When a person like me sets out to produce an animal, it is not just something that is decided on last minute. I don't just go out on a wing and a prayer and hope for the best.
I was raised around show cattle for the majority of my life. These animals had to be structurally sound, have spring of rib, be heavy muscled, and have a clean front end, along with many other things. All while being docile enough for an 8 year old to lead around the show ring. These cattle competed at the top shows in the US. From shows at the County and State Fair, All the way up to National Stock Shows like: Louisville, Ft. Worth, Denver and the National Junior Shows. We knew what we had to produce to be in the winner’s circle. Most of the time when the judge picked from one of the division winners, we had a shot at the purple banner.
The same goes for dogs. I know what I want to produce. So I made a list of what I want in a dog for my family and for myself in the field. Here it is…
First off I want a healthy animal, free from genetic defects that can shorten or impact the life of the animal in a negative way. Second, I want an animal that is friendly. One that can play with my 2.5 year old and 6 month old and I don’t have to worry about a thing. Along with that, friendly to other dogs too. Nothing can ruin a hunt quicker than a vet visit at 5:30AM. I’m supposed to be setting up decoys and I'm spending cash at the vet. It’s just not a good way to start the day! Third, I want a smart one. When I say sit, I want it to sit. Not stare at me like I have two heads. Fourth, a desire to retrieve that is second to none. I want a dog that will look at a big piece of water and be amped to go. I want to have to reel them back in, a bit. Rather than try to amp them up. Fifth, I want a dog that is a team player, not selfish. It wants to work as a team to reach a goal. When running blinds, the dog has to be able to trust you and know that you will get it to the desired end result. Sixth, be good looking. I mean if you are going to have dog why not own a good looking one? I know some could care less about this, “As long as they do the work… I don’t care what they look like!” I’ve heard it over and over again. But I just don’t agree. I don’t want to look down at man’s best friend and shutter at the sight of the dog looking back at me. Sorry.
So with all of that being said… this is what I did. I looked into dogs that were proven in the field. Dogs that had health clearances and ones that have earned titles for their ability. Mainly looking online, talking with dog trainers, along with other people that know dogs. Once I found a litter I called and talked with the breeder. Sometimes passing on a litter that the female who was perfect with no flaws. I will let you in on a little secret; every living thing has a flaw! Cattle, dogs and people…they all have a flaw of some kind or another. But is it one that you can deal with? That is up to you to decide. Once I found a litter that I settled on. I didn’t sleep much until I got the puppy home. Then I still didn’t sleep much, but for different reasons (potty breaks). I talked with trainers and got videos and did my best to get that puppy ready for life as a big dog. I knew I didn’t have the time to commit to train the dog, so I found a good trainer. It did take a couple of attempts, but I got a great one. Then once my puppy had shown the desired traits that I wanted, earned titles from a set standard, and passed the health clearances. I said alright, “Will I better the breed if it has puppies?”; “Would I want to own a dog out of my dog?” When I said yes, I knew I could have some puppies.
But that then opened another can of worms. Who should be the stud dog? So I once again looked online, talked with dog trainers, along with people that know a lot about dogs. I was weighing out the pros and cons of each stud dog. First making sure they had health clearances, then finding the strengths and weaknesses (flaws) in each animal. Once I was able to settle on a dog, I just had to wait for the female to come into season. Once she did… I hooked them up and the wait was on. It was a busy time: going back for ultra sounds, building a whelping box, buying supplies for the big day and then having some puppies. I was able to find good homes for the puppies. Multiple vet checks that all went well. When the time came, in a whirl wind, I went from a pile of cute pups to them all going home. Like a nervous mother sending her kid to school for the first time, I worried. “I hope the pups work out”, “What could I have done to make the transition easier?” so on and so forth.
I did call all the buyers and asked how things were going? All had positive things to say. But I will tell you when I get pictures and comments like these. It makes me feel at ease. Knowing that the time, effort and money I spent was worth it.
So the answer is yes. It was worth it.
To the puppy buyers of the past and to the ones in the future please keep me up to date! I love hearing about how they are growing and becoming part of the family as well as how the are performing in the field.
"Shelby's first hunting trip! She did great"
"Hank was 10 months old yesterday & swam 30 yards out to get this 11 pound goose. No problem for this big boy"