One of the big buzz-words today is “rescue,” as in taking pride in rescuing a dog from a puppy mill, shelter, pound, or breed rescue organization. Well-meaning people are eager to give an abandoned or abused animal another chance at a good life, but what they're getting is more than likely to be a mess of difficult and expensive problems resulting from the traumatized dog's past. Many dogs are re-surrendered when the adoptive family finds they can't overcome their new pet's fears, anxieties, aggression, chewing, biting, sleep disorders, soiling, howling or non-stop barking, as well as woeful results of malnourishment, starvation, physical and mental abuse, internal and external parasites, diseases, and who knows what else. (A case in point was in the news 1/22/13, regarding the governor of Florida and his 'rescued' Labrador retriever, which was returned because of "Cujo"-like behavior from a dog expected to have "Lassie"-like traits.)

Many people believe that all producers of puppies who have more than one or two breeding females are running puppy mills, producing pups willy-nilly for a tidy profit under less than ideal conditions, without regard for the dogs' well-being. The actual fact is that there are many responsible, loving breeders dedicated to the improvement of their chosen breed(s), as well as the continuation and nurturing of pure breeds, rather than cobbling together 'designer' dogs that are in reality nothing more than mutts – by definition, any combination of breeds in the same dog. Many mutts are so muddled and blended that the contributing pure breeds (if there ever were any) can no longer be distinguished. Genome research has enabled DNA tests to be performed (at hefty expense) to attempt to decipher the genetic codes of mixed-breed dogs so the owners can try to cope with inherited problems, but many dogs are simply too mixed-up to decipher, and the tangle of breeds each contribute their good AND bad points.

Purebred dogs can be counted on to have certain physical, mental and behavioral traits, both good and bad. When a breed has existed for many generations, years of effort have gone into producing the best animals possible, with responsible breeders working long and hard to weed out the weaknesses and disorders that have afflicted their breed during its development. The entire concept of creating a breed is to strive for the ultimate best animal possible, selecting only the best parents for each generation, so the offspring are even better than their parents.

A mutt may have “hybrid vigor,” or it may have the combined bad traits of whatever breeds went into it. A lot of people will only own crossbred dogs, thinking they are the best of whatever genetic material created them, but in reality they've 'bought a pig in a poke,' not having any idea what traits will surface over the course of the dog's life. However, sometimes dogs are crossed for a purpose, and we ourselves have two excellent crossbred guard dogs that protect our horses and herd of goats, as well as the dachshunds and the rest of the premises – they're a mix of Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherd and Akbash, and they do a great job keeping bears, coyotes, cougars and bobcats (as well as two-legged trespassers) out of our yard. We've also taught them to leave legitimate visitors alone! They're not lap-dogs, for sure, weighing over 100 lbs apiece, but they're awfully good at what they do.

As a responsible breeder, I, Janet Flick, have worked for over 47 years to improve the dachshund breed, removing any dogs from my breeding program that carried defects of temperament or conformation, poor coats, and other problems. First and foremost, at Flickennel we raise FAMILY dogs, fit for homes with children, the elderly, and everyone in-between, and to suit every conceivable lifestyle from super-active to couch potatoes. Occasionally, we do take our dogs to the show-ring, or place them in homes where they are shown, and ours do very well in competition with other breeders' dogs. Socialization is also crucial, and we handle ours lovingly from birth till the day they go to their new homes. We have been told by veterinarians that the optimal time for socialization is from 5 to 8 weeks of age, so if we don't do it, the pups don't get a second chance to build that all-important relationship and bond with humans, and it cannot be made up afterward – once that window of opportunity closes, it locks! In everything done in our kennel, our constant goal is to maintain the very best conditions in which to raise the very best dogs, and I only employ people with the same goal. If an employee ever shows that he or she does NOT value the dogs as much as I do, they are immediately hunting new employment!

Sad but true, people attach a value to their pet commensurate to the amount they paid for it. A free dog, or one that came from a shelter or other rescue organization, is typically considered a throw-away pet when it comes time to pay for veterinary care, especially during a catastrophic illness or injury. A few lucky pets have owners who invested in pet insurance, but the vast majority of owners don't even know it exists. The average purebred breeder- raised dog costs a family more than any pound-puppy, and therefore has more value to them than a pup that didn't cost much if anything. It's like paying for a museum-quality Chippendale chair at an antique auction, versus buying a plastic lawn-chair at Walmart. You're more apt to take great care of the Chippendale, and the same holds true for a pricy purebred dog.

Now, we don't mean to sound snooty or snobby regarding mixed-breed dogs – we've had our fair share of inexpensive pound-puppies, too, including some that lived with us for nearly 20 years. Mixed-breed dogs have their place, since purebred dogs aren't everyone's cup of tea. Those who are blessed with good ones of either sort - mixed or purebred - get to enjoy the love and faithfulness innate to the canine species. Our take on it is that with a purebred pup bought from a responsible breeder who has raised multiple generations of your pup's family, you can be confident of what you're getting, and meet its parents and other family members. You're getting a blank check, and you fill in the amount. With a rescued dog, you're typically getting a bounced check signed by someone who didn't know what they were doing when it came to properly raising a dog. We have it on good authority that at least 90% of dogs in 'rescue' situations and shelters are there because of behavioral problems that their owners could not handle or fix. We raise ours with tenderness and love from the moment they hit the open air. Visitors who meet our breeding adults are always impressed with their friendliness and fearlessness -- sure signs that they have not been abused or neglected.

Our contract says that if you can no longer provide a good home for your Flickennel dog, you are NOT to take it to a shelter or SPCA, or abandon it. It is to be returned to me, and I will find a new home for it. Taking a dog (or cat) out in the country to dump near a farm or ranch house, presupposing that the people will automatically take it in and care for it, is wrong on every level. Most of the time, the pet is frightened out of its wits, won't go to strange people, buildings or vehicles, becomes hungry and thirsty, walking or running for miles trying to find its old home and family, until it collapses and dies, or is struck by traffic, attacks pets or livestock to try to get something to eat, and may wind up shot, or killed by predators - or by the existing farm/ranch dogs. If you are considering doing something like that, please, have a heart and take it to a vet to be put to sleep - or bring it back to us. We have accepted several returns over the years, mostly because the owner became physically unable to keep the dog, and each one was placed in a good and loving home.