NR Breeder Spotlight

The NR Breeder Spotlight

is here to help us get to know each other better and promote our NR Breeders.

 


 

May, 2018 – We are Spotlighting:

Michelle Scott DiHom HD(RHom) of Brielle Reg’d (Standard Poodles)

 

 

 

Hi Michelle, how long have you been raising your dogs “naturally”?

20+ years

 

How did you get into breeding dogs and have you always raised them naturally?

I was involved with dogs since I was young, caring for and showing our dogs and friends/clients dogs until I was able to find the bitch I wanted to start my line.  It was a few years before we changed to a more natural approach.

 

Tell us about your journey into natural rearing:

My breed, Standard Poodles, were part of a longevity study and the results were showing that on the whole the breed was not living as long as previous generations.  It was around that time that we started seeing a lot of autoimmune diseases in the breed.  I wasn’t going to sit back and wait for answers – we decided to start experimenting with natural and holistic practices.  We’ve never looked back.

 

What breed(s) do you have now?

Standard Poodle

 

What health problems are said to be inherent in your breed?

Many autoimmune problems (SA, Addison’s, AIHA, etc.), hip dysplasia, heart problems, degenerative myopathies, cancers, bloat/torsion, etc.

 

Do you think these so called genetic health problems are influenced by nutrition and /or the environment?  If yes, please briefly explain:

Definitely!  We’ve seen a difference in skin and coat, temperament, expression of disease, overall quality of health.  A client (with a different breed) said all of her dogs declined at 8 years of age, if they survived they would have poor quality of health in their remaining years until death – once she switched to natural rearing they are tending to live into their teens, healthy and vital, until a short period of poor health before death.  A marked difference!

 

Do you use homeopathy, herbs or essential oils when needed by your dogs? 

I use homeopathy almost exclusively, with some gemmos, mother tinctures and herbs.

 

If so, which and for what purposes?

All of them as indicated.  Difficult labour, lactation problems, fading puppies, slow growth, problems with dentition, missing testicles, ear infections or any other health problems, and constitutionally

 

Is there anything special or unique you feed your breeding dogs or that you do with your litters?

I don’t think so?  We feed puppies the exact same meal we are feeding the adults, only we grind it first and will add goats milk (ideally fresh and raw).  The pregnant girls will get less bone in their meals during the last week or so of their pregnancy (constipation can be a problem postpartum)

 

Has your faith in NR ever been shaken?

No.  I know we’ve made mistakes and we’ve worked on improving our methods.  There is always more to learn

.

What kind of screening do you do with potential puppy buyers?

Normally we want them to come to our home and visit with us and our dogs – my dogs are much better at reading people than I am!  We go through how I raise my dogs and why.  We have open discussions.  Most people wanting puppies or young adults now are repeat buyers or friends of friends – it’s a pretty relaxed process.

 

What are your goals for the future?

Our daughters have moved away and my husband and I are so busy with dog shows, judging, travelling, we are finding it difficult to schedule breedings, whelping and raising litters.  We only have a few dogs and with 2 of them being teenagers we know their time is limited. We’re also having difficulty finding quality stud dogs….so not sure how many more litters we’ll have.  We are looking to add a Dandie Dinmont Terrier to our household – I can’t wait!

 

What advice would you give breeders who are interested in and/or are just starting with NR?

Talk to as many NR people as you can – get them to mentor you.  Start your own little library – add to it when you can, cover as many NR topics as you can.  Know it’s a work in progress and be open to learning.

 

Anything else you would like to share?

I was one of the first breeders in Poodles to go NR, especially in our area.  I lost friends over it but I needed to do it for the health of my dogs.  20 years later those former friends have come around – it took time and understanding.  Things won’t always go your way but keep an open mind and be willing to adapt to change.

 

Archives – Breeder Spotlights

January 2018 - Mary Langevin of Cat's Cradle Catahoulas

January, 2018, We are Spotlighting:

Mary Langevin of Cat’s Cradle Catahoulas

 

NRBA: How long have you been raising your dogs “naturally”?

10 years now and 3 generations of totally natural dogs.  “Natural” for me means – vaccine-free, raw fed from weaning, no chemicals in or on the body, no flea meds – topical or internal, no heart-worm meds, no pharmaceutical drugs of any kind – no antibiotics, no harsh cleaners or chemicals in the home, pure clean well water free from chlorine and fluoride.

When our dogs need tending to I use natural methods only. Our dogs rarely if ever go to the vet. Emmie who is 5 has only been to the vet once to have her PennHIP x-ray and Mack who is 9 has also been in for his hip x-rays, twice to have porcupine quills removed (he’s a slow learner when it comes to slow moving critters) and his eye looked at after having a small stick embedded in his eye socket while hunting in the woods.

I don’t feel the need for a “yearly health check” – a 10 min appointment with a vet, when I am with my dogs every day – I know and watch every little detail about each of them intimately.

I do start doing a wellness blood test on my older dogs yearly once they are 10 or 11 just to check on organ function.

NRBA: How did you get into breeding dogs and have you always raised them naturally?

My husband had owned a Catahoula before we met. He got “Cal” from a rodeo buddy of his who use to travel down to the racetracks in Ocala FL every winter and one spring he came back with two spotted cow dogs – Catahoulas.

After my husband and I met and started our family he never seemed to be totally happy with the dogs we had and was always talking about Cal, so I suggested getting a Catahoula. That was the beginning; we fell in love with the breed, they suited our lifestyle and complimented our family life, I admire their intelligence, devotion, independent thinking and drive.

22 years later we are committed to their past and their future as a great hunter, worker, protector and companion.

For the first 12 years of owning and breeding I did feed kibble, switching my own dogs and litters to raw on Jan, 1, 2007 – my News Years resolution. I remember after the first month of no kibble had gone by, I looked at the dogs all standing around me and suddenly thought, “Wow, I am keeping them alive all by myself!” Funny to think back on that feeling now, but I remember that feeling of liberation and empowerment very well!

My children are vaccine-free so I had always kept vaccines for our dogs very minimal, not realizing that they could be raised vaccine-free as well. We always hear so many “scary” stories about how parvo can kill, especially young pups so I was hesitant to do no vaccines at all, honestly didn’t even realize it was possible without having whole litters of pups die like so many stories we hear.

NRBA: Tell us about your journey into natural rearing:

I wanted my litters of pups to live long and healthy lives like my own dogs. My turning point was joining an internet Yahoo group called “Just Say No To Vaxs” – I wanted to learn more about how I could raise my litters of pups and send them off to new homes without worrying about the side-effects of their first set of puppy shots. What age would be best for that first vaccine? Should I keep them longer than 8 wks? Get shots done at 10 weeks? What information and guidance could I provide to new owners? I had so many questions

I was in the group for only one day reading emails coming through and was absolutely horrified and shocked that the group advocated NO vaccines at all for life!!!!

