Recently listening to a program on Animal Planet I heard a statment that made me stop to think, and think Hard. The Hostess, a long time Trainer of dogs who I admire said , words to the effect, " If your breeder wants to meet you at a Neutral Place, you know you are dealing with a back yard breeders, just a hobbiest at best ...possibly a puppy miller. " I cringed ! Why you might ask would that statement upset me? I have lost count of the pick up or delivery points that took place on Neutral territory. Not because I was afraid of the new owner and family coming to our home, but because I refuse to ship so instead we offer to drive, all the way or half way ...what ever helps that new family and our puppy. Somehow the concept that someone would think I was hiding away secrets just never occured to me! The sometimes seemingly endless phone calls talking to applicants or new owners, the weekly updates in both word and photos are my way of reassuring the new members of our pack of our dedication to this breed in general and to our Puppies in particular.
While we often have Visitors, people wishing to learn more about the Breed, about Breeders, about dogs and even about how the dogs work in a family environment, I have found in the past I'm sometimes am unable to invite folks to stop by. Sometimes because of the vaugueness of the schedule proposed, " Hi we can be there some time this weekend is that okay with you?" I have to admit that rarely is. Instead of being able to concentrate on you and how a Ridgeback may fit into your lifestyle , I may find myself thinking how this meeting is cutting into the endless chores of every home, or if I should prepare dinner to include you ? For this reason when we set an appointment I wish to give you my full attention. I don't know about You, But I hate being rushed when I am excited about a new Adventure. There are so many questions and just being around the dogs is exciting in it's self. So having that phone call that annouces , " Hi We will be in town this weekend can we get together?" may be fun, however I can not guarantee that life will not get into the way. For instance I was recently very excited about having a lovely lady and her family stop by, She made a point of telling me they would accomodate our schedule in any way possible, She sounded so very pleasant I was really looking forward to meeting her! Then a Phone call came in notifying us a dear friend of over 30 years had taken a turn for the worse and we dropped everything to help . It was just one of thoes months. People fell ill, We lost 2 old and Dear Friends, drove others to doctor's appointments all while managing our large family and pack. Then late Monday evening when I was ready to turn out the lights and go to bed I realized I had not simply missed meeting this lady and her family.... but I had utterly forgotten to call and explain !! It did not help the down and sorrowed feeling I was already dealing with. I found myself wondering, did they think I had blown them off or ducked them? Or perhaps they just thought me horribly rude? I really hope not. I also have people call wishing to stop by with their newly aquired Ridgeback. Perhaps they just want an opinion on his quality or possibly help with training. We Love to help however I will not allow strange dogs to come by when I have girls in season, or Puppies on the ground. To do so is irresponsible on my part. Between possible infection and parasites I have no way of knowing the type of personailty your dog has and am not willing to take a chance that someone could be harmed. I will meet you at a local park and we can discuss your dog as long as possible. Dogs brought to your home from a shelter or picked up as a stray may bring Parvo with them. Parvo is incredibly difficult to remove from your yard and home once you become exposed and infected. And the Ill dogs do not display symptoms as quickly as you might think. We hired a nurse to help with Bob's Mother years ago and it cost a fortune to get rid of the fleas her beloved little chihuahua brought with it!!
Many Kennels rely on outside or seperate buildings to house their dogs when they have more than 1 or 2. We prefered to change our "Florida" room, ( off of the Kitchen), from a secondary Playroom for the kids to our Dog Room. It is open with two entrances allowing for easy traffic flow. It has a lot of Natural light from the two walls of windows which have allowed the dogs to stay on an organic schedule for getting up and going to bed. After Hurricane Ivan Italian Tile installed making clean up that much easier.
Along with an unusual 4X4 double decker custom built Crate which graced our Southwind RV and could hold as many as 6 dogs when traveling. We have large wire crates for each dog living with us plus 3 visitor crates. Crating is an important part of our training ( and you can read more about that on our Crate Training Page) . All dogs are fed in their crates. Each crate is padded with blankets and pads Each crate has fresh water at all times. The dogs spend alternating times in the crate for different reasons. Kota an 11 year old altered male is very intolerant of any intact male. ( After a Stray Pitbull came in our yard and tried to attack a 5 month old pup) So Kota may be out for excercise, play time and pottying with Phelan ,( another easy going altered male) and the girls. Zion, our resident Stud can be out with any of our dogs ( except bossy Kota) or one of the girls in season. Our Dogs spend very specific and monitored amounts of time in Crates. They sleep with family members in our rooms and the rest of the time they are either in the RV ( Doghouse / ManCave) , With Bob or hanging out in our rooms watching TV and planing the next Counter Surfing Coup !!
The Boys are crated on one side and the Girls on the other. Each side has a minimum of one Visitor crate. Their names are posted on their crates and each dog know which one belongs to them !. Opening the back door is rather a giggle as 2 to 5 dogs race in , straight to their own crate Opening the door and waiting politely for a Cookie. We have one additional full time occupied crate , this is the home of Del Rio a 35+ year old Mexican Box Tortise found in California 27 years ago and transplanted with the family after we moved from Southern California to Southern Alabama. He arrived in my Mother's Coat Pocket flying Contenential! Each Dog knows Del lives in a Stacked Crate and investigates him from time to time. Visitors may be kept in Wire crates with maximum visibility , Air Line Crates with Minimal visibility or Soft Side crates.
