Privacy and happiness, hopefully coinciding.

Today, I heard something about myself. This was news to me, because last time I checked (about five minutes ago) it wasn’t true. This person knew it, though, because three and a half months ago I talked on Facebook about something totally different.

The assumptions involved were TOTALLY WRONG. But, more to the point, it’s an example of how genuinely freakazoid the online dog world has become.

Over the past few months, I’ve watched people be torn to shreds online for 1) using a choke collar, 2) breeding a long-haired variant on a breed, 3) inbreeding, 4) not inbreeding tightly enough, 5) stacking puppies on a piece of wood, and 6) sitting down outside a show ring. That’s the tip of the iceberg. Harmless, normal stuff that posters and bloggers talk about proudly … until they get their arm torn off. It’s gotten out of control and very scary. News or pieces of information, or brags and pictures, or blog posts and stories that we think are joyful announcements of good fortune are seized upon as opportunities to attack, whether directly (you’re doing something I don’t like) or indirectly (in the background of that picture I see that there’s a new car, so now I know you’ve got money – I don’t care how hysterically you protest that it’s not your car; send me a photocopy of your registration so I know you’re not lying). And people actually do that – they are so horrified or shocked or scared that their reputation is at risk that they DO go photocopy the registration, even though the right response would be to tell the bully to go sit down hard on a sharp stick.

I have never seen it this bad, in all my years in the online dog world, and I am honestly super, SUPER creeped out. I want to protect my kids, my friends, and my puppy buyers from something that they’re not prepared for and have no ammunition against.

Until Doug and I have had time to discuss things, any posts mentioning my children have been removed from this blog. I know how much many of you love them, and I hope to release many of the posts back into the wild, but I won’t do it before their father and I have hashed some of these issues out.

I will also (and this is a permanent change) no longer be announcing breedings on this blog or on Facebook. The people who really DO need to know what’s going on and see baby pictures are the puppy buyers, and they will still get plenty. And they’ll be protected from the crap that has nothing to do with them or their beautiful babies.

I am praying this kind of stuff calms down soon. Meanwhile, I’m not going to stop posting the issues-based stuff even if the cute stories may stop for a little while – and I’m going to practice telling people to sit down hard on sharp sticks.

UPDATE January 2013: After much discussion, the posts involving the family and kids are back up. We are going to try to remember that the only people who are being hurt by being mean are those people – not my kids. I am going to continue the policy of not announcing breedings before there are puppies actually here, and for some (most?) litters won’t announce them until all the puppies are gone, giving new owners the privacy and joy they deserve.

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  • Reply Alison October 13, 2012 at 3:55 am

    I am sorry it has come to the point where you don’t feel that this is a safe space. I will miss your cute pictures and stories. But I understand the need to protect yourself and others you care about. Hope everything smooths out soon. 🙂

  • Reply Rachel October 13, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I think it’s a terrible shame that your own blog can no longer be a safe space for you. I enjoy your writing and I’ve referred many people to your blog for doggy education purposes.

    I hope that you and your husband are able to find a happy middle ground where you can feel comfortable sharing your life again with us online!

  • Reply Mike October 13, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    That totally blows. I think people have lost their minds. You have a great family and it’s been fantastic watching it. The dogs drew me here but your amazing writing and your wonderful family made me subscribe. I will still read it but the loss of the other content will be a very real loss to those that have not lost their minds.

    • Reply Micaela Torregrosa-Mahoney November 22, 2012 at 5:25 am

      yep, Mike said it perfectly! I had just come over to look for the “How to Think of Service Dogs” blog post, which was so enlightening for me. I learn so much from all those discussions. I hate that some awful people are making you reconsider what you share with the rest of us. I sure will miss all your fantastic stories and the gorgeous pictures of the kids & dogs.

  • Reply Karen October 14, 2012 at 12:37 am

    I’m sad that we won’t be able to share issues about your family or cute puppy stories and pictures anymore. I’ve learned so much from this blog. I’m sorry that there are so many unreasonable people out there and I am angry that their actions have made it so the rest of us lose out. That said, I still look forward to reading what you have to say on any issue and hopefully you will still post some dog photos- you take gorgeous pictures.

  • Reply Ludivine October 16, 2012 at 12:58 am

    Noooo! That is so unfortunate to hear. Although, I do recognize you are just being safe. It really blows that sometimes, people + internet anonymity = raging douchenozzle. I really loved all your photos, stories, and announcements. You are someone I hope to emulate when (or if) I ever get into breeding as a hobby. I’ll stay tuned for whatever you may feel like sharing!

  • Reply Julie E October 16, 2012 at 3:15 am

    Good on you, but I am terribly sorry you have to do this. I certainly understand – it’s why I refer to my boys online as Son the Younger and Son the Elder – but I know I’ll be one who must miss the fun things, and that saddens me.

    Protect your family, be safe. Throw out a chicken photo now and again if you feel like it.

  • Reply Ruth October 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    People suck. They really do. I do hope you’ll at least post dog pictures occasionally!

    Glad you got the spam/attack site thing figured out! Your RSS feed might be screwy though, fyi, or it might be my coding of my RSS reader, which is defiently screwy but is usually capable of updating to the current post by this span of time.

