I lost both of my dogs over last summer and for the first time in my whole life I’ve been dog-less for the past six months. It’s been weird.
The standard things bother me, coming home between clients to an absolutely silent house with no tail banging against the kennel. No rushing home to get the dog tended and gnashing my teeth while in traffic knowing the puppy has to go out to potty or ELSE. The thing that bothers me most though is the quiet stuff, the walking outside and reaching down to pat a head or scratch a fuzzy ear, and just the joy of watching a puppy run in front of me on the trails and in the cul de sac.
And then an email comes.
My favorite breeder of Welsh Springers emailed me this week about some puppies. I’ve had welsh springers for the past 20 years and she knows that I lost both of mine last summer. She was emailing me to offer one of her pups. She knows I Iost mine and can’t stand that I don’t have one now. Normally there is a HUGE waiting list for her dogs so the opportunity to get on without the 3 or 4 year wait is appealing. At least immediately appealing.
My personality somehow isn’t like the vast amount of the population though. I have a habit of looking at all of the tough things to be done when an opportunity arises. Some people call me a glass half empty guy, I think it’s more akin to an utter and brutal realist kind of guy. There was an article recently in the New Yorker about people like me and it explained that people like me understand better how we’ll feel in the future, not just how we ‘Imagine” we’ll feel. I’ll go along with that completely.
Of course, I emailed the breeder back and got the info on the pups that are coming in January. They would be just what I would want. A very nice cross between full bore hunting dogs and show line dogs. But then my personality kicks in and I start thinking of how much work this is going to be.
The truth of dog training is that even if you’ve been doing it forever like me, that doesn’t make training a puppy that much easier. I still have to do HUGE repetitions just like I beg my clients to do, I still have to take the puppy out every 20 minutes like I plead with my clients to, and it still takes me months and months to get a puppy trained to a decent level of citizenship. The main difference between me and my clients is that I absolutely KNOW what I am in for and that is a terrifying thought. As soon as I run up against this line of thought the brakes on puppy cuteness go on and I start to veer away from the email client and phone and avoid all contact with breeders on my “personal” list.
My last puppy was a great dog. Best I’ve ever had actually, and that’s saying something. He trained beautifully, wanted to work, and was kind to all. But he still took a HUGE amount of work and it took me right at 2 years to get him where I wanted him.
When I look at that and think 2 more years to get a puppy to a level I’m happy with them my mind just goes numb and my will to get another one diminishes. I guess I’m getting old or something. I’m certainly no spring chicken any longer and I guess I realize the cost of doing the puppy thing to other portions of life. Ridiculous things for a dog trainer to say, I know but there it is.
Lately, I’ve been getting the question “what kind of dog do you have” a lot from clients. I am always more than a little bit embarrassed when I tell them that I don’t have one for the first time in my life. That statement is always followed by an odd confused silence from the client and then an abrupt change of conversation back to the training at hand. It’s embarrassing for sure and I know that I’ll have to rectify the situation at some point but I don’t think I’ll be getting a puppy from this January litter. Or maybe from the February litter from my other favorite breeder or the March litter from the Wirehair Griffon breeder I deal with.
Steve Haynes, the dog-less dog trainer.
Fidelio Dog Works