Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I’ve loved following the crazy activities of your bunch of puppies which you affectionately refer to as the Coggles.
- My book, “The Boy Who Dared” (sequel to “The Boy Who Couldn’t“) will reveal the horror of unscrupulous puppy farms, (also known as puppy mills) where dogs are treated as commodities, their welfare is neglected resulting in many of the puppies born with life-limiting defects and illnesses. People often think the only alternative is rescue dogs, but there is a case for ethical dog breeders such as yourself also. What are the positives of buying a dog from a breeder?
A good breeder will give their puppies everything they need to grow up into healthy well balanced dogs. Their parents will be fully health tested, thus reducing the risk of inherited diseases & defects, such as hip dysplasia, or Collie Eye Anomaly. My dog was genetically tested for 11 different breed specific defects. She was clear of all of them.
Both puppies & Mum will be correctly wormed & fed good quality food, which again, gives them the best chance of growing into strong, healthy adults.
The puppies will be exposed to many different sights & sounds at the appropriate age, things like vacuum cleaners, washing machines, different surfaces, and objects. They will be given appropriate things to play with & supervised at all times, as well as being handled & introduced to things like nail trimming and grooming. They will be introduced to children and adults in a controlled manner to make it a good experience for them.
All of these things help to make a calm, confident adult dog, who is easy to live with.
- Can you tell me, what made you decide to breed these puppies and do you plan to repeat the process some time?
The whole reason for breeding these puppies was the Mother. She is quite simply the most amazing dog I have ever owned. Her temperament is second to none, she is steady, calm, kind and has a phenomenal work ethic. She competes at agility & has won an incredible amount of prizes, as well as qualifying for many finals.
Not only this, but she is a lovely type of dog with good conformation – If any one of these things hadn’t been present then I wouldn’t have bred from her (I have her full Sister, who has all of the same attributes, except her temperament is not as good. I would not breed from her).
I also knew a dog who had all of the same attributes & he was the only dog that I wanted to use.
- Just as puppy mills can be a bad start for puppies, a bad owner can be a terrible life for these fur-babies. What checks did you do to make sure that your puppies were going to safe homes?
I was very lucky that all of my puppies went to people who were known to either myself or the owner of the Dad.
- I witnessed how attached you became to your Coggles. How did you deal with handing them over to their new families?
That was the hardest part of the whole thing. The puppies had become part of my family. I had fed, them toileted them, played with them, cuddled them & nursed them for 2 months. To then hand them over to someone else & wave them off reduced me to tears – there are tears in my eyes as I am typing this now 2 weeks later. Even though I know that they all have fabulous homes & there was no way I could have kept them all.
- What is your favourite breed of dog and why?
I have to say Border Collies are my favourite breed. They are intelligent, loyal, & great fun. They will give you 100% every time you ask them to do something. Their work ethic is second to none, they really would work until they dropped.
They are happy to just be with you. Their learning ability is limited only by their owner’s imagination. They are incredible.
- Each dog breed has its own characteristics, needs, strong points and weak points. What type of human do you think your breed of dog is best suited to? (Please name breed.)
The Border Collie owner needs to be active, they need to have a sense of humour, and be prepared to work hard to keep their dog amused. Collies are amazing dogs, but they are certainly not for the faint hearted or weak willed. If allowed to, they will take control of their humans and become unmanageable. They need to be occupied, or they will become destructive and unruly. In short, you get out what you put in. If you are lazy and inconsistent a Collie will be a nightmare dog. If you are prepared to put in the effort and time, you will be rewarded with the best friend you could ever wish for.
- If somebody reading this interview wanted to breed their dog, what would you warn them about that you wish you’d been prepared for?
Oh gosh, so many things. This has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I was prepared for the hard work, but my first and most important warning is BREEDING IS HARD WORK – REALLY HARD WORK.
Be prepared to lose everything, I came so close to losing the puppies’ mother & all of the puppies. This is a very real possibility. Do not think it won’t happen to you. It might.
If you are doing it to make money, then don’t bother. I barely broke even & probably made a loss. You need at least £2000.00 readily available should things go wrong.
I was not prepared for the emotional side of breeding. I consider myself a strong level headed person, but I was reduced to tears more than once. It is emotionally draining and incredibly tiring.
- Many people underestimate the time, cost and commitment of adding a dog to their family. Do you have any advice to help in any of these areas?
No advice, as such, but just a few things to consider.
Firstly the cost – A dog is a huge financial investment, they need regular worming & flea treatments, as well as annual boosters. Obviously there is their food to consider, a 12kg bag of good quality dog food is upwards of £50 and the price is increasing almost weekly. These are regular outgoings, but you must also consider the costs of veterinary treatment should something go wrong. Insurance starts at £300.00 per year.
Then there is the time that your puppy will need – A puppy needs almost constant supervision for the first few weeks. An adult dog will ned to go for a walk at lest twice a day, whatever the weather, they need to be trained, played with, groomed, and given affection. If you cannot commit to this daily then a dog just isn’t for you.
If you want to go out for the day, you will either need to take your dog with you or arrange care for it. The same goes for holidays. Dogs are there 24/7.
They will shed hair onto everything you own, walk around your house with muddy feet, chew things, steal things & probably wee on things when they are young. In short they are hard work. Constant hard work.
- I know you love horses as well as dogs (and possibly other animals too). What is it about dogs that you love so much?
Where do I start on that one??
My dogs make me laugh, every day, without fail. They are completely without ulterior motives. They love you unconditionally for who you are. They don’t care if you are rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, fat or thin. They never judge & are always there when you need them. They are always pleased to see you. They are great fun, they get you out & about when you perhaps wouldn’t bother.
They are great ice breakers when you meet new people. I have made so many great friends through my dogs. But mostly my dogs are my best friends and I love them.
- If you decided to breed one of your dogs again in the future, what would you do differently?
I’m not sure I will ever do it again, but if I did, I wouldn’t wait until my dog was 6 before breeding, I think with hindsight that the ideal age is probably 2 or 3. I also wouldn’t have a litter of puppies in winter, it makes everything so much harder.
Apart from that, I think I was pretty happy with how I raised the puppies & how they turned out. It was an incredible experience & on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed it. I learned so much about puppies and breeding.
I have a new respect for good breeders who produce happy, healthy puppies for us to have as our best friends. It takes so much commitment – both emotional & financial.
Thank you so much for your time. Puppies are so tempting, but you’re right it’s a huge commitment, so I’ll stick with just the one big dog I already have. For now!