2 Part Controversial Decision

Discussion in 'Puppies' started by Pawtential Unleashed, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. Pawtential Unleashed Experienced Member

    Hmmmm - I have been debating bringing this up here as it may start a heated debate or worse yet, make some of you angry with me...but I value your input and friendship so here goes...

    Part 1:
    You guys know how many dogs I have fostered and rescued over just the time I have been a DTA member and hopefully you know I will always continue to do just that, but in all the fosters I have had I have been looking, for about 18-19 months for my next personal dog.

    I have some pretty great house/companion dogs but I am looking for a superstar - I want to try my hand at Rally and Obedience, maybe some Disc Dog work, and maybe train for TV and film work. I want a dog that loves to train as much as I do and that picks things up quickly.

    Over the last year I have put the word out on what I was looking for and have had calls from rescues, shelters and private owners all thinking their dog is the one. I go out - meet them and so far - none have been the right fit. All would be beautiful companion dogs for sure - but they all lack that forward thinking intelligence I am missing.

    So for the first time in my adult life - I am going to buy a purebred pup from a breeder. (POTENTIAL CONTROVERSY #1) Shade Tree Border Collies

    I met this breeder some time ago and temperament tested her litter she had then, and really liked her. She does a version of ENS that I like and we are on the same page as far as early social and physical development goes - plus she is just a really nice person.

    I know we have a ton of BCs here and I know other dogs could fill what I am looking for - but my heart has always been with the Borders since I was a kid and after Dakota (my BC mix in NZ) - I was sold!

    She has a litter on the ground now that I am going to meet on Monday and I am looking at these three little love muffins:

    FETA - Blue Merle Tri Male (Playful/Calm/Attentive)

    Without even meeting him, I am partial to him. During ENS exercises he has been calm and is showing early signs of attraction to people and focus - and I mean look at that face!! He is her first pick for me...

    BRIE - Blue Merle Tri Female (Calm/Quiet)


    Looks alot like Juni - will be a lighter merle with a large white broken ruff. She is calm and quiet - possibly too much - we'll see!

    BLEU - Blue Merle Tri Male (More Independent/Playful/Alert)

    He is already seeking her out when he hears her voice and although he is fussy during ENS exercises maybe a bit of spunk is good! She has said he is the first to do everything and is quite an independent little guy. LOL

    Part 2:
    This is the part I am worried about you guys not liking/understanding...

    Whichever pup I choose - I want to take him/her earlier than normal. I have discussed this with the breeder who would normally not ever consider it, but knows me well enough to allow it for me. When I go down on Monday to visit, they will be 4 weeks old...and if one of them works out - will be coming home then. (DEFINITE CONTROVERSY #2)

    Do remember that in the last year I have raised a litter of 8 pups from 10 days old, the J's were 4 weeks when they came home and Phoenix was 3 weeks. All are beautifully well adjusted, social creatures without a phobia among them.

    Why take a pup early? In my case, I know I can offer the level of socialization and early exposure they need, and I can control those interactions for the best possible outcome. I have all manner of dogs here to help with the dog/dog learning curve...Momma Ayla for gentle boundaries, puppies Phoenix (12 weeks) and Tracy's pup Micah (9 weeks) for littermate socialization, Uncle Luka for modelling that stoic calmness...so they are not missing out on anything. I can influence attitudes far before the fear imprint period and for selfish reasons I like to establish that early bond ( and start play training early.)

    I know this will upset some people and I am not saying that this is right, certainly not for the majority of people, but I also don't want to lie about why I have such a young pup. I hope you can keep an open mind and welcome me and my possible new babe if he/she comes. It has been a very long time since I have done anything other than foster, so this is something I am very excited about...hopefully you will be too.

    If not - please feel free to open a discussion about any concerns you have - I am happy to talk about any of it - and I guess if you just need to vent but don't want to discuss - just PM that and I will accept that too.
    Mr-Remington likes this.

