Writing the post yesterday got me thinking about raising those two puppies. I realized I actually was also training a 3rd puppy at the same time. When I brought Speki home to train I actually already had a 6 month old Border Collie that was in for training. In total I have brought in 5 puppies for training that I had no intention of owning. Four of those puppies ended up staying because I couldn’t part with them. I told you about the first two (Speki and Stoni) the other two where DeCaff and Buzz. I called DeCaff’s supposed new home the moment I met her and told them she wouldnt’ work out for them:). Buzz I was only looking after for the weekend when I ended up keeping him forever.
But that leaves one other puppy that I had brought in for training? Why didn’t she stay? Her name was B.B. She was a very talented dog. Before she was 11 months old we had already had earned her CD in obedience with two first places. She was trained through to Utility and already had won one Open class. She was competing with me in flyball and was doing demos in agility. Now I would never do any of that with a puppy today, but what did I know in 1990?
B.B. was very talented and won a lot. She was the star of “Super Dogs” back then. She knew tons of tricks that I had taught her. Through all of that training you would think “how could I give her up when it was time for her to go back to her owners?” It wasn’t difficult as I didn’t love B.B.. I admired her and I sure did like her but I never ever loved her the way I love all of my other dogs. That may sound cruel but it was a valuable lesson for me to learn and I am so grateful I was given the opportunity to learn it.
B.B was a cute puppy when I first saw her at 7 weeks but aren’t all puppies? I took her home and started her training almost immediately. I desperately tried to love this puppy, I would think, this one is different but why? The truth is I actually didn’t realized that I didn’t l-o-v-e B.B. until she wasn’t with me anymore. Here is that critically important thing that I learned. Maybe this doesn’t hold true for everyone, maybe this is just some unique quirk about me, but I doubt it.
Thanks to my experience with B.B. I now know within moments of meeting a puppy how I feel about it. The puppy grabs my heart and that is that! With B.B. it wasn’t there. I thought it would change once I got her home. It did not. It never did. I didn’t realize how shallow my relationship with B.B. really was until I got my next dog, “Stoni”. Once B.B. went back to her owners, baby “Stoni” came home. I was crazy about Stoni the moment I saw her at 1 day old. At 5 weeks of age she let me knew she was “one”. She was sitting on a top step of a set of three play steps inside her puppy pen. I was staring at her from the outside when she jumped off the step and threw herself at my face, smashing into the ex-pen while doing so. It is a bond that was never broken, not even today. Stoni was my gift from God. She is the reason people started hiring me to do seminars. She made me look far better than I actually was!
Looking back with B.B. I would become impatient over things I normally would laugh about if any other puppy had done the same thing. I found I grit my teeth a lot when I trained B.B. and I laughed far less. B.B. was an important part of my journey and I am so grateful to her for giving me the chance to know this about myself. I make a connection with a puppy immediately and I now know that. With Feature it was a 4 1/2 weeks through a photograph merely by a look I saw in her eyes. I don’t know what gives me this feeling I just know it is not there for every puppy I meet.
After I lost Speki I went looking for another Jack Russell Terrier puppy. I loved this JRT male “Bentley” so I knew I wanted one of his puppies. I looked a 3 litters until I found one that had a puppy that grabbed my heart. That was “Twister” and she will forever be one of my most special dogs to me.
So when you go looking for your next puppy yes research the pedigree and health history, yes look at the structure, yes make sure the puppy is confident but in the end allow your heart to make the final decision. After taking a flight to England to pick up Feature, I was so relieved to see she had such nice structure. I don’t think I could have taken a puppy from the litter if she hadn’t. Even though there were many nice puppies in her litter, once I make that heart connection I would have to walk away from the litter if for some reason I couldn’t have the puppy I fell in love with (luckily for me that has never happened:)).
I have said many times that I think that each dog is sent to us for a particular reason at that particular point in our lives. It doesn’t matter if you used a mathematical equation or go eeenie-meenie-minie-moe you will get the dog you are intended so better to just go with it and let it happen. However regardless of this, you should love this dog or puppy from the start. I have talked to many people about this and they all agree, if the chemistry isn’t there from the start you will never love the dog the way you love other dogs.
I am not a trainer that suggests to people to “re-home” their dog if it isn’t talented enough. There is only one exception to this rule for me. That is if the student can not look me in the eye and tell me they are crazy in love with the dog. If you don’t love the dog, you likely never will. In fairness to the dog, find him a home where he will be special and be loved the way all dogs deserve.
Today I am grateful for all of the lessons my dogs have taught me on my journey, but particularly for B.B., who seemed to be a sacrificial lamb. I will always be grateful for this awesome lesson she taught me about myself.