So far, of the families that will be getting puppies from this litter, I've met all but four of them in person and of those four one is the cousin of someone I trust implicitly, one is a referral from home I already sold a puppy to, one already has a puppy from the previous litter (and I plan to meet her in November at, what else, a dog show) and the last one is someone who has shown great interest (to the point of wanting to show) and has made the effort to contact and meet the owners of people who have my dogs living nearby (I'll also be meeting her in November too).
Some breeders insist on meeting a person before selling them a puppy but in today's market for purebred dogs that's not always possible or practical. I don't think the best homes are only ones you can personally meet, I can attest to regrets on that score as I'm sure you are aware. I think there are lots of homes out there whose only crime against getting a dog from certain breeders is distance. Sometimes where a person lives is too far to travel from to meet a breeder - I sold a puppy to someone in Yellowknife and obviously meeting them was beyond impractical but they have been a wonderful home and were delighted I even considered them for one of my dogs much less sold them one.
If you live somewhere that the population base is so high you're able to make this sort of requirement part of your puppy placement program then bully for you, but not everyone lives in a central core. Deserving, devoted and really great homes live far and wide and limiting yourself to the prerequisite of a face-to-face to place a puppy seems a little short sighted. I know in my own experience that meeting a person does not always tell you what is going on behind the curtain. I also know some of the greatest homes are people I've never met but have made great friendships with because of contact online.
That said, meeting the homes who will add one of my babies into their family is pretty awesome. I have recently met some really great people who are excited and delighted to be able to give these puppies the care and love they deserve. I wouldn't have them go to people I didn't feel comfortable with and I definitely make sure the adult dogs check them out closely! If anyone feels uncomfortable being mauled by The Boy then perhaps this isn't the breed for them. So far anyone who's come through my front door has been greeted by his big burly head poking through the window frame and some have even been welcomed by a big friendly WOOF. The resounding consensus is "Ooooh! He's so big and handsome!" Once I open that door and the dogs rush in it's pretty obvious Boy is a big ol' marshmallow and if someone isn't totally sold on him at first sight, that clinches the deal.
Not everyone can have a dog like The Boy, and if I could clone him I'd make a mint. The homes who get a puppy from me will just have to satisfy themselves with their own version of what he was able to create with lovely Leeloo. I'm glad to have met the families I have been able to meet, I'm also glad to know that the homes I haven't met are willing and able to stay in touch and keep me updated on how their puppy is doing. I don't want to be in anyone's back pocket, I want the puppies to be integrated into their family's lives and although I am an extension of that puppy, I am not here to pry. I'm here for support and occasional advice ... the most often being "Take some weight off that dog"! For now though they are mine to adore and bank kisses from ...