  2. Gracegeorgina Experienced Member

    Having raised a litter of puppies, I definitely agree having them from an early age is easier. One of my dogs I got at 12 weeks and he had character traits I did not appreciate, reflected from how he was threaten (to be clear he was WELL looked after) . So I understand why you want him early. I wonder if it may even be easier for him not realising he is leaving his siblings?? It may be a shame that he doesn't get to grow up with them, but easier for him not being too aware of it..
  3. southerngirl Honored Member

    The puppies are adorable and I'm very jealous, a Border Collie is my dream dog. I think that because you have great experience with puppies and have success stories with them that there is noting wrong with you taking one that early, but if it was anyone else I would disagree. Taking a pup that young can create a very strong bond between you two and you get a chance to start training early. Good luck and please keep us updated.
    Dogster likes this.
  4. Dogster Honored Member

    First of all, those three puppies are absolutely adorable!!!!:love: I bet any one of them will be the perfect companion for you. (Pup 1 is my personal favourite, love the color and markings:love:) I'm happy that you chose a good and reputable breeder, I don't see anything wrong with that.:)

    You have done so well with your previous "babies", that I don't see a problem with you taking your pup home at 4 weeks of age. You have a lot of experience with this, and you have a wonderful pack that will help you with the new puppy. I trust that you, out of all people, could take care of this puppy well enough that it won't need its mother.;)

    I'm so excited for you!!! I can't wait for the updates (so keep us posted) and pictures!!!!:D Congratulations, and best of luck!!!
  5. DevonW Well-Known Member

    First of all good luck with meeting these adorable little puppies I love how they're named after cheese. There is nothing wrong with buying from a responsible breeder especially if you just "click" with the dogs. When I decided to get a new dog I looked at shelters and rescues for one. I knew what I wanted to do with the dog but I just never had that "this is my dog" moment until I accidentally came across an Aussie litter due soon on a horse website and fell in love with the parents. I didn't think it would be fair to the dog to bring home a dog I just didn't connect with.

    Part two: as someone who is experience with raising young puppies I don't see why this is so controversial. To someone who has never raised a puppy before yes it's a bad idea. It can be extremely beneficial to creating a strong bond between you and the dog, early learning opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

    If I were to choose I can say right now I would go with Brie. She for some reason reminds me a lot of Siren. Siren was calm, quiet, and ignored me the first time I met her. I wasn't going to pick her because I wanted a dog with drive to do sports with but my gut instinct said she was the one for me and I'm glad I ignored my worries because she's a genius. Her calm has turned into focus. Basically anything you set her too she will do. She is quiet but she observes so she picks up on the more advanced tricks Thor is doing. I'm getting her into obedience, rally, and freestyle because she's calm and focused. Thor was more independent, playful, and alert it took forever to get him to focus on me and not everything around him. He's a complete nutter and even though he'll do tricks with the utmost enthusiasm he gets way to excited and I feel Siren is going to out do him on basically every level because she is calmer.
  6. Pawtential Unleashed Experienced Member

    You guys have no idea how relieved I am that you understand. I have no doubt that I can do it and that it is not going to be an issue, I just know how difficult it is for people to get their head around it.

    Phoenix had no trouble adjusting - she took to our pack and her family and has never been a whiny or sulky pup. I honestly believe it is like someone that loses a family member to death or divorce - if you never knew them, there is only so much you can miss...

    This is a big part of it - I got to really bond with Phoenix, hold her, establish early trust and really set the stage for the fantastic relationship we are developing...

    From looks and her description of him - I think he is my fav too...
    Dogster likes this.
  7. Pawtential Unleashed Experienced Member

    My biggest concern is that even though I know I can do it - in the dog world often the idea of taking a pup before 8 weeks is abhorrent - much less at 4. I value my time and place here and the last thing I want is for anyone to think I would do something to even unintentially hurt a pup.

    This is why I think Bleu might not work out - for agility and disc I can totally see how high energy and drive are beneficial but for Rally and Ob - you want a calmer and more focused dog.

    Kathi has just put up quick videos of an abbreviated ENS session...it is interesting to see the difference...

