other end, having just read something that made me about as angry as I have ever been.

Casey is a Bernese Mountain Dog. They are a fairly uncommon breed, but well-thought of generally. As with everything Hubs and I do, we decided on a Berner after literally months of research into various dog breeds and considerations about non-breed shelter dogs. For various reasons we settled on four breeds (American Eskimo, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundland and Bernese) and then narrowed that down further. We made our choices based on temperment, lifestyle compatibillity and looks--we both prefer long-haired dogs. We were in our early twenties and completely unaware that in most circles a Bernese (or "Berner") is considered a designer "boutique" dog.

We found out when every breeder we contacted put us on waiting lists as long as THREE YEARS. All of the breeders asked things about the size of our home, the acreage of our yard, our employment status, etc. Some even asked for credit reports. Just to make sure we were the "right kind" of Berner owner. We didn't play along with the credit report people because that was just a little too much. Besides, we were buying a house at the time and didn't want dozens of enquiries from dog breeders showing up and mucking about our chances. And it seemed over the top nosy.

We adopted Casey through a roundabout series of serendipitous events. He fell into our lap after a local vet's waiting list fell through and they had six pups unexpectedly on their hands. We ended up with one of them, two years sooner than expected. We gladly took our names off the waiting lists and went home to love our puppy. And I tell you that for the last seven years few dogs have been as loved as this one. Joking with him tonight I told him the problem on his bone was probably just the rot from being so spoiled. This is the black humour that keeps me from drinking myself to death.

Anyway, tonight as I was reading up on how other Berner-owneds have chosen to treat their kids' cancers, I came across one lovely woman's opinion. In a nutshell she claims that since chemo treatments for dogs are $1,000 each treatment and Berners are prone to cancer that no "Average Joe" (her words, not mine) should ever own one of these dogs. Because they can't or won't pay for the chemo, which can run around $15,000 total.

Excuse me, you elitist bitch. And pardon my french. But understand this. Love does not come with a price tag written in dollars and cents. I'm an Average Joan, married to an Average Joe. We have decided against the chemo not because of the price in currency but because of the price in cameraderie. Casey cannot articulate his suffering to us. We know they say that dogs don't handle chemo as badly as humans, and that's probably true. And if you choose to go that route for whatever reason, Godspeed. But also understand this. Our dog has loved and been loved as much as it is possible for hearts to stretch. And we feel our best tribute to that love is to understand the kindness of an appropriate goodbye.

It makes me sick to think that there are people out there who would strive to deny me the love of my dog because of some nebulous junk such as money.


At 8:08 AM, August 23, 2006, Blogger Cheryl said...

Kat- I couldn't agree with you more. The other thing about chemo, humans can understand and make their own choice about chemo, while pets cannot. I've often wondered what goes through their minds when subjected to it. I'll certainly be thinking of you guys.

At 9:48 AM, August 23, 2006, Blogger jag said...

I'm with you 100 percent. She is an elitist bitch. I'll bet her dogs don't know real fun because she's too worried about them looking pretty to let them romp in mud puddles or roll around in poop. Screw her.

Anybody who is so emotionally attached they plan to take time off work (me included) is ok in my book. Best of luck with your baby and his transition to guardian angel. I'm so sorry for everything.

At 10:35 AM, August 23, 2006, Blogger grandefille said...

Our dog has loved and been loved as much as it is possible for hearts to stretch. And we feel our best tribute to that love is to understand the kindness of an appropriate goodbye.

Would that other humans had the sense -- and hearts -- that y'all do.

Hugs to you. And nose-smooches to that pup.

At 7:15 PM, August 23, 2006, Blogger John H said...

Bravo, Kat.

At 9:30 PM, August 23, 2006, Anonymous tom said...

There are sometimes I think that the dog breeding and showing industry is morally bankrupt. This is one of those times. I probably sound like some tree-hugging activist, but it's downright loony to me make a living like that. Props to Jag.

I can't imagine what you're going through.

This dog is probably the most genial creature I've ever met. Though from your posts it doesn't sound likely, I hope things turn out okay.


Post a Comment

<< Home