From the Editor

Doing the best for our puppies

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Whether you choose to purchase your new puppy or hang on to a promising young prospect from a litter you bred yourself, nothing can match the excitement of watching a beautiful youngster daily and anticipating a fulfilling show or performance career.

There is always some guesswork involved, and plenty of hope required. You can never have too much good advice. Maryanne Dell offers it in her feature this month, “A Puppy for Every Sport” (page 42). Different disciplines call for different attributes and puppies go through phases and stages that need to be “read” accurately. Arm yourself with all the information you can to make a wise decision.

Once you’ve selected your puppy, the challenge is to expose him to the activities you’ll be participating in without overdoing it and boring him. Of course you’re proud of your new addition and want to show him off to friends, instructors and judges; just remember that a little goes a long way. Letting him sample the fun in small doses and keeping the lessons short will pique his interest without overtraining him. Spontaneity is a natural and joyful part of puppyhood. You want him responsive without being robotic.

Your three-word mantra should be: “Less is more.” Read “Puppy Burnout” (page 32) for more tips on the subject.

With all that we have wrapped up in our breeding programs, it’s understandable that breeders can be reluctant to part with a great puppy, especially when the buyer is new to the game and has not yet proven himself. On the other hand, how does a sincere fancier get a leg up? It’s not always feasible to breed a great one of your own, yet there are people in our sport who have a natural gift for grooming and handling. When like-minded individuals bring their assorted talents to the table, the results can truly be win-win. Together, fanciers can accomplish feats they couldn’t achieve alone, and this is a concept that is particularly relevant today, when all of us are trying to keep our numbers of dogs down. In some co-ownerships, one fancier houses the boys while another maintains the girls; in others, it is the responsibilities of breeding and showing that are split between the parties. However the duties are divided, it is most important that everyone be on the same page philosophically. At the end of the day, it’s got to be about what you can do for the dogs, and not vice versa. No one should feel taken advantage of, or reluctant to speak up if they do. Communication must be clear, and must be ongoing.

Jerome Elliott, who has been part of many successful co-ownerships, explores the subject with the help of well-known breeder-exhibitors like Kitty Steidel, Doug Johnson, Alison Gray and David Peat. All agree that ethics are essential; all the contracts and lawyers in the world can’t instill principles in those who never had them. However, where honorable people are on the same wavelength, successful partnerships can flourish. Read more in Elliott’s “Consider Co-Ownership” (page 36).

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