A year ago…
It’s funny how quickly time passes some times. In some ways I can’t imagine not having Kira and yet a year ago we’d only just met her and were trying to decide which puppy to bring home in a fortnight. I thought it was a good time to reflect on the process we went through before finally finding and choosing Kira.
I know some people can make decisions quite quickly, and they know exactly what they want straight away. We aren’t those people. And when buying a dog I think that’s probably a good thing.
Timing – When should we get a puppy? We started our “Get a dog” plan around about September ( about 11 months before we were really thinking about bring a puppy home). Now, I have to agree this is probably excessive but I was excited and being a teacher the best time for a puppy is in the summer holidays so I knew we were getting a puppy but I was also restricted. But I think it’s important to think about timing. Puppies need nearly round the clock watching, they can’t be walked much if at all and they need feeding more. When my sister recently picked up their puppy rather spontaneously it meant that friends, family etc had to be called in to cover those first few weeks as they couldn’t get all the time off. We were lucky in some ways; I have 7 weeks off in the Summer, no need to take holiday, but we also could only really look at the summer holidays for getting a puppy too (reduced flexibility).
Breed – Which dog do you get? Now for us, it was fairly obvious. I’ve grown up with shepherds, I wanted a shepherd. But then we started thinking about it more; our house isn’t huge: GSDs are quite big, we work full time: GSDs need a lot of walking. So we tried (we really did) to find other breeds that suited us and we liked. The Kennel Club recognise around 213 different breeds of dog in the UK, surely we can find an alternative. We struggled, in the end we found one we thought we’d have liked- a nova scotia tolling retriever.
It’s not a well known breed so we struggled to find breeders near to us and of the 10 or so we messaged only one let us visit and then the litters were going to be at the wrong time of year so that was a bust. But there are so many things to consider – appearance, exercise needed, cost, temperament etc. So in the end we fell back on our favourite – German Shepherd (not surprising).
The Puppy: Is this the right puppy, from the right litter, from a good home? Now I know some of you will be berating me for not rescuing but I’d have never got a rescue dog even if we’d considered it. We work full time. That immediately takes us out of the ‘viable dog owner’ catergory by many rescue centers. We’re also thinking about children soon and wanted to know the full history of our dog. However, if rescuing is right for you please do there are hundreds of abandoned dogs needing a loving home. But anyway back to our puppy. Now because we were set on timing that limited our choices, I emailed, what feels like hundreds of GSD breeders and many emailed me back. Lots saying they weren’t having a litter this year or that it was too soon or late for us. Some who couldn’t even recommended other breeders adding to our growing list of emails. By March we were down to about 2 or 3 breeders and then seasons were late etc and we were down to 1 and then come May we were at 1. I was really worried but I shouldn’t have been. We eventually found the site: pets4homes.co.uk now this site isn’t perfect but it did give lots of options. Litters appear on the site every day. But you need to be careful if you can’t view the parents, where they’ve grown up etc then it’s probably a puppy farm. If the deal seems too good to be true probably a scam. We contacted a few and decided we wouldn’t pay a deposit on a puppy we’d never met because we had no idea if we’d be getting what we wanted. Always visit the breeder and if something feels wrong, walk away. There really are lots of puppies to choose from and it’s important to make the right choice. Lucky for us we found a breeder we liked, and we had a choice of 3 different girls and settled on Kira.
Choosing a puppy shouldn’t be a spur of the moment decision, there are lots of things to consider but at the end you hopefully end up with a new member of the family you couldn’t live without!