I remember that shocked feeling very well! How could a dog go out into the big bad world of bacteria and viruses “unprotected” and survive without having had all their vaccines at least once or twice?!?! I have to shake my head and chuckle to myself now at my reaction but at that time the idea was totally foreign to me. But once that idea was in my head it didn’t take long for it to take hold – sometimes learning to “relearn” or “unlearn” something we have just always assumed to be a certain way, takes much time, thought and research, but for myself the change in thinking came about quickly and easily – the understanding that the best immunity is natural immunity. A body is PROTECTED by its own natural immunity, there is no such thing as an “unprotected” puppy or dog – a healthy immune system is always working and protecting, it is always on duty.

In 2008 I raised our first litter sent to new homes vaccine-free.

NRBA: What breed(s) do you have now?

Catahoula- the state dog of Louisiana – the breed that “can do it all” – hunt, track, work cattle, bay hogs, tree, protect and be an all-around devoted family companion and farm dog.

 

 

NRBA: What health problems are said to be inherent in your breed?

My breed has the same typical health problems that most breeds today have – “allergies” hmmmmm not really but I’ll get to that later, mast cell tumors, lymphoma, bone cancer, irritable bowel disease, thyroid problems, hemangiosarcomas, many dying before 8 years of age.

NRBA: Do you think these so called genetic health problems are influenced by nutrition and environment?

The percentage of actual “genetic” health problems and cancers is very low – maybe 10%. The other 90% is caused by environmental and nutritional issues. Most cancers are metabolic in nature and most “inherited” diseases are epigenetic – the cells are being affected by outside influences not inherited genetics from either parent. Toxins in the environment cause genetic damage.

Now look at nutrition and the one word that we hear all the time, that vets throw out to dog owners on a regular basis – “ALLERGY” – it’s a catch-all word for “We really have no idea why your dog’s skin is so itchy, why he has recurring ear infections for years on end, why she has hot spots, why her eyes are running with goop.” All these symptoms have nothing at all to do with “allergies” – your dog doesn’t need special scientifically developed kibble foods sold by your vet and pet food stores – the main cause of these common conditions are a yeast build-up in the dog’s system. The yeast has to exit the body somehow and does so through the body’s largest organ – the skin and also through the ears and eyes. So why so many dogs with this common problem of yeast build-up?? Instead of using the word “allergy” the word is “carbohydrate” overload. A dog’s digestive system and body has no need for carbs/sugars. Their body cannot process these sugars and it turns into yeast.

Now the new fad in the dog food industry is more expensive grain-free kibbles because of all the dogs “allergic” to different grains. All this does is basically replace any grain products like corn and rice with different carbs like potato and tapioca. These are still carbs no matter the source – a carb is a carb is a carb, just like a kibble is a kibble is a kibble no matter the ingredients and price tag. Kibble foods range between 35 – 55% carbs – something your dog’s body needs to work overtime getting rid of. Carbs that you are paying for that are unusable by a carnivore’s system and cause numerous health problems. The real answer to these problems is a carb-free diet and of course that means a species appropriate raw meat, bone and organ diet – “scientifically” developed not a lab or factory but by mother nature herself over the ages.

 

NRBA: Do you use homeopathy, herbs or essential oils when needed by your dogs?

I have used Homeopathic remedies for the past 15 years, my dogs rarely go to a vet for an injury, I have been able to treat most if not all issues on my own.

Example for an open wound – a compress mixture of tinctures and water – St. John’s Wort (a natural antibiotic)and Calendula for quick healing as well as an oral dose of the Calendula remedy daily for 3 or 4 days depending on how well the wound is healing.

Over the span of 15 years I have always been able to treat the dogs naturally without resorting to a pharmaceutical medication.

 

NRBA: Is there anything special or unique you feed your breeding dogs or that you do with your litters?

I don’t feed my breeding dogs or pregnant dam’s anything special – in the wild they wouldn’t eat anything different, all I do is to make sure that my dam has a choice of foods, if there is one thing she wants more than the other. I usually find they prefer more tripe during the last trimester.

I start feeding litters between 3 ½ – 4 wks – as soon as they show me they are ready. When they start wobbling into the next room where I am preparing food for the adult dogs – their little noses going a mile a minute and whining and barking for food they can smell – they are ready for their first taste of some meat!! Green Tripe is always a favorite.

 

 

NRBA: Has your faith in NR ever been shaken?

Never!! Just this past year for the first time I experienced parvo in a litter of 10 pups who were 6 weeks old. Only 1 of the pups showed any real signs of sickness, throwing up and having the tell-tale yellow running stools for about 6 hrs and not nursing or eating for a total of 12 hrs, after that she was back to normal. The other 9 pups showed no signs of sickness at all.

When I was raising litters on kibble the pups always had to be wormed, because “all puppies have worms” or so we are told and indeed there were always dead worms after a worming. Since raising naturally and weaning onto raw I have never had to worm and had no pups with worms. I do a fecal check for worms starting at 4 wks and then 6 wks and 8 wks before pups leave for their new homes. In 10 years and with every litter the fecal test is always negative. I do the fecal testing more for the benefit of my puppy buyers then for myself. I know my pups have the strongest immune system nature can provide but I do feel it’s important for new owners to “see” the results of that health with a fecal test result.

You can find very informative videos on Youtube showing how white blood cells attack parasites and bacteria – again you can “see” a health immune system at work.

Immune Cells Eating Bacteria https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZYLeIJwe4w

White Blood Cells Attacking a Parasitic Worm https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRgq3v1W61w&feature=youtu.be

 

NRBA: What kind of screening do you do with potential puppy buyers?

I don’t advertise my pups, I find that the right people will find me if they are looking. I have to admit I was nervous when I started rearing litters naturally – who would want a vaccine-free pup and be willing to feed raw? How would I ever find enough right homes with a breed that averages 10 or more pups in a litter? Especially 10 years ago when raw feeding wasn’t as common as it is today. I was also a tad nervous sending that first litter 10 years ago off to new homes with no vaccines at all – shhhhh don’t tell any of my puppy buyers – haha. I have a lot of information that I help potential new owners with. I need to feel that they are comfortable with taking a pup vaccine-free because if they are not, they will take that pup into their vet for a first health check and be scared into vaccinating the pup then and there. I have had it happen in the past so I give new owners a lot of input before they get their pup.

