Puppy Mills Are Not a Laughing Matter

I rely on my conscience (and do my research) before jumping on every bandwagon. But this is a bandwagon I felt compelled to hop on. GoDaddy made  a new Super Bowl ad public today, and it sparked immediate controversy. It makes light of a serious problem—puppy mills, and online puppy mills in particular. The response to the ad was so vehement that GoDaddy pulled it from the Super Bowl line-up and removed it from its YouTube page.

In case you haven’t seen the commercial yet, here it is:

Maybe you laughed. Hey, I’m not judging; I laugh at a lot of things others would deem inappropriate. But I’m not laughing this time. I’ve seen firsthand what the demand for purebred and designer dogs has created.

The GoDaddy ad makes its “puppy farm” look quaint. Here’s a litter of adorable, well-kept puppies raised on a farm and hauled in the back of a pickup truck—rural Americana all around. It’s not safe to transport dogs in the back of a pickup, but I’ll let go of my indignation on that one because there’s a bigger story here. Those picturesque puppy farms don’t exist and the surprise twist at the end of the GoDaddy video where the breeder callously says, “Ship ‘em out!” hints at it—puppy mills are a business. Put plainly, they’re dog factories.

The Puppy Mill

shiba inu puppy

This is my dog Toshi at 10 weeks old, just after he joined our family. Toshi was removed from a puppy mill by a rescue group that purchased him at auction because he was “defective.” Closer inspection by my vet revealed him to be perfectly healthy.

I worked for a dog grooming school years ago. The owner would invite a local puppy mill owner to bring in dogs. It was a charitable thing—the mill existed, and there was little anyone could do to prevent it from existing, so the school owner figured that at the very least the students could occasionally get the dogs cleaned up. But getting clean was the least of these dogs’ problems. Continue reading


What is it Like to Own a Shiba Inu?

I originally published this article in response to a question on Quora.com, but since everyone who finds out that I share my life with a shiba inu asks me, “What are shiba inus like as pets?” I thought I would blog my response here, too. I should note that, despite the search-engine-friendly title, one does not own a shiba inu or any dog. We share our lives with them, care for them, and love them, and in return they give us their unwavering affection and loyalty. 

I’ve lived with dogs all my life, from lovable mutts (I still think of you all the time, Ladybug) to everyday Labs and golden retrievers, to more exotic breeds like Pulik. (Little Hungarian Rastafarians.) I’ve trained handled and raised dogs for the conformation show ring (primarily American cocker spaniels). I worked in administration and marketing for an all breed dog grooming school, and edited their grooming guidelines and textbook. I’ve known a lot of dogs.

But nothing compares to my shiba inu. My family rescued Toshi five years ago, when he was 10 weeks old, and he has owned our hearts ever since.

The Unique Little Brushwood Dog

shiba inu puppy

This is little Toshi at 10 weeks old when he first joined our family as a rescue. How can you resist that foxy face?

I first met shibas when I was working at the dog grooming school. Occasionally, to give the students work on breeds that require heavy brushing, a local show breeder would bring in her pack of four or five shibas. When they arrived in the reception area, they would be happily wagging their plumed tails, but also tussling with each other and “talking” in their strange little voices. I knew immediately that one day, when the time was right, I’d share my home and heart with a shiba inu.

Shiba Inu translates to “brushwood dog” (or perhaps “little brushwood dog”) in Japanese. They’re compact in size — about 13-17″, with males being bigger. They have a dense double coat with a coarse outer layer and a soft thick undercoat. That undercoat sheds twice annually in a crazy vacuum-clogging shedpocalypse. I call my area rugs “hair traffic controllers” because they’re the only thing stopping great balls of hair from rolling across my hardwood floors like tumbleweeds across a prairie.

What’s most unique about the shiba is his personality. They are: Continue reading