In Search of Your Soul Mate

Love Dog

 

In This Chapter

  • Shopping for pink or blue: Gender issues
  • Checking out the age differences
  • Looking good on paper: Pedigrees
  • Recognizing a good Pom source
  • Rescuing a Pom
So, you’ve decided a Pomeranian is for you. Just as important, you think this is the right time and you have the right place for a Pom. You’re ready to zip out and pick up the first cute one you see. Whoa — hold on there! Even though you’re tempted to grab the classifieds, run down to the pet shop, or log onto an online pet site, you have other questions to consider.
In particular, you need to decide exactly what you want in a Pom. So in this chapter I lay out the preliminary options you need to consider, such as gender, age, quality, and quantity. I also offer pros and cons, recommendations, and even guidance on the cost of your new Pom friend.
I promise it’s almost time for you to go out and get the Pom of your dreams. But sit tight — you get to that part in Chapter The Final Selection: Picking Your Perfect Partner.

 

Before you begin your hunt, you also need to know what source will be best. Not all Pom sources are equal, so I provide a little caution to help you find that perfect Pom. In this chapter I give you a close-up look at the best places for Pom shopping as well as the places to avoid. I also show you how to carefully size up breeders and other sources, and I give tips on adopting abandoned Poms.

Boy or Girl? Choosing the Right Gender for You

How do you know whether to buy all your new puppy items in pink or blue until you decide boy or girl? How do you know whether to call your new puppy toys baby dolls or action figures? Of course, the Pom or Poms you choose don’t really care about such human distinctions — they just want you to love and take care of them. However, to ensure that you’ll provide the right care, you do want to understand the different gender needs and challenges.

Remember

Whether you choose male or female is primarily a matter of preference. Gender doesn’t indicate personality even though some people consider males to be more loving and females to be a little smarter. But these are broad generalizations; you can easily end up with a cuddle-loving female or a smart-as-a-whip male. And although females tend to be a little smaller, the difference is somewhere between tiny and teensy. Unless competing for the world’s smallest dog is your goal, size isn’t a big consideration when choosing your Pom’s gender. A bigger concern is a Pom in heat.

The main points to consider? Females come into season for about three weeks twice a year; males tend to lift their legs and mark in the house. But if you plan to have your dog neutered, you won’t have to worry about these problems. Spaying involves removal of the uterus and ovaries. Although humans who undergo such surgeries take a long time to recuperate, dogs, especially young ones, recover within a couple of days. Castration, on the other hand, involves removal of the testicles.
In addition to the bloody discharge and wanderlust that are commonly associated with a female dog in heat, a female dog that hasn’t been spayed will shed her coat a month or two after her season. Your once-beautiful puffball becomes a scrawny little rat for a bit because, like all unspayed females, she has hormones raging through her body. Note: A female Pom will lose her coat whether she whelps (gives birth) or is just in heat.
There’s nothing you can do but pull out the vacuum (for the rug, not the dog!) and know that her hair will look as pretty as ever in a couple of months. But if you are trying to keep her looking pretty for a special event in just a week or two and she hasn’t started shedding too much, the best advice is to not wash her. Washing, especially in warm water, loosens the hair follicles. By the time you dry and brush her, you may find half her hair in your brush!

Age Matters: Choosing Your Match

As long as your Pom is past the age of consent (at least 8 weeks of age), does it really matter how old he is when you bring him home to meet the family? Maybe not as much as you think. I touch on some pros and cons of older versus younger Poms in this section, but don’t let age alone deter you.

The benefits and drawbacks of maturity

Most people think puppy when they think about getting a new dog, but adult Poms offer many advantages over puppies. If you work outside the home, have children, or live in an otherwise hectic household, consider an adult dog. For additional info and even more reasons to adopt a senior, check Senior Dogs For Dummies by Susan McCullough (Wiley).
Many breeders have adult dogs available that may be retired breeding dogs or show dogs that never quite turned into championship material. Be forewarned: They’re still oh-so-capable of winning your heart!

Remember

Rescue groups also have adults available. In fact, always consider a rescue when considering a new adult dog. (See the end of this chapter and Chapter The Final Selection: Picking Your Perfect Partner for more information on rescued Poms.)