  • Reply Amanda Johnson October 16, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Like all the rest here, I understand, especially when it comes to your family. Putting anything personal out on the web is an inherently dangerous prospect. I also think it’s wonderful you’re trying to shield your puppy buyers from as much as you can, though I hope if you have any newbies, you’ll educate them about the cluster@#$% that is the online dog world as well. You can only protect them so far, and you don’t want to throw them to the trolls and the crazies without at least a little warning. I’ve been lucky enough to have connections who warned me about the reality of purchasing a bred pup and the @#$%storm that can come with it. With those warnings in my head, I was able to take a step back, really think about why I was doing what I was doing, formulate calm and logical responses to anticipated incendiary statements, and train myself to let the sting of unwarranted judgement last only a brief amount of time. I’m only a pet owner (love my girl, but neither she nor I are show material), so I don’t have to deal with the show section of chaos or worry about a reputation (thank goodness, because I would SUCK at that), but I still have to deal with “WHY DO YOU NEED THAT SPECIFIC KIND OF DOG IF YOU’RE JUST GETTING A PET?” and the like. I ache for people who have no idea what could be waiting for them out there.

    I have to admit, I’m very sad there won’t be anymore puppies. I thought about asking you to put me on the puppy pics mailing list so that I could still get my share of cardi goodness, but you really have no way of knowing me from Adam and whether I’m a stand up kind of girl or a troll just waiting to pop out from under my bridge. It’s a hard decision to put your puppy owners first instead of saying @#$% the jerks, I’m not going to let them dictate what I post. I can’t honestly tell you if I’ve reached that stage of maturity yet! I seriously admire your strength and I think any of your puppy owners will be lucky to have you as their breeder for life.

    Still looking forward to all your future posts.

  • Reply Beth October 16, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    I’m sorry to hear this but not surprised. Things can turn ugly online. I tend to keep my dog discussions to moderated forums.

    I quietly defriended from facebook a dog person who shall remain nameless after a post about a breeder-turned-hoarder. This was clearly hoarding and not a breeder who got over-dogged, nor a puppy mill.

    I commented that it was sad for everyone, dogs and family and of course the person who was doing the hoarding, for clearly that was not a great way to live and she had lost control of the situation.

    I was lambasted, I mean totally blasted, for showing any sympathy at all for the human involved; apparently the only proper response was to speak of the poor puppies and shred the mean, awful, heartless (in their eyes) woman who found herself in this situation.

    Don’t get me wrong, it makes me angry for the dogs but hoarding is usually part of a string of emotional illnesses and deserves our sympathy and offer of support, not our scorn. Or so I thought. Apparently others thought differently. One click of the mouse solved my problem, but I was a bit saddened and confused by the whole endeavor.

  • Reply Elizabeth H. October 18, 2012 at 5:43 am

    🙁 Sadface. Totally understand why, though I will definitely miss all the wonderful endearing and entertaining stories about your family. Your girls are gorgeously clever and thoughtful people, and I’ve loved seeing their drawings, writings, artistic contributions, posing, candid moments and even that one video of T ages ago (such a ham!). Thoughts and love to you all, I will miss M’s stories and drawings, H’s stories/path, T’s funnies and Z’s adventures – I have rooted for all of you from afar.

    I’ll miss the information on your breedings too – it was always informative and exciting to get a glimpse into WHY you made the breeding choices you do, and I always enjoyed learning. If at any time you choose to perhaps have moderated/subscribed postings of such, I would be honored to be able to get a peek at your world once again. 🙂

  • Reply Moth October 18, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    So sad to see that you have to take such measures to keep yourself and your family safe and comfortable. I will very much miss reading your wonderful stories and deeply miss all the great puppy pictures and updates.

  • Reply Brad October 18, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    I am also sorry to hear about these highly judgemental people wasting your time and theirs. Life is to short, and you should not have to put up with them. I hope this all calms down soon for you. Laura has much enjoyed following your blogs.

  • Reply priscilla October 21, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    OH dear , i finally get a chance to come read your blog and find youve been treated terribly.. That sucks and im sorry . I for one enjoyed the photos of your kids and hearing about the puppies, seeing pics, and learning all about them.. Sorry Joanna that this big cyber world has turned on you..

  • Reply Laura October 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Here’s the weird thing: I write a yoga blog and had to shut it down/restart it because the online YOGA world got so ugly, so it’s an epidemic. I’m sad sad sad not to get all the puppies and kids and photos and funny but totally understand. How will I know about puppies now? Sigh. So happy for you though, with the new job and things going so well.

  • Reply KellyK October 30, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Yikes. That is extraordinarily creepy, and I see why you pulled all mention of your kids.

    I hope that whatever ugliness you’ve been subjected to goes away in a hurry, and that the bullies back off after being told what they can go do with themselves.

  • Reply Amy November 5, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    I will miss the posts about your children and puppies but commend you for putting them first.

  • Reply Kim January 6, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    I am so sorry. The dogs drew me in and the kids kept me here. The fantastic writing was a bonus. I hope it’s resolved soon. Peace and prayers to all of you.

  • Reply Keren December 29, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Thank you for the level of honesty and transparency you have with us, as your readers. I only recently found your blog and really enjoy all the stories you share. It’s a shame that the people with all this nasty bile believe that the anonymity of the internet somehow justifies or enables what they are doing. Ultimately if that is how they use this form of social interaction, they will just continue to miss out on the joy that comes from a little bit of sincerity.

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