Sunday, August 22, 2010

Love Has No Pedigree

I recently got an e-mail from a friend, not a close friend, mind you, more a friend-of-a-friend I'd say, but someone I've known for many years nevertheless.  She wrote because she hadn't heard from me in a while, wondered how I was doing, and was excited to show off pictures of her new puppy.  "Misty" was a long-haired chihuahu, and cute as could be (what puppies aren't though, right?).  She went on to brag about how this little lady had descended from champion bloodlines, how momma dog had ribbons for this and that, as well as daddy chihuahu, who also came from a long line of pedigrees.  She then joked to me that with such high-brow lineage, she hoped that Misty wouldn't "grow up to be a snob."  Meanwhile, I felt sad and disappointed.  First of all, I'm always baffled as to why people are so taken, so bowled over and completely enamored with pedigrees, papers and bloodlines.  I mean, is that going to make you love that animal any more - or God forbid - any less, because of their lack of "good breeding?" And while this type of pretentious nonsense drives me crazy, in her case, I get it.    

Knowing her as long as I have (since our late teens), and the large family she grew up in where the only abundance she'd ever known was alcoholism and shame, it makes sense.  Owning a pedigree like Misty perhaps makes her feel as if she can wash away the poverty of her own childhood and show the world that she "has arrived."  Misty's pedigree has become her own. Social climbing by association, if you will.  Kind of like "marrying up."

The other thing I struggled with was that she chose a breeder over a shelter or rescue dog.  To say that there are too many dogs and cats in shelters as it is that need secure and loving homes is an understatement. A BIG understatement. Huge. In fact, I did some scouting around and learned that according to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately 3-4 MILLION (that's six zeros, folks!) dogs and cats are euthanized every year because there is simply not enough room or financial resources to keep them for an extended period until the right owner comes along.  And what's worse, given the status of today's economy, with high unemployment and home foreclosures, more dogs and cats are being turned into shelters than ever before. I recently received an impassioned letter from a local dog and cat rescue that I contribute to, asking for financial support, as well as donations of food and pet supplies. Receiving their letter requesting support was not at all unusual, since most animal rescues exist solely on the financial support of kind people who help them stay afloat. I guess it was the tone of the request, bordering on desperation, really, that surprised me. This was a group that for years always operated, for the most part, "in the black." Unfortunately though, in the last 2 years because of our faltering economy, all their resources had been depleted, donations had taken a nose dive, and the bottom line was, they were in bad shape.  In addition, they simply could not accept anymore owner turn ins for a while, at least until they got back on their feet financially.  

However, I realize that some people, for reasons that only they can understand, are completely dead set against owning a mutt, and only a pure bred dog will do.  And for those people, there are believe it or not, animal rescues that are breed specific; mastiffs, jack russells, toy poodles, beagles, great danes, german shepards, etc.  In fact, is a great resource for locating these rescues, and it's actually where I adopted 2 of my 3 dogs.

Did anyone see the movie "Shallow Hal" with Jack Black and Gwyneth Paltrow that came out a few years ago? Okay, not an Oscar nominee for sure, but a cute story with a great message.  Black's character (Hal) only dated girls because of their looks and outer beauty, but in the course of the movie, gets hypnotized and starts to see women on the outside according to their inner beauty.  He meets Paltrow's character, Rosemary, who is 300 + lbs, and therefore, considered unattractive by Westernized beauty standards and the brunt of a lot of cruel jokes throughout the movie.  However, after Black's transformation, her inner beauty (she is a kind, gentle person who works with terminally ill children) shines through and he sees her only as a tall, slim, and beautiful blonde.  In short, he falls in love with who she is on the inside, not what she looks like on the outside and goes against the tide of socially accepted norms, thereby sending a message to the audience that love transcends appearances.  As it should be.  Check it out:

But in my humble (and probably worthless) opinion, I think that for those of you who are considering a "champion bloodline" dog or cat and find yourself getting lured into that whole business, please look past the pedigree and who you might be trying to impress with all that pompousness. And stop feeding your own insecurities because your worth as a human being and social standing in the community does not hinge on this! When it comes to owning a dog or cat (or bird or fish for that matter), love has no pedigree and like the message in the movie, should transcend appearances.  An animal will love you  no matter what you look like, in good times and bad, regardless of where you came from or where you're going. They also don't ask to see your birth certificate or a history of your family tree, bank statements, or interview your relatives or employers to see if you're up to their  standards.  And aren't we lucky about that because most (if not all) of our own pedigrees are pretty shaky as it is.   


  1. I am a big supporter of animal rescue and it is where I adopted my dogs.

  2. Hi - thanks for stumbling across my blog and leaving comments - I appreciate it very much. Yes, I am all for animal rescues. 4 of the 5 cats I have are either stray or humane society animals, my one boy, Albert came from the Univ of KY farm feedmill where their barn cats would have kittens periodically. 3 are adopted from the humane society, and my youngest Pookie was a stray, and I am so glad I picked him up, he is a wonderful cat, and is going to be a great mouser when I get to the cabin - seeing how good he catches bugs in the apartment already! LOL - he is a little over a year old, and my oldest, Sarah is 16 this year. I'm anxious to get to the country so that the cats can spend some time outdoors and enjoy some adventures of their own - of course, they are hopefully going to come back into the cabin at night and be fed, and kept warm in the winter months. Thanks again for coming for a visit, and I'll follow you as well, to see where your life goes. Take care, from KY.