Sherry Davis

Friday, May 30 2014 03:00 PM

SHERRY DAVIS: Trend for designer dogs comes with new breed names

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    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Columnist Sherry Davis.

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By Sherry Davis

"The Strange Profusion of Portmanteau Dog Names." What?

The headline stopped me in my tracks, but wait, how was it I didn't know this word portmanteau? A quick perusal of my dictionary revealed that portmanteau is the combining of two or more words (or morphemes) and their definitions into one word; a portmanteau fuses both the sounds and the meaning of its components. Examples: smoke + fog = smog or motor + hotel = motel. OK, I knew that, I just didn't know the combining process had its own moniker.

Unsure whether I was more disturbed by my ignorance or that there is actually a term that defines that obnoxiously gag-inducing habit of combining celebrity names, I moved on.

The article appearing in BBC News Magazine was about something I hadn't really thought about previously other than with a trace of amusement -- the proliferation of new dog breed names concurrent with the trend for designer breeds.

As a child growing up I was quite familiar with the term cock-a-poo. While both poodles and cockers were popular at that time, offspring produced by their combination were always the result of accidental matings and their puppies given away to homes for free. Cock-a-poo was not considered a breed name, just an indicator that in that instance, the contributors to the gene pool of a mix-breed were known.

But the massive popularity of the Labradoodle in the '90s accompanied by its exorbitant asking prices (often more than that of a purebred show puppy) changed all that; the era of Designer Dog breeds had begun. Unfortunately, it also had the unforeseen side effect of convincing a lot of inexperienced dog owners, who knew or cared nothing about health testing, that there was a fortune to be made in the breeding of "doodles" and untold other combinations limited only by one's ability to come up with a clever name. Crossbreeds such as Puggles (pug/beagle), Morkies (maltese/yorkie), Schnoodles (Schnauzer/Poodle) and Dachsadors (dachshund/Labrador) are now considered common.

Beverly Cuddy, from Dogs Today magazine, says "there is now a reverse snobbery, but the debate about pure and crossbreeds is a pointless diversion when the real issues are irresponsible dog breeding and lack of health testing."

She suggests if you want to be both "right-on" and "on-trend," why not adopt a mongrel and just design your own name? It's a game anyone can play.

On a more serious note, time well-spent this weekend reading the latest (June) issue of National Geographic magazine. The cover story, "War Dog,s" is a beautifully photographed, if sobering glance into the lives of the military bomb detection dogs and handlers serving in Afghanistan.

***

After years of complaints by pet owners that treats imported from China have been causing illnesses and are linked to the deaths of hundreds of dogs, an announcement last week by Petco Animal Supplies Inc. saying it will end the sale of dog and cat treats made in China to protect the "well-being of pets" is too little too late.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued periodic warnings since 2007 about the dangers of jerky treats made outside the U.S., Petco's statement from chief executive Jim Myers that "we've been following the FDA warnings and related customer concerns closely, and we've been actively reducing our China-made assortment and expanding our American-made offerings for several years now" is a slap in the face to the owners of dogs that have died.

If they were as concerned about the "well-being of pets" as they are about the almighty dollar they would have simply stopped reordering and restocking their shelves with these and other questionable foreign-made treats (Brazil, Honduras, Taiwan) a long time ago.

Not to be outdone when it comes to having a conscious, Petsmart announced that it will stop selling jerky treats made in China by March 2015.

Sherry Davis is a dog trainer/ owner of CSI 4 K9s. Email her at csi4k9s@yahoo.com. These are her opinions, not necessarily The Californian's.

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