Some great comments following my post yesterday. I love when my own students don’t agree with me! Not that I want a lot of arguments when I am teaching, but it is brilliant if you question opinion, that makes everyone better. If you push me to explain myself you may expose a weakness in my theory which forces me to either improve what I do or at least improve the way it is presented!
Several of you brought up breeders picking puppies for you. Let me tell you, I think the dog I have had the strongest bond with over my lifetime was my Jack Russell Terrier “Twister” (although Stoni would have something to say about that). Every week after Twister was born I drove 75 minutes through the worst part of the Canadian winter (Twister was born December 26th). When she was 5 weeks old the breeder told me she would be the one I would be taking home. I told her she was nuts. Twister was half the size of the other puppies, I wanted a performance dog, that little weakling puppy was not going to stand up to the demands of a performance life. I had no early photos of Twister as I was certain of the 6 in the litter she would not be mine.
By the time she was 7 weeks old there was no doubt, I was crazy about her, she was the one. The breeder knew long before I did. A good breeder, one that spends a lot of time with their litters and spends the time to find out what people really need in a dog, often do know better than you. This is especially true if you are new to dogs or to the breed you are selecting. Just know you will get the dog you are intended.
Others of you have said “your puppy chose you.”. Let me say I was certain when I left for England two years ago that if I took a puppy, it would be Feature. The breeder was so certain of it as well, she started calling her “Feature” when she was 4 weeks old. I had pick of the three red bitches. We went into their garden (aka backyard to us that live across the pond) and let the three of them out. They all came to visit me and then two left. Feature just sat at my side, she would not leave. I tried to get her away as I wanted to see her structure, she would have none of it. She was not afraid, she was just making a point, I was hers and she wanted to make sure I realized it. I knew. It took her several minutes before she left to play, but eventually she joined her littermates taking away my worry that there was something “wrong” with this puppy.
Still others have written you grew to love your puppy. I think Buzz would fall in to that category for me. I knew I had to have him, but it wasn’t the same heart-grab all of my others had given me. There was never a doubt I was going to keep Buzz, even with almost everyone around me telling me he was too crazy to be successful. I guess it depends upon how you define success. Buzz gave me far more than I ever gave him in return. Besides being a constant source of entertainment as he goes through life (still at 13 years young, he still cracks me up) Buzz gave me the gift of dog training knowledge that no other dog could ever give me. Buzz is the reason I have been able to help so many Border Collie owners. Stoni, who came before Buzz, was an awesome Border Collie but she was almost human-like in her understanding of what I wanted. Buzzy showed me that only solid scientifically proven technique was going to help me help him to be the best that he could be. As a puppy he made me further my knowledge of laws of reinforcement which lead me to a close relationship with Bob Bailey. As a two year old Buzz then showed me I needed a clear handling system which lead me to bringing Greg Derrett in for the first time. It started (then 23 year old), Greg’s seminar career (we have worked together 2-4 times a year every single year since). Buzz then showed me I knew nothing about jump training which lead me to force Susan Salo to start to travel and do seminars. Susan and never left home to teach and had only ever tried to help dogs with jumping once in her life before.
Not successful? Well even if you don’t count Buzz’s two National Championships (one in Canada and one in the USA) I think you would agree that a dog I had to grow to love, grew to be the most important dog of my life (and a pivotal part of Greg Derrett and Susan Salo’s)! So please don’t let my post from yesterday scare you. Not all of my dogs were love at first sight dogs but they all were (or are ) very well loved dogs!
Today I am grateful for Buzz and what (and who) he has brought into my life. Buzzy has to have some surgery next Monday (nothing major, a tooth he knocked out of his mouth being a knuckle-head two years ago, now has a left-behind-root that is becoming a pest and must be removed) so please send your good vibes for my boy.