Offended a Breeder

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Tara O.:
I forgot to post this a while back. I just remembered it because I was sending an inquiry to a Lab breeder I haven't previously corresponded with. We've been researching kennels/lines for our next Lab for quite a while now. We've been approved by several breeders but for one reason or another, the litters that have hit the ground were not ones we ended up purchasing from. Our specifications:
1. Excellent, line proven, companion pet temperaments
2. OFA Excellent (will accept Good) on hips, elbows done & CERF
3. No history of PRA or severe allergies
4. Male
5. Light yellow to white

BTW, the breeders I've been dealing with are primarily show breeders but most are also dual-purpose breeders. All litters have at least one Ch. parent and pedigrees on both sides from prominent, championship lines. IOW we're looking for the blocky, shorter, thicker type Lab. I have purposely stayed away from working line breeders because the conformation is not to my liking and (more importantly) I don't want a dog with extremely high drive because at most we'll be doing obedience work but certainly not hunting/retrieving at this time.
Of the breeders I've spoken and written to the most, I have found nothing wrong with any of them and would feel quite comfortable entering into a relationship with them. We are still researching a few other kennels though so after writing an email tonight, I remembered something from a couple of months ago.
I emailed a well-known breeder of Champion dogs, years of experience, to inquire about an upcoming litter. I wanted to know the health history in terms of genetic defects, how many of the pups usually end up going to pet-homes, the health guarantee and the return policy. I was very detailed in the reason I was asking the questions, making it well-known that I'd done my research and this was not a "how much are your puppies and when can I have one" email.I received a response that was fairly curt in tone and was scolded for having asked about the return contract. I was told that the very fact that I would ask about a return contract shows that I'm not committed enough to a well-bred puppy to qualify for one from her breeding and that I gave the distinct impression that I would return the dog over the slightest thing. I emailed her back and said that I was interviewing her, which is my right as an informed buyer, and that I wanted to know about all the provisions in place as well as the history before deciding that she was someone I'd enjoy having a breeder/buyer relationship with.

I explained that I'm in rescue for a different breed and that being asked such questions in advance is always a sign, to me, that the prospective adopter has given this alot of thought. I told her that I was sorry if she was offended but that in return, I felt offended for asking perfectly legitimate questions. I never got a response to that.
I honestly put nothing in that email that would intimate that I had intentions of returning a pup and that I was half-hearted about getting and raising a Lab. I didn't even know how much her pups were and didn't ask. Does anyone else here think that her response was understandable? I should also mention that I got no answers to my other questions except "all of our dogs are proven healthy".

Tara
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Tara O.:
[nq:1]thought. I told her that I was sorry if she was offended but that in return, I felt offended for asking perfectly legitimate questions.[/nq]
That is supposed to read:
I felt offended at the scolding tone of her email for asking honest and important questions.

Tara
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Janice:
[nq:1]I received a response that was fairly curt in tone and was scolded for having asked about the return contract. ... from her breeding and that I gave the distinct impression that I would return the dog over the slightest thing.[/nq]
Possibly there's a touch of burn-out on the breeder's side. I do speak with other breeders fairly frequently and we try to share experiences and opinions (just like real people do). So I do think I understand where the Lab breeder is coming from BUT...

I think this matter could have been prevented by sending the inquiring puppy candidate a sample puppy agreement that explicitly explains a return or replacement policy. It would, at least IMO, help defuse any questions that address these touchy points.

The point being that the breeder wasn't mentioning it at all may have lead to jumping to conclusions on both the buyer and seller's part. (
I think ideally that part of the puppy placement agreement should state something to the effect that the breeder wants the puppy back if there are issues, and also that the breeder has such guarantee on the dogs that if the puppy you receive does not work (working dog) or turns out to have a health problem for which the breeder has been screening against... that you have an option for a second pup at a lesser cost.
I think based on what you have said, communication breakdown and burn-out might be behind the breeder's reaction. There probably is nothing you could have said that would have changed that outcome.

