U: The Unknown I was puppy-obsessed. The more the universe told me I had no business owning a dog, the more I pursued it. Two and a half years ago when my then 9 year-old daughter, Ava, started on her individual quest for a dog, I would hear nothing of it. Sure, I humored her by participating in dog quizzes nightly at dinner for stretches that lasted two weeks at a time. After a few of these, the pattern of irreconcilable dog differences began to emerge.
She wanted a tiny dog that looked good on her arm in the latest designer handbag. I wanted a medium-sized square in stature dog who was an avid-runner and a non-squirrel chaser. We also had to consider allergies. My son has mild allergies to dogs, which greatly narrowed our options. And the conversation, which I managed to stop for three months (and delay with other obsessions like pierced ears and a room redo) before it gained any momentum again in the spring of 2013.
I’ll give Ava points for persistence. I thought the interest would pass. Around this time, our neighbors left on a week vacation and entrusted us with the care of their well-trained lab, Riley. Riley was incredibly easy and chill. By the end of the week, Ava was tired and unsure. I, on the other-hand, was surprisingly sold. I could envision me as the main caretaker of said dog with no expectations of the kids and their role.
This vision of me at the helm was critical according to other cautionary parents. Our long reviewal process and conversations with dog owners pushed this idea to the forefront as the key in dog-ownership. If we were to get a dog, I would assume responsibility and guilt-free joint ownership for the other three members of our family.
Once on board with this, we visited animal humane societies (notably in Golden Valley in April of 2013: see my related post: The Dogs Are Barking). Having never owned a dog myself (my husband had two over the course of his childhood), this visit was rather intimidating. What breed, or more specifically, what individual dog would be most suited to our family?
We continued the quizzes and my daughter logged long hours looking online and tagging her favorite pups. We took a break over the summer. She started up again in the fall of 2013. We hit up the annual Minneapolis Kennel Club All Breed Show and Obedience Trial in November 2013. This began, for Ava, a love of the Corgi and all its variations. We recommitted to ramping up the dog search again in the spring of 2014. The discussion remained dormant over the holidays.
During the spring of 2014, we landed on the basenji as an agreeable breed for Ava and me. We visited a basenji breeder in WI and met Harry late May of 2014. We liked Harry a lot. We made a date for the breeder to drop him off at our home for a weekend-long stay. A few days prior to the scheduled visit, the breeder cancelled on us citing the reason as becoming too attached to Harry and wanting to keep him for her own. Was this a taste of what to beware of when working with breeders?
Yes. While breeders are certainly avid dog-lovers, they do not necessarily pride themselves on their professionalism or customer service (of course, there are exceptions! I am just basing this on our experience with about 10 different breeders interactions). I was ready to take a summer break in our search. We did that and then some. Talks resumed in March of 2015.
We reflected on the path to-date and recognized the basenji, as a sight, not scent-hound, was prone to venturing off and never finding their way back to home base. So for this search go-around, we focused on low-bark invoking, highly trainable, hypo-allergenic breeds. I did more online searches and long email conversation strings. After an interview for an article I was writing for MN Parent and a simultaneous conversation with a dog-owner friend, both landed on the goldendoodle, I took it as a sign.
We had our breed. I did one last month-long push to reach out to breeders of goldendoodles in the Midwest. I even submitted a deposit to a breeder in Hutchinson, but had no returned email response until two weeks later, at which time we had already committed to the breeder we ultimately selected in Neenah, WI. We also talked with a breeder in Mankato and made arrangements to meet them. We were on their waiting list and had plans to visit over Memorial Day weekend, but received no confirmation. Weeks later, we received an email that pups were available. We had already moved on.
I committed to one last evening of research and inquires on Thursday, May 28. The following Sunday, I received a call from the breeder, Janece. Someone with the first pick of the liter ready July 8, had to back out of their commitment. I immediately sent in our deposit to GoldenDoodle Acres, our breeder of choice, on June 3rd on a wing and a prayer. It worked out. The universe wants us to have a dog. We have accepted the challenge.