In a recent post on Facebook from I Love Responsible Dog Breeders I found it really hit home....then it hit me that this is a deeper issue than a personal vendetta. This is a problem in the dog world. The issue? The Blacklist.
The Blacklist was intended to keep dogs out of hands of people who would legitimately harm them. Its also (and I feel more frequently used) to 'settle' disagreements between breeders/fanciers.
I have been Blacklisted. I have been written off by many. Am I a bad dog owner? No, I don't believe I am. I don't feel like my dogs hate or fear me. Quite the opposite in fact.
Have I made mistakes? Have I fallen flat on my face? Yes, yes I have. I have also picked myself up, made changes in my life (big changes) and have dusted myself off vowing to never let the situation that I had lived through (survived more like it) EVER happen again. I will not let that situation define me as an owner, breeder, fancier of my breed.
Originally though, I earned my place on the Blacklist for receiving a puppy from a breeder with a checkered past. Yes, you read that correctly; received a puppy, I did not purchase this puppy. He was a gift. I gift I broke down in tears over as I couldn't seem to find the right secret code to break into the coveted well bred dog community. Here was someone with the most beautiful puppy I had ever seen and someone who was willing to take a chance on the ignorant pet owner who innocently purchased a puppy mill Siberian and who didn't know how to contact reputable breeders. For shame. Ultimately that breeder burned me just as I was warned she would eventually. I learned my lesson, I don't fault the dog for his breeder being a bad human. It wasn't his fault.
Over the years I also developed "extremist" views of wanting to maintain a functional representation of our breed that still maintained the appearance of a Siberian. As such I started looking for other mentors, even being outside of the area, to help me navigate how to get there. This was also used as a massive red flag to bar me from the community.
Because of these atrocities, some breeders in the community took it upon themselves to fabricate reasons to Blacklist me. Reasons that were so laughable it was hard to imaging them sticking. I had members of the parent club testifying as being my neighbor to how my dogs were housed. However this member had never been to my house and lived 11mi away and over a mountain pass. Yet these lies prevailed.
A few years ago I earned a spot on the list. I was in a domestic violence relationship, one that was physically, emotionally, and financially abusive. I was kicked out of my home, my dogs were used to threaten my compliance or watch them be killed. I watched helplessly as my dogs suffered, unable to gain any sort of control back over my finances, nor my mental health. My capacity was diminished to that of pure survival- there was room for nothing more. I tried to get help for my dogs, particularly the senior dogs and hard keepers, and was told no now wasn't a good time by those who should have stepped up for their charges without question. I was offered a less than helpful bit of advice in that we "all get sad sometimes" as a justification their cold and callousness. A select few of my friends helped buy a bag of dog food here and there. It wasn't enough but it was all I could do at the time. When that was found out I was threatened again with bodily harm for the embarrassment that caused my other half.
I'm not the only one who has ever ended up in a bad situation. But when I needed help, when my dogs and I needed our breed community, we were ignored. I feel maliciously- to watch me fail - to give them more cause to say 'see we told you so'. To justify their actions and accusations they had originally laid against me. Now, I do not entirely fault these people. After all, you cannot understand nor truly have compassion for a situation that is so far outside of anything that can be grasped for you. So for that I'm grateful that these people have had lives that have afforded them the luxury of not having to survive situations that were dangerous and unhealthy for all involved.
So I ask, in a thought that will probably ruffle more than a few feathers....Even if the act of blacklisting IS appropriate and animals ARE in fact being harmed or in danger - what good does it do to cast these people away than help them get proper care and dare offer a bit of compassion? Is ignoring the calls for help justified in order to take a more self-righteous road of rumor mill justice? Hurting more people to make ourselves feel better about our situation? Lets break that cycle of hurt people creating more hurt people for a change. I know this may enrage more than a few people who read this post. To them- shame on you. Shame on you for thinking it better to play these hateful shadow games over actually doing anything or even talking to the parties involved. Do better.
So while I may not have an answer either, it is a topic I have grown quite passionate about. I I am fine being where I am. I know I will most likely never get off the Blacklist, and that's OK. I'm OK not fitting in a rigid mold anyway. What I am not OK with is standing by silently watching others be drug through the mud and being so rigid as to not see when second chances and a bit of compassion could be the best thing we can do for one another.
To the breeders, friends, and fellow fanciers who did not discard me like trash when I needed you the most- thank you. To the women who let me cry, vent, and fought for me to not give up - thank you.
I also want to thank the original poster from I Love Responsible Dog Breeders for being brave enough to share their story and for igniting a growing ember that I had within me.
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Growing up in Montana my love of the Siberian Husky started at a young age. It has been quite a journey so far. There has been much to learn and still a lot more yet to learn! I truly believe that we are never too old, too experienced, or too full of ourselves to learn something new. I also believe that knowledge is useless unless we are willing to share it with others.