After my Bacon Dove Poppers post I realized that I, in fact, did not tell y’all we got a puppy. (Look, I said “y’all!” I’m so Texan now!)
His name is Jasper and he is a standard poodle.
In general, I don’t feel that dogs are particularly urban homesteader-y. They can help guard a flock of hens if they are outside, but most urbanites keep their dogs inside unless they are home, and on a city lot, I’m not sure what else they contribute to food independence or self-sufficiency. But that doesn’t stop us from wanting them or loving them. Yay dogs!
Jasper is not just a standard poodle. He is a hunting poodle. After Josie, our last dog, Rick had decided that our next dog should be a hunting dog. He wanted a buddy that could go with him on duck hunts as well as retrieve birds for upland game. There are a few breeds of dogs that fit the bill of both upland and waterfowl retrievers… labs, Vizslas, Weimaraners and poodles.
I’m not a huge fan of labs – they are being really over-bred, they think with their stomachs, and I’ve had mostly negative experiences with them. Vizslas and Weimaraners are gorgeous dogs, but they are very high energy, and I just didn’t think I could handle adding one to our already chaotic household. That left poodles.
Poodles are reputed to be great family dogs and good retrievers (if you can find a breeder still breeding them to work) and they don’t shed. Of course that last one means they have a high maintenance coat. But I’m ok with that actually.
In May, we picked Jasper up from a breeder in Phoenix. I know Phoenix is a long way to go for a dog. However, most standard poodle breeders these days are breeding for looks, not for working. So back in September of last year we started searching for a breeder who was actually hunting with their poodles.
We finally narrowed the very short list of breeders down to two; one in Georgia, Louter Creek, which is the home of Cooper, the famous poodle from Duck Dynasty (no, he doesn’t really belong to Si – sorry to burst your bubble), and to Harmony Mountain in Arizona.
After contacting the breeders in October and doing tons of research (and Googling), we decided on Arizona. Both breeders were great, and I’m certain a dog from the Louter’s would have been wonderful. But Harmony Mountain was much closer to Colorado (which did factor into the cost for us), and it was obvious that Lori and Rich kept in close contact with all their puppy buyers. Lori’s attention to detail, testing and keeping up to date with research made me know they were the breeder for us.
We signed on the line in December and put the deposit down on Jasper’s litter the first week of January, before we found out we were moving to Texas.
After we found out about the move, we almost canceled. He was due to be born at the end of March, within a couple of weeks of us getting to Texas. We would bring him home in May. The prospect of a new puppy during all this seemed pretty overwhelming, but in the end we decided to keep our deposit.
I’m so glad we did. After the move I actually had much more free time to give to puppy training than I would have back in Colorado.
Also, if any of you knew our old dog, you would understand my fears in getting a new dog. She was a mutt from the pound and very difficult on almost every possible level.
But Jasper… Jasper has been a dream. He is sweet and calm and smart. He is happy and gentle and sensitive. He fits in here perfectly. Nothing has been disturbed by his joining the family. He loves to snuggle and thinks he is a lap dog. Or possibly a cat.
By 4 months old he had already mastered sit, down, stay, shake, place, wait, come, kennel, load, off, leave it, heel… I’m sure there are more.
As far as hunting, he is retrieving and likes the water. He is already responding to whistle commands. He’s currently enrolled in obedience classes, at the end of which we hope he will have earned his Canine Good Citizen title.
I am grooming him myself. He is pretty good about me clipping his nails and trimming his body and feet. He doesn’t like having his face shaved still, but we push through and take it slow and I know soon it will be easy too. I have shaved his face three or four times now. Every groom gets faster.
Jasper’s almost six months old now and is about 21 inches tall at the shoulder. He’ll continue to grow, but probably won’t be huge. The kids love him and he them. He’s a good sport (as this pictures shows). We’re just entering the mischievous teenager puppy stage, but aside from a Spiderman action figure loosing a hand, there haven’t been many toy casualties yet. Knock on wood.
So there he is, Jasper, our hunting poodle.