Welcome River!

It’s a girl!

Logan and I would like to introduce River, the newest member of the Mountains to Midwest family! She is a 7.5-week-old German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP). After my last two female dogs, I reeeeaaaallly wanted a boy, but mother nature had other ideas, I guess. So, River will have some big pawprints to fill in the wake of her departed sisters, McKenna and Madison.

The nine months since Maddie passed have been odd. On one hand, life without timetables and obligations has been liberating. Sleeping in and leaving shoes on the floor or food brazenly unprotected at counter height requires no thought, preparation, or consequences whatsoever. But with all that freedom also comes the silence, selfishness, and all-consuming sloth. Pets force you to put their needs above your own. We can no longer sleep in because River will need a walk. We might have to cut back on our restaurant outings, because we will need to re-budget for her food and veterinary care. Our home will no longer be silent, as the general chaos that puppies create will comprise the new soundtrack to our lives. But pets have the best way of making you laugh with their simple shenanigans after even the worst day, and we have missed it sorely.

Why a GSP?

First things first, to be honest, I love the way they look. Speckled coat, short tail, enormous ears, and an athletic build – what’s not to love?! Fun Fact: Did you know that, for eight years, once upon a time I was a professional dog groomer? After all that hair and nastiness, I find myself gravitating towards low maintenance dogs. GSP’s do shed, but they have short, dense, hair that falls to the ground in easily sweepable piles. After a quick bath, toenail trim, and a good ear cleaning, they’re good to go! No shaving, no plucking, no detangling, and best of all, no dingleberries (you fluffy dog owners know what I mean).

But the most desirable features of a GSP really reside in the realm of personality, health, and athleticism. Speaking in general terms, hunting breeds are usually intelligent and eager to please. They are good family pets and hard workers. GSP’s have remarkably good health and a long lifespan. Logan and I are hoping for a companion of sound mind and body that will accompany us on our exploring, kayaking, and camping adventures.

They do require a TON of mental and physical activity or you will have a destructive, evil genius in your home. Thankfully Logan – and now I – have committed to running and living a more active lifestyle, so we hope to curb those looney impulses before they start. {Logan here: I may have bought her a running leash with the Mill City Running team logo on it about five months before she was born… not that we have planned out her whole life or anything.}

But you don’t hunt!

That’s true. At this time, we have no plans to strap on a shotgun and obliterate some birds. Not that we have a problem with hunting. Thoughtful and sustainable hunting for food and population control is necessary for a healthy environment. (I have a very different view on trophy hunting: trophy hunting is repugnant.) We plan to satisfy River’s prey drive and hunting instincts with a variety of activities such as dock diving and shed hunting. (Shed hunting is not teaching a dog to hunt vermin in a shed, as I originally thought and which is actually called barn hunting. It is when you train a dog to find and retrieve deer and elk antlers that have naturally fallen off after mating season, usually in late winter.) These activities feed the instincts without the bloodshed. We have, however, been warned that we will likely see a decline in our backyard woodland critters due to her natural tendencies, so Logan has graciously agreed to take charge of corpse disposal duties.

In a nutshell, we did our research. This has been a dream dog of mine for over a decade. We didn’t just say, “ooh, pretty” without regard to the realities of the breed. I have no doubt we will have our hands full, but we are forging ahead with eyes wide open.

Why not rescue?

Logan and I are huge proponents of adoption. McKenna was a rescue and I had almost 16 wonderful years with her. I definitely see adoption in our future again. But this time around, since we were seeking a specific breed, with specific traits, that Logan plans to condition into a running buddy (which takes slow, careful training), we chose to work with a breeder. We did a lot of research, found an ethical, responsible breeder, and waited… and waited. I never thought it would be nine whole months before getting our puppy. I guess it’s sort of like waiting for a human baby. Ethical, responsible breeders improve the health and wellbeing of the breed while putting puppy mills and backyard breeders out of business. So please either adopt a homeless pet or do your research. Indiscriminate puppy purchasing leads to more homeless and unhealthy dogs.

During this first experience of working with a breeder, I learned a hard lesson in humility and lack of control. I began this journey with a very clear vision of the dog I wanted, and I thought by working with a breeder and spending big money, I would get exactly what I desired. We were second on the waiting list for a male puppy, which didn’t really concern me as GSP’s usually have litters of 6, 8, or even more puppies. What were the odds there wouldn’t be more than one male? The first breeding attempt was not successful, so we moved to a different set of parents and waited for that female to go into heat. And we waited. We waited so long that our original female came back into heat and another breeding was attempted. We moved back to our original set of parents and crossed our fingers for a good outcome. When we got the news that the momma was pregnant, we were elated and went into to hardcore baby boy planning mode. When she finally gave birth (on leap day) she had only four puppies: three females and one male. We were then given the choice between waiting for a boy in a future litter, or, since the other two females were spoken for, taking the last female. I admit that I had a brief pity party. My hypothetical, perfect boy vanished and I mourned. But the next day, I thought of Madison and McKenna and how they were both amazing and hilarious girls. We chose this breeder and this litter for a reason. Every pup from this litter will be seriously impressive and I am so grateful for my new little girl.

The point is, you cannot control nature. Even when working with a breeder, you still never know how it’s going to turn out. I wanted a black male with an easy-going, eager-to-please personality and we ended up with a liver female whom the breeder described as “sweet, but naughty” and “very, very bold” (that’s two very’s). Apparently, she is the most advanced of the litter in terms of escape artistry and rambunctiousness. So, we will look forward to that…

Already a Queen!
(Photo credit: The Shorthair Connection)

I haven’t had a puppy in 15 years and Logan and I have never raised a puppy together. We have a lot of new experiences ahead, but we think River is the missing puzzle piece to our little family, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

To see more of River’s “sweet, but naughty” adventures, follow her on Instagram at gsp_in_msp!


2 thoughts on “Welcome River!

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