The “why” of Zeta Centauri

As we learn more about raising puppies and the influence these early weeks have on dogs as adults, we also increasingly realise things that may have gone not quite as well for Nell, our first spaniel and our forever heart dog, without whom we wouldn’t have Grace and none of this would be happening.

Nell, whose official name was Zeta Centauri, taught us so much about dogs and especially spaniels. She also had some issues that likely went back to her puppyhood, but when she was born in 2012, the world of dog ownership and dog training was still quite different. For perspective, Puppy Culture came out in 2014, and the first force-free gundog training books were published in 2019/2020. However well-meaning her breeder might have been, the knowledge just wasn’t there back then.

So, Nell did not learn much self-regulation nor frustration tolerance, and she moved to her new home at 7 weeks – shockingly early considering what we know now. Partly because of these things, she had some deep insecurities, which manifested as e.g. hypergreeting and resource guarding, as well as aggressively defending her autonomy. At times, these tendencies also affected our ability to care for her.

The more I have learned about dogs, the stronger my desire to do better for dogs became – it saddens me immensely how many dogs have a less than ideal start in life. Little by little, I realised it was time to be the change I want to see – even if we only do this once, we want to do it as close to perfect as we can. 

Our wish is that these puppies will never experience the deep fears Nell likely did, but instead, they grow up calm, confident and trusting that the world and humans are safe. Everything we do is to pay forward the lessons Nell taught us and that way these puppies will always carry her legacy with her not just in their names but in their hearts.

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