May 1 is National Purebred Dog Day, which is a great opportunity to share our beloved breeds with the world. As dogs have co-evolved with humans for thousands of years, many different breeds have been developed to fill specific jobs and to fit perfectly into the lifestyle they were bred for. Even if the niche role of a breed may not be as important in today’s society, we are lucky to have such a wide variety of dogs with different sizes, coat types, and energy levels to choose from. Working as a dog trainer with the public, I’m well aware that purebred dogs are a minority among pets today, but May 1 is a great time for those of us who are head over heels in love with a particular breed to share all of the reasons why.
While 3 breeds currently share my household, PBGVs are the breed that has had my heart since I first got to know one as a teenager. I love that they are small enough to pick up but sturdy enough not be be fragile. I like that there are up for anything, whether that’s an active day or time on the couch watching TV. I enjoy having dogs who are social enough with people and dogs to go pretty much anywhere. I like having dogs who are healthy and active into their teen years. I’ve worked with many breeds in my professional life and realize that the intelligence and problem solving ability of PBGVs is pretty unique. I love the feel of a harsh coat and appreciate the fact that they don’t leave it all over the house. I like not having to glue ears and cut body parts off of puppies, although I respect the right of others to make the right decision for their own dogs. Also, I think PBGVs are possibly the cutest dogs in the world.
I suspect that at least a few PBGV people reading this right now are screaming at the screen because I’m not stressing that PBGVs aren’t for everyone- of course they aren’t, no breed is. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t for anyone and presenting them to the world as noisy independent dogs who spend their whole lives trying to run away from you definitely isn’t the whole picture. Yes, we are much more careful about when and if the PBGVs are trusted off leash than we are with the Aussies. Yes, I sometimes wish my 25 pound agility dogs were as fast as the 10 pound sport mixes that win in their jump height. Yes, I would probably enjoy breed shows more if the grooming expectation in PBGVs hadn’t gotten so ridiculous (maybe not, there’s a lot I don’t enjoy about breed shows). To me, these are small tradeoffs for all of things mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Over the last few years, I’ve thought a lot about whether PBGVs are still the right breed for me. While I do a lot of different things with my dogs, my sport of choice is agility. Realistically there are limits to how competitive you can be with a PBGV’s body type. I’ve been lucky and had dogs who really enjoy the sport, but this is also not as easy to find in a PBGV than in many other breeds. The decision that I’ve come to is that I can do the sport I love with the breed I love, but sometimes that will mean finding our own goals. We may not be fast enough to win at major events, but by attending we are representing not just PBGVs, but also preservation breeding and anyone who chooses to compete with their breed of choice instead of one selected for the sport. In agility, we are often known as “off breeds” but that has always felt derogatory to me. There’s got to be a better term, I just don’t know what it is.
This week, Spice and I will be heading on an exciting agility adventure to compete in the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. We are looking forward to showing that amazing agility dogs can come in all shapes and sizes. Below are three very different pictures of my amazing girl, all of which have been taken in the past 6 weeks.