So, even though I just spend about a week day and night editing, uploading and photographing your puppy, since those photos were taken last week, you would love for me to please get some more photos for you “real quick”? Even if it is just some quick “cell phone pics” that I could text you?
Why do I evaluate and photograph the pups at about 6 weeks of age?
Before I go into my spiel, let me just preface it by saying we do the individual photos at 6 weeks of age because this is the IDEAL AGE for evaluating a Rottweiler puppy. This is when his true character is really starting to shine (his eyes and ears are not even open at birth and will not be fore weeks after- so trying to check the ‘drive’ ‘focus’ ‘confidence’, etc. of a puppy that can do nothing more than drink, sleep and poop is unrealistic). This is also the age that his conformation is the closest to what it will be as an adult. As your Rottweiler puppy grows and matures over the next 2 years, he will go through short, fat stages, he will go through long and lanky stages, he will go through ears and feet stages where he appears to be all ears and feet 😉 his head will change and then change again and again; his topline may go soft and his movement will be awkward as he tries to figure out this body that is different every day. But at 6 weeks of age, for the most part, you have a very good idea of what to expect of your adult dog. If your puppy is stocky and heavy in the bone at this age, he will likely be wide and stocky with heavy bone as an adult; if he is long and lanky, then he will likely be leaner and lankier as an adult; OF COURSE this is not an exact science! If I could look at a litter of puppies and tell you at 6 weeks of age who the next ADRK KS winner was, then I would not keep several pups back from a litter or I would sell that “winning puppy” for a ridiculous amount of money. The truth is any breeder that can predict the future and clairvoyantly see whether a bite will go off as the puppy matures, or see the hip and elbow rating 2 years down the road, or know beyond a shadow of doubt that any of the 1 million other factors that effect growth and development INCLUDING genetics, environment, nutrition, and experiences, must have mastered time travel AND have the ability to make sure that all of the environmental and nutritional factors remain constant. So how can I offer a LIFETIME guarantee? I am able to do this because
1) I do my absolute best as a breeder to eliminate and/or control as many variables as possible. I make sure that everything I am breeding is genetically superior. I spend a great deal of time and expense educating the puppy owners on correct nutrition, training, exercise, etc. to try and control the environmental contributes to the growth and development of the puppy.
and 2) I stand behind my puppies. Period. Although I clearly am not omniscient, I can guarantee that no matter what happens, we are here for you and our puppy. I spend more time every day answering questions about health, diet, training, etc. from people that have one of our puppies (or a puppy from another breeder, store, etc. and cannot get answers) than I spend on anything else. It is important to me know that my puppies are well cared for and that can only be accomplished if I give their owners the correct tools and assistance. In the unfortunate event that things do not go according to plan, we are here for our puppies and our customers. Lifetime contract and guarantee means just that, for the entire life of that Rottweiler, we are here for you.
This brings me back to the topic at hand. Anyone that owns pets and has tried to “get a quick photo”
understands the impossibility of that! Even when it is an adult, trained pet, getting the right angle, right lighting, and getting them to hold still and focus can be challenging at best. To get a QUALITY photo of a puppy, you need three people that know their jobs very well. You have to have someone that can CONSTANTLY redirect the puppy. Puppies, by nature, want to run, explore, play- move. You need someone who is patient, does not get frustrated that this is only the second puppy from a litter of 10 and you have been at this 2 hours and only have 2 good shots! If the person helping the puppy is frustrated, the puppy, much like a child, will either shut down or melt down! Neither one makes for pretty photos. So the person helping the puppy must be happy, positive, willing to act like and sound like a fool, and be flexible (literally and figuratively). You might mistakenly think that because you see me holding the puppy’s collar or with a hand under the behind or belly that all I need to do is hold the puppy and then someone can take all the photos they like. The MOMENT you grab that collar, the puppy will pull back, lunge forward, twist around, roll, jump, wiggle, lick, etc. and the hand under the puppy might give the photographer an extra mili-second to get the shot before the puppy picks up all 4 feet, spins around and/or completely leaps our of your hand. So why not just hold the puppy and take all the photos that way? Loads of breeders do that, right? Sure, if you want to see bits and pieces of the puppy sticking out around arms and hands. But many of our clients are out of state or out of country. They cannot come and pick out their puppy- see the movement for themselves, see top and bottom lines and angulation and ear set. They only have what I give them. And if you want to see what the puppy looks like stacked up, the only way to accomplish that is stacking the puppy up. But as stated
previously, you may have to re-stack that puppy 100 times before you get one good shot- where all 4 feet were on the ground, and the puppy was not trying to pull back out of its collar or curl up or take off to go play.
