Meet the Breeder
From the moment I was born I loved dogs. My earliest memories are of grandmothers Pekinese, "Petey". Petey and I would play for long hours in the dirt in grandmas backyard—he was patient and kind and old. I loved, loved Petey.
For many of my growing up years we had Boxers. I enjoyed them and always had fun going on all the many adventures that the big fields and trees offered nearby our house. The family I grew up in was a middle class family in a very common American suburb-type area. The houses were close together and the neighbors were right up next to you, maybe five feet apart. Rows and rows of houses this way. We could see and even hear what was going on in our neighbors back and front yard. Some people were nice to their dogs and appreciated them, I could tell by their actions. Some on the other hand were not very nice to their dogs. I could hear them yelling and even screaming at their dogs. Some even beat their dogs, others chained them up. This deeply affected me and I would cry and would go to their house the next day and ask if I could play with the dog? They usually would scowl as if to say "We don't care what you do with the stupid dog." I would go into their back yards, sit down and comfort the dog, and I would talk to them and pet them, doing all I could in my little girl way to uplift them for the long haul ahead with the jerk they got stuck with. As time went on and as I grew, I would ask neighbors if I could play with their dogs and I would comfort the dog/dogs and started training them. I noticed that many of the problems came from a complete lack of knowing how to communicate with their dogs. I taught them; sit, down, stay, off, drop it, and other things like that. Then I would invite the owner to come and see what the dogs could do! They were always pleasantly surprised and impressed that their "stupid dog" could do such things? And it really helped their relationship so much. Was not always a storybook ending, but certainly helped.
As a kid I was fairly industrious - I liked staying busy with a job or task that would be with dogs or helping people, those were my favorites. Was maybe 9 or 10 and had a nice purple bike with the big handle bars with the shiny tassels on the ends of the grips and many times had cards clipped to the spokes with mom's wooden clothes line clips. I would ride around the neighborhood knocking on doors asking if they needed any help cleaning or working in their yards? Some people would be glad for the help and hire me to wash or wax their cars, mow their lawns, or weed their strawberry patch. Some would have me clean up their dog yards and wash their dogs and oh, this was my favorite task of all! Soon, people started realizing this kid is great to train, groom and exercise their dogs! They started calling me! Asking if I could come and babysit their dogs, groom them, and/or train them. I was maybe 11 or 12 by then and I loved doing this! They even paid me handsome amounts for doing this!? To me $10 was like $100!
When I graduated from high school I became a Dog Groomer and worked at a Grooming Parlor. I loved it and my experience with dogs grew. Stayed with that for along time. . . until my high school sweetheart asked me to marry him, which I gladly did! He started a printing company and he needed cheap help (LoL) and his new wife was just that! We worked together hard and long hours, sometimes worked all night, never went home. It was beef jerky and chocolate milk for dinner many a night. The business grew and grew and after what seems like a fairly short amount of time we had 35 employees and 5,000 square feet of business and growing. During this time I pursued only the growth and success of our printing company. Our first dog as a married couple was a Rottweiler we purchased from a gal who was on the rodeo circuit with her female Rottweiler and trusty horse, Poncho. Long story short, she bred her girl to a friends dog and this resulted in a large litter of 11 puppies. We got our girl "Beau" from her. Beau went to our Printing Company with us everyday and was a lovely dog for the 12 years we had her. To us she was our first "kid". We loved her dearly.
By the time Beau passed, we had two children of our own. The kids were our everything. The business started to slow down a bit and we immersed ourselves into raising the kids. We got an old motorhome and started traveling around the United States with the kids, showing them all the many wonderful and exciting places to explore in this country. Was a fun time. We then decided we wanted to get out of the city and into a more country place. I had always wanted to raise and breed dogs but had not decided what breed until... one fall day I met two Bernese in Leavenworth, Washington. They rocked my boat!! Being a dog fancier, I knew about Bernese and always thought they were the "Ultimate Dog" for me.
When we finally found our Washington farm site, we were so happy and eager to get started with our new life. We sold our printing company and bought the farm so to speak and had big dreams for it. It was 230 acres of somewhat rundown land, the buildings and barns were in disrepair and the farm needed a lot of elbow grease to get it in shape. But we rolled up our sleeves and got started!
