But I will say this. Old guidelines you might have read on the internet are badly out of date! I'll go into that later, but for now, let's go back in time and I'll take you into the inner sanctum of a dog breeder's world and reveal some secrets that have been kept in breeders' vaults for decades. It's Time.
It's a sunny Saturday morning in 2004 and Annabelle has people coming all day to look over her litter of puppies. The first will arrive within the next hour. She really needs to make some good sales today, the bills are piling up.
"Billy!" she wipes an escapee strand of hair out of her tired eyes as she summons her eldest son to her side.
"Yeah ma, I know what to do!" Billy hates Saturdays. He'd rather be out with the guys than putting on what he calls his dog loving face, being sweet to strangers and their brat kids and being at the beck and call of his mother all day.
"Just pay attention" she snaps, "I want you to play hard with the puppies. Make 'em run 'till they're worn out. The first people will be here soon AND they could take two! But I know they want quiet pups, not wild little devils like this lot!"
"Yeah, yeah, I know the drill" It's already hot outside, and the twelve year old's scowl deepens as he trudges towards the back door. Annabelle calls after his retreating figure "And make sure you remember to keep an eye out for the car and give me the thumbs up if it's an expensive one!"
The glacier white Bentley purred to a silent stop at the front door just as the last of the tired puppies flopped down to sleep in the living room and Annabelle finished applying fresh lipstick. "They're here!" she hissed at Billy. "Quick, grab two of the puppies and stick them in the laundry out of sight!"
"Which two?" He didn't ask why.
"A male and a female. Doesn't matter which ones."
The visitors were a man and his wife, both elegantly dressed in immaculate cream slacks and matching maroon tops. Annabelle recoiled at the sight of their white shoes but made a mental note that she was glad the puppies were well and truly worn out and hadn't found the mud patch out in the garden where the sprinkler had been left on by mistake the night before. She sighed as she counted the five children, equally inappropriately dressed to visit puppies, as they tumbled out of the car, totally out of control , and squealing excitedly. This looked like being 'one of those days'.
The next half hour passed pleasantly enough, while Annabelle answered their questions, and her smile was genuine because the stressed young mother really did like meeting people and she was proud to show off her puppies. Then came the moment she had been waiting for.
"Annabelle, didn't you say there were eight puppies and we were first in line? I only see six."
"Oh yes, there are eight, but two of them are so stunning that I just have to keep them myself. I've hidden them away, because I knew if you saw them, you'd be sure to want them. I could tell on the phone that you're a lady who recognizes quality when she sees it, plus I'm certain that most people wouldn't be able to afford what they're worth. But have another look at these two, they're almost as good."
It seemed like an eternity to Annabelle, but eventually, after another couple of scones with jam and cream, the visitor's curiosity overcame her. "Would you mind if we just had a look at the other two to compare?"
'Are you sure? I'm not a window shopper myself. If I can't afford something I don't even look at it."
Then the kids yelled in chorus "We wanna see them!"
I was there that day, and I ate the last of the scones in wonderment, as the visitors left with the two puppies from the laundry and my friend 'Annabelle' sat beside me gleefully counting her money.
End of Episode One