Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Meet the Breeds before You Pick Your Pup for Prospective Owners, Wpka Show Can Help Match Dog to Family Lifestyle

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Meet the Breeds before You Pick Your Pup for Prospective Owners, Wpka Show Can Help Match Dog to Family Lifestyle

Article excerpt

If more spectators would go to dog shows, perhaps fewer dogs would end up in shelters.

Shelters and rescue groups are filled with dogs that were dumped by their owners. "Dumped" is my word. "Surrendered" is the polite word used by people who find new homes for dogs whose owners are unable or unwilling to keep them.

Nipping at the heels of children, running away from home for hours on end, digging in the yard and garden, chewing and demolishing furniture and excessive barking are among the wide range of behavior problems that can get a dog dumped.

In many cases, owners have not done their homework. You need to know what a dog was bred to do because that has much to do with a dog's personality and energy levels.

This is where dog shows come in. You can see 1,200 dogs and talk to their breeders and handlers to figure out which one fits your lifestyle.

The Western Pennsylvania Kennel Association Inc. has shows today and Sunday at the Monroeville Convention Center, just off the William Penn Highway. Judging starts at 9 a.m. and finishes up between 3 and 6 p.m. Admission is $9 for adults and $3 for children ages 4-10.

Don't miss the "Meet the Breeds" booth 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days. The American Kennel Club has asked clubs to include this activity at shows to educate the public. Responsible breeders and owners will be honest about the breed they choose to love. Never buy a dog from anyone who claims there is nothing negative about their dogs.

Some are brutally honest.

"Our dogs don't like children," a longtime breeder and rescuer of Lhasa Apsos once told me. The lovely little Lhasas were bred, many centuries ago, to guard Buddhist monasteries.

First-time visitors to animal shelters may be surprised by the kinds of purebred and purebred mixes they're likely to see: border collies, cattle dogs, Parson Russell terriers (formerly called Jack Russell terriers), beagles, miniature pinschers, chihuahuas, Shih Tzus and lots and lots of Labrador retrievers.

Shelter workers are very aware of what dogs were bred to do. They try very hard to make good matches.

Some border collies and cattle dogs are surrendered because they ran after children, nipping at their heels. The dogs were trying to herd children like the livestock they were bred to drive.

The many breeds with "terrier" in their name may dig big holes in the yard and garden. Their name comes from "terrain" and they were bred to "go to ground" -- dig and burrow to catch and kill rats and other vermin.

Many breeds were designed to have high energy and endurance so they could run for hours performing the jobs they were bred to do, such as hunting and herding. When bored and under-exercised, they may bark excessively and can chew and destroy furniture, clothing and children's toys.

If you watch the obedience competition at the Monroeville shows, you'll probably see border collies excelling. …

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