Why We Choose Your Puppy
Whether sold as a “pet“ or as a “show/breeding prospect” your puppy has been bred from the best breeding stock available and is a product of a great deal of care, research, hard work and love. He/she is a good representative of the breed and is structurally and temperamentally sound. Your puppy is suited to be a wonderful companion for hunting, obedience, agility or therapy work. He/she has received lots of care and socialization from us. We are very proud of the puppies we produce! Our hope is that you enjoy your puppy as much as we enjoy your puppy’s parents. When this happens then we have fulfilled a large part of our goals as breeders.
Most experienced breeders will choose the puppy you get, instead of letting you make the choice. This is NOT because you are getting the “last pick” (which many people worry about), or because we don’t care about what you want. It is because we care a great deal that you get the kind of puppy that will make you happy, and that each puppy goes into the right kind of home for that particular puppy, that we make the choice. Years of experience and the time spent watching them grow up gives us a much better chance of matching puppies to the proper homes. If you want a very quiet puppy, you might visit on the one day that the quietest one is being a terror. Or if you want an extremely “spunky” puppy, you might visit on the one day that the feistiest little munchkin in taking a loooooong snooze or has a belly full of breakfast. I know it’s hard, but try to trust us! Tell us as much as you can about what you want and your lifestyle, and let us do the best we can in choosing the right puppy for you. Our potential families have always been happy with the puppies we have chosen for them. If for some reason you don’t like the puppy we’ve chosen for you, you are under no obligation whatsoever to take him/her home, and we’d prefer you didn’t… No Hard Feelings, your being happy with our golden bundle of fur is of utmost importance to us. Our experience is that you will actually find that it is much easier for us to choose the puppy for you, than it is for you to make the decision for yourself.
"Pet Quality" vs. "Show Quality"
The differences between pet quality and show quality puppies are not usually obvious to the inexperienced eye. Sometimes there are no differences, as most breeders usually have more pet homes than show homes available for any given litter. And since the grading of puppies is an educated guess, even the very experienced eye is not infallible. Sometimes the difference is something about the bite, the way the puppy moves or stands, an angle of the shoulder blade that we feel in our hands, or the indefinable "something" that makes us guess/hope that "this one is a show puppy." And sometimes we're wrong! In any case, if we want to keep something for ourselves to show and /or breed, or if we have show homes available, we take our best shot at picking the best candidates for the job. And, while the placement of "show/performance" puppies takes precidence over "companion" homes, the rest of the puppies are really the lucky ones! They are the ones that get to go home with you and lie on the sofa and play ball with the kids instead of working for a living. This is why I like to refer to pet dogs as companion dogs. That is their first and most important job.... to be your companion, in your house and on your bed. They have received the same careful breeding and raising, usually look just the same, and sometimes when we see them six months or two years later, we wish we'd kept them. It makes us very proud to have our puppy buyers come back with beautiful dogs that fit the standard and are good representatives of the breed.
Limited Registration vs. Full Registration
Responsible breeders sell puppies as pets on Limited Registration. This is out of a sincere concern for the overpopulation of pets and because we believe that breeding should not take place "in a vacuum." The dogs involved should have something to contribute to the breed, perhaps have distinguished themselves in some way (in conformation, obedience, agility, or field work): and the people involved should have educated themselves on the breed standard, health problems in Goldens in general and in the various lines, and be very knowledgeable about raising puppies and in finding and screening good homes for them. We take continuing responsibility for what we produce, and hope that none of our puppies is ever accidentally or carelessly bred.
Limited Registration is a tool offered by the American Kennel Club for responsible breeders to protect their breeding programs and their puppies. Limited Registration is just like "Regular Registration", except that Limited Registration dogs may not be shown in conformation and their offspring may not be registered with the American Kennel Club. They may be shown in obedience, agility, and hunting tests, and can obtain titles in all of those areas.
Limited Registration is reversible to "Full Registration", but only by the breeder of your puppy. If you happen to join a dog club, start going to shows and then get bit by the show bug, or perhaps you go to an obedience class where experienced dog people see you dog and exclaim, "He's gorgeous! This dog must be shown and shared with the world!", we can of course talk about changing the registration to a full registration. We'd like to see your dog, talk to you about conformation classes and make sure you know what you are getting into if you think you want to even attempt to do this. Dog showing is not for the faint of heart, or those with limited weekend time to travel, or money to spend. You should know by the time to have your puppy spayed or neutered whether this show bug has bitten you, and we can consider amending the contract.
