March 18, 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of our A-litter Giants. It was a disaster.
In the wee hours of that day, back in 2001, our four-year-old, new-to-us bitch, Liebchen vom Eichenbaum, birthed one male puppy, and then died with 12 more puppies inside her.
Let that sink in a moment.
A friend of mine recently challenged me to write the story of how I got in to breeding. I thought this was the perfect time for such a story. I write this singularly from my POV, but really, we are a duo (and indeed a village). I can’t imagine being able to do this by myself. My hubby of 25 years splits the chores of dog care, breeding, training, promoting, pedigree research, marketing, vetting buyers, and so many other things it’s a wonder we do anything else at all.
How did I get into breeding? Simple; I fell in love. Fell in love with my husband Ron, who at the time had Dobermans. They were GORGEOUS. I fell in love with them too. Then he rescued a Giant Schnauzer. He was an asshole, but I fell in love with him too.
We bought my first Doberman, Raven, in 1997. I was determined to do Search and Rescue with her to prove my dog could work any day of the week, not just on trial day. (Sorry sport peeps, little did I know/respect back then how much time/energy/money goes into the sport!) So, we trained, and we certified. Then she failed her hips and we couldn’t breed her. Strike #1.
I’m not going to count every strike of my/our breeding history, suffice it to say, I couldn’t possibly remember them all. What I do remember, are all the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Every. Single. Litter. teaches me something new. Most of these lessons are expensive. There is no possible way to make up from the loss of a young bitch and twelve puppies. So when you start with that kind of deficit and continue anyway, you are some kind of crazy.
The financial losses continue to outnumber the gains, and that doesn’t even begin to account for our time. When you consider the average German import puppy costs $5000 CAD to arrive at our door at the age of 10 weeks, and then feeding, vetting, training, health testing, in the first two years before we even know if you have a viable breeding prospect… we’re at least doubling our investment long before there is any return. In two instances (so far) we have had to rehome those imports. A failed elbow, and a failed hip. BOOM! Strikes #499 and #557-ish give or take. I often tell people our kennel might have been better named for bank account instead of passion.
So why do I continue to do this? Play the crapshoot that is animal husbandry? Simple; LOVE.
I love to share in the joy our puppies bring to their humans. I love to hear about how smart they are, how loving they are. I love to hear the stories of natural instincts that give me goose bumps. I love to hear of their accomplishments. I absolutely love to see their people become NEW people simply by sharing their heart with one of our puppies. I love when children grow up to become puppy buyers, because their parents were.
For all you aspiring breeders out there who think this is a get rich quick scheme… think again. Please.
For all you aspiring breeders out there who think it will be a fun experience for your family… think carefully at all that can happen. Please.
For all you puppy buyers out there who presume breeders are loaded… we laugh and laugh and laugh until we cry.
Bottom line, if you’re not doing it for love, you’re not doing it right.
In loving memory of our Liebie, and the many who have followed in the past 20 years, we go hopefully into the future.