Greetings and Salutations,
My name is Art Labrousse. I am the husband of Carla and the father of three daughters, a daughter-in-law, two sons, two sons-in-law and five grandchildren. I worked in Law Enforcement for 26 plus years, the last twelve as the Sheriff of Wasco County, Oregon. Of all the departments in my office, the Animal Control Department generated the most controversy. We were lucky to obtain the services of two employees who were models of professionalism in Animal Control. During my tenure in office, I gained a tremendous respect and regard for what these people (and the animals they love and care for) go through. Currently I am a Realtor with an agency that has been located in the heart of the Columbia River Gorgeous in North Central Oregon since 1921, by far the oldest real estate and insurance company in the area. Tradition, professionalism and character are very real values in my life.
I am an oddity within this group of excellent MS moderators. While I have been a dog owner all my life, I have never owned nor wanted to own a show-quality dog. I have never bred dogs for giving away, selling or showing but that ends the similarities between my LBHMSL (Life Before Hoflin Miniature Schnauzer List) and my LAHMSL (Life After Hoflin Miniature Schnauzer List). My more "enlightened" views today are the direct result of all the information I have received on this list (and from a couple of close friends). Pre-BHAMSL I obtained my pets from the grocery store, adopting one from the Animal Shelter, getting a puppy from a friend's Heinz 57 litter or answering an ad. The only time I paid for a pet was at a shelter requiring an adoption fee. Even the horses I owned were obtained through "horse-trading"; I did not believe in paying good money to buy a pet. To me a "real" dog was no smaller than a cocker, but preferably a German Shepard or similar size. Those small yappy "dogs" were to be held at the bosom of some snobbish rich lady. Almost all of my animals were good examples of what they were/are, whether it be cow, horse, dog or cat - and they served my purpose very well. They were my friends. Don't get me wrong, I understood the value of pedigree and breeding to conformation...in cattle, horses, swine, working dogs, etc...in other words animals who were raised to do something other than look pretty. All my pets are just that, pets. I didn't care if they were true to a particular breed; a cross was okay with me. I wanted a faithful companion who had the good qualities of a dog (cats are really my wife and daughter's thing): loyalty, friendliness, worshipful (especially since I didn't get that from anyone else and never from a cat) and just plain ole being a good buddy.
I can remember making fun of a good friend when she purchased a Miniature Schnauzer bitch for breeding. That dog was the epitome of everything I don't like in a small breed, noisy with a high pitched yipping ALL the time, a nasty disposition - and she actually paid MONEY for that thing. I remember telling my wife, Carla, that I would never do such a thing. That was in the mid-70's. Shortly after our friend purchased her dog, Carla rescued a little Miniature Schnauzer marching down the middle of the very busy street in front of our house. We were never able to find the owner. The vet thought he was about two years old. We named him "Whiskers." He was without doubt the best dog I ever had. We lost him after a couple of years to what turned out to be an open hole in his esophagus, an undetected birth defect that finally cost him his life.
Since then we have had a couple of other dogs: a smaller mixed breed and an out-in-the-front-of-the-grocery-store-puppy-in-a-box German Shepard mix. We had that one for about ten years, and the Shepard for fifteen. When I had to put the Shepard to sleep, I asked the Animal Shelter to keep an eye out for another one, but had pretty much decided not to get another dog, just didn't have time for one.
Then I saw an ad for some Miniature Schnauzer puppies for sale. Remembering Whiskers, I decided to contact them. The breeder was a very nice person. I learned she was a backyard breeder after I became familiar with the term, and the puppies were from AKC registered parents and could become AKC registered. They had to be the breed standard then (didn't they)? I ended up buying one. I couldn't believe I did that, but I actually paid good money for a dog. That's okay, I figured, I would just breed him and get my money back out of the stud fees. We named him Maximilian Mansa Monticello (Max for real life); and although he is not show quality and, as I have learned, he is not to standard and should not be bred, we love him dearly. He is a good companion and friend. He also makes me laugh.
Enter several friends - from Animal Control, my Vet's Office, my daughter-in-law who was a student at the time (now a vet). They encouraged me to get Max neutered. They did it gently and over a few months, and eventually I decided to do so......not because he wasn't to standard (at the time I still didn't fully understand nor did I care about that) but to help calm his aggressive nature. Everything that Max smelled, heard, saw or felt - whether it was in his yard or two blocks down the street - had to acknowledge that he was King of all he surveyed, and he loudly told them so. Actually he still does, we have had a real go-around with that. Most of the time he quiets right down, but other times.......
A friend (one of the ones mentioned above) was sending me some good stuff from her breed's list on the Hoflin server, and I joined that list for a while. I was amazed at how much I learned. Some of it was very interesting and some of it I didn't agree with at all. Eventually I realized there was also a Miniature Schnauzer list on Hoflin, so I promptly moved over - and the rest is history. I have learned the value of support from the people knowledgeable about this breed. I have learned the need to be very careful about breeding standards and to be diligent, indeed jealous, about how we breed Miniature Schnauzers and not allowing a lowering of those standards. I became better educated about back-yard breeders, puppy mills and pet stores. I was extremely pleased with the tone on this list about responsible pet ownership and recognition of the Miniature Schnauzer companion/pet. The attitude that, while it is important that the Miniature Schnauzer be maintained to standard, those of us who have made mistakes in the ways we chose our minis did not make mistakes in loving our pets. I have learned that even the best breeders have puppies from litters that do not meet the standard and yet they love them and arrange to place them in homes who understand not to breed them - just love, enjoy and teach them. I also learned that most responsible breeders know and love each of their dogs, they are still pets, no matter the pedigree. As one television ad says, "you don't breed pedigreed dogs for the money, you do it for the love of the breed."
I was very proud to be accepted into the ranks as a moderator. They received me with open arms and the members have been very supportive of my position, and forgiving of my pre- LBHMSL days.
Looking forward to serving you,
From the Columbia River Gorgeous
Art Labrousse and his faithful companion Max