Friday, January 2, 2009

Some Complexities of Breeding

The choice of which puppy goes to which home is mine to make. Sometimes -- not knowing how this works -- people express a preference for a certain puppy, as if one could know the best match from pictures or a brief description. While it is okay to fall in love with a face, it is important to remember that each puppy has an emerging personality that may not be the best fit for a particular home. As the one who literally lives with the puppies, I am in the best position to work on the matches.

And something else that those of you who followed the F Litter -- or went back and read all the posts (!) -- know is that it tweaks me a bit when people that I barely know tell me what puppy they want. First of all, it reflects rejection of all my other babies. I know in my rational head it doesn't mean that but my heart and head sometimes do not work together well. Second, it makes it seem like I have a bakery and people are showing up to pick out a sweet. It doesn't work like that, which is why people who write and say, "got pups and how much" or "I want that one" get politely sent elsewhere. Third, if it is about markings I get really annoyed. I know that is not fair but it seems so superficial, and superficial is just not something I have a lot of patience for...

So there you have it -- some of the non-rational, emotional complexities of breeding and placing puppies. I hope that does not sound unkind. I know that most people do not "get" taking this breeding stuff so seriously -- but then again, I do not place puppies with most people so I guess that is okay. No matter -- it is how I do things. I do try to be mindful of when I am letting my heart get the better of me, but like most things in life it is a delicate balance. We need to be thoughtful and reflective, but never let go of the emotions and experiences that make us who we are -- finding that balance is a lifelong challenge for most of us. Who knew that breeding dogs would support personal growth and insight?!

Let's get some cute faces in sight, shall we? I took these this morning and was really struck with how dark some of the eyes are getting.

This is Ireland. One thing that I have noticed is that some puppies do not photograph well and she is one of them; surprisingly Hudson is another! Joan always remarks at how seriously cute Ireland's head is, and it really is but her darker markings make that hard to see in pictures.

This is extra cute and sweet Sutton.

Taking pictures is dangerous. You have probably noticed that I tend to be on level with the puppy -- when I was taking Sutton's cute picture, Ireland bit me on the head! My toes have holes in them and my shirt does also -- the price of art is high! So here is Sydney chewing on my jeans.

Geneva continues to be the smallest puppy but is a lovely, petite package and just as sweet as can be. She loves sitting in laps! In fact, I had to remove her from my lap and balance her on my knees to take this picture.

See the right paw and how dark it is? That is your clue that this is Whitby -- could he be any cuter?!

And here is the very handsome T-Town aka Toronto.

Hudson really wanted out of the x-pen this morning and here he is whining about it. It looks like he is laughing, but really he was saying, "I want out NOW!!! Where is the management???"

I normally do not like butt shots -- puppies may well be sensitive like the rest of us to such pictures! However, this random shot of Hudson's bum shows off the nice rears that are consistent in this litter.

Aren't they just perfectly more adorable than yesterday?!!! Thanks for your visit and I hope you new year is off to a great start, with lots of opportunity to become the person you want to be -- or at least really good at the person you are!


  1. I can chime in on the puppy-matching business from an owner's point of view.

    My Maggie's breeder picked her for me, and she was perfect -- for me. Unfortunately, by the time I got Djinn, e-mail was available, and her breeder sent photos of the four girls in her litter, Djinn was the only one of them who had a narrow blaze, like Maggie -- so guess who I picked? BIG mistake: Djinn is a very, very high-energy dog, and only in the last few years has she become a good match for my lifestyle, which leans more toward gardening and fibre arts than serious trekking.

    Much as I adore Djinn, I will NOT be choosing my next puppy from a photo, no matter how cute!!!

    Susan and Djinn

  2. Just wanted to say Amen to your hard, hard job of placing puppies. People regularly ask me, "do you breed them?" And my answer is usually something along the lines of "not on your life!" Breeding is best left to people who can handle that tremendous responsibility, who have spent YEARS researching pedigrees and understand what they're looking at, and who can recognize the best home for every puppy. Our last two puppies came after waiting through several litters that "weren't for us" for one reason or another. We were happy to wait, trusting the breeder's judgement implicitly, because we have that excellent working relationship you want to have, that I think is really a requirement -- you shouldn't just get the puppy, you should get the breeder's years of expertise and knowledge of her dogs, too!

    One of my current dogs has a darker face and I'll confess that I wasted a little time being concerned about it, but now that's the face I dearly love... And she is the healthiest, most powerful dog you could hope for. I had always wanted one with "too much" white and now we have a rescue who is a structural disaster but has HUGE white socks, a giant white kiss and her white blaze threatens to go right over the top of her head and join up with her kiss, which is more like a paint spill!

    Love 'em both, cosmetically, AND in whole. I'm sure you'll enjoy a couple of years off from this terrible task of placing puppies, but you do an incredible job of raising puppies, and anyone who has a dream-come-true of getting one is very fortunate!

  3. Mary-Ann,

    Since you posted about puppy placement, could you please expand on what you look for in potential owners for specific temperaments? For instance, for quiet Geneva, as compared to someone like Jamaica -- do you place quieter puppies with less active owners?

    And, is the decision on which owner gets which puppy made through conversations/email or is the final decision made when you watch the interaction between puppies and people when they come to pick up?

    What activities do you consider to be better for a quiet puppy vs. a more active one (therapy work, agility, etc.)?


    Sandy in VA

  4. Mary-Ann

    Before I say anything - how cute is that photo of Whitby?? Whoever his lucky owner is should get a copy of that photo to put on th ecover of their scrapbook!

    Puppy placements are definately better suited to the breeder. They are observing them day in and day out and know them inside and out. The tougher part comes in knowing the perspective families especially if they live far enough away that trips to visit the litter are not possible. How do you get to know such families?

    Cindy M & Family

  5. I really appreciate this post and comments from others. I can't imagine how challenging it must be to find the right home for each of your dear babies. Each of them special and beautiful in their own way and having unique needs for companionship.

    I know that the photos sometimes provide room for my imagination to grow and create little storylines and fantasies about who the pups are and how we might interact together, but I also know it is just that . . . imagination.

    Kiko was chosen for us and I couldn't ask for a better pug, and I put my full faith and trust in you to choose the right berner baby for our family. My only considerations would be to prefer someone who has a lot of potential for therapy dog work. Thank you, M-A, for the time, care, thoughtfulness, love, and ethics that you devote to each of these babies and their future homes. I feel a great responsibility and duty to respect and carry on your parenting work in my own way with our future little one.

    Grateful and sending a kiss to each of the Glitterati,

    Liz, Sam, Kiko the Chosen Pug (who is also SUPER excited that Whitby's nickname is Pugsly), and Lily Girl the cat