Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Finding a puppy..

 It has been several months now since our established pack of four dogs got diminished down to the lone survivor, our now geriatric, German Shepherd dog, Heidi. In this passing of time I have focused on her, the attention that I had previously shared with all of the others. I have missed them terribly and still see their shadows everywhere as I go about my daily life on the farm, but have in many ways I have enjoyed sharing the solemnity with this aging shepherd. She will be gone soon and another great spirit will be moving on, but before she goes I have now found myself thinking it might be a good idea to give her the chance to help another puppy learn Farm Life 101. Well, no, that’s not it exactly. That’s my rationalization. I have now come to realize that I am ready for, and want, a new puppy.
There are few things as engaging, and universal as taking in the smell of a puppy’s pink belly, and enjoying the warm and fuzzy feeling one gets when just being in the presence of a puppy. Their absolute unbridled enthusiasm for everything, whether it’s eating, sleeping, licking your face, biting a leaf that blew by,  or romping with litter mates, is compounded by their big sweet eyes,  and short legs that carry them around with comic uncoordinated bursts of energy,  until they can go no more, and then they sleep, again. Every body loves a puppy, and finding one sounds easy, but in reality it is not. It is finding the right one, that is the difficult part.
The emotional ties that one will be forming with a potential companion dog is something that must be considered. There must be compatibility.  It will be a relatively long term relationship that one should seriously think about before jumping in, complete with love, laughter, occasional anger, expectations, mistakes, and all of the responsibility for the care and welfare for an animal that did not necessarily choose you. 
In buying a puppy, there is so much you don’t really know but can only guess, based on the breed type and the little bit of time you get to judge a puppy’s personality before buying it. You are committing to this relationship, and trying to buy yourself a best friend,  based on really very little info. This is a bit daunting to me, but I feel I must try. Life without dogs around is not a place for me.
 The roles and jobs of what a dog means on a farm, besides being cute and cuddly and your best friend, is another thing. In general, the first requirement is that the dog be a sentry, an early warning, barker at many things, people, animals, and happenings that should be taken note of. The dog must of course be able to use enough judgement not to overdo the barking and become a nuisance. Many fail in this area, and some fail to bark at all unless it’s really a BIG thing.
Our dogs in the past packs have learned a vocabulary of the things to alert us to. There was the “snake in yard” barks, “there is a UPS guy driving down the drive”, “a horse is kicking their stall door”, and on and on, each dog having a specific bark for what they meant to say and each bark was identifiable without seeing which dog it was sounding an alarm.
The role of the approaching stranger barker on our farm has traditionally fallen to a Labrador, but our terriers, though small, have earned themselves over the years, to be quite able in this area too. Thinking through how difficult it is to live with a young Lab through their chewing years and not being ready for that challenge yet, I was thinking smaller for now. So with that in mind, my first search was narrowed to be for that of another terrier, another Yorkie to try to fill Marley’s paw prints. That, was going to be a tallish order as Marley had filled many roles very well in her time here on our farm, and the best was how she filled our hearts. She earned many a well deserved dog bone in heaven.
Once resolved on my plan, I began with a few inquiries on a pet classified site on line I stumbled across, and pretty quickly got some promising responses. I thought this was going to be easy. It was, way too easy. After a few rounds of gathering more info and asking more questions, the replying parties started asking more than they answered. Responses began having serious broken english, grammatical errors, and the focus turned from the puppy to how much information the invisible entity on the other end of cyber world could get out of me. Scamming seems to know no boundaries, and puppy hunting seems to have many who will try it. Disappointed, I had to get a bit more serious in my methodology of avoiding being scammed to find the right pup, or just give up. 
I somehow got to YouTube, via another ad that had a video of cute Yorkie puppies, which led me to lots and lots of hilarious videos of these fuzz bundles playing and being tough and such. This furthered my wavering resolve and I went to a pet store to get some magazines with classified ads in them, figuring that maybe there might be less scamming when one actually has to pay for an ad to be seen. I found a few folks who had Yorkies, who were fairly close by, and who were certified breeders with the AKC. I was able to download names, information on them and their puppies, so now armed with info on real people and real dogs, and I began making calls.
The first lady I spoke with only had a male left, and we talked at length about him and his pedigree, coat type, show potential, pricing, and all, even though I had told her my search was for a female. We had a good chat and I got a bit more educated about the breed in general. In keeping a semi-open mind to the plumbing problem I asked her to send me an email picture of the boy, as it sounded like she was a knowledgeable and capable breeder and looking never hurts. 
After that I called another lady who did have one female left. Through my previous conversation with the first lady, I pretty quickly picked up that this person was more of an amateur breeder, and the puppy was probably not show quality, and therefor priced lower, which is a good thing. The puppy sounded cute, as all do of course, and so I asked her too, to send me an email photo.
A bit later I checked my email and the girl’s picture came first. She was absolutely adorable, and somehow reminded me of Jack when he was a puppy, with ears that were a little big, and soft eyes that could melt steel. She looked to be the one.

Then the boy’s picture came and he was just as she had described, a chunky, all male, bruiser type, and he had cute written all over him, and high quality. I now had to give my male or female issue some thought with this photo. Both were cute, close by, priced a bit differently on their potential breeding value (which I didn’t care about), and so both, about equally qualified with potential as pups for our farm world.
I reread the information sheets on the pups and decided that a tipping point might should be towards the older of the pups, the elder might have a better chance at learning how to navigate the farm best. The male was twelve weeks I saw, then I noted the female’s birth date. It was 11/11/11, the very date on which my father died this fall. My head reeled a bit in the coincidence of this and my heart was swayed. It was going towards the female.
Will she be the better of the two dogs?  And better at what? I will never know, because I will only get to live with one of them. My hunch says go with the female. We shall see.

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