Friday, March 5, 2010

Catching up, seeing puppies, etc.

Wow, bad blogger again! I meant to post this on Monday, but the week got away from me. So, without further ado...

Sunday was a totally puppilicious day. I started the day by temperament testing my training instructor's Aussie litter. I pretty much use the standard Puppy Aptitude Test, with the inclusion of the umbrella "startle" test and the EXclusion of the Touch Sensitivity, or pinch, test. Call me a wuss, but I do NOT like pinching widdle baby puppy feet and hurting them. Maybe it's just me, but nope, not doing it. Sue me.

It was an interesting litter. There were two puppies who scored in the 2-3 range, and two puppies that were mostly 5's and 6's. There were a couple of observations that I took away from the experience (and I am certainly no expert -- these are just my thoughts based on what I've experienced with this and other litters):

  • With the first puppy, I did the Restraint test as the third item after Social Attraction and Following. Although this puppy scored solid 2's and 3's on every other test, she scored a 6 on the Social Dominance test; it was my conclusion that this was a direct result of doing that test right after the Restraint test, and I don't believe a 6 was really an accurate score on that test for that particular puppy. She was the first puppy of this litter that I tested that day, so after her I moved the restraint test to the end of cycle for the other puppies.

  • The temperament test is supposed to be administered in a room that is unfamiliar to the puppy, by a person who is unfamiliar to the puppy. While this set of circumstances does mimic what a dog may be faced with in life, I do wonder if the results with a puppy are truly reflective of how the adult dog would handle the situation. At least one of the puppies who scored 5's and 6's didn't necessarily seem to be truly uninterested in me or shy/scared of me, but he WAS very curious about the new surroundings. He didn't come readily to me or follow me, but when I elevated him he was completely relaxed, and after the testing was done and I picked him up to cuddle him, he made some eye contact, licked my chin, and engaged with me. I'm not sure I believe that an adult dog with a little more life experience would behave exactly the same as a 7-week old puppy with respect to new person vs. new surroundings.

  • The number scores are presumably meant to apply to puppies across the board; accordingly, you would want to see the same "ideal" scores in each puppy, no matter the breed. I would prefer to tailor these temperament/aptitude tests, or at least the interpretation thereof, to the specific breed or, at the least, to a particular group. For example, I don't want to see a Golden Retriever and a Border Collie perform the same way on the Retrieve test. Or maybe a more accurate thing would be to say that I would not apply the same meaning to the same score for those two breeds. I would certainly want to see the Golden run out, grab the piece of crumpled paper, and bring it back to me. However, I would expect more pouncing, mouthing and/or guarding out of the Border Collie, which is a herding breed and should therefore have a higher prey drive. The Border could also be reasonably expected to perform more independently than a dog that is expected to closely follow handler cues to perform its work.

No matter how many litters I look at, it never fails to bemuse me how individual each pup is. Here they are, all raised together, by the same mother, in the same way, but they so early develop their own little personalities. Surely, at this age, Nature is much more on display than Nurture.

My final word on temperament/aptitude tests: they do not in any way replace the breeder's experience and observation. Rather, I see them as merely one more tool that the breeder has in deciding how to place each puppy. The testing offers the breeder the opportunity to see how each puppy behaves with that new person and with new experiences, a little something else to add to their coffer of knowledge of each. So no big write-up or profile from me saying this one needs to go here, that one can't go there, etc. This is what you saw from each puppy, make of that what you will.

What experiences have others had, either giving the tests or having them done on litters they've bred? Am I totally out in left field (AKA talking out of my @$$)?

The second part of the day was one I had been anxiously awaiting for weeks: The chance to see the Clue-lettes! First, I have a small confession to make. Y'all know I've been like this weirdo cyber puppy-stalker, and I'll admit that, in some of my more uncharitable moments, I may have grumbled to myself that there could be more photo updates of the litter, some stacked photos, etc. and so on. So I was really looking forward to going to Joanna's with my camera to take a photo library to later pour over, study in infinitessimal detail, measure millimeter to millimeter so I could calculate length to height (you know, as one does), etc. Thus, allow me to present:

Yep. A picture. Of me. That my HUSBAND took, of me sitting on the floor with Ginny while Joanna and I talked. Can I just say that I now TOTALLY understand why there haven't been hourly photo updates and a glossy library of stacked photos like I craved? Seriously, who can be bothered messing with a camera and taking pictures when there are all of those abso-freaking-lutely adorable puppies to be played with and squidged and kissed and tousled and belly-rubbed? And stacking them up? Fuggedaboutit. Ever try to stand a piece of spaghetti up on its end? A COOKED piece of spaghetti? Yeah, it's like that. Wiggly, kissy, playful little puppies do not want to stand still and pose for the camera. Not even for a piece of hot dog. Because there's a whole plate of hotdogs right there.

So, Joanna? My bad. Never again shall I grumble about not having new photos to obsess over each day. I worship at your feet for taking all the photos you have taken, while still doing your work, mothering four girls (who were all also just lovely, by the way), and raising these wonderful babies. And for goodness sake, go kiss those puppies for me!!

The litter is simply beautiful, and beautifully outgoing and confident. Toys were played with, fingers and toes were nibbled, laps were climbed into... I couldn't ask for more. As I expected, Joanna has done a fabulous job making them happy, healthy, and well-adjusted little baby dogs.

Do I have a favorite? Yup. Though I think my favorite has changed during the week with the outdoor photos of the puppies. Who is it?

Stay tuned!


  1. It was entirely lovely to see you guys and I hope the puppies continue to look good (and please, please, the girls have to differentiate enough so I can make a good decision myself!). The big dogs were pretty sure you showed up just to see them, so they're lobbying to have you come back sooner rather than later!

  2. can't wait to see who you choose!