    Bleu ENS Video

    Feta ENS Video
  8. fickla Experienced Member

    In my opinion, the biggest downside to taking a puppy so young is that so much can change in just a few weeks. The calmest puppy at 4wks might turn out to the be the bossiest puppy at 8wks and so forth. Obviously with a puppy at any age it takes time for their true personalities to shine but at 4wks there's a lot left to shine :) On a similiar note, structure is much harder to see at 4wks. If you're looking at doing performance then the dog's structure is one thing that you cannot change no matter how much training you do.
    sara, Dogster and 648117 like this.
  9. southerngirl Honored Member

    I like Feta and Brie's personalities they are also super cute. My favorite is Brie she's cute and her being calm might make her a great trick dog because instead of bouncing off the walls she will be paying attention to you.
  10. Gracegeorgina Experienced Member

    My fav is definitely Feta. And, I did the 'puppy test' with mine aged 3 weeks and all the results were bang on so I don't think their personalities will change that much.
  11. 648117 Honored Member

    I totally agree with this.

    Also, Phoenix is only 12 weeks old right? how can you possibly already want another puppy? After Holly (who is nearly 18 months) I think I need to wait at least another 18 more months before I want to go through that again :LOL: .

    I personally don't see the point of getting such a young puppy. I think the potential for serious damage to the puppy is too great, although you have a lot of experience so it is very likely to go right for you :) . For most people I would be seriosly horrified if they said they wanted a 4 week old puppy.
    And I don't see the harm in waiting.

    Holly was almost three months old when we got her and she had lived in a petshop for nearly a month (she was the last puppy - no one wanted her :( ). I think she has to be one of the most well adjusted dogs I've ever met, the only problem I've identified as a result of her less-than-ideal start was that she took a long time to toilet train but that isn't a problem now :) . And Holly is super smart and super confident. She does both agility and obedience. Our trainers at both agility and obedience have commented on how in-tune Holly is with me and how well she watches my body language.
    I have been very lucky with Holly.

    As for getting a pedigree puppy: my next dog (which I wont be getting for at least 18 months, but probably more like 2 years) will probably be a pedigree with a tone of health checks. It disturbs me that I know nothing about the health of Holly's parents (I haven't even seen a picture of them), they could have lost their teeth at 2 years old or developed cancer or anything :confused: .
    Especially since Paris (the dog that we still had when we got Holly) had a few health things that we later found out she inherited, we didn't know about health checks as she was only our first puppy and she wasn't even a pedigree herself (although both her parents were and we later found out more about her fathers side).

    Good luck with which ever puppy you decide on :D
    Mutt likes this.
  12. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

    Well I'll be the oddball ...

    Honestly, my heart sank when I read this. To see someone who knows how serious the overpopulation problem is, that 'lack of home' is the #1 overall cause of death (not cancer, not anything else) in this country, pay a breeder for a dog is a little bit heartbreaking for me. I live in NYC and have met, played with, pet, and walked dogs who are dead now because no one adopted them. Overpopulation is a crisis in this country, and there are tens of thousands of dogs killed every year just in this state. And that's not counting the sick ones, or the aggressive ones -- these are the adoptable dogs. There are far fewer 'good homes' than there are good dogs, and good dogs die because of this.

    I do see that you're looking for a special dog, but I don't see what the rush is. I love training, training is an incredibly interesting "thinking game" for both human and dog, but I don't see why time is of the essence, why you can't see who comes along. There's also the idea that you could work with those you have, which would be my choice (given lack of space over here!) but I can sympathize, as my dear Calvin isn't a mental superstar (he's very sweet though!) and I'd be frustrated if I wanted him for certain abilities rather than just for himself.

    On a more practical note, I think it's not possible to pick a "winner" from a wiggly scrum of month old puppies. Nothing you can see when you're there will tell you if the puppy is extraordinarily intelligent and will make a fine athlete. You just can't possibly get the information you need. I think you're into CU, right? I think i remember that. How much of the conversation on the CU list, and in Leslie McDevitt's talks, are about the hand-picked performance dog who is not what someone thought s/he would be? I appreciate that the breeder does ENS, and that you are familiar with puppies, but you describe wanting something very specific from a dog which you cannot confirm at this point.

    Ok, wet blanket alert here too, I think 4 weeks is too young. I know you have raised puppies, and have good dog 'models' at home, but there is no substitute for being with one's littermates. We can be pretty sure that some learning takes place between them, and there is benefit to being raised within a litter. BCs can be a little more sensitive than other dogs, and I'd want to nurture confidence as much as possible. Being barely-weaned and taken from everything he's ever known might have an affect on a pup's confidence. I have only had herding breeds/mixes, and I know that there is a fine line between 'intense work ethic' and 'OCD.' I worry about spookiness in BCs and Aussies too--cleverness can be a gift and a curse, as clever dogs can backchain their fears when they have a bad experience.

    If I was getting a puppy from a healthy, nurturing environment where they were being cared for with love, respect, and positive reinforcement (and these things must be true of the breeder you've chosen), I'd personally leave them till 8-9 weeks in this wonderful environment, and there's no way I'd take them before 6 weeks. I cannot be a pup's littermates and momma, even if I have a bunch of older puppies and awesome adult dogs at home. If you do not trust the breeder, I wouldn't buy from her, and if you did, I'd wait till 6 weeks at least. They'll still be nursing after the 4 week period and it is the proper environment for them if the situation is a healthy one. S/he will be missing out on something if removed at 4 weeks, there's no question of that. We may not be able to define a long list of "what" but we know it's not the same.

    It seems like you may have just met this breeder? I'd be concerned about her too, in letting someone take a puppy so young. If she doesn't know you very well, I don't know why she's agreed. I admit, I'm slightly put off by her advertising the puppies on ebay (!) ... I'd think that a good breeder would have clients lined up before the breeding, even, or at least that's what I've heard is the gold standard. For top performance breeders, I'm sure word-of-mouth is enough to sell an entire litter without resorting to the classified ads.

    The breeder has also had the parents' eyes and hips CERF/OFA certified, right? If not that is a huge red flag, as you know. For a canine athlete I'd also want to see both PennHIP and elbow certification, and actually some titles on the parents to show they were mentally and physically healthy enough to perform and they don't have the collapse disorder that no one's got a handle on yet. The parents are titled, right? On the ebay ad it just says the pups are bred for 'good temperaments.'

    Sorry, I know you were relieved that no one had any concerns, but you did ask that people share so instead just feeling a pang, I spoke up. I hope you truly don't mind or take offense at the discussion.
    fickla, southerngirl, sara and 2 others like this.
  13. sara Moderator

    I tend to lean towards A&C's point of view, mostly the comment about how can you know, at 4 weeks, if the structure and temperament is correct for a performance dog? Just a thought. I think you do a great job raising puppies, but I also think, if the breeder does and is doing what you say she's doing, wouldn't it just be better for the puppy to stay for a few more weeks?
    Mutt likes this.
  14. sara Moderator

    Btw, I'm very drawn to Feta! I love the solid (no white) merles!

    Was there any other puppies in the litter? I couldn't find anything on the FB page
  15. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

  16. Gracegeorgina Experienced Member

    Feta or Asiago, definitely!
  17. Mutt Experienced Member

    So here are my 2 cents.

    The fact that you want a puppy from a breeder isn't something I can judge. The situation here in the Netherlands can't in any way be compared with 'your' situation in the US. We don't have streetdogs and a overpopulation problem (I have to say though deep down I knew this is going on in the states, I'm still kind of shocked.). Dogs here are put down very rarely in shelters and than it is because the problems are too severe (dog agression or not getting along with kids isn't enough).