One thing that I started doing a few years back that has made a world of difference in giving new owners confidence, is titer testing one pup from the litter when they are 8 wks old and at the vet for their health check. (Note – I don’t do this for my benefit as even a zero titer reading is not a concern for me – this is done specifically for new owners)

All my dams are vaccine-free and all have tested positive for a titer to parvo, (one of my girls even has a titer for Distemper) in turn passing those antibodies to their pups. I find a titer test showing antibodies to parvo provided to new owners gives them a sense of reassurance that, yes their pup it still naturally protected by maternal antibodies. I also make sure they understand that the dam is also vaccine-free herself and has naturally acquired the antibodies that she has passed onto her litter – natural immunity working at its finest!! They can then take their new pup into the vet for a first health check knowing that their pup still has this maternal protection and can provide their vet with this information. I have had 100% success with this – meaning that since I started providing a titer test result, no new owner has vaccinated if a vet tries to scare or bully them into it.

After that and as the weeks go by and the maternal antibodies wane owners see a growing pup that is vibrant, healthy and happy and decide to leave their pup vaccine-free for life.

The rabies vaccine can be an issue for some people as it is required by law, so I do provide a remedy to any owners who plan on a rabies vaccine at some point – I recommend waiting till the pup is at least 9 months old.

 

NRBA: What are your goals for the future?

I honestly feel that I have reached my goal of having 100% of my pups kept vaccine-free by their new owners. It was frustrating for those first 5 years or so, finding out that a new owner had literally run to the vet after getting their pup and pumping their immature immune system full of poison vaccines. With lots of support beforehand and providing a titer test result I feel that all my new owners have the confidence they need to raise their pup naturally.

 

NRBA: What advice would you give breeders who are just starting with NR?

Have confidence in nature!! Show your new puppy owners this confidence, talk about everything and especially ask them about their vet. Have they told their vet that they are raising this pup naturally, that the pup will not be vaccinated? Remind them that their vet works for them and they are free to raise their pup the way they want. Make sure they have done this before getting their pup. I have seen many owners who have had full intentions of not vaccinating be scared into it by their vet. I do address this issue with them now – the more information they have, the more confidence they have and the less likely they are to bow to pressure from a vet.

 

NRBA: Anything else you would like to share?

The word “empowerment” – of course I have always known what the word means, sure I could read about it, use it in a sentence but I have never FELT that word until I started raising my dogs and litters naturally. Now I truly know what it feels like to be EMPOWERED – to take the health of my dogs into my own hands – actually the hands of nature. I can guarantee that every natural-rearing breeder will feel this word as well.

July 2017 - Carole Baldwin of Boldwind Border Terriers

July, 2017, We are Spotlighting:

Carole Baldwin of Boldwind Border Terriers

 

NRBA: How long have you been raising your dogs “naturally”?

Since December 2000

How did you get into breeding dogs and have you always raised them naturally?

I have always loved animals, spending much time at my grandparent’s farm at the beginning of my life right through adulthood. All animals lived outside including the farm dogs and cats. That, I didn’t like!

When I met my in-laws in 1979 and their 13 Bullmastiffs’, I was quite intrigued with the relationships they had with each and every one of them. All of their dogs lived in their home, sharing their lives with them. That is exactly what I had envisioned as a small child.

I loved spending time with my mother in-law, with the dogs, house sitting, having great discussions with her on raising dogs, breeding, the breed standard to which was the blueprint to all purebreds, health issues, feeding, all of it. She and I shared the same mind set, natural is best. It was through our conversations that sparked a small fire within me to consider breeding someday.

Yes, I am proud to say, every single litter my dogs have produced, have been Naturally Reared.

 

Tell us about your journey into natural rearing:

In 1997, two weeks before his 4th birthday we lost our first Border terrier, Bandit. The results of his skin biopsy came two weeks after his death, he had a rare autoimmune disease. Likely died from that disease but at the time, it was said, it was an allergic reaction to the high-quality kibble we fed.

My heart felt physically broken when we lost him. He was so young, and should have had many more years to live. He was robbed of life and my family was robbed of his love. It made no sense to me. I had followed everything my veterinarian professed I should do to keep him healthy. Vaccinate yearly, feed good quality kibble and when needed conventional medication was used.

In December of 2000 our second Border terrier Tigger was 15 months old, kibble fed and received his yearly booster and second rabies shot. At the same visit, Chicklet, who was nearly 6 months old, had her last puppy booster and first rabies shot. Again, I followed my veterinarian’s instructions to a “T”.

In September 2000, Chicklet had come to us at 10 weeks old, had had her first puppy shot from her breeder and been sent home with Ivermectin as she was positive for worms. We had her vet checked within 72 hours of coming home as per the breeder’s instructions. A low-grade heart murmur was detected as well as ear mites. I was not happy with her breeder but my veterinarian told me not to worry that all would be fine. He vaccinated her with her second puppy shot as well as Bordetella, and sent us home with medication for the ear mites and heartworm pills. I had given her one of the heart worm pills when I noticed the dosage was too high for her size and weight.

Within 48 hours she seemed to be scratching more than a normal dog would. I called my veterinarian and he blew it off to “dogs’ scratch”. New heartworm pills were dispensed for her correct size and weight.

Time for her next puppy vaccination, I tell my veterinarian that she is still scratching and more than I think she should be. A skin scraping was done and it was negative. Combo shot was given. Within hours, one of her hind legs was paralyzed, it just hung there. It didn’t seem to bother her that she didn’t have use of it. I took her back to my veterinarian and he ran some blood work and did x-rays, couldn’t find anything wrong. He said it’s likely from playing too hard with our male Tigger. Went back at her next scheduled vaccine appointment. I mention she is scratching more and is now fearing her crate. Paralyzed leg is fine now. Veterinarian did another skin scraping and again, negative, she gets her booster shot and sent home with medication. I bring her back to the veterinarian within 48 hours, her body odor is strong and offensive. She’s now fearing us, even ran away from her own shadow. She’s fearful of all things and Tigger is shunning her. She’s constantly preoccupied with scratching herself, to the point of making herself bleed. Veterinarian cannot find anything wrong with her and sends us home with more medication.

Finally, it’s December, we are waiting in the veterinarian’s office and I look into her ears and they are beet red, like they were about to burst into flames, and, has bumps all over inside of them…hives. My veterinarian confirms she has hives, and, that she has allergies. He injects her with her last puppy booster and her first rabies shot.

I remember standing there in disbelief as the light bulb went off in my head at that very moment. She had been reacting to the vaccines and he just vaccinated her. As well as vaccinated her while she was clearly ill.

Within a week, she was nearly dead and her body odor smelled of death. Tigger refused to be near her and stayed in the basement as far away from her as possible. She was very ill!

