Natasha and I lost our Bruno yesterday. He was a big beautiful goofball with an anxiety disorder that our animal behaviourist said was the result of irresponsible breeding and likely compounded by meeting all the wrong people for most of the first year of his life. I don't think I can adequately express the magnitude of the gaping hole that has been left in our lives but if you have ever been lucky enough to have a Bruno of your own you may be able to understand. Below is Natasha's open letter to his backyard breeder.
To the Backyard Breeder who Bred my Bruno,
I thought I had no kind words for you, but after days of searching, if you hadn’t put two dogs together, my special Bruno would never had been born to eventually find his way into my loving arms. Sadly that is all the kindness I can muster for you.
What I do want to say is, your callous disregard for his welfare, has led to me and my family having broken hearts and a void you couldn’t possibly begin to know anything about. The precious boy that was born into your trusting arms was doomed from the start, which maybe you knew and turned a blind eye to, or perhaps you were just blinded by the quick buck you stood to gain from this litter of puppies. You certainly didn’t look at the pedigrees of my Bruno’s parents, or if you did, you simply weren’t educated enough to know what you were looking for. My precious, sweet boy was born with a predisposition to be mentally ill because you didn’t care enough about this beautiful breed to want to preserve it. You only wanted the money they could make for you.
Let me tell you about my Bruno’s life before he found me. Sadly, there are few positives before he met me and experienced the life that me, my family, and friends were able to provide. First, he was born to you. You, you with your money clouded vision. Did he get to the vet for puppy checks? Who knows. Did he have enough time with his Mom and littermates? Who knows. Did he live in his own feces and urine because you were too lazy to clean these guys until they went to a home? Who knows, but you didn’t do much else other than breed two dogs together so I doubt you did much extra.
Then a prospective buyer comes along. Did you interview them? Did you ask them if they had been owners of Newfies before? Did you explain that they are lovable giants but the gentle part is something that comes with great training? Did you explain that they are family oriented? Did you remind them that this big beautiful puffball was going to grow quickly and that grooming, a healthy diet and training were essential? No, I don’t think you did anything of the kind. A quick $800 clouded your judgement once again. My poor boy experienced strike number two at your hands. He was sent to this home, because they paid for him, which was all you asked of them. They either had no idea what they were in for, or they just didn’t care, they purchased him like a novelty item, and proceeded to discard him like one. And then when he got too big or started to drool (basically grew passed the cute fluffy puppy stage), they tied him to a tree to live outside and ignore. As most people with a heart could see, this didn’t do much for Bruno’s confidence and fed his insecurity. Eventually, he was surrendered to a rescue organization and given an instant death sentence. You should be so proud of your skills as a breeder (you don’t deserve this term but sadly I am choosing to be polite in the face of adversity).
My boy Bruno was going to be euthanized. This dear sweet pup, who had been given zero chances from the start on account of your negligence, was going to be destroyed before he knew what life should have been like. A part of me wishes that he would never have made his way to me that his journey ended here but that is the selfish, extremely hurt side of me talking. Bruno got rescued from this fate by a kind individual with a big heart for his breed. She found me and my Bruno began to have the life that he deserved from the beginning.
To you, Backyard Breeder, you don’t deserve to know about how Bruno’s life began to change because you had no part in this. You deserve no credit and I give you none. You never once checked up on your puppies and I have heard of several of your pups that have been rehomed by Atlantic Newf Rescue on account of your stellar ability to sell these puppies to terrible homes. You keep your head buried in your money piles and keep on producing more and more litters with complete disregard for the integrity of the breed. You disgust me and I can only hope that someday there will be laws to prevent you from creating more puppies that can only hope to meet people like me and have half a chance at life.
My Bruno was fortunate enough to have found me through his dysfunctional path called life and I was fortunate enough to have the means and support to try and make him better. I would have given my limbs and life for this boy and I know that he would have done the same for me and my family. Sadly his mental instability became so apparent that I no longer had trust in him or my patience to manage this any longer. My final option, that I chose not to exercise, was to make him an outdoor dog. His life would have come full circle. He came from a family that kept him tied to a tree and my last resort was to confine him to an outdoor kennel and ask him to be happy with that. I couldn’t do that to my best friend. He was far too important to me to ask him to do that. In the end, I was forced to make a decision, one that I would never had to make if you had done your job correctly, I ended my best friend’s life just 3 days before Christmas.
I don’t know that anything you could say to me to justify your actions would make me feel any ounce of compassion for you. I pity any animal that finds its way to your clutches and if I had the ways to make you suffer the way me and my family are right now, I am currently feeling vengeful enough to make it happen. The only thing that is keeping me from contacting you directly (cause I know who you are and some way, somehow I will move hell and earth to shut down every backyard breeder I can find) , is the memories of my beloved Bruno. His numerous photos and the hundreds of polite comments and condolences from people who barely knew him, will keep my holidays somewhat joyous. I had 2 ½ perfect years with my beautiful, gorgeous, sweet boy, but it was truly no thanks to you.
