You Want A Puppy, But Are You Really Ready?
SEARCH YOUR SOUL !!! You have the desire, but have you soul searched and asked yourself if you are REALLY ready to take on all of the responsibilities of dog ownership?
Are you prepared to take on a new family member? One who depends upon you for everything? Will you be able to provide it with adequate companionship, nutrition, exercise, grooming, veterinary care and training? Do you have a fenced yard? Do you have a stable home life? Are you anticipating any life changes which might cause you to consider giving up your dog? Are you prepared for this 10 - 15 year committment?
A LABRADOR IN YOUR LIFE...
ARE YOU SURE THIS IS THE BREED FOR YOU? Are you familiar with the less desirable nature of Labradors? They chew, dig, eat a reasonable amount of food, and have a good amount of energy.
Have you read at least two books on Labradors or at least on rearing a puppy? If not, perhaps this would be a good idea before you make the committment.
HAVE YOU SPENT TIME WITH ADULT LABRADORS? A cute fuzzy Labrador puppy is cute for about four weeks...it then becomes an endless amount of adolescent Labrador energy. The adolescent period of a Labrador lasts about two years! If you know an adult Labrador personally, ask its owner if he/she remembers the damage the dog did as a puppy, and how much training did it take to make that dog a well behaved pet.
ARE YOU FINANCIALLY CAPABLE OF CARING FOR A LABRADOR? Labradors eat about three to six cups of high quality dog food each day, Veterinary care, crates, a house or a bed, equipment, supplies, toys, and any of the dozens of "extras" that come along with dog ownership.
HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT ADOPTING AN ADULT LABRADOR? There are many Lab rescues across the country, and many breeders often have adults available for placement.
HAVE YOU CONSIDERED COLOR AND SEX PREFERENCES? Very often we hear that people think that females make better pets. In the Labrador breed this simply is NOT true. Labrador males are silly, affectionate, and love you with every cell in their body. It is the females who are more reserved in their nature, although the differences are hardly noticable. The male Labrador is larger and takes slightly longer to mature, but they make WONDERFUL/SWEET pets. No labrador of either sex is loyal or protective... they'll go home with anyone, and make terrible guard dogs, except that they are a reasonably sized dog, which often is enough to deter someone from wishing to enter your yard.
You have no doubt heard of MAJOR differences in temperament, medical problems, and activity levels of the three colors in Labs. Now that all of the 'experts' have filled you with their prejudices, you should hear the truth. Basically, the coat colors in Labs are similar to the hair colors in people. I am sure you know some dumb blonds, some ill-tempered red-heads, and some smart brunettes, but I'll bet you also know some very smart blonds, very sweet red-heads, and some really dumb brown hair folks.... Don't you love how people generalize?
SEARCH FOR A REPUTABLE BREEDER. There are many places on the Web to learn what makes a breeder 'reputable'. Use your head. Learn what makes someone a reputable breeder. Find out what the "standard of practice" is for a reputable breeder. Fight the impulse to get a puppy from someone who "always" has puppies available. That should speak volumes to you. No reputable breeder "always" has puppies available. A well-bred puppy is worth the wait. Most breeders have lists of reservations that are well filled BEFORE the litter is due.
Attend dog events. Responsible breeders participate in dog shows, obedience trials, hunt tests and working tests. When approaching exhibitors at shows, introduce yourself, and tell them that you are looking for a puppy. Many exhibitors are preoccupied when waiting to go in the ring, so understand if they appear rushed, and ask you to talk to them as soon as they have completed their event. Once they've completed with whatever event they are involved in, they will be open to assist you with your search for a puppy. Be aware...most reputable breeders sell their puppies on a LIMITED REGISTRATION to prevent the improper breeding of their puppies. Do not be 'put off' by a breeder who tells you that they only sell puppies on a limited registration. In fact, you should consider that this breeder has only the best interest of the breed in mind when selling on this basis.
JOIN YOUR LOCAL LABRADOR CLUB. Your education in Labrador ownership will need not end with the purchase of your puppy. A Labrador club is a great way to meet people who love your breed, know it well, and can assist you in many ways with your puppy and adult Labrador. The small membership fee/year is well worth what you will get out of the club.
We hope that when you do find a puppy, that it is the perfect match for both you and your puppy.
Good luck in your search.
copyright - Blue Knight 9/98
Reprinted with permission Blue Knight Labradors