As a society we are never held accountable for anything we do. The irresponsible choices we make, the advice we don't take, the due diligence we don't do...none of that is our fault. And when things don't go as planned we have those 3 little words "go fund me!" to rely on.
As they say - "Sh*t Happens" and it happens to all of us. I don't expect anyone else to pay for my misfortunes. And when it comes to dogs, I'm not sure I know anyone who hasn't faced a huge vet bill. Mine come from breeding and from accidents. In 2012 Emmy aspirated some vomit which turned into a lung infection and ended up having to have part of her lung removed. The total bill in the end was close to $12,000. I'm not sure if there was even such a thing as GFM back then, but even if there was, I wouldn't have set up an account or let anyone do it for me. The bill was mine to pay. When we have really large vet bills we have to make a difficult choice sometimes between the life of our pet or our financial situation. The amount that you can/will pay depends on many things, but it is your decision to get the pet, your decision to have the service done and your responsibility to pay the bill. I definitely have more empathy for those who purchased their dogs from reputable breeders and through no fault of their own end up with a huge bill, but I'm still not paying for it.
If you go out and buy a dog off Kijiji or a back-yard breeder for a fraction of what a well bred dog costs, don't expect sympathy when your dog ends up a genetic nightmare and you want $10K - $20K "go fund me" donations. If your roof collapses, you don't ask your friends to pay for it because you have insurance. Not having insurance on your pet is also your decision.
My biggest regret is I didn't come up with the idea of GFM....I'd make a fortune and never have to worry about my vet bills again!
I belong to a number of GSD message boards and Facebook groups. I love to discuss dogs, training and learning things about the breed. Other people on these groups are, or are supposed to be, German Shepherd Dog lovers. Unfortunately what I mostly see are people who say "but I Love the Breed" and are constantly trying to defend something besides a GSD.
Today someone wanted a 145lbs "panda face" (?) dog like they had as a child. By the look of the photo, the dog was fat and had horrible pigment. I realize emotions are going to drive them to a shitty breeder to try and get a dog that looks exactly like the one they had in their childhood, but if you say anything.....here come the "I love the breed, but..." people. They will say it's ok for dogs to be out of standard (50+ pounds??), the wrong colour or anything else they want it to be because they are dogs and we love them! Yes, we love them...but what about the breed you say love?
Either you love the breed or you love something that resembles the breed and you leave the breeding and the expertise to others. Don't try to defend your blue, liver or panda coloured dogs to me. They are not part of the breed. Neither are the 145lbs dogs. Neither are the couch potato dogs or the nervous wreck dogs.
On the weekend a few friends sent me a Kijiji ad from a 'breeder' selling an upcoming litter. Their price for a puppy is $2,250.
The mother of this litter has nothing, no titles, no health testing - nothing. The sire has a BH which isn't considered a title and a-stamped Hips/Elbows (he was purchased with these). This is a repeat breeding - very selectively bred by breeding together, again, the same dogs you already own.... Puppies are sold on a limited contract. Not exactly sure why breeders who breed with nothing limit their buyers from doing exactly the same thing.
From the phone calls I've received in the last two months, they will have absolutely no problem selling these overpriced puppies at all because no one cares about proving your breeding stock or health testing. The asking price is ridiculous but they'll get it because basically people are stupid. "Do you have puppies? Yes? Ok, take my money!"
Photo of our upcoming litter. Emerik is located in Southern California and as you can see, BOTH dogs have titles and health clearances.
An important part of breeding is having dogs that are good mothers. So much rides on them - conceiving, whelping and raising the litter. As much as I spend on progesterone, stud fees, equipment, vet bills and food/supplements, it's still up to the bitch to do 99% of the work.
I watch my females all day when they have a litter. I have a camera on them 24/7 just in case. There was an incident with Emmy and the B litter where I stupidly fed her something new (I think it was horse meat?) and it didn't agree with her. She tried to get out of the whelping enclosure but was unable and ended up getting caught in it and pulling it down. Thankfully I had the camera going and was alerted to this by others watching and was able to rush home to her. There was a mess to clean up, but everyone was safe.
Some females are not good mothers, they don't want to feed or clean their puppies and raising a litter like that is incredibly difficult. I am lucky to have good mothers.
