On Sunday we packed up the three kids and headed out early for our hour and a half drive south in Oregon (a quick trip by our standards). We chatted about a variety of items on the way and warned the kids to not get attached to any of the puppies we were about to see as we were, under no circumstances, coming home with a puppy. We were just there to visit and see what the breeder and her dogs were like.
When we pulled up we were greeted by gaggle of lovely Golden Retriever, tails wagging furiously at our arrival. Given our previous experience (mud, mud and more mud) my husband preemptively put our youngest in her stroller. The breeder came out to greet us and to our surprised invited us into her home, a stark difference from the outside kennel visit the day before. She said, “You might not want to have her in there… I have a number of pups running and they’ve never seen someone so small.” My husband though, not knowing if we were just cutting through the house or staying inside held his ground and kept her in.
We walked in and our youngest was instantly assaulted by six Golden Retriever pups of varying age. The stroller kept her trapped and at perfect dog level for kisses and wet noses. Surprisingly she took it all in stride and didn’t scream or balk. All bets were off though when they decided her pacifier looked like a fun toy and tried to take it directly out of her mouth. At this point my husband realized that the stroller really wasn’t the best idea and out she came.
After greetings, the breeder put all the dogs out, except for the two we had come to see. I was instantly smitten with the young pup; he was friendly, laid back and absolutely beautiful. When I think of what a Golden should be, he was all of that and more. The older dog, which was the better show prospect didn’t bring delight to me like his younger counterpart. It must have been obvious as the breeder put the older dog out, leaving just the younger one. The phone rang and the breeder picked it up and walked down the hallway, just out of sight but not out of earshot.
“Yes, the family is here…they are spending time with the younger dog.”
“I can’t do it…I just can’t do it. I decided not to sell the older one; he’s just too nice.”
“Yes, I’m going to see how he grows out. I just can’t let him go.”
“Well, mom, I should let you go, the family is waiting.”
I was a little shocked that she had taken the older dog off the table and I had to find out by overhearing a phone conversation. I wasn’t heartbroken though because the younger dog was my dog of choice.
One of the most important things for us was how the dog interacted with our youngest daughter who just turned 16 months. This was even more important given this was not an 8 week old puppy but a dog who was almost 4 months old. My fears were completely put to rest when she started crawling on the floor and the pup playfully went after her, licking her feet as she giggled in pure joy over the chase. I was sold.
I looked at my husband, and nodded slightly. He gave me thumbs up. The deal was sealed; we had to have this dog. Like I said earlier, we didn’t intend to buy; after all we had absolutely no supplies at home and this probably wasn’t the best time to purchase. Given the way the breeder talked fondly of him and her recent action of taking the older dog off the table, I knew if we didn’t leave with this dog we’d lose our chance. I told her we would take him.
She started filling out the show contract and asked me to write down our names and address. I started writing this and hesitated for a second. We live in a Townhouse…no yard… our address has an “apt” number and surely she’d notice. I almost left that little “apt” number out but honestly got the best of me. I jotted it down and handed it over.
She started typing in our information. So far so good. Then, the clickety-clack of keystrokes stopped. She looked up at me.
“Do you live in an apartment?”
“No. We live in a Townhouse. A large Townhouse.”
“Do you have a fenced in yard?”
“Well, no. But we have a lot of space for exercise and trails around the house. We’re very active.”
<looking concerned the breeder just sat, wringing her hands>
“Well, I don’t know… I mean, I like for these dogs to have a yard… it’s always one of my requirements.”
<my heart started sinking>
“It’s really okay. We have tons of space and he won’t be hurting for outdoor time, I promise.”
<still, no typing, just staring>
“What happens if you move though… What if your new place won’t keep a dog?”
“Oh, well if we move, it’ll be to a house we buy and we plan on buying something with acreage.”
<still looking concerned but hands hovering above the keyboard again>
“Well, okay. But if you ever move and can’t keep him he HAS to come back to me.”
<relief> “Oh, absolutely! No problem!”
And away she went – clickety-clack back to the contract.
After the contract was signed, copies distributed, food and supplements discussed and AKC papers in hand, it was time to leave. It was at this point the breeder did something that surprised me; she started crying.
She gave the pup a big hug and held him a moment. The tears were flowing freely. She then looked up and said, “I’m sorry, I just can’t walk you out. I’ll lose it.”
I felt horrible but I was leaving with this dog. Her husband showed us the way out. As he walked us back outside he commented, “Well, that’s a first, she ALWAYS walks people out.” I was taken aback but it was clear that she loved dog. He said, “But don’t worry, I get a good vibe from you guys, I know you’ll take care of him.”
We got out to the car, got the kids settled in and then finally the pup. We waved goodbye and headed off. It wasn’t until we were down the road did I finally breathe a sigh of relief. We were on our way home with the newest and unexpected member of the family, “Blizzard”!