In order to save her life, I switched her and Tigger to the B.A.R.F. diet. I tried to find someone who knew anything about homeopathy to help her. Which I was unable to find at the time. She lived to 5.5 years old and her kidneys were the size of a pea when she died, they simply shriveled up. She was chronically ill her whole short life.

Three weeks after Tigger received his booster and second rabies shot on that same Dec day, he was fighting for his life, he was in a state of gran-mal seizures for 6 hours. He lived to nearly 12 years old, also chronically ill his whole life. He went from being a sweet, loving, focused boy to an angry, biting argumentative dog that was very hard to live with.

They were never again vaccinated or fed a kibble diet. It was the beginning of our natural rearing journey. No other dog in my care has ever been vaccinated or fed a processed diet since December 2000.

 

What breed(s) do you have now?

Border Terriers

 

What health problems are said to be inherent in your breed?

  • Hip dysplasia.
  • Perthes disease.
  • Various heart defects.
  • Juvenile cataracts.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy.
  • Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS)
  • Malocclusions,
  • Patellar Luxation,
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cryptorchidism
  • Allergies

 

Do you think these so called genetic health problems are influenced by nutrition and environment?

Absolutely YES, no doubt in my mind!

 

Do you use homeopathy, herbs or essential oils when needed by your dogs?

Yes, I use all natural forms of modalities that I have access too.

If so, which and for what purposes?

Homeopathy is usually my first choice for most things; before and after surgery, acute allergic reactions, puncture wounds, injuries and for clearing out as much inherited vaccinosis as possible. Herbs for supporting certain organs in old age and detoxing. Australian Bush Flower Essences for emotional wellbeing. I also always, have on hand, a Sunrider product for killing bacteria’s. For example, my most recent 3-week old litter who came down with kennel cough were treated with different natural modalities, but, it was the Sunrider product that killed the bacteria very quickly. The puppies started turning the corner after their first dose. I also have my second degree in reiki and use it on my dogs when I feel it’s needed. I have not used essential oils but I hear they are amazing. It’s something I’d like to learn more about, some day when I have time, I will. I also use chiropractic.

Is there anything special or unique you feed your breeding dogs or that you do with your litters?

I don’t think so! I feed a species-specific whole prey diet to my adults and puppies. I do Early Neurological Stimulation and I offer many different toys weekly to keep them stimulated. Toys come in all sizes, shapes and materials. Daily outside play, car rides and exposure to their family pack. Chiropractic adjustments without fail for every single litter and lots of love.

 

Has your faith in NR ever been shaken?

No, never! Having many natural rearing mentors in the past 17 years has made it extremely helpful. The support we have for one another is remarkable and a must when we start this journey.

 

What kind of screening do you do with potential puppy buyers?

I send them a gazillion questions and many are geared to natural rearing. After I get the questions back I know who I want to follow up with and who I can likely educate. I do several phone conversations before I even consider them. When I’m completely satisfied, I ask for a deposit.

 

What are your goals for the future?

I’d like to get to my 8-10 generation Naturally Reared puppies. It’s very hard though, being the only breeder of Border terriers that is 100% Naturally Reared, there are many setbacks. We have a lot of raw fed Border terrier breeders, but none that are naturally reared. It will take time, I’m on my 5th generation raw fed and only second generation non vaxx’d. I want to keep doing what I’m doing, producing physically and mentally healthy puppies. Educating breeders and new owners as to what natural rearing is. I want to lead by example.

What advice would you give breeders who are just starting with NR?

You are on the right track to health and longevity without chronic diseases. If you have too, look back to the life of allopathic and remember the sickness and chronic issues your animals had to deal with. The pain, the suffering and the cost. Trust the reasons that brought you to Natural Rearing.

Anything else you would like to share?

Thank-you to all Natural Rearing Breeders before me who have shared their wisdom and who continue to lead by example.

May 2017 - Linda Walker of Sunapee Akitas

May, 2017, We are Spotlighting:

Linda Walker of Sunapee Akitas

 

Sunapee – three generation win!

 

How long have you been raising your dogs “naturally”?

It’s been about 25 years now, more or less.

 

How did you get into breeding dogs and have you always raised them naturally?

I got my first purebred dog (Golden Retriever) in 1970, and after taking her through obedience classes, I got bitten by the bug to show. Sabra was a pet, but she was the start of it all. I got my first show quality puppy 2 years later. Things were different in the early 70s when I was in my early 20s, and we didn’t question “conventional wisdom” about commercial dog food, vaccines, etc so much back then. It seems that the topic of which dog food to feed became the constant conversation among dog show folks by the mid to late 70s, but it wasn’t until some time before Ian Billinghurst hit the scene that some like minded friends and I began raw feeding.

 

Tell us about your journey into natural rearing:

About the time I began raw feeding is when I also began questioning vaccinations, spay/neutering and the like. The more I learned, the less inclined I was to vaccinate. I began consulting with a homeopathic veterinarian in 2002, I believe, and by 2005 I was hosting week-end seminars on veterinary homeopathy, presented by my vet, the late (and sadly missed) Dr Glen Dupree.

 

What breed(s) do you have now?

I have Akitas.

 

 

What health problems are said to be inherent in your breed?

We have some problems with hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and luxating patellas, but Akitas are better known for autoimmune problems such as sebaceous adenitis, pemphigus, lupus, hypothyroidism, etc. Bloat is probably the most feared and all too frequent cause of death.   In the past we had some incidence of PRA, but not much anymore as people abandoned the carrier lines. Microphthalmia is not uncommon in litters, and is still hidden by many breeders.

 

Do you think these so called genetic health problems are influenced by nutrition and environment?

Yes, certainly! Feeding a species appropriate diet, minimal to no vaccinations and keeping dogs intact definitely lessens the incidence of the health problems that we face.

 

Do you use homeopathy, herbs or essential oils when needed by your dogs? If so, which and for what purposes?

I do use homeopathic remedies as needed, when I’m able to determine the correct remedy/ies, as I no longer have my homeopathic vet for guidance. I work with a highly qualified aromatherapist for products that I use for myself, but am very cautious about the use of EOs for the dogs, as guided by her.

 

Is there anything special or unique you feed your breeding dogs or that you do with your litters?

Not really, I don’t think. I feed raw full time, mothers and puppies as well as my other dogs, and they seem to thrive on it.

 

Has your faith in NR ever been shaken?

I don’t think so.

 

What kind of screening do you do with potential puppy buyers?

Buyers must fill out a questionnaire, but I never commit to selling anyone a puppy until I have gotten to know them and feel we have a solid relationship that will last beyond the lifetime of their puppy. I decline more often than I approve potential buyers.

