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Author’s Note: I so loved speaking at my town’s library last week. Great reception and I met this ten-year old girl who was fascinated with the story of Harriet White Fisher, her journey, and of course Harriet’s incredible traveling pets!

A young Harriet and Honk Honk fan at a recent local author visit

A young Harriet and Honk Honk fan at a recent local author visit

One of the nice aspects of writing Non-fiction and Biographies is getting to know the living ancestors of your subject matter; such was the case with Will Judy and Harriet White Fisher.

Al Judy and Maya

Al Judy and Maya

In writing a Father’s Day Tribute to Captain Will Judy, I thought it would be fun to include his Great Nephew, Al Judy who introduced himself to me via my Facebook Page established for Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Week and Dog World Publisher.

Al Judy was pleased to learn that his accomplished relative, Great Uncle “Bill” (as he was called by family I’ve recently learned) had been given his “day” and his legacy had been shared with the world!

Will Judy married later in life and had no children. However, he was a father-figure to many dogs in his lifetime, his, and the thousands of dogs or more (and their humans) who benefited from his wisdom, experience and guidance offered through the pages of his Dog World Magazine and numerous dog books.

Long before it was fashionable, Will Judy extolled the value of dogs in building good character in our children. He believed that youngsters who cared for dogs developed traits of kindness and responsibility, and developed parenting skills. Over the years, celebrations of National Dog Week included writing contests for kids and events planned by scout troops. National Dog Week was meant to educate everyone, including the young, on dog breeds, dogs who needed good homes, and the physical as well as emotional needs of all dogs.

Keep in mind he wrote about this in the 1930s and 40s, and it may be argued that in our contemporary throw-away society, with its penchant for instant gratification, Judy’s ideas may be viewed as outmoded. I would like to think his views are still valid, however!

Recently, I saw that Al Judy had posted some photos of his adorable dog named Maya on his Facebook page. Maya (nicknamed Doodle Bug) is a seven-year old Standard Jack Russell terrier who came to the Judy household three years ago when a family friend had become too old and infirm to care for her and sought Al’s help . Judy and his family happily obliged and now Al calls Maya a gift. Al Judy’s entire family seems to have gone to the dogs, too, just as Judy had hoped all Americans would.

Descendants of Will Judy and their dogs

Descendants of Will Judy and their dogs


It warms my heart to see this generational progression of a dog-loving family. I know that somewhere in that “Dogdom in the Sky” Will Judy must be smiling down! Al’s mom, who lives in Will Judy’s hometown, has agreed to talk with me, and of course I will share with my good friends here on the NDW Blog. Always learning…the story continues.

Happy Father’s Day to my dad “Jackie Boy” aka Coach Begin, my husband Rich, a father and father-figure to many, and all those father-like “stand-ins” who guide their dogs and humans throughout the course of life.

A Puppy Miller and his

A Puppy Miller and his “merchandise”

“…for the dog is a living breathing thing rather than a piece of fixed merchandise…the breeder has an attachment for his dogs which prevents him from considering them as merchandise on the shelf…”

Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week

As a kid, in the early 1970s, I was an avid-animal lover and a huge fan of a local family-run pet shop on the other side of my hometown (still standing today). My friends and I loved to look at the fish and turtles (you could buy them then), mice and other assorted creatures. This place fueled my passion for animals and I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, or the owner of a pet shop just like this one. On the occasions when we overstayed our welcome in that shop, we were kindly asked to hang elsewhere. We obeyed, but from outside the shop we looked in the window where we were sometimes thrilled by the vision of puppies for sale.

On occasion, a litter of pups, or kittens, were offered for sale, “donated” to the shop by a local family who needed help finding homes for them. While I did not acquire one of these pups, when I was ten, I asked (pleaded) for a chocolate toy poodle, as I had fallen in love with one that belonged to a family friend. My parents succumbed to pressure, and in the winter of 1969, I became the happy caretaker of a tiny brown pup we named Princess Sheri Cocoa Puff, or “Cokie” for short. I remember going to the breeders home and carrying out this little fluffy bundle of sweetness and love. It was a great learning experience.