If you’re choosing an adult Pom, what you see is what you get — no need trying to predict what his adult personality’s going to be. Of course he may be a little shy at first (more so than a puppy), but as long as he’s not hiding and growling, that reaction is normal.
He also has more sense than puppies and knows enough to wonder why this stranger (you!) is so interested in him. Will he take a treat from you? That’s a sign that he’s not really upset. If he’s still uneasy, ask the breeder whether you all can go to some neutral territory. Some dogs are more apprehensive when a stranger invades their home.
Consider these other benefits and concerns of caring for an adult Pom:

Affection: Some people are concerned that an adult dog won’t form the attachment to you that a puppy would. Fear not — Pomeranians form bonds very quickly. Within a short period, your adult Pomeranian will feel like she’s owned you all her life.

Warning!

If the dog’s really shy or aggressive, though, she needs a more experienced owner. You don’t do yourself or the dog any favors by taking on a challenge that you don’t know how to manage.

Behavior: Mature Poms are often already housetrained, but whether they catch on depends on how they’ve been living. If they’ve been in a kennel, they’re usually easier to housetrain than if they’ve been running loose in the house untrained. Regardless, they’re generally past their destructive chewing stage, although a few errant chews may still happen. Senior Poms don’t need to be fed every few hours or walked every few minutes, and they even know a cool trick or two.

Habits: Of course, older dogs may still have bad habits like using the bathroom where they want, barking at shadows, or ignoring your calls. They may have come from bad situations such as puppy mills or abusive homes, where they received bad training (or none at all). For these reasons, find out as much as you can about an older dog’s background before you bring her home. Taking on more than you can handle isn’t fair to either of you.

Health: How is his health? The older the dog, the more likely health problems are to show up. As your last step, have a veterinarian examine him. If the dog has health problems, the veterinarian may be able to advise you as to whether the problems will worsen.

And remember, nobody’s perfect! He’s probably wondering about your temperament, too.

The joys and trials of youth

Ah, glorious youth! The age where the eyes sparkle, the teeth gnaw, and the rear end leaks like a sieve. Wait a minute — tell me again why everyone wants a puppy? One reason is obvious — Pom puppies are just so darn cute. Period.
Puppies have a couple of benefits, though, that pack a serious punch:

They learn to do things your way. Simply put, it’s a lot easier convincing your new dog that your way is the right way without her pointing out, “That’s not how they did it where I used to live!”

You can train your dog to do special tasks or live in special circumstances. You may have a special job planned for your Pom (like being a therapy dog) or simply special requirements (like living with cats or other pets). Exposing her to any special circumstances early in life helps her take them in stride later on.

Deciding Whether Two Poms Are Better Than One

Poms are social animals, which makes them such great companions. Without another dog in the house, your Pom looks to you to be her buddy. But when you’re not home, who does she have for company?
Give some strong thought to two Poms if you live alone and work out of the house (or travel a lot) and you have no other pets.
You don’t need to worry about competing with your Poms for their affection because they have plenty of love to go around. They can thoroughly enjoy each other when you’re gone and be happy to fully enjoy you when you’re home. You have twice the fun, twice the cuddling, and twice the floorshow. Watching two Poms at play is better than any television show ever made. Best of all, two puppies can comfort or entertain each other when you’re trying to get some sleep at night!
Although two dogs may become especially attached to one another (making you feel a tad neglected), you can easily remedy the situation by separating them and focusing your attention on each, one at a time. Make this time special by training, or playing a game, or taking them for a car ride, one playmate at a time.

Tip

If you decide to get two pups, you’ll find that opposite sexes tend to get along the best. Note: That suggestion is assuming you plan to have them spayed and neutered. Otherwise, opposites become too attractive and it’s a mistake. Besides, most good breeders don’t sell what may appear to be a breeding pair of pet-quality puppies (see the following section for more about this term) unless you agree to early spaying and neutering. Responsible breeders don’t want you rushing off to breed puppies, whether irresponsibly or naively.

What about more than two dogs? My answer to that question is to consider how many hands you have and succumb to my advice that two is pushing it at the start. One day, you may be able to handle three Poms. But take it from somebody (me) who has had every number of dogs, from 1 to 13, at a time: After three, it only gets harder!

Considering Your Goals: What Pom Type Would You Like?