 

 

What are your goals for the future?

I am just about at the end of my breeding career, I think. I’ve always focused on producing healthy and sound dogs with exceptional temperaments, and seldom placed any in show homes, much preferring them to go into companion homes where they are not going to be one of many. Last year, a young dog of my breeding won Best of Breed during our National Specialty week, at the “Pre-National” Specialty, and I don’t think I’ll be able to top that. 

 

What advice would you give breeders who are just starting with NR?

Be like a sponge, constantly absorbing knowledge from your own experiences, studies and others who rear naturally. Be sure to share too, and try to influence others to move to more natural rearing.

 

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I’m grateful for the support of Natural Rearing groups like yours!

December 19th, 2016 - Suli of Brandenburg German Shepherds

December 19th, 2016 We are Spotlighting:

Suli of Brandenburg German Shepherds

 

 

How long have you been raising your dogs “naturally”?  

Since 1996.

 

How did you get into breeding dogs and have you always raised them naturally?

I started breeding German Shepherds in 2011, with my first NR litter. I have always reared my dogs naturally. Since having studied human nutrition for many years prior to breeding dogs, much of the influence in their rearing came from my studies of human nutrition.

 

Tell us about your journey into natural rearing:

My journey into Natural Rearing began when my first German Shepherd suffered from osteosarcoma at the age of nine. His death resulted in my desire to study this affliction in more detail in order that I may discover why my dog had succumbed to it. My studies lead me to understand more about cancer in general, and specifically why my dog had suffered this condition. With many previous years devoted to the study of human nutrition, it wasn’t that hard to begin to learn more about animal health. Once I realized that I could greatly improve the lot for my favorite dog breed, the German Shepherd, I wanted to find two of the best specimens to represent this breed and begin proving what I’ve learned about animal health by utilizing Natural Rearing techniques hence forth.

 

What breed(s) do you have now?

I have German Shepherds.

 

What health problems are said to be inherent in your breed?

Dysplasia in the hip and elbows

Eye Diseases

Heart Issues

Von Willebrand’s disease

Epilepsy (and other Seizure-related Disorders)

Bloat

Spondylosis Deformans

Lupus

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

Degenerative Myelopathy

 

Do you think they are influenced by nutrition and environment?

Absolutely. This is an incontrovertible fact and very well-documented; something that has been known in human nutrition studies for years, as well. There is no difference between what influences health in humans (a species-appropriate diet) and what does so in our animal companions (also a species-appropriate diet). The problem lies in that most people don’t realize how much influence the diet has on the proper functioning of the body, whether human or animal.

 

Is there anything special or unique you feed your breeding dogs or that you do with your litters?

I feed according to their instinctual needs, and that is what Natural Rearing is all about. The mother of pups during gestation will receive a little more help from certain supplementation such as raw honey, raspberry leaves, kelp powder and other additions to help her have the healthiest litter possible and to whelp with ease. I have achieved both with all my litters.

 

Has your faith in NR ever been shaken? No. I have horses, too, and they are treated in the same manner as my dogs with regard to NR.

 

What kind of screening do you do with potential puppy buyers? My screening practices may appear to be quite intrusive to one who doesn’t understand the extent to which any of my pups is raised and cared for, and the effort and attention given to all my dogs with the goal that they live a long, healthy life. My Puppy Contract is strict and thorough, as is my Puppy Placement Questionnaire. Any potential family must agree to feed as I do, or look elsewhere for a puppy.

 

 

What are your goals for the future?

As it was from the beginning, when I first began this venture into breeding my dogs, my goal has always been to strive for improvement in the health of the breed; to breed for an immune system in each puppy that is so strong as to be able to combat any potential threat to health. A long life—I believe that these dogs can live to 20 years with proper care—free of disease.

 

What advice would you give breeders who are just starting with NR? Do your own research, study the subject carefully, find others with the same interests and goals, on whom you can rely for more information and guidance.

 

Anything else you would like to share? I hope that the practice of Natural Rearing continues to grow and be accepted in the years to come, as the proper way to raise one’s animals, and that it may spread awareness of the largely unrecognized correlation between diet and health in people, as well as in the animals they take under their care.

October 7, 2016 - Laurie S. Coger,Elsmere Australian Shepherds

October 7, 2016 We are Spotlighting:

Laurie S. Coger, DVM, CVCP Elsmere Australian Shepherds

 

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NRBA: How long have you been raising your dogs “naturally”?

Laurie: I began feeding a raw diet about 23 years ago. My Labrador, Roo, who had autoimmune hemolytic anemia, was my inspiration. He was the dog who was with me at Cornell during my veterinary education. Being a good veterinary student, who only knew what we knew at the time, I vaccinated him “regularly” because he was going to dog shows and events. He was also epileptic from the age of 18 months. His sire was an English import whose offspring in the USA quickly became known for epilepsy, so I suspect a significant genetic component was present. He was from the second litter born in the US sired by that dog.

He survived his first bout of AIHA, treated conventionally, as well as with diet transition. A friend of mine had worked many years with Wendy Volhard, and hers was the diet I started with. My other Lab and eventually my first Australian Shepherd puppy also were transitioned. I also moved to a minimalist vaccination approach. My Aussie pup came to the vet hospital even when there were parvovirus cases in house – with reasonable precautions, of course! Coworkers thought I was crazy, or foolish. My puppy thrived.

Roo had a second bout of AIHA, about a year and a half later. Most AIHA dogs would have already been gone in this time frame. He did have a splenectomy, standard treatment at the time. He recovered well, and went into remission again. He did well for several years, no longer having seizures, and off all medications – not what the typical AIHA dog does. He passed away at what many would consider old for Labrador.

NRBA: How did you get into breeding dogs and have you always raised them naturally?

Laurie: I showed dogs and horses growing up, and my family bred Labradors. The dogs were not raised naturally, and I cringe to say they ate Big Red dog food from Agway, among others!

During and after college, I wanted to get back into showing, and eventually breeding. My Lab Roo was intended to be the start of this, but of course his epilepsy precluded that. My next Lab, Sonny, was a great obedience dog, but was mildly dysplastic. He definitely benefitted from being with me as I moved to natural diet and methods. And through training him, I was introduced to the Australian Shepherd.

NRBA: Tell us about your journey into natural rearing:

Laurie: Raising puppies in a natural way is simply an extension of how I manage my adult dogs. While my family bred Labradors when I was growing up, I did not start breeding myself until I was well advanced in natural diet and methods.

NRBA: What breed(s) do you have now?

Laurie: Australian Shepherd

 

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NRBA: What health problems are said to be inherent in your breed?

Laurie: Inherited cataracts, CEA, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, MDR1 gene mutation.