Some people are 'just that way'.

Janice
Semavi Anatolians
DEduce to email
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Emily Carroll:
[nq:1]5. Light yellow to white[/nq]
You would turn me (and many of my friends) off with this request. In fact, my mentor recently turned down a couple for such consideration. (Granted she called her darker boy "ugly," which ticked both of us off.) There is NO guarantee as to the shade of a puppy. Puppies change shades quite a bit as they grow, and a dark puppy might turn out light and a light puppy might turn out dark. There are many more important things than the SHADE of the dog, especially in Labs.
My mentor, http://www.karimarkennels.com, has a litter of fox red x. fox red carrier pups on the ground now (red male which is to be MINE, it's the Meadow x. Duckie litter), and they've changed in shade from day one, and their body shades vary from dark (my boy) to very light. Odds are, all but the very red ones will be colored similar to their mother, but there is no guarantee.
[nq:1]I received a response that was fairly curt in tone and was scolded for having asked about the return contract. ... from her breeding and that I gave the distinct impression that I would return the dog over the slightest thing.[/nq]
It would concern me that one of your first issues was with the return clause in the contract. Granted, again, I'm coming at this from a different angle than you are, as I've known my breeder for better than a year, trained the dam of my puppy to her CD, have another dog of hers ready for his CD, and have been part of the "in" crowd for several years now. I haven't even seen the contract I'm expected to sign. Have no clue about the ins & outs of it. But I know her well enough to know that there will be VERY few things that we will butt heads on, if any. The most likely one will be when/if to send him off with a handler, and I can't see even that being an issue.
I would be concerned, first and foremost, with finding a line that has what you want. Talk to breeders, lots of them, and get to be part of the trust crowd first. There are several big-name studs out there that are rumoured to produce various problems (including TVD, PRA, and elbow dysplasia), that I wouldn't have a clue about without this relationship with my mentor. I would not purchase a Lab puppy if BOTH parents were not given OFA heart clearances.

It's one thing to have a dog slowly degenerate in the hips or elbows, it's another to have your healthy 3 year old drop dead in the back yard after butt-tucking. A breeder that is doing all the health tests, that is honest with you about everything else, and that you feel comfortable with WILL care enough to put that clause in.
In show lines, there are just a few "big" studs that you'll notice if you start looking at pedigrees, Dickendall Arnold & kids, Rocheby Royal Oak, and you'll notice several important British/NZ/Aus kennels (Poolstead, Charway, etc.) I like the Poolstead lines personally. Awesome personalities! Look into that line if you want something for agility. I pray that Arnold doesn't carry TVD as he's pretty much behind EVERYTHING out there and he was born in the early 90s/late 80s!
[nq:1]I honestly put nothing in that email that would intimate that I had intentions of returning a pup and that ... understandable? Ishould also mention that I got no answers to my other questions except "all ofour dogs are proven healthy".[/nq]
Lab people get TONS of numpty inquiries. Keep the communication lines open, she probably just wants to see how serious you are in her dogs. There are too many people that are catching on to the "responsible breeders take him back" kick and not bothering to ensure that they're ready to raise a Lab puppy.
I don't know if you've talked to Karimar yet, if not, drop her a line. She should be having yellows from Reba...if I recall right, the stud carries yellow. She ships. I can personally vouch for her level of ethics. (Be warned, she's a VERY straightforeward person). Also, there's Woodhaven (www.woodhavenlabs.com) who breeds multi-purpose Labs, she should be having yellow this fall as well. If light yellow was a major consideration, the puppy she kept from Reba's previous litter is quite light.

