Once upon a time, J made me a promise. We’ve actually forgotten exactly when he made this promise, but it was after a conversation with a friend about how nice it was to have one dog in the house, just one! that wasn’t a Siberian husky. Just one dog that would enjoy other dog sports, one dog with reliable recall, who could sit under the table at a cafe without dragging the table down the street. This week that promise came true.
He looks ginormous, doesn’t he? Several friends saw this photo and thought we’d gotten a Burmese mountain dog. He’s actually an Aussie Shepherd, and he’s only 10 weeks old, so he’s not very big at all.
After a LOT of research, I decided that an Aussie would be a good fit for our household. Adult Aussies are a little shorter but a similar weight to the Sibes, also have the double coat and toughness that the Arctic breeds have. An Aussie should be able to cope with the rough and tumble of a yard full of Siberians, be warm at the snow, but give me a different obedience experience. Once I’d chosen a breed, I started looking for the right breeder.
One of my early dates with J was to an Oscar’s Law rally. Having run the SHCV Rescue for several years, J was passionate about breeding being done ethically and responsibly, and he opened my eyes to the issues behind pet stores and “free to a good home” puppies, ie puppy farms and backyard breeders. J introduced me to breeders who were neither of these things, and I knew I wanted a responsible, ethical breeder for my puppy. (Why not #adoptdontshop? Because trialing dogs need to be registered with Dogs Vic and this is much easier with a registered breeder. Because why not support breeders who are doing the right thing?)
We went to the Dog Lover’s Show and spoke to some ladies on the Aussie Shepherd Club stand. They recommended a breeder who’s dogs would probably suit our lifestyle - competitive obedience, tough little dogs who would cope with the Siberians. I got in touch with her, explaining what I was looking for and that it might be a few years before we were ready.
The response reassured me that she was the responsible, ethical type of breeder I was looking for. She gave me heaps of information and links - she is knowledgeable about the genetic conditions of dogs, performed all the health testing (and a bit more) to ensure the healthiest parents. She is highly supportive of her puppy owners, offering training on her property, support for the dog’s lifetime via FB and email and visits. She breeds in a humane and caring way - puppy owners regularly return to her property for her training sessions, where the kennels are well kept, the dogs well fed and cared for, and part of the family - most puppy farmers will avoid having prospective buyers see their facilities where no care or resources are “wasted” on the breeding animals beyond the bare minimum, to maximise their profits.
I also noticed that this breeder’s prefix (or kennel name, the first word in a registered dog’s formal name) was appearing everywhere. Her dogs were at all the obedience trials I went to. I started to introduce myself to people with her dogs, and I got nothing but positive responses. One day, I thought, one day...
...last week, after some intense discussions about our future direction and puppies and current challenges, we emailed the breeder with an update on our household. I knew she had a litter on the ground but I was pretty certain they’d all be spoken for.
Much to my delight, I heard back from the breeder within 24 hours. The advertised litter were all sold, but there was another puppy...
...we’re calling him Kit. He’s gorgeous. He’s also ridiculously hard to photograph because he just wants to be right under my feet at all times. Please excuse the crappy images here - don’t worry, there’ll be plenty more.