Choosing your dog is very important. Your own dog is the most important dog in all the world to you. It doesn’t matter whether he’s a mongrel you found in an alley or an expensive purebred given to you for Christmas. His companionship, his loyalty, and his funny little tricks give you a kind of pleasure and satisfaction that nothing else quite seems to. And judging by the joyful way a pup jumps and wags his tail and kisses your hands when you come home from school, he feels that no person in all the world is as important to him as you are.
Now, the more you can learn to do for your dog, the more important you will become to him and the more enjoyment you will get from owning him. You know that polishing a bike or making a dress for a doll can be fun. In the same way, taking care of your dog can be even more fun. So if you already have a dog, or if you’re planning to get one, you should know all the things you can do for him. But don’t for a minute think that these are disagreeable dutiesl If you take the responsibility of caring for him yourself, you will have the thrill of seeing your puppy grow up to guard you, to warn others if you should be in any danger, to play with you whenever you want, and to love you as his only master. Then your dog will indeed really be your dog.
There are a few basic rules for everyone, old or young, who has a dog. These might almost be called “The Ten Commandments for Dog Owners:” They are:
(1) Choose the right kind of dog for yourself and your particular home.
(2) Be patient and kind with your dog.
(3) Give your dog a comfortable place to sleep.
(4) Feed your dog the proper food at regular hours.
(5) Exercise your dog every day.
(6) Keep your dog clean and groomed.
(7) Train your dog to have good manners.
(8) Have your dog inoculated against rabies and distemper.
(9) License your dog wherever this is the law.
(10) Keep your dog on a leash in the city, and never let him trespass on other people’s property.
In order to follow some of these rules, you will need the help of your parents and sometimes of a veterinarian -a dog-doctor. But you can learn to follow most of them yourself, as you probably know if you have a dog. But perhaps you want a dog and your parents object because they are too busy to take complete care of him. Maybe they will let you have one if you show them that you understand the things your puppy needs-and promise to do them!
Let’s suppose that you don’t have a dog, but you want one very much. Your mother and father have agreed to buy you one if you will help take care of him. What do you do first? Well, first you choose your puppy!
Choosing the Right Dog:
This won’t be any problem if someone gives you a dog. Or if you find a pup on your front porch one day. Or if you win a dog as a prize. Of course you will love this puppy, no matter what he grows up to look like, what breed he is, or how big he may be for a small city apartment. With patience, and the kind of care and training this book suggests, he will become your faithful, healthy friend.
But the best way to be sure of getting the right dog for you and for your particular kind of home is to buy one.
Another way to decide the kind of pet you want is to visit a dog show, if possible. There you will see with your own eyes all kinds of breeds. You can talk to their owners and ask advice. And then you can consider which breed would fit best into your home.
If you live in the country, you are lucky, for you have a wide choice. You can choose any breed of dog except, perhaps, one of the toys. It would be unfair to expect a tiny Pomeranian, for example, to follow you over the fields and fences of a farml His short legs couldn’t keep up with you. His bushy coat would get full of burs. And he is so small he could easily get lost in tall grass. Such a dog would have to spend most of his time in the house, and you would miss the fun of a companion that could romp with you out of doors.
If you live in the city, you also have a wide choice, but it would be safer to pick a pup from the terrier, non-sporting, or toy groups, rather than a larger breed. Of course there are many big dogs kept in the city. But before you decide to try this, remember that it’s hard to keep a great Dane happy in an apartment, much as you may love great Danesl And a Saint Bernard or an Irish wolfhound must have plenty of running and jumping exercise-not just walking. Besides, such large breeds eat from three to five pounds of meat a day. And because of their great size even as pups, they usually chew up more things when kept in a house or apartment than a smaller dog would.
There is one more thing to consider before you finally pick your breed. Does the personality of the dog suit your own personality and interests? Do you want a roughand-tumble playmate? Then one of the terriers will keep you busy and happy. Do you want a cuddly, pretty pet to hold and baby? A toy dog is for you. Do you want a companion for long walks in the woods or park? One of the sporting-group breeds will always be eager to go with you. Do you want an affectionate, all-round friend that’s full of fun and has no long hair to keep combed, brushed, or plucked? A Boston terrier or a dachshund might be the perfect answer.
