Thursday, October 9, 2008

How I met the love of my life.

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.


  1. Our lab X is a rescue. His whole litter was dropped off at Christmas so they were named after reindeer. (His name is Comet)
    He is a bit of a mutant too. The SPCA was told they are black lab X border collie. And the vet says that is probably right. But like I said Comet is a bit of a mutant.
    He weighs in at about 115lbs, and he's not fat. He's very lean actually.
    But he and Misty are both good "deterrent" dogs (as you said)
    Both sound like they'll tear your throat out when you come to the door but are actually quite sweet.
    (Misty is golden retriever X rottie)

  2. I loved reading about Hawk...handsome he is ...and loves to play ball. When I went to the spca to look at cats , I spent several days going in and checking them all out. This one tabby was such a nuisance...he was always in the way,always wanting more pets...I had picked out a beautiful Russin Blue cat with huge yellow eyes...When I went back the next day to get him the nuisance tabby would have no part of that. He nudged, talked and purred all over me.He hissed at all the other cats if they came close to me.....needles to say that I came home with the tabby. I never chose him, he chose me ...and that was three years ago. He is not aggressive but gentle and loving...We have been through a lot of health issues with him in the last year , he is diabetic and needs needles twice a day (can't beleive I can do But I would want it no other way...
    you will pick the right puppy...cause you will have the connection one way or another...
    Big Guys Mom....

  3. We don't ever have to shop. Somehow, they always find their way to us at exactly the right time. And, although flawed, they are, nonethleless, perfect.

  4. there are so many rescue pure bred cattle dogs. please please please look at those. you have the opportunity to give the best, greatest home to one of these sad dogs. adopted by someone enamored of a "look", owned by people who crate them all day and work 12 hour days then let them in the back yard for 20 minutes maybe 2 x day. they go crazy and are wild bc they have so many natural needs not being met and so much energy they become unmanageable. and then they are dumped. people pay 2000 for one of these dogs, the best specimen but they are totally not committed to giving the dog what it needs. You could give one the happiest best life. Please, at least look. you will be rewarded a million times over.

  5. Amy Jo- I agree and highly encourage people to adopt. I have personally adopted dogs, I have found rescue dogs for friends and family and support the SPCA. I would love to adopt a dog. I also feel that there is a place for purebred dogs and buying a puppy. I have done both and found amazing dogs both ways but in this case I have to agree with my DB that the best thing for us is a purebred puppy. We are looking for a dog to do a specific job that includes protection work. When you deal with that type of dog, you can not use a puppy of unknown parents nor is it safe to use an adult dog with an unknown past. I really apprecaite your comments and respect that you would encourage myself and others to rescue or adopt!

    Cnd- Wow, that is a big border/lab! Poor things being dropped off at Christmas! Cut names!

    Big Guys Mom- Awe I never heard the story of how you met Big Guy before! That is too cute. He really did choose you! He is a gorgeous cat. His color may be common but his beautiful face and fantastic personality sure isnt!

    Leah- I have had some amazing dogs come to me over the years, cats too! There is something special in finding them that way but in this case I am looking for something very specific.

  6. Oh we had a Hawk! His name was Cash! He too was a large Queensland he weighed about 80llbs! He was full blooded, I saw and met both parents, and litter mates. He was red and gorgeous. Smart and protective. When we would bring a new baby calf home he would lay out with it till morning as if to protect it for the things that go bump in the night! We miss him still, we lost him almost two years ago. Now we have Diesel. Good luck with your puppy find! It is a hard decision, but so worth it in the end!!

  7. I can understand your thoughts. I feel the same way about horses-bloodlines, capability, etc. People don't understand that a horse that I want to keep forever is not the same as a horse I will buy for resale.

    My Ute is a Heeler/BC cross. I picked him specifically because that is my favorite type. Both parents were owned by the people I got him from. They were working fools. Ute-not so much.
    My Red Dog was a rescue. Destined to be shot by his owner. The guy's mom asked me to take him and his litter mate(who was a blue). They both turned into the best dogs I have probably ever had. Red Dog will absolutely work himself to death-he don't always know what he is doing but by gosh he is gonna work. The blue dog was a natural-unfortunately, he and Ute took off one winter day and only Ute came home. I presume the coyotes got him, as that often happens to dogs that stray too far from the ranch houses.

