Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Busy Day

Today I took advantage of having a puppy sitter at home and took some dogs to the dog park. They had a blast and were all super happy to get out and about after spending most of the time at home during the last few weeks. Jennifer went with her crew as well, so I had someone to talk to while the dogs played. We had a good conversation about how much we prefer English Cockers over labs (e-mail me if you want the details!) Needless to say, I love this breed!! My dogs are all so athletic, funny, friendly and they LISTEN to what I say. I know that a lot of that has more to do with the owner than with the dog, but my dogs seem so cute and sweet to me! Okay, I am probably a little bias (-:

We also dropped off our entries for the Cascade Specialty show (I can never remember to fill those out in advance) and we went to our competition obedience class in Redmond, WA. Here is a link to where we take class: I highly recommend their classes. I started a beginner competition class there four weeks ago with my black girl, Jasmine. Jennifer is also taking the class with Halo (we are car pooling) and Crissy Graf is taking the class with her red Bella daughter, Ginger. We make up half of the class and are having a lot of fun getting our youngsters started. If anyone in that area is interested in getting started in a competition class, there may still be room for you! These are ongoing classes, so week four is just the beginning. They also have pet obedience classes there and some agility and CGC classes as well.

Anyway, I left the house at noon today and didn't get back until after 10:00 PM. The dogs are all very tired, though, and a tired cocker is a good cocker!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Screening A Breeder - A guide for prospective puppy buyers.

We have puppies due here next week, so I once again have been screening potential homes and communicating with new prospective puppy parents. I find that many prospective puppy buyers do not understand the significance of the way that a puppy is raised. Knowing how much early socialization matters when considering the future temperament of the puppy, I personally find the lifestyle that a puppy is raised in extremely important.

To prospective puppy buyers!!!

Please realize that all breeders are not created equal. Some breeders care for each of their dogs as individuals, as pets, and others keep their adult dogs in kennel runs and do not bring them in to the house. Some breeders have a clean and sanitary living environment for their dogs and other do not. Some breeders have more dogs than they can care for properly. Puppies can also be raised in a wide variety of places; from a kennel in the back yard to a living room or bedroom in the house. Some breeders live in a reclusive manner and do not often take their puppies places or have visitors. Some breeders are part of the dog community and will have a lot of visitors and puppies will be handled regularly.

As a prospective puppy buyer, please attempt to do these things:

1. Read the book, Before You Get Your Puppy by Ian Dunbar. Here is a link to a site where you can download it for FREE!

2. Don't be afraid to ask breeders questions!!

3. Ask where the puppies are raised, how many dogs the breeder has, etc. Expect the breeder to also have questions for you!!

4. Expect to be allowed to visit with the puppies once they are at an appropriate age, to see where the puppies are raised and to meet the breeder's other dogs before taking your new puppy home.

5. Take the purchase of your new puppy very seriously. This is a 12-17 year commitment with an English Cocker Spaniel. Do your homework and find a puppy you will be happy with. This is not the time to save money. I promise you, if you go with a "discount" breeder and save a bit of money on the purchase price, you will later pay that and more. Yes, you can get a puppy from a breeder that does not do health testing and have him/her be super healthy with a great temperament, but you are playing a game of "beat the odds" when you buy from a breeder that does not do health testing or properly socialize their puppies. Please do not gamble with a 12-17 year "contract."

6. Think about whether the breed you have chosen is honestly a perfect match for you. This is a big commitment. Most "good" breeders will be very honest with you if they do not feel you are a good match for the breed. I, myself, have told a few prospective puppy buyers to get a stuffed animal or a goldfish instead of a puppy (-:

7. Plan to spend the eight weeks after you get your puppy socializing, socializing and more socializing. I believe birth-16 weeks in a critical age for raising a puppy you want to live with. Do NOT take a puppy home before eight weeks of age, as the birth-eight weeks stage is best spent with litter mates and with mom. Also, puppies are so fragile at this age. I cannot tell you how many friends I know who have taken home a young 6 week old puppy (not from me!!!) and had him/her end up in the veterinary hospital for an illness within a few days. Most breeders, myself included, have a hard time parting with puppies at eight weeks. Trust me, that is very young and the youngest I would take a new baby home. I will personally keep puppies until nine or ten weeks if I do not feel they are emotionally or physically mature enough to leave at eight weeks. I have the best interests of the puppy and his/her prospective family in mind when I make that decision.

8. Trust your instincts. Buy a puppy from a breeder you honestly *like.* I personally consider all of my puppy owners part of what we call our "doggie family" and I think other good breeders feel the same way. I expect puppy owners to stay in contact at least yearly and to e-mail or call with questions and to share pictures (-: I send out a Newsletter twice a year with news about my dogs and what we have been up to and I, of course, keep my website up to date. On a day when I am feeling that this hobby may not be worth it (it is expensive and time consuming!!) I will get a cute photo through e-mail from one of my pet owners that will completely cheer me up. I love puppy owners who keep in touch and share those special and cute traits about their new puppy with me. I am also here to answer questions and help with any problems or concerns you run in to while raising and training your new puppy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rally Obedience

Okay, I have now discovered youtube and it is so fun.

Here are some links to rally obedience videos meant to help you get ready for AKC Rally Obedience: