More Adventures of a Doodle Breeder
This story begins with a sad discovery. I placed a puppy with a family in Chicago, and it turned out one of their boys was allergic to her. In the 15 years since starting Westwood Labradoodles that has only happened this one time, and I found out later the poor kid was allergic to even a full poodle. He couldn’t have any dog. In any case, my puppy needed to come back to me. I had just had knee surgery and couldn’t go get her. Through the online doodle community, a friend of a friend said they would be willing to pick up the puppy and keep her for a week to give me time to arrange transport back to Ohio. Then…radio silence. The woman who picked up my puppy stopped answering my phone calls and emails. After two weeks, when I started threatening legal action because she had my puppy, she responded and began insisting I had given her the puppy and it was now rightfully hers.
I was unable to drive, and I reached out again to the online doodle community, describing my dilemma. A breeder friend, Barb Smith, now passed, of Illinois Labradoodles, offered to go get the puppy from the woman who had her, telling me, “I’m from Texas and I pack!” At that point I had never met Barb in person, but I had no reason to doubt she was serious. “No, no, no” I told her. “No need for that!” Instead, I contacted law enforcement in the woman’s community and described the situation. The person holding my puppy did not have a contract indicating ownership, and I had refunded the original owners. The chain of ownership clearly led back to me. As did the puppy’s microchip registration. So Barb went to the woman’s house with a police officer and her microchip scanner. Barb scanned the puppy, the officer looked at the microchip number, and told the thief to hand over the puppy to Barb. The saddest thing was that the woman had three kids who had become attached to the puppy in the weeks it took for all this to transpire. I knew this and had offered to sell her the puppy (at a discount, to pay for the time she cared for the puppy), and she had refused. Barb and the officer had to take the puppy away from crying children.
The next problem was how to get the pup from Chicago back to Ohio. An online doodle friend in Minnesota, Cathy, who I had helped in a sticky situation she was having as a guardian home for another breeder, offered to pick up the puppy in Chicago and bring her to me in Ohio. The first and only time I met her was when she brought me my puppy.
Anyone who disparages online friendships as ‘not real relationships’ has never really participated in an online community. This was one of many experiences I have had where people in online communities, who I had never met in person, acted on my behalf. Their loyalty and friendship was as strong as any developed in a ‘face-to-face’ relationship.