This post was written by guest author Dave Stewart.
Last summer I wrote a story about Miracle, our beloved sheltie. How we found him, the challenges in finding him and how we lost him. If you haven’t read this, you probably want to start there .. with my The Miracle Sheltie guest post.
After loosing Miracle in the spring of 2004, we were completely heart broken. My wife cried for days on and off and I found myself doing the same. Although Miracle was not my first dog or my first sheltie, he was the first dog I had lost and the first we had to put down. That had to be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, putting Miracle down. As we drove to the vet with him we were okay but once we got there and after we were barely holding it together.
Well… as I said, were we quite upset. The house seemed especially empty without Miracle, so my wife and I decided we had to have another sheltie. At the time we were not that savvy about where to get a dog. I mean, I knew what to look for in a good place but the distinction between serious breeders and amateurs out to make a buck, were unknown to me.
Looking For Another Sheltie
My son had told me about a home, near one of his friends’ houses that had shelties and puppies for sale. So I made a call and tracked down this person. I made arrangement to go there and my wife and I were off to see what we could see. It was a short drive. We pulled into the driveway and saw a few of the adults running around. They were cute, but right off my wife noticed that their faces were a bit mousy looking. We went to the door and met the lady, I don’t recall her name. She proceeded to show us the pups and showed us the mother. The puppies were very cute, as I recall, only about 6 weeks old so still small. The price was lower than you would expect, although at the time we didn’t know what a well bred sheltie cost.
We left there without making a commitment. My wife saw that they were mousy and that was a deal killer for her. Miracle had a sweet face, she would say. She was right, although Miracle had been a large, 35 pound, sheltie, he had been well bred. There are breed standards for the shape of the face but basically the skull, stop and muzzle; generally their face should be like a piece if pie, turned upside down. In addition, my wife had noticed the fur of the parent to be somewhat wavy, which is not quite right either; so we agreed this was not the place for us.
We headed up to the house of a friend of my daughter’s; according to her, they knew of a sheltie breeder. So when we got there we talked to the owner of the home. He knew of the breeder and gave us directions, they were a little complex but we gave it a try. So we followed the directions, turning here and there, navigating the back roads and we turned as instructed. We went to the house he had mentioned and turned into the driveway.
We thought, this looks familiar….. It was the same place we had just come from but we were sent there from a different direction! So we turned around and headed for home.
We were disappointed, we had doggie withdraw and no fix was to be found. After that we slowed our search and I began to look on-line but since it was early spring, there were nearly no puppies available. We may have been able to get another rescue but we decided against that route. We were afraid of taking on another dog with no history, we couldn’t bear the thought of loosing another dog. Granted that a puppy was no guarantee but in our minds we felt our chances for a long lived dog would be better.
Somehow, somewhere, I found out about a sheltie show about an hour or so from our house. I think it was the Baltimore Sheltie Club that told me. It was through them we had rescued Miracle and they were so supportive, from beginning to end. We decided to attend the show; we had never been to a “Sheltie Show” before.
Off To The Sheltie Show We Go
When we went in there it was like sheltie heaven. Shelties, shelties, shelties, EVERYWHERE! It was so cool to see them all competing and just being there together. I had a great time. While we were looking around my wife spotted a dog who had that sweet face she was looking for. He was competing in the agility competition.
I approached the handler and began asking some questions. We began chatting and found out the little sheltie’s name was Tyler. He was a handsome devil. My wife insisted on find out where he came from, so being well trained myself, I did.
Turned out Tyler came from a breeder in Virgina, almost 3 hours from our home. The name of the place, Ryladd Shelties. I got a phone number. When we got home I went into action.
Now this was four years ago so I don’t remember everything in exact order, but as I recall….
I called and spoke to the lady who owned Ryladd Shelties. I already knew from the handler that she was a veterinarian; her name Mary Galloway. Mary was so nice, we chatted for a while and she advised me to fill out an application. She told me she had a dog expecting a litter in June. I thought, “June, that’s way far away.”; plus we couldn’t get a pup until eight weeks after that, now we were looking at August! Well regardless, we felt Mary was right for us and we were looking for a quality breeder, so we took a deep breath and moved forward.
I filled out the application completely. Next time I talked to Mary she wanted to meet us. There were five of us living at home at the time, we have three children. So we made arrangement to go down there. We split the trip and arrived the day before right outside Washington D.C., this let us take the kids on a tour of some of the sights. The next morning we headed south, about another 90 minutes to go. We followed the directions (pre GPS for me) and eventually made it with a few smal diversions. We pulled in the driveway and went in. At the time, as I recall, Mary had 9 shelties at her home. Walking in and meeting them all was so cool! We met the potential puppie’s mom, grandmom and great grandmom and maybe great-great too, I can’t remember. But I do remember the oldest being 18 or 19 years old and still looking pretty good!
We chatted for quite a while. We held older pups and adults. My youngest, about 10 at the time, was out working agility with one of the adults. It was a blast. At this point, I believe, we were “approved” applicants and we began the drive north.
No we waited. April passed and May came. May dragged on. The bitch, Bunny, was due in June. June came and the expected day passed with no puppies. But shortly after that, a few days, we found out (and received a picture) Bunny was the proud mommy of 3 cute little shelties, 2 girls and 1 boy. My wife had her heart set on a boy.
More surprises. When I talked to Mary about getting the boy she told me she would have to see the personality of the pups and would match them to the applicant. She couldn’t promise we would get the male. What! This was new for me. Match the personality! Maybe another child would have been easier….. Well she is the expert so we hoped and prayed we would get the boy.
For me, I would be happy with male or female, and I imagine in the long run my wife would too but at that time she wanted a male. So we waited for the pups to mature a bit so Mary could get a better idea. She wasn’t leaning towards the male for us, she insisted she needed to place the right puppy with the right family. So I began to think. Mary really doesn’t know us that well. I mean we met and she had the application but she doesn’t really know enough about us (at least I thought) to make a fully informed decision.
A Little Help Was Needed
At that thought, the idea came to me. I wrote Mary a nice long letter but it wasn’t from me it was from the “Stewart Puppy”. In the letter, I described a day in the life of the puppy. How the kids would interact, how my wife would interact and myself. We went from morning till night. Probably talked a bit about weekends too, I don’t recall. But whatever, I said, it was long after we received an email from Mary. It had a picture of a cute little pup with the caption, “Here is your boy.” My wife was so happy she cried.
We counted those eight weeks down to the day, Mary had offered to keep the pup for ten to get them house broken but we wanted him asap and my wife would be home to take care of the house breaking, although she had never done that before 🙂 We prepared, toys, crate, the whole nine yards.
Finally, after forever, we headed south to pick up the pup. He was cuter in person that any picture could do justice. We had already decided on a name, Murphy.
Since then we have been back to see Mary a couple times. She has a reunion each year for all her “kids”. Those are great fun too but the greatest fun of all is having Murphy as our very own. Thank God and Thank Mary.
Meet Murphy Puppy~!
* Dave Stewart, from the Shetland Sheepdog Station, is Sheltie “LVR” and basically loves all dogs, and technology. Dave is a teacher at heart, and is currently working on writing a few e-Books.