IN BLACK & WHITE
Something extraordinary has been happening
lately. Two years ago, the ever controversial issue of white boxer pups and what should be
done about them might, if anyone were brave, have involved an occasional, and probably
obliquely stated, suggestion that just POSSIBLY one or two of them could, SOMEDAY, be
allowed to continue respiration post birth. To many, even that would have been heresy. But
witness recent discussions on the Showboxer List, where the existence and the fostering of
white pups seems not only to be taken for granted now, but recently well respected
breeders are calling for acknowledgement via AKC Limited Registration for these hitherto
"invisible" members of our litters. Several even more astonishing messages
included suggestions for separate classes at shows, and breeding white to plain to produce
uniformly flashy litters. To say that I might have been knocked over with the proverbial
feather by some of these posts would be to understate the facts. What a turn of events--
and it's all happened, I feel certain, thanks to the existence of the Internet and its
instant communication capabilities.
Obviously, not all feel equally sanguine
about the issue. Plenty of folks continue to believe in disposal versus nurturing. And
even for those who don't agree to do in the percentage of their bitches puppies
whose flash exceeds their color, other issues continue to pose challenges - especially for
ABC members, who cannot, according to the ABC Code of Ethics, sell puppies that are
more than a third white.
Recently, a Showboxer List member
suggested, in reference to one discussion we'd been conducting which involved placing vs.
selling these pups as pets, that we compromise by asking for a donation to Boxer Rescue
rather than asking a selling price. She pointed out that the dictionary definition of
"sell" was to transfer goods or render services in exchange for money, and since
the breeder of a white pup wouldn't be receiving the money if he asked for a donation to
Boxer Rescue, technically he wouldnt be selling the puppy.
Another list member expressed her disquiet
at charging a small fee in exchange for the previously unmentionables in her litter. I
pointed out that first of all, the concept of "no selling" isn't a mandate from
God. It comes from a somewhat lesser body called the ABC. If shes not an ABC member,
it's her own business, and should certainly remain so. Once she's become a member of that
august institution, THEN she can lose sleep over all sorts of things in which she may
believe. But for the time being, I suggested that I personally wouldn't sweat it.
As to this ABC member's stance on the issue
of remuneration, it will come as no surprise to anyone here when I tell them that the
"rare white boxers" produced by way of backyard breeding sell in the greater
Washington, DC Metropolitan area (via the newspaper, of course) for $950. When you
consider the tremendous cost of producing the average "show" litter, most folks
will probably understand how that fact rankles someone who's bound by the ABC Code of
Ethics, and may not reap any reward whatsoever for the beautiful work her bitch has done
in producing what are arguably the most robust (and probably the cutest) members of any
given litter. Which brings me to the thought that, at the very least, "selling"
is quite different from simply recouping losses.
Two years ago, I placed Hedy's two
white puppy boys for what I still believe is a reasonable fee of $125. $75.00 of it nearly
covered the costs associated with dewclaw removal, worming, first shots and food. The
additional $50.00 for each pup went to boxer rescue. Personally, I'm pleased to have pets
in a litter, and I'd be even more pleased if these white pet pups of heart tested parents
could be accorded their true value -- exactly as their colored littermates are.
The felicitous fact is that we seem to be
moving in that direction. People are speaking up, and sharing their methods and hopes for
the no longer invisible tykes that so frequently make their way into the world as the
inevitable product of flashy-to-flashy breedings. Again on the Showboxer List, a
well-known breeder/handler wrote that she usually has a waiting list just in case there
are any whites in her litters.
I had five wonderful homes ready and
anxious for white pups from this recent crew. To my utter surprise, I had to disappoint
them all. I wish that hadn't been so. The ties I have with the owners of the two white
boys from Hedy's first litter are just as strong as the ones forged with the folks who
bought the monorchid brindle brother, or the one who co-owns the Group winning finisher.
And now one of those families has its first show pup, a flashy brindle girl from this
litter, because of the bond we created via a puppy who, born into an ABC member's litter
only a short while ago might have found his brief moment on the planet terminated in
someone's freezer or, if he were really fortunate, after a few precious days of his
mother's comfort--by lethal injection in a sterile clinic office. That, people, has been
and continues to be the true tragedy associated with this breed: We breed expressly for
this trait, and we punish the innocent results.
As my vet who's got over 25 years'
experience with boxers tells me in no uncertain terms -- there's no difference in health
concerns between colored boxers and their white littermates. There is no reason not to be
proud of their existence, and not to put them forth as lovely, albeit non-standard,
examples of a breed we say we love. I choose to believe my vet instead of years of
calumnious invective that's based only on who knows what unfortunate and demonstrably
false anecdotal evidence.
I'm as proud of Hedy's two white puppy boys
as I am of her two champion girls. I'll always welcome whites in any litter I breed. The
offspring of champions are the offspring of champions. Period.
Now... if only I could remain an ABC member
in good standing and receive in return for these adorable creatures what they're really
worth. Perhaps I'm only dreaming, but I think that the Internet is working hard on my