~Emily
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Anonymous:
[nq:1]I emailed a well-known breeder of Champion dogs, years of experience, to inquire about an upcoming litter. I wanted to ... should also mention that I got no answers to my other questions except "all of our dogs are proven healthy".[/nq]
It sounds like she is more used to dealing with people who are all impressed by her show wins. YOu burst her bubble by asking perfectly legitimate questions about what she DOES. A Cavelier owner and I were commenting just today how disgusting it is that some of the "top" show breeders in that breed don't health test. Same thing inlbas. Just because they are experienced and show doesn't mean they will do the responsible breeder thing.
Diane Blackman
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Tara O.:
[nq:2]5. Light yellow to white[/nq]
[nq:1]You would turn me (and many of my friends) off with this request. Infact, my mentor recently turned down a ... puppy might turn out dark. There are many more important things than the SHADE of the dog, especially in Labs.[/nq]I agree that the shades can and often do deepen with age but I would rather wait on a light yellow to white puppy than to take one who is born yellow or gold. Since I've purposely selected kennel lines that I like in terms of ethics, health, temperament & titles and who purposely breed yellows, all that is left for me is the shade and the personality of the pup at 8 weeks. If the light yellow or white doesn't come up that's no big deal as I can wait on another planned litter.

Its also why I've made extensive contact with more than one particular breeder. I definitely have a favorite and luckily for me, she's local. She breeds yellows and blacks that carry yellow. The last litter that hit the ground was one I'd had high hopes of obtaining a pup from and would not have had a problem as I was approved to purchase (and she had several very light colored pups as well as several yellow/gold ones) but then my central AC broke and there went the $800 I'd saved for our puppy.
[nq:1]It would concern me that one of your first issues was with the returnclause in the contract. Granted, again, I'm ... likely one will be when/if tosend him off with a handler, and I can't see even that being an issue.[/nq]I don't really consider it a "first issue" so much as part of the interviewing process. I asked many questions to get a good idea of the type of breeder she is. I have heard of her dogs, seen them in pedigrees of other kennel lines, and liked the looks of them but since I'd never met her or any of her dogs in person, I had no choice but to write her to ask for the missing information. I can see if I'd just written and asked "do you take your dogs back if something goes wrong?" but I asked many pertinent questions, gave a bio of our home, vet reference and explained how much research I'd done.

IMO taking offense at the question was a red flag. Now the reason I ask about the return clause is simple...I wouldn't be doing Boxer rescue almost 40 hours a week if breeders took back their dogs. I want to know that a breeder that I purchase from takes lifetime responsibility for the dogs she breeds and that they don't go to shelters or Lab Rescue rather than go back to her. To me, this is very important and speaks volumes about the breeder.
[nq:1]I would be concerned, first and foremost, with finding a line that haswhat you want. Talk to breeders, lots of them, and get to be part of the trust crowd first.[/nq]
There are two particular lines that I love (Surry & Dickendall) and several others who have Surry or Dickendall stock so they are all very similar. I've talked with all of them except Dickendall but then the lines with Dickendall in them are all sired by Gabe, Clark or Daveron so I deal with the breeder of the ***. There are a few breeders whose lines I won't go near even though their dogs are beautiful and titled. I've learned of temperament issues and our last Lab happened to have had two of those lines in her.
[nq:1]I don't know if you've talked to Karimar yet, if not, drop her a line.She should be having yellows from ... as well. If light yellow was a major consideration, the puppy she kept from Reba's previous litter is quite light.[/nq]
Thanks Emily. I'll check out Karimar & Woodhaven.

Tara
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Emily Carroll:
[nq:1]There are two particular lines that I love (Surry & Dickendall) andseveral others who have Surry or Dickendall stock so ... and titled. I've learned of temperament issues and our last Lab happened to have had two of thoselines in her.[/nq]
I prefer the "old stuff" (Briary) as well as closer English imports. Maybe it's because I'm in love with Karimar's black stud, Tux, who is from imported lines. I'm not sure yet whether or not I'll stay "in" Labs, though I know I'll always have good friends that are Lab people. I don't know if I can deal with the frustration of dealing with some of the people in this breed.
[nq:1]Thanks Emily. I'll check out Karimar & Woodhaven.[/nq]
Reba's pup from a previous litter is very light...you really might like what she produces Emotion: smile
~Emily
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Tara O.:
[nq:1]It sounds like she is more used to dealing with people who are all impressed by her show wins. YOu ... test. Same thing inlbas. Just because they are experienced and show doesn't mean they will do the responsible breeder thing.[/nq]I agree with you and I did make sure that she health tests prior to even emailing her. I have only considered contacting a breeder if the website shows their dogs, titles, OFA, CERF and elbows. Then if the type is right (for me) then I'll email to ask for more information to open the interviewing process. I've learned alot since my own breeder days and more than I ever really wanted to know due to rescue. While I understand the points both Emily & Janice made, my reasoning for asking about a return contract is to ensure that I won't be entering into a relationship with a breeder who doesn't keep up with her dogs and allows them to go to shelters or rescue.