I was asked this last night when someone called me to find out the price of my puppies (yeah, they didn't bother looking at the website).
I was also asked the other night why my puppies are so expensive if they aren't even "King Shepherds". When I said that "King Shepherd" isn't a breed, the caller started to chuckle like I didn't know what I was talking about. I quickly added that they are not recognized by the CKC, AKC or FCI. They are like GoldenDoodles... I had to point out the quality of my dogs and the quality of the stud dogs I am using.
There is a quote on the home page of this website that says
Breeders with no standards sell to buyers with no standards
and it works in reverse too - breeders with standards won't sell to buyers with no standards.
I spent all weekend at home with the new mom and her remaining 3 puppies. They were all thriving and Kew's incision from her c-section was looking great. We weigh the puppies often when they are this young because it's important to make sure they are growing.
I got out of the shower this morning to my husband performing CPR on Foyle as he had found him unresponsive in the whelping box. I have a camera on them 24/7 and looked back at the images. He was alive at 6:47am and belly up at 6:50am. He was not crushed or killed by Kew, he may have had a stroke or heart attack ... something quick as he was not fading.
It is heartbreaking. I have never had to experience this before and now I've lost 2 in this litter. The small female not making it 24 hours was not unexpected, but Foyle was a thriving puppy and I don't know why this has happened.
RIP Foyle von Tighe Haus, 06.10.20 - 06.15.20
I felt like I was more prepared for this whelping than any previous. I have all my supplies together, room was set up, I knew when to expect them, my "mid-woof" was in town....everything would go great!
Lesson 1, things never go well when you expect them to go well!
Around 9:30pm I noticed Kew was not around and found her up on the bed. This was not like her so I knew something was going on. I found some green discharge on the ground so I knew things were starting. Got my friend Annette over to assess the situation and we waited...
Around midnight she suggested I let Kew outside to pee. I opened the front door and right on the step was a skunk! I don't even know if she noticed it before I screamed. She then promptly bit it, got a full blast in the face and came inside. She was dripping discharge and desperately trying to get rid of the taste and smell of the skunk by running around my livingroom and kitchen. Spreading the skunk odour and rubbing her face on the floor. She was trying to vomit and I was frantically trying to clean her eyes and face.
There wasn't much we could do since the room we were using faced out the same side as the skunk spray had occurred. We were trapped in the room with a freshly sprayed dog and unable to really open a window.
The first puppy, a female, was born around 4:30am. She was incredibly tiny. Three hours later we still couldn't get the tiny puppy to nurse and no others had showed up so we decided to take them into the vet. My vet is wonderful - Dr. Kelly Ferguson at Cranberry Hill. Her whole team is so caring and so competent, I always feel like I have the best care I could ask for. After some oxytocin injections, we finally got a male out of her. After another hour the decision was made for a c-section to get the last two out (one male and one female).
I'm not sure how long I went without sleep but I was so tired the skunk smell in my house was almost unnoticeable when I got home. I did everything I needed to do to be able to have a snack and then fall asleep on the couch. It was a very long whelping, but in the end Kew is doing great and that is the most important thing to me.
Unfortunately the tiny little female didn't make it through the night. I tried getting up every 2 hours to help her feed, but she didn't have the strength.
Welcome to Fredi (F), Foyle (M) and Five (M) von Tighe Haus.
Waiting for Kew to have her puppies is stressful. I'm not sleeping well, she's probably not sleeping well (she's in my bed because I don't want to be far from her should her labour start) and poor Emmy has been displaced to the living room because one dog on the bed is more than enough.
It's nice to be able to feel the puppies moving in her belly, and for such an active dog she is a bit quieter than usual.
I decided it's too stressful to be at work and her at home so she will be coming with me until she has them....and she better not have them here!
I receive quite a few questionnaires where people tell me what they're looking for in a dog. As I mentioned in the last 'news' article, if their wants don't fit my dogs I simply reply that my dogs are not what they're looking for. A lot of people take offence to this as though I'm saying that they are not a home I would approve of. I know I would be offended too if someone told me I wasn't good enough for one of their dogs, but this isn't what I'm saying at all.
