Your Turn

Take my survey to tell me about the last dog who joined your household.


Puppy Time

A friend of mine just got a new puppy. She emailed an update the other day, chronicling house breaking progress, the senior dog’s reaction and chewing mischief. Oh, how I can relate!

My puppy, Onchu, joined our household just six months ago. It’s been 24 years since I’ve had a puppy. Every new dog during that time has been a rehomed adult. My youngest foster was with me from age 11 months to 14 months. While she still had the untrained behavior of a puppy, her personality seemed well-established.

Now, with Onchu, I am completely responsible for shaping the way he approaches the world.

I thought long and hard before getting a puppy – two years worth of thinking. I’ve known people who have applied all sorts of criteria and reasoning to their puppy choice. Time of year, cost, gender and appearance are probably the most common considerations. The “dog people” look at the parents’ performance records or the accomplishments of other dogs from that line.

The first thing to think about was – what breed? Was this the time to add a small dog? I’ve noticed a lot of people are staunchly big dog people or little dog people. I generally like small dogs, though I’m pretty sure I could never live with a terrier. I’ve met some hard-working, stand-up toys. I really admire the hounds, but without a securely fenced yard, that could be a disaster. Nope, I finally decided. I’m sticking with my collies. They suit me.

Collies are easy to get along with and willing learners. It might be fun to attract the attention that rare breeds get, or earn kudos from other trainers for being successful with a “difficult” breed, but I don’t want a dog that drives people away. A collie looks familiar and trustworthy to the general public.

Now I suppose most of you realize that selecting a specific breed pretty much directs where you go to get your dog. Of course you can browse the shelters hoping to hit the purebred jackpot. But more than likely you’ll either go to breed rescue or to a breeder. This is the part that was most difficult for me.

I’ve fostered almost 20 collies and been involved in the process, through transport and home visits, for several more. I always recommend breed rescue to people. So why not just adopt one of the foster collies?  Well, I guess that’s a discussion for another post.

Is it Nature? Or is it Nurture?

The Boys in the title refer to my collies, Tag and Onchu. (The cats are girls.) Before Tag, there was Clipper. And in between, lots of foster collies. Observing them over the years got me pondering a lot about what factors contribute to an individual dog’s behavior. How much of it comes from breeding, the family genes – Nature. How much of it is a result of experience and environment – Nurture.

I hope to use this log as a way for me to ponder out loud. It doesn’t matter whether I find a definite answer because just like life, it’s all about the journey.