Rewinding for a bit, we decided that we might have committed to the first breeder too quickly. The more reseach we were doing, the more it felt like she was less knowledgeable about breeding, less responsible in raising the dogs, and less than direct in answering our questions. So we decided that we should check our more breeders and leave open the possibility of losing our deposit.
Friday night we left work early and went to see a breeder in Indiana. This guy was immediately more to our liking. He was clearly a knowledgeable and responsible breeder, but he also really cared about his dogs. Of course, all breeders care about dogs, but we could kind of tell that while some breeders place a priority on raising champion dogs, he really wanted his dogs to end up in happy families.
We met the puppy and spent a long time talking to him. At some point it was getting late and he started suggesting that we need to decide soon, but we (or rather, I) were still being indecisive. We liked the puppy, but I was worried that she didn't respond to us right away. Once picked up, she was quite tolerant of us, and eventually she even played with us, but she seemed to treat us as just being there, rather than excited by the new people (like her littermates).
But eventually, just as he was getting ready to kick us out, we decided to take her home. She's almost 12 weeks old, so she was all ready to go home. In addition to liking the breeder, we decided that having a 12-week old puppy is just enough easier compared to a 7- or 8-week old one that it's worth for us to miss 4 weeks of puppy cuteness in order to make things more manageable.
She was a little nervous on the car ride back, but settled quickly and did really well. We decided to keep her in our bed for the first night to ease her transition; I think it helped but it meant that we got almost no sleep. She woke up around 6 and started being restless; I finally got up and took her out just before 7. Then started the whole process of feeding her, playing with her, teaching her to go outside rather than indoors, cleaning up messes. Puppies sure have a lot of energy! When things finally settled down and we had time for a coffee break, we sat down in the kitchen with a long sigh, feeling like we've had a long and full morning, and realized it wasn't even 9 yet!
We spent the rest of the day taking care of little Soba (we decided on that name kind of randomly — it came to mind and sounded cute, and it's easy to say), with one of us running errands while the other stayed with her. At one point fanlain was shopping and Soba and I were having a nap, when I got a call from molybdenum42 telling me that she got delayed in customs, missed her connection, and the closest she could maek it that night was Indianapolis. So it was back to Indiana for me, to come pick her up, while fanlain stayed home with Soba and made dinner.
Last night was probably the hardest, since we were training her to stay in her crate overnight, and she of course made the saddest puppy dog noises, but together, the three of us were strong and she eventually settled down. Today we're goign to see how she takes to us being gone for a couple of hours. We're still a little overwhelmed with all of the puppy activities, but it's starting to finally seem like we can handle it. And when she curls up on top of your feet, it makes it all worthwhile!
We realized after a bit that whatever concerns we had about her independence were misplaced because now she pays attention to us, licks our faces at every opportunity, and never stays further than a couple of feet from one of us. When molybdenum42 finally made it here, she greeted her enthusiastically and took to her just as quickly as she took to us. (The breeder told us that labs have no loyalty, I guess he was right!) I think she's fast becoming comfortable with us and her new home. I hope she'll be happy here.