Holler at Mahler: Who is Mahler?

On my way to a dog show earlier this week, I stopped at a breeder friend’s house to drop off a dog of hers I had been caring for.  She had a couple litters of puppies out, which I admired (because, come on, they’re PUPPIES!), and she told me that if I wanted a pup out of a litter she pointed out to me, to her know.

Now, I’ve been expecting an SDP (service dog prospect) for quite some time, but things have fallen through for me on multiple occasions, due to either her bitches missing, or the timing being horrid for me.  I was excited, and extremely surprised to hear there was anything available, as I had thought all the puppies of this suggested litter had already been spoken for.

Nope!

As it turns out, the puppies had just been aptitude tested by another SD user (she also raises and trains SDs for others).  There were three dogs and a bitch.  Three pups were sable, and one puppy was a solid black.  All quite striking, but I’m not going to lie to you….I have a ridiculously strong affinity for sable, and even though I would have taken the black if he were the right one for me, the fact that the odds were high that a sable would be my SDP made me giddy!

Because of size concerns, I always immediately wash bitches from my options.  They are just too likely to be too small for the work I need, and so I don’t even consider them.  This left the two sable boys and the black boy.

I was immediately attracted to a big hunky puppy (sable), but didn’t get my hopes up in the event he wasn’t right for me.  While it is important to keep preferences in mind, preference of appearance, and even some personality traits, cannot override the importance of the dog itself being right for the work.  I did look at all of the puppies, and asked about individual personalities, and how the puppies tested.

It was my great luck that the evaluator was still there, and we talked about the babies, and to my great delight, she did feel that the tank puppy was best suited for me and the work I planned to do.  He was outgoing, social, confident, happy, but not overly exuberant.  When gently rolled onto his back, he did not fight, just mouthed a little, but never bit.  He was very gentle with his teeth (good indicator of a controlled mouth, which is fabulous for object pick ups), and remained calm the entire time he was upside down.

When I got up and walked about, he immediately followed, happy as a clam, little nubby tail wagging to and fro.  He greatly enjoyed being pet, and talked to, and was fine with being held, regardless of whether he was right side up, or turned over on his back.  Just in general, he was quieter than his brother (who I have started calling “Mr Screamy“), and less busy.  He’s no slug (slug dogs aren’t good for working), but he was perfectly content to lay down and rest when necessary.

Mr Screamy is by no means a bad puppy, and the evaluator also thought he could be suitable, but did agree with me that size could be a concern, and the vocalizing, though it could be trained and controlled, was something to consider.  He was also a “busy bee” puppy.  Moving around constantly, checking things out, and getting into mischief.  A very, very inquisitive puppy.

If I had been looking for a new sport prospect, I would have been all over Mr. Screamy!  But alas, I was not, and so he was basically out.

Before I made a final decision, I did look a little bit at the solid black male puppy, who was also a decent size, but I was told he was incredibly independent, and he was more than happy to be by himself.  It was most certainly true.  The black boy showed me no interest at all, and, unlike Mr. Screamy and Little Sister, he did not care when siblings were removed from the pen.  It was of no matter to him at all.  He WAS perfectly content to be by himself, with no one to bother him.

Too independent for me, for sure!  I like dogs that think, and dogs that think for themselves (two different things, here), but I do not enjoy dogs that have little to no use for me at all.  I find them frustrating to work and frustrating to live with, because they’ll consistently flip you the bird.  And even though the work required of this dog does require some independence, it also requires a dog with great biddability, and excellent social habits, so they are not so inclined to be defensive if I end up in a verbal altercation with somebody.

In any case, as I was considering the three boys, I crumpled to the ground.  It shocked the shit out of me, as I don’t fall too terribly often just standing still.  Mr. Screamy had no reaction at all, Mr. Independent was already asleep back in the pen, but Tank puppy got right up, trotted over to me, and sat.  I wouldn’t call it concern, at all.  He’s a puppy, he doesn’t know to be concerned.  But he was curious enough to come check me out without fear, and see if anything had changed.

When he was perfectly satisfied that I was ok (and after I had snuggled on him for a bit), he went off a little ways to lay down.in the shade and sleep a bit.

I was quite pleased with this, as he was wonderfully social with people, and enjoyed interaction, but this particular action displayed that even though he enjoyed company, he was perfectly comfortable without it as well.  There was no neediness or clingyness, just a happy, comfortable baby,

Nervous though I am, this puppy will be my new SDP, and with any luck, in two years Strauss will hold down a couch after years of good service, and Mahler will walk out into the world with me in harness, and it will be a new beginning for both of us.

Mahler is only 7 weeks old at present, and so he cannot come home quite, yet, but he will be home very soon.

I won’t pretend I’m not sad, or hurting, or conflicted in regards to retiring Strauss.  It is a necessary thing, but that doesn’t make it easier.  It doesn’t make accepting the change less painful or more exciting.  It is an adjustment that needs to be made, and I will make it, it will just take time.

Welcome to this crazy life, Mahler.  You’re going to have some huge paw prints to fill.

Flail on,
 – Classical Spazz

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~ by ClassicalSpazz on March 16, 2012.

2 Responses to “Holler at Mahler: Who is Mahler?”

  1. Congrats Jackie, it has been a long time coming. I love the pictures!
    Of course, I have to warn you. John Q Public, is gonna ask you if it is a wolf! LOL Cause real GSD’s only come in black and tan. LOL I think
    it is a great selection. I am glad you got Leslie’s input. It helps to have
    someone around that understands. You and I both know, that there
    are nice people in the world, but most are clueless. I did not know you were a big fan of Mahler! Love the name! I could not be more happy for you.

    • Oh believe me, I considered the whole “Wolf” thing. I’m hoping that with the combination of him “looking like a wolf” and the fact that most people will mistake the name Mahler for Mauler, that they’ll leave me the crap ALONE!!!

      I did cry a couple of times on the way home, because this is my first time preparing a new dog for the (almost) former working dog, and it really stung. I’m not used to the idea yet. I do think I will be, in time, but I don’t know how much time it will take, and the first time I take out Mahler in harness and leave Strauss behind it’s going to absolutely break my heart.

      Thank you for the positive thoughts, Wanda. You’ve really become a very important person in my life, and I’m grateful to have you 🙂

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