Lenore sent me this video of Garnett’s newborn puppies last night, their eyes are not yet open. Turn up the volume to hear their squeaks. I am looking to see if I can spot Zinnia in this litter, I had a sense she was over on the left.
Technology has altered the way in which we see and meet our puppies. I used to relish going to the breeders and seeing the dogs for the first time, getting a sense of them and their temperament and manner.
Just a few years later, I get to see most of the process, I never actually saw puppies when they were this young before. For me, it is exciting but it takes some of the magic out of waiting. On the other hand, it adds magic all of its own. I can participate in the process in a way that was impossible before.
I appreciate my breeder, Lenore Severni of Stonewall Farms Labradors. She is transparent, as am I. I get to see the process from the very beginning, and I wonder if I’ll be able to pick out Zinnia as the puppies progress.
I think Lenore will guide me. Good breeders are experts on puppy temperament and social skills.
Lenore has been involved with Labrador breeding for 35 years, she breeds for health and temperament, the two things I care most about when I get a dog, especially a potential therapy dog.
Dogs advance rapidly from birth to eight weeks, when they can be taken home. Lenore keeps people away from her puppies until their immune systems are healthy and strong. I don’t know if I’ll see Zinnia before November or not.
When I get a puppy, socialization is very much on my mind. I’ll take the puppy everywhere I can, I want her to meet and see all kinds of people and places, from the smells of a farm to the sounds of a city street. I want her to see people of all colors, shapes, and sizes. I’ll bring her anywhere I am permitted (I always ask) and observe her in many different situations.
She will be at the Mansion and Bishop Maginn High School often. Jean’s Place and the dentist too.
Somewhere between 14 and 16 weeks, a puppy’s outlook on the world is formed. It’s called a weltanschauung or world view. After that, it’s difficult to change a dog’s attitude towards the world.
Many people who get a dog don’t realize that important behaviors are formed early, this is why I want a puppy for therapy dog work. It is difficult and time-consuming – and sometimes impossible – to change an older dog’s outlook or “theory of the world.”
This is something people who get dogs very need to know but are rarely told. As a result, many dogs are returned to shelters or rescue groups, many end up being euthanized or perpetually scolded and yelled at.
For me, getting a new dog challenges me to do a lot of thinking and research and training and socializing. I understand people who like to skip the puppy thing Lab puppies are active, they chew things and dig holes and eat anything.
Fortunately, they love treats.
It’s good work but a lot of work. I’m getting ready.