November 9, 2012

At the end of my schnoodle.

Just like Santa Claus, the Ottawa Pet Expo is coming to town.

The Ottawa Pet Expo is a giant convention with dozens of vendors, and it showcases some amazing pet boutiques, services, and animals rescues in the Ottawa/Gatineau area. I've been looking forward to it for weeks. But with any big event, there is bound to be negativity.

One of the vendors invited self proclaimed dog trainer/behaviorist Brad Pattison. In case you haven't heard of him, he has a couple of TV shows, the most well known being "At the end of my leash". His training methods are similar to Cesar Millan -- but worse. He has no qualms about hitting a dog if they step out of line.

Suffice it to say, people are hating on Brad Pattison and not only do they not want him at the Expo, but some folks are also encouraging others to boycott the Expo simply because they would allow such a guest to attend. While I can understand where these boycotters are coming from and even respect their passion, the idea of boycotting an event that brings awareness to the very people who are trying to help dogs -- the rescues -- is mindboggling to me.

Personally? I almost want to go there and shake his hand.

Brad with Rudy the schnoodle

I first discovered Brad Pattison about four years ago; pre-Halladay and Wookie. For whatever reason, Randie and I began watching the show, hoping to prepare ourselves for when we eventually became fur parents. It wasn't long before we fell in love with a recurring star: Rudy the schnoodle. We decided at that moment that we had to have a schnoodle and began scouring the Internets for one with the help of Google.

The first schnoodle we came across was a little puppy named Brant. He was with a rescue (a what?) in London, ON after being saved from a puppy mill (a puppy what?) and had extra toes. We loved him. Unfortunately so did 7 other families, and due to our lack of dog experience, we were denied. Listing "At the end of my leash" and "The Dog Whisperer" when asked what kind of experience we had likely didn't help.

So back to Google we went.

Back then, googling "Ottawa + schnoodle" didn't net a ton of results, but it came up with the right one. There was an ad on Kijiji for a litter of schnoodles in Bancroft - about four hours from Ottawa. We couldn't tell a lot from the photos because they kind of looked like little white blobs, but we made the drive anyway -- without high expectations.

Pulling up to the home in the country, the first thing we saw were two horses fenced in. The house itself was modest but a little run down looking, though it seemed to fit in with the area. Behind the house, further down the driveway, was a large red barn. I remember thinking, what kind of animals live there?

As we stepped out of the car we were instantly greeted by a woman in her late 30s waving at us near the horses. Saved them from an auction, she told us later on. They we're being sold for meat.

 Her husband stepped out of the house and invited us in, ushering us into their living room. we sat down on the floor and all of a sudden, teeny tiny puppy after teeny tiny puppy appeared and began crawling all over us. It turned out that they bred more than just schnoodles as there was an assortment of clumsy looking puppies just waiting to be scooped up. I can't recall if they were chihuahuas or what, but they made Randie's eyes water. At the time I didn't think much of it and was in puppy heaven. We were a little overwhelmed too, as this was, at the time, the most important decision of our lives and we weren't sure how we were going to choose.

But then out of nowhere we saw the sweetest, shyest little apricot bundle of fur peering at us from several feet away. While his brothers and sisters chewed our fingers and fought over who got to sit in our laps, this little schnoodle hid behind the coffee table, not ready to venture out.

retro Halladay

"There are other dogs, too." the lady said. "I'm looking after some for my girlfriend" she went on.

We barely heard a word of what she said, because we couldn't take our eyes off the apricot schnoodle...

"That's the one." Randie said, without a moment of hesitation. He looked at me and I nodded. Slowly but surely the little apricot schnoodle waddled over to us and crawled into Randie's lap. Yes, that was the one.

Because we were heading out of town shortly for vacation, we made arrangements to come back in ten days to bring home our puppy. With our deposit paid, we said one last goodbye to our apricot schnoodle and headed home.

Vacation or not, those ten days dragged on and that little dog was all we could talk about. We spent an arm and a leg, buying everything a puppy could possible need. We planned to spoil him, but not too much. We still had to be Alpha, according to Brad Pattison.

Finally, it was S-Day.

We spent the entire car ride back to Bancroft going over names. It had to be baseball related, as we had just left Toronto after seeing our beloved Toronto Blue Jays play (and win).

We pulled up to the house and met the lady in the driveway again. She was holding Halladay in her arms and doing some last minute nail trimming before handing him over. We gave her the remainder of the fee and with that, we turned around made the journey home.

"Do you think he has to pee? I think he has to pee. Should we stop?"

It's been over three and a half years since Halladay clumsily stumbled into our lives and oh, the things we have learned since then. It goes without saying that we would have done things differently if we knew then what we know now. Just like with human children, I think most people learn from mistakes they've made with their first. In a perfect (but unrealistic) world, everyone would go the rescue route and breeding would be abolished until every homeless animal had a home.

That being said --- do I regret buying my dog off Kijiji? Not even for a second.

So thank you, Brad Pattison. You may be one shitty trainer, but you helped me find one of the loves of my life.


  1. You made me cry Mel!! Cute baby Halladay!! snif.

    And I also cried from laughing, this is one funny post. "Santa and Pet Expo coming to town..." hahaha!!

  2. I love this post. We were in a similar position with Bailey- we found her on kijiji with no knowledge of puppy mills, horrible breeders and rescues. Although now we know about these things and do what we can to prevent them, I wouldn't trade Bailey for anything and can't regret our choice to go out and bring her home.

    Some things are meant to be. If you hadn't gone and adopted Halladay, you wouldn't have begun the awesome work you do with rescues!

  3. What a great story Mel! Made me cry at work, thanks! [I must remember not to read your blog at work, this crying is killing my imagine]. Hindsight is always 20/20. we realize our Loki and Gemi were likely mill dogs. While I hate to think we support the mills, I can't imagine for one moment not having them, any more than you can imagine a day without Halladay.

    It is sad to me for many ways that people think reinforcement for desired behaviour shouldn't be your first go to. The science of animal (and people) behaviour is very, very clear on this. [I spend my whole life studying and using this science].

    I likely won't make it to the Pet Expo because of work, but I wouldn't boycott it because of one guest, might boycott his booth, but not the whole event!

    You will have to let us know about the Expo!

    Hugs to Halladay, too cute!

  4. LOVE this post! Every pet that has ever been in my life was a rescue...until Eleanor. The new lady at work had just had a litter and we happened to be looking for a pup at the time, and my only regret is that I didn't take Eleanor's brother too. We do our best with what we know at the time, and Halladay (and my Eleanor) could not ask for better homes. Can't wait for the pet expo!

  5. what a cute baby schnoodle that grew into a cute big boy schnoodle :)

  6. Snoopys Mom11/11/2012

    But if you boycott you can't share your position with the organizers in a personal (and professional) way. Show them that you are a spending consumer and part of their target audience and contribute in a positive way - make recommendations of who you would WANT to see there and they might listen 'cause they want your money next year too. If we all boycott, we may not get ANY kind if expo in the future and just come across as haters. I don't want to negatively affect others at the expo that I do support.

    My thought is that a great way to send a message to Brad and organisers is by suppoting a sucessful and busy expo but he doesn't sell ONE book, or whatever.

    On this Remembrance Day, our veterans fought (fighting) to protect each and everyone's freedom to express themselves: good, bad or ugly.


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