The Rare Breed Story : A Canine Fable
by Andrew Johnston
Once upon a time, in a land far away, there was a breed of dog created to serve a purpose. This breed was forged of necessity in a harshly competitive environment, to help the people that used them survive. Most were culled, only the best were allowed to live, because more were born then were needed. The men and women of this culture did not confuse their dogs with their children; they had many children, and grandchildren, to worry about. They valued and cared for the dogs but they were not considered pets, so much as tools. The dogs were worth something in this culture, but there was no significant money to be made in mass producing them.
Then one day in the land that didn’t have so many children, but lots of money, somebody “discovered“ these other worldly dogs. They seemed healthier, smarter, and tougher than the dogs they were used to. There was a certain majesty, an element of danger about these mysterious foreign dogs. What’s more, the laws of supply and demand proved them to be very lucrative in a land that had none.
Well sooner or later, rumor of this economic reality got back to the hard scrabble folks that created the breed.
“There are crazy people that pay ridiculous sums for our dogs and then keep them in apartments in skyscrapers and treat them like children. “
“No” ….they couldn’t believe it. But yes, they were told
“ They walk them on leashes and pick up their shit with little bags and take it with them.”
” Nooo”…..surly they must be crazy.
“ And what’s more they form clubs and they make rules about who can have them, how they must treat them, and they trot them around little rings and have strange little men fondle their balls and pull back the lips of their teeth. And get this, when this happens, they don’t want the dogs to bite these strange little men ?”
“ These people must truly be mad “ they said
“ Yes” the teller of the tale agreed
“ But they are also rich, come, see for yourself; it’s all right here…….. on the internet “
Eventually the word spread, and as one might expect, a sort of gold rush mentality ensued; but the gold was not the dogs, they were easy enough to produce. The gold was the crazy people on the Internet in the lands where they treated dogs like children.
Back in those wealthy lands a more complex narrative was unfolding, marinated in noble rhetoric, about “saving” and “preserving” the breed. They even referred to it as “our breed” now. They claimed to “love” this breed. They wrote very eloquent histories and created vary polished web sites to promote their “beloved breed,” just as they ranted about how popularity would surly destroy it.
Registries sprang up, as did breed clubs, but no sooner than they did they splintered into various factions that bickered endlessly about how best to “protect” and “preserve” “their” new breed, in their land that mostly just wanted pets. There was much cut and paste wisdom, posturing, back biting, so much high minded rhetoric, it served as a soundtrack— while the money was getting made as quickly as possible.
There were some men in the rich land that could use a dog to work, but there were simply not enough of them to preserve a breed. And the work was sometimes dangerous and those men didn’t really care to pay exorbitant sums to be grilled by the childless doggy moms that ran the dog clubs regards the risks to the dogs, or the requirements they must meet to own one. Those few men who had working homes were not likely to jump through those hoops, pay those prices, or humor those sellers.
In the end the new breed came to the same fate as all the other breeds in that strange land of much money and few children, the land of show rings, pet homes, and liability insurance. They became bigger if they were supposed to be big and smaller if they were supposed to be small. Visual markers became exaggerated cause they won ribbons, and cause that’s what sold. They became softer and more liability friendly because this land was chalk full of lawyers. They became increasingly inbred because the first ones imported were all bred like crazy, while the need to preserve the breed was so lucrative.
This inbreeding was particularly pronounced amongst those in the clubs that believed strangers should fondle their dogs, because they all bred to the one who got the most ribbons, in the hope of making one that that looked just like the one the strange little men liked to fondle most.
But in the hard scrabble land of origin it was not much better now, for money was hard to come by, so many men jumped at the opportunity and began raising these dogs as quickly as they could; they were not the men that needed the dogs for work, they were just in need of money. So they bred what they could, they bred what they thought the crazy people wanted, they didn’t really know much about dogs; but that didn’t much matter, because most of the buyers didn’t either.
And so it went, as the selection pressures that created a breed gradually succumbed to the selection pressures that claimed to “preserve” it, in a place and time that had nothing to do with it. And the old breeders in the land of origin were slowly outnumbered by the new ones, those less interested in preserving anything….but profit.