Sunday, December 16, 2007

The puppy decision

As many of you know, I have been planning for the past year+ to add another dog to my household. When I started looking (late-Fall 2006) I gave myself two years as I want it to happen before Ike gets too much more grumpy! Alas, it appears I am right on schedule. The estimated addition to the family will take place at the end of 2008. Drat! I was hoping for much earlier.

Originally I planned on getting another Miniature Schnauzer. For all of Ike's quirks I adore him and I thought it would be nice to continue working with the breed and represent "good" Miniature Schnauzers; they get kind of a bad rap.

As I did my research, it became apparent that there are only two breeders that breed for performance dogs.That doesn't seem like a lot. I became concerned that that is really too limited a gene pool and decided maybe I would think about another breed.

John has always had Miniature Schnauzers and I have predominantly had German Shepherds or Lab/Shepherd mutts (except for the 1st dog, a 13" Beagle named Angus and the last dog a BC/lab/Wolfhound mix named Cinder) I knew that with my future dog I would like to continue hiking with them, play agility, try herding, and possibly tracking. I need a dog that has as much "go" as I do. I asked Katrin what she would recommend for me if I wasn't going to get a MS. I really like Monty and would absolutely love a Welsh Cardigan Corgi, but DH wasn't too keen on that idea. A BIG concern is the fact that I have two cockatiels and they live between 15 and 20 years. I have at least another 15 years with them, so my next dog needs to have a controllable prey drive.

Katrin recommended a Border Collie and a wonderful rescue (Glen Highland Farm), because if I was getting a BC it would have to be older so as not to expose a BC puppy to Ike! After much discussion, John shot that down. He was somewhat interested in an Aussie, but really would like another MS. I really do NOT want another MS. Dilemma.

Thus began the research into other herding dogs. Katrin threw out Giant Schnauzer and I thought, hmmm.... I started to research and decided that if I got a Giant Schnauzer I would like to get a puppy, the breed standard says they are protective and I want my next dog to be socialized up the wazoo. I don't particularly want a Lab or Golden response to people (Oh my gods, people....I love people! Let me turn myself inside out for you!), but I don't ever want to go through what I went through and continue to go through with Ike's fear of people, again. In that sense, a GS could be perfect. They like people, but their people are the most important (from what I have read and heard from first hand experiences).

I posted on the Performance Schnauzer list that I was researching GSs and got a ton of responses from owners and breeders. Through Giant Schnauzer Club of America web site I discovered a breeder that sounded worth contacting, Skyline Giant Schnauzers.

After a little prep e-mail, I sent the following "What I am Looking for in a Puppy" list to my Performance Schnauzer list, Skyline Giant Schnauzers, Wildwood Giant Schnauzers, and Riesenrad Schnauzers. Uniformally, everyone thought a Giant Schnauzer could be a good fit for me.

I currently have a 5 year old Miniature Schnauzer named Ike. He has been an incredible learning experience as he had MANY fear issues. He is currently CGC and TDI certified, so needless to say we have worked hard at conquering our fear related issues!

Ike competes in agility but is much more of a couch potato than I am - he does agility for me but isn't very passionate about it. In my next dog I am looking for a dog that matches me better in terms of energy and desire to work.

I love agility and we currently compete in NADAC and CPE, the two more low-key venues which are a good match for Ike's personality. With my next dog I would like to continue to do agility, explore obedience, and herding. I am also willing to show conformation and interested in tracking. Ideally I will have a dog that likes to work and we can build a relationship together that helps us figure out where we should focus our talents/interests.

What am I looking for in a puppy:

Boldness/Inquisitive nature: Ike errs on the side of safety always - many of his decisions are based on his fears. I don't want a dog that always leaps before they think but I would like a dog that is more willing to take chances/try new things.

People-friendly: I do not want a dog that leaves me to great every single person. However, having had a dog with people related fear issues I would like a dog that thinks people are okay.

Wants to play/work, i.e. biddability!: Ike likes to play/work but some things I really have to "jolly" him along about. I know that with any dog there will be issues at some point when we have differing ideas about what to do, but in general I would like a dog that likes to work/play.

Energy: I would like a dog that has more energy than Ike. He is very low-key and laid back, never in a rush. GREAT for a companion dog, not so great for agility! My intent with my future dog is to continue playing agility and any other sports they are interested in or are appropriate for their breed. I would still like them to be capable of down time.

Prey Drive: I have small animals so I am concerned about prey drive. It would have to be a dog I can train to "leave it," i.e. their senses don't desert them when they see a small animal. Probably rules out all "real" terriers and spaniels.

Grooming: I groom Ike myself, so am aware of the commitment a GS presents.

Feeding: I currently feed Ike a raw diet and would like to continue to do so with my future dogs. I have read both Billinghurst and Lonsdale and continue to try and educate myself about emerging trends in food, vaccination, and supplementing.

I currently teach pet obedience at a local shelter (MSPCA) and with a private trainer (Katrin Andberg, Maplewood Animal Care & Training
www.maplewooddog.com). I am a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and am actively working towards sitting for the Council of Certified Pet Dog Trainers exam.

Thank you for taking the time to answer this. I am genuinely interested in your breed and hope to discover whether or not they would work with my lifestyle.

Sincerely,

Julie Garland-Powers

Ike - Silvermist Icebreaker CGC TDI NAC, CL1-H, CL1-R
www.slowasmolasses.blogspot.com

One of the people I am speaking with has a litter of GS puppies on the ground. She feels they will have a wonderful working temperament. Unfortunately right now is not the right time for us. HOWEVER, she will have another litter at the end of 2008, which might be perfect for us. This breeder feeds prey model and does minimum vaccinations! Most of her dogs are from Europe. I need to continue to research, but tentatively I am very excited. I am planning to go visit her and her current litter in January!! I have also stumbled across a really nice blog called K9-Crazy (Cat, you in particular might want to check this out!).

8 comments:

Katrin said...

hehehe....puppies!!! Hey, we might have puppies around the same time next year if this works out! That would be fun! :-)

JULES & IKE said...

That would be AWESOME!!!

Cat and Tessie said...

I've been reading K-9 Crazy, it is SUCH a good blog. :)

I totally agree that a GS would be an awesome match for you. I'm nuts about them and they were on my list of breeds I considered for my next dog. But I knew I couldn't horrify Tessie by bringing anything big into the house, otherwise I would've put more thought into it. :P

Shaya and Tom said...

Have fun going to visit puppies until you get one! So will you have two "mini schnauzers" when the GS is an adolescent?

JULES & IKE said...

Yup! Poor Ike : P

Shelly said...

BABY BABY BABY!! I told Rich the other day, that Sandy wanted a puppy...LOL (Is that the same thing as when Coyle wanted a ferret??) LOL

manymuddypaws said...

GS's are great! I had one in agility class a year or so ago- really nice dog- lots of work ethic but still a silly, goofy dog...Good Choice!

selah5757 said...
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