So... after some discussion, the bf and I decided that right before or after our next move, we would consider getting a dog.
Now, my heart tells me to get a rescue dog, but logic has to win out. We have a specific set of NEEDS, (not to be confused with desires) for our dog. Being that we globe trot, work on boats, ect...it has to conform to a certain ideal of expectation, and if it doesn't fit the bill, I have to be able to sleep at night knowing it's going back to a loving home, not a shelter. This is a type of support only a dedicated breeder can provide. They can from day one start watching for signs and enforcing socialized behavior. They know their own animals well enough, and with experienced have developed the ability to predict what will work and what won't.
The breed we've decided on is a Doberman.
It will be trained for water rescue.
(Now you see where this special set of 'needs' comes in, huh?)
While we were on the path of research leading us to the point we are at now, there came the usual questions of cropping/docking or not.
I am NOT an advocate of breeding any animal in sub-prime health to get a 'look' British Bulldogs, pugs...any creatures that can't breathe properly because you want a squished face isn't cool with me. To physically handicap a dog for only aesthetic reasons isn't something I support.
However, I do support docking (cutting off the tails) in dogs if they are done as newborns, because based on my education (though admittedly biased as my aunt and uncle bred and docked lines of champions) it's better for the dog under certain circumstances. Dogs don't need their tails. In working dogs, it's actually a hindrance or danger. For house dogs, it can be a matter of an animal suiting you or not. (Wagging tails break things on tail-high tables.) Cancer, blisters, breaks and other physical issues don't exist if the body part isn't there. The list goes on and on, as does the list for NOT docking. I agree there is some debate, but it's not nearly as hot as the ear cropping debate.
We are getting ours cropped.
Before you flame the crap out of me, just keep reading, ok?
I've talked to multiple vets (in and out of the U.K where it is ILLEGAL) as well as multiple breeders. The general consensus is that the benefits of cropping are very real in this particular situation. Cropping and docking wasn't just done in the Doberman breed for aesthetics. They were a work/guard dog. That's why they make such good security/police animals. Cropping the ears and docking the tail was a means of reducing parts that another animal or person could use in a grappling situation. (Which is a very real danger in water rescue. Dogs do get drowned by humans) It was done to prevent injury to the dog, and that's why it's still pretty wide spread in working animals today. It also (allegedly) increases the cone of hearing by 20% and reduces the rate of ear infections because it allows water to dry better and more thoroughly without a flap of skin covering the orifice. Now, faced with this information, and the pressure from bf (who just likes the look and that's the only reason he wants it) I've decided to go along with it. If it's better for the dog, that's fine. Hell, I'd gladly have surgical modifications if it made my diving easier, let alone safer.
So.. I'm thinking on all this and wishing I could.. you know... ask the dog first? I mean, a dog can't tell you: "Sorry, I'd much rather be a house pet" so the best I can do is find a breed that loves to work, and a breeder that will find the right pup and support me through the process.
I'm still having feelings of guilt, though. It's a potentially dangerous job. I'd rather give it a choice then just buying it and assuming.
I guess that's where the training comes in. If a dog doesn't want to/isn't fit for work, it won't pass the standards. Only the most enthusiastic, intelligent animal will.
If that's the case, someone will have a very well trained house pet with perky ears.
So anyway, that's my story.
Anyone have something similar to share?
What's your view on working dogs? On designer breeds (with SEVERE medical issues due to their looks)