    Anyway, I wished you lived closer-we have lots of good heelers(sorry, can't get used to calling them ACD's) in this country. Good working backgrounds, few health problems, etc. I'm sure they are not show quality dogs, but still good working stock.

  8. ok, but just to clarify, i am saying there are pure bred cattle/heeler dogs in rescues. Not mixed breed, not mutt, put purebred.

  9. I'm also planning to adopt a pet, there are more chances of it will be a puppy.

  10. It took me a bit to be able to even read this post, but I am glad I did. Our Jo the Wonder Nanny Dog is a ACD cross (with what I dont know...) and she too weighs in at about 75#. Jo is a Big Boned Girl. (lol) She shares a lot of the same personality traits with your Hawky, and is probably The Best Dog I have ever been owned by. In time, we too will look for another ACD (or even a cross). Every single one I have known, and have been owned by two- have been absolutely fantastic. Laid back, sweet, loving, athletic as all get out, and just the best family dogs around.

    Sure hope that Your Puppy waddles his way to you soon. But ya know, I bet he will find you sooner than you think! ;)

  11. Good luck with the puppy hunting! I really do love all breeds - but am partial to German Sheppards and Labs, but a close third would have to be Heelers. Some of my good friends have Heelers and they are just great!

    How exciting!

  12. Awwww. What a handsome fella he is. And I was really touched by your story of how he chose you.

    I hope another pup will come along and choose you soon :)


  13. Puppies are so much fun...kind of like a!!! I am of course referring to the up at night crying and potty training part of puppy hood!! :)

    Good luck finding the little rascal. It sounds like you really know what you want! Our old ACD was huge too...right around 65 pounds. Maybe the big ones are some kind of genetic throwback???

  14. Gorgeous dog! After getting my Blue Heeler pup just a few weeks ago I don't know if I could go back to any other type of dog. Good luck in your puppy hunt!

  15. If I were closer to you, and you had a nice male that you knew, we have a nice little female that isn't fixed. Her parents were both working Blue Heelers. Our girl is kind of strange. She is basically a one person dog, but she tolerates other people. My husband, she will run and do whatever he wants. Me, she usually kind of just sits there and looks at me, or goes and hides in the doghouse. She's really good most of the time, but she barks a lot. Unfortunately we live in the city and she's constantly at whatever's walking by. She's really good with our kids and has never snapped or done anything bad. She's never been around cattle, but she will heel whatever is running around her (usually the Catahoula Leopard that loves to play ball, but sometimes kids) and is good at it. She is kind of small for a heeler in my husband's opinion (from what he's used to I guess), but you say they are supposed to be under 50lbs anyhow. He must only know mutants. She only weighs maybe in the upper 30 lbs area and is really slim, not stocky like we usually see. She is solid though.

  16. I just found a new ACD puppy for a friend who lost his dog this summer. You can see Bo here....

    what I wrote about this young dog I meant. He is an outstanding young dog. His temperament (from the few hours that I was around him) is steady and confident, his conformation is correct and his intelligence is obvious already.

    Like you, I want a purebred, well bred dog. I have nothing against rescues, there are some nice dogs to be had there. There are often registered dogs there, but there are also often dogs who have had bad experiences and have the fallout from them, through no fault of their own. I have gone that route before and I have done plenty of rescue myself. I want to install the training myself, I want to know the quirks and issues of the dog that I choose. I want a specific temperament and I want a puppy that has been raised in a particular way. You get that kind of handling from a breeder who knows their dogs and watches the puppies grow up carefully. Like you, I also want to see parents and siblings and extended family. There can be no substitute for seeing the genetics in an extended family when viewing how much the dogs look and act (alike or different).

    I laughed out loud when you described you potential puppy as "smart and trainable." Is there and ACD or ACD cross that is not scary smart? Is there an ACD or cross that is not trainable? Sometimes too my Meg has learned the bad things as quickly as the good?

    Good luck with your search, I found my Meglet before I was ready so I got her before I intended to.

    and I have not regretted it for a minute.

  17. I love cattle dogs. I have never owned one but I see a lot of them in flyball. That hard-headed attitude is something I like in a dog, and it tends to more reliably present in the working-bred aussies and ACDs. Hawk is lovely.