(This puppy was stacked up perfectly but started to sit before Liliana could get the shot- it COMPLETELY changed the toppling, rear angulation and apparent tail set)
Second important person needed is someone to bait the puppy. This person has an important and often difficult job of getting the puppy’s attention. No problem, just call the puppy, correct? SURE, if you want the puppy to come running to you, or wiggle and fight to squirm away from the person trying to stack the puppy so that it can come to the person calling him/her. However, if you want the puppy to stay where it is, but just LOOK at you or towards you, then you must get his attention. Still not as easy as it sounds. Too much stimulation and once again, you have the squirrel with caffeine wiggling and squirming trying to get to whatever you are using to get his/her attention. Not enough stimulation, and the puppy is disinterested and would rather pounce on this piece of lint on the carpet he just discovered or grab his tail, or grab the cats tail! Perfect, now you found something that made him curious- job done, right? No, it made him curious the first time you made that noise or show that toy or jumped up and down or played peek-a-boo; the second time you did it, he had already seen it and was now much more interested in exploring the other side of the room or trying to eat the necklace the person holding him has on. Now you must find something new that is also not too much and not too little.
(This little girl came when called! Good puppy, but bad shot! lol)
Now, the third and most important player in this little game. The photographer. I cannot count the number of professional photographers we have hired over the last decade and a half. Taking a photo of beautiful trees that do not move or wiggle or pounce is a WHOLE LOT easier than puppies! Even those that have experience with kids and think they are up to the challenge find that a child who speaks English and can be bribed with candy is still LOADS easier than a wiggly puppy with a 0.5 second focus! What about those photographers that are already experienced with pets? That is great if you want a photo of your kitty curled up on a shelf sleeping, or rolling over with a leaf in his mouth- absolutely adorable, but not at all helpful in seeing bone, structure, substance, etc. When you need a photo that is going to have the correct lighting to show off the rich mahogany color of the puppies without making them look “tan” or washed out, or need to find the right angle to prevent the puppies from looking disproportionate or someone with a quick enough trigger finger and the experience necessary to anticipate what the puppy will do and need- well, lets just say it has made my daughter and I EXPERT photographers because we have had to learn the hard way to do it ourselves! You need someone that knows the breed standard so that they know when the puppy is standing with the back legs kicked too far back, it is not even worth it to take that shot; or if the ears are back, even if the rest of the puppy is stacked up perfectly, you still need to get the puppy’s attention ever so slightly to bring those ears forward before snapping the photo. You need a photographer who is focused on what is going on behind the camera, but also keenly aware of everything else so that when the puppy decides to take a suicidal leap off the table while the person helping him has turned around to pick up yet another squeaky toy, the photographer can catch the puppy before he does a face plant! You need a photographer who, within the first 10 frames knows exactly what angles, elevations, etc. that particular puppy will need to best showcase his attributes. You need a photographer that knows how to translate what he is looking at to the correct way to hold/tilt/move the camera to get just the right position. You need a photographer that is quick on her feet and can take the unexpected perfect shot that happened when the ferret ran past and the puppy stood up real tall and stacked up perfectly naturally as he tried to see where the ferret went. And you need a photographer that can look at the photos they have taken and know if they are correct or not- all puppies are cute, but when you are photographing show quality puppies, those photos better show that the puppy is indeed show quality- that he has a solid topline, correct angulation, correct head type, ears and tail are correctly set and carried, etc. But more than that really- the photographer must somehow capture who that puppy is. If it is a little firecracker, the photographer must capture that on film- show her drive and exuberance. If it is a gentle, laid back puppy, that also must be conveyed through the lens.
