So sorry I haven’t posted in awhile. We’ve had quite a whirlwind of news around here.
About 5 months ago Stefan and I decided we wanted to add a new member to our little family. A puppy to be exact. After a lot of research on breeds, we decided to go with a rare breed from the Netherlands called a “Drentsche Patrijshond”. We liked the “Drent” for several reasons. First, the dog is large enough to train as Daphne’s successor service dog (Daphne is 24″ at the shoulder and was about 68 lbs when I got her, which is really the minimum size I need for the mobility work she does). Second, the breed is known for it’s versatile temperament. It’s a great field dog, a hard worker, smart and trainable. On the other hand, it’s a spectacular family dog. It was originally kept by the poorer classes in the Netherlands as an all-around dog that could hunt with the men and then come home and spend time with the women and children. As long as a Drent gets a moderate amount of exercise each day, it can come inside and be a large, lovable, over-sized lap dog.
Finally, the Drent isn’t overbred. I was worried about getting another lab because it’s just so easy to think you are working with a good breeder and then later down the line find out that the breeder has been breeding for quantity, not quality. On the other hand, although the Drent is a rare breed around the world, it has quite the following in the Netherlands and so the bloodlines aren’t too limited. The dogs aren’t so rare that they’re inbred.
- We checked out the parents: Our dam is named Brookelyn v.’t Wijdseland NA I and our Sire is Esp. CH Joksan Nabar the Gloucester a.k.a. “Booker”.
- Both parents checked out normally when we looked up their health profiles on the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals website. All good breeders will register their dogs on a website like this (or alternatively, PennHip).
- Booker has been shown abroad (The American Kennel Club does not recognize this breed in conformation showing) and both parents are good hunters.
- They are both free of any glaring temperament issues.
- Perhaps, most importantly, the parents aren’t related. It may surprise you that we actually had to look that up, but you’d be surprised how often breeders breed dogs that are close blood-relatives. Brookelyn and Booker do have a grandparent and a great-grandparent in common, but this is called line breeding and it’s common in the rarer breeds. It’s fine when not done excessively. Correction: I went and looked back at the pedigrees and the parents don’t technically share a grandparent and a great-grandparent. One of my sire’s grandparents is one of my dam’s great-grandparents and one of my sire’s great-grandparents is one of my dam’s great-great grandparents…so, it’s not even as close as I originally posted.
- We talked to the breeder and her family: After we filled out the puppy application, we interviewed with the breeder. What we found was that the breeder was much more concerned about the welfare of her puppies than about making money. This is important. Breeding dogs is not about making a quick buck. Most good breeders don’t even break even after all is said and done. Good breeders breed for the joy of breeding and to improve on the overall health and livelihood of their breed. If your breeder has any other motivations, they’re probably not doing it right.
- We read and re-read our puppy contract: A good breeder will want you to sign a puppy contract. Generally, this contract will have something about payment, but that’s not what the puppy contract is about. The contract outlines the responsibilities of the buyer and the seller. An example of a buyer’s responsibility may be: “the buyer may not give the dog away or sell the dog without express consent of the seller”. An example of a seller’s responsibility may be: “The seller will give a full refund if the puppy gets sick within a week of purchase.” Some clauses in a puppy contract can definitely be red flags. If you see any of these clauses in your contract, you may want to consider another breeder:
- A clause stating that you cannot criticize the breeder: I have actually heard of puppy contracts where the breeder enjoins the buyer from criticizing the breeder in writing (such as on an online forum, in a letter, or to the Better Business Bureau). Doing so will void all warrantees in the contract. This is dangerous because it means the breeder has quite a lot to hide.
- A clause stating that you must feed your dog a specific brand of food: Sometimes breeders create their own food brand or get “kick backs” every time one of their buyers also buys a bag of food. When this happens, they might also include a clause in their contract that requires you to use their brand of dog food. Beware. A dog will have different nutritional requirements throughout her lifetime and you want to have the flexibility to change the food as the dog changes. Not to mention, your budget may change throughout the dog’s life and you might have to downgrade her food for awhile. None of this should be the breeder’s business.
- An arbitration clause: So few people know how disastrous an arbitration clause can be. Almost every form contract we agree to these days has an arbitration clause (think: software agreements, car title transfers, loan agreements, credit card agreements, etc.). When you sign a contract with an arbitration agreement it means that you are agreeing that, if a lawsuit arises, you will go to arbitration before you go to court. What it also usually means is that the party who wrote the contract will choose the arbitrator. You essentially sign away your right to justice.
- We got references: After we did all of the above, we asked the breeder for references from people who took home puppies from her last litter. I then proceeded to email a handful of the references. The people were ecstatic to talk to me, they were all very happy with their dogs and amazed with how well the breeder had matched them with their puppies. So far, none of the puppies had any glaring health or temperament issues and one of them was even working as a hunting dog and doing fantastically.
- We notified the neighbors: This is important because we live in close quarters. Our neighbors and housing department were very happy for us!
Once we committed to the breeder, we waited for the call, and on Friday night we got it! Brookelyn had given birth to 3 boys and 5 girls. All were healthy, eating regularly, and all were similar weights (no runts). It had been an easier birth than her first litter and none of the pups were in distress.
The breeder provided us with photos of the three boys. That’s all the information we’re going to get as far as which puppy is going to be ours until they’re 7 weeks old. We’re actually not going to be allowed to pick our own puppy. We’re going to be given a puppy that is suitable for our needs and our lifestyle after a temperament test is given to all 3 males when they are 7 weeks old. I know we’re putting a lot of faith in having the breeder pick for us, but I do trust that she will make a good decision.This is actually the way most responsible breeders function. Breeders know that they know the puppies better than a buyer ever could, since they’ve raised the puppies from birth. They do their best to match the puppies personalities to the lifestyles of the families that have applied.
So, since we don’t know which of the 3 males we’ll end up with, I’m going to post weekly individual pictures of all three until we know. The puppies are identified by colored ribbons, and they’ll grow into colored collars. The males have yellow, blue, and black ribbons, so I will refer to them as the Yellow, Blue, and Black boys.
Here’s Yellow Boy with a half mustache:
Here’s Blue Boy who is spotted like a dairy cow:
And here’s Black Boy with a circle on his butt: