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Chocolate Havanese

When bad things happen to good dogs and good people

WHY ME? is a universal cry expressing frustration and anguish over situations that happen despite our best efforts to prevent them.

You KNOW you did everything right. Choosing to add a dog to your family was a well thought out decision, not an impulse. You spent months researching breeds to find the one that was just right for you. A Havanese seemed perfect in every way. You read everything you could get your hands on about the breed, your scoured the internet for information, you found out about pros and cons of the breed. You carefully considered known health concerns, you checked with the breed clubs for additional information; you went to dog shows to see some Havanese in person. Then, knowing this was the right breed for you, you avoided the temptation of puppy mills and pet stores, you spent the time to find a breeder you were comfortable with, you checked references and asked every question you could think of. You did everything you could to ensure that you were getting a quality puppy from a reputable, ethical breeder. After months of anticipation, your little bundle of joy arrived and was everything you dreamed of. All seemed perfect in your world and you looked forward to 12 to 15 years of bliss with your delightful Havanese companion...........but then, when you least expect it, disaster strikes.

A beloved pet dies way too young of heart failure, another develops an unexpected disease, yet another is diagnosed with fast progressing cataracts or a once healthy bouncy exuberant dog starts to limp and you hear the devastating news that your Havanese, your best friend has a disabling condition. WHY ME?

Sadly, this question rarely has any concrete answers. When faced with a situation that one has little or no control over; a situation which has no answers but only more questions, many people desperately need some type of resolution. Frustration often leads to lashing out in an attempt to find and assign blame, in the hope of assuaging feelings of guilt and helplessness. When there are no answers to be found, finding a scapegoat in small measure may make one feel better by holding on to the belief that someone else is to blame. It's very easy to lay fault at the breeder's doorstep, perhaps deservedly upon occasion, but most often not.

A common way of thinking is that good breeders only have good puppies; nothing bad would ever have happened if one had REALLY gotten a good puppy from a GOOD breeder. Ultimately, comes the thought that you have been had. What a horrible feeling. Most contracts state that the breeder be notified if anything happens to the puppy, but many choose not to do that, feeling justified by believing said breeder is in fact a bad breeder and that they could not care less about the puppies they produce.....they don't deserve to know. Regretfully, some people go even further; they initiate malicious gossip, spread vengeful rumours and start a personal vendetta. But wait...not so fast. In haste to lay blame, the one person who could be a most valuable resource, a shoulder to lean on, a support system in a difficult time; is getting overlooked: the breeder! But how can that be? In anger and sorrow, here are a few things that may not have been thought of.

Why you should tell your breeder

By telling your breeder when something happens, you allow them to help you with experience, advice, comfort, and anything else they can do to help. By telling them, you also help future generations of Havanese. If you don't tell your breeder, they may not know that there may be a potential issue in their line. Problems may be the result of a fluke, a one time thing that will never occur again, or an unfortunate combination of genes or a previously hidden genetic fault. By telling your breeder when problems arise, they can then use the information to investigate pedigrees and try to find where the problem originated (or where it didn't which is just as important) and so help make educated breeding decisions and try to avoid having these hereditary defects repeated in future litters.

Health testing: A reputable ethical breeder chooses breeding pairs carefully, selecting dogs which are complementary to each other, hoping to pass along their very best qualities and to ultimately improve the breed. They health test their breeding dogs. While we all would like for health testing to mean eliminating all diseases in the Havanese, reality is that of the majority of health testing available at this time is diagnostic not predictive; that means tests are reflective of what is happening right now in a dog and not necessarily a firm indication of the future. CERF results for instance, are only valid for one year. This is because eye conditions can change over the years. More than a few health issues in Havanese may not develop till a dog is a mature adult ( 3-4-5 years old or older) by which time, they may already have been bred. Reputable breeders keep up to date with health matters in the Havanese and keep an eye on ongoing research developments. They test for the most common genetic conditions which can be tested for and which are recommended for Havanese at this time. While this is not 100% predictive of the future, it is certainly a good place to start. Breeders who test aren't trying to find something wrong; they are trying to be sure things are right. While they know that things occasionally happen, they breed each litter as carefully as possible to minimize health issues. Breeding is a risk. A breeder breeds each litter with the current knowledge about the parents and the breedline. Things can and do change. This is no way excuses unethical breeders who breed indiscriminately or breed without any health testing at all.

Health guarantee: A health guarantee should be your breeder's word that they stand behind their puppies and that they have done their best to produce dogs free of genetic defects and health issues. It is not a guarantee that nothing will ever happen throughout the life of a dog. Unfortunately, no one can guarantee that. The only way someone could guarantee to never produce a puppy with a health issue is to never breed at all.

What next

So where do you go from here? Talk to your veterinarian, talk to your breeder and research as much information about the condition that you can find; those will allow you to make the best decisions possible for you and your pet. Life does not always go as planned, sometimes the bad goes with the good. A reputable breeder does not set out to produce a puppy with a serious condition nor did they specifically or randomly choose "you" to receive that puppy. Just as a puppy buyer does not want to purchase a potentially sick or disabled puppy, a reputable breeder does not want the heartbreak of selling one into a loving home. Sometimes, bad things happen to good dogs, good owners and good breeders, and it's no ones fault. Having something happen to your beloved pet is bad enough. While you can't change what has happened, don't let sour disappointment turn to sour grapes. Let the hurt turn into something positive for the future of our beloved breed. Channel your anger and disappointment and direct them in different directions or toward positive actions.

If we all work together, the future may see many current health problems identified and hopefully eliminated in the Havanese breed.