CHOOSING THE RIGHT COMPANION PUPPY FOR
TIME. The first step
in making the decision to add a puppy to your family is to ask
OK, so you have resolved this issue and you DO have the time. Great! Onto the second point!
MONEY. You certainly
don't need to have "alot" of money to have a puppy. BUT you do need to
be able to
properly feed and care for him or her, without it being a drain on the household finances. This means a correct
diet, not just the most inexpensive food on the market. A can of "good" puppy food costs anywhere between $1.00
to $1.50. A bag of similar quality kibble will run close to $40.00 for about 35 pounds or so. More than TWICE
what the cheap, full of "fillers", bare minimum dog food costs. Ideally, your pup will also get such things as
Cottage Cheese, Organic Plain Yogurt, some fresh, raw organ meat, as well as healthy treats. A visit to the Vet
runs about $35.00 or so, and then add the costs of whatever shots or treatment are needed. There are required
vaccinations, nails to be kept trimmed, ears to be cleaned. Many breeds, such as Poodles, require thorough brushing
on a regular basis, and in most cases, a professional Groomer to keep the coat in condition, and in shape, literally!
They need a bed (well, yours will be fine, thanks!), a secure, fenced yard, some toys of their own
(or your slippers will do), collar, leash, food and water bowls etc. You get the idea.
Alright, money is not a problem! Let's move on.
SIZE. Big house, little
yard? Little house, big yard? Big both? Little both? What kind of dog will
"fit in"? A big
dog is not necessarily a bad idea for a small house or yard. Nor is a small dog always the right choice for a
small house or yard. This is where RESEARCH comes in. Some big dogs make GREAT house pets (Greyhounds,
Standard Poodles, St. Bernards and others..) while some small dogs need LOTS of space as they are super
high energy (Parson, or Jack, Russell Terriers for one). You need to evaluate what you have available, a big
or small house, what sized yard, do you intend to walk your dog, take runs with him or her etc? Once you are
clear on what you have available for a puppy/dog (don't forget, it WILL grow!!), then you can proceed to research
which breed of dog will fit in to your space. The Internet, books (check the Library), local dog clubs,
and Dog Shows, are great places to get information.
OK, we've got enough house and yard. What's next?
PERSONALITY. This is
where some real, honest, assessment comes in. Of yourself! The puppy will
be required to
fit into YOUR lifestyle and suit YOUR personality. Therefore, YOU are the one who needs to be evaluated first.
Are you a quiet homebody? Couch potato? Extrovert? Older, looking for a quiet friend? Have kids, need a playmate?
Athlete looking for a running partner? Do you like an easy going, relaxed atmosphere? Or do you prefer a mile
a minute, in your face, let's go kind of pace? Dogs ARE like people, they have all sorts of different personalities,
required levels of activity, preferences for naps, games, stimulation etc. Once you know who/what YOU are,
then you can safely choose your companion. Again, RESEARCH.
Many breeds are adaptable to
various environments, some have very specific needs. Don't pick a breed
try to make it fit to your situation. Be honest about your lifestyle, THEN look for the breeds that will suit you.
That is the only way that your new puppy will succeed in your family.
One more, VERY important step
CHOOSING THE BREEDER.
Again, research is vital. All
puppies are cute, so don't buy the first puppy you see without
having done your homework first!
Are the parents registered
with AKC? There are many "Registries" out there who will, for a fee, register
dog, whether from purebred parents or not. Do NOT buy a puppy who is registered with: APRI (America's Pet
Registry Inc) or CKC (CONTINENTAL Kennel Club). The breeders of these puppies are commonly known as
"Back Yard Breeders" (people who put two dogs together and have puppies for money...no testing, no knowledge
of the pedigrees, they don't show dogs or take part in Performance events such as obedience or Aglility) or
"Puppy Millers" (same thing but on a larger scale). The ONLY valid registries are AKC (American Kennel Club),
UKC (United Kennel Club) or CKC (CANADIAN Kennel Club).