Mongrel or Purebred?
“Do I have to get one special breed?” you may say. “Why can’t I get just any old pup, if I love him?”
Of course you can choose to have a mongrel. Most children have such a pet at one time or another in their lives. A dog is a dog-and with good care and training, a mongrel can be as healthy and as well-behaved as the best purebred. Certainly, if you already own a mongrel, no one will advise you to give him up and buy a purebred puppy!
But right now, let’s try to solve the problem of those boys and girls who are going out to buy their first dog. And there are some good reasons for advising them to buy a purebred dog if they can possibly afford it.
First, if you want your pup to have the best care, it will cost no more to bring up a purebred puppy properly than it will to bring up a mongrel puppy. Both will require the same expenses of food, collar and leash, medicine, license, and occasional visits to a veterinarian.
Second, when you choose a mongrel while he’s a pup, it is almost impossible to tell for sure how big he’ll grow or what he will look like when he’s older, because no one knows who his father was. This is an example of what can happen: A boy once saved up $5.00 from his allowance and bought a cute, fluffy, white puppy at a pet shop. The pet-shop owner said the puppy’s mother had been a poodle. Since this boy lived in a city, his parents had warned him that he’d have to get a small dog. And a poodle was just the right size!
He was very happy with his pup, and so were his parents. But . . . this cute little animal began to grow. And he grew and grew and grew . . . until he was the size of a large collie. So after the boy had become deeply attached to his pup and had spent a lot of time and some money in feeding and training him, his parents said the dog was now much too big for their apartment. Both boy and dog cried (yes, some dogs do cry!) the day they were parted. The parents took the poor unwanted mongrel to the ASPCA shelter. The boy still hopes that someone came along and gave his pet a good home in the country.
Last but not least, a purebred dog always looks better than a mongrel. If you are going to the trouble of feeding, grooming, and training a dog, why not have a good-looking pet as the result? A mongrel may be very pretty and appealing when he’s a pup, as most puppies are. But he can grow up to be a strange-looking animal indeed. Not all mongrels look funny, by any manner or means. But you do take this chance when you deliberately pick a mongrel puppy.
Two last points on this subject of mongrels:
(1) Some people say that a mongrel is healthier than a purebred dog. This is not true. A mongrel pup usually has not been given as much thoughtful care and feeding as a purebred. Therefore he can be diseased even when he seems to be healthy. If you do get a mongrel pup, it will be wise to have a veterinarian check his health before you take him.
(2) Other people say a mongrel is smarter than a purebred. This is not true either. Any healthy pup usually grows up to be as smart as you train him to be. All Seeing Eye and police dogs, for instance, are purebred dogs. Mongrels are never used for this work, which demands the highest intelligence in the dog.
A Puppy or a Dog?
To simplify this business of choosing the right dog for you, let’s pretend that you live in the city. You want a small dog with a coat of short hair. So you make up your mind to buy a Boston terrier. The next thing you must decide is . . . do you get a puppy or an older dog?
Most authorities agree that a boy or girl should, if possible, choose a puppy. He will grow up with you and you can teach him to be the kind of dog you want him to be.
An older dog may already be housebroken and otherwise well-trained. But he usually remembers the people who used to own him, so it will be hard for you to win his complete devotion. Also, he may not like children or have the patience that a puppy has in putting up with a bit of thoughtless handling. He may even turn on you and snap. And he may have other bad habits that you won’t discover until it’s too late. You can teach an old dog new tricks. But it is almost impossible to teach him to forget his old tricks!
For these reasons, most experts agree that it is best for you to get a puppy that is from three to six months old. He will not be housebroken. He will still chew up everything he can get his little teeth into. And he may have some puppy sicknesses. But only by bringing up your dog from puppyhood can you earn the full satisfaction of creating your own devoted, safe, well-behaved companion.
Male or Female?
By this time, let us say, you have decided to buy a Boston terrier puppy. The next question is, should this pup be a male or a female? Your parents will want to help you with this decision, as they will have certain responsibilities, too. But here are some general points to consider.
A female puppy is usually cheaper than a male. Some people think a female is more affectionate, more intelligent, easier to train and to housebreak, and less inclined to fight other dogs. Others say a male dog runs away more often and so gets lost or stolen, or picks up disease, or can be run over by a car more easily. They think a female stays home, is cleaner around the house, and is gentler with children.
