Why I am tough about puppy person selection:
It’s not an easy thing as a breeder to say to someone “I’m just not the breeder for you” or “I don’t think this breed is right for you.”
There are several reasons for this.
Firstly, I want your experience with one of my Portuguese Water Dogs to be exceptional, that you’re well prepared, and maybe even you’ll report back to me in a year or so “I did everything you said. It was easy. And it wasn’t as tough as what I thought it would be.” Magic. There’s also a growing awareness amongst owners of my pups that if they meet someone with one of my dogs, then they must be a pretty good sort too with the stars aligned for the timing to be right! (lots of people are good sorts, but now might not quite be the right time.)
Conversely, I’m continuing to be disturbed by the number of people (although small) who will still pay a fortune for a dog and then give it up. Some within hours of getting it, and some when the kids get sick of it.
I’ve done several things over the years to really try to get the message across to people that dogs are just not something to buy on a whim. My strategies have included:
- The most comprehensive Portuguese Water Dog breeder owner website in the world
- A break down of the good, the bad, and the UGLY
- An interview process to get the dogs
- I even introduced a fee for those wanting to give up their dog – with information provided as part of the process to deter those who I’m trying to get to think twice. This has only been partially successful and is still in place.
- The over use of adjectives such as “energetic” and “messy”.
It is only since I have brought in an even more stringent “nope” process, that I’ve been able to almost eliminate the problem of people giving up their pups/dogs.
If you don’t have the intention of keeping your dog for its entire life, please don’t get a pup from me.
With the enquiries I get every year, I could place a whole lot more pups than I do, and actually make a living out of this. Instead I scrape by with people paying little more (if that) for what it costs me to raise a litter, keep my dogs, and support puppy people over the years. In fact, if not for the financial support from my husband, this would simply not be possible. Huge vet cost increases, power consumption, and food costs, as well as running an outstanding facility make this a labour of love for the most part.
That being said, yes I do have to have a conversation, or email with someone that isn’t right at this point in time. What I am trying to prevent is impulse purchases and all the possible negative outcomes from that can result from that, people who haven’t thought enough about dogs in general, people who are more interested in “keeping up with the Jones'”, people who have not consulted with other direct family members involved, etc, etc, etc. (eg: “You visited 5 times and somehow over that 8 month period you forgot to tell your husband about this????” – which is now the reason why all family members must visit)
Because when that happens, more often than not the dog is given up, is not trained, is dumped at a pet store, dumped at the pound, left neglected in the backyard, develops horrible unfixable behaviours, is not groomed, or worse – all of these. In one “special” case, the new owner, whose family members had all met with the breed previously, got their puppy interstate on a Friday, and at 11.45pm the next day (yes Saturday evening) had dumped the puppy.
And before you think “oh that would never be me!” – I have been frustrated by the university educated, professional careers, financially very well off, lovely people who have made an error and then I’m left to fix up or blamed squarely for their poor call.
That’s why there is so much information on this page as to why this is probably not the right breed for most people.
If you think you need to send your mother or your dog trainer or your personal assistant or your partner’s personal assistant to assess if this is the right breed for you, let me stop you there and say “no it’s not.” And frankly if you send these people as your first point of contact with me, we have a problem. All of this has happened before.
If your kids don’t like dogs, then this isn’t the breed for you (should I even have to say this?)
So much of the guidelines and rules that exist on these pages is not because I take great delight in saying “no”, but because I have had experiences in the past that have left a poor outcome for the dog. Do I even need to say that if you’ve given up one of my dogs in the past, I will never place another dog with you? Unfair maybe. But with so many people out there wanting my dogs, I have to make a call. And I hear the stories. I hear the stories of the dogs being left in back yards 24/7 that pretty much the only interaction they ever have with the family other than someone feeding them or going out to the clothesline, is by watching them from the outside through the lounge room window. Or the people that go on holidays overseas and leave their howling dog in their backyard for 2 weeks with someone coming over once a day, or every couple of days to feed them. Yes these stories filter back to me.
