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A cautionary tale - all people and places and dogs in this article are fictitious. The original author wishes to remain anonymous.

I found this excellent forum almost a year ago, and I am an enthusiastic reader of all the stories and discussions. Over the last few weeks I have had an experience worth writing about.

A New Litter

This story starts in the summer time a year or so ago, we had just had a litter. We found new homes for the puppies leaving us. One of the boys went abroad. The new owner (I will call Mr. X), visited him constantly during the first eight weeks after birth. We asked about where Mr. X lived and if he had a garden etc… he answered that he was moving to a house with a garden, because he currently lived in an up-stairs flat. He took the puppy home with lots of good advice about how to bring up a puppy. Mr. X seemed highly committed and gave us assurances about the new house and care of the puppy. Mr. X looked so happy with his new puppy, Elton.

We met him and Elton a few months later at a dog show. Elton looked good, a little thin, seemed to love Mr. X, but we were alarmed by the development of his legs.  But Mr. X said that Elton should improve now as he had no stairs to climb anymore.

At the next show, the judge told him that she couldn't give Elton a positive judgment, as he was too thin and his legs too bad. Mr. X was very angry and left the show without saying goodbye to us.

We wrote several emails to him, but we didn't get any answer until several months later.

Months to Live

Eventually we had an email reply, in which he accused us of selling him a sick puppy. Elton was terminally ill, a renal disease with heavy diarrhea. He would only live for a few more months. There was absolutely nothing that could help him. Naturally we asked him for the diagnosis and clinical findings. We offered to take Elton back, so that we could take him to our vet.

He answered, that he didn't want to unsettle Elton in his last days, he would not bring him back. So we wrote again offering to fetch him. His answer was a blackmailing letter, that he would inform the breed club and veterinary profession that we used ‘bad' bitches. He demanded a lot of money to stop this from happening.

We were lost for words!!!!!

We wrote back, offering to contribute towards the cost of treatment, on the proviso that we could take Elton back. We even considered dog-napping Elton, but MR. X had moved house without giving anybody his new address.

A horrible week passed, we didn't know, if Elton was alive, or already dead. But then Mr. X. agreed to our terms and return Elton to us. An exchange was arranged at a motorway service area.

The Exchange

On the morning before the proposed exchange my partner telephoned me, very upset, we have to fetch Elton immediately, because he wouldn't survive the night – or so Mr. X had told him. We left our families and diners behind and drove to the meeting place. Meanwhile I called the vet to warn them that we would be coming with a very sick deerhound.

At the crowded service area, we met MR X. Elton was confined in a cage only half as big as the boot. What a shock to see him in such a little cage!!  Then Mr. X took the money, gave us the vaccination card and gave us Elton without any lead. He drove away. It looked as if we had just conspired to make a drug deal.

We rushed to the clinic, thinking it was life or death for Elton. The waiting room of the clinic was really overcrowded with dogs and cats. Elton was still alive. The vet did a blood count, Elton had diarrhea and was almost starving. However, we could take him home! There was nothing wrong with Elton that couldn't be cured with antibiotics and special prescription food. There was no renal problem at all.

What a relief, and what a feeling of rage against Mr. X!

Back at Home

But we had a problem, because we thought, that Elton was to stay at the clinic, we didn't have a place for him to stay immediately and all our girls naturally decided to be in heat together. Therefore, I took him home to my husband and his parents who had been staying with us, but were not altogether really in love with big dogs… My parents in law, left very early the next morning…..

Elton smelt, I never had a dog with such a foul smell. The first two nights I rose every four hours, until the antibiotics started working. Elton had two kinds of bacteria causing the diarrhea. So I learnt something about zoonosis, googling the bacteria, what a luck no humans started with diarrhea at that time!

The second day we showered Elton and now we had a good smelling dog with huge appetite. Day by day Elton changed from a weak apathetic dog to a 90cm puppy from hell, doing nothing but deerie mischief! It was such a good feeling seeing Elton become a normal deerie.

The whole January until now (today we got the papers back!!) Mr. X continued to make trouble. He wrote to the club with his lies, but we set the record straight and got help and assistance. Then Mr. X accused us of steeling Elton, that he was still the owner. We consulted a lawyer and wrote some very angry emails. With all that help Elton is now officially our dog again. He will stay with us as long as he lives (hopefully a very long time)!

We are absolutely adamant that this Mr. X will never get Elton back or any other deerhound. He almost let Elton die, probably because he wasn't successful at the shows. It is almost unbelievable how people could pretend to be someone who loves dogs and in reality only loves the money.

Some further advice for Breeders:

  • Keep written records of everything.
  • If we had paid the full amount of the purchasing price when we took Elton back, that can be interpreted as a restitution of the contract of sale. Even if Mr. X only confirms the amount or if we'd had one or more witnesses.
  • We informed our kennel club immediately after the first email from Mr. X. We sent all emails to our breed club as well, so that they were informed, when the blackmail and accusations arrived.
  • A good vet, for a second opinion.
  • Essential is a lawyer who knows his stuff.
  • Good nerves, friends and if all else fails… enough money!