Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trips down puppy memory lane

Susan Garrett has done several recent posts on her blog ( about how she picked her puppies and all the mental turmoil involved. It made me laugh because we all know people who have studied pedigrees and lines and obsessed to the nth degree about getting the perfect puppy to excel in their chosen sport, then done something crazy like pick a puppy based solely on its markings.

I’ve been blessed with six dogs in my life. I’ve gotten to pick exactly two of them.

My first dog was a beagle. I was 3 years old when she came into my life in 1968. My grandfather gave my parents $25 and said, “Melinda needs a dog. Get her one.” I wonder if he had any clue what he was starting with that $25 beagle. Pokey (obviously named by my 3-year-old self, what can I say, the Little Golden Book “The Pokey Little Puppy” was hot among the preschool set that year) was the first dog I ever showed in an AKC obedience trial. I was 9, she was 7. As they say, the rest is history.

Next came my first tervuren, in 1978 when I was 13. Gypsy was, in a way, the puppy no one else wanted. She was the puppy the stud dog owner agreed to take back for stud services but she really didn’t want to keep her and was happy to sell the “too small” bitch to a 4-H kid. The 4-H kid decided to show her in the breed ring because no one told her she was too small to finish and Gypsy became my first (and only) owner-handled champion.

After college, I got my first sheltie in 1989. I picked Jess out of the litter at 4 weeks. I chose him based on the extremely scientific criteria that he was the only puppy in the litter who did not have a full white collar. I did not want a puppy who looked like he was wearing a neck brace!

Sheltie Connor followed in 1994. I was not looking for a puppy when he walked into my life. He picked me. End of story. (You can read more about Connor at If that link doesn’t work, it’s the Aug. 31 post from this year).

Terv Jamie was a bit of a project. I wanted a girl, not a boy. There were no girl terv puppies to be had in the summer of 1999. After several breedings missed or litters that produced only one or two puppies, when Jamie’s litter arrived, his breeder told me I could choose between the two boys. I’ll never forget that trip to southern Ohio and my carefully thought out puppy testing, which was pretty much a total trainwreck and a story all in itself. In the end, it was a no-brainer. Even as a puppy, Jamie was long-legged, lean and graceful. His brother was cobby and stub-legged with no apparent neck. Jamie came home with me, screaming and howling all the way.

Phoenix was the first puppy a breeder truly chose for me, based on about a million e-mails. I should write a post about how I found Catherine and Carousel Malinois because I have no doubt Divine Intervention was involved. I flew to Oregon from the Midwest to get Phoenix in February of 2007. Arriving at Catherine’s house, she handed over a wiggling, squirming, gnawing bundle of fur and teeth who looked me straight in the eye as if to say, “Who are you and what are you bringing to the table?” It was the dawn of a whole new relationship.

I have several friends who have gotten new puppies this year. It’s been fun to experience all their anticipation as the blessed day approaches. Puppies are so darn much fun! I’ll write more soon about my puppy-picking experiences, especially with the Belgians. Truth is stranger than fiction. Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.


  1. Sometimes I think it's just easier to let someone else pick for you! I didn't pick ANY of my current dogs!

  2. Puppies are so fun. So full of potential just waiting to be unleashed! Then of course you have to go catch it!!! LOL I guess that's what great recall training is all about! Looking forward to squeezing a bunch of puppies soon!