I admit that in the midst of kids activities, photography gigs, an ongoing basement reno that may never end and the usual day-to-day mommy stuff I was having a hard time figuring out what to write this week for my blog post. Luckily I shared my inspiration block with one of my fellow chicks, and the idea for this post was born.
Our family is about to embark upon a new adventure – ok, maybe not a completely new adventure, but one that we haven’t experienced in quite awhile. We are getting a new puppy. Those of you that have known me for awhile know that we once owned two beautiful Siberian Huskies, Sasha and Merlin. We bought Sasha from a wonderful breeder in Ottawa when she was a puppy, and Merlin was rescued from an abusive home by the same breeder and placed with us when he was 18 months old. We were fortunate enough to have them for 14 and 16 years respectively, and have been dog-less for almost 2 years.
The decision to become dog owners is not one to be taken lightly, especially considering that the average life span of a larger dog can be 12 or 13 years, and longer for smaller dog breeds. Today’s post is all about things to think about when making the decision to add a new dog to your family.
i) Is my family ready for a new puppy?
After the loss of our elderly dogs, our family took some much needed time off from dog ownership. Like puppies, older dogs require a lot of time and attention and it was nice to have a break from that additional responsibility for awhile. Before you pack up the kids and start checking out those cute litters of puppies, ask yourself a few questions to make sure that you’re really ready for dog ownership…
– does your lifestyle allow for time to care for and train your new puppy?
– who will be responsible for feeding, walking, grooming and caring for your new puppy? will the kids really help once the novelty wears off?
– do you have room in your budget for the food, training and vet costs associated with a dog?
Keep in mind that with the joys of dog ownership come many responsibilities – be sure you are ready for them!
ii) Which breed should I choose?
This is probably one of the most important factors in choosing your new puppy. The size, coat type, energy level and personality of your new dog will all be related to the breed of the dog that you choose, so take your time. A great resource is the Canadian Kennel Club if you are considering a purebred dog; check out their website for breed descriptions, lists of breeders and other resources – http://www.ckc.ca/
Another great resource is Dogs In Canada Magazine, who publishes a monthly magazine as well as the Dogs In Canada Annual each year with breed descriptions and breeder listings – http://www.dogsincanada.com/
Things to consider….
– size of breed
– personality and exercise requirements (consider the original purpose of the breed!)
– coat type (shedding or non-shedding, grooming requirements)
Spend some time reading about the dog breeds that you are interested in, and then speak with breeders of those dogs and have an honest conversation. What are the best traits of the breed? The worst? Be honest with yourself about traits that you can live with, or not. Remember, this is a decision that will affect your life for the next 10+ years, so make sure you can live with your choice.
Even though I will forever be a Siberian Husky lover and I truly feel that there is no more beautiful breed, we have decided to choose an Aussiedoodle puppy for our family this time around – for a couple of reasons. First, Sibes are sled dogs, and as such are extremely strong and have an instinctive desire to run. This can be a problem if they happen to run out the front door unleashed or if they get loose on a walk, and they don’t return on their own. My kids are at an age where they would like to participate with the care of our new pet, and so I have chosen a breed that will be more likely to stick around and listen if they happen to get loose. Secondly, Sibes have a double coat and shed A LOT twice a year, and moderately through the year. My son has allergies, and so minimizing the pet hair in the house was another priority for us this time when we were selecting a dog breed.
iii) Which breeder should I choose?
Selecting a reputable breeder from whom to purchase a puppy is an important decision because ultimately the personality, temperament and health of your new family member will depend on how well that breeder did their job.
Things to look for in a breeder…
– asks questions about you and your family to determine whether you will be a suitable owner for the type of dog that they breed
– is willing to talk with you about their breed and is honest about pros/cons and health concerns associated with the breed
– is willing to allow you to visit their kennel and meet their dogs; if you are seeing a litter, the mom should be on site and available to see
– will provide a health guarantee with the puppy and ongoing support once you take the puppy home
– if the dog is being sold as purebred, can provide CKC registration papers for the parents and litter
I found a lifelong friend in the breeder that I bought my Siberian Huskies from almost 20 years ago, so trust your instincts when visiting dog breeders and walk away if you do not feel comfortable.
Another great option for adding a new dog to your family is the local humane society and breed rescue organizations. Many breeders take it upon themselves to make sure that dogs they have bred never end up in shelters and will help to re-home dogs that are unable to stay with their original owner. With the number of animals that end up in shelters, it is great to give an unwanted animal a chance at a forever home with a loving family.
iv) Which puppy should I choose?
When you have finally made all of your choices, the puppies are born and you are ready to pick one to be your companion for the next 10 or so years, take some time to choose the puppy that will fit best with your family. Trust the breeder to help you with this decision, as they have the experience to know how the dog’s personality will develop as they get older. Some things to look for when evaluating a litter…
– do the puppies look clean and healthy?
– watch for puppy personalities – do you want the most boisterous outgoing puppy, or one that is more laid back?
– do you want a male or female dog? is there a difference in personality between the boys and girls?
We went to visit the Aussiedoodle breeder on the long weekend, and after much debate and a few tears (the danger when picking a puppy with kids along…) we chose our new puppy. Her name is Lucy, and she will be coming home in July!
All photos by Anita Woo.