Sunday, January 4, 2009

Assessment Continued

It is hard to talk about how I assess families because there is a danger that I will sound judgmental, and that is not my intention. I am not assessing whether a family is good or bad, but rather whether there is a good fit between the family and me, and the family and the puppy. So Denise wonders what is a good fit -- what does it take to be considered for a puppy?

Well, I clearly prefer families who are already involved with berners. There are seven Glitterati going to new homes -- one stays with me. Of those seven homes, six are already involved with berners one way or another.

I prefer homes that will do things with their dog -- "we want a family pet" gets about as much consideration as "got pups and how much?". There are wonderful family pets dying in shelters today -- adopting one is a much better lesson for children than buying an expensive purebred dog. (My guilt over not rescuing dogs is alleviated only slightly by rescuing cats, much to my husband's chagrin).

I like people to train and show their dogs in working events like obedience, drafting and so on because berners are a working breed and deserve the chance to live up to their heritage and their hard wiring. But there are other things that can help a working dog have an interesting life -- at least three Glitterati will be involved in therapy dog work, for example. So while I prefer working homes, I do not require that -- but I do require a plan for an interesting life.

I want owners who value the things we value, and therefore appreciate how we do things. I have found this usually translates into owners whose care for their puppies is more similar to how we do things, and this allows me to sleep better at night. In our first litter we had a new owner call the night before she was to drive to Utah to pick up her puppy -- she told me that she couldn't find the foods I recommended so she would be feeding XXX (junk) and that her vet insisted on the big combo vaccinations so she would be doing that. Yikes! Not a good fit and she did not get a puppy. I learned how important it was to be very clear about expectations well in advance.

I like homes in which the adult(s) have the time, energy and desire to give the puppy an interesting life. I know this sounds terrible but this usually translates into homes that do not have young kids. Now remember -- I have quite a few children of my own so I am not opposed to kids, but let's get real -- when both parents work and there are small kids at home -- how much is left over for a puppy? Good intentions do not translate into more hours in a day. This does not mean I never place puppies in homes with kids because I do -- but only if there is a darn good plan in place for the puppy and I feel really good about the parents and how they handle their children.

And then there is just how I feel about a person and/or a family. Part of my professional life is assessment -- I am usually pretty good at sizing things up -- not perfect, but usually good :) And so my interactions with people get filtered through my professional training and experiences, and my personal experiences, and I arrive at an impression that I continue to assess for accuracy. I am willing to change my mind and I have -- both to deny a puppy and also to include a family that I initially had concerns about. I think it is important not to get too set on an impression but to continue to collect information that supports or refutes the original assessment -- we all deserve that flexibility.

I prefer to meet new owners in person, and am delighted to say that I have met -- in person -- at least one member of every new Glitterati family, even though they live in seven different states! Yesterday Barb from Colorado got in her car -- by herself -- and drove all the way to Salt Lake City to meet the Glitterati! She was the only owner I had not met in person so it was great that she was willing to do that, and I know she will be a wonderful home for a special puppy. She spent a few hours with us and then got back in her car and drove home! Now that is commitment :)

Is it hard to get one of our puppies? Well, I guess that depends on who you ask but I hope no matter what is decided, people understand that the placement decisions reflect my commitment to my puppies, my breeding program, and to those people who own the dogs that are in the puppies' pedigree. I hate disappointing people and unfortunately I have, but that is part of why I really dislike the puppy placement aspect of breeding -- making people sad is hard on the heart :(

But the positive side of puppy placement is how incredibly happy people are to have a puppy. I will start introducing you to the Glitterati families tomorrow and I think you will be pleased that our adorable eight are going to such great homes. In the meantime, how about some pretty adorable pictures??

This is very cute Whitby.

Toronto and Sutton having some male bonding time.

This is Sutton -- do they get any cuter?!

Jamaica is trying to persuade me that she is the one by showing that yes, she can do metal scent articles, thank you very much!

Hunky Hudson showing off why we call him the Rock Star.

Not to be outdone by a girl, Hudson shows that he too can handle the challenges of utility.

Geneva sat in the crate and thought about being an obedience dog. She came to the conclusion that she could do it, as long as people knew she was pretty and not just smart.

I hope that people conclude you are pretty smart and smartly pretty today! Have a wonderful and relaxing Sunday, and let's all remember what Lisa had to say about the markings: "it's just hair" -- I suspect lots of things in life are just hair, so to speak...

1 comment:

  1. I is just hair, but, having said that, I must confess that I think all of the Glitterati have beautiful hair! And I love their eyes..such expression in each of their little faces.