My new puppy’s registered name is Muck Creek’s Hunt N Peck. We’ll just call him “Peck”. He’s a yellow male and I picked him out on the same day he was born. Actually, you might say I picked him out before he was born. My very scientific method for testing and picking the perfect puppy goes something like this:

First, you need to check the pedigrees of the parents. I look for dogs that have titles in their respective dog-sports. In Pecks case, his Momma, Kaia, has a Hunting Retriever title from the Hunting Retriever Club and his Daddy, Dudley, has a Hunting Retriever Champion title from the same sport. These titles tell me that the parents are trainable athletes. I already knew this about Kaia and Dudley because Kaia is my dog and I had seen Dudley do his stuff at several HRC hunt tests. Looking back through the pedigrees, I could also see that both parents came from a long succession of titled dogs. This requires much more than good luck. It takes talent on the part of the dog and many, many hours of training from the handlers.

Next, I look at health certifications. I want to see that both parents have been vet-examined and tested for any diseases that are common to their breeds. These tests are expensive. That is why tested dogs command a higher price than untested dogs. I would rather pay the price for testing than produce a litter of sickly dogs. ‘Nuff said!

Lastly I look at the breeder. Are they the kind of people who will devote themselves to bringing up a litter of puppies? Will they take the time and expend the effort necessary to expose the pups to different stimuli such as various floor surfaces, noises, children, adults, other dogs and farm animals, etc? Will they spend the time and money necessary to have the pups vet-checked after whelping and again before delivery? Dew claws? Shots? Worming?

If I know I’m choosing from a litter that has a good pedigree, health certificates and competent breeders, the last step is easy. I decide on a gender, in this case male, move all the females out of the way, close my eyes and grab a puppy. I don’t need any science at this point because all the scientific knowledge we currently possess does not enable us to see into the future.

In the case of Peck, I actually decided, before the litter was whelped, that I would choose the first male that was born. Peck was the first male and the first dog to be born on the night of May 21. He was born into my waiting hands. As soon as Kaia had licked him clean I rolled him over to see if it was a boy. He was my dog from that moment on. He’ll be my dog for the next 15 years or so. This is going to be an awesome journey!