NRBA: Do you think they are influenced by nutrition and environment?

Laurie: Without a doubt! I believe that genetics loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.

NRBA: Is there anything special or unique you feed your breeding dogs or that you do with your litters?

Laurie: I try not to fall for the latest fad or gimmick. Despite what goes viral on social media, be it coconut oil, a can of sardines, green tripe, hemp oil, or pomegranates, there is no “magic” food that your dog must have. I stick to the fundamentals – appropriate amounts of bone, muscle meat, and organ meat. I gradually introduce a variety of proteins to my pups. For my most recent litter I had a great source of fresh goats’ milk, which they loved. Sourcing of what I feed is very important to me, especially for puppies. I dedicate one freezer to puppy food when I breed a bitch, so I can stock up for the litter when I come across a great source.

NRBA: Has your faith in NR ever been shaken?

Laurie: Not really. I see so much contrast between NR dogs and my “dog food” dogs at the hospital! As one of the very few veterinarians in my area that is supportive of raw feeding, I see many other NR/natural diet dogs who are thriving under various raw feeding plans. And there is nothing more validating than to see the transformation in a dog who previously ate food from a yellow bag, after the switch to a natural diet!

NRBA: What kind of screening do you do with potential puppy buyers?

Laurie: I only place puppies in raw feeding homes, which weeds out many potential puppy buyers for me. Many conversations take place. Usually people are coming to me as referrals from fellow breeders, dog friends, or previous puppy buyers, so they are already “pre-screened” for me. I want to know what their expectations and plans are for the puppy, as well as their experience with raw feeding. If they are novices I want to know they have a mentor or raw feeding group that I trust to help them. I want to know who their veterinarian will be, and if they are comfortable declining recommendations they do not agree with or are unsure of. And I am not afraid to tell someone I don’t have a puppy for them.

 

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NRBA: What are your goals for the future?

Laurie: I am working on ways to reach and support more owners who want to make the switch to more natural methods.

I kept two bitches from my most recent litter. I was only intending to keep one, but obviously the universe had other plans! Both will start their show and competition careers in the near future, and one will become my demonstration dog for my talks and workshops.

NRBA: What advice would you give breeders who are just starting with NR?

Laurie: Learn as much as you can, about all the feeding plans out there. Keep an open mind, and don’t fall for the latest fad. Find a veterinarian you can work with, and treat them like gold! (And politely walk away from those you cannot work with – you’re not likely to change their minds, and your energy is better used elsewhere). Network with others in your breed, and become a member of your national breed club, and perhaps local kennel or training clubs. Let your dogs’ health and vitality speak for your methods, and be gentle with those who are only just opening their minds to NR. The person who is not yet a believer may become your best puppy owner next year.

NRBA: Is there anything else you would like to share?

Laurie: As a veterinarian who works in a progressive yet still traditional practice, I am in a unique position. Sometimes I am required to use a medical approach that is completely contrary to my personal beliefs. (Ulcer, anyone?) Other times, I have people who are in complete agreement with my approach. Often, my clients lie somewhere between these two groups. Not every client is open to feeding a natural diet, but I can often get them to make some improvements.

While some might disagree, if I can get someone to switch from kibble to a base mix and even cooked meat, I know the dog will benefit. And hopefully I have opened a door, and our next conversation will be about transitioning to raw.  There is a small segment of people who will make the switch in one step, usually because of a health crisis. But a bigger segment of people need to do it in baby steps.  If I can do that in one step, fantastic! If it takes 2 or 3, great! Every step toward natural diet and away from kibble is progress.

August 31, 2016 - Crystal Hannah, GDAB Great Danes & Ibizan Hounds,

August 31, 2016 We are Spotlighting:

Crystal Hannah, GDAB Great Danes & Ibizan Hounds, Texas

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NRBA: How long have you been raising your dogs “naturally”?

Crystal: I’ve been feeding raw since 1999, and doing “minimal vaccines” longer than I can remember. But my first naturally reared dog (no vaccines and only raw food) was my Great Dane, Georgia, who I purchased as an 11 week puppy in 2009. I’ve whelped two litters, one in 2015, one in 2016, and both have been 100% naturally reared. All of my first litter went to natural rearing homes, and while I’m still in the process of placing my second litter, I believe I’ll have the same result with them.

NRBA: How did you get into breeding dogs and have you always raised them naturally?

Crystal: I started showing dogs in 2001, and purchased a bitch I felt was worthy of breeding in 2009. I finally was able to successfully breed her at the end of 2014. It was my intent when I bought her to be a natural rearing breeder.

NRBA: Tell us about your journey into natural rearing:

Crystal: When I first met the man who would later become my husband, and then my ex-husband, he lived with a fawn Great Dane named Duke.  Fast forward, I fell in love with the guy and the dog.  But I didn’t really know much about dogs.  When Duke died in the mid 1990s, I decided I was going to buy my very own Great Dane.  Of course I did like so many people at the time and looked in the newspaper for a litter of puppies.  I ended up buying a harlequin, Jupiter, for $100 cash from a well meaning back yard breeder.  Unfortunately Jupiter died of GDV (bloat) right after his second birthday, one month after a rabies vaccine.  This sent me into research mode.  I learned my lesson and knew I needed to try again, and not only find a breeder that would give me support and who was breeding quality healthy dogs, but I needed to change the way I cared for and fed the dog.  I had wanted to change Jupiter to a raw diet, but I was intimidated to get started, and then suddenly it was too late.  While still looking for the perfect Great Dane breeder for me, I went to look at a Min Pin breeder’s pups, at the suggestion of an online friend who had both Great Danes and Min Pins.  Anna Thompson of Glenhaven Min Pins in Texas, the first breeder of show dogs I had ever met in person, had a companion available who I could not resist.  This was in 1998 and Chili the Min Pin became my first raw fed dog.  (She lived to be 16 years old and I treasured her.) A few months later, I found Great Dane breeders, Kim Felix and Zee Strate of Sisco Great Danes in Texas, who fed raw and health tested, and were planning a litter.  I acquired 3 Danes from Kim and Zee over a period of 9 years. The first was a companion, the second became my first show dog, and the most recent ended up becoming a great show dog and the mother of my first litter.

NRBA: What breed(s) do you have now?

Crystal: I have Great Danes (since 1992) and Ibizan Hounds (since 2012).

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NRBA: What health problems are said to be inherent in your breed?

Crystal: Great Danes have a host of health issues, with bloat (GDV), bone cancer (osteo sarcoma), and cardiomyopathy being the top three killers. Allergies are typical.

