Due to a change in my mobility, my dog Hollie is getting a lot more short walks close to home. She’s not bred for long distances so she doesn’t mind this, and our local streets are nice and relatively quiet.
My main problem, however, is that everyone I encounter stops to comment on how cute she is and to ask her breed.
Now, I’m a bit loath to tell people what she is without also giving them a lecture on the care and maintenance of the breed.
She’s a Peke, you see – they are cute, adorable and fluffy. They have a funny walk and their tongues hang out. At night I can hear her snoring and snuffling from her bed.
However, they are very high maintenance: they need regular grooming, nail clips and snout maintenance. They are likely to suffer in warm temperatures, have joint issues and are predisposed to spinal issues – and that’s without mentioning the respiratory issues, eye problems and dental issues. As a pedigree, a Pekinese will cost far more on insurance than a cross breed.
Finally, there’s the personality. Pekes are likely to be one-person dogs, so they’re not great for families. They are stubborn and independent (you’ll never be the star of a puppy training class with a Peke) and they love being dramatic, so, if life doesn’t go their way, you (and everyone else) will know about it. When we first got Hollie, her reaction to new things was to scream until she went blue, roll around on the floor and poo and pee herself.
Luckily, those days are over.
But I love the stubbornness and independence, and I don’t want a high-energy family dog. I can cope with health issues and am prepared for preventing heat stroke – but how do I explain all this to everyone that expresses an interest, in order to protect her breed and those like her?
I know the breeders won’t tell them, and Pekes don’t often appear through regular rescues – and if only 4% of prospective pet owners consult vets prior to buying, the veterinary profession can’t be expected to pre-warn them either.
So I will continue with my simple “yes, she’s cute, she knows it and she’s high maintenance” , for now (that seems to have most bases covered) while I think of a better way to share the husbandry needs of all pets.