This is our Puppy Playground
where the pups learn to manuever over, under and through things,
climb stairs, play on a long slide, walk on a seesaw, interact with odd talking and rolling toys and
generally have a great time! In the warm months, they also have a wading pool to splash in
and learn the joys of water sports.
Does the breeder participate
in Conformation or Performance events, either in AKC or UKC shows? Are
knowledgable about their dog's pedigrees? About the health issues in Poodles? Are they open to your questions?
Do they offer a Genetic Health Guarantee for their puppies (at least TWO years, more is better)? Do they have
a "screening process" or require you to fill out an Application? Do they have a Contract for the purchase of the
puppy? Will they take the puppy back if, for whatever reason, you can no longer keep it? Will they supply
references, Vet, Groomer, previous puppy buyers? Do you like them, are you comfortable with them?
You want a well socialized
pup, one who approaches you with confidence and is at ease with being handled
and petted. Meet the Mother of the pups, the Sire as well if they have him. Their temperment, size etc will tell
you some things about the pups. You want a healthy puppy, bright clear eyes, no discharge from eyes or nose,
isn't coughing or sneezing, and who has had age appropriate vaccinations and been wormed. The parents should
have been tested for (at least): hips (OFA or PennHip); vWD (by DNA); eyes (CERF) and perhaps Thyroid and
SA. (You can read more about these diseases and the tests on my Health Page) The puppy should be clean and
groomed, face, feet and tail shaved. ALL the dogs should be clean, well cared for, happy, not just the one you
are considering buying! The facility, whether it's a house, kennel, garage or whatever, should be clean, with
plenty of room for the dogs to exercise, get fresh air and play.
If you find yourself in a situation
where the animals are in cramped, dirty quarters and are obviously not
and well cared for, DON'T go into "Rescue Mode" and "save" a puppy from them! Buying a puppy only gives them
the resources to have more litters and the puppy is likely to have major health and/or temperment issues. Instead,
REPORT them to the local Animal Control. Sadly, that is the most beneficial thing you can do.
Now, Let's talk about STANDARD POODLES!
They are incredibly smart ("Rated"
second only to the Border Collie. Yes, those dogs ARE amazing!). They don't
shed (Yippee, no dog hair on the furniture or all over the car). No doggie odor (As a result of having hair and not fur). Extremely loving (Males seem to be better suited to those who want a "super lover". Females are, well, "girls", and
are affectionate on their schedule, and of course, SUPER smart!). Great watchdogs, very protective. Athletic, love to
do Obedience, Agility and water RETRIEVING (which is what they were originally bred to do)! They love to be by
your side, whether it is on the couch, in the field, or at the Doggie Park. They are extremely ADAPTABLE, which is
the essence, and the perfection, of this breed. They can happily live with a 70 year old, quiet Grandmother, or a
family of six who need a a Frisbee buddy at the beach. Ask of them..and they will provide. Work
with the breeder to find the puppy that is best suited to your family.
JUST A DOG
From time to time, people tell me, "lighten
up, it's just a dog,"
or "that's a lot of money for just a dog." They don't understand the
distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for "just a dog."
Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog."
Many hours have passed and my only company
was "just a dog," but I
did not once feel slighted.
Some of my saddest moments have been spent
with "just a dog," and in those
days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and
reason to overcome the day.
If you, too, think it's "just a dog," then
you will probably understand
phases like "just a friend," "just a sunrise" or "just a promise."
"Just a dog" brings into my life the very
essence of friendship, trust, and
pure unbridled joy.
"Just a dog" brings out the compassion and
patience that make me a better
person. Because of "just a dog" I will rise early, take long walks and look
longingly to the future.
So for me and the folks like me, it's not
"just a dog" but an embodiment of
all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and
the pure joy of the moment.
"Just a dog" brings out what's good in me
and diverts my thoughts away from
myself and the worries of the day.
I hope that someday they can understand that
it's not "just a dog"
but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being "just a
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