We Have a Dog

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We have a new family member! In late January we adopted a little puppy. 

Let’s start the introduction with a compilation of the questions we’ve received from friends and neighbors.

She’s so cute! Is that a Corgi?

Thanks! No, she’s related to a Corgi, but it’s a different breed.

Are you sure? It looks a lot like a Corgi.

Pretty sure.

Then what is she?

She’s a Swedish Vallhund. It’s a herding breed similar to a Corgi.

A what?

Swedish Vallhund. V-A-L-L-H-U-N-D. It’s Swedish for “herding dog.”

I’ve never heard of that.

Yeah, it’s about the 170th most popular breed in the U.S.

How big will she get?

The breed standard is 20-30 pounds. She’ll be probably around 20.

So just like a Corgi!!!

OK

What’s her name?

Mysa. It’s a Swedish word that means to snuggle / cuddle / cozy up.

That’s so cute!

Mission accomplished.

Where did you get her?

From Minnesota.

From Minnesota!!!

Yes, from Minnesota.

Did you fly or drive?

I flew up and returned with her the same day. It was a hoot.

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What’s it called again?

Swedish Vallhund. If you google “wolf corgi” or “Viking dog” it’ll come up.

“Wolf Corgi” – that’s funny. 

Yeah.

And variations along those lines.

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It’s been almost a year and a half since we lost Bamble, the best dog in the history of the universe.

I wasn’t super eager to move on to a new dog. Losing Bamble hit me pretty hard, and it was kinda nice to just cherish the memories I had with him. 

So why did we get a new dog now? I guess the short answer is that the missus and I have firmly decided we are dog people. And dog people, as you might guess, own dogs.

The longer answer: Everyone, including me, was finally ready. The missus and I aren’t getting any younger, and as I did the math, I realized there weren’t that many more dog slots left in our lives. And if we wanted to have a fun and active dog like Bamble (and we do), we should probably get one now. When we’re in our 60’s or 70’s we may not be able to handle a wild pup. 

I also wanted our boys to understand everything that goes into raising a dog from a puppy – they haven’t observed this because Bamble was already the perfect dog by the time they came along. Raising a puppy is not all fun and games, but the work you do at the front end pays massive dividends later on (a good lesson for dogs and life…). We’d like our boys to be dog people too, but they need to know what’s involved. Too many people, including our moron neighbors, buy a dog as a prop and then neglect its physical and emotional needs because it’s, like, work. And then the dog becomes a moron too and barks at us all day.

Why did we land on the Swedish Vallhund? We were open to another Corgi, but our old breeder has stopped. As I started to do research (and of course, build my spreadsheet) on other breeders, I was concerned. The Corgi has exploded in popularity, and many new breeders look a bit dodgy and seem more focused on mass production than dog quality. Prices have exploded too, so as I considered paying a king’s ransom for a dog that might not even be that sound, I started to think about other options.

I’m a big fan of the herding breeds. They may not be any smarter than other dogs, but we observe them as being smarter because they’ve been bred to closely watch and obey their human masters. They’re active, but at least some herders also know how to chill after they’ve gotten their day’s exercise.

But I’m also a fan of smaller dogs. I like when dogs can’t eat off the table. Plus, all things equal, smaller dogs live longer, and I’d like to maximize the time with my new friend.

So while it seems completely random to land on the Swedish Vallhund, if you look at herding breed alternatives to the Corgi that don’t get very large, there’s only a few. The Vallhund and the Icelandic Sheepdog (the what?) made it on my spreadsheet, and the research began.

How I found my breeder, how I won her over (they can afford to be extremely selective, since there are like five breeders in the U.S. – wait lists can be multi-year), and how I flew to Minneapolis to pick up Mysa are all absolutely fascinating tales, if that kind of thing interests you. And some might have more questions, like why we didn’t just get a rescue, or how much did Mysa cost, or how it’s going now. But Mysa says she’d like to go for a walk, so I’ll just cover any questions folks have in the comments.

Please welcome our newest family member. We’re really happy to have her.

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9 thoughts on “We Have a Dog”

  1. Congrats, that’s one seriously cute pup! Since I’m a finance nerd, I’ll ask the rude question — How much?

    Good luck with the training Paul!

    1. Thanks Tako-san!

      Let’s do some mental accounting (which was in serious play for this decision) as we discuss price.

