Ah, the rural life. Critters, events, opinions and trivia.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Disney does doggies

Last week, I heard that Disney is going to re-release the Shaggy Dog movie starring Tim Allen, in 2006. Given how much I love Old English Sheepdogs, you might assume that I am delighted about the forthcoming movie.

I am not delighted. When Disney's "101 Dalmatians" was released, it triggered an amazing increase in the number of dalmatian litters produced. In 2003, there were 1,112 dalmatians registered by the AKC. The breed ranked 80th of 151 breeds. After the Disney movie, the breed shot up to #1 or close to it. There were tens of thousands of dalmatians bred and registered with the AKC.

What's the problem? To capitalize on the movie's popularity and the overnight public demand for dalmatian puppies, puppy mills and others began furiously breeding litters, without regard to correct mate selection and genetic testing issues. (Dalmatians have an extremely high rate of deafness, between 20-30% of Dalmatian puppies born are euthanized due to deafness). Pet stores, newspaper and magazine ads were awash with dalmatian puppies. Those puppies went to families largely unfamiliar with the breed. Now, dalmatians are a wonderful breed, but they are absolutely not for everyone.

So once families realized that this "up" puppy was going to be a "up" high energy dog, with issues common to the breed, the dalmatians started being "dumped" into shelters and rescue programs. Even though the Disney movie was released in 1996, the flood of dalmatians going into shelters and rescue progrmas continues today. Those dogs are 6 - 10 years old, and not easy to place.

Old English Sheepdogs are also not for everyone. They have the personalities and traits of a herding breed -- that is their job. They are very large (males 80+ pounds) and even if shorn, their coats are fairly high maintenance. While some can be wonderful with children, they can also be too boisterous and physical for tiny tots.

Oh by the way, I volunteer for New England Old English Sheepdog rescue. We currently place 1 - 2 rescued OES a week and the breed is not all that popular. If Disney popularizes the breed, we can expect that the puppy mills and others will flood the market with OES, and for years after, a good percentage of those dogs will end up in shelters or rescue programs.

What can be done? If I had any way to contact the right folks at Disney, or Tim Allen himself, I would beg them to do either an introduction or trailer for the movie, suggesting that the dogs they see in the movie are not a good choice for everyone, and that individuals interested in the breed should do a little research about the breed, and/or consider acquiring an OES through a rescue program. There are always 20 - 40 Old English Sheepdogs listed on http://www.Petfinder.com This is the OES breed club's website: http://www.oldenglishsheepdogclubofamerica.org/

If you run across this posting, and happen to know anyone at Disney (Director: Brian Robbins Screenwriter: Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley) or in Tim Allen's group, please send them a copy of this note.


Blogger Janice said...

I myself am a Old English Sheepdog owner I agree with what you are saying. OES are not for everyone. They take a lot of patience and a lot of trips to the groomer. Hopefully with this new movie coming out it will make people realize how cute and loving they are.

10:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I have seen in the movie trailer, the dog in the new "Shaggy Dog" movie is in fact NOT an English Sheepdog. That dog is a Bearded Collie. I know because I am on owner of one of these wonderful dogs. I also do agree with what you are saying and hope what happened with the dalmations does not happen with either the English sheepdog (since that is what most people will believe the dog in the movie is) or the Bearded Collie.

8:05 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dog in the trailer is defintely a Beardie, a Bearded Collie. We, too, have a wonderful Beardie.

12:45 PM

Anonymous Jason said...

I myself am the owner of two wonderful Bearded Collie's and from what I have seen in the trailer that dog is defintely a Beardie NOT an Old English Sheep dog. Bearded Collies are in my opinion the best dog out there. You can not find a dog with a better temperment then these wonderful dogs. However, they require A LOT of grooming, not only by a groomer, but also by the owner. So anyone thinking about getting a Beardie please keep this in mind.

5:44 PM

Anonymous Ron in Georgia said...

Saw the Super Bowl ad and was beyond belief.. a bearded collie in a movie.....Well... Oh my.. this is becoming a bearded collie message board. I also am a proud owner of 2 bearded collies, but don't feel bad, on many trips to pet stores, dog parks, people will often say..OH ..english sheepdog??, I kindly correct them and say..no no, bearded collie!.. Since my beardies don't get upset about it, I don't either, but I tell them I do appreciate their attention and kind words about my beardies. I agree with you on your point about folks running out and obtaining a breed like this, however, intelliegent as they are, they are a grooming nightmare. I will go to this movie only to marvel at the beardie and watch with extreme jealousy of who the owner is, wishing I could put my beardies to work so I could stay home.

2:55 PM

Blogger Fritzi said...

I'm so happy for the comments! At the time I wrote the original post, Disney was planning on using an OES. I was selfishly delighted to realize that they were using a beardie instead. This month, in my OES rescue capacity, I was dispatched to bail out an Old English from a local pound -- the dog was actually a beardie. When I contacted the wonderful Beardie Rescue folks, I asked if the Shaggy Dog movie had impacted Beardie rescue. I was told that so far, the demand for Beardies, based on the movie, was minimal. It may be that since the movie didn't feature any adorable Beardie puppies, puppy-buyers were not moved to run out and buy one. I hope that folks who think they would love to own a beardie, visit the Beardie rescue sites and consider a re-cycled Beardie
Beardie Rescue Website

1:30 AM


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