How a mix-up lands us with the perfect pooch
Being a touch OCD (obsessive/compulsive), I rarely make impulsive decisions. Even when it comes to something as emotional as choosing a dog, I spend days scouring the internet; poring over articles about breed characteristics, behaviors, physical appearance; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Having shared my life with bearded collies for the last 25 years, when my sweet Bonny crossed over at Christmas time, I started exploring the possibilities of a different breed. The one prerequisite that a dog must have is a fuzzy face and shaggy coat. Just having a long coat doesn’t cut it. Breeds such as collies, Australian shepherds, spaniels, and setters, don’t have the awww factor, as they have clean, pointy faces. I’ve never cared for smushed faced dogs, disproportionate dogs, and mini dogs. I’m not averse to a pound dog, and I followed the various pet finder sites for a couple of weeks, but there was a preponderance of pit bull mixes and other short haired bully breeds. Ever since I saw the Goldendoodle introduced on the Westminster Dog Show about 15 years ago, I have been enamored with the look.
Poodles get a bad rep. They are one of the smartest breeds, but the smaller versions are over-pampered and the show cuts are frankly, ridiculous. I’ve known a couple of standard poodles that sported a simple “puppy” cut, and they look fine, but, still, they have a very sharp, clean cut face, that doesn’t appeal to me. But the doodles have the perfect, cute, wooly faces that make my heart melt. So, I started researching all the attributes to see if they were, indeed, the perfect breed for us. Other than having high maintenance grooming requirements, they seemed like the perfect dog. They are being bred in a variety of sizes, determined mainly by the poodle father. Put simply, a mini poodle and a golden retriever produce a mini doodle, and a standard poodle and a golden retriever can produce a dog ranging from 50 pounds to over 100 pounds.
Finding a reputable breeder is a little more problematic. Because of the upstart popularity of this new hybrid pup, a lot of puppy mills and less than responsible backyard breeders have started breeding these dogs and selling them for prices that exceed the prices for pure bred dogs with a championship pedigree. I wanted to find a breeder that was within a 4 hour drive so that I could go visit the kennel, evaluate the living conditions and see the parents. I could never buy a puppy and have it air shipped without ever having laid eyes on it. I also wanted to buy a puppy that was already born. It is amazing to me the number of breeders that sell puppies from future breedings.
After weeding through a dozen or more kennels that just didn’t feel right, I found a kennel that was only about 30 miles from home. In business breeding doodles for over 20 years, and many more years experience breeding purebred dogs and show horses, they are a large volume breeder, but seemed very reputable. I emailed for availability of a medium sized golden doodle and received photos of 2 puppies born October 31, making them 10 weeks old. They were both lethally cute, and were both expected to grow up to about 50 pounds, so I made an appointment to visit them the following day. I had very good intentions. I was going to check out the kennels, meet the breeders, take a look at the doggy parents, and just “view” the puppies. If all checked out, I might bring home a pup.
The kennel was on an equestrian estate of undetermined acreage and the dogs were housed in one of 2 converted horse barns. Surrounding the barns were about 10 radiating paddocks of about ¼ acre each where the adult breeding dogs got to romp and play. I saw about a dozen adult and adolescent dogs. The manse sat on a hilltop above the barns. The two pups I had come to see were being carried out of the kennel/barn by the kennel manager and an assistant when I arrived. Being a cold rainy day in January, I was shown into the other barn where we settled into the heated office. I spent about an hour playing with the pups and going through my list of pertinent questions, but I knew within about 5 minutes of setting eyes on these pooches that I would be taking one of them home.
Deciding between the two was difficult. One pup was “to die for” cute, red curly hair all over, and very playful; VERY energetic, jumping hurdles over the other puppy, which was a smidge smaller and had more of a wavy, rather than curly coat. Since I wanted a medium sized dog, and I was springing this puppy on my 7 year old bearded collie that was grieving the loss of her big sister, I opted for the slightly smaller pup with the calmer personality. I did get to meet the parents of the October 31 litter, and the standard poodle Dad and the Goldendoodle Mom were both medium in size and very attractive dogs. I felt good in my decision.
The business portion of the meeting concluded, and I was handed the pedigrees with all the health certifications and puppy medical records, and Babydog and I were on our way home. Within the hour it took to drive home, I was smitten. Mayzie, the beardie, was less impressed. But I knew from experience, that once the annoying puppy phase passed, they had a good chance of becoming fast friends.
Two days had passed as we acclimated to our new living arrangement when I received an email from the breeder apologizing for any inconvenience that may have been caused, but they had “sent me home with the wrong paperwork”. My puppy came from a litter born on November 15, an interesting spin on the fact that they had sent me home with the “wrong puppy”. Apparently there were pups from two different litters that were playing in the same enclosure, and they grabbed the wrong pup. There was no discussion of exchanging the puppy, and I never would have entertained the thought. We were in love. The fact that my pup, Baylie, at 8 weeks was only a smidge smaller than the 10 week old puppy, had me concerned that we would end up with a dog much bigger than we anticipated, but I was assured that Baylie’s parents each were just under 50 pounds and the grandfather on Mom’s side was a miniature poodle.
But now at 16 weeks and 30 pounds, I think Baylie is going to be an overachiever in the size department. But, what the heck…. More dog—More to hug. It’s kind of like a box of chocolates. We won’t know what we have until she’s “all growed up”.
Baylie is maturing into the most wonderful dog we have ever had. She blazed through puppy school, and her instructor said that at 4 months she was more advanced than many of her adult dogs. She is an excellent candidate for the Canine Good Citizens Program, and is going to start training for Rally. I hate to think about what we might have missed out on if we had actually brought home the “right puppy”. At any rate, Baylie and I are joined at the heart.