Monday, 12 July 2010

We Can Parent But Not Own a Puppy!

I hope I am not tempting fate by writing this. My husband and I have been trying to get a puppy for the last four years. In fact, since before the arrival of the children. Until now we had been refused on the grounds that we are not suitable and had managed to get ourselves 'blacklisted' (if such a thing is possible in the dog-breeding world).

As children we both grew up in 'doggy' households; I remember our first dog from the age of about five, then a golden retriever from the age of about twelve. They were both great friends to me. My husband also had retrievers as a child. So there was no discussion about the breed. The only problem was that that our house was quite small and the garden wasn't really big enough for a large dog. So - we put the house on the market. It took a while to sell, and in that time I became pregnant. We now live in a place with a large garden, in a rural location, just across the road from 70 acres of woodland: perfect for dog-walking. Gertie arrived and we settled in happily. We waited till she was a little older before thinking about a puppy again.

We went through the kennel club to find a breeder. It took a while to find one, but when we did the pups were due in six weeks. We waited anxiously for news. We were a little way down on the list, but when the puppies arrived there was nine in the litter and plenty for everyone.

We saw the photos and Gertie was really excited about the prospect of the new arrival. Then disaster struck. We received an email to say that there weren't enough bitches in the litter and we couldn't have one. But that's ok, we replied immediately. We didn't mind too much about the gender. My husband grew up with bitches whilst we had a dog, so actually it didn't matter too much whether it was a dog or a bitch, we just wanted a family pet. 'No', came the reply. We were not having a puppy.

My husband spoke to her at length. It transpired that she wasn't happy about sending one of her puppies to a household with such a young child. What? Aren't golden retrievers known for being family pets? I was devestated.

We tried again. We got to a similar stage before the breeder let slip that she had spoken with the previous breeder (small world) and didn't think we would be suitable. By this point I was pregnant again with Gilby which complicated matters further. We wouldn't be able to give a puppy enough attention with a new baby. What? How dare you judge us! This time I was furious.

Our household is something of a managerie already. We have a ten-year-old cat, Iggy; two chickens, Cecily and Isolde, and two fish, Percival and Tristan.
Now finally, we have found a breeder who is happy to let us have a puppy. We underwent a two hour 'interview' to ensure our suitability and had friends put in a good word for us. We have been to visit the litter of ten. Gertie was a bit intimidated by the bigger dogs, but loved being in the pen with the puppies and was happy to stroke them. Gilby was fascinated and couldn't get enough of them, pointing and giggling and gurgling with delight at their antics.

Gertie's grandfather is also having one of the litter (as their last retriever sadly passed away last year) so the sibling puppies will spend a great deal of time together.

They are beautiful and gorgeous and we are about three weeks away from expanding our household to include a dog. I can't wait. There won't be a more loved family pet.

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