Five of our ten puppies have homes. Two others are under serious consideration. Prospective buyers are now puppy owners. Names have been changed. Simba will be forever know as Henry for Henry the Navigator. Scar is moving to Connecticut and will be know as Nauset. Meeko will remain close by in Newton as Charlie. Two of the three girls are staying in Cambridge – one with us; the other with a friend.
As I watched the new owners bond with their puppies, I was both proud of how well the puppies reacted to the new people in their lives, but I also wanted to grab them, and say, “wait, I’m your #1 human”. We’ve been really careful in making sure the right puppy goes to the right home and have even gently turned away people who we didn’t think were right for the breed.
Portuguese Water Dogs are more than energetic. They can tear your house apart in the matter of minutes if left unattended or not trained properly. They are social dogs who want to be busy all the time. They need exercise and jobs to do and want and need to be with either other dogs or people all the time.
Once we establish that a PWD is the right dog for the people looking, then we need to make sure the puppy they think looks cute also has the right temperament for their lifestyles. Calmer puppies often do better with families and in urban environments while frisker puppies would have more fun in rural settings and with people who have more time to train them and maybe even involve them with agility exercises. It’s all about the fit and not so much the look.
Looks can be deceiving. Just as puppies can seduce you with their big eyes and soft hair, colleges and schools with brand names often woo students and parents with their reputations. Sometimes, however, a puppy with smaller eyes or a less well known school with better programming for specific kids might make a better fit.
Learning differences ran rampant in my family and I watched my siblings first struggle in schools where they didn’t fit and then succeed in schools with proper programming.
So I was on the lookout with my own kids. When the time came to move one of them from a more traditional based school, it was easier to do knowing how successful my siblings had been. Separating our daughters – sisters who actually liked going to the same school - was sad. But moving one to a progressive school where within the first two weeks she said in the car one day, “I’m smart Mummy,” showed me that fit trumps looks.
So with my puppies, my husband and I are looking for fit. A veteran breeder told me recently she doesn’t even let her clients choose their puppies. She matches temperament with living situations and if the clients don’t like her selection, they go elsewhere.
I’m surprised by how much I care about the homes our puppies are going to, by how much work I’ve put into the matching and how much I want the puppies to be happy and well taken care of.
So far, I’m confident with the matching we’ve encouraged. I know the puppies will struggle at first as they separate from their 9 siblings, mom and four humans, but they’ll bond well with their new owners and their new homes.
In less than three weeks, they’ll be gone. No more poop to pick up, no more pee to wipe up, no more sticky floors to walk over. I can put my front hall rugs back and throw out the rug in the back room. No more feeding ten puppies three times a day.
No more puppies to watch romp together and nap together. No more puppies to cuddle up with while watching TV. No more watching them drag a shoe across the floor, or bite one of their sibling’s ears.
They’ll be playing in someone else’s home soon, but even when they’re in their new homes where they’ll fit and be loved and cared for, I know their first home will always be my home.