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mistaken for the laid back puppy. Speak up and discuss your expectations, lifestyle, and living arrangements with the breeder. The more specific you can be, the greater the likelihood that the puppy you take home will be a good match. Ask the breeder to recommend individual pups that may be well suited to your needs. He or she has been with the litter every day of their lives and ought to know each puppy well. Breeders should be willing and able to share their observations and impressions with you.

" well a dog is able to live up to its full potential is greatly dependent upon its owner."

Testing a pup of this age for any field-type abilities is premature. Many a great hunting dog may well have been a late bloomer. If the breeding was sound and the parents are skilled in the field, chances are very good that their offspring will follow suit. Even so, how well a dog is able to live up to its full potential is greatly dependent upon its owner.

If you are able to select your pup in person, do keep an open mind. Again, avoid narrowly focusing on the "pretty" one with perfect markings. Watch for one that "chooses you". The pup that tries to untie your shoe, tugs at your sleeve, licks your face, responds to your voice, and whose antics grab your attention may very well be the "right" pup.

It's the beginning of a long-time relationship. Take your time. Do your homework. And be prepared for your new spaniel to wriggle into your heart.

Loretta Baughan resides near Merrill, Wisconsin, with her husband, Steve, and their three children. They raise and hunt English Springer Spaniels under the Autumnskye prefix. She is a member of the UKC Flushing Breeds Hunt Test committee, the Tilden Valley English Springer Spaniel Club, and Northeast Wisconsin Spaniel Club.

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