      Mysa was:
      – $1,500 less than the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel pups that were adopted into our neighborhood recently (one family got two!!!)
      – Comparable or less than many of the mass-produced kinda sketchy Corgi breeders
      – $1,650 more than our previous dog Bamble (a 2005 Corgi), but less than Bamble’s most expensive year – when our cat tried to kill him by knocking a bottle of ibuprofen on the floor
      – $700 less than a different Swedish Vallhund pup that I was offered by a worse breeder
      – A price that amortizes to $133 p.a. if we keep her healthy and she matches the longevity of her family

      Or in other words, a cool $2K. The flight for me was basically free as I used miles and miles don’t have much value for us, but I did have to pay Delta a hat fee of $125 to bring her home.

      But we’ve already made a lot on the transaction – her replacement cost (at least in our minds) is massive 🙂

  2. Hi Paul and Mysa,

    Welcome! What a time to arrive in Texas, just together with the snow. I hope she enjoyed it since it is very unlikely she will see it again in Texas! Coming from Minnesota she felt at home.

    I have never heard about this breed before and I’m amazed about how many breeds we have around. I wish you all a good adaptation and got time with her.

    I share the same idea about kids and dogs. It is a nice way to teach responsibilities such as take care, walking the dog, giving food, etc, etc.

    My question for the new family member is: Should we expect to see you into the Stock Pick Contest next year?

    Have a nice week. All the best. Cheers!

    PS: I really liked the picture above the first one on the snow, that she is laughing or doing an eye test on the ophthalmologist…. 🙂

    1. Many thanks Odysseus!

      Yes, Mysa loved the snow. She ate it, rolled around in it, and had lots of fun. We even went sledding with her, which is something she may never get again here.

      It is a rare breed, and I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve had to explain what she is. But based on how many people want to steal her from us, perhaps the breed will start gaining popularity.

      Mysa will definitely contribute to a stock picking contest. She seems very clever, but is a bit impulsive. She’ll fit right in.

      Yes, the picture you liked surprised me – I have not seen a look like that on a dog, and it is very different from her normal expression. But she certainly looks happy!

      Thanks again for the note. Have a great week as well

  3. Assuming your neighbors aren’t big consumers of personal finance blogs. Or maybe they are.

    Our search process had much more limited criteria – “they’re so cute!” Based on our experience, better criteria/process likely yields better results.

    Mysa is cute too though!

    1. The moron neighbors probably aren’t big consumers of personal finance blogs. They’re so moronic I’m not fully sure they can read. We feel very sorry for their moron dog. He barks nonstop and it rattles your brain (sometimes I even get to wake up to it), but I don’t think he’s ever been on a walk, and the only words he hears are them screaming at him to shut up. Mysa hasn’t barked back at him – she looks toward their yard in a way that suggests she thinks he’s mentally ill. Wise girl.

      I think the rest of my family would have been fine with your more limited criteria. They’re still learning that everything is better with a spreadsheet. But it sounds like you guys have dog news too – I’ll give you a call to catch up soon.

  4. Congratulations on the new addition! I’m a dog person to and dog people must have dogs. I have a vacancy in the house (we are usually a 3 dog house, but currently have only 2) but have resisted filling that position as we’re undergoing lifestyle changes. If I could figure out international travel with dogs, I’d be all in.

    I’m also partial to herding breeds, with my breed being Australian Shepherds. I’ve met a few Swedish Vallhunds and they have been nice dogs. So I’ll bite (pardon the pun), how did you win the breeder over?

    1. Yes, dogs do add an operational hurdle to our lives, but they’re worth it.

      I looked hard at Australian Shepherds, but they were a little bigger than what we wanted. If we ever live in a more rural location with more land and time on our hands, they’ll be on the list – they sound like great dogs.

      The Swedish Vallhund breeder scene is small and not without some drama. I spoke to another breeder who was really negative and rude – one of the more challenging hours of my life. But somehow that breeder deemed me worthy and (unknown to me – I thought she hated me) put me on her list. When she called with a puppy, I was confused and surprised, so I rang the breeder from whom I purchased and asked her opinion. Whether it was asking her counsel, the fact that I was wanted, the fact that her ideal target home (relatively spry adults with mature kids) and might slip away, the fact there was some history and drama between the two breeders, or just my natural charm (prolly all of the above!), she suddenly bumped me to the front of the queue for her next litter. She was much nicer and had spent a lot of time with me at the beginning of my search, so I was much more comfortable waiting a bit longer and buying from her. I politely declined the rude mean breeder, and the rest was history!

      Thank you for the note!

  5. Congrats Paul! I commend you for taking the big step and welcoming Mysa to the family, while still keeping Bamble in your heart. I got a good chuckle out of the rhetorical Q & A. Enjoy the unlimited happiness a new dog brings to the family!

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