When I was younger, I thought that a thing of beauty was a joy forever, no questions asked, no matter the conditions in which it was found.  I was young, and idealistic, and to me, a flower, an ode, a puppy … they were all beautiful and represented nothing but joy.

Now, I’m not so sure.  Now, when I look at a puppy, I still get all melty inside, but I also wonder where it came from.  Where its mother is.  If she’s healthy, happy, and loved.  Or if she has splayed feet from living in a rabbit hutch all her life.  If she sleeps on a couch.  Or if she sleeps outside, alone, in the snow.  If she sees a vet when she gets sick.  Or if she’s used to breed litter after litter, with no concern for her own health or happiness.  If she’s okay, and why her puppy ended up here.

I’ve cared for too many of the puppymamas as a foster mom in rescue for me to fully relax around puppybabies and take them at face value, you see.  But you know that.  You saw my joyous post about our fosterbaby Marie followed quickly (way too quickly) by my story about the Christmas puppy.  I just can’t let myself get too close to them, I suppose.  I love the happiness, and hope, and joy that a new puppy brings as much as anybody, but when you have helped senior beagle after senior beagle regain trust in humans, relax around a family, and even learn to come in out of the rain when invited, and you’ve seen beagle after beagle with shattered psyche, and you’ve held them, crooning to them, comforting them with helpless little words, trying to soothe their souls, I suppose that it’s only natural that when you see a puppy, you start to wonder about its mother, and the conditions in which she lived.

And so, when my friend Amy began looking for a puppy, I recommended rescue, but when she fell in love elsewhere, I held my tounge.  I couldn’t figure out how to say all this without sounding preachy.  I don’t want to sound preachy.  I just wish I could tell you all what it’s like out there where the backyard breeders keep dozens of dogs in rabbit hutches out back, with no place for the dogs to rest, no place for the dogs to run or even walk, no place for the dogs to love and be loved.  Those places are empty, devoid of compassion, and that blankness scares me more than words can express.  I’ve seen what they do to a dog, and for that, I am embarrassed for my humanity.

Every dog, every pet, every person should be wanted and loved, and when one is lost, it always makes me worry about the mother, and what condition she is in, right now.

Today, my friend Amy is telling her story, and what she found when she answered an ad in the paper for beagle puppies.  Go check it out.  Go on.  I’ll wait here.

10 Responses to Conditions

  1. Donna W says:

    I will never own another dog unless it’s from a shelter. I love my Sadie. I’ll go read Amy’s story now.

  2. Delia says:

    Interesting post! My opinion is that even a puppy mill puppy or bred puppy is still an individual who needs a home and to be loved. My parents got a finely-bred Akita puppy, even though I would have much rather gotten a puppy out of the pound. Obviously, I still loved and adored her as an individual, even though her purchase fueled the breeding industry (note: her breeder was very respectable and treated the animals very well). In the end, I think it is just love at first sight and finding the right match, where ever the puppy comes from. When folks criticize breeders, I automatically get a tad defensive that it is a critique of my little Bijo (who passed away a few years ago, I must sadly note). I know people are criticizing the breeding system, not her, but again, it is about the individuals.
    Thanks again for the great post, and always having interesting, diverse things to write about!

  3. whymommy says:

    Delia, I think there’s a big difference between reputable breeders who understand genetics and care for their dogs, providing them adequate shelter, high-quality food, and prompt vet care, and the backyard rabbit hutches that Amy saw when she went to visit that pup. A big difference.

    I actually don’t have a problem with reputable breeders. It’s the guys who are in it for the money, but don’t use it to care for the dogs adequately, that concern me.

  4. JessicaAPISS says:

    My sister adopted a beagle puppy in Texas from a backyard breeder. She knew this was the case, but she fell in love with the adorable runt.

    After treating her for allergies and cuddling with her every night, her puppy died suddenly at 4 months due to congenital deformities – the heart and kidney (there was only one) could not support the puppy as it grew.

    My sister was devastated. She was offered a replacement puppy. She declined.

    She is now the dog mom of a lemon beagle adopted through rescue when very young.

    And though we’re cat people, we have one cat from a very reputable breeder (and paid a pretty penny for him, as his breeder took excellent care of his and his parents’ health,) and a second cat adopted through a rescue found on (where my husband now works helping shelters and rescues communicate their great pets for adoption online.)

  5. JessicaAPISS says:

    Oh, by the way, we all love my sister’s dog Sophie so much, and she has such an amazing personality, that we have a photo of her on our fridge and send her birthday presents. She also won a costume contest at her doggie day care – she was Underdog.

    I never before understood this loving of a dog almost as much as a person until I met my “niece” – the beagle rescue pup – and now I totally get it.

    (OK, enough about my life story – obv your post Susan resonated with me!)

  6. NYfriend says:

    I grieve so much for those little souls. 😦

  7. DeDe Joens says:

    I have been following your blog for a while, and always enjoy the comments. I am needing some advice from a science mom, and thought you might be able to help me. We are taking my 5 1/2 year old son to Kennedy Space Center next month. He loves science, and is so excited! I need some advice on where to take him first, what (if any) tours to go on, etc. I have friends who have been, but none have kids. My e-mail address is Thanks so much for the help.

  8. Ellen says:

    Call me judgemental, but why why why would you ever need to get a dog from any sort of breeder as long as there are adorable creatures like this out there for the asking. No dog could ever love like a rescue dog!

    (spoken by someone who probably won’t ever own a dog because of horrible allergies)

  9. katie says:

    Hi, Delia – Here via Ellen who sent me this blog post. I’ll admit before fully unleashing my commentary to you and your other readers that I’m militant about this issue. I’ve spent years doing dog and cat rescue, I’ve fostered 19 dogs in total not including my 2 Great Pyrenees and my 2 cats all rescues. I’ve worked with my local human society, animal care and control, and multiple breed-specific rescues. I’ve also worked with dogs in dog figthing situations. Here’s my 10 cents:

    1. Good breeders aren’t in it for the money. In fact most good breeders lose money on their enterprise. The financials of actually taking care of the dogs adequately versus selling them will rarely work out.
    2. This guy your friend talked about is a puppy mill – clean conditions be darned. If he’s got 30-40 dogs on his property and they live outside year-round, it’s a puppy mill.
    3. There are some responsible breeders out there – I cannot argue that. However I think if people knew the number of cats and dogs being euthanized in a given city in a year via the local Animal Control and kill shelters, they would strongly reconsider ever buying a dog from a breeder – good, bad or indifferent. More than 3 million dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States in a given year. Indianapolis (where I live – population just under 1 million) accounts for roughly 25,000 of that.

    Given those numbers, and the increase in dogs and cats going into shelters due to bad breeders, financial downturn in economy and people not understanding the responsiblity of owning a pet, I have to echo Ellen’s question – why buy from a breeder when there are millions of good dogs and cats in need of good homes? Many of my fosters were breeder dump puppies – dumped because they could not afford to feed them and they had grown past the small, cute puppy phase (which in large breed dogs is over within 3 months).

    For every 1 good breeder, there are 5 bad ones. Until we stop feeding (wholesale) the bad breeder, puppy mill and dog fighting industry (which you cannot separate), it will continue. Say no. Walk away from the puppy stores, puppy mills and backyard breeders. It’s not easy to look into the eyes of the puppies in a puppy store, and not view buying them as a rescue of sorts but we have to cut off the financial revenue stream before we have any chance of getting real laws in place that can make a different in the lives of these animals.

  10. Rey Bizier says:

    Hey! I am a long time viewer, but am having an issue viewing your site in Safari today. Did you update something?

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