Recently, after much discussion, my boyfriend and I decided to get a dog. After even more discussion, we settled on a miniature schnauzer. (On a side note, have you ever negotiated choosing a dog breed with a loved one? It’s up there with federal spending cuts and peace in the Middle East in terms of complexity and nuance.) Once we reached schnauzer détente, it was time to find a breeder. I looked at dozens of websites, read customer reviews and spoke with a number of professionals. My search finally paid off when I stumbled upon Dragonward Miniature Schnauzers, a reputable breeder who takes enormous care matching every client with the right dog for his or her individual needs.

While it’s exciting to gain a new family member, I also found the dog-buying experience to be educational from a business perspective. A number of qualities made Dragonward stand out from other breeders and, in retrospect, these are the same things homeowners want when buying a pool or spa.

Safety: Every puppy is sold with a lifetime warranty against any health problem caused by genetics. In an age of horribly inbred dogs, I felt safe knowing that this breeder is so confident she’s willing to back her “product” with an unusually aggressive guarantee.

Service: Dragonward asked me a number of questions about what I wanted from a dog. Do I have a cat? Children? How much exercise do I want to do? This made me feel that they cared about my long-term satisfaction rather than just wanting to make the sale.

Education: Again, instead of behaving as if I’m the last stop on a puppy assembly line, Dragonward gives every customer a detailed introduction to dog breeding practices and a factual explanation of the ways they differ from other breeders. In other words, they sell their expertise by educating potential clients rather than bad-mouthing competitors.

These values, along with fair pricing and some marketing chops, will go a long way toward ensuring a company’s success. And whether it’s schnauzers or spas, it makes me very happy to see excellence in action.

Here is a photo of my new puppy at 1 month old. She’s the cute one on the right.