The Doggie in the Window: How One Beloved Dog Opened My Eyes to the Complicated Story Behind Man’s Best Friend
When Rory Kress began to wonder where her beloved Wheaten Terrier, Izzie, had really come from, she had no idea of the horrors she would uncover. With stunning insight and tenacity, Kress launches an investigation into the harsh realities of the American dog-breeding industry, exposing troubling ties to factory farming and big agriculture.
From a pet shop on Long Island to the puppy mills of rural Missouri, from the author’s own living room to a ride-along with a dog rescue organization, The Doggie in the Window is a must-read for all dog owners and a call to action for improving the lives of man’s best friend.
My thoughts on this book:
Why did I pick this book?
I wanted to read this book to learn more about puppy mills due to an experience we had in 2003 with a puppy we purchased from a retail pet store (one directly mentioned in the book and considered the nation’s largest retail supporter of puppy mills). At this time, I had no idea what a puppy mill even was. Growing up in the city, I just figured when it was time to purchase a puppy we would head straight to the pet store, which is exactly what we did. Our ignorance led us to the purchase of a Lhasa poo puppy. As soon as we saw her in the window, we had to have her. After bringing her home, we started having problems from day one and she ended up not being a very healthy dog physically or mentally. As time went on, we had repeat problems and had to seek help from professionals. My very good friend said to me, “It’s because she’s from a puppy mill.” Of course, I had no idea and didn’t care. We loved our new dog and wanted to do whatever we could to make the relationship work, but it seemed that no matter what we did, her behavior never truly changed. She had problems her whole life and after reading this book, I understand why.
The book begins with the author’s purchase of a wheaten terrier (Izzie) from a pet store–a store that claimed to only buy their puppies from licensed breeders. As time passes, she begins having a few issues with Izzie and decides to find out where she truly came from.
Because Izzie was one of the million dogs who are born at USDA-licensed breeding facilities every year, I’ve traveled across he country investigating this federally regulated system. I wanted to understand how the government can do a better job of upholding and enforcing the Animal Welfare Act– the role the USDA has been charged with in overseeing out nation’s breeders.
On her journey she gathers facts about how puppy mills got started, the laws that keep them in place, conducts interviews, visits dog breeders, has Izzie tested, and presents all the facts in an organized and easy to read manner. Throughout the book, she weaves in some of her own experiences with Izzie and shares other aspects of her own life, including her desire to start a family.
I found the book to be a huge eye-opener, but hard to read at times. Some of the details that are shared on these puppy mills shocked me to the core. It’s hard to believe that these dog breeders who farm the dogs are human at all. The way the dogs are kept is shocking–they’re mistreated, not given the proper care, starved of food and water, and abused. Their cages are required to be a certain size, but that size seems incredibly small and the cages required for dogs that never get out–a mere 3.75 by 3.75 ft–disgusts me. How can a dog spend it’s entire life in a cage that size?
Breeds are brands; dogs are goods for sale. And just like any other commodity that we mass-produce in this country, dogs are being subjected to factory conditions.
The fact that the USDA inspectors are barely giving a slap to the their hands is alarming and the laws need to change, in my humble opinion. The dogs’ mental and physical health is severely compromised and it trickles down to the unborn.
Mother dogs exposed to chronic stress both before and during pregnancy tend to breed hypersensitive, psychologically abnormal, and dysfunctional puppies. – (McMillan Study)
I can’t understand how anyone can treat animals so cruelly and not think twice about it. Why are the laws and punishments so lenient? I may be a little derisive here, but it seems like the government struggles to protect children, let alone animals, but will this ever change?
I found one section very compelling as it involves an interview with a small breeder who breeds dogs in her home while giving them the best care. The question asked is, “Why breed at all when there are so many dogs in shelters needing good homes?” This is something I even asked myself before allowing my border collie to have two litters. Their response was, “Why have a child? There are orphans all over the world: underfed, undernourished, undereducated. So why would you have a child? It’s the same thing. It’s something personal, very personal. Obviously, it’s your offspring. Our dog’s puppies are not our offspring, but nevertheless, we’ve watched them grow, watched them develop. That response truly resonated with me.
Overall, the book is written well and easy to follow. I learned so much just after getting a quarter of the way through, but had to put it down a few times as it’s not for the faint of heart. Even with the harrowing details, this has to be one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in a long time. If you have an interest in dogs and how these breeding facilities work, you need to grab a copy of this one.
I’d like to thank the author, publisher, and Edelweiss for sharing this book with me for my honest review.
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks (April 3, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1492651826
- ISBN-13: 978-1492651826
This is book #10 for my Netgalley/Edelweiss Challenge
You can see it HERE.