When I meet people outside of the Dachshund/breeding/puppy world, they’re always surprised to hear what I do. If I spend much time talking with them at all, I tend to hear a lot of the same questions over and over.
- “How many dogs do you have?”
- “Do you have puppies for sale right now?”
- “Raising puppies must be such a fun and easy job!”
It seems that even though it’s not the most commonly asked question to start a conversation, it’s usually a question asked with the emphasis on “How”. “HOW many dogs do you have?!!” is always the response when I mention how many dogs I have. Right now, as I type this, I have 21 dogs in my house. Of those 21, 11 are puppies under the age of 6 weeks. Even with 21 in my house right now, I have 5 additional dogs who reside in guardian homes!!! 14 dogs are in my breeding program currently (with 2 more arriving within the next 2 weeks). Of those 14, 4 are male, 6 are of breeding age females, 4 are upcoming females. I also have 3 retired dogs that aren’t counted in my breeding program but are 3 of the 21 living here. Overwhelmed yet?
The phrase that I do hear most commonly is people questioning if I have puppies for sale. Surprisingly, the answer to that is always no! I’m not a pet store or a warehouse. I can’t just go to the backroom and get a puppy off of a shelf. I carefully and selectively plan each litter for the confirmation, health, and colors that I am looking for as a result of that breeding. And as carefully as I handle that part, I am even more careful in adding people to my waitlist. I spend a great deal of time communicating with the families on my waitlist and prefer to sell puppies to people that didn’t impulse buy one “because they saw one that was cute” or off of some other whim. My puppies are spoken for months before they are even born even if I don’t yet know who will be getting which puppies or from which litter. When a litter is born, they are all put on hold while I assess their health and growth. After they are 4 weeks old, they begin to make their way down my waitlist. I almost NEVER have puppies available after my waitlist and if I do, it’s never a girl and most certainly not a dapple.
The Reality of raising puppies
The reality is, raising puppies is anything but an easy job. This may be the hardest job I’ve ever had – perhaps even harder than raising children. There is so much physical and emotional work that I invest in every dog and puppy. From the minute a mom comes in to heat I begin praying for her and her babies. Sometimes a mom isn’t receptive to a male and I have to have a back-up plan ready to go. And sometimes, that happens with a time crunch and an 18 hour drive necessary! When you have to consider PRA testing, dapple status, and bloodlines, it’s a long ways from as simple as “just let them have sex”. Raising puppies starts before their insemination and after it, you spend the next 30 days watching for signs of pregnancy! Moms don’t start showing in their belly until after the first 30 days so I watch nipple growth, behavior, and palpate the abdomen starting on day 24 to see if I can feel the little bumps. I watch the what day in their pregnancy they are on so I can switch from Royal Canin Pro 42d (for the first part of pregnancy) to Royal Canin Pro Pregnant and Nursing Mama Formula. And then the real work begins! A week before their due date, I start logging temperatures twice a day. And we won’t even get into the stress of delivery!!! Once babies are born, that’s when “raising puppies” actually becomes raising puppies! I chart temperatures daily while monitoring the health of Mom and babies. Just when you think the hard part is over, the babies start eating kibble and walking and that’s when they get MESSY!!!
During the whole process of raising puppies, I communicate with my waitlist faithfully. I send emails about heat cycles, matings, confirmed pregnancy, and litter announcements. If a complication arrives, I send another email and let everyone know we need their extra prayers and good wishes. I send weekly photos of the litter and probably give way more information that some people want. When the puppies get to be 4 weeks old, I start working my way through the waitlist in the order they joined, completing contracts, and lots of paperwork. The communication gets easier after that – just new photos once a week to the buyers along with updates.
For the last year, EVERY litter has had complications. I think the “easiest” litter in the last year was only $280 in vet bills for Mama. At this point, I’m just grateful when a litter doesn’t need me to bottle feed it every two hours! The business of raising puppies is more than just that – it’s about the love and care that goes into your breeding program to make sure that your adults needs, both physical and emotional, are cared for long before they are required to participate in the breeding process. People are shocked by how much I do because of their preconceived conceptualizations of people who have puppies for sale. The reality is though, I know there are many breeders who make me look like small potatoes!
At the end of it all, I have collected payment and delivered a puppy to a home that has been waiting for this very moment for sometimes up to nine months! THAT is the greatest reward of all – seeing their delight and watching their new puppies greet them with wagging tails and kisses. But just because I’ve sold the puppies doesn’t mean my commitment to them is ended. I am committed to each puppy and their family for its entire lifetime and even beyond!