Cindy at home

I Am A Breeder...

I am a breeder.....

My food receipts for a family of seven and my dog food bills match. My water bill has doubled. My electric has tripled. It is I, a breeder, who when my fridge quit, saved the dog meds and let the food go bad. My feet find the way to the kennel before I have even grabbed a cup of coffee in the morning and the kennel is my last stop before bed. While my friends are on a cruise to the Bahamas and my family meets for Christmas, I am home delivering puppies. I haven't had a real vacation in seven years, but maybe soon. All plans are made around heat dates, whelp dates and vet dates. I shower and 10 minutes later my grandkids say I smell like a dog. My clothes are all stained with fecal matter, urine, afterbirth or bleach. I have to remember to clean my shoes before church.

Most of my friends breed dogs. Who else can you call at 3 a.m. for support? Who else has the experience I sometimes need, the med I sometimes need, or just an uplifting word I sometimes need ? Who else would understand how it feels to have invested hours and hours and hours in a weak puppy to lose it? Or the joy in investing hours in one that lives? I have slept on the floor beside a litter until the crucial two weeks have passed. I have bottle fed a litter of 12, feeding every two hours and it taking 90 minutes to do for weeks at a time. I have learned to be proficient at micro-chipping, vaccinations, sub q fluids, bottle feeding and tube feeding.

My vet knows me by first name. The vet knows my children. The vet now knows my grandchildren. My vet knows it was I who added on the wing to the vet clinic.

I am a breeder.

It is to me that 63 days takes on new meaning still excited by every new life. It is I who delivers all my pups, towels and heat lamps on ready, happiness and sadness sometimes intermingled. Even though it increases my work load, I look forward to the 10-day stage when eyes open, and puppies begin to emerge from the helplessness of newborns. Puppy breath, a first bark, and a heart for exploration. I am not uneducated, unemployable, illiterate or lazy as some animal-rights folks would imply of breeders. I am a conscientious lover of animals and I have found my niche.

I am a breeder.

And although I feel no shame, there is a part of me that feels the need to hide from powers that could come to invade my home and take my dogs ...maybe for finding a mild infraction, a leaf in the water dish? A kennel not yet cleaned for the day? A rash I am home treating? I tell my children and grandchildren to hush, do not tell others we are dog breeders, and I wonder when did breeding puppies go into the same secret place as criminal activity?

I am a breeder and I am not cruel, dumb, uncaring or criminal. I am not raking in money while sitting on my butt. Every penny I make I earn through blood, sweat and tears. My greatest joy is a healthy puppy and a wonderful home. The cards of thanks and the pictures of my puppy with its new family is the fringe benefits of my efforts. I am an animal lover, nurse, midwife, heavy laborer, customer service representative, and marketer.

AND I am a breeder.

--Lori Hallfrisch