Our group had a few questions. One: Almondine, being a Sawtelle dog, was never bred. She was the only dog to serve the family in the house as a "pet." And, that being the case, appears to be far superior in "stock" to the other dogs, as a "chosen one." Knowing her purpose was Edgar appeared only when Edgar was born. Did Gar have the foresight to position Almondine so well in advance, or did she just become the family pet?
Hi, Peggy. I’ve always imagined that Gar and Trudy selected Almondine as the house dog based only on what they saw in her as a pup—something in the way she looked at them, the chemistry of their interactions with her—not because they somehow knew Almondine would devote herself to their as yet unborn son. The choice was pure intuition on their part.
Almondine is a great dog, no question about it, but I don’t necessarily think of her as "far superior" to the others. She embodies a certain kind of genius, as do Tinder and Baboo, for example. And, certainly, Essay. Each are distinct individuals, though, and I wouldn’t necessarily select any one of them as universally better than the others. What makes Almondine special in this story is that she has found her ideal match in the human world, and through her, readers see (I hope) what any of the dogs might be capable of.
As for your other point, it is true that Almondine was never bred. This reflects a writerly concern of mine—though I considered such a thing early on (specifically, that Almondine be the mother of Edgar’s litter) I didn’t think I could introduce that element into the story without diluting the relationship between Edgar and Almondine, which was all-important. I decided it would be sufficient for Almondine to be a sort of second mother to all the pups through the training.