Imagine you are in a restaurant and you ask the waiter to bring you a grilled cheese sandwich. You'd like swiss instead of cheddar, brown bread not white, you'd like it very well browned and you would like to add tomatoes to the sandwich. The waiter brings you a very lightly done sandwich with no tomatoes, made with gouda and it's on rye bread. That wasn't want you wanted at all. Maybe the waiter brings you a bowl of soup!
I think a lot of people like the idea of a German Shepherd, but many really don't want one - and many don't want the high drive type of dog I'm selling. It doesn't mean they aren't great homes, it just means my dogs are not the sandwich they wanted!
I don't hear back from most of the people I reply with this information, but the odd one who is offended will reply with a question or a "well fine, I don't want your dogs anyway!". I have to wonder, would you really like me to sell you a puppy when, according to you, it's not at all what you want?
What is drive?
There are different opinions on what drives are present in dogs. Most working people talk about 'prey' drive, 'food' drive, 'hunt' drive, 'pack' drive and 'sex' drive. These are the drives necessary to make a successful working dog.
On my puppy questionnaire it asks: "What level of prey drive are you looking for in a dog? (Prey drive refers to a dog’s desire for chasing and capturing prey. It's a trait that makes many dogs successful in dog sports.)". It is a mandatory question because all GSDs are not created equal. The question is also a big indicator of the respondents dog IQ. Some of my favourite replies are:
none is likely better for now :) we live in the city.
None. While we are in active family in that we exercise daily by jogging and walking, we have no intentions on raising this dog to be a hunting companion.
Very important to train your dog not to chase everything and control that he will listen. But make sure that it is in a fun way so we can both enjoy !
Don’t want be used to hunt
We are good with all of the levels of prey drive except kill.
Medium. I want to be able to play fetch and use the dogs prey drive as an advantage to continued training, but I definitely don't want a dog that is primarily focused on prey. they can be annoying and difficult to manage.
We appreciate the high level of prey drive of a Shepherd to keep critters away from the house and gardens.
It doesn’t matter to me, I hunt myself the dog will not hunt with me. And the dog will be around squirrel and rabbits all the time.
and my very favourite:
Very low Prey drive
this will be a family dog and id want his diet to be more dog-food based
These people get the standard "unfortunately my dogs are not what you're looking for"
So for some reason I was Googling myself and then noticed my reviews. I wasn't actually Googling myself, I was wondering if I could add something on Google that says "for the love of god, LOOK at the website" before phoning and waking me up to ask me where my kennel is located! (it's listed THREE times alone on the home page!)
So I see someone gave me a 1 star review because he didn't understand what I told him. He asked if I had any sable puppies and I replied that good breeders don't sell by colour. He didn't understand that concept (I remember the conversation) because he then asked if I knew anyone who did have sable puppies and I told him that all reputable breeders that I know do not sell based on colour. Well, the review he wrote says this "Poor customer service when I asked if they bred sable shepherds she said “ good breeders don’t do that” - I replied to the review but I seriously can't believe that anyone would leave a negative review when they didn't understand the reply they got. How could I have told him good breeders don't breed sables when my dogs ARE sable! No logic there!
So I have now asked some of my puppy buyers to leave a good review (or honest one I guess!) to negate this stupidity.
UPDATE: The review has been removed
I probably get at least one call a day now about puppies. When you Google Ottawa German Shepherds or anything close to that, my kennel pops up on the right and my phone number is listed. I don't mind having it on Google but I really wish these people would at least look at the website before calling. They would save us all some time!
When you get to the website, the first thing you should see is a chat pop-up that tells you we do not have puppies and for more information, see the puppies page and read the FAQ page. But no, they didn't even get that far before they call and ask if we have puppies. I used to be quite chatty and explain that I might not currently have puppies but I usually have a litter planned. I don't bother anymore. They want a puppy now, they don't care about anything else. I don't even think they would want to wait the 9 weeks before my litter will be going home! They don't care about what kind of GSDs we breed, what the health clearances are on the parents, titles, pedigrees ... nothing except maybe colour. They just basically want a puppy now.
And this is why bad breeders and puppymills stay in business.
Just read a post by someone concerned about the size of their dog. Like in another one of my news articles (which are actually rants if you haven't noticed!), they want a huge dog and their puppy isn't huge so therefore they are concerned. When someone pointed out that they've purchased their puppy from what looks like a backyard breeder or puppy mill, that isn't the concern...it's still about size.
