These two stories illustrate the points made in our last post about why it is risky to purchase a dog sight unseen…
Are You Hearing Me?
A couple of years ago in NYC, I met a new client with a beautiful English Bulldog, 14 weeks old. This gentleman has had many dogs in his life. He calls his family “dog people.” They know their stuff. He researched breeders carefully, found one with great-looking champion dogs, and struck a deal for a two-thousand-dollar dog. The dog was flown in from 7 states away. My client wisely had the pup arrive at 8 weeks so that she was still in the critical social period. This means her mind could adapt well to the new environment of New York City. When his pup arrived he was thrilled with her looks and demeanor. He was particularly wowed by a striking feature – one brown eye and one blue. This feature, although alluring, correlates with deafness in some dogs. It did in this one. Turned out she’s deaf. Like, bang-a-pot-with-a-spoon-over-her-head-while-she-sleeps-and-she-keeps-snoring deaf.
Now, raising any puppy is not easy. Raising a deaf dog is a REAL challenge. Imagine not being able to interrupt the dog from across the room when she is about to chew through the computer cables, or lick the electric socket? How about never being able to call the dog to come unless she is looking right at you?
My client called the breeder to report his finding. Here’s the response he heard, “Really? REALLY? I did NOT know that.”
The breeder claimed he never knew the dog was deaf. He would not grant a refund. He would not pay for return shipping. He offered to exchange the dog for another puppy, but that is a common tactic. All breeders know the new owner has already fallen in love with their puppy (as soon as they arrived). My client was also rightfully worried that if he sent her back to the breeder she would be put down (euthanized!). So he kept her. He’ll give her a great life. But, not exactly what he thought he was getting when he did all that research, is it?
Where’s the Grass?
The voice on my phone message sounded worried, “Can you please come over to meet my puppy, there’s something wrong. She’s so shy, SO shy. And scared.”
When I walked in, this handsome chocolate Labradoodle slinked into his crate and growled from there. The 5-month-old pup was terrified of me even though I didn’t even make eye contact yet. Turns out the pup was stricken with fear over every new stimulus. He did NOT form new relationships with people easily, if at all. And taking him outside to the streets of New York was really tough on him (not to mention the owner). This puppy constantly pulled on leash because he was trying to run away from every sight and sound. He clung to the walls of buildings, searching for a place to feel safe.
The problem? This puppy was socialized in a quiet, country environment. He lived with one woman (the breeder) and a bunch of other dogs. That’s it. That’s all he knows. That’s all he can cope with. Now that the critical socialization period is over, there isn’t much flexibility in this pup’s brain for adapting to a radically different environment like the city. He might get a little better. He might get a little worse. He’ll never be the calm, cool, collected dog that a well-socialized puppy would be. Every dog deserves to BE THAT. The city is a mis-match for this dog. Who’s going to stop this insanity? I see it way too often. The risks of this happening to dogs and well-meaning owners goes up dramatically when you order dogs sight unseen over the Internet! Think twice before you click and ship… even thought the photos are so darn cute.
The Wrap: I wish you the absolute best success in finding a wonderful dog. You can get a great puppy sight unseen, but you’re taking a much bigger chance compared to getting one you meet first. The absolute best ways to maximize the success of your match with a new dog is to meet, in person: 1) the puppy, 2) the parents, 3) the breeder/rescue group. Do a behavior evaluation on your pup. Be real about the results. You’ll be living with your dog for a long time.
If you haven’t been on our Facebook Page lately, don’t miss out. We’re sharing your photos and stories, plus playing games that will build your skills such as “guess that breed” and “name that behavior”. Come join in the fun. www.facebook.com/CATCHDogTrainers