The term quality isn’t necessarily about how good a dog is; it’s more about his type. Poms have three qualities: pet (also called companion), show, and breeding. Although pet is the lowest quality and breeding is the highest, the Pom that’s best for you will always be top quality in your eyes!
Dogs from hobby breeders are generally graded as either show or pet quality. The third type, breeding quality, can’t be determined until the dog is an adult.
The higher quality you demand, the longer your search will take. A couple of months is a reasonable time in which to find a pet-quality Pom, but plan to wait a year or so for show quality. Finding a true breeding-quality Pom may take a few years.

Pet (or companion) quality

A pet-quality dog has a trait that prevents him from winning in the conformation show ring. The trait can be major (like being way too big or having very little coat), or it can be minor (like having toes that point out or the wrong-shaped ears). A common problem in male Poms is the failure of one or both testicles to completely descend into the scrotum.

Remember

A pet-quality dog is still in good health and has a good temperament. Being a pet or companion is the most important role any Pom can assume, so it’s the very best quality for most people.

Technical Stuff

Good breeders usually sell pet-quality puppies with the requirement that that they be spayed or neutered or that they be registered with AKC limited registration (see Chapter The Final Selection: Picking Your Perfect Partner). If your dog does turn out to be higher quality than initially guessed, only the breeder can change the limited registration to full registration. Of course, no one can un-spay or un-neuter the dog! Regardless, spayed, neutered, or limited-registered dogs can compete in every other venue of competition except conformation showing.

Show quality

Show-quality dogs, like pet-quality dogs, must be in good health and have good temperaments. In addition, to have a reasonable expectation of becoming champions, they must portray the qualities of the breed standard.
Expect to pay considerably more for a show-quality dog than a petquality dog. Note: A breeder who doesn’t show his own dogs is unlikely to produce show-quality Pomeranians. At least one parent should bear an American Kennel Club (AKC) Champion (CH) title in front of its name, and the remainder of the pedigree should be peppered with champions.
If you want a show-quality dog, your wait will be significantly longer than if you want a companion-quality dog. And the more you demand in terms of quality and specifics, the longer you can expect to wait for that perfect puppy. At the very least, expect to wait a couple of months. The reason for this wait is twofold:
– So many factors can change with age. If you really have your heart set on a show-quality puppy, you may need to buy an older puppy (at a higher price) that has greater assurance of turning out as planned.
– Poms have small litters (two to four puppies) and only a small percentage of those litters may be show quality.
If you decide to get a show-quality dog, keep these points in mind:

Flaws may emerge at a later age. Maybe a puppy keeps on growing and growing or the coat falls out. Hey, nobody’s perfect. Dog shows are fun, but they make up only a miniscule part of the time you share with a dog. Don’t let it bother you, and try competing in one of the many other areas open to you and your Pom.

Remember

Be fair to the breeder. If you buy a show-quality dog, plan to show it. Hobby breeders work hard to produce these showquality puppies. Their payback isn’t the purchase price but the thrill of seeing their protégés win in the show ring, especially for a novice owner. Promising to show their future star and then hiding him from the world is not good form.

– You need to earn the breeder’s trust. If you’ve never shown a dog before, most breeders will be hesitant about entrusting you with a top show-quality puppy. A good way to earn their trust and respect is to earn an obedience title with another dog, perhaps by first buying a companion-quality puppy. 

Breeding quality

Breeding-quality dogs come from impeccable backgrounds and are usually exemplary show dogs. A few may have a fault that prevents them from shining in the ring (such as a crooked ear or a size that’s out of the standard), but they possess other merits that more than make up for it. Above all, these dogs are free of serious genetic disease. Don’t expect a good breeder to sell you a breeding-quality dog as your first Pom. You’ll need to prove yourself by competing with your current Pom and by not rushing out to breed any dog you happen to own.

Warning!

If a breeder tries to tell you a tiny puppy is breeding quality, the breeder probably has little idea of what breeding quality really means (except the ability to produce puppies). A show-quality dog is difficult to identify as a puppy; a breeding-quality dog is impossible.