To quote the breeder's website about hip dysplasia "Hip Dysplasia is a painful condition usually affecting older dogs of pure-bred large breeds where the hip joints loosen. The condition is thought to be genetic but also triggered by environmental factors such as nutrition and activity level. While German Shepherds are affected by the condition, our dogs have not had issues with this condition. The breed has drifted into two segments - show dogs and working dogs. Show dogs have the sloping back and look as if the dog is squatting while posing. These genetics seem to put additoinal pressure on the hip joints and therefore have more issues with the condition. On the other hand, working dogs have a boxy frame and a level back while standing. These genetics are not favorable in the showing community, but make great family pets with less incidence of hip problems. Our dogs are the working dog variety and have never had hip issues."
Just to clarify, that is a bunch of crap. Showline dogs have no greater risk of hip dysplasia than working line dogs that I know of. The angle of the dog's back in a stack has no bearing on dysplasia. So basically this breeder does nothing to test their dogs and they don't even address elbow dysplasia or any other medical conditions. But how could they have time? Notice the number of breeding females they have!
This rant isn't about the breeder, because there will always be bad breeders, it's about the people that buy from them. Please read this great article.
As Kew gets bigger, Emmy gets smaller! Exactly the way it should be.
Below is a photo of Kew at day 50 of her 63 days of pregnancy. As it's a small litter, I don't expect she will get that large but dogs always seem hungry so I'm always worried I'm not feeding her enough. She gets breakfast, dinner and a decent size snack before bed and I will increase her food a bit more in the last 10 days or so. If she gains too much weight I'm not worried as it will come off easily.
And speaking of coming off, Emmy is looking better every day. I have here at the marina swimming every day, playing a bit of ball to dry her off and her undercoat is FINALLY coming off! Her coat has changed after her spay and is much more dense.
Today and this past Monday I helped a friend breed her Malinois. This is a very important and special breeding as they are both her dogs that she has trained from puppies and highly titled. Her male has competed in 3 world championships and qualified for a fourth. Her female was set to take on world competition this year but unfortunately that won't be happening due to the plague. Both these dogs are incredible - powerful, driven, but happy friendly dogs that are wonderful to train with.
These puppies will not be for beginners and will only be going to experienced working dog homes.
If you would like to see more - I've made logo and webpage for the info.
There is an obsession with the weight of our dogs. It's exactly the opposite of our human weight obsession. We all are concerned with our weight, our fitness our clothes fitting but for some reason we are happy to have overweight dogs. Every post I see being made by a GSD owner in the pet community mentions their weight like a badge of honour. "His passion for water is unreal.lol 7 months 100 lbs" A ONE HUNDRED pound 7 month old dog and you're so happy about it you are advertising it? I also have to wonder how you know your dog is 100lbs when vets are essential services only so how are you weighing your dog (and at that age it changes quickly).
And they will all say the same thing - the dog is not fat, the vet said so! Yes, most of the time the dog IS actually fat. It is also out of shape. But it's almost a "my dog is bigger than your dog" contest out there! And if you point out that the breed is not supposed to be that large and dogs that are that large are out of the standard, well then - you don't know what you're talking about or my favourite "they used to be like that". The breed was never a large size. Yes, some well bred dogs will just be larger, but it's not something good breeders want. Bigger is not better!
Right now I'm trying to get Emmy's weight down. I don't actually know what she weighs, but since her spay last August, she has thickened and put on weight. Her coat also seems to have changed into a denser type of fur that doesn't seem to want to shed the way it used to. I've reduced her food and put her on a more regular exercise plan and we do some Fit Paws training, it's working slowly.
All over GSD message boards are people asking if their dog is purebred. They ask if the dog is 'full-bred', 'pure-bread', 'thoroughbred' and a few other funny terms. The definition of purebred is "bred from parents of the same breed or variety" - so by the very definition, you have to know where your dog came from to know if the dog is purebred or not. Otherwise, it's basically a guess. Nowadays you can order an DNA kit and send away to find out if what breed your dog is. It's not that accurate, I've heard it only goes back about 3 generations and even if the results come back 100% you still can't register the dog with a reputable registry.