Still others say there is no difference between the two sexes IF both are brought up with love and good training. The only important difference, they say, is that you will have to keep a full-grown female home for about three weeks twice a year, so she doesn’t have puppies if you don’t want her to. But that is a simple thing to do, especially in a city. And you can have the excitement of letting your pet have her own purebred puppies, if you do want them to sell, or give to friends as presents, or even to keep!
Where to Buy:
You’ve finally made up your mind to get a purebred Boston terrier male puppy. Where do you go to buy him?
There is one good way to be absolutely sure of getting a healthy pup that is just what his owner says he is. That is to write to the American Kennel Club, 221 Fourth Avenue, New York, N.Y., and ask them to send you a list of nearby country kennels or city pet shops which sell the breed you want. If the AKC recommends a kennel or a shop, you can be pretty sure it is clean, the dogs are healthy, and the puppies purebred. For if your pup should not be what the kennel owner claimed he was, you can protest to the AKC and they will hold a trial. If you are proved right, you can then get your money back and the kennel will no longer be a member of the AKC.
You have no such protection if you buy your pup at just any pet shop. Since some of these shops may be dirty or dishonest, it is really worth the trouble to go to one that the AKC recommends. But if you simply must have the puppy you saw in the window of a shop that is not recommended, then the next best thing to do is to take a veterinarian with you when you go to buy the pup. He will examine him to see that he’s healthy, and he’ll also examine the other dogs in the shop to be sure they haven’t a disease your pup can take home with him.
Another good place to buy your pup is from a private home where people raise the breed you want. They sometimes advertise in newspapers or dog magazines. Such pups are usually healthy because they have not been near any other dogs. They can be cheaper, too. And if their breeder gives you an AKC litter-registration paper, you can be sure your puppy is purebred.
How to Pick the Best Pup:
Once you know which kennel or shop to go to, there are other things you should do to get the best puppy for whatever amount of money you want to pay.
You should ask to see the whole litter before you choose any one pup. If possible, ask to see the mother of the litter, too, to see if she seems healthy. Look for the pup who seems sturdy and active and most alert as he plays around his pen with his brothers and sisters. Don’t pick the one who stays in a corner by himself.
A good kennel or shop shouldn’t sell you a sick pup. But just to be extra certain that the one you choose is really well, ask if he has been wormed and has had a temporary distemper shot. (You will take him to a vet to get his regular inoculations after he is four months old.) Then examine the puppy you like, to see that
(1) his nose is cool and damp;
(2) his eyes are bright;
(3) his breath is sweet;
(4) his teeth are white;
(5) his legs are straight and strong;
(6) his coat is shining and alive-looking, with no bald patches on it;
(7) he has no coughs or sniffles.
Your parents should ask that the pup’s temperature be taken in front of them. Normal temperature for a dog is between 101 and 102 degrees. Don’t take a pup that has a feverl And always test a pup for possible deafness. Do this by standing behind him so he can’t see you. Then make a little noise, or whistle, or snap your fingers. If he doesn’t pay any attention after you’ve done this several times, he’s probably deaf.
Now all this may sound to you like a very cold and hard way to choose something as lovable as a little puppy. But remember that he is going to live with you and be your friend for a long, long time. Remember, too, that he costs some money and is going to cost even more time and patience. So why not get the best? Especially when the best will be every bit as cute and playful and lovable as the worst. More so, because he will be strong and healthy!
What Papers to Get:
If you are buying a purebred puppy, or if you can afford to buy one some day, you should know what papers to get from the place where you buy him.
Every purebred puppy should have a litter number registered with the American Kennel Club. This number means that the pup’s pedigree has been checked by the AKC and found to be correct. The breeder will give you a paper that is a transfer of ownership from him to you, with this litter number filled in in the proper space. The breeder will also give you a copy of your pup’s pedigree. This will show the names of his father and mother, with their AKC registration numbers. It is important to keep these papers, in case you ever have to sell your dog.
When your dog is older, you can, if you wish, register him under his own name. Upon request, the AKC will send you an application blank and instructions as to the small fee you will have to pay for this service.