A puppy and you and your childrens’ expectations
Trust me, if you are sensible and realistic, you’ll find me really easy to work with.
I’m going to be honest: I’ve been at 6’s and 7’s as to whether to publish my thoughts about this subject because I strongly feel that as a dog breeder, I shouldn’t be having to give parenting 101 lessons. However, I have been gobsmacked over the years by some of the behaviours presented to me by both adults and children. After finally getting another email “but I’ve promised my kids…..”, I finally decided to write down a small portion of my thoughts on this.
I come from a large family where rules were rules and life wasn’t easy or fair. And we just got on with it. And I’ve successfully raised a son who has gone on to be a lovely young man who I have to say, is equally aghast at some of the behaviour I’ve witnessed over the years by people wanting pups. This has ranged from older women who came along with their adult dogs as a day outing, who were specifically told to not go into one yard, to be found 5 mins later in that yard trying to hit dogs with their handbags, to a man pushing away a 6 week old puppy saying “eeugggh don’t touch me”, to parents letting their kids run out of control and unsupervised around a large lake, to parents insisting that they wanted a puppy even though their kid was absolutely terrified of the smallest toy poodle, and to the woman who told me that her 5 year old son had been “investigating” all the different dog breeds and determined that the Portuguese Water Dog was appropriate for their family. Multiple that by 100 and you’ve not even come close to what I’ve heard and seen over the years. Hence my thoughts on this now.
Getting a dog is a huge investment, in all sorts of areas including time, energy, emotion, training, etc.
We sell our puppies and dogs to adults not kids.
My pups and dogs are raised with similar protocols as with my own child. ie: firm guidelines, lots of love, and more firm guidelines.
Through this period, my son got appropriate input into decision making, which meant more often than not, he got none. He was in charge of living his life at the age he was, and I was the adult making all the adult decisions.
I remember the time he wanted pet pigeons. He talked about it. A lot. No problem. I had a friend who bred them. We already had a big cage. My friend specifically bred his birds so that we could get 4 at the same time. That was an 8 month process. My friend brought them over Christmas Day. I was so happy. What a treat! Exactly what he had wanted. I took him out to the aviary to see them, and he looked at them for no more than 7 seconds and said “is there any more Christmas pudding?”
And that was the first and last time he looked at them.
I then spent the next few years wondering why I now had my own pigeons.
Kids don’t get to make a decision about one of my dogs. It’s an adult’s decision. And if there are two parents, guess what – both have to think this is a great idea.
However, the behaviour of kids and you, can determine quickly if I will place a pup with you. I usually only get one chance to meet people before they get a pup, and like a job interview, stuff matters.
So if your kid/s are actually scared of dogs, I’m not going to place a dog with you. And no, my dogs will not become your project to make your kids less scared of dogs. You, nor your kids, nor my dogs have that skill set. And I am not a psychologist. There are people who specialise in that sort of work, and whilst very expensive, they are probably a first good option to explore.
If your kids leap out of the car without hats & sunscreen on, on a hot summer’s day, then yes I will judge you. ie: if you can’t protect your kids, how are you going to look after my puppy? And if I look at your fair headed fair skinned kids and ask “what about their hats?” and you say “no they will be fine”, then I’m not going to place a pup with you. And no, I won’t be letting your kids spend 30 mins standing in the sun getting sunburned.
Tip #1: yes when you visit, we will always look at adult dogs first and we will take them for a run down in our paddocks so you can see just part of the workload involved and how energetic and enthusiastic this breed is.
Tip #2: it is expected that you, the adult come with a range of questions to ask me.
If your kids run around my house or parts of my facility, and their behaviour remains unmanaged by you, then yes I will judge you. Again, if you can’t manage the behaviour of your kids, then how will you manage the behaviour of my puppy? Yes kids do make mistakes. And your job is to correct and manage that. I am always thrilled to see parents go out of their way to make sure that their kids behaviour is appropriate and managed when it’s not. Can you see a theme here ?
In a similar vein, don’t make promises you’ve made to your kids, as a starting point to our relationship. You might have promised your kids they can have a certain colour dog, in a certain time frame, a certain gender, a certain whatever.
Who does that? Kids grow up and move away, or become separated through family breakdowns – this is the adult’s dog.
I’ve heard this “My daughter has always wanted a dog, and I’ve told her she can choose which puppy she wants from you.”
I’ve heard, “I’ve promised my kids a pup in the first half of next year, so we’ll need to get it then.”
I know this all might sound really tough, but I could entertain you for hours with the stories I could tell you for what people want. “The kids have chosen a name for their puppy, so we need to get a pup that matches that name.”
I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. Every cent I get from the dogs goes back into it. We really limit how many pups we could breed because we want to be able to provide excellent pups to excellent homes. We do not want out of control dogs we’ve bred down at the dog park. We don’t want dogs given up to pet shops or the pound because someone can’t be bothered (yes both have happened). We don’t want someone returning the pup because they weren’t prepared to tell their adult friends off for teasing the pup, or the neighbour’s kids who weren’t managed to act appropriately around the dog – yes both scenarios have happened. We don’t want the pup returned because someone hadn’t engaged with the family and/or partner as to what was happening. “Oh my son is in year 12 and he found the puppy disturbing his study.” or “my husband didn’t like how noisy the pup was on his first night” (pup then dumped within 36 hours of arrival). All these scenarios have happened.
I haven’t put in all these years of work and every single cent I have into these dogs to have anyone treat it as a disposable object. Unfortunately this has happened and I have been greatly upset each and every time.
Even though most of you reading this page will be like “really, you’ve had to put up with this?” Oh yes. I have. And this is why you do need to jump through a few hoops to get one of our dogs. This is not just about who gives me money first. In fact, you’ll find, that if something happens between you giving me your deposit and getting the pup which disturbs me greatly, I’ll be giving you your money back. (eg: you’ve wanted 2 pups, and I wouldn’t sell you two as this is a very difficult situation to manage and you definitely don’t have that skill set, and I’ve found out you’ve got a pup from someone else as well. I was having a chat with another breeder one day, yes we talk, and it turned out that not only had one person confirmed with both of us separately they would be getting a pup from us, she had sent the emails 3 mins apart. I then refused to sell her a pup. She did get the pup from the other breeder and dumped it 18 months later.)
Look if you want to tell your kids anything, even though this dog is for you – and please don’t tell me differently, tell them “We’re going to try and get a black dog from Jane. It’s going to require a lot of training and work. It’s going to be my dog, but you can get supervised access. I will teach you what Jane has taught me.”
Over the years I have met many lovely and sensible adults with kids that they should be proud of as parents for raising them well. And I’ve loved the who as teenagers are already saying to me, “Jane, when I grow up and leave home, can I come and get a puppy of my own?” Yes indeed you can.
Trust me, if you are sensible and realistic, you’ll find me really easy to work with.
PS: I had to laugh, as I was writing this page, I got an email which read in part, “we would love to come for a visit … to be clear though, and you discuss this on your website, this puppy is for me even though my daughter is keen as well.”
Perfect. That’s a great way to start our relationship. And I told him that too.