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meeting a breeder for the first time

06 November 2010

Is Craigslist the epicenter of the Western World?

If you live in the San Francisco Bay area as we do, Craigslist is Grand Central for much of the local economy. It’s a giant souk where you can buy or find pretty much anything legal. Hannah Montana tickets for her 2011 concert tour? Check. Tahoe ski house rentals? Check. “Blonde wearing purple Abercrombie hoodie on Sunset #29 bus at 4:30 on Nov. 17. Me: faded Free Nelson Mandela tee. You smiled at me. I thought we connected. “Want to meet?” Check. Looking for a great dane pup? Check. In mid-November, MW responded to an ad like this.

If You’re Not in the Semen Bank Registry….

After yet another fall weekend of soccer, we headed out to Marin County where we met a family that you’d categorize as backyard breeders. This means that they weren’t members of The Great Dane Club of America or The Great Dane Club of California. They probably weren’t in the International Canine Semen Bank’s email database, either. They were simply a family with one unneutered male and one unspayed female. The result? Wait long enough and you end up with a litter. They were selling their double digit litter and we dropped by their house as potential customers.

Were they going to provide us with a dog I didn’t want?

Experienced breeders boast of their bloodlines by displaying lots and lots of photos of past dog show successes. Walk into the home of any experienced breeder and you’re almost sure to see a few faded pictures of handlers with feathered hair. Photos of handlers with center parts and feathering, and blazers with ultra wide shoulder pads help establish credibility.

Absent feathering, this is your typical dog show photo

It’s not hard to imagine Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now or I Think We’re Alone Now playing on the radio as our Best of Show winners returned home from the 1987 Simi Valley Kennel Club showcase.

I mean if the breeder was breeding when Tiffany’s career still showed promise, that surely says something.

In contrast, our backyard breeders didn’t have any past champions showcased in their living room. This absence said something else – maybe we shouldn’t stay long.

Puppies for Other Folks

I watched as MW and OD played with several of the puppies. They were playful, of course, and equipped with sharp teeth. But none of them passed the somewhat ill-defined “is this the one?” test. That’s key. I’ve known people who got dogs from the pound and found their mate using the urine test. I could say acid test, but as dog urine (especially female urine) is acidic this pun would be inexcusably bad. Bonding occurred for them when one of the dogs peed on their leg. That was the eureka moment for them. And for most, the unions that started with a dribble proved very happy and very successful.

So we left. We left behind puppies that weren’t a fit for us for a future fit with another family. We still didn’t need a dog but MW and OD had started to dig in their heels in a non-negotiable kind of way.

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