I’ve had an inordinate number of messages through the American Kennel Club (AKC), calls and texts to my cell phone, and requests on Messenger the past few weeks.

All of a sudden, everyone wants a puppy, or even a young adult dog. I’m not the only person experiencing this phenomenon. Breeders the width and breadth of the country are being contacted by people who all of a sudden “need” a puppy.

The first few contacts didn’t bother me, didn’t think anything of it since I had announced on my AKC page that I planned to breed this spring. But as the days passed more and more requests came in, and the red flags went up. I talked to other dog show people who also breed and they have experienced the same thing.

Seems people locked down in their homes think adding a puppy to the situation will make everything better. In some cases the people aren’t wrong. In other situations, it’s a puppy on the way to the pound (in many cases) as soon as the isolation period is lifted.

I have a list as long as my arm of people who want me to call them as soon as I have puppies. If I bred every girl I own, and could convince the boys to also get pregnant and carry pups to term I still couldn’t meet this sudden demand.

And, the fact is, most of these people will never get a puppy from me, or any other reputable breeder.

I have a questionnaire I require most people to complete before I even talk to them. I do make an exception now and then, as was the case in a couple poodle puppies I placed within the past year. But, in those cases, I spoke with the people at length over a period of time, and one couple even visited my home and their chosen pup several times until that little girl was old enough to leave her mama. And, I wasn’t wrong on those placements; those poodles have the most wonderful homes for which I could hope for any puppy. (Hi, Carly and Buffy!))

I require personal and veterinarian references. If it’s a first-time pet owner and they don’t have a vet yet, I don’t automatically say no, but I approach such placements with more trepidation. If everything else checks out, and after speaking with the people a number of times I’ll request they choose a vet and then I’ll confirm the choice.

Sure, even with all those checks in place people can still lie their way into owning one of my puppies. Such was the case about six years ago this past Christmas. I’d placed Frodo, a Harrier puppy, with a doctor in North Carolina. Everything checked out, he signed my purchase contract; it all looked good for a bright future for that little boy. She left here on Dec. 9, 2013.

Part of my contract requires I always know where a dog is, and if the person can’t keep the dog it comes back to me, even if it’s a decrepit senior citizen. I never want a dog I’ve caused to be brought into this world to end up in a shelter, or a horrible living situation. And, I check in with people to be sure the dogs are being cared for properly, and are still in their care.

I contacted that doctor many times. Weeks turned into months and he was skirting the issue, saying he was too busy to take a photo of Frodo on his phone and send me. Finally, I pulled out the contract, called some people in North Carolina and put on the pressure, threatening legal action for breaching the contract.

He confessed; he’d given away Frodo on Christmas Day, just 16 days after he’d taken him home. I was devastated. He did contact the people to whom he’d given Frodo, and they immediately called me. They had no idea Frodo, whom they’d name Mac, was sold on a contract and I’d been looking for him for months.

As it turned out, Frodo/Mac has an amazing home with two children, and a swimming pool he loves. Well, he loves lying on an inflatable raft, not getting wet. He is well loved. But, the situation sadly shows people can get around the rules, even with safeguards in place.

Now it’s worse than ever trying to decide who should be on the possible new puppy owner list and who is a crackpot.

I’ve had two calls this week from people who will never get their hands on one of my pups.

One woman wants me to breed a tri-color Beagle in red, white and blue, with blue eyes for her. First, blue eyes can’t show. I don’t have any blue-eyed Beagles and if I was unfortunate enough to have one it would never breed. Second, while my tri-colors (brown, black and white – typical coloring when people think of the breed) do carry for red, not a one of them carries for blue, even if I’d love to have a little blue girl someday.

Then there was the woman who messaged me Thursday evening. She wants me to breed a toy poodle for her. I don’t own any toy poodles. I explained this to her. She wants me to tell my miniatures to make smaller babies so they come out toy size instead. I tried explaining the birds and bees of the canine world to this dingbat, but she wasn’t listening; she knew better. Lord, help us.

I did announce on my AKC page that we expect two litters of Beagles next month. People contact me day in and day out for these anticipated babies.

I have started two lists, one of potential new owners, and one of no way in H-E-double hockey sticks will these people ever lay hands on anything I’ve bred.

Just because people are stuck home now and want a puppy now doesn’t mean their lifestyle is right for a puppy, or an adolescent dog, when the world returns to normal. A lot of people are home now; they won’t remain at home when the lockdown is lifted.

Now, for some, they’ve been thinking about a puppy for a long time but haven’t felt they had time to stay home with a little one, training it, loving it, helping it settle in its new home, but are home now and feel this is the time and the pup will be a little older and settled in when they return to work. These are the folks in my maybe pile.

There are people who have had dogs forever, maybe lost one in recent months, experienced pet owners with stable life situations. They are at the top of the pile.

And there are the people who yesterday thought they’d like to get a puppy because they aren’t doing anything else right now. They go on the no-way list.

People who never previously wanted a pet, but are trying to get themselves a pandemic puppy are a worry. When life returns to normal I, and many other show people I know, fear the shelters will be overrun with discarded pets, fur kids who no longer fit people’s lifestyles.

Those of us who show and breed are being extra careful, seriously vetting potential placements, and standing behind every pup we bring into this world so not a single one is ever dumped at a shelter. Upstanding breeders stand behind their pups and will take them back at any point in their lives regardless of the situation. Currently, trying to be sure they never get into a bad home is top priority.

D.K. Thomas is the Gettysburg Times night editor. Contact het at dthomas@gettysburgtimes.com or 717-339-2071.

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