WHO CARES ........
The litter was bred to be just pets.
The breeder made sure the sire and dam had their hip and eye clearances, but she really didn't know about their littermates, their sires, their dams, their grandparents, etc. She really didn't’ care; these pups were to be pets only.
The breeder just knew her female was beautiful and the sire always got lost of compliments from his vet. But the breeder had never bothered to show the dogs to see if they really measured up to the breed standard or not. To see if anyone else in the world thought they were beautiful too. She didn’t care; these pups were just to be pets.
The breeder was sure the sire and dam were very smart and trainable and had good temperaments. But she didn’t care enough to prove it to the rest of the world by earning a basic level obedience title, or even a Canine Good Citizen certificate on either. They were only pets.
The breeder thought these pups would make terrific hunting dogs; so she told the buyer who came looking for a hunting companion. She just knew the sire and dam would have been good hunting dogs. Of course, they had no hunting experience, no hunting titles, not even a Working Certificate.
She didn’t care; their puppies were only to be pets. her buyer walked away in disgust .... HE wanted MORE than just a pet, HE wanted a good hunting companion.
The breeder didn’t care .....
Her puppies were JUST pets, no more ....
The buyers came and bought their pets. They didn’t care that the breeder didn’t know the full health background behind their puppy ... it was JUST a pet. They didn’t care if the sire or dam met the breed standard or not. They didn’t care that their puppy might NOT grow up to look like a breed standard Golden Retriever ... it was just a pet. They didn’t care that the temperament and trainability of the sire and dam were unproven ... their puppy was just a pet and they were SURE it would be sweet and good with kids because ALL Goldens are, RIGHT?
They didn’t CARE ... It was JUST a pet .....
Until it came up lame at 8 months age and the vet said severe hip dysplasia, expensive surgery needed. Until they found they could NOT control the puppy and they couldn’t seem to train it. Until the puppy BIT the baby and it took 20 stitches at the hospital to close the wound.
Then they CARED ... enough to promptly dump the puppy at the nearest animal shelter. Maybe someone else will care enough to fix the problems. Maybe someone else will care enough to give the puppy a hug before he is put to sleep FOREVER. The breeder didn’t care, she had another litter just born that were just pets. WHO CARES?
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Don’t people buying a puppy for a pet have a right to a puppy that is healthy and has the BEST possible chances of staying healthy for its entire life? Don’t they have a right to a puppy that will grow up to LOOK like a Golden Retriever? Don’t they have a right to a puppy that WILL have a good temperament and be easily trained? Don’t they have a right to a puppy that is a RETRIEVER in addition to a GOLDEN? HOW can a breeder ensure that her dogs will have all these traits if she doesn’t TEST them?
Would you REALLY want a puppy from a breeder who doesn’t CARE? What chances does that puppy really have if its breeder doesn’t care that much and is willing to settle for “just pets?”
Would you want someone BUYING a puppy when they DON’T CARE? What chance does that puppy have if the buyer right from the start doesn’t really care about what they are buying? The rescues, shelters, and landfills in this country are FULL of “just pets.”
Some of us CARE! Do you?
Copyright 1997 Anne V. McGuire. Maybe reprinted and distributed, in its entirety only, whole and unedited, for educational purposes ONLY and free of charge.
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Know the Facts BEFORE Breeding Your Dog
by Bonnie Wilcox D.V.M.
We think it is extremely important to learn the facts and possible consequences in advance if you are contemplating breeding your dog. In today's overcrowded world, we, the wardens of our domestic pets, must make responsible decisions for them and for ourselves. The following points should be reviewed carefully.
QUALITY: AKC registration is NOT an indication of quality. Most dogs, even purebred, should not be bred. Many dogs, though wonderful pets, have defects of structure, personality or health that should not be perpetuated. Breeding animals should be proven free of these defects BEFORE starting on a reproductive career. Breeding should only be done with the goal of IMPROVEMENT -- an honest attempt to create puppies better than their parents. Ignorance is no excuse -- once you have created a life, you can't take it back, even if blind, crippled, or a canine psychopath!!
