The problem with Hollywood making a dog breed popular – Part 1

The problem with Hollywood making a dog breed popular is that many people will go out and purchase that breed of dog, expecting it to behave just like the one in the movie, or in the television series. When Lassie first told her human hosts that little Timmy was trapped down in the neighbours’ well, with the water rushing up quickly, soon to drown him as he was caught and stopped from freeing himself by a large tree branch (did people really think that Lassie could say all of that with a few barks and a wagging tail?), people flocked to the unscrupulous breeders and pet stores looking for Collies. A short time later, SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or your local animal shelter) offices were inundated with Collies that did not meet their owners’ expectations. The years of constant daily training was lost on the owners, who expected the dogs to come pre-trained and overly-intelligent.

The same story holds true for Dalmatians, when 101 Dalmatians came out in theatres, and for Golden Retrievers when any movie starring the most popular film-trained dogs hit’s the big-screen. Dalmatians are not your smartest dog, and can be one of the hardest of the dogs to train. There are always exceptions to each rule, and smart Dalmatians who can perform amazing tricks and listen to stage handlers’ instructions are out there, but the most common Dalmatian is a really stupid dog, one breed known for it’s inability to foresee danger and rush right into it (think of all the firehouses with Dalmatians as station dogs; they are one of the few breeds of dog that is stupid enough to run into a fire.

For every 10 dogs that are taken in by a family as a pet, it is widely accepted that about 4 of them will be going either to a pound, the streets, or a shallow grave in the woods. Sorry, Timmy, there really is no “farm”, where all the good dogs go to run and frolic. When “wonder-dog” came out in theatres, the sales of beagles were increased to the point that they were selling future litters of puppies. Putting a down-payment on a dog’s future puppies, just because of what a few well-trained actor-dogs are capable of is just wrong, but it is the nature of business; profit at all costs.

Unfortunately, there are lots of people who consider dogs, cats and birds to be no more than mere commodities. As long as these types of breeders are allowed to go along with their business of making dogs have puppies on a yearly basis, the animal shelters will remain full, and euthanasia will remain a mainstay of animal regulatory effects.

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