Crousti Chronicles: The breeders

With crate in tow, we set off to find the dog of our dreams at Elevage Les Cotons de Tulear d'Ivandry in Cameret sur Aiguest, near Orange. By appointment with the breeder Mme Cellier, we were greeted with the task of choosing from four ten-week-old puppies, two boys, two girls, all of whom were all adorable but with very distinct personalities.

Mme Cellier left us alone with the pups to take our time and decide. The completely white female, didn’t have a fully developed nose and was passive. Her sister, over hyper and with great patches, was jumping on the younger one’s head constantly and she did nothing but lie there. The two boys were similar: each with patches of brown against their white fur, one all over and the other just on the ears. One was chewing everything, the other curious but not at the chewy stage. In fact, this one was the first to approach us, albeit shyly, and we chose him (pictured). We named him Crousti after my husband's favourite Casino-brand cereal Croustillant (meaning simply, crisp). He likes saying the word in French.

Crousti Puppy

Mme Cellier obviously loved all her dogs and there was a homey feeling to the place. You felt as though the dogs were well cared for, and when we left, she took a moment to say goodbye to “Gatsby” (our Crousti). It was rather touching.

Here is why buying direct from a breeder is better:

Advantages of buying from a breeder

1. the breeder provided all the necessary paperwork to us, including the registration of his chip number, his first certificat veterinaire, and his carnet de santé.

2. the breeder filled out the Attestation de vente chien (which you need should the dog get lost) and mailed it on our behalf. We received the certificate de naissance directly.

3. the breeder explained the worming medicine (we used Milbemax) needed every month during the first six months, and then twice a year thereafter. Also, the first vaccine had been administered at two months but the dog would need a second at three months.

5. the breeder explained a rabies shot was required at 6 months (at which time the dog gets a pet passport).

6. the breeder also provided documents on how to care for a Coton, and what to expect during the first week of ownership. It was detailed and thorough and gave lots of information on questions we forgot to ask at the time.

7. the breeder gave us free a package of Royal Canin dog food, plus a gift certificate for another free bag, which was honoured with no trouble at our neighbourhood dog store. She explained how to serve his food (the first ten days his croquantes soaked in water), and the quantity.

8. the breeder also sold various accessories: comb, brush and a toy were purchased. Plus we bought the wrong type of leash; we needed a harness-style, and not the adjustable kind as it’s for dogs who walk in the country. We also picked up a soft liner for the crate (yes, we were going to use newspaper!!).

9. Mme Cellier also invited us to email with any questions or concerns we had, as well as to occasionally send updates on Crousti. I have done that on that several occasions, and she had been very gracious.

Now most potential dog buyers probably suspect that the cost of buying directly from the breeder would be much more than buying from, say, Animalis in Antibes. We would never buy from such a store, but when were purchasing our dog basics like water dish and a day bed at Animalis, we looked at the price of Cotons for sale. The difference from buying directly from the breeder was only 200 euros.

When we put Crousti in his crate in the car to drive back home, he cried for five minutes and that was it. We were so thrilled to have a puppy. At this point I had no idea how the French feel the need to interfere every time you walk your dog, and by interfere, I mean yell at you about what you are doing wrong. Nor would I have predicted my own post-puppy depression that was waiting around the corner. But these things happened.

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