I am in the process of puppy shopping! Tough job, I know. Why is it that I feel like buying a puppy is like buying a lotto ticket? You may win or loose? I have very strong beliefs in what consistutes responsible breeding practises and so when I bought my purebred Australian Cattle Dog five years ago, I put a tremendous amount of time into finding the right breeder. I looked carefully at the other dogs that they had produced, their breeding objectives, health testing and puppy contracts as well as the pedigree, type and temperament of the parents. When I found the right breeder, the extent of the paper work, questionnaires and policies made me question if I could have adopted a child with less effort but in the end I found Hawkydog.....
The breeders, Brenda and Alice where nice people with a passion for their dogs. They asked me a thousand questions about what I was looking for. I wanted a big, dominant male that would have a lot of presence, could keep on the trail and would form a strong bond. They selected the pup that they felt has the temperament to best suit my needs. That pup was a male they named Rebel. They said that he was sweet and snugly but he was huge and like to use his weight to push around the other pups. He had a lot of personality and a ton of presence. They warned that he would probably go oversize and not make the show ring. When they brought all the pups into the vet to get shots and be weighed the rest of the litter was between 9 and 11 pounds while my big Rebel was a whooping 14.
The time came for me to make the 6 hour trip South to meet him and if all went well, bring him home. We arrived at a tidy little farm with a small rancher and big barn on the right of the drive and an agility course and small herd of sheep on the left. We parked the truck and knocked on the door. No one answered. We wandered back towards the barn, calling as we went to see if anyone was home. Behind the house was a small fenced balcony with a swinging gate and fibreglass awning. A "igloo" dog house sat in one corner and at the gate, looking up at me with big brown eyes, was the single cutest puppy I had ever seen. The desire to hold this little bundle of salt and pepper fur overwhelmed any reservations I had about walking into someone yard, so I slipped inside and sat on the back step, calling the pup over. He climbed into my lap, pushed his warm bulk into my arms and feel asleep. I strocked his downy fur and pressed my face into his belly, inhaling the clean and unmistakeable scent of puppy.
A few minutes later an older woman with a well worn and friendly face came out from the barn. She smiled and greeted me warmly and said with surprise, "I see that you have found your pup! How did you know that was Rebel?" At the sound of her voice a half dozen pups toppled out of the igloo and made their way to my feet. I felt emotion well in my throat. "I didn't!" I replied, "but I sure hoped it was because I think I am in love!" We made our way into Alice's house, taking Rebel with us. We met his mother, aunt and uncle, all fine looking and friendly dogs. We went over the contract and met the co-breeder Brenda. They brought in another up named Blizzard to show me and said that he was a show quality dog, with an even temperament and encouraged me to consider him. I politely declined. Alice and Brenda asked what we had planned on calling our pup. We told them how on the way down here we had spotted no less then a dozen Hawks in the trees along the highway. I mentioned how I had always admired the intense gaze of Australian Cattle Dogs and their sharp mind and felt that "Hawk" would be a great name, adding in my Canadian twang, "eh!". DB piped up (always looking for a laugh) that we could always call him. "Hawk-eh!.... Hawk-ey" *nudge nudge, wink wink* you know how Canadians love their "Hockey!" lol...and it stuck. Hawky-dog came home with us that day and moved straight into our hearts.
My puppy is the sweetest, cutest, smartest, love of all loves! He is drop dead gorgeous and I would not trade him for the world but he is a total mutant! Seriously. The breed is suppose to be small (under 50pounds). He is 75. They are suppose to be hyper. He is lazy. They are suppose to be protective and aggressive. He jumps in the pizza guys truck. He is incredibly smart and stubborn as a mule (true to his breed) but he is a goofy lug of a dog and certainly not your typical cattle dog. He is genetically tested to never go blind or deaf and both parents had good or excellent hips and elbows. He also has a degenerative spine disease that is hyper accelerated for his age and will limit his life span and ability to be used. He can not for trail rides with me or jogs with DB. He is on a daily anti-inflammatory and pain killer and will most likely wake up one morning, stand up to stretch and break his back. We try not to think about. We let him run and play and spoil him rotten. He is the love of my life (him and his "daddy"). Every single one of Hawk's litter mates is a finished champion. Blizzard is the most successful of all. If I could go back and take the other pup, I wouldnt. Not for all the tea in China.
So, I am a little nervous about buying a pup. I have considered different breeds but always come back to the ACD for the same reason I bought Hawk. I have considered cross breeds and rescues but my DB insists that we get a purebred puppy. I am up against a number of challenges. Purebred ACDs are not bred in mass quantities and so puppies are not readily available nor in my local area. Less breeders is a great thing, but it makes it harder to be selective about what puppies you buy, from what parents and by which breeder. I don't want to buy a pup sight unseen because I believe that you should feel a spiritual connection with your pup (as I did with Hawk). I am frustrated and over thinking (as usual) this whole thing. I will love any dog that I get but I really want certain qualities. I want a dog that is sweet and snugly, smart and trainable. I want a dog that is not too dominant and not to submissive, right in the middle. I also want a deterred dog, meaning one that looks tough and businesslike, unapproachable and is reserved towards strangers. Athletic and energetic, that can keep up on the trail or on runs but that has a good "off" button. I have a lot of wants. I want a pup that is physically and mentally sound. I want. I want. I want....*sigh*..... a puppy. I hope the right one will find me in time.