As a breeder, the question that I’m most often asked is “How can you bear to part with them?”….usually asked by someone who has come to see our puppies. There are few things as cute as a baby beagle puppy but the answer, I say, is simple… “there comes a point where there is just too much poop!” Right now, for instance, I have a litter of eight 7.5-week-old puppies but as cute as they are, there is simply too much poop. I walk up to the kennel each morning with the same prayer in my mind, “Please God, let the babies discover how much more pleasant it is to sleep in their run at night when they do their pooping outside”. So far, this revelation has not been visited upon my current litter.
Each litter that I breed is intentionally brought into the world. I love each of my puppies and I feel ultimately responsible for them for the rest of their lives. I take great care in screening prospective homes in order to ensure that my puppies’ first homes are their “forever homes” and it’s sad to see the babies go but it’s rewarding to know how much they mean to their new families…..and I console myself with the thought that it’s one less poop to clean up.
It’s a bit harder to part with the adults. They’ve had a bit more time to become part of the routine, to work their way a little deeper into your heart but, as a breeder, you can’t keep everyone or you’ll soon have a very large collection of dogs. You hope for the perfect home to come along eventually, a home where each dog will be loved and spoiled for the rest of it’s life. Yesterday, my first and only wire-haired dachshund went to his “forever home”. Luigi became a part of our family when he was just a baby. I had two litters of beagles at the time and at first Luigi just sat back and watched the “beagle games”, wondering if he would be accepted into his new pack. The beagles were curious about their new friend and before long Luigi was playing “Chase me, I’m the bunny” along with the rest of them. Eventually he thought that he WAS a beagle, observing the other dachshunds at the shows as some strange, foreign creature.
I initially got Luigi because I wanted to add a second breed…to learn another breed and a different coat and eventually be able to apply for both beagles and dachshunds when I applied for my judge’s license. I showed and finished Luigi and lately he had become “chief nanny” to my beagle litters, taking it upon himself to teach the babies how to “Chase the Bunny”. He was gentle with the babies and seemed to take great delight in teaching them how to be beagles.
Last week, a family that had adopted one of my beagles asked if they could adopt Luigi. We hated to part with him (we have always referred to Luigi as “the happiest dog we’ve ever known”) but the possibility of giving him a great home with another beagle (and a little boy as an added bonus) was too good to pass up. I spent a couple of days stripping him (transforming him from wildebeast into something resembling a wire-haired dachshund), doing his nails, cleaning his ears, giving him a bath. Luigi was not too impressed with any of this and wondered what was up. Yesterday afternoon his new family arrived and he was reacquainted with Huey, the beagle that he would now be living with. He introduced himself to his new mom and dad and after carefully observing the behavior of his new little boy, he joined Huey in a game of “Chase Nathan”. The events of the last two days now made sense to Luigi and he was delighted with his new family. “Yes, these people will be fine!” he seemed to say. It was hard to say goodbye but I went to bed last night picturing Luigi in the lap of his new mom…..his “forever mom”. He seemed quite pleased with the idea…..