Ibizan Hounds can also suffer from bloat, although it’s not nearly as prevalent as it is in Great Danes. Allergies are also common. Protein-losing enteropathy (PLE) is something I’ve heard of happening in several Ibizans, as well as idiopathic seizures and coprophagia. We typically test breeding stock for hearing (inner ear color related), eye health, and cardiac health. Overall, they are much healthier than Great Danes, even with a much smaller gene pool.

NRBA: Do you think they are influenced by nutrition and environment?

Crystal: ABSOLUTELY! After years of reading anecdotal and scientific studies, talking to other dog enthusiasts, and seeing with my own eyes, I firmly believe the majority of health issues we see in dogs today are direct results of nutrition and environment; especially cardiomyopathy, sterile breeding stock, bloat, hip dysplasia, allergies, and seizures.

NRBA: Is there anything special or unique you feed your breeding dogs or that you do with your litters?

Crystal: The diet I feed my dogs and puppies is a loose prey model with balance over time of meat, bones, and organs. I don’t spend much time planning diets or put a little of everything in each meal. I take a relaxed approach and supplement only when I see an issue that requires correction.

NRBA: Has your faith in NR ever been shaken?

Crystal: Not yet. I battled parvo in one puppy (long distance, as she was already in her new home) and she survived and thrived after being treated with herbal and homeopathic remedies, along with bentonite clay. I’ve also struggled with a recent flea infestation at my place, but we got through that too. I have a Great Dane who’s about to turn 11 and a cat who’s about to turn 19, so I think we’re on the right path.

NRBA: What kind of screening do you do with potential puppy buyers?

Crystal: I will only allow my Danes to go to natural rearing homes because of the devastating effects we see in the breed due to improper nutrition and vaccines, along with heavy usage of other harmful conventional treatments. Finding those homes has not proven to be easy, so it takes patience in finding families are willing to walk this path with me. I’ve converted some people into this way of caring for their animals and for that I feel like I’m making a positive difference. I ask potential buyers about their knowledge and if they’re up for doing things a little differently than they might have in the past. It’s so much easier when we have mutual friends, who can help me get to know someone faster. If I’m considering a family that I do not feel I know well, I send someone to meet them in their home (if they’re not local to me) as a sort of check-in by proxy. It has worked well for me and my pups.

NRBA: What are your goals for the future?

Crystal: My present and future goal is to have the healthiest dogs possible. I know they won’t ever be perfect, but my aim is that they live happy and healthy lives with minimal medical intervention.

NRBA: What advice would you give breeders who are just starting with NR?

Crystal: Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed in the details of raw feeding, or allow people to dissuade you by telling you natural rearing is dangerous. The proof is in our healthy dogs! In addition to natural rearing for health, don’t forget healthy minds and use a program like Puppy Culture to cultivate wonderful temperaments as well.

NRBA:  Is there anything else you would like to share?

Crystal: I’m so thankful to have found the Natural Rearing Breeders Association to help reassure me and guide me in making the right choices for my dogs. It’s great to feel like I’m in good company, instead of treading water alone.

June 3, 2016 - Susan Moore Lewelling, Natures Way Carolina Dogs,

June 3, 2016 We are spotlighting:

Susan Moore Lewelling, Natures Way Carolina Dogs, Tennessee

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NRBA: How long have you been raising your dogs “naturally”?

Susan: I started down the Natural Path almost 8 years ago

NRBA: How did you get into breeding dogs and have you always raised them naturally?

Susan: I was encouraged by the breeder to breed the first male I got from her and she helped me find a great bitch for him. I have reared each of my 4 litters nauturally

NRBA: Tell us about your journey into natural rearing:

Susan: One of my dogs had a skin vaccine reaction as a puppy and after a couple of months of treatment by the vet, I started putting two and two together and researching on my own. I asked the vet if the vaccines, “preventatives” or kibble could be causing his skin reaction and he got mad and talked to me like I was a child. I left the office and forged out into Natural Rearing on my own with the help of the Internet and raw feeding facebook groups. I found a great local Holistic Vet who helped me detox my dog and ever since I have learning more about the raw diet and have been researching and learning about N aturopathic principles of parasite and disease control and eventually began studying with American Council Of Animal Naturopathy

NRBA: What breed(s) do you have now?

Susan: Carolina Dogs. They are America’s only indigenous dog breed. It is thought that the ancestors of the Carolina Dog came across the land bridge with the first people into North America. They survived living alongside Native Americans until the free living culture collapsed and then on the fringes of civilization as a Long Term Pariah Morphotype, or “Pariah dog” and have been known in recent centuries as Yeller Dogs, Ditch Dogs, or Southern Indian Dogs. CDs excel at anything you ask of them from scent work, hunting, agility, obedience to confirmation or herding. They can be great family pets, therapy dogs, farm dogs, hiking or running companions or couch potatoes.

SusanCarolinaDogs

NRBA: What health problems are said to be inherent in your breed?

Susan: Carolina Dogs have no known genetic/inherited health issues. Nature does not allow unhealthy dogs to survive and these dogs have been living free from human interference for hundreds of years. It is our responsibility to see they remain healthy. They are a rare breed but have only been being intentionally bred by people for about the past 30-40 years and the stud book is still open and officially adding select wild caught dogs at the direction of the breed founder, Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin which helps to prevent genetic cul-de-sac.

From my own informal surveys and experiences I think that as a breed Carolina Dogs are especially sensitive to vaccines, especially the rabies vaccine. Also I have observed that a great many CDs have seizure reactions from “spot on & oral preventative” pharmaceuticals.

NRBA: Do you think these health problems or lack there of are are influenced by nutrition and environment?

Susan:  See my answer to previous question.

NRBA: Is there anything special or unique that you feed your breeding dogs or that you do with your litters?

Susan: Carolina Dogs are inherently good mothers and naturally very healthy, so besides adhering to Natural Rearing principles there is not a lot I have to do other than overall increasing the dam’s food amount, making sure she has a good variety and keeping an eye on her. They whelp naturally without assistance( other than my excited watching) and take great care of their litters. I allow the dam to decide when to start feeding the puppies solids. I do Early Neurological Stimulation and the Rule of Sevens with my pups. I am also a National Dog Registry Authorized Tattooer and I do ID Tattoo all my puppies.

NRBA: Has your faith in NR ever been shaken?

Susan: No, on the contrary NR has proven itself over and over to me in so many situations as I am learning and growing as a NR breeder.

NRBA: What kind of screening do you do with potential puppy buyers?

Susan: I have an extensive application and follow up with lengthy conversations before approving anyone for one of my puppies.

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NRBA: What are your goals for the future?