COST: Dog breeding is NOT a money-making proposition, if done correctly. Health care and shots, diagnosis of problems and proof of quality, extra food, facilities, stud fees, advertising, etc. are all costly and must be paid BEFORE the pups can be sold. An unexpected Caesarean or emergency intensive care for a sick pup will make a break-even litter become a big liability. And this is IF you can sell the pups.
SALES: First-time breeders have no reputation and no referrals to help them find buyers. Previous promises of "I want a dog just like yours" evaporate. Consider the time and expense of caring for pups that may not sell until four months, eight months or more! What WOULD you do if your pups did not sell? Send them to the pound? Dump them in the country? Sell them cheap to a dog broker who may resell them to labs or other unsavory buyers? Veteran breeders with a good reputation often don't consider a breeding unless they have cash deposits in advance for an average-sized litter.
JOY OF BIRTH: If you're doing it for the children's education, remember the whelping may be at 3 a.m. or at the vet's on the surgery table. Even if the kiddies are present, they may get a chance to see the birth of a monster or a mummy, or watch the bitch scream and bite you as you attempt to deliver a pup that is half out and too large. Some bitches are not natural mothers and either ignore or savage their whelps. Bitches can have severe delivery problems or even die in whelp -- pups can be born dead or with gross deformities that require euthanasia. Of course there can be joy, but if you can't deal with the possibility of tragedy, don't start.
TIME: Veteran breeders of quality dogs state they spend well over 130 hours of labor in raising an average litter. That is over two hours per day, every day! The bitch CANNOT be left alone while whelping and only for short periods for the first few days after. Be prepared for days off work and sleepless nights. Even after delivery, mom needs care and feeding, puppies need daily checking, weighing and socialization. Later, grooming and training, and the whelping box needs lots of cleaning. More hours are spent doing paperwork, pedigrees and interviewing buyers. If you have any abnormal conditions, such as sick puppies or a bitch who can't or won't care for her babes, count on double the time. If you can't provide the time, you will either have dead pups or poor ones that are bad tempered, antisocial, dirty and/or sick -- hardly a buyer's delight.
HUMANE RESPONSIBILITIES: Its midnight -- do you know where your puppies are? There are THREE AND A HALF MILLION unwanted dogs put to death in pounds in this country each year, with millions more dying homeless and unwanted through starvation, disease, automobiles, abuse, etc. Nearly a quarter of the victims of this unspeakable tragedy are purebred dogs "with papers". The breeder who creates a life is responsible for that life. Will you carefully screen potential buyers? Or will you just take the money and not worry if the puppy is chained in a junkyard all of its life or runs in the street to be killed? Will you turn down a sale to irresponsible owners? Or will you say "yes" and not think about the puppy you held and loved now having a litter of mongrels every time she comes in heat, which fills the pounds with more statistics -- your grand-pups? Would you be prepared to take a grown puppy if the owners can no longer care for it? Or can you live with the thought that the baby you helped bring into the world will be destroyed at the pound?
CONCLUSIONS: Because of these facts, we believe that dog breeding is best left to the "professional breeder". What makes a breeder professional?
A professional breeder is one who has made a lifetime commitment to the well-being and IMPROVEMENT of one, or possibly two, breeds.
A professional has studied and researched his breed and knows, intimately, its history and Standard, its strong points and drawbacks.
A professional has spent time, effort and MONEY researching and proving the qualities and health of her potential breeding stock. Those that do not prove out are NOT bred. She plans a litter only with the goal of puppies better than the parents, not for profit or vanity.
A professional considers his dog's health and well-being far more important than their ability to reproduce.
A professional has both the time and mental fortitude to BE THERE for her bitches and puppies. She evaluates her litters and makes every effort to match puppy to buyer in temperament, attitude, and energy level as well as physical qualities.
A professional is, first and foremost, selling to responsible, loving homes. While some exceptional pups may be saved for special show homes, the professional does not force entangling contracts or arrangements for "puppies back" on people who are only interested in a pet.
A professional keeps in periodic contact with the owners of puppies he's sold, not only to see the development of his breeding program, but also because he cares about their well-being.
A professional does NOT have so many dogs that she has no time for individual attention, play and grooming, or so that she has to skimp on food quality, space, preventative medicine, and health care.
