Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Choosing A Puppy: What's My Motivation?
Almost all of my dogs have come from pure-bred rescue, a shelter or were "found-puppies." I've had 3 re-homes from reputable breeders and therefore I had a lot of information, good or ill, from those breeders. I had a bit of an inside track.
I was talking to a friend who has a handsome, rescue dog who has such extreme issues that he may never, ever live a normal life. But she's committed to helping him live the best life he can. But even she, a drinker from the Rescue-Rehab Fountain admits she's looking into getting a good, sound, correctly raised puppy from a great breeder. Rescuing a dog or cat is one of the noblest things you can do. But it seriously is the luck of the draw. I've been pretty lucky with my rescues. But a lot of them have had Huge Issues too.
My friend would like to start it "right" and do it right without a bunch of unknown crap coming up. She's looking at a couple of different breeds too.
We hoisted a mental glass of wine because I know whereof she comes from!
For me, and this is just for me because I'm starting to think about a puppy in the fairly near future......I'm researching breeders. I've got my short list. But I need to ask myself the hard questions. I know the breeders will ask me the hard questions.
One of my questions is one of Motive. We don't often think of Motive as a reason for getting or adding a dog to our home and life. But it's huge! Do I want unconditional love, companionship? Do I want ribbons? Do I want accolades, recognition? There is very little that is "wrong" with Motive. Unless you're some sicko, of course.
I think anyone who is adding a dog to their life needs to honestly look at their motivation for making this step!
Of course there is the obvious:
Have both parents been tested?
Can I meet both parents? (Sometimes Dad is just frozen semen).
Do I want a male or a female?
Intact? Or Altered? Am I willing to take a lifetime of responsibility for an intact dog?
I'm up in the air on the sex but that's just for me. I know, if I (we) put my mind, ability (and money) into it, I (we) could finish a female! I have no worries about that but I'm also a "if I'm going do this damn show thing again, I'M doing it my damn self again!" kind of person. Any professional handler can finish a decent dog. I'd rather do it my damn self! As much as I enjoyed that part of our lives, I might not want to do it again. Not in Conformation. And I really don't think I want to raise a litter either!
When it comes to Motive, I guess you have to ask yourself: what is my goal for this purebred dog? Do I want a happy, balanced, in-my-house dog or can I go higher maintenance? Do I want him to win Westminster? Am I willing to do a life-time of crate shuffling to have that dog in my house because s/he's that exceptional but doesn't get along with everyone? Or do I want everyone lounging on the sofas and hanging out in the car, on a trail?
What is my goal for what I WANT TO GET from this dog? (Performance, Westminster, perfect hiking companion, herding, therapy?). I think many people never face this, ever.
If you know it, you can say it out loud.
Face it, dogs love us. They need love, food, proper care, a safe home, training so they're not complete jerk-offs, etc. The titles, ribbons, accolades...they are cool. I won't deny it. But in the end, for me personally, they need to be our dog, our buddy. I really love the idea of a dog that does something cool and/or useful, and it can be performance, work, service, therapy.
My dream dog could help kids and adults learn about proper dog care and safety and bite prevention He and I could educate together!! I confess, I love the interaction and applause!
How much am I willing to put in? (time, money, training etc) Is he going to be "my" show (performance) dog or is someone else going to do it? In my case, Hell-NO.
What kind of personality can I live with and what can't I live with?
As I get older, and less "able," do I need an easier-going yet less "showy/driven" dog?
Can this puppy get along with Artie AND Elke?? Could he be OK with the cat?
Do I need to research other breeds?
What's my lifestyle like? It's pretty busy, crazy with huge moments of "chill-out-sofa-time". My neighbors shoot off firecrackers in the summer. Kids come in our house. We ride bikes and take hikes in the woods. Kids play softball in the street. I live in suburbia!
What will my lifestyle be like in 2, 5, 10 years. Etc. etc.
To me, if the puppies are all pretty nice-looking, I really have to trust the Mommy Dog owner because she's with those puppies day in, day out. But kennel-blindness can come into play.
I surely would get another opinion from someone, (even if they "do" another breed) on the litter because correct structure is structure! I"m lucky that I could call in some cards and get someone from another breed to look at the litter. Most people that I've seen make a successful match do seek another opinion from outside that particular breed.
I need to see them interact with their siblings, other dogs, people. other animals if possible. I'd drag along a dog person (like a trainer or behaviorist) I trust to look at the litter because maybe the one that appeals to me most might not be the right dog for me, for us, for all of us!
I will definitively take the breeder's advice; she should know that litter inside and out.
But I'll also send it up to the Gods, and ask that the right puppy come into my life and be a blessing for its whole lifetime.
©2013 Mia Hess