Ok, so everyone in this carefully choreographed routine is right on cue- the photographer is not only skilled at what you have asked them to do, but is able to pick up on your subtle cues also of when you are going to try to quickly move your hand out of the way or if the person baiting the puppy is about to switch it up and provide the perfect opportunity to catch the puppy looking straight at you. Everyone is perfectly in sync and then the puppy decides halfway through the photo shoot that he is done. Much like a toddler that is done, when a puppy is done, they are D.O.N.E. done! It does not matter that you did not get your head shots yet or that you got some cute action shots but none of the puppy stacked up. If the puppy is done, you have only 2 options- move on to the next puppy and try to come back to that one later or take a break yourself.
FINALLY- after DAYS of evaluating and taking LITERALLY thousands of photos, you have at least 10+ good shots of everyone. Great! Done! No, not so much. Now comes the really fun part. Uploading all those hundreds of photos onto the computer and then going through them one by one. Trying to decide what you can do something with and which ones are a total loss. Then after all the photos have been carefully sorted and edited, I must go back through and “tag” each and every photo. I just started doing this a couple of years ago when I got tired of seeing my puppies and dogs and even my KIDS holding my puppies and dogs on other “breeders” websites advertising “their” litters or dogs! Not only has each and every photo on my website been very hard earned, ,more importantly, my YEARS of hard work breeding and producing those gorgeous puppies and dogs-.and now some ya-hoo with 2 mutts in his back yard can take credit for my hard work and worse, rip off some unsuspecting consumer who thinks it is too good to be true, to find a puppy of that quality for only $300!! Don’t get me wrong, where there is a will, there is a way, and I still find photos of my dogs WITH my kids and my home, etc. in them all over the place- they just crop out the logo or blur it out. But at least I am not making it any easier on them! After I have finished editing and labeling all of the photos, I then need to create webpages for each of the puppies. I then need to type up the evals and then upload the photos onto the created webpages and organize the photos. I then have to link all the pages and names on the main litter page so that when you click on a puppy’s name or photo, it takes you to that puppy’s individual page. I will also often try to put together slide shows or videos of the puppies individually, but unfortunately, that is when time permits. Guardian Rottweilers is not a large commercial breeder with a dozen employees. It is myself, my husband and my children. And not only do I have to devote time to working and training my youths and adults dogs, but all the cleaning, laundry, food prep, etc., as well as band, soccer, church activities, spelling tests, algebra tests, French, flash cards, field trips, etc. that go along with being a mom. I love my dogs with every fiber of my being. If my passion for them is not palpable on my website or speaking with me, then I do not know what else to offer. However, my most important and most sacred job always has been and always will be that of being a mom to the 4 most amazing kids He ever created.
(logo designed by Bill Domiano)
So, a very long winded answer to a very short question. Can I get a photo of your puppy real quick for you? No, sorry. It is not real quick. And because it takes me hours and hours and HOURS, I do it only once per litter. I am happy to do group shots where they are playing or eating and the individual head type, top and bottom lines, etc. are not judged, but the individual photos are done at the time the evals are done. This is the most accurate time for the evals and the most accurate time to CORRECTLY capture the breed type and conformation of the puppy. The only exceptions are if I keep a few from one litter back and then later re-evaluate them as youth and decide to go ahead and sell one. Of course 4-5 months later is an entirely different story than 4-5 days later- although again, you will still get your most accurate representation going back and looking at the 6 week old shots.. I am not trying to be mean or difficult. But my puppies are too high quality to be advertised with sub quality photos that were taken real quick from a cell phone.