This morning, Caleb went to his new home. I know he’ll be happy there – Kathryn and her husband currently have Maximus, Tula’s litter brother, and they’re dedicated and loving dog owners. None of this is any consolation when you’re sitting and thinking to yourself that you just broke your own heart, and all in the name of the breed standard.
Caleb, who we brought home from Paula’s a few weeks ago, just wasn’t coming together the way he should be as a show prospect. I delayed admitting that for as long as could, because looks aside, Caleb is just about the most freakin’ awesome puppy I’ve had in ages.
Anyone who does obedience will feel their hearts race when I tell you that, no matter where I was, if I turned around I’d find Caleb sitting next to me, in an attentive, performance perfect sit, usually in heel position.
“What are we doing now, mom?” you could almost hear him thinking.
For fun, I spent fifteen minutes practicing sits with him, and within the first five he had it down flawless. Curious, I tried ‘down’ – something that, for some reason, can be an issue with a lot of Frenchies. Caleb got it in two training sessions. Did I mention here he’s only thirteen weeks old? Thirteen weeks old, flawless sits and downs, walking beautifully on lead (and sitting in heel position, all on his own), house broken and car ride trained. As Sean put it, “I think we have our first genius Frenchie”.
His structural flaws, however negligible, were still apparent. A slightly too long nose, set a bit low on his face. Ears at ten til two, instead of eleven and one. A tail set that was overly high, and, much worse, carried gay. All of it added up to a still handsome puppy, but one who was verging on pet, instead of show.
In the meantime, his weedy looking brother, Hammy (now christened Jacob), had blossomed into a solid boned, big headed dog with none of his brother’s faults, and all of the virtues he was lacking. He also had a pesky hernia that was worrisome to his new potential owners, so I took a deep breath, and I did the right thing – I offered them Caleb, in lieu of Jacob.
Yesterday, I swapped Caleb for Jacob, and this morning, Caleb headed off in his new mom and dad’s car, bound for a life in Rhode Island that will include a big brother, tons of love and loads of spoiling. Jacob is settling in just fine, and he’s great – a fun little puppy who loves naps and snuggles, and has spent most of his time since getting here chasing Pickle around the yard and harassing Delilah.
And yet, he still doesn’t feel like my dog – not yet, at least. Caleb does, though, and I feel like a bad mother for having let him leave. I’m sure he won’t miss me, or at least not for long, but I’m going to miss the hell out of him.
I’m left thinking, for the millionth time, that sometimes it really does suck to be a dog breeder.