Reflections

It has been a weekend of reflections and thinking and worrying.

Reflections: of the years I bred and showed cats. I did my best to breed healthy cats using natural approaches, but I was breeding show cats. Whenever you breed for a particular trait or look or characteristic, you loose something, you loose a lot of things. It always seemed as though the best “show” kitten in the litter was the least healthy, the ugliest, the healthiest. If I wasn’t breeding to show (which really was low on my priorities, I never did like cat shows) or to please the public (if I were breeding silver tabbies, I could have sold kittens like hot cakes) I could have kept the healthiest kittens and bred from there. I didn’t. While my breeding program was healthier than most, it was still lacking. I am glad I stopped breeding cats, the kittens I rescued from the flea market showed me what health, mental and physical, really was. Unless you look at the whole picture, you don’t have anything.

Reflections on the different dogs or puppies I either fostered or purchased from other breeders over the past few years and eventually rehomed. I remember the numerous issues these dogs and puppies had, their fears and inability to rebound or adapt to new things makes me realize how important the time I am putting into these puppies is. I wish more breeders did it, or maybe lots do, but from what I’ve seen and experienced, many breeders do not spend the time with puppies that they need to in order to bring up well-balanced individuals.

I am by no means an expert in dog rearing, dog psychology, dog training or much of anything when it comes to dogs, but when I knew this litter was eminent I did a lot of reading and asked a lot of questions. I probably spent $50 on various books about rearing puppies. Well documented studies indicate that puppies who have the benefit of early neurological stimulation, exposure to many different surfaces, people, places and things, who are kept in the house at least part of the time and exposed to regular household noises (it helps if the caregiver is clumsy and knocks things over, just this morning I accidentally knocked over a baby gate, it scared me, but not the puppies). I am well on my way to producing bomb-proof puppies, which is the goal.

People look for different things in a dog and to some people, as long as the dog has good herding ability, they often don’t care if it is neurotic, noise sensitive, aggressive, etc. That’s sad because where is the well-roundness of the individual?

My friend Marla just purchased a Shelti puppy from a breeder who did all the things that I am doing and she said that the difference between this dog and her other dogs (which she bought from good breeders) is nothing short of amazing. I think if more people had experience with such a dog they wouldn’t accept less. One of the best things about this litter is that I get to keep a puppy from it – a puppy that is weaned on raw, has been well brought up and is minimally vaccinated. That, to me, is worth all the time, effort and money I am putting into this litter. To someone who feeds raw, taking in a kibble-fed puppy is almost torture – they stink and they often look like crap. No more stinky, kibble-fed puppies for this girl!

Worrying about money: I’ve spent over $400 in genetic testing on Gel. I know his hips are OFA Good, I’m still waiting on the CEA/CH DNA test results. I have this much money invested in a dog whom I may never breed again and five puppies on the ground and no firm offers on any of them. This is the primary reason why I stopped breeding cats; it was too hard to find holistic homes for them. If I’d sell them to anyone who had the money, it would have been different, but I wasn’t going to wean kittens on a raw meat diet and go through all the effort involved in bringing them up only to sell them to homes where they’d be fed kibble and vaccinated every year. I thought there may be a market of naturally raised Border Collies from working lines, but I guess I wasn’t looking at the whole picture, sure, there may be a market, but first the parents need to have the alphabet soup arrangement of titles after their names. I know the titles will come, at least for Gel; I just haven’t entered him in other events besides USBCHA trials, up until this litter was born, that’s all I was going to focus on: USBCHA. I don’t know if Midge is going to be willing to do anything other than herding and that is something I’ll need to address later on. Heck, after spending all this money on tests (and agility equipment), I don’t have the spare money right now to enter trials.

Can you tell I’m feeling pretty down? The weather we are experiencing is getting to me in a bad way. It is so hot and so dry. It literally looks like the desert outside. There is little grass for my sheep, I hate graining the beasts, but I have no choice. It really hasn’t cooled off much, or at least it doesn’t feel it to me.

There is a silver lining here, the puppies: I can’t look at them without smiling or laughing. They are turning into little characters. They are so funny! I wanted to hold off until four or four and a half weeks before offering them solid food, but today they were all but ripping food out of Midge’s mouth. I relented and gave them some of what she was eating and you might think I had a wolf pack in my living room with all the growling. Difficulties weaning? Ha! Not onto raw meat, it was the same with kittens, when it was time for them to wean, they essentially fell into the plate (often literally) and started eating and never turned back. No diarrhea, no anorexia, no problems at all.

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.” — Anais Nin