    Though I'd like to comment on the breeder. I have to be honost and say I'm kind of alarmed (it raises questions). That the breeder only has facebook and no website (or atleast I can't find it).
    I also wonder if you have looked into the parents? You say you want a dog to perform, so why are we only seeing puppy photo's and not pics of the parents (why you choose them, why this match is the one for you, their performances so far, their pedigree (I myself would be only interested in this for the inbreeding percentage), health results etc.). Not that you have to justify why you are choosing this litter or even this breeder towards us. But since you want a dog that performes, I'm wondering if you also have looked at these things. I can't say much about the breeder as he/she doesn't have a website. But if you want a real working dog I'd look for a working dog, meaning real working lines with a combination that is chosen with care because the breeder wants to breed good working dogs. A personality test says nothing about the puppies (or so I'm been told by several breeders from very different breeds). The personality can also not really be judged untill the pups are 6 weeks old.

    I wonder why your own dogs don't qualify but I also think this is not something I can judge.

    Well I posted the thread about (too) early training so I guess that makes my opinion clear. I totally agree with A&C. This is why I wouldn't chose for this. Also I don't see why, as there are enough dogs that compete very high which didn't start that early (or even at 8 weeks)/were brough home that early. I mainly see impatience and what you want and not what is best for the dog. Here it would also be illegal (the law says that pups may not leave the litter untill they are atleast 7 weeks old).

    Edit: Ok so I saw the ebay ad and I'd stay far away from this breeder. People who are accepting deposits and are making it very clear that they want 350 dollar aren't my choice. I see nothing about health, performance or anything about the parents.

    None the less I want to wish you good luck with finding the right puppy (dog) and I hope that you understand that these posts aren't here to make you feel bad.
  18. Pawtential Unleashed Experienced Member

    Whew - okay - first thanks to everyone who has responded...I really appreciate both sides of the discussion . I am not trying to change anyone's mind, I just want to address a few of the concerns as best I can...I do take this seriously and though I may make some lighthearted comments, please don't think I am not fully aware of the possible implications of this decision...

    I enjoy raising them together. The J's worked really well together and Phe is the only pup in my group so instead of raising her as basically a singleton, knowing I would get another pup later, I would rather do it at the same time for social development and I guess if you didn't want to deal with the sharky mouth and potty training again then getting them both done in one fell swoop is a good choice anyway...LOL

    Petshop life does have one possible advantage - a very well socialized pup - they have already seen, heard and experienced tons of people, sights, sounds and smells. I took the J's and Phoenix with me everyday until they were 10-11 weeks old and they are, like you have with Holly, some of the most well adjusted pups I have worked with in a long time.

    Of course it can also go so very wrong!!!

    I have had mutts almost my whole life and have been very lucky health wise with all of my dogs...but health checks and parental background are definitely things I looked into with this litter.

    This is something I have struggled with - every dog I have shared my life with up until this point (with the exception of 2) have been mutts and all rescues. Every dog I have now is a rescue. I foster, I temp test for shelters, I have been involved in the prison training programs and I get the importance of saving lives.

    But I have been looking for 19 months - this is not a hastily made decision. I have "tested" over 40 dogs of all shapes and sizes over that time at shelters, kept fosters for sometimes up to 6 months to see if I could cultivate what I was looking for out of them, driven out to meet countless dogs that people have recommended and still none match what I am looking for.

    Don't get me wrong there have been plenty of amazing, sweet, funny, cuddly dogs - but I am looking, and have been, for that step above. I have worked with BCs and working dogs since what seems like forever. I grew up on a farm and Dad had hunting and working dogs. My first dog was an Irish Water Spaniel mix who I adored but in the end my heart was won over by BCs a long time ago. There is a difference in how they learn and while this can certainly be mirrored in other breeds - there is a reason they are the top of the field in almost every sport the compete in.

    I agree but you can see a natural people attraction, following ability, ability to focus, reaction to distraction - all of which do give some indication...you can see that in early vigor exercises and pre-temp testing. Is it a guarantee for behavior - of course not - but there is absolute differences detectable from as early as 3 weeks.