A professional assumes responsibility for the life he creates -- carefully screening buyers, helping find new homes, making a comfortable life for his retirees, and, yes, being able to make the decision to euthanize when a puppy born with a mental or physical problem has no chance for a quality life.
A professional builds a good reputation slowly based on dedication and consistent quality, not on volume, advertising, or from a casual or self-glorifying attitude.
A professional goes further and assumes some responsibility for the problems of her breed as a whole -- she belongs to an organization for the breed, she continues to read about new developments, and she works to reduce the number of her breed that are carelessly bred, ill cared-for, and discarded.
A professional can look at a bigger picture than dog show wins or puppy sales and contributes in some way to the betterment of dogs as a whole.
Given a choice, educated owners much prefer to buy from these professionals. If you want to join the professional ranks, we'll enjoy working with you as you learn. If you feel this is more obligation than you care to take on, choose the responsible alternative of having your pet neutered.
Copyright 1989 Bonnie Wilcox, Preemption, Illinois. Reprinted in its entirety, by permission of the author, for reproduction and distribution, free of charge, for educational purposes.
NO CHRISTMAS PUPPIES, PLEASE!
by Ruth Ginzberg
To many people, a puppy is the perfect symbol of the true spirit of Christmas. A puppy represents wonderment, innocence, exuberant energy, unconditional love, hope for the future. These are the sorts of gifts that many of us wish we were able to give one another. And that is a good thing. In an increasingly violent, horrifying, mind-numbing and impersonal world, Christmas time reminds many that there are more important values, that there is hope and love, that joy comes from giving of oneself more than it does from taking. To many people, these values bring to mind the loyal, loving, uncorrupted, hauntingly simple innocence of a puppy.
Indeed, many advertisers and artists have noticed this connection. Images of cozy family Christmas mornings often include scenes of floppy-eared puppies peering innocently out of a colorful gift box, their eyes wide with wonderment and awe. As the scene continues, the puppy stumbles preciously over mounds of gift wrappings, to the great amusement of delighted children who rush to hug the youngster and receive big wet puppy-slurps in return. Mom and Dad smile knowingly in the background as the true meaning of life is celebrated before their eyes. What could possibly be wrong with this picture?
Nothing. As art, as fiction, or as advertisement, it captures a lot of the symbolic spirit of the Christmas celebration perfectly. The appeal of this scene is like that of Norman Rockwell's paintings. As advertisement, it works. It sells products, even those totally unrelated to dogs or to Christmas. As fiction it warms people's hearts. What's wrong, though, is what happens when real people try to re-enact this warm loving scene in their own homes with a real, living puppy playing the role of a prop in this mythic family life-drama.
I am not against dog ownership. I have two dogs myself, and I think the world would be a lot better place if more people had meaningful relationships with dogs. My concern here is with the future of those living beings, those adorable puppies with child-like eyes who show up as gifts on Christmas morning. While images like the one I described may look irresistibly appealing in pictures, art, advertising or fiction, the future for those real-life puppies who start out under the Christmas tree, in all probability, will turn out to be fairly grim. Groups as diverse as, and often at odds with one another as, the Humane Society of the United States, canine behavior experts, the American Kennel Club, PETA, Animal Rights Activists, breed rescue groups, veterinarians, obedience training instructors, and most reputable breeders of sound, healthy dogs, are in strong agreement that live puppies should not be given as Christmas gifts. Here are some of the reasons:
THE ATMOSPHERE OF CHRISTMAS MORNING FRIGHTENS THE PUPPY. People who study canine development and behavior have found that puppies, like children, go through developmental stages. The first fear/avoidance period in a puppy's development occurs roughly between 7-12 weeks of age. However this is also when the puppy is developmentally best capable of leaving its litter and beginning to form bonds of attachment with its new family. Most breeders agree that this is the right time to send a young puppy home with its adoptive family. However, it is also extremely important not to over-stress or unduly frighten the puppy during this vulnerable time. Fears learned during this first fear/avoidance period can be very, very difficult to overcome later, even with the very best training or behavior modification techniques. In other words, traumatic experiences at this point can have a permanent impact on your puppy's personality as an adult dog. Your puppy's experiences of leaving its mother and litter-mates, and its arrival in its new home and introduction to its new family, can permanently affect its ability to bond with and trust humans. The puppy needs to be introduced to its new home and family during a relaxed and quiet, gentle time, with a minimum of loud noises, flashing lights, and screeching children, ringing phones, visiting company, and other types of general hub-bub. Christmas morning is absolutely the worst time, in terms of the puppy's developmental needs, for introducing this newly-weaned youngster to its new family.
