Breeder Cheryl Turpin of Infinity Border Collies brought several puppies to my building for our friend, Carol, to temperament test. Each puppy was cute, adorable, fluffy and active. Each has a lifetime of potential as either therapy dogs, companion dogs, or show/obedience/agility/herding dogs. Matching potential owners to the right puppy takes hours of consideration, long phone calls, explaining contracts, price, delivery, and matching the right puppy based on the experience of future owners. Invariably not all puppies sell and then what? For me, then I’d get attached to the remaining puppy, start training it, and that would be the end of selling it. Sometimes a puppy has so much potential that the breeder does keep it to show and possibly to breed someday. Sometimes a puppy goes to a show home on a co-ownership, the breeder dreaming of it walking into the Westminster Kennel Club ring some day and winning Best of Breed.
Temperament Testing allows a third party to evaluate each puppy to see if it’s outgoing, shy, bold, independent, and drawn to people. It’s not a definitive, scientific method as puppies change as they get older due to their environment and training. But this gives the breeder a third party review for any potential problems or hopefully, shades of future greatness. Carol has about four years of experience testing Cheryl’s puppies and had studied temperament testing for many years previously. Although she does confirmation, agility and obedience with her Doberman Pinschers she’s been tempted to take only two of Cheryl’s Border Collie puppies. One of those two very special puppies was from this litter and his name is Cowboy.
Cowboy, a tri-colored male, has been spoken for already, which is good because both Carol and I were blown away by his potential: bold, playful, a natural retriever. He followed Carol around the room, and was very interactive. Cowboy has a bit of an independent streak but he’s a thinking dog. He also has a special spark already at seven weeks of age. We think the lady taking him for obedience and agility is someone I met at a show this summer, someone who I bragged to about Cheryl’s puppies, using my Razz as an example of their intelligence and beauty. Now, I joked, little Cowboy would compete against my latest puppy from Cheryl, Bodie. It will be a fun day when I get to see Cowboy grown up, trained and enjoying life.
There was another male puppy in this litter who matched Cowboy for his working potential. Carol knocked over a chair on purpose. Instead of running away, the puppy climbed all over the chair, investigating its potential as a toy. He was smart, beautiful, and confident in a new place, with new sounds and toys. This is the one I would have taken if Bodie wasn’t in my home. But really, five Border Collies? Even I realize how stupid, silly, insane, illogical that would be. Nope, ain’t happening.
One of the remaining puppies was cuddly, content to curl up on Carol’s warm lap. Another was independent, more interested in checking out my building on its own.
Another puppy went over to Bodie who was in a wire crate nearby for the first time. Looking at Bodie I realize he is no longer a cute, fluffy little puppy any more. He has morphed into an ugly stage with a long body, long nose, half puppy and half adult fur and big feet. I’m hoping, as all new puppy owner’s do, that he will emerge into adulthood as a beautiful dog. Carol had evaluated him months ago as, “Laid back-interested in everything but not interactive. A little independent but very friendly. Lots of playing and interactive with tester on the floor. Great family dog.” Now at four months with training and in my home he has shown himself to be high energy and intelligent, with an independent streak but very friendly.
Puppy evaluation days are treasured days for me. It makes it clear to me that dogs are my calling, their spirit fulfills something in me, completes me, always has, always will. Although I wonder what life would be like in a pristine home with no dog fur I hope to never experience that day. Somehow dogs are a part of my soul, maybe from a previous life, maybe from my part Indian ancestry. Who knows? The fact is that dogs settle me, challenge me, teach me. What more can I ask for in life?