13 August 2013

On Puppies.

Now that I'm home from THE big trip that I've been looking forward to all year (and have spent some time looking back on already, which is one of the reasons I enjoy keeping a blog), my thoughts are turning forward again. And one of the things I'm planning for the next year or so is a puppy.

Seri at 8ish weeks
Wait, really, a puppy? Yeah. I know it is a bit nuts, I still have 4 dogs which is a handful. But I really enjoy having 2 dogs to trial at local and national trials. And with Drifter and Seri both retired, I currently run Strafe and Kiba. Strafe is almost 3 years old, and obviously has a lot of years left. Kiba, on the other hand, will be turning 9 this fall, and with her weird vision-related issues I have no idea how much longer we can continue to be successful. I would love to run her at AKC Nationals next spring, and that would be her last big event. But I am not 100% sure she will even qualify for that, as we are still having trouble with consistency and getting QQ's is not so easy for us. Even so, after that both National events go far west, and she won't be traveling cross-country at 10 years old. So that leaves Strafe. And for a year where Nationals is not nearby, I suppose it is nice to have only one dog to focus on, but I know that, for me, that will get a bit boring after a while, and I will want to have another dog.

Newborn Strafe

To that end, I have been discussing possible stud dogs with Strafe's breeder, and there is a good possibility I will end up bringing home a half-brother or sister to Strafe, from the same mother. But it is not easy, trying to match up 2 dogs to produce the exact type of puppy we want for agility! There is an exhaustive laundry list of things to look at: structure, size, temperament, jumping ability (yes, even that), and then with health you have hips, shoulders, elbows, epilepsy, eyes, general soundness.... 

With all the border collies in Europe, you would think it would be a really easy matter to say "oh, breed to that one and you'll definitely get what you want", but it is not nearly so easy. Find a nice dog that is lovely, and he has less than perfect hips. Or a dog with a wonderful strong hip history, but he has a jumping style that makes me think he may have a mild vision issue like Kiba. A dog who is throwing lovely jumping but his father has some puppies with OCD in the shoulder.... it goes on and on! And at the end of the day you have to prioritize. Is size more important than jumping style? Is hip history more important than shoulder angle? 

12 week old Kiba

I am still contemplating some of these things. I know some priorities, to me, will always be epilepsy and temperament. And since I focus a lot on agility, jumping talent does matter to me, but you have to learn to see through handling mistakes, as many potential breeding dogs are not handled by expert handlers, and that is totally ok! 

10 week old Strafe
And on a related front, I am also talking to a few people about breeding Strafe, so I am dealing with priorities there as well. Strafe, as every other breeding dog does, has his potential "issues" to be wary of. He is an exceptional dog in a lot of ways, so I'm going to allow his use at stud. And then that brings up the question of whether I want a puppy from one of these breedings. Currently my thought is to wait, let his first couple litters grow up, and then potentially keep a puppy off of him later on, or collect him for later use. But who knows, my plans are definitely not set in stone yet!

Pretty is, and pretty also does.
So anyway. That's been the majority of thoughts circling my mind the past week or so when I've been at home. 

I've got this coming weekend off, slightly unexpectedly but it's nice anyway, as I've got some longer travel trips coming up to teach in September, along with another online class beginning as well.

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