I'm Robbie Thoughts of a dog owner

Hi! I'm Josh!

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No. 7  

No. 1 - Jan/Feb. 2001

» Selecting a puppy «

So, here I am sitting in front of the computer. I have a homepage designed by my super sister (many thanks, Eva!) on which there are some pictures of my dogs... and what now? Personally, I am constantly irritated when there are homepages which have been created at some time and then never updated. Therefore, I have decided now and again to put some thoughts down in writing and to leave it to those who are interested to read them. The subjects....? Well, maybe I'll know that if I sit in front of the computer and start...


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Today, I would like to write about what has occupied me most in the last two weeks, i.e. Robbie - my puppy and second dog. Well, actually, my first dog but, in the house, the second one.

I decided a long time ago that I would buy a puppy. I wanted to give myself time so that, on the one hand, I would find the "right" dog and, on the other hand, do it at the right time


Regarding buying a puppy, the following seems to me to be important - once you have decided on a particular breed:

1. As far as is known or can be seen from the pedigree, the puppy should come from parents from which there should be no fear of passing on inherited diseases.

2.The parents should have a pleasant personality and, if possible, correspond closely to the breed standard.

3. The puppy should spend its first few weeks in a loving environment which gives him peace and security but which, in this security, also exposes it to a lot of interesting stimuli and brings it close to people.

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Already in 1999 I had made contact with English breeders and also visited some so as to get a impression of them, their dogs and their ideas and views regarding breeding. This is very important for me because the first weeks make such a strong impression on the puppy.


I was surprised by the variation in the views of famous breeders. Eye tests were usually done but not hip X-rays.

On the one hand there's the NZ/Australian show type and, on the other hand, the - often bigger -  working type. This became clear to me also at Crufts which I visited in March 2000. There I was able to renew contacts and also to talk to other breeders or Border Collie owners. I must say that they were all very willing to help and - probably like every enthusiastic dog owner - very glad to talk about their dogs and the breeding. I was impressed by the opinion expressed by several good breeders - that it is not the buyer who should make the final choice but the breeder! The breeder knows the puppies for several weeks and might have an idea of its abilities and personality, and thus decides who should have which dog... or whether somebody should get a dog at all!. This view is lacking in several Austrian breeders.

Finally, I shortlisted three breeders:
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  • The Josh's breeder who wanted to have a final litter with his father in autumn. However, as this would be a red-white litter, I excluded her because I wanted a classic black and white dog.

  • Marie and Mark Jordan whose dogs tend to correspond to the beautiful English working line.

  • Carolyn Ward from the Caristan Kennels; a very experienced breeder and judge who crossed a NZ/Australian line with an English line.

The decision was very difficult for me. Actually, I wanted a dog exactly like Josh only a bit quieter. He shouldn't be a big, hyperactive, working dog but also not a pure show dog. I had sleepless nights en masse. I liked the Jordans' dogs very much but there was the "danger" of pricked ears, which I didn' want. A possible high level of activity of the working line could also not be ruled out. ... and I had already had enough experience of that! Finally, the timing of the litter was a criterion.

The Jordans' litter was expected only in December and no-one knew if there would even be a black and white dog in it. So, I was glad when Carolyn told me about a litter from Rosemary Hancock that was expected at the end of September. Carolyn's SH. Ch. Moet Chandon had covered a bitch which was also one she had bred. Carolyn, who had already known for a long time what I wanted, was also prepared to have a look at the litter to see if there would be a "suitable" dog for me. When she confirmed that there was, I flew to England to have a look at him for myself. (Thank you very much, Carolyn, for your support and help). The others had already been allocated and Robbie - at that time still called "Austria" where he would possible be going to - was reserved for me. There he was then, he wanted to come to me and stay by me. But then there was yet another sleepless night with all sorts of thoughts and considerations - and then I agreed.

What was decisive for Robbie was, among other things, the nice and relaxed nature of the other dogs who lived there and the loving upbringing in Rosemary's house.  (Rosemary - Robbie's a lovely dog and I'm very glad you let me have him.)

So, two weeks later I brought him home - in a cat-box in the passenger cabin of a Lufthansa plane - and thus began some very difficult weeks!

I must admit that I was not prepared for how difficult this would be. Just as only a few mothers of babies or small children admit how stressful the first time is, likewise very few puppy owners say so - or this time is quickly forgotten. Maybe I also take everything too seriously but I felt very tense due to the responsibility. I could no longer recall how it had been with Josh.

It had definitely been easier. We brought him home at the end of May so he could spend a lot of time in the garden and he became house-trained without any trouble. Our garden was a jungle and the house a demolition site. We had just started the renovation work and had only old furniture so there was no problem if he occasionally knawed on something. He was the only dog - two dogs did not have to be kept happy. Apart from this, I was usually at work and so was unaware of most of what went on.

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This time I had saved up my annual vacation and so was at home nearly all the time. It was cold (I had collected Robbie at the end of November) but fortunately (thank the Lord!) dry most of the time so that it was hard to keep having to go into the garden with the puppy but not so bad as it could have been at that time of year. Robbie didn't even know what a garden was!


In England it had rained for weeks on end (there were daily reports of flooding) so that pretty well the only time he had been outside had been to visit the vet. Consequently, he almost went crazy when he first experienced a garden.

A bundle of energy who wanted to get everything into his mouth and chew it - snow was, of course, particularly good. Josh showed him how you could eat it too! Thank goodness the snow soon went. Winter is certainly not the best time for a puppy but it does have advantages. For example, it's not so bad when he chews the plants because they are overwintering. Also, digging holes in the garden is not worth the effort because the ground is frozen and so not at all inviting. So, my hope is that Robbie will have this phase behind him before the ground thaws. In addition, there are no fleas or ticks around.

In the mornings, my first job was to go into the garden with Robbie and hope that he would soon do his business. As this often took some time, I started taking the newspapers with me and read the latest news. I had to make use of the time somehow! What the neighbours or passers-by thought of how I looked, I'll leave to your imagination. Anyway, the down jacket which I had specially bought gave very good service during this time!

When he was exactly three months old, Robbie decided to be house-trained and that was that.

We did the (nocturnal) house-training for Josh in a way which is not usual here in Austria. At that time with Josh, I heard everywhere that you had to get up in the night to go outside with the puppy so that he would gradually learn to be clean. However, Jeremy's theory (which I have now also heard from English breeders) was that this was nonsense because as soon as the dog was able to be so he would be clean of his own accord.

That's how it was with Josh and also with Robbie. Instead of getting up every night I preferred to sleep and in the morning cleaned the plastic floor sheet which I put out for him each night. Both dogs were toilet trained after 3 months of their own accord - so why bother with this nocturnal trouble?. Naturally, there are many other views but, as this has worked twice, I also support this theory of nocturnal toilet training, that when the dog is capable he will do it himself. In the meantime, I am convinced that - like for children - there is no sense in beginning certain types of training too early. This demands too much trouble and often annoyance, while the dog can learn much more easily and faster when he's ready for it.

But maybe more on that next time!

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Now, however, the sun and above all the dogs are tempting me into the garden. So I wish you all a wonderful day!

Andrea Felnémeti



P.S.: Comments on my thoughts are welcome at all times:







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