So let me say right up front - this is much more difficult than I imagined! Picking the pup we'll keep from Mae's litter of nine is tough, mostly (I suspect) because I've never had to select a dog from a litter of my own breeding.
We've decided that we'll keep one of the four males - mostly for practical reasons. We want to perpetuate these genetics, which seems easier with a male. If we kept a female, we'd have to manage her heat cycles - with a male, we can be a little more selective about when we decide to try for another litter of pups.
Now we need to pick from these four! There are two who look much like Mo - classic border collies. White ruff, black body, white blaze on their faces. There's one who's becoming a tricolor - and I'm partial to tricolor dogs (Taff, my first real dog, was a tri - and so is Ernie). The fourth dog is the most unusually marked of the lot - he's got more white on his body, and a perfect arrow on his forehead.
Markings, though, aren't a reason to pick a pup. Even at this early stage (they're just 4 weeks old), their individual personalities are starting to show. The tricolor is a moose - he's big, and he knows it. One of the Mo lookalikes is quiet - he's not standoffish, but he seems to hold back and think about the situation (which I like). Arrowhead is middle-of-the-road - he's friendly, confident without being too obnoxious, and well-built. We'll see!
Picking a pup comes down to a balance between nature and nurture, I suppose. Given their parentage, each of these pups has the potential to become a fine sheep dog. Their upbringing - the socialization we give them now, the training I'm able to provide later, will allow them to live up to their full potential. My selection, then, comes down to picking the pup that is the best match for my own abilities and personality. Thankfully, I've got several more weeks to decide!
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