Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fielding Toller puppy inquiries

We are expecting a litter soon and I am currently fielding calls and emails from prospective puppy people. I fret a great deal about matching each puppy to the correct home and take the process of vetting prospective puppy people very seriously. Some people have only two questions; “Do you have any puppies available?” and “How much?”. While these are both valid questions I am prepared to answer, if they are the only two questions I am asked they don't do much to convince me the person is a great puppy prospect. We are deeply vested in our puppies, as are most Toller breeders. Producing a litter takes a great deal of effort, from researching pedigrees to honestly evaluating the structure and temperament of your breeding prospects, to obtaining health clearances, to caring for the dam during pregnancy and the puppies and dam after whelping. We hope to place our puppies with people who either have or will develop a strong passion for the breed, regardless of whether they are looking for their next field or performance dog or simply a family companion. It is very rewarding when I am contacted by a person who has done their research and asks discerning questions.

When communicating with prospective puppy people I don’t generally go on about how wonderful Tollers are. I imagine I might even sound a bit curmudgeonly as I take pains to explain how they are different in temperament than Golden Retrievers, the breed they are most often compared to. I am prepared to discuss the various health issues which challenge our breed, as well as answer any other questions about Tollers. If the person is in the area or willing to travel, I encourage a visit, though note our “kennel” is our home. I also have questions about the person’s interest in Tollers, expectations in a puppy, past experience with dogs, household routine, and even thoughts about vaccination and feeding.

Last year I received a call from a woman who asked me if I would consider breeding a dog who did not have their championship. I was quite surprised by her question but responded “yes” without hesitation. I sensed she was disappointed by my answer and our conversation was not long. I hope she found the puppy she was looking for. While my goal is to produce Tollers who meet the breed standard and are capable of finishing their championship, not all the Tollers I consider for my breeding program possess that title. Sometimes the owner lacks interest or resources, sometimes the dog simply doesn’t enjoy the sport and it shows in how they conduct themselves in the ring. As I was mentored, I look at the whole dog; health, conformation, temperament, working drive/desire/bidability. All are important but must be considered in balance.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Riley at the BYC

Over the Memorial Day weekend I traveled to Michigan for Region 2's supported entry. Known as the "Backyard Classic", this annual event has existed longer than Tollers have been recognized by the AKC. The BYC is always a combination of conformation and field events at a minimum. It is a great chance to catch up with Toller people both inside and outside of our region, to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances as well as make new ones.

I asked Riley's owners if I could bring him along to show as a Special and they readily agreed. Riley is June's only sibling. He is a handsome dog who (pardon the cliche) literally leads the life of Riley with his wonderful family the Eggers. He has not been shown since he finished his championship, but I thought it would be fun to take him out. To my surprise he was awarded Select Dog at the BYC's supported entry. This gives him the first five points towards his grand championship. His beautiful and talented niece Eta was awarded Select Bitch in the same show.

After the show, our friend Brad took some pictures of Riley for me.