Kundai Marunya Lifestyle Writer
She straps on a white fur coat, nicely fitting white gloves in hand, a signal that winter is here.
Leashed and walking beside her is a white Poodle. They match well, from the colour of their “coats” to even how they gracefully walk.
The pet is her best friend and they seem to click well. This lady’s behaviour is not unique.
Dogs are men’s best friend.
People fall in love with them for different reasons; some are cuddly, some intelligent, protective, fun to be around while some just make great fashion accessories.
The relationships then differ with people opting for different breeds for their varied skill sets and characters.
Thus fashionistas, especially women, opting for Chihuahuas and Poodles which are fashionable, lively, and alert.
Security companies and businesspeople opt for German Shepherds for their noble character, loyalty, curiosity and high intellect, the Boerboel and Rottweilers for their large stature, obedience and territorial nature. These and many other reasons have over the years strengthened relations between dogs and men.
In the relationship great value has been created with men willing to part with thousands of dollars to own a breed of their choice.
Because of the demand for different breeds, many people turning to dog breeding for business purposes.
Zimbabwe has been catching on the bug, with a number of breeders raising mostly in urban areas over the years.
The trend has broken the monopoly of dog breeding, which was largely dominated by veterinary companies. Individuals now convert their backyards to breeding spaces.
Among the rising wave of entrepreneurs is Revai Mazani who breeds German Shepherds and Rottweilers in Waterfalls, Harare.
“I started breeding dogs in 2015 after my father bought me two Rottweiler puppies to raise.
“When he brought them home they were not for breeding but for our security as we had fallen prey to burglaries for a long time,” he said.
It was by sheer coincidence that Mazani ended up a breeder producing at least eight puppies a month.
“When my dogs grew up, naturally they produced six puppies. I did not want to keep many dogs so I started researching on markets to sell them, that’s when I discovered that people are willing to part ways with an average of US$ 400 for a pure-breed puppy,” he said.
Mazani, who had just finished high school ended up selling his puppies, investing the income in female German Shepherds and another female Rottweiler. He built more kennels, and researched on how best to breed dogs.
“As I spent more time researching on breeding dogs, and with the growth of my business I discovered my passion for veterinary work thus I’m studying towards a diploma in Veterinary Nursing,” said Mazani.
He now works with the help of his brother so that he can get more time to focus on his studies.
A walk in both high and low density suburbs in the morning or evenings will guarantee one a view of dog breeders walking a bunch of leashed dogs.
With continuously rising cases of burglary and robbery, most of the breeds are Boerboel, German Shepherds and Rottweilers among other favoured security dogs.
The dogs are, however, high maintenance as they require constant vaccination against diseases such as rabies.
“One needs to constantly vaccinate their dogs against and also feed them properly,” said animal rights activist and veterinary doctor Dr Sean Rusike.
“One should pay close attention as to what, how, and when they feed their dogs. It is always important to feed them at least twice a day, a light meal and water in the morning preparing for them to run around in the heat and at least five kilograms of warm dog food in the evening.”
Dr Rusike encouraged dog owners to include a lot of protein.
“Not that starch is bad for dogs, but if they are to grow big with strong bones, there is need for a lot of protein,” he said.
To avoid expenses some breeders just own one male dog which they hire out to mate with others on owners’ request.
Arcadia-based breeder Edgar Meares said owning a male pure-breed is lucrative.
“One will be surprised as to how many times my Rottweiler gets hired to mate. There are dog owners who just own females because it’s expensive to keep both males and females so they opt on hiring my services which costs just US$35,” he said.
Meares’ dog also gets hired for cross-breeding with different breeds.
“My dog does not always get hired by those who breed for business but also by people who are in love with Rottweilers but cannot afford to buy a pure,” he said.
As much as dog breeding is earning many people a lot of money, many breeders are not investing in research and education on the best way to care for dogs.
This has triggered criticism from animal rights activists on whether backyard breeding should be encouraged or not.
“There are laws that required dog breeders to be licensed and there are strict requirements for one to be licensed. Due to greed many breeders just ignore them and breed in their backyards without proper knowledge on how best to do it or facilities the dogs need. Responsible authorities should make it a priority to enforce these laws so animals do not get abused,” said Dr Rusike.
He added that there are dogs such as the German Shepherd which requires a lot of exercise thus need vast spaces to walk about.
“I really don’t encourage backyard breeding for such breeds but when people go on doing it then they should take their dogs for long walks and exercise,” said Dr Rusike.
Though to some they remain best friends, dogs have evolved to be biggest income earners for many.