In Canada, we have the Animal Pedigree Act which states "offer to sell, contract to sell or sell, as a purebred of a breed, any animal that is not registered or eligible to be registered as a purebred by the association authorized to register animals of that breed or by the Corporation." So your unregistered, DNA tested dog is still technically not a purebred dog.
What people do on message boards is post a photo of a dog/puppy and then you get an endless number of people commenting. It is almost insulting if someone says the dog isn't "pure". Not sure how anyone's opinion matters but I have a feeling that the poster will go away with the "yup, I knew my dog was purebred" if anyone comments it is.
If they wanted a purebred dog, why didn't they buy a registered purebred dog? That is the question of the day!
This past weekend I was told by a breeder that they didn't post their dog's pedigrees on their website because they might be stolen. When I asked how someone steals a dog pedigree they conveniently ended the conversation. Dogs are not people, they don't suffer from identity theft. You cannot steal my dog's credit rating, take out a loan in their name and then default on it leaving me with the debt. My dogs are registered, they are microchipped and their pedigrees are public. As breeders, we have wonderful online pedigree databases where we can look at any dog's pedigree we want. Steal them?? And do what with it?
I have heard of scams where people steal photos of litters and pretend they are selling them. They could probably also say my dogs are their dogs... but they wouldn't be able to register the puppies. Just another instance where buyer beware comes into play. Make sure the breeder you buy your dog from is legit...not just someone on FB taking deposits.
Why would a breeder hide a pedigree or registered name? Why would a breeder make it so difficult to check on health testing? What kind of breeders don't post their dog's registered names and pedigrees? I think we can all answer that question.
Have we become so politically correct that we can't buy dogs anymore? I know Facebook has practically put a stop to it, but I still get inquiries asking to adopt a puppy. I SELL dogs and I am quite proud of my breeding program. Every time someone asks to adopt one of my puppies it's like nails on a chalkboard. I am not running a rescue, my puppies are sold - end of.
The other thing that I hate about that word is that rescues do not adopt out dogs either - they sell them. You pick your dog and you give them money for it. That is shopping - period.
I have two adopted sisters and I'm pretty sure my parents didn't pay for them!
I can attest to the ridiculous number of puppy requests that I'm receiving since this plague started. Some breeders have put off breeding because of the virus but dogs cannot be bred at any given moment (the general public doesn't even realize this) we have to wait for a heat cycle which can be anywhere from 4 months to over a year for some breeds. Kew went into heat earlier than expected but my plans were about MY next dog, so virus or not, she was being bred.
I'm not entirely sure why everyone and their mother wants a puppy. As a dog person, it would be a great time to get a new puppy - but if I was concerned about my income it would not. I have not had any time off because of COVID 19 and don't expect to. So life has carried on completely normal for me. Work, home, train... even ordered a pizza last night. I miss going to the occasional movie but besides that nothing is different.
What I've seen on FB and from the calls/emails I've received is that people just want a puppy - they really aren't dog people. I have very little patience when it comes to inquiries... "do you have any puppies?" and when I say "no" they will say "oh, you don't have any?" Like I should take a second look because maybe I missed one? These "shoppers" think breeders are puppy mills and we have so many dogs that we have puppies 365 days a year! If I was smart, and saw this pandemic coming, I should have bought a few female dogs (and the breed wouldn't even matter to most!) and pumped out a sh*t load of puppies and retired. They haven't looked at my website, they don't care about anything except getting a puppy now (or maybe in a week!).
Sorry, I don't sell pandemic puppies.
Kew had her ultrasound this morning at Cranberry Hill and she is now confirmed pregnant with our F Litter. I was, as usual, pretty sure she wasn't pregnant. It is very hard to tell if a dog is pregnant until it is obvious they are. It's a difficult wait sometimes depending on your plans. If you trial your dogs you want to hold-off anything stressful but hate to give up training time if they aren't expecting. If you are counting on the pregnancy to produce your next puppy, it's agonizing! That is what this pregnancy means - my next dog. So because of that, this is a very special litter for me (well, they all are and if I wouldn't keep a puppy back from all of them I wouldn't breed them) as my next sport dog is now officially in the works.
Now I will just wait and hope that she will have at least one female. The ultrasound only showed 3 or maybe 4 puppies but it was difficult because she is.... can't remember the term the vet used, but something about being very narrow.
Below is a photo of the tie, the ultrasound image and the latest photos of Kew.