The Business of Canines


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I have a few proud moments in my life. One of them was given to me by Joyce Johanson, a columnist for Dog World. I had done some sleuthing on a canine that had been dropped off at our local pound. I share the article with you here. I tasted writing through it.

Sadie lived a long life. She died at the age of 17. It is my hope she was happy. She was a cantankerous dog—hardly a pet. People often say their dogs own them, and this was true of Sadie. Sadie let me know time and time again that I was her slave.

Dogs, for me, was a business. I bred and showed Lhasa Apsos. I dropped out of showing when I realized there was a hierarchy and it wasn’t with the dogs—it was with the handlers and owners. It was not the dogs/bitches I showed that needed to win; it was the people.

I learned through canines that human beings are pack animals of the worst sort. I was low on the totem pole, so I was maligned and tormented by those in power. They sicced the dog officer and AKC on me, but I met each test with flying colors. I took care of my canines, and the records the AKC representative came to view were impeccable. She was wowed. They stripped an old woman in Maine of her right to register her canines after she told them to stuff their records. I loved Ruth.

I reveled in grooming canines. I timed myself once. I was able to groom my favorite client in 42 minutes—that included the bath and the blow-dry. I enjoyed it.

I remember the whimpering cries of new life and the iron smell of blood in the air as my beloveds whelped their pups. I assisted at each birth—attempting a few times to assist in cesarean sections. I failed miserable at the first—almost passing out as the skin was sliced, but knew better by the second as I informed the doctor that slicing the skin was my nemesis. I averted my eyes as he made the first cut, adjusting gases at his direction, and cuddling the new life as he handed each to me.

My years with canines are over now. I lost the last one over a year ago. I crave the comfort of a canine companion, but Multiple Sclerosis tells me I can no longer give back the way I once did. I groomed my canines with skill—my hands will no longer allow that. The costs of care can be astronomical, and I am limited in what I can provide.

In the end, I am more comfortable with canines but have shed that luxury from my life. When I sold pups to older people, I used to insist they plan for their care should the canine outlive them. One older man was furious at first, but he came back and thanked me at a later date and took a pup home.

When people took one of my pups home, you’d think they were adopting one of my children. I remember one woman calling me in a panic when her pup was sick, and I went with her while she had the love-of-her-life’s kidneys ultrasounded. When the doctor gave the technical information after looking at the kidneys and turned to me, I turned to the woman, grasped her hand, and gave her the devastating news myself.

“He’s going to die,” I said. The pup was less than a year old.

He did die a few months later, and I gave her another pup. I knew that nothing could replace her first love and I grieved with her.

Bihar’s Revenger of Sammi Raja had been the pup’s grandfather—a famous dog, and I learned the breeder continually studded the dog out even though she knew the dog produced Lhasa Apso Renal Disease. I was vocal about this fact. But the breeder was famous. I lost that battle.

But I try to remember the good times—birthing pups—grooming my loves—the constant care they needed. In my reclusive world, they were my life. I am glad to have had the experience.

Copyright 2017 by Joyce Bowen.

About the Author: Joyce Bowen is a freelance writer and public speaker. Inquiries can be made at [email protected]
Sobre el autor: Joyce Bowen es un escritor independiente y orador público. Las consultas pueden hacerse en [email protected]

Originally published at

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