Since owning my Shiba Inu, Buttons, I’ve not become a dog person, but I have become a Shiba person. At the recommendation of a few friends, I joined 3 Shiba Inu Facebook groups. The idea of these groups is to post adorable pictures of your pups and if you have any questions about raising your Shiba you are more than welcome to ask and receive feedback.
I’ve learned a lot about the breed from these groups. I’ve also learned a lot about general dog ownership from them. But I’ve also learned how high and mighty some Shiba owners can be.
I’ve never been the recipient of this elitist attitude, but I’ve seen it happen frequently. People will post a picture of their dog or brand new puppies and if some group members even get an inkling that you might be breeding your dog, they will immediately vilify you for not “maintaining the integrity of the breed.” They don’t even bother to check if you have credentials, they immediately assume that you don’t. They assume that you are some backyard breeder out to pollute the waters of the sacred Shiba pond.
Last night someone posted a picture of her adorable black and white shiba puppies. They looked healthy and happy but that did matter to some people. What was more important was that the “color was not correct” and people felt compelled to tell the owner not to breed her dogs again.
Because what matters in this world is not that you love your dogs and place them in good homes, but that they live up to the breed standard.
Over and over people shamed this poor woman and her dogs. In fact, a commenter actually called her cruel for breeding them. I don’t know about you, but I consider puppy mills cruel. It’s not cruel to breed your dog with an off color, because guess what? The dog doesn’t even know that it’s not the perfect color standard. It just cares that it is loved.
Many of the breeders who commented left me wondering what they would do if they ended up with a dog that was not standard. Would they ship it off to a rescue? From their verbal smackdown to this woman, it certainly didn’t sound like they would love it. Love, and certainly respect, appeared to be foreign concepts to some of these people.
I jumped in on the conversation on the Facebook page and said that we shouldn’t shame people. These groups should be a place to celebrate Shibas, not reprimand people we don’t know. I don’t go to these pages to see bullies in action. I go to see Shiba butts and Shiba smiles.
My comment was met with a snarky “so you just close your eyes and see rainbows” by one poster. That comment is as laughable as the time a Buzzfeed commenter told me to “read a book sometime.”
The fact is, I don’t close my eyes and see rainbows. That view is pretty much the opposite of my stance on life. My Shiba is one of the few joys in my life. He doesn’t care about all of the trappings that we humans care about. He just cares that I love him, play fetch, take him on walks and give him bacon.
And I don’t care that he doesn’t live up to the breed standard. His tail doesn’t uncurl all of the way like most shibas. He’s black, red and tan. He’s also taller than the standard. He’s got three strikes against him, which I guess makes him an aberration.
“Aberration” is a pretty strong and negative word to use to describe this beautiful creature that god has trusted me with. I don’t consider his life to be a mistake, but it’s clear that many people on these Facebook groups do think that way.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of protecting the Shiba breed. No one wants the breed to die out and no one wants to breed an unhealthy dog. I know that preserving the integrity of any breed is important to a lot of people, but owners of primitive breeds, like the Shiba, seem to be more militant about it.
Then again, maybe this sort of bullying and shaming behavior is prevalent in dog owners of all types. I don’t know. What I do know is that there’s a lot these kinds of people can learn from their dogs – the main thing being not to care so much about the color of one’s coat but to care more about the size of one’s heart.