However, as an adult, I recall just ten years ago, travelling with my husband in northern Florida and stopping at a large Flea Market where you could buy almost anything…including puppies. Now, at the time, I was ignorant as to the source of these cuddly canines. Like most people, I thought these dogs came from good homes or kennels where humans lovingly raised and cared for them as if they were family members (like Cocoa’s breeder). I did not know the harsh truth behind how these pups came to be both captive and captivating, sitting in their crates in these retail outlets sold to anyone who was charmed and could pay the right price, unceremoniously discounted or discarded if they grew “too old”.

But now I do know, and as someone one who was once so “blissfully” unaware, perhaps I am a good messenger because I do understand how most people really don’t  know the ugly truth behind the origins and lives of these “Rovers of Retail”. Most (some say over 99 percent) of the puppies in these retail outlets are the products of places known as Puppy Mills or Commercial Breeding facilities.

Earlier this year, a “Puppy Lemon Law” was passed in New Jersey requiring pet retailers to present full disclosure regarding the source of their puppies. Today, on June 6th, this law will take on wider scope. To learn more about the history of this legislation, please see these links. http://www.humanesociety.org/news/news_briefs/2014/12/nj-legislature-pm-bill-121914.html  https://www.facebook.com/pwnj.org/posts/820314178038218?fref=nf&pnref=story

I’ve been informed that this new legislation amends the Puppy Lemon Law by giving consumers more rights.   Pet stores must now be more transparent by adhering to the following:   posting breeder information on each cage card for every puppy offered for sale; posting two years of USDA inspection reports on the breeders; they must buy ONLY from USDA-licensed breeders and those breeders cannot have certain violations that affect the health and well-being of the animals.  This law was necessary because pet stores, generally, withheld breeder information from customers until after the sale was complete making it impossible for customers to make an informed purchase rather than an impulse purchase.

Bottom line, even some USDA-licensed breeders don’t provide living conditions for these animals that any pet-lover would approve of.  The USDA only sets forth a “minimum standard of care” so, effectively; a dog can sit in a cage FOR LIFE as long as the cage is six inches taller, six inches longer and six inches wider than the dog.  These pathetic animals not only lack proper housing but they lack socialization and mental stimulation which is why, when you see photos of them, their eyes are lifeless.  They have simply given up.  Once they can no longer breed, they are sold at auction for a couple of dollars and another puppy farmer will squeeze one more litter out of them – and then destroy them.  Would any of you do that to your own pet?  Doubtful….which is why it is so important to STILL not support this industry by purchasing a pet store puppy.

Some people tell me how they “rescued” or “saved” an animal’s life by purchasing a puppy from a pet store. While I applaud their good intentions, I have to relay that in doing so, they helped to perpetuate the cycle of puppy milling by putting money in the hands of these corrupt individuals. Some may say I am anti-commerce…that it isn’t anyone’s business how they make a living as long as it is legal. For the record, in my township, puppy retailers are no longer welcome and we wait the day when the one that remains in operation closes its doors forever.

The world seems to have changed considerably since my innocent days of youthful pet shop visits, but has it really? Back in the 1930s, Will Judy warned about the growth of “puppy factories” and the ensuing adverse effects on canine welfare. The internet and our nation’s throw away mentality and shortening attention spans have not made it a better place, unfortunately. However, we do have the opportunity to educate a new generation of animal lovers and those who choose to be guardians of our Companion Animals.

For the record, in my lifetime, I have acquired pets as gifts, through breeders (mice, dogs, and birds), a duffle bag discarded at my feet (five adorable kittens), a classified ad (best cat ever), a “loan” (beautiful horse), as street strays and through fostering. Aside from fish and those now forbidden turtles, I have never purchased a dog or cat from a pet shop. The laws mentioned above are designed to help the welfare of the nation’s dogs, and to strengthen the human-canine bond. So now that you know…please share this good news from the Garden State and perhaps inspire some of our other states to get progressive, too. And let me know the results!

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