Perusing Pedigrees

A registered dog comes with a pedigree, a story of who begat who that can be traced back to the first Poms in this country. Most pedigrees only show you who’s who for the last three to four generations. On the registration paper, your puppy’s litter is on the left-hand side. From there the pedigree works back, generation by generation, moving left to right, with the sire (the male) always above the name of his progeny, and the dam (the female) always below.

Early spay-neuter

Many adoption groups and some breeders sterilize puppies before they’re adopted, even if that means as early as 8 weeks of age. They take special precautions (minimizing surgical time, keeping the puppy warm, withholding food for as short a time as possible, and being extremely careful with their comparatively delicate tissues) to avoid hypothermia, hypoglycemia, and excessive bleeding in the pup.
Given these precautions, puppies sterilized at early ages have shorter recovery times and fewer complications than pups sterilized later. Some limited information suggests that females spayed at a young age have a higher incidence of urinary incontinence, but that tends to be more of a problem in large breeds.

 

If you want a top-quality dog, look for titles in the pedigree. For example, the letters CH stand for champion and designate a dog that has won based on the breed standard. The letters CD, CDX, and UD (Companion Dog, Companion Dog Excellent, and Utility Dog) or RN, RA, and RX (Rally Novice, Advanced, and Excellent) after a dog’s name are various obedience titles. They signify dogs that have demonstrated minding skills in obedience trials.
If you don’t plan to compete with your dog (and most people don’t), these titles still demonstrate a breeder’s sincerity in using the best dogs and her intent to do more with her dogs than just breed them. Of greater importance are health clearances. Note: Titles and clearances on dogs farther back than the grandparents aren’t significant.

Warning!

Look especially for whether the litter is inbred (the litter has the same dog appearing behind both the sire and the dam). Fewer generations between that dog and the litter generally mean a more-inbred litter. See Figure 3-1 for a sample pedigree of an inbred dog — this is what you don’t want to see.

Although inbreeding is a tool used by many breeders, the average pet owner gains nothing by having an inbred dog. Inbreeding increases the chance of two recessive genes appearing in a puppy, increasing the chance of certain recessively inherited health problems such as progressive retinal atrophy or a generally weaker immune system.
Figure 3-1: An inbred pedigree has the same dog behind both father and mother.

Evaluating Pom Sources

Finding a Pomeranian isn’t hard. Your challenge is to find one that will live a long and healthy life. So you want to find a breeder who’s careful about the dogs she breeds, the way she raises them, and the homes she sends them to. The problem is that such breeders don’t always make themselves easy to find because they have a long waiting list of good homes.
How do you know when someone’s a good breeder? Two steps: First, understand the various sources for dogs, and second, know how to evaluate the quality of each source. The primary sources for Poms are

– Pet stores (supplied by commercial breeders)

– Backyard breeders (found usually through newspaper ads)

– Serious breeders (also known as hobby breeders)

– Rescue groups and shelters

Pet stores and commercial breeders

Pomeranians, with their stuffed-teddy-bear looks, are popular petstore puppies. They appeal to impulse buyers who take one look and whip out their credit card. In contrast to pet stores that tend to rely on impulse buyers, good breeders most likely turn away impulse shoppers because they want to ensure a good fit between owner and dog.

Warning!

Some pet stores rely on uninformed buyers who don’t know:

– Puppies are hauled across country to the stores by the truckload.

– These pups come from large, commercial-breeding operations that often keep hundreds of dogs in cramped cages, sometimes in squalid conditions.

– This breeding stock is bought and sold at auctions, with low price usually being the deciding factor.

– Poor temperaments, poor resemblance to the breed, poor structure, and poor health don’t matter; it’s all about profit.

Pet-store puppies are often raised in a wire-floored cage, sometimes stacked on top of one another. In the worst situations, urine and feces from pups on top fall down on puppies below, who then grow up without the normal canine disgust for stepping in their own waste. This scenario can make housetraining a potential nightmare because the pups never experience doing their business outside on the grass. Also, socialization, which is so vital for puppies, is absent or minimal. Sadly, a pet-store Pom, though surely cute, is probably no bargain, especially with the large retail-price markups (more on pricing in Chapter The Final Selection: Picking Your Perfect Partner).

Remember

Not every commercial breeder has such bad conditions. Some of these breeders realize that the best way to raise salable puppies is to produce puppies under healthy circumstances. The problem is that you can’t tell which puppies come from which type of commercial breeder after the pups are in the pet store.