To anyone reading this post:
Please do not breed your pet ‘because they are so sweet’ or ‘because you can’t afford to get them neutered.’ Do not breed your pet at all unless you are 100% invested in preserving the breed, unless you are willing to lose money in the process (vet visits are expensive), unless you are willing to lose countless hours of sleep during the whelping process, unless you are invested in finding fabulous deserving homes for your pet’s puppies, and most importantly, unless you are willing to do your research. If you don’t know what a pedigree is, then you don’t deserve to breed pets, if you think you are going to make loads of money at the expense of your pet, you don’t deserve the pet you have, let alone the opportunity to breed one. This may sound harsh but it is my opinion. I see ads on Kijiji for dogs, it tears me apart. My poor boy was one of those puppies and his journey to me was absolutely horrendous, and I don’t wish for anyone or any animal to have to go through this. If you want a pup, go to the SPCA. If you are stuck on a breed, check out a rescue. Or if you truly want a purebred puppy, please do your research. If the ‘breeders’ main concern is money, run far, far away and tell everyone you know what that kennel is all about.
That concludes Natasha's letter. It has only been six days now since we said goodbye to our boy and it's still hard to believe that he is gone. I wake up in the morning and for a split second I still expect to see him standing next to the bed with his head resting on the mattress and his big beautiful eyes staring back at me telling me that it's time to let him out. Even now as I type this with Oliver snoring away in the chair beside me, I hear a dog barking outside and my immediate reaction is "Shoot, I've forgotten to let Bruno back in from his pee." We have seen this link re-posted all across Canada and as far away as California and have been amazed at the response it has gotten. So many people seem to know or have known a dog like Bruno, that is, a dog who just couldn't be "normal" in spite of having a home with an endless supply of love. We have great sympathy for those who have had to make the same decision that we have and great admiration for those who are still struggling to save their dogs from themselves so that they won't have to make that decision.
In one of the places that this post has shown up I noticed a comment saying that we should have allowed Bruno to live outside as a "guardian dog" and that "killing him" was a senseless act. Newfs are not guardian dogs. Bruno wanted to be within two feet of one of us at all times and it's amazing how large our small home feels now that he is no longer following us from room to room. We would have done anything we could have to keep him alive, but when his anxiety disorder peaked this past summer he would change from sweet to terrifying in a fraction of a second and after months of working with a certified animal behaviourist we were not able to help him keep his aggression in check. At first it was just with food and then it wasn't just with food. And although his issues were mostly with other dogs he never really cared for men in dark glasses and hats and two close calls, one with a family member and another with a neighbor, made us worry that his aggression wasn't limited to other dogs. He attacked four different dogs between June and December but our black lab, Oliver, a dog he had lived and played very peacefully with for over a year a half, bore the brunt of it and after the third time he drew blood we were not left with any other options. As I've already said, he didn't want to be an outside dog and when we thought, very long and hard, about finding him another home with no other dogs we felt that he was so sweet and loving with people and other dogs 99% of the time that we couldn't trust anybody to believe what we knew he was capable of and saying "we told you so" to his new owner wouldn't have good enough for us if and when he seriously harmed another dog or person. In the time between his last attack on Oliver and when we said goodbye to him, Bruno was treated to anything and everything he wanted. He ate ground beef with melted cheese on it, large spoon fulls of peanut butter and Greek yogurt, more cheese, and he got all of his usual servings of Acana's Pacifica dog food which he loved more than any other dog food we had ever fed him before. He curled up in our bed with us for the first time ever, a bit confused when the invitation was extended to him but he very quickly wedged himself in on his back between Tash and I so that one of us could scratch his head while the other rubbed his belly. And finally, on his last day with us, I grabbed my camera and took him for one more walk. We stopped by Carsnad Mosher, my local camera store and a place where he often acted as the unofficial greeter, and he got extra treats from Todd and a chance to say goodbye to some of the many people who loved him. From there we headed into Truro's Victoria Park and since there weren't any other people or dogs in sight I let him off leash to chase the squirrels (he hated squirrels) and he worked himself into the frothy panting mess you see below. We have been crying for days with no signs of stopping and I assure you that this was not a decision we made lightly.
Thank you again for taking the time to read this,
(December 28th, 2014)
Thank you so much for taking the time to read some of Bruno's story. The following is a great link from the Newf Friends Newfoundland Dog Rescue website on how to identify a backyard breeder. Please note that Bruno was never one of their dogs; I've just included their links here because I found them to be very helpful. They also have a links to rescue Newfs in need of loving homes as well as a list of reputable Newfoundland Dog breeders in several Canadian provinces.
Other great resources include: