Buying a new puppy – Part 1
“He always looks for me when he feels an attack coming on. His eyes glaze over, he starts panting, and then the convulsions begin. I just sit on the floor and pet him and sweet talk him. There is nothing that I can do but let him know I’m there and that I care about him.”
This is how Sandy, a long-time friend of mine, described an epileptic seizure of her 5 year-old Beagle. His seizures started when he was three and reoccur sporadically.
Sandy went on to tell me: “I’ve heard that sometimes a dog will have one or two seizures and never have another. But my dog has them so frequent now that I’m sure he’ll always have this problem.”
Every year hundreds of puppy-buyers find themselves troubled with pets suffering from unsound health or poor temperament. It’s easy enough to say that these dogs should be humanely destroyed. But how do you explain this decision to the children? It’s even difficult for adults to adjust to the death of a beloved pet. Some people, like Sandy, may feel it worthwhile to keep a pet in spite of his problems.
How can you avoid buying pets like these?
To start with, don’t just buy the first cute puppy you see; a little investigation can really pay off in the long run. Breed clubs can be invaluable in helping you locate most of the reputable breeders in your area. Write to the A.K.C. For the name and address of the breed club secretary; then arrange by phone to visit any nearby kennels.
At the kennel, ask to see the sire and dam before even looking at the puppies. Although none of the obvious health problems will be apparent, you will be able to judge the dogs’ personalities for yourself. If the parents are nervous, frightened, or overly aggressive, you will be better off looking somewhere else.
If the dogs slink away or are afraid to be touched, don’t listen to excuses like, “Kennel dogs don’t see many people, so it’s normal behavior.” Or to justify the behavior of a dog that snaps, you might be told, “When Sparky was a puppy he had a bad experience and now he doesn’t trust people anymore.”
All of this may be true, and told to you with real sincerity, however, it might be that the dog would have been mean or shy no matter what. You have no real way of knowing for sure, and the breeder doesn’t either. It’s better not to take a chance. If both parents are friendly, outgoing, and in good condition, the puppies will probably be the same.