Newspaper ads and backyard breeders

Another place to find a Pomeranian puppy is in the newspaper’s classified section. These ads are often placed by people referred to as backyard breeders.
A backyard breeder may be operating a small-scale puppy mill. In other words:

– He may keep dogs of different breeds, selling the puppies to make extra money.

– He puts up roadside signs advertising puppies and even sells puppies at flea markets.

– He keeps the dogs in poor conditions, seldom has their health tested, and provides minimal socialization for the dogs.

Tip

Ferreting out a bad-news backyard breeder is easy: Ask whether he’ll have other litters coming any time soon. If he replies, “Sure, what breed would you like?” tell him “None.”

Sometimes a backyard breeder is a family that decides to breed a litter from their pet Pomeranian. And they may have a variety of reasons: They want their children to experience the miracle of birth; they want to add a new Pom that looks like the one they have; or they want to see whether they can make a few dollars. Although they’re possibly a bit naïve about the whole breeding process, their intentions are good. As Pom owners, they care about the pups and will care about you. The puppies may be well socialized, but their parents may not have been health tested.

Beware the claims of rare

If a breeder claims a dog is rare because of color, size, or an unusual trait, this statement should raise a caution flag. Some colors are more common than others, but no Pom color is rare, and certain colors don’t make a dog more valuable.
The same is true of size. The Pomeranian standard specifies the average weight to be 3 to 7 pounds (4 to 6 pounds for show dogs). Within this range, one size is as good as another. Smaller sizes can be more difficult to keep healthy, so aim for the top of the standard.
A family backyard breeder may not be the ideal place to buy a puppy, but they are better than pet stores or small-scale puppy mills. This is definitely a situation where you as the buyer must beware and ask lots of questions.

Hobby breeders who are really serious

For some Pom lovers, breeding healthy, high-quality Pomeranians is an obsession. They compete in conformation shows or performance events and virtually center their lives on their dogs. These serious breeders are usually referred to as hobby breeders — although their dedication surpasses that of most hobbies. Many people are under the false impression that breeders breed to make money. But hobby and serious breeders don’t. It’s not a business; it’s a love affair. And almost invariably, they spend much more money on their dogs than they can ever hope to recoup
If you want a high-quality Pomeranian, serious hobby breeders are your best source. However, they’re also more difficult to find, so a little sleuthing may be needed. Here are good sources for information:

National Clubs: The best place to start is the American Pomeranian Club national breeder referral list (go to www.americanpomeranianclub.organd click on APC Info and then Member Roster). You can find contact information for local members who may be breeders or who can direct you to breeders.

You can also contact the club’s national breeder referral person by clicking on APC Info and then Breeder Referral Info. The breeder referral person often knows who has litters in your area or who has litters of various colors if you have a preference. Most, but not all, hobby breeders are members of the national breed club.

Joining the club means agreeing to a code of ethics that covers integrity in breeding. Of course, signing the code doesn’t guarantee people will follow it any more than joining the club makes them magically good breeders. But it’s a start.

Regional Clubs: In addition to the national club, many regional Pomeranian clubs exist. (The national site can refer you to a regional club in your area; click on APC Info and then Regional Clubs.) Getting to know local Pomeranian breeders is one of the best ways to meet their dogs in person and to let the breeders know what a good home you have for one of their puppies.

Dog Shows: Another way to meet breeders is by attending a local dog show. You can find upcoming shows at the American Kennel Club’s Web page for upcoming events at www.akc.org/events/search/ or check out www.infodog.com. The latter site also includes the specific times Pomeranians are shown at particular shows.

Remember

Although Pomeranian exhibitors are usually happy to talk to you, the one time they’d rather not chat is right before they go in the ring. Make arrangements to talk to them after judging is over.

Dog-Specific Magazines: Several sources are available.

  • A Pomeranian magazine like The Pom Reader or a magazine aimed at toy breeds like Top Notch Toys are excellent places to find top breeders. Go to www.dmcg.comfor more information.
  • All-breed dog magazines like Dog World (www.animalchannel.com) also contain advertisements from hobby breeders.

Veterinarians: Local veterinarians can often be a good source. After all, they know breeders, so they know which breeders take good care of their dogs!