All food is kept in bins in the top half of the double decker crate allowing us to protect the food and dogs since they would happily devour a full bin if allowed! As the sides of the Double Decker are a chain link we maximize that use by hooking Flexi leads, Leather and Nylon leads, collars of all kinds ,Show Gear and other accessory items on the wire. On the very top of the tall crate system we store our stacking blocks, the whelping box, puppy play pen and puppy play yard. Keeping the expensive equipment handy and safe. Being a dedicated Dog Breeder involves a huge investment. As you collect the various pieces of necessary items having specific storage areas set aside makes a huge difference.
We have two cubbies in the Dog Room as well. Some hold boxes filled with ribbons and rosettes won at various shows, others have the stainless bowls and water buckets, oral syringes, First Aide kits, Smaller Soft side coolers used on Doggie Days, Puppy Toweling, Muzzels, Snoods, Bitches Britches, Puppy Cool coats, some of our rare Adult Coats for Snow Travel for older dogs. Grinders, Nail Clippers, Soft Brushes, Flea Combs, Spray Bottles, Shampoos and of course the nearly 70 Bandanas that our dogs wear from time to time :0) Every thing from Holiday themes to Hawaiian Florals. When your equipement is stored properly you have far less damage and replacements required. I would hate to try to add up the cost of the equipent we have accumulated over the years!
Our Puppies are whelped in our Master Bedroom . Only 3 feet from our bed. I spend the first 6 weeks of their life sleeping on a short bed next to the whelping box to allow myself to assure no pup is lost from common Whelping Box mistakes. Moms can roll on a pup, they can get seperated and lose body tempeture far too quickly. Some pups are genuis at worming into the box bedding, becoming lost. We believe the more a pup is handled the better that pup will adapt to the challenges that life will throw it's way. After 3-4 weeks they are moved into the Front Room during the day. The Puppy Play pen is set up allowing the pups to get used to the chaos of family life. TV, Phones, Door Bells, Big Dogs, Little Kids, doors that open and shut all day long. They remain in the front room during the day until they go home at 10 weeks old.
About 4-5 weeks we turn the front porch into a play yard. Puppies get thier excercise, see a new side to the world and increase their friends all while be carefully monitored for exposure to illness , ticks , fleas and even the possibility of theft. Once they hit 7 weeks they are transfered at night to crates, Doubling or tripling with a constantly changing crate mate(s). We want to make sure when they go home they are easy as possible in being Crate trained, Nearly 100% potty trained and totally socialized. For more photos check out the Signature and Unexpected Blessings Albums.
When company does come we begin each visit with dogs crated allowing new folks to enter and find a comfy seat . Then a few at a time, we bring our pack in for introductions. When people are primarily interested in show dogs we can show the Champions and currently showing dogs. They can be stacked , moved and handled. If they are investigating companion dogs we introduce every one. From the younger champions to the 11+ year old brothers and sister. Every dog we have in our pack has a title of one type or more. While there is nothing more important than a Companion dog , we feel it is critical to allow each dog challenges and more than the most basic of training. They enjoy it and it increases our bond to each dog. Dogs may be allowed to stay out to visit with our guests or they may be re crated depending on the amount of hands on visiting and the type of questions our visitors are hoping we may be able to answer. While our guests are looking at the pups we are carefully evaulating them as suitable owners. Do they keep track of and control of their children? Do they act as if a puppy kiss is something dirty?
Our Living room is filled with special Show photos. We have boxes of more in the dog room , but the ones in the front room were precious due to the memories they bring with them. Shows when the entire family attended and showed. Shows when we were traveling Coast to Coast , Nationals, Favorite Judges, I think you get the concept. We are working on some large Collage collections just for fun. Below you can see some of our walls in a snap of Daddy Zion meeting his babies on the ground at about 4 weeks old.
I freely (and with only a little shame) admit I have become a horrible Hostess. After years of being a Corporate Wife I have fallen out of the common habit of offering a beverage or snack. It is never uncommon for me to fill your hands with dogs cookies should you wish to work a hound but lemonade or a glass of wine may be forgotten until long after you have left so I apologize in advance ! Should you bring a Puppy for me to meet I may even forget to offer you a seat as I tend to focus on the dogs from the moment I meet them! I am working on this , so if you chance to visit and I have once more forgotten Please feel Free to remind me! Ask if I can offer you anything , oh and the guest Bath is the one off the kitchen with a small Fire Hydrant on the door.
Speaking of visiting dogs, I do prefer you leave your dogs at home. If we are not meeting to evaulate, or train your dog I prefer to limit the interaction of dogs who's vaccination history is unknown to me. If you wanted to see if your dog would get along with one of mine in hopes of a placement we arrange them to meet on Neutral Territory. A local Park or play ground. As we are often asked to evaulate the possibility of a dog /pup being show quality or if you need information on how to integrate a new dog into your home and family we plan a visit focusing on your dog rather than on ours. Allowing us to truly concentrate on you, your dog and answering the questions you have. If you are one of the many we train with then you will have scheduled appointments where your dog and your own skills are the center of attention.
I hope this gives you a better view of our set up, why we do meet at other places to help with your travel and transfer of puppy . We will happily give you contacts to speak with about us. Feel free to ask them anything. We do not "sell puppies"...we try to find the perfect placements for pups in deserving families. And we hope that we become good friends as the years pass. It is one more reason why repeat owners make the top of our waiting lists.