The breeder, Kristi and her daughter Emily, agreed to bring the entire litter to Indy for conformation and temperament evaluations when the pups turned 8 weeks so we could place the pups in the appropriate homes. She packed up the 5 girls and 1 boy in a giant crate in the back of the SUV and headed east. Unfortunately, there was no room for Miss Mia who was quite relieved to “vacation” at home with Robert and the two other girls.
In Indy, we prepared for the pups arrival. An x-pen was set up in the grooming room equipped with a variety of toys and fleece beds. Outdoors, the yard was turned into a puppy amusement park. We had large goose decoys scattered throughout the yard, a small agility tunnel, and a baby pool. Unfortunately, the pups favorite place was the large hostas next to the deck.
The pups traveled well and we enjoyed watching the pups interact with their new surroundings. The pups showed no signs of missing mom as they romped around the yard.
The conformation evaluation was done with the help of Sheree Farber, a long time golden retriever breeder and handler. Sheree also is a PT with a PHD in neurobiology. She currently does rehab work on both people and dogs.
The conformation evaluation was performed based on Pat Hasting’s Puppy Puzzle program. This program requires puppies to be 8 weeks of age (3 day before or after 8 weeks only). For more information on her assessments see her website at www.dogfolksenterprise.com
This program requires using a large mirror to help see the “whole puppy”. Sheree’s garage is set up with a large mirror and table. The first portion of the test involves cradling the pup in your arms and looking at the pups reaction to a new person. Ideally, you want to see eye contact, a relaxed body posture, and a happy pup.
Next, the dog is briefly suspended by lifting the pup under the chin and abdomen. The limbs of a balanced pup will hang straight down . Any forward or backward movement is usually is due to a structural problem in the front or rear assembly. The rest of the evaluation involves looking at depth into the front and rear limbs, the head piece, the neck , the topline and the tail set . The important point to remember is that there is NO perfect puppy, but to understand what are the strengths and weaknesses of each pup. This allows the breeder to make selections for breeding stock, working homes ,and suitable pet homes.
Once again the pups handled the evals and the new environment well. I really like how well adjusted these pups were! The litter contained several show and working prospects. The pups then returned back to their “hotel accommodations” and had a long power nap. Kristi and Emily went out to the Keystone Fashion model and I stayed home to watch pups. After the power nap, I enjoyed spending time watching the pups interact and tried not to pick out any favorites!
Saturday was the temperament evaluation. Susan Steffey is one of my field training buddy ,an AKC Hunt Test judge and a Golden Retriever owner. In the last several years, the two of us have teamed up to evaluate temperaments in several litters of FCRs and GRs. We use the Volhard Puppy Temperament Test. We have modified it slightly by eliminating the “toe pinch”exercise and adding more retrieving articles. The Volhard Puppy test is readily available online for review of all the exercises.
We used my brother and sister-in-laws basement and set up a large x-pen for the evaluation. Now that we have done this several times, we found several items to be crucial. One is a knee pad for the tester(and a dose of Advil) as the tester spends most of her time on her knees . An easy access is needed to place the pups in the pen(or someone with LONG arms) as most pens are 3-4 feet high. Good support staff is essential with a good scribe to take notes and a puppy exercise person to make sure pups have a chance to potty .
What were we looking for in these pups? A social, confident pup with good prey drive and good problem solving skills for a performance, hunting, or show home and a social well-adjusted puppy for a family companion. There were a couple stand out performances for working or show homes.
Now the hard part, putting all the pieces together for placements in their forever homes. The results were in:
Purple(Cinderella) girl puppy would stay with Kristi and her family for show.
Pink girl(Tinkerbell)- would stay with me and keaton for a field/show home
yellow girl(Bella)- would stay in Indy with Pam for a competition obedience home
green girl(Ariele)- back to NC as a family pet and possible show dog
blue boy- Tenn for a family companion and hunting dog
white girl(snow white)- family companion in chicago
The neatest thing about this litter is that Kristi and her daughters named all the puppies after Disney Characters in honor of the grandma, Disney.