About a year ago, while listening in on a massive conference call held by the USDA/APHIS (that’s the US Dept. of Agriculture, and its division the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service), I discovered that the preservation of bloodlines is what I do.
Trust the US government to suck the life out of twenty years of love, passion and committed stewardship and turn it into dust thicker and drier than that on specimen skeletons in the basement of the Museum of Natural History.
That call also marks the first time I truly discovered a group of people who hate who and what I am as passionately as I love the hounds who share my life. Because I identified myself while asking a question, my email was flooded for days with threats and accusations. The question I asked had to do with maintaining my exemption from being called a “commercial breeder” while still giving my time and assistance to rescue. The new ruling would prevent me from ever fostering another rescue dog, and I needed clarification.
I have no more caused the death of an unknown dog in an animal shelter than you have killed a child in Africa by choosing to have biological children of your own. Luckily for you, there are no social workers throwing rocks at you when you take your child to a baseball game. I, on the other hand, get strangers screaming in my face in New York City when I dare take my candidate for the Westminster Dog Show for a walk in Central Park.
I love these hounds as I love my life, and I am fiercely and passionately dedicated to keeping a creature this beautiful alive on our planet for the remainder of my days, and those beyond. My body and soul sing to see them leap and play, to watch the joy on their youthful faces as they discover their amazing athletic potential, and the perfect peace in their eyes as they age into stately dukes and duchesses not seen in human form for a hundred years.
These hounds are living art. Created by man to form a partnership centuries ago in man’s hour of need, they have never needed us to survive. That these perfect creatures still choose to be with us and share our lives must surely be an indication that human beings still possess qualities of value– for these hounds are every bit as self-sufficient now as they were in antiquity.
As a breeder, I can’t improve on this kind of perfection. Instead, my duty is to preserve their incredible athleticism and impossible beauty, and their tremendous fortitude and bottomless empathy. I will try to hold and steward these qualities for as long as it is my honor to do so.
These awe-inspiring animals bring us back to an era when we needed this partnership for our very survival. By choosing to preserve and curate their perfection, they serve to remind us of the best qualities in our human race. We need no help to remember the worst.
I strongly believe that when we lose the ability to wonder at their magnificence and no longer strive to preserve this beautiful partnership, we also lose a vital part of what it is to be human.
Preservation of bloodlines, indeed. They preserve me.