Saturday, December 14, 2013

Selecting Trig

I have been planning to get a hunting dog to train for agility and obedience for a long time but I really got serious about it in the last year or so.  I originally thought I wanted a Vizsla but the more I thought about it and researched the breed I was concerned that one might be too big with all that energy for the small Shelties, terrier and Pyr Shep.  I was also concerned about finding one that would have the enthusiasm for non-hunting activities.

Then last year I went to Game Fair, a local event offering fun hunting/retrieving events for hunting dogs to see what I could learn there about different breeds.  I discovered the French Brittany there.  I read the description of the breed and immediately thought that was what I would like to have.  Their personality sounded a lot like Aussies in terms of being loyal family dogs and easy to train.  They are also athletic and the size of Aussies.  So then I set out to find a breeder who would talk to me about them and would be willing to sell me one if I didn't want to hunt with it.  That is no easy task and I understand that.  I also wanted a breeder close enough that I could easily visit the litter of puppies.  I know what I want in a puppy but I was not sure a hunter would understand what I am looking for in a dog.  Since I have 4 females now in my household I knew the next dog should be a male if peace were to continue in the house.

I found a knowledgeable breeder who really cared about the breed and was excited to have one of his dogs do some other performance activities.  He and I talked a lot about the dogs and what I was looking for in a dog and what litters would most likely produce what I wanted.  Now the compromise for me is that I had to do pick and puppy at 5 weeks of age and take it home at 7 to 8 weeks of age.  Both of those are much earlier than I am used to doing with herding breeds or most performance breeds.  I was very uncomfortable with this.  I was concerned that a 5 week old puppy would not be showing enough of its personality to me.  Starting at 3 weeks of age I visited the puppies once a week.  I played with them individually and would take different things for them to walk or crawl on.  

On week 5 I knew I could not do traditional 7 week old temperament testing but I thought I could so some pieces of it.  So at 5 weeks we took each puppy available to me (there were 2 males left of the three) alone to a place in the house they had not ever been to before.  I brought along a child's toy that makes lots of noises and rolls around on its own and a board that had rubber granules on it for walking on.  Neither puppy was at all bothered by the toy or the board.  I also had a friend who had never seen the puppies interact with them in the strange place.  Both puppies had no reservations about any of it.  One puppy stood out as being more interested in coming to the people.  The breeder said that puppy was also very active and was leaping over the other puppies in the pen.  He felt he had more energy than the other males.  He was very responsive to me when I played with him.  The previous week he was very energetic and was running around much more than the other.

So at week 5 I picked "Trig" - full name "Intrigue".  Then I went to see him at week 6.  He seem to recognize me and we played for 30 minutes.  His energy and curiosity were amazing.  It felt right.  On week 7 when I went to get him he showed me how he could climb over the 10" high base of the kennel door and keep on going.  He ran right up to me and squealed.  He then did zoomies.  I picked him up and carried him into the house to talk to the breeder.  While on my lap he was tugging on my shirt as if to say "hurry up - let's go!"  Then he let out two loud squealing barks right to the breeder who laughed and said "What's your deal?"  The breeder is convinced he knew me and was happy to be going home with me.  

So I have had over a dozen puppies - mostly herding breeds - and never had one this young before.  Trig is the one on the far right.  His white on his head is nearly gone now.

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