But every dog has its day, even when it's a hairless cat. Voicing a concern that crops up every time a new pet is in vogue, some sphynx fanciers fear the burgeoning popularity of the cat will be the breed's ruination.

"Due to the scarcity and the priciness of this cat, we've unfortunately attracted any number of--for lack of a better description--kitten mill' operators," claims Speed, whose contracts with buyers stipulate such things as which cats can be used for breeding--and how often they can be bred.

"Some of these people are in it pure and simple to see how much money they can make and how fast they can make it," reports Speed, stressing the importance of buying from "reputable" (i.e., ISBFA members) breeders like himself. "Some of these people will spring $2,000 for the male sphynx, then mate it to a Devon Rex female or whatever the hell else they feel like. You send the money, they send the 'hairless' cat, end of deal. And if the kitten happens to sprout a nice coat when it reaches sexual maturity? Too bad. The check cleared long ago."
Sherry Jordan, who operates the Jinjorbred Cattery in Pinetop, echoes Speed's concerns. "A lot of backyard breeders are getting into this, thinking that they are going to make a fast buck," explains Jordan, corresponding secretary for Speed's sphynx club. "A lot of them simply don't know--or don't care--what they're doing."

Jordan claims that a lesson can be learned--but probably won't--by looking at what happened to the Shar-Pei, the wrinkled Chinese dogs that were the novelty pet of the Eighties. "So many people jumped on the bandwagon that they flooded the market," says Jordan, who advertises that her sphynx are "lovingly raised underfoot and in bed." "People were breeding brother to sister and anything else just to produce a litter. It's sad because now they've produced a dog that has got a lot of health problems. Those people ruined the breed."

In the process, those same bandwagon-jumpers drastically drove down the price of Shar-Peis. Both Speed and Jordan point out that a breed of pups that once sold for $2,000 and more can currently be purchased for as little as $50.

And while the philosophical fur is flying elsewhere in the sphynx breeding circles, Cynthia Gooding--who is not an ISBFA member--refuses to join in that cat fight.

"As far as I'm concerned, the [International Sphynx Breeders & Fanciers Association] organization is set up to protect the Speeds and a couple of their friends," says Gooding. "If that's all it is, I don't want to be involved with it. I want to stay as far away from the politics of breeding animals as I can.

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