Thursday, February 19, 2009

You Can't Fool Mother Nature (or Mother Nurture)

John Goodwin of the HSUS on why the Wilkes Co Pitbulls, including 19 newborn pups, needed to be summarily killed:

Goodwin said that the dogs have been bred for fighting and it would very difficult and expensive to re-train the dogs, even the puppies, so that they could be adopted.

When I consider this, along with the plethora of similar generalized statements made by Goodwin and the HSUS regarding bust dogs, I realize this is in fact rilly big news that's slipped under the radar all this time. So listen up:

Stockdog breeders, good news for you! All you have to do to breed a good working pup is to take two decent stockdogs and breed them together. Bam - you've got a guaran-damn-teed litter of solid working pups. It's easy as pie! In fact, unless you have extensive training and financial resources, it will be just about impossible to get any of these pups NOT to work stock so they could just live as someone's pet. It's been bred into them and that's that. If they're bred for work, they're a-gonna work and there ain't no stoppin' 'em. Now you know.

Same goes for you breeders of service dogs, bird dogs, working terriers - even breeders of companion dogs. This is great news for Chihuahua breeders - just take 2 Chihuahuas that don't bite and have been trained to have good house manners, breed them together and you'll get a litter of sweet, well mannered pet pups that will be trustworthy around kids for life!

It's just so simple, now that we know the innate personality traits and the learned behaviors of the parents are absolutely transferred - by magic like - to the pups. And those traits are so dyed-in-the-fur that you couldn't realistically expect to mold them - even if'n ya tries.

To think, all these years breeders have been laboring under the many "misleading claims" that each dog is an individual and the behavioral traits of the parents are not necessarily 100% reflective of the temperament you'll find in the pups. How much time has been wasted focusing on environment, socialization, early experiences, training and the human-canine bond in order to shape desired behavior in dogs. Many of us were under the impression that behavior and genetics were complex issues with all sorts of potential variables involved. I blame the internet - it teached us wrong!

6 comments:

Caveat said...

ALFie Goodwin - providing low-hanging fruit to the blogosphere since forever.

What perplexes me is that according to our Noob Guru, they are 'bred' for something but you can't 'untrain' them.

Colour me confused. Like Goodwin.

cambstreasurer said...

Except...
One of the most difficult dogs to place successfully from rescue is the Border Collie - because so many of them are miserable in "ordinary" pet homes where they don't get enough to occupy their brains. Most BCs from working strains do have an inherited tendency to work stock.

That said, I'm shocked that puppies could be placed with a foster home which was then required to hand them back to be killed. It seems to me that's abuse of the fosterer if nothing else.

I doubt whether most people would be likely ever to foster again after such a bad experience, so I can't see that anything would have been lost by permitting them to try to raise the puppies and keep them as normal, but relatively dog-aggressive adults.

Walter said...

You're actualyl not far off at all to blame the internet for dog-based misinformation. My girlfriend is a vet students and they've already had two lectures on how to deal with people who come ina nd think they know more about what's wrong with their dog because thjey;ve researched it online and found faulty information. You can put up whatever you want, no fatc checks or peer reviews, and people are gullible and will always beleive what they read.

YesBiscuit! said...

I agree that dogs inherit behavioral traits. I don't believe that environment plays no role, which is the conclusion I draw from Goodwin's statements. My point is that in many cases, a dog who has inherited whatever behavioral traits can be trained, taught house manners and live as a pet. Not every single dog in the whole wide woild. But many. That's what evaluations are for - to take a step in that direction, to determine if a dog is a suitable candidate for further training and potential adoption. Every dog in every shelter in this country deserves at least that. Assuming that inherited behavioral traits are absolutes and killing an unevaluated dog because of that assumption is wrong wrong wrong.

smartdogs said...

And this is why I so often lie that my dogs are mutts of unknown lineage.

Too many times some lazy, clueless, moron who shouldn't have a pet more challenging than TickleMe Elmo sees me out and about with one of the dogs I've put hundreds (or thousands?) of hours of professional training in and assumes that if he/she/it just bought *that* kind of dog it would behave exactly like mine.

A pox on them all. The internet doesn't make you stoopid. Being lazy and entitled makes you stoopid. And it keeps you there.

smartdogs said...

And this is why I so often lie that my dogs are mutts of unknown lineage.

Too many times some lazy, clueless, moron who shouldn't have a pet more challenging than TickleMe Elmo sees me out and about with one of the dogs I've put hundreds (or thousands?) of hours of professional training in and assumes that if he/she/it just bought *that* kind of dog it would behave exactly like mine.

A pox on them all. The internet doesn't make you stoopid. Being lazy and entitled makes you stoopid. And it keeps you there.