|Posted on May 29, 2015 at 11:00 AM|
Picking a direction
Trisha: Posted on Friday, March 06, 2015 7:59 AM
I've been having a hard time lately. I know what I want from my dogs. I want them to be the perfect golden! I want health, beauty, brains, and I want it packaged into something that absolutely fits the breed standard. I think my dogs embody the breed standard, but I also know that EVERY breeder reads the same standard and interprets it differently. I actually think that is great because it gives a bit of diversity.
Up to this point, my dogs have been successful in obedience, rally, hunting, nosework, lure coursing, therapy, and service. They also make really awesome pets! If I could have imagined my dogs being like this 5-8 years ago I'd have not believed it. My knowledge has changed. What I am producing has changed. In return, my bank account is empty, but my heart is full of gratitude for these amazing animals and for the people that open their homes and hearts to them.
However, I sit at a crossroad now and really am not sure how to proceed. I still hold this dream of the perfect dog in the front of my mind. Each litter I wait to see that this litter was better than the last. The puppies are beautiful, healthy, socialized and fearless, and most importantly they have the "I will put up with anything because I love you" kind of attitude that I expect my dogs to have because I have kids, a busy life, and flaws. If they can show me those qualities at home then I know its another check off my list that I can know they will be successful in their new home.
I am excited about the list of things that I can say my dogs are capable of doing. It doesn't take a genius to know that for now those are lower level titles. They are a combination of my own training ability, what I can afford to shell out for trainers, and reflect what my puppy buyers are interested in pursuing. More than anything, I hope that I am proving that in the right hands my dogs are capable. Hopefully they can rise to the occasion within what each handler/family hopes to accomplish.
I'm going to use Dog #1 as my example now. Dog #1 is one of my favorite dogs ever! She has given me more service dogs than I can count (I'd guess a third of her pups are fully trained/in training now) and she has also produced therapy dogs and hunting companions. Therapy and hunting are not usually 2 activities that belong to the same dog. I am so proud of that!!! That production is based off 2 litters from my dogs. Pebbles is competing for her Senior Hunt title now so of course the correct breeder thing of me to do is to find a really nice field dog to breed her to. Boy will I have the best pedigree I've ever had! And, the pedigree will prove they can hunt! Its not just me saying they should or providing instances in which many families hunt with her offspring. Its official! I'm even getting pumped up just typing about it!
Pup are born. They are healthy. They are beautiful. They have instincts and drive up the wazoo! Pups are evaluated and I'm told they are the best she has seen of mine. Very nice conformation and very consistent. Unfortunately, some are not anything I would wish on my worst enemy. The few are loud, stubborn, energetic beyond belief, and NOTHING like anything I'd ever experienced with any other litter. I couldn't help but wonder how in the world I could expect anyone to want those particular pups if I didn't want them myself. It was a frustrating 8 weeks.
I've had a litter since then with Dog #2. My gosh those pups remind me of why I love what I do. Again, healthy, beautiful, and calm at the appropriate times and puppyish at the appropriate times. They are pups that I am confident will be everything I say they will be. They will be predictable. They still should have pretty great instincts and drive, but in a more controllable package... if that makes any sense.
So what to do? I love the idea that I will someday have a hand in a truly exceptional dog or dogs. I am certainly trying my hardest to do that. But what is an exceptional Golden? I guess that is my problem. I believe that a truly exceptional dog CAN do it all. They should fit the breed standard and then tack on a ton of colorful titles to go with it. That is the dream. These days though, that isn't reality. Most often conformation and field dogs look drastically different. Even more different than the look is the temperament of a dog that based on the breed standard should be the same.
Competition is such a blessing in many ways, but it also is the cause of varying styles of Goldens. It is human nature to want to be the best and I think sometimes dogs are bred based off of human wants/desires I think sometimes rather than what is best for them. (again, not always and not trying to offend anyone)
I bred that hunting litter to have more competitive hunters and earn higher titles. I think that certainly some of them will be very great at it. But i'm not sure I did a service for the breed with the pups that went to pet homes. Will they really be happy there? Or, would they really just prefer to bust out of the house and chase some feathers?
The obvious answer I thought was to keep certain dogs for certain disciplines. This breeding is for show. This breeding is performance, etc. The fact is that I don't have a million dogs and I don't want a bunch. I do have co owns out to some so that it helps give me a wider base, but I was almost always bummed that the owner was doing the bare minimum to co own with me rather than seeing the dog through to its full potential and going beyond what I asked.
Another thing is that I really do like the 50/50 cross. When I can mix show and field dogs I am in absolute Golden heaven. They have drive but are very trainable and relatively calm. It makes size a little harder to predict, but the health and temperament of them have been super.
I guess I'm confused because I want dogs that can get to top levels of all those events, but I do not want it at the expense of making dogs that only work for competition. My pet and service dog families are every bit as important to me as a dog that competes. How do I honor both?
The other question that stumps me often is does the pedigree matter? Man I hate this. With my horses I'd say without question that the pedigree matters. I won't even touch a horse that doesn't involve lines that I like. I've built my breeding program on 3-4 generations now of no name dogs (mostly, but not all:) and I love what I'm getting. I guess in a way I'm maybe building my own lines?
I'm afraid to add well known pedigrees for fear of adding in things I don't like. As in so far my rates for hereditary problems are way low compared to the breed stats. Of course that can change, but I feel really good so far about where I sit with that. I have a high fear that shoving nice pedigrees on there will bring in some bad stuff. Extra scary to me when I consider that the fancy pedigree would be added to show off more than anything. I love my dogs without the fancy pedigree. But the nice pedigree will bring me people that would want my dogs that would otherwise not have looked at them...
I'M GOING IN CIRCLES!!!
I WANT A DOG THAT DOES IT ALL.
I WANT A BEAUTIFUL HEALTHY DOG THAT IS SMART WITH DRIVE, BUT NOT TOO MUCH DRIVE.
I WANT TO WIN THE LOTTERY
IF you are a trainer, what do you think should absolutely be kicked out of breeding decisions? What do you wish breeders would consider? What am I not considering in all of this?
If you are a breeder, do you ever want to pull your hair out? How do you decide how you personally interpret the breed standard? Lots of dogs can fit it and be very different. What is the final decisions that you consider when choosing if you want that certain line to represent your breeding program?
I had more, but its late and I erased a bunch. Plus this is plenty of rambling for a night. Sorry if I offended anyone. NOT my intent. Just bouncing around ideas