I did tell her I'm in rescue and gave her the link to our website in case she wanted to learn more about the kind of organization I'm affiliated with. It just seems to me that it would have been more appropriate for her to email me back with questions of her own before jumping to conclusions.

Tara
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Amy Dahl:
[nq:1]I forgot to post this a while back. I just remembered it because I was sending an inquiry to a ... hips, elbows done & CERF 3. No history of PRA or severe allergies 4. Male 5. Light yellow to white[/nq]
(snip)It's hard to say exactly what the problem might be, but...speaking as someone who breeds occasionally and invests a lot into the selection of meritorious breeding stock, sometimes it rubs me the wrong way to be grilled by a prospective buyer who is trying to see if I "measure up" to certain standards. Of course it is the buyer's right to find out all he or she wants to know, but some stick to finding out if my priorities are their priorities, while others seem to have a "list" which implies I'm a huckster if I don't meet their criteria.

And frankly, sometimes those criteria are things I consider pretty irrelevant. A difference in outlook and priorities is certainly something that occurs, but to feel that I am being held up and judged wanting for some issue I consider unimportant kind of rankles.

One of my "hot button" issues is guarantees. I prefer to place puppies with people who will evaluate all I have done to try to breed a good and healthy dog, and, if they find it acceptable, take responsibility for the inherent uncertainty of breeding. I don't want to sell to someone who thinks that since they have paid their money it is my responsibility to deliver a perfect "product." It doesn't work that way. Puppies aren't fabricated goods, and moreover, a replacement under a guarantee is not a satisfactory solution to most families. What they want is for the puppy they buy to work out. It is a fallacy to equate "guarantee" with a promise of perfection.

I do guarantee against certain things, mostly as a tool to keep informed of possibly-genetic flaws that bear on future breeding decisions.
I will take a dog of mine back at any time. This is "no questions asked" in an effort to make people feel safe calling me to return their dog. But it is an unhappy situation. It would mean that the placement is a failure, and when I interview prospective owners, I want every placement to be a success. If someone gave me the impression they were too interested in that clause not committed to the dog I would cross them off my list.
On the subject of price, there are a lot of people for whom it is an important criterion but for some reason they think it's rude to ask up front. If you have a price range, let's talk about that first! I hate it when I spend forty-five minutes on the phone telling about my dogs and asking about the prospective owner, only to find out that my puppies are out of their price range.

Another issue, which may or may not be important to the breeder who snubbed you, is that a good relationship between breeder and buyer is good for the puppy and good for the breeding program, in that the breeder gets feedback about the dog. Placement is not only about your meeting their criteria and their meeting your criteria it's also about comfort and communication.

Of course, it could be that this breeder's experience and confidence in her track record of producing good dogs is such that she doesn't want to jump through hoops to prove herself to everyone that comes along. I guess what this whole email amounts to is that breeding good puppies isn't necessarily a "consumer- oriented" activity. In my work I try to meet people's expectations and do a good job; when I breed dogs it is to my own standards. Maybe this is the main source of discordance with prospective buyers when they seem to implicitly assume that my sole purpose is to satisfy the consumer.
Sorry to ramble. I suggest you just "let it go" as a mismatch.

Amy Dahl
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