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Picking a Pup

All too often folks see a puppy, whether in a pet shop window (which we’ll discuss in another post), or on a website, Facebook post, or sign in someone’s yard, and “suddenly” want a puppy. That, “Awe! Isn’t it cute?” feeling that motivates an impulse buy is not what will be discussed here. I will rant…oops. I mean discuss 😉 that at another time.

What I will share here are steps of a determined, prepared effort to decide, locate and purchase a pup for particular purposes. The specifics of this process are obviously not intended for everyone looking for a pup. However, the actual process is the point to help you choose your new addition. You’ll find a brief overview here, and in later posts we will explore each point in more detail.

Let’s get to it!

As I mentioned in the “Meet the Team” post, Hanani is a 15 month young Dutch Shepherd. When my new husband and I were talking about getting another dog, we considered a handful of reasons why (or for what purposes) we wanted to get another dog. Okay…who am I fooling? My husband went along with this, knowing it was only I that wanted another dog! Anyway… So we discussed and wrote down some reasons and began to sort through options.

Aside from the fact that I eventually wanted at least two dogs (just because; yes, I am a nut), here were my reasons:

I am a private investigator by trade and, on the side, have performed substantial investigations into cold cases of missing children. This, I do simply because I am compelled to, for the love of Christ for those children and the families that miss them. After many years of narrowing down suspects, MOs, locations and whatnot, I theorized at least three areas where remains of children may be discovered. To test such theory I needed a cadaver dog, or two. Since I could find no trained, experienced cadaver team willing to assist in this theory-testing escapade, I determined to train my own HRD dog. Originally, that is why I obtained Mia, my Pit, over 5 years ago. However, I could find no one and no viable resource to help me train her. And all the local search clubs never responded to any of my inquires about how to start, etc. So she grew up, well past the age of a good candidate for such training.

Fast forward to last year (2017) when my husband agreed to begin this endeavor with me, I began to lean more toward a higher-drive dog. Sure, many Pits are great, ball-crazy animals that would be fine for nose work. However, there were more criteria that was added to my list. In addition to a pup suitable for cadaver search work, I have a love and immense respect for our nation’s police and military. I find it fascinating and fabulous that dogs are enlisted as officers and are such a benefit in those fields. Thus, I wanted a dog that I could eventually breed for trainers that deal specifically with police work. The most predominant breeds utilized in that line of work are the three main forms of Shepherds: the German (most popular), the Belgian (Malinois), and the Dutch.

Dutch? What is a Dutch Shepherd? In all my years, I had not heard of one! I dug through my bookshelf to find one of my old dog books, which I got when I was about ten. My curiosity overwhelmed me at this point, and I was undone the more I researched the breed. There was a point in time in the history of Dutch Shepherds where the breed almost died out. Oh! My heart broke. I scanned the Web more and more…and fell hopelessly, crazily, deeply in love with the Dutch. (To my husband’s dismay 😉 He is not a fan of Shepherds in general.)

In a Nutshell

Here is the more concise version: I was looking for a pup for the purposes of training in HRD work, that I could breed for police service, and that would reside as a family–or “pack”–member with us in our home. Thus, I needed to find a reputable breeder of Shepherds, specifically Dutch, with a history of proven protection and police dogs, and hopefully at least some SAR (Search and Rescue), if not HRD. And a female at that, which would be trainable to integrate into our home pack.

The funny part about finding a reputable breeder was that none of the “popular” breeders responded to any of my inquiries. And none of them were closer than a day’s drive from my home here in Ohio. Finally, I did find one that not only responded but provided references. He also shipped the pup up from Florida at his cost. Though I can’t say I fully agreed with all his rearing standards, the references recommended him highly. But, of course, because of who I am, I checked him out as thoroughly as I could in other ways as well.

Nina pupsI knew what I was getting into

Most people that obtain a pup, as I have observed for years, do not dig too deep (if at all) to gain an understanding of what they are getting into. Things, such as breed-specific behaviors, background of how and where they are raised, background of the breeder, from what stock (purposes of breeder) they come, and so many other factors ought to be considered. If more people put enough thought and at least a little research into this process, there would be fewer throwaways and more content household packs.

Me? I knew the breeder/trainer was focused solely on protection and police training of Dutch Shepherds. I knew the little 3-4 month old blue brindle pup in the photo, that I fell deeply in love with, had been separated from her litter mates since she was weaned. I knew she was kept for additional training (conditioning/imprinting for protection work). So she was a high-drive pup, kept isolated in a 4′ x 8′ cage (pen), and her only human contact was during training sessions and feeding times. I knew the imprinting phase of a young pup for protection work was fairly simple: Entice them to chase and grab a hold of quickly moving objects. At that age, they’re too young to begin training release commands and such.

So I knew I was willingly welcoming in, to put it plainly, a monster 😉

We shall go into more of the differences of high-drive pups, imprinting, separation from litters, isolating, and all that in later posts. The point here is, I did some homework to make an informed decision, so that I would be ready for what was coming (if we can fully be “ready” at all!).

Apply Process

The bottom line is, do some homework before you even look for a pup. What I have shared here can be broken down and easily applied to anyone looking to add to their family/pack. Even if you already have your heart set on a specific breed, or mix, there is still homework to be done. Maybe your eye caught sight of the perfect, cutest pup and you just have to have it. Still, do as much homework as possible before you bring him or her home. If you have any questions, please ask! Take full advantage of my free dog training tips and common sense strategies for seeking your new companion.