I had someone on my puppy list for 6 months who had visited, that decided within 40 mins of the car trip home with their puppy, that this wasn’t the breed for them. I then had to sort out that mess. You can’t make this shit up.
And of course there are the stories of the people that I have refused a pup to as now not being the right time, who then go to another breeder, and that breeder complains to me that they have caused them all sorts of issues and invariably results in that person giving up the dog. sigh. Yes we talk.
A couple of people who were initially hurt about me rejecting this as the right time for me to place a dog with them, got back in touch with me later to tell me that I’d done them a favour and made the hard but right call. I told one lady that now was not the right time in my opinion, and to wait 2-3 years until the kids were older. Instead she went and got another breed with even more energy. She quickly discovered that the pup was indeed too much and it was re-homed at 8 months. She tells me the breeder made no assessment as to whether she would be able to cope. I’ll give her full credit to have the courage to give me that update. And yes, I’d sell her a pup down the track when the time is right.
Sometimes the person looks like they are going to be ok once I put a lot of work into them. And I mean a lot. And I have to evaluate whether or not I am going to have that time, and if after I spend that time, whether or not that person will put the time in. Or more likely (yes it’s happened), that I get a call on a Saturday arvo about how the young girl at the pet store told her something completely different (and clearly wrong) about some concept, so instead of listening to what I had told her, she was going to implement that wrong strategy or do that wrong thing.
Sometimes the people that require the most help are those that get a pup when they are in their 20’s as they have always had dogs. Unfortunately, mum & dad have always trained the dogs, but he/she has never appreciated the work load. Suddenly when they get a new pup every little thing is a drama and a phone call. “OMG the pup has peed twice inside” “OMG I tied my young pup outside a shop and it screamed!” (who does that!!!!) “OMG I left my puppy outside in the cold and it screamed all night” (who does that????). I will never sell another dog to the person who last did that sort of thing to me and that pup. Yes I take notes. I need reasonable people with common sense.
I sell to adults, not to kids. I’m also quite concerned as to the following sorts of statements:
- “my 5 year old has done all the research and decided that this is the breed for us” (again, can’t make this shit up)
- “my 6 year old is going to be heavily involved in managing this dog”
- “I’ve finally had the 3 kids agree that they will pick up the dog poo, so now that that’s been sorted, it’s now time to get a dog.”
- “I’ve got 4 boys under 6 and although I work full time, I think this is a good time to get a dog for them.”
There is no breeder who wants to see their dog end up at the pound. And yes, I’ve had to make a trip to get one back. And that’s something I never want to do again. That particular outstanding dog had been kept in a crate all day when the owner was at work, had only had the most basic of training, and was 8kg underweight when picked up. Of course the ex-owner blocked my number when I started asking questions.
So here’s the tips:
- Make sure you’ve got the time for the pup
- Make sure you’ve done your research
- I’m going to ask you what you understand is a “working dog” – make sure you can tell me
- Be frank with me about what you like about the breed, but more importantly what you DON’T like.
- Make sure you understand where I’m coming from & will implement what I say (because it works folks, it’s not a trick, and I want to make this easy and not have you make the same mistakes as me and others)
- Show me common sense. Please.
- If you have allergies, you must visit. No exceptions.
- Don’t send me an email that just says “I’ve read your site. It’s great. How do I get on the puppy list?”
- Understand thoroughly that when you’ve seen a really well behaved dog (regardless of breed), that’s because someone has put in a hell of a lot of work early on over several months.
- Make sure you communicate this all to me in a meaningful way (which doesn’t mean an email that all it says is “I’ve read what you say and 100% agree” – which is a nice start, but let’s now see the next 5 paragraphs that explain this in detail.)
That being said:
I think the Portuguese Water Dog is a wonderful breed. I think this breed is easy for those who “get it”. There are those who are naturally great with dogs that will already know most of these concepts if not all. And there are those who have a mind like a sponge & the ability to implement new learnings who will take this all on board and say “ok, bring it on Jane.”
I’m excited about the future of this breed. I want to place my pups with people I like, who have their hearts in the right place, who I trust with my puppies.
Are you ready?