Internet: You can join one of the many Pomeranian discussion lists on the Internet. Start your search at www.yahoogrops.com and look for breeders there, but you must evaluate these breeders carefully.

The next section equips you to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to serious Pom breeders.

Finding Good Breeders

Okay, so it’s time to grill the breeder! Not really, of course. You want to listen carefully as he shares his enthusiasm for his dogs. In fact, you’re establishing a relationship, not just buying a dog. Besides being your best source for a puppy with good health, good temperament, and good looks, a good breeder also becomes your mentor and friend. For example:

– You can always ask questions, share anecdotes, and find help at a moment’s notice.

– You find that you’re part of an extended family of puppy owners, and you can keep up with littermates throughout their lives.

– If circumstances arise that force you to surrender your dog, a good breeder is there to make sure your dog’s taken care of.

The following series of questions (and the right answers) can help you determine the good breeders from the bad ones:

Can I visit in person? Good breeders may actually require that you visit in person so they can meet you and see how you interact with the dogs. The breeder has no valid reason for not allowing you to visit except if you have a sick dog at home. If they say “No” to a visit, say “Good-bye,” hang up, and dial the next number on your list.

Do you specialize in Pomeranians? Dealing with one breed is so challenging that serious breeders stick with the breed they’re passionate about. Unless she’s building an ark, a breeder who has two of everything (multiple breeds) is more likely a small-scale puppy mill. (Check back to “Newspaper ads and backyard breeders” for more on this breed of breeder.)

Do you always have puppies available? Breeders who always have puppies may not be able to give each litter the attention it needs. You want your puppy to experience the breeder’s home, not just his kennel or garage. However, if the breeder has years of experience, a great deal of success, the proper facilities, and good help to make sure the dogs are properly cared for and socialized, then the constant breeding may not be an issue.

Are the dogs registered with the AKC or United Kennel Club (UKC)? A good breeder registers her dogs. Although other registries exist, only the AKC and the UKC are considered reputable.

What sort of health concerns do you screen for? If they claim Pomeranians have no such concerns, you know you’re dealing with the wrong people. If they say Poms need no health screening, walk away. If they say they’ve had a couple of problems, keep listening. No line is completely free of health problems, and you may have just met an honest breeder.

But at the same time, be careful. You may have just met a really stupid breeder who doesn’t know any better. See Chapter The Final Selection: Picking Your Perfect Partner for a list of tests to look for.

Do you participate with your dogs in conformation shows, agility trials, obedience trials, or therapy work? Have the dogs earned any titles? Participation indicates an above-average commitment to the breed. Titles indicate an above-average dedication to the breed plus better-than-average quality of the dogs (Refer back to “Considering Your Goals: What Pom Type Would You Like?” for definitions of quality.)

Remember

Can I see the pedigree? The pedigree should always be available for inspection. If it’s not, this is not a reputable breeder.

What sort of paperwork comes with the puppy? Several kinds of paper should be available:

  • You can expect a medical history, a pedigree, and a registration slip.
  • A good breeder also includes written care instructions, a contract, and a warranty.

No breeder can guarantee everything, but he should warrantee the puppy’s health for the first week and perhaps offer a partial refund in the event of certain hereditary diseases.

A contract should cover a plan for the puppy if you can’t keep her. For example, a good breeder stipulates that you must return the puppy to the breeder to prevent the puppy ending up in a shelter or being passed from person to person. Note: In most cases the breeder does not give a refund for a returned puppy that’s grown up because placing an adult dog is usually difficult.

Warning!

– Do you have any breeding requirements? Some breeders require you to breed your dog and then share the litter with them or to provide free stud service. This is never a good idea. You may wish to spay or neuter your dog, and you don’t want to be obligated to breed. 

Do you require that the puppy be spayed or neutered? This is not an issue about competition. Good breeders often require you to spay or neuter your dog because they’re concerned about the future of the puppy and the breed. The dog they sold you is probably companion quality, which means she’s a wonderful dog but not show or breeding quality; as such, she shouldn’t be bred.

Good breeders are also concerned about your taking the plunge into breeding. Breeding responsibly and knowledgably isn’t something you can just jump right into, and you may end up being sorry you ever had such a foolish idea.

