Our Labrador Flex when he was still a puppy.

Ethically it always bothered me that dogs are for sale. Even being a “dog owner” annoys me. Often, when I talk about our Labrador Flex, I’ll refer to myself and my husband as his “baasjes”, a common Dutch denominator that is hard to translate but means something like “little bosses of”. And that’s how I see us, as the people responsible for his well being, health and happiness. Although I know he has no “real” freedom and is in essence subjected to our will and power, we try to provide him and ourselves with a sense of it. To achieve this we started by teaching him to communicate with us and we did our best to teach ourselves how to understand his – really easy to read – dog language. The result is a happy dog that knows his boundaries, understands when we go out just by looking at our body language, comes and asks us to look for his toys when he’s been overly enthusiastic and lost them somewhere, wakes us in the morning to tell us it’s time for a walk and behaves wonderfully well in any given situation.

There is only one thing my husband and I regret when it comes to Flex. Although we used to have dogs at home when we where little, and although all four of them where rescued from shelters, with Flex it was different. We “bought” him as a puppy from a breeder in the summer of 2009, pushed by friends and family members to go for a “safe” option. A couple of hours after he was in our care, we noticed he was very sick. He had extreme diarrhea, wouldn’t eat anything and was lethargic. This poor little puppy had been sick for a couple of days, maybe weeks and the breeder did nothing about it, except hide it from us during the “selling process”. With the right medication and care we managed to make him healthy again in a couple of weeks. But that was not the end of it. A couple of visits to the vet later she noticed Flex was very calm and

X-ray of Flex’s hips showing the severe hip dysplasia

walked in a strange fashion. The verdict was severe hip dysplasia, a polygenic condition that is inherited by puppy dogs from their parents. So we realized our puppy was in pain and would increasingly be as time went by. Surgery to both hips was the only way we could provide him with a painless future.

So we regret we bought him from a breeder, and actually we regret we bought him at all. We don’t regret having him in our lives, he’s a wonderful dog; we miss him terribly when he’s not around. But after this experience and really with the knowledge that so many dogs out there are looking for a warm home we are ashamed we participated in a dirty breeder’s business. My opinion now is that dogs should not be breed for money, that sick puppies should not come into the world and that any dog is “safe” as long as you take good care of him. Dogs are breed at a fast pace for financial gains, with no concern for their health or the future they are facing, while so many dogs are dying every year in shelters around the world, unable to find loving families, discarded as “damaged goods”. And that is exactly what the new PETA campaign is about.

The surrealistic video entitled ‘Everyday Dogs’ Die When People Buy shows the sad reality for the millions of lives lost each year because people choose to purchase dogs from breeders and pet shops while countless animals wait in animal shelters for a chance at a loving home. Take a look at the video below and pledge to always adopt and never buy like I did, to help stop this tragedy.