The jet-set puppy: buying a puppy via the Internet

Last Friday I was lying on my bed, trying to calm my throbbing head and resting my feet against Rosie. Then it occurred to me that it was 25 February. Two years to the day that Rosie had landed – quite literally – in our lives. And I thought about how it all began, and  how far we had come since then.

It all started at the beginning of February 2009. We had recently lost our much loved Staffie (Staffordshire Bull Terrier), Jessie, and were finding it way too quiet in the house without a dog. Even the Lucy, the cat, seemed to be feeling lost. She and Jessie had been close. So we decided to start looking for another Staffie. It’s not that we are “pedigree snobs”. Lucy, as most of the cats before her, is a SPCA “moggie”. But when it comes to dogs, we really like the Staffie breed. They’re medium-sized, tough dogs with wonderful personalities. Very there kind of dogs.

I was fairly discouraged at first. After contacting just about every breeder in South Africa, I discovered that there was a waiting list of around 9 – 12 months. We were putting our name down for a puppy that had yet to be conceived. So I kept looking at the newspaper ads every morning. The South African newspapers have their classified ads online, so you get to see the new ads as soon as they are loaded each morning. I also put ads in the “puppy wanted” sections. Which resulted in a couple of really funny responses. One gentleman from the Eastern Cape emailed me that he had Staffie puppies available for immediate collection. When I asked him for photographs, I received photos of a mixture of puppies of different breeds and ages (obviously obtained on the Internet), with one fully-grown English Bulldog thrown in. A very big puppy indeed!

One day, about 3 weeks into the search, a new ad appeared for 8 week-old Staffies, ready to go to new homes. It almost seemed too good to be true. This was the breeder’s first litter, which is why they hadn’t been snapped up already. It also later turned out to be the only litter she bred. She found the process of sending the puppies to new homes, after caring for them and watching them grow for 8 weeks, too traumatic. There was just one problem – the pups were some 1200 kilometers (745 miles) away. The ideal in selecting a new dog is obviously to see the puppies, play with them and pick the one you bond with. Or in the case of cats, it is more a matter of seeing and playing with the kittens – and taking home the one that picks you! This was going to be the first time either of us had selected a puppy via the Internet. The breeder tried to be as helpful as possible. She sent us the most beautiful photos of the puppies. Some in groups playing together in the garden, some individual photographs of each puppy. She also sent us a description of each of the puppies – their personalities and individual quirks. We fell in love with Rosalie (too long a name for such a little pup) who was described as a chunky pup with plenty of energy. The pup that picked the games she wanted to play. The pup that “defended” her food and toys. Not the biggest puppy, but certainly one with a dominant personality. After a telephonic “interview” with us – she wanted to make sure her puppies went to good homes – we started to make arrangements for Rosie’s delivery.

We live in the Southern Cape. The breeder and the puppies were in Pretoria (close to Johannesburg). The breeder, not being experienced in dispatching puppies to far off locations and having a busy day-job, was quite happy when I volunteered to find out how this was done. It turned out to be quite easy. Something which dog breeders routinely do – with the help of a pet travel agent. Yes, such people exist and they are wonderful! The one we finally went with was the one most concerned about the welfare of the animal. Their offices are close to the airport in Johannesburg, where they also have kennels. A veterinary surgeon checks out the animal on the morning of the flight, to make sure it is in good health. They keep the animal there until the plane is being loaded, and then take it to the airport as late as possible, to minimize the stress on the animal. And they handle all the paperwork. It turns out that booking a little puppy onto a flight, is far more complicated than doing the same for a person.

Rosie fresh off her flight from Johannesburg - 25 Feb 2009

Like adoptive parents, we were so excited once we had a flight number and arrival time. I could think of little else that day than how Rosie was going to handle the 2-hour flight. She was still so young and little.

Rosie did great. She didn’t much like being in a crate though, and whined until she was finally released in our garden. We thought that she’d be traumatized and exhausted. Instead she hit the ground running, and we were soon the ones who were in need of a nap! So Rosie raced around in the garden and played until the evening, when she finally got tired and hungry and came indoors. And in those first couple of hours with our new puppy, we realized that the breeder had been 100% accurate in her description of Rosie – she was a chunky pup, with plenty of energy and a dominant personality!

A jet-lagged puppy - Rosie the day after she arrived

To be continued . . .

The jet-set puppy series:

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Categories: Random


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


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26 Comments on “The jet-set puppy: buying a puppy via the Internet”

  1. February 27, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    I think it’s good that you thought about the kind of dog you wanted before you got her. Too many people jump in without thinking and a mismatch between dog and owner is not a happy situation. Looks like a great dog.