An alternative to required spay-neuter is AKC limited registration, which means that if you breed your dog, her offspring can’t be AKC Registered.

When can I take a new Pom puppy home? The answer to this question is an opportunity to evaluate the breeder. Breeders out for a buck are eager to get a puppy off their feed bill as soon as possible. Backyard breeders who don’t know any better may also let you take home your puppy whenever you want. No puppy of any breed should leave its breeder before 8 weeks of age. For more info on when the pup can leave the breeder, see Chapter The Final Selection: Picking Your Perfect Partner.

How much do puppies cost? Good breeders charge neither bargain-basement prices nor exorbitantly high prices in comparison to other breeders. Although prices vary by region of the country, a good companion-quality Pomeranian from a reputable breeder should cost $300 to $900. See Chapter The Final Selection: Picking Your Perfect Partner for more details on price.

Do you have any previous puppy buyers I can talk to? Good breeders keep in touch with their puppy buyers. If they claim not to have any contact information, that’s a bad sign. Good breeders are also proud of their puppies and know their puppies’ owners are proud, too. For privacy reasons, they may ask that the former buyers contact you rather than vice versa. But if they flat out say “No,” walk away.

Remember

As you check out serious breeders, you may quickly discover that they’re also evaluating you! In fact, if you don’t feel they’re curious about you as a potential pet owner, it can be a red flag. For example, when a breeder only seems concerned about your check clearing, you may want to move on to another breeder.

Good breeders make sure their puppies go where they’ll be loved for a lifetime. For that reason, the breeder usually checks out the following:

– They ask about your experience with dogs and pets in general and toy dogs in particular.

– They ask about your home and family and where you plan to keep the dog.

– They’re very upfront with you about expenses, exercise, training, grooming, health care, and safety issues.

Tip

– They often require that you neuter or spay your dog, and may ask you to wait for several months for a litter. During this cooling off period, they’re making sure you’re not just impulse buying.

Rescuing Abandoned Poms

It’s hard to believe, but many Poms are out there needing a secure home and a family to love them. Reasons for abandonment abound, but most often it’s just the wrong home for the right dog. Maybe an owner simply got tired of the Pom, couldn’t deal with the barking, or had life changes that left him unable to care for a dog. Poms get abandoned just like other dogs.
Whether they had a loving owner or not, rescued Poms are often apprehensive, confused, and even frightened. They may cling to their foster owners or new families, afraid that they’ll lose these recent saviors. But with time, love, training, and stability, these Poms gradually adapt to their new circumstances and become exceptional family companions.

Remember

You may fear that adopting a rescued Pom means taking on somebody else’s problems or that rescued dogs come with emotional baggage. These occurrences are rare. In fact, the top obedience Pomeranian of all time was rescued at 8 years of age from an animal shelter.

Tip

A rescued Pomeranian is the deal of a lifetime but certainly not free. Because rescue groups realize that people tend to value pets that they’ve invested in and because these groups need to recoup their expenses to continue the services, they charge a reasonable fee. Expect to pay about $200 or so for a Pom from a rescue group.

To the rescue!

Even if you can’t take on the long-term responsibility of a dog, you can do your part for rescue. Rescue groups always need supplies, money, and volunteers.
Volunteers can help rescue, bathe, groom, socialize, train, and transport Pomeranians. Most of all, volunteers can help foster by providing a temporary home while a Pom awaits a forever home.
Here are ways you can find Poms in need of homes through rescue groups or shelters:

The American Pomeranian Club: The club maintains a national rescue network that you can access through their Web site at www.americanpomeranianclub.org. Click on APC Info and then Rescue. The Rescue link also lists local rescue contacts around the country.

Petfinder: This group maintains a national database of dogs of all breeds in shelters. Go to www.petfinder.com and search by Pomeranian.

You can also narrow your search to just local shelters. Dogs from shelters tend to cost a little less than dogs from breed rescue groups, but they often don’t go through as much screening or preparation.

– Pomeranian Club of Canada Rescue (Canada): Access this group through their Web site at www.toyrificpoms.com/pomrescue/index.htm. This group focuses on Poms in Canada.

– Pomeranian and Small Breed Rescue (Canada): You can reach this group at www.psbrescue.com.

by D.Caroline Coile,Ph.D.

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