Picking Out a Puppy

Back when we committed to getting a Golden Retriever, we knew we were getting one dog out of 18 spread over two litters. We knew it would be a male, and we knew we were 17th in line, so we weren’t expecting too much of a decision when it came time to get the actual puppy. What could be so hard about a simple thing like that?

Tuesday afternoon, we got The Call. We could drive over and pick out Ferris Drooler. Suddenly, the decision I’d passed off as easy weeks before seemed much thornier. As we headed over, I began to seriously wonder what, exactly, you look for when “choosing a dog.” After all, it’s not as if we’d chosen any of our children. You get what you’re given. And knowing how much can happen over the course of life, how much of a “good dog” is in the dog in particular, and how much is in how you raise him?

What can I say? It was a very existential drive. When we arrived, I still didn’t have any better idea how we would choose. Are you looking for color? Size? Temperament? “Something in their eyes”? A puppy that looks calm at the moment might only be calm because he was going crazy thirty minutes ago. It seemed like the worst case scenario for me: a decision that might really have long term effects, but which no amount of preparation could get me ready.

When we got there, the breeder made things even more complicated by letting us know there were four puppies we could choose from. “Just take them out back, put them on the ground, and see which one comes right for you,” she suggested. It seemed like great advice. So we took the four squirming bundles of energy to the back yard, I stood a bit of a ways off, and we Released the Hounds.

All four of them came right at me. So much for that advice.

(As a side note, can I say how glad I am that we’re not getting four puppies? Keeping track of all those guys was practically impossible, even with all five of us there. None of them really wanted to be held, and all of them wanted to go exploring in different directions. It was like the baby scene in Raising Arizona.)

Denisa and the kids were all drawn to a smaller, darker furred puppy. I couldn’t tell the difference between any of them (other than color), and so in the end, I made the easiest decision of them all: I let other people decide. We got the smaller one.

In all honesty, I don’t think it really mattered that much. I think we’d have been happy with any of them. If we’d have pulled up and been told, “This is your dog,” the end result would probably be the same.

But I’m very glad I don’t have to pick out a puppy again any time in the future. I can’t take that kind of pressure.


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