THE TIMING TEACHES CHILDREN THE WRONG VALUES. Many families who value pet ownership do so at least partly because of what children can learn from the family pets in terms of care and responsibility, love and loyalty, and respect for other living beings. But think of what happens to the rest of the toys and gifts that start out under the Christmas tree. By Valentine's Day, most of them have been shelved or broken or traded or forgotten. The excitement inevitably wears off, and the once compelling toy becomes something to use, use up, and then discard in favor of something newer. A living puppy should not be thought of in the same category as a Christmas toy. Children need to learn that a living puppy is being adopted into the family - as a living family member who will contribute much, but who will also have needs of its own, which the rest of the family is making a commitment to try to meet. A puppy who makes its first appearance as a gift item under the Christmas tree is more likely to be thought of by children as an object, as a thing-like toy rather than as a family member. This will not teach one of the most valuable lessons there is to learn from a puppy, which is respect for living beings and concern for others in the form of attention to their needs.
A GOOD BREEDER WILL NOT SEND A PUPPY HOME ON CHRISTMAS MORNING. Responsible breeders - those who guarantee the health and temperament of their puppies, and who are abreast of current knowledge about canine health, genetics, socialization and development - already know these things and will not send a puppy home with its new owner on Christmas morning. If you were to be able to obtain a puppy from someone who actually let you have it on Christmas Eve so that it could appear under the tree on Christmas morning, that should tell you something. It should warn you that you would be getting your puppy from someone who does not know enough about canine behavior and development to be in the business of breeding or selling puppies. You would be much better off acquiring your newest family addition from a breeder who knows enough about dogs, and who cares enough about the particular puppies that he breeds and places, to insist that you take the puppy home under conditions which would be best for the puppy. If your breeder does not insist on this, you are purchasing a puppy from a breeder who does not know or care enough about his "product," to be in that business, and you should acquire your pup from someone else instead.
THE PUPPY GROWS UP AND HAS NEEDS. Many people have a somewhat romantic view of what dog-ownership is like. This romanticism can become exaggerated by the warmth and loving kindness associated with the Christmas season. People who have not had dogs before, or who have not had dogs since they were themselves children, or who have recently had a dog but one who was a canine senior citizen trained and socialized to the family's ways long ago, often are completely unaware of how much work it is to raise a puppy from infancy into a good adult canine companion. They may have mental images of happy times romping with the dog on the beach, or curling up in front of the fireplace, of playing frisbee in the park or of hunting with a loyal companion. All these are things they might well eventually enjoy with their canine companions. But they may have temporarily forgotten, or perhaps not ever really have known, how incredibly much work it takes to raise and socialize a dog from puppyhood to that point of mature canine companionship. Unlike cats, who generally do not need extensive training and socialization, dogs require a huge commitment from at least one person who is prepared to teach the dog what behaviors are expected of him, under a wide variety of circumstances. Adults may believe that they remember a Faithful Fido from their youth who seemed never to need training; Faithful Fido always seemed to "just know" what was expected of him. But those adults were children at the time, and they did not necessarily see all the work that their parents and others put into training and socializing Fido.
Professionals who deal with dogs regularly, call this common fantasy the "Lassie Syndrome." That is, everyone hopes for that imaginary dog who has E.S.P. and who automatically knows how to behave in human company without needing any training. In other words, they want a dog like "Lassie." But "Lassie" was a fictional character. "Lassie" actually was owned and trained by Rudd Weatherwax, one of the most hardworking and successful professional trainers of dogs in the history of US television and film. Rudd Weatherwax spent his entire lifetime training "Lassie" to do those things which looked spontaneous in the fictional story lines. No real, non-fictional dog is actually like that. Real dogs not only must be housetrained - most owners are aware of that need; they also must be taught not to chew the furniture, taught not to jump on their owners, taught not to play-bite, taught not to bowl over the toddler, taught not to dig holes in the yard, taught to come when they are called, taught not to eat the homework or the woodwork, taught not to swipe food off the table, taught not to growl at strangers or bark at the mail carrier, taught to walk on a leash without dragging their owner down the block, taught to allow their toenails to be cut and their coats to be groomed without biting the groomer, taught not to shred feathr pillows and down comforters, taught not to steal the baby's toys, taught not to growl at their owner's mother-in-law, taught to sit, stay, and to lay down when and where the owner tells them to, and to wait there until the owner says they may get up (absolutely essential commands for the dog's own safety), taught not to escape out the front door or out of the yard or out of the car when the owner looks away for just a second...all of these things and many more are not "natural" canine behaviors; they must be taught by owners who are willing to spend time and effort doing so.
