Yes, it’s true. I chose my puppy with a spreadsheet.
My friends love giving me shit, but I stand by it! Let me explain…
I believe people should think carefully about important decisions in their life and work. (I’ve created Make Idaho Better and Boise Analytics to help people do that, by the way.) Because of that, I have a spreadsheet for a lot of things in life… including which puppy to pick.
In my defense, choosing a pet is a major decision.
If all goes well, you’ll be with this animal for 10–15 years, so hopefully it’s going to be one that you get along with, and it gets along with your environment and lifestyle.
That’s one reason my wife and I chose to work with a breeder and get a Labradoodle rather than do a rescue. There were a lot of factors behind that, but several of them included wanting a dog that would be great with kids, that wouldn’t mind lots of guests at our house, that could keep up with our hiking and backpacking, etc.
So, we knew the breed, and we got on a breeder’s list, but then it came time to choose between the two available puppies.
“Baby Boy 2” or “Baby Boy 3”?
Okay, it was only between two options, but I still wanted to think it through carefully… sue me.
I think most people choose a puppy based on a first impression — you go to the breeder (or rescue), wait to see which puppy notices you first and comes up to you, lets you hold it, and licks your face. Easy peasy. That’s not what I had in mind.
You see, from my puppy book (yes, I read a puppy book ahead of time), I knew about personality testing, particularly the Volhard Test. Basically, it’s a controlled method for evaluating different aspects of your puppy’s personality in a variety of situations, and this can be predictive of what they’ll be like as an adult. Perfect!
Now I had KPIs.
I translated the elements of the test and results into a nifty spreadsheet complete with ratings, descriptions, conditional photos, and headshots. I got a little carried away, to be honest, but, hell — I was excited!
Though the puppies numbers weren’t that different from each other, there were some important variances, and it was clear to me that we wanted Baby Boy 2. From my interpretations, he would be less likely to be shy and fearful and need special handling.
According to the website, this is what we could expect from him as an adult:
Mostly 4’s —
The kind of dog that makes the perfect pet
Best choice for the first time owner.
Rarely will buck for a promotion in the family
Easy to train, and rather quiet.
Good with elderly people, children, although may need protection from the children
Choose this pup, take it to obedience classes, and you’ll be the star, without having to do too much work!
So, the day came when we went to the breeder to meet the pups, and guess what? Baby Boy 3 comes trotting up to us with big, cute puppy eyes and Baby Boy 2 couldn’t care less — he was off checking out the inflatable pool while all the other dogs visited with us.
Anti-social? Bad first impression? Should we pass on him? No way!
His numbers were legit!
No hesitation — Baby Boy 2 is the one that came home with us.
Fast forward two and a half years and Wookiee is truly the best dog we could hope for (minus the shedding — we lost the first generation Labradoodle lottery…). I’m not sure if the spreadsheet gets the credit, but I’m proud of my process, and I would do it again.
The spreadsheet is here if anyone wants to check it out or make a copy.