    Although I am familiar with CU, I am not on any lists or groups for it. Sorry - not me....
    Dogster and Mutt like this.
  19. Pawtential Unleashed Experienced Member

    I agree with all of what you said to some degree - I have worked with many neurotic herding breeds and wanting to nurture confidence is exactly why I think this can work. I have the ability to introduce things at the right pace, control interactions and build confidence daily. I can and have ensured that what could have been shy pups were given the right opportunities to flourish and grow into fantastic young dogs. I am not saying they may not have developed that way without my help, but I doubt it...left to their own devices or those of inexperienced owners it probably would have turned into OCD/neurotic behavior at least or full out fear aggression in some.

    I met Kathi over a year ago when I was temp testing a litter for her. We have been in regular contact since. She said normally she would never consider letting a pup go so young, but she would make an exception for me.

    Her dogs are working farm dogs but some of her pups are working in agility, obedience and working dogs on dairy farms. She does not compete herself as most of her dogs are working horse, sheep or dairy dogs. There is no MR1 issues, no hip, elbow,eye or degenerative issues in her dogs or any pup from previous litters. I will look at the scores when I see the pups.

    LOL - I knew there would be concerns - and I am not offended - I really value that we can discuss this without it getting all mud slinging dramatic...

    I'm not sure - maybe I need to make one for her...LOL

    I have met the parents, met most of her other dogs, temp tested litters for her, and as for why this litter - Rosie, the mom, is one of the few dogs that isn't a hard core stock dog. Alice, one of her other dogs, is very job focused and not interested in people one little bit. I have temp tested pups from Alice's litters and they have little to no innate follow desire - even at 7 weeks. They are beautifully sweet pups for sure, but they are not people driven which is what I am looking for.

    Rosie on the other hand, is very people focused, friendly, attentive and while she wants to work, it isn't stock but people she wants to work with and for. Rosie came to Shade Tree a while ago from another breeder as a new line so there is no line breeding.

    Don't get me wrong - I love me guys - they are all fantastic house/companion pets without a doubt.
    But for each there own reasons - they are not at all what I am looking for:

    Ayla - Newfie - sweetest therapy dog alive - but slow to learn new things and would rather lie down and look at you adoringly or go to sleep than offer a behavior even so much as an ear twitch or eyebrow lift.

    Luka - Giant Schnauzer mix - best cuddle bug bed buddy ever - also the single slowest dog I have ever, and I mean ever, trained. 4 months to learn Down...lol Absolutely adore him but between his health issues and the fact that snails learn faster than him...nope!

    Phoenix - Pointer/Aussie mix - Coming along very nicely - she is sweet, smart, offers behaviors and will be a great training buddy. I have hopes for her but so far her desire to train, tasty treats or toys or excited praise aside, is limited - a few reps and she walks away ... not overly interested. This will change as she gets older but I miss having a partner who wants to train as much as I do.

    A year ago, my roommate got a Rough Collie pup in hopes of training her to be her service dog. This pup was a firecracker both mentally and physically. She wanted nothing more to train, all the time. She was highly food motivated, praise and toys coming a very close second. Show her something once or twice and she was offering it every which way she could - trying anything to get that click. And this was from 6 weeks! THAT is what I miss! She was too much dog for my roommate in the end but for me (besides the incessant barking) she would have been perfect. She really showed me again what I was missing.

    Thanks - I will admit I was a bit afraid to even tell you guys but I appreciate the fact that everyone has remained civil...
    Dogster and Mutt like this.
  20. Mutt Experienced Member

    Well I'm glad to hear that you have that this through and that the breeder isn't just a random choice.
    I didn't get that from your earlier post/the fact that the breeder had no website.
    From what you have posted now the breeders seems fine (I have to correct my previous judgement), but like I said it is kind of hard for me to judge the breeder if there is no website.

    In the end it is your decision, I hope you take our comments into account.
    The young age is my main "issue", like I said it wouldn't be my choice.
    Though I know how you have trained/helped a lot of dogs.
    Keep us posted how it goes :)
    Dogster, DevonW and southerngirl like this.

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