We decided by this time we would get our dogs from shelters only (of any breed), which we did. Lot of shepherd crosses, rottweiler crosses or even pit bull type crosses. We usually had 3 dogs at any given time. The problem we were experiencing over and over was that these dogs thought that all the animals on our farm were also on the menu! Was difficult and discouraging.
I finally told my husband, "A Bernese would never do such a thing! I think now is the time to go ahead and get some Bernese." Well, this was 20 years ago and Bernese were pretty rare at that time. Never ever saw any ads for them in local papers and personal computers were even kind of new at that time. I would try to find people online that had Bernese puppies but they were so difficult to deal with. They would ask questions like, "What makes you think you are good enough to have one of our dogs!?"
I would do a tap and dance show for them and it was never good enough? I could not seem to get a Bernese - I tried an tried. Finally, I decided - forget it, this is ridiculous and I walked away.
Until, one day while reading the daily paper - I actually saw an ad for some Bernese!!! "No way", I said to myself, "there is no way I am going to be able to get these dogs!??? Right?"
I called the lady and talked to her about them. Wanted to go see them of course! Talked to my hubby and he was not wanting me to get more then one. He said, "I tell you what, if they live far away and it takes days to go drive to see them, forget it. But, if they live close and you can just go drive to see them... well, decide what you are going to do then." I call the lady to ask for her location and it literally was right behind our farm. I ran to the car and burned my wheels the whole way to her house!
This lady raised Pomeranians, lots of them. She must have had 100 of them, every color, shape and size. She had been raising them for 30 years. Her husband decided he wanted a larger type dog and got three Bernese Mountain Dogs for himself. One of which was a bred female - bred to a fine Russian dog. She ended up having only one single puppy. He bred her again to a Stud Dog he purchased and she again had only one single puppy. He was so discouraged and disappointed he wanted to sell them and walk away from what he considered a big disaster! That is when I walked in.
From the moment I laid eyes on those Bernese, I loved them! I adored these dogs! They were way out of place there amongst all those Poms. We settled on a price and I brought them all home!! These were my first 3 Bernese Mountain Dogs! I cannot rightly explain how excited and happy I was to have them. They were all adults and I adored them with all my heart! They knew nothing and the people did nothing with them. I spent many, many days with them, giving them names, grooming them, going for walks, just loving them every day with all I had and showing them what love was—that they could trust in my love. Eventually they all did.
After a while I had them all tested for hips and elbows and had the vet give me an evaluation of the dogs. He thought they would be a good start for me. I figured if they did not pass their tests, which I thought was a high possibility, I would have them spayed and neutered and enjoy them. When they did pass with flying colors and one even had Rated at Excellent for Hips and Elbows - I started looking into their relatives and realized I had accidentally bumped into some really awesome bloodlines here!!
We had one litter of beautiful pups—they meant the world to me! Our whole family was involved with the care of the puppies and they lacked for no thing. We spent our every waking moment with the puppies! When the day came for them to go to their new homes, we had a hard time with that.
As time went on we had several more litters and people started calling us wanting puppies. We still had no Website, no nothing really, but people wanted puppies. For the longest time we had only the 3 dogs. Then we started finding some great dogs with longevity. Our biggest concern was longevity as we greatly wanted our base to come from this. Although the dogs with longevity weren't as beautiful as the dogs with no longevity - we painfully passed up the Eye Candy Dogs and went with the dogs that had the structure and history of longevity.
We found that there were pockets of families tucked here and there in the world that had some awesome, great dogs that they were so proud of and had super longevity! We purchased these dogs. Have had regularly dogs live 11, 12 and 13 years. We currently have Sierra who is 12 years old!
When we started this adventure with Bernese I wondered to myself, "Am I ever going to get tired of this?" I can now say with all confidence that quite the opposite has happened? With each litter I love them more and more!!!
I am more sure now then ever, this is what I was meant to do. Raise sweet loving puppies for homes that need love in them! And really, all homes need love in them, all of us need love in our homes and hearts. Through Bernese Mountain Dogs we have been privileged enough to be able to do that!
That is where the Heart of This Breeder is.