The reason I mention this is because lack of owner knowledge about the amount of work required to socialize, raise, and train a puppy, is one of the main factors contributing to a huge national problem: the problem of adolescent and young adult dogs being "given up" by owners within the first year or so of having acquired the animal. Untrained, unsocialized puppies might be "cute" and "natural" but they are tolerable only for a few weeks, if even that. Then they start to be nuisances. Then they start to be major problems. Sooner or later they become downright dangerous to themselves or to their families and neighbors. It is often between the ages of 7-14 months that the dog (sadly, reluctantly) is brought to the pound or to the vet for euthanasia by a frustrated owner as an "uncontrollable" dog, or as a dog with "behavior problems." Or perhaps it is taken to a shelter in the faint hope that it will be adopted by someone else. (Chances are almost certain that it won't; nobody else wants an untrained, unsocialized dog's behavior problems either.) By that age the untrained dog is a full-grown and unruly adolescent. It might have bitten a family member, or threatened a neighbor's child, necessitating the involvement of a town animal control officer. Or the dog may have run away and been hit by a car. Or it may be adopted into a series of homes, one after another, none of which can adequately control it, until it finally winds up on death row at the pound. These tragic dogs, those wonderful canines known to generations as "Man's Best Friend," never had a chance. According to statistics kept by the Humane Society of the United States, the majority of puppies and kittens born in the United States never reach their second birthdays, even though their natural lifespans should be many times that length. They die from being hit by cars, euthanized by owners, starving or being fatally injured in fights with other animals - including wild animals, some rabid in many areas - after having run away from their owners, or being taken to shelters, pounds or vets, where they are "put to sleep," usually before the age of two. In other words, many, many canine deaths are squarely the responsibility of owners who did not understand what it would involve properly to train and socialize their puppy, or who did understand, but did not do the necessary work. "Christmas puppies" often are impulse purchases, in a spirit of love and giving and generosity that goes with the season, but without the hard self-assessment that goes into asking oneself if one has the time and the energy and the inclination to give the necessary commitment to raising and socializing and educating that puppy. Better to get that new puppy at a less emotionally charged time of the year, when the decision to add a dog to the family is a less impulsive and more carefully considered one, uninfluenced by seasonal generosity of spirit, which might just fade a bit after the tree comes down and the lights are put away.
If you are absolutely set upon getting your family a puppy for Christmas, consider this alternative instead: Purchase a leash, a collar, a good book on raising a puppy, a gift certificate for a veterinary checkup, a gift certificate for puppy socialization classes from one of the local obedience instructors, a book or video tape on the topic of how to select the right dog for your family (there are several, including even a computer program that purports to help you do this), or a gift subscription to one of the dog-oriented magazines. Wrap these up and put them under the tree. As family members unwrap the various pieces of the "puzzle", their delight and anticipation will grow. They will gradually understand what this present is! Then, after the Christmas tree is taken down and the frenzy of the holiday season is behind, the family can once again enjoy together the anticipation and excitement of discussing and selecting a breed, selecting a breeder, selecting an individual pup, and so on. This will increase the family's mutual commitment to, and investment in, the well-being of the newest family member. It will be a project the family has done together, which is a wonderful way for any adoption to commence. This will not decrease the enjoyment of your new puppy; I guarantee it. It will increase it by many fold. And it will be a better start both for the puppy, and for the long-term relationship between dog and owner(s). A dog with a good introduction to its adoptive family is much more likely to become a long term companion rather than just another tragic statistic.
Permission hereby granted to reproduce, reprint, or repost this article, provided that it is not excerpted but reproduced in its entirety, and that this notice and proper authorship attribution remain attached. ...... Ruth Ginzberg, Dec. 1993