Cidwm's In For a Penny, mountaineering on her first snow fall.
Most people make new year's resolutions; we are not those people. Instead, we thought we would share some of the conversations that we have been having about the future of our kennel.
Last year (feels so weird saying that in reference to 2023, but its true) we had a lot of internal conflict in regards to breeding. The world is still a crazy place, especially for animals. It has been very disheartening to see within even the last couple weeks so many litters of (mutt) puppies looking for homes, pets looking to be re-homed, and people asking for money or "a cheap vet" to treat/euthanize their animal. It makes us sick.
We are slow brewers when it comes to planning our litters to begin with. Hectate's litter was us reaching back to reclaim some of the older genetics, and we are grateful to our friends at Oneida Great Pyrenees for letting us refresh those genetics with the ones their Oneida's Reign of Fire (Lucas) provided. Breeding Stachio to Troll was a similar endeavour, refresh reliable older genes with variety - and we are over the moon with what we got. But, both came with trials and tribulations.
Hectate's brother was diagnosed with hip dysplasia early on. We are appreciative that his owner has had dogs from us before and knows what a shock this was to come from our lines, she also has been in dogs (both purebred and crosses) for long enough that she also understands that breeding is a game of genes in a blender: anything can rise to the top. We test our dogs prior to breeding to ensure we are not knowingly asking for trouble, but it is not a 100% guarantee. Chats with our friend Dr. Carol Graham reassured us that we had not made a mistake, breeders could got decades with perfect hips and something may yet pop up. Its roll of the dice, you just try and increase your odds for something good. We reimbursed Hadleigh's purchase price towards his medical care, and thankfully his owners had already insured him, so he is recovering well from a full hip replacement.
Our I litter demonstrated how current events in the world have led to a change in those looking for dogs - and we are beyond picky on choosing homes for our puppies in a regular climate. We found a lot of the inquiries we received were from those unfamiliar with the breed, which is fine, but often we were talking them out of our breed as it would not be suitable (yes, Pyrs bark, and YES fencing is required). We held back puppies rather than pass them on to the first inquiry even if these were good people, as they were not a good match (a working dog will not do well in a pet home and vice versa). Often people would reach out wanting a puppy "as young as possible" - which on the one hand we understand, however there is something to be said for getting a puppy already house trained and manageable! People do not realize that Pyrenees are puppies until they are two years old; they will still bond with you, are still trainable and adaptable, and loving. With a couple we were able to find the perfect homes for them when they were a little older - including sending Icarus to New Brunswick. We still have Penny waiting the right working home, but we are sure good things come to those who wait.
We have decided in future that we will be doing as many of our breeder friends do, and requiring a deposit from those serious about having a puppy from us prior to breeding; it has been a long standing practice and I had not felt it necessary, but I fear with current trends in inquiries, it is now.
We also had a call from a gentleman in British Columbia, asking if we would take in his Pyrenees - he did not realize we are in Ontario. When we asked if he had contacted the breeder we were told they were in the Kamloops area and could not take the dog back - that is no "breeder" in my definition. He also said he had been working with a trainer for a couple months, how the dog was fearful of many noises and situations, would pull them around on walks, and that he thought a farm would be best because its a livestock guardian breed.
I had to take a breath and seek inner patience.
I explained how putting a fearful dog in a farm situation would not be best for the dog, likely resulting in him biting someone and being put down, or escaping and being lost/killed. I also asked if the dog was neutered; he said no, as he had thought perhaps he would home it to someone who wanted to breed. I lost my patience for a moment here. I explained how breeding a dog with these issues would NOT create good dogs, how neutering would likely help to provide their dog with the stability of mind to combat some of the concerns they were facing. I also explained the health concerns and testing that we did for our breed, and why, and how it was ideas like that that caused dogs to be in situations like his was in now! I apologized to him for my vehemence, and he said he understood and had not thought about those things.
I recommended he find a home with a family, perhaps older children, who would commit to spending time with the dog and build up his confidence, as well as neutering him asap. I offered to do my best to share the dog's availability if he would send us a poster via Facebook.
We never heard from him again.
We get frustrated with the amount of situations where people get a Pyr (or Pyr cross) not understanding how individual these dogs are, how smart, how resilient and how difficult it can be to have them.
Another big change for us this year was that James now goes to British Columbia to work. This means that I (Katie) am home alone with our pack and farm responsibilities. As such, showing fell to a minimum, with only a resurgence when James came home for some schooling this Fall. He will be returning to BC at the end of this month, so I will be returning to my hermit lifestyle shortly. We both work full time off-farm jobs to support our dogs. We had a good short stint showing, with Ichabod taking to showing like a fish to water. He is now nearly at his championship with only two weekends of showing under his belt, and a Best Puppy In Group (which I had not accomplished since I had my Cavalier, Diggle, over 10 years ago). But, he and Hectate will have to wait to finish their championships. I will be holding my CKC entries for times when I am not on my own, and when the judges are not from North America (judges who will likely appreciate my dogs better). It will give these two growing youngsters time to mature. Perhaps we will return to UKC shows where we had so much fun.
BPIG Cidwm's Ichabod Crane guarding his property.
This leads to our plans for breeding: we do not have any.
Our next female to breed would be Cloud (GrCh. Cidwm's Evry Cloud Hasa Slvr Lining). She has had her health clearances completed (all with good results), and is coming up to an age where we are beginning to ponder "breed or spay?"
However, with the weight of all of the above factors, we have decided that no, we will not be breeding her. We had even arranged to use a lovely male from Woolmarsh; but it's just not a good time. We are not sure if we will breed in future at all. I have replied to a recent email 2025 - but that is a full year off, and heaven only knows what will happen between now and then. It would take some big changes to make us consider anything sooner.
Our friend Dr. Carol Graham (Woolmarsh) had a large litter born in November, our other friend Sandy Dyment (Pyrview) is planning a litter for 2024. There is no need for us to have puppies.
There are many dogs seeking homes, many dogs being abandoned; and although we are very particular and careful, this is not the type of world I want to bring my puppies into.