The risks of openness

I posted something yesterday that (in my mind) was about how I’ve realised this process of breeding dogs is full of decisions. I think about this because my day job is about how people make decisions under uncertainty and how they evaluate risk.

Some are big and significant, like the choice of male, health testing, etc. For these, there might also be some existing guidance but they also rely on subjective evaluation – I can follow best practice advice on choosing a male to for example complement the traits of my female, but exactly how one makes that decision is subjective and the results are not visible until long afterwards, as well as being felt by many others than you as the breeder.

What? I’m busy.

Then there are hundreds of smaller decisions for which there isn’t necessarily any guidance – in some cases, there’s a bit, but every dog is slightly different as are their living conditions, the size of the litter etc. so the advice is not entirely one size fits all. Many of these decisions are also time sensitive, so you have to make them with limited information.

I’ve chosen to document some of this process because I want more people to see what happens before the puppy arrives at their home, but yesterday’s post sparked a conversation with a friend and after that I realised how my words could be misunderstood and what it *might have implied* about Grace’s mothering style, and by proxy potentially predisposing the pups to some problems.

I realised why breeders generally don’t share information about the process – they don’t want to be vulnerable to accusations later, in case something they post implies one thing or another. That didn’t occur to me, and it leaves me with a dilemma. How do I help people see what the work of a breeder includes, if the openness also makes me vulnerable?

E.g. posting a lot of pictures of the puppies by themselves might give someone the impression that Grace doesn’t spend time with them. The actual reason is that I have 1000s of pictures of Grace, but the pups are changing daily, and the pictures look nicer without a large brown lump in them!

Big brown lump in the foreground

There’s always room for improvement but… it’s not an excuse to not try make things perfect from the start because the stakes are high. It’s crucial for me to live my values when it comes to this process – it’s not enough to do an OK job, I want it to be as close to great as I can. That isn’t necessarily obvious to someone who doesn’t know me, and it’s probably useful for me to be aware of that. If in doubt, ask – don’t assume, because we’re with them 24/7 (literally!) so there’s more to know than what I fit in a post.

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