    • February 28, 2011 at 7:04 am #

      I agree. With Staffies it’s very important that you know what you’re letting yourself in for. They’re great family dogs – very good with young children – but they are very active and need a lot of attention.

  2. February 27, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    I can’t wait to hear the rest…

    • February 28, 2011 at 7:08 am #

      Good! I always worry that I’m boring people when I talk about our animals.

  3. February 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    What a wonderful story! I just had a “similar” experience with my new Labrador puppy. Thank you for showing that animals are just as precious as children.

    • February 28, 2011 at 7:07 am #

      Thanks! Ah, Labradors are beautiful dogs – our family had one when I was a child. Our dog and cat are our family. 🙂

  4. February 27, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    sooo cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to hear part II !!!

  5. February 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    I love this post, Lisa! Rosie is so darling! Can’t wait for the rest of the story!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. February 27, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    I can empathize with the lady whom you got Rosie from – it would break my heart too to send them off.

    Rosie looked adorable as a pup, but then, she still looks it 🙂 I think she’s very lucky that you and Willie found her – sounds like a good match for all of you.

    Very nice post, Lisa!

    • February 28, 2011 at 7:14 am #

      Thanks! I agree, I also wouldn’t be able to do it! In this case the breeder has stayed in touch with all the new owners, so she still gets regular updates and photos.

  7. Estie
    February 27, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    It is such a beautiful story. Thanx for sharing.

  8. bagnidilucca
    February 27, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

    What a beautiful puppy she was and she has grown into a beautiful dog. Our lovely cat, Tallulah, died 3 years ago and I still miss her. We travel such a lot, it is not practical to have another, but I want one anyway. One day I will work out how to do it.

    • February 28, 2011 at 7:21 am #

      I agree, it is difficult to travel a lot when you have pets. I hate to leave ours at the kennels. Some people like Kathryn McCullough in Haiti seem to be able to move around with their dogs relatively easily. In South Africa quarantine requirements make things more difficult.

  9. February 28, 2011 at 2:53 am #

    Aww such a sweet puppy. When our schnauzer passed years ago everyone told us that we should wait. The house seemed so empty and cold without him. 3 days later we broke down and got our little Alyssa a female schnauzer.

    • February 28, 2011 at 7:23 am #

      Thank you! I’ve always felt that when a beloved pet dies, you’re not going to get over their death quickly. And getting another pet doesn’t replace the one you’ve lost. It just makes the loss a little more bearable.

  10. February 28, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    This is suuuch a lovely story, Lisa – I’m glad you had such a positive experience of buying a puppy over the internet. And eagerly await the next instalment of Rosie’s life with you!

    • February 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

      Thanks Reggie! I think buying a puppy via the Internet is a risk – I have heard some horror stories. Is the one you were showed a photo of, the one you’re going to get? On her side, the breeder also had concerns. Rosie and her siblings are all registered, so she travelled with papers. And the pet travel agency acted as a go-between. They made sure they got the right pup, and also waited for proof of payment to the breeder, before putting Rosie on the flight. So it protected both parties.

  11. jacquelincangro
    February 28, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    Rosie is quite a looker! It makes me happy to know she has such a loving home like yours.
    In the US it’s not advisable to purchase a puppy via the internet. Many of them are not from reputable breeders, but from puppy mills. I’m really glad to know that you don’t have these issues in South Africa.
    I can’t wait to read part 2!

    • February 28, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

      We actually do have a problem with “puppy farms” here too. And sometimes just unscrupulous people who try various schemes to defraud people looking for a puppy. What made us pretty sure that this breeder was genuine, was that she was very forthcoming with photographs and information. And the litter was registered with an official organization.

  12. February 28, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    Great story, Lisa! I’m glad it turned out so well for you, considering you never quite know what you’re going to get over the interent. Those pictures are adorable! 🙂

    • March 1, 2011 at 7:15 am #

      Thanks! The breeder took some beautiful photos of the puppies as well. I’ve put a few in the next post.

  13. Oregon Sunshine
    March 6, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    We did something similar, only our breeder was 100 miles away. We didn’t get to pick our puppy. The breeder temperament tested the pups, and observed personalities. She spent a lot of time getting to know us and our lifestyle, then selected the pup she felt was the best fit for our family.

    While I had hoped for a female, I am quite pleased with the boy we adopted. It is a good fit and we’re content.

    • March 6, 2011 at 7:51 am #

      You were lucky that the breeder did try and match each puppy to its new family. Not every breeder does that. We were lucky in that Rosie’s breeder was very keen for her pups to go to good homes, and for the new owners to be happy with the puppy they chose, so she provided a lot of information about each puppy. She did warn us a couple of times that Rosie was quite a handful – think she wanted us to go into it knowing all the “facts”! 🙂 She was completely correct in her assessment of Rosie.

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