Susan: I am currently the only NR breeder of Carolina Dogs in the world. With the goal of preserving the Carolina Dog breed and producing thriving, long living Carolina Dogs, I want to contine to educate Carolina Dog owners in how to keep their Dogs healthy naturally. Additionally I. hope to encourage a few others to begin breeding Carolina Dogs naturally

NRBA: What advice would you give breeders who are just starting with NR?

Susan: Start off with an experienced NR breeder as a mentor.

NRBA: Anything else you would like to share?

Susan: I feel so blessed to be able to combine two things that I am passionate about, Natural Rearing and Carolina Dogs. One of my proudest moments was when one of my puppy families recently called me a “puppy nurturer” rather than a breeder

March 15, 2016 - Roberta Jamison - Lepus Sighthounds,

March 15, 2016 – we are spotlighting:

Roberta Jamison, Lepus Sighthounds of Ontario Canada

 

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NRBA: How long have you been raising your dogs “naturally”?

Roberta: I started raw feeding in February 1987 after buying a copy of Juliet de Barclay Levy’s book, the complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat. It actually took me until 1994 to get off of the vaccine merry-go-round. A Catherine O’Driscoll seminar put that last nail in the coffin for the 5 way shots. It took until 2000 to stop the big R. Doing that last final step was a HUGE eye opener.

NRBA: How did you get into breeding dogs and have you always raised them naturally?

Roberta: I’ve always had dogs and cats. Purebreds and mixes. In my late 20s I adopted a lurcher (greyhound x) and she opened my eyes to the sighthounds. Within 3 years I purchased my first borzoi and a greyhound. I competed in lure coursing where I met my husband, who owned whippets since 1975. He had bred one litter. I was completely smitten with the Whippets. I also purchased my first Italian Greyhound in 1990, as well as getting my borzoi brood bitch. Having been a farmer in my 20s, I had raised horses and bred dairy goats. I was very interested in breeding both borzoi and whippets. We were married in early 1990, had an emergency c-section singleton litter whippet in 1991, moved to our present farm in Jan 1992 where our first borzoi litter was whelped in February.

NRBA: Tell us about your journey into natural rearing:

Roberta: It was interesting. I was NR with myself for many years. I was a competitive long distance runner and a member of the natural hygiene society (they are the human version of NR founded on Dr. Herbert M. Shelton’s principles of living an optimally healthy long life by eating raw foods, getting lots of fresh air, sunshine, fasting, utilizing naturopathic medicine and homeopathy, etc). https://www.healthscience.org/heritage/natural-hygiene-movement/dr-herbert-shelton

His fasting ideas were however in my opinion, draconian. I think a 3 day fast is as much as one should ever do in one go. He however was a proponent of long term fasting. The NHS would have symposiums every so often, and I liked attending. During one of these, I had a chance to come across a book vendor in the foyer. As I perused through the books, I found a copy of Juliette’s book. A friend and fellow NH member who apparently already had the book, told me to buy it. She point blank asked me if I fed my dogs and cats raw food. I looked at her as if she had two heads. What? No! I thought we did not know how to feed other species so that’s why we had pet food manufacturers! All she said was, if you feed yourself a raw unprocessed diet, then why can’t you do that for your animals? The light bulb flickered on. She said to read that book and it would tell me everything I needed to know. That was February 1987. I still have THAT book…it is a bible quite literally.

NRBA: What breed(s) do you have now?

Roberta: I still have 7 whippets ranging in age from 9 months to 14 years. I have an elderly GSD, an almost 2 year old Malenois, a 7 year old Rat Terrier, and a 5 year old Pin/Pom.

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NRBA: What health problems are said to be inherent in your breed?

Roberta: Mainly hereditary mitral valve disease (often seaways into congestive heart failure), a couple of eye problems like hereditary cataracts, and PRA. There is mono & bi-cryptorchidism as well. To a much lesser extent, hypo-thyroidism and Addison’s disease.

NRBA: Do you think they are influenced by nutrition and environment?

Roberta: Some of them, yes. I actually think some are epigenetic. Especially cryptorchidism, thyroid, Addison’s. PRA may be also. I also think it would take over 6 generations of NR to reverse the epigene shut offs. Maybe closer to 10 generations. I think in today’s world most of the health problems in dogs is multigenerational vaccine damage topped off by poor nutrition due to feeding heavily processed foods.

NRBA: Is there anything special or unique you feed your breeding dogs or that you do with your litters?

Roberta: Not really. My mantra is variety and moderation in all things. I do give all my dogs a herbal mix that I make myself. They get that added to a tripe/offal mix. I add it 3 or 4 times per week usually. They also get a smoothie in the morning on most days that basically is bovine colostrum powder, kefir, raw goat milk (when I have it), and pastured eggs. It all told is about 1.5 litres that they all share. I make a special habit of doing that for pups starting at 3 weeks of age. They will get more bovine colostrum (BC) as their mother weans them. Usually around 6 weeks I start giving it twice per day, and continue this until the are about 4-5 months old, when I drop it back to once per day. As adults, they continue getting it almost daily. The odd time (maybe once or twice a week), I will not make a smoothie for the adults. Depends on my time constraints.

NRBA: Has your faith in NR ever been shaken?

Roberta: Not shaken completely, but partially. The first bad parvo incident here killed half of my borzoi litter but none of my whippet litter. Several months later, I had an accidental breeding (two whippets) and I was worried out of my mind about parvo. I did a stupid thing and vaccinated them with a parvo only that within a couple of hours sickened all of them and killed one. That was a HUGE eye opener. I realized immediately that the vaccine can do the same as the disease. What I further realized over the following months was that the vaccine did more than just sicken them….it actually caused long term chronic damage. They all had personality disorders, some worse than others. The sickest had the mildest and those who were less sick had the worst. These pups were aberrations from any litter we had ever had. After that heartbreaking incident I heard from a couple of other breeders who had used the same vaccine but had lost their entire litters. I gave an affidavit to the one who decided to sue the vaccine manufacturer. She won, but only the revenue loss of the cost of the vaccine, vet, and puppy revenue. Nothing for pain and suffering (dogs are property and treated as such by the courts). So, if anything my faith in NR was strengthened. I only wish I had known then, what I know now about parvo and treating it, and about BC and using it. I wish I had listened to my gut which was screaming at me to NOT use that vaccine.

NRBA: What kind of screening do you do with potential puppy buyers?

Roberta: I ask them if they have read my web site, particularly the about NR page. 99 times out of 100, they have not. I tell them that they need to read it and that I only place my dogs in holistic, like-minded homes. Only rarely do I hear back from people who are still interested (it helps that I give them contact names of conventional Breeders so if NR is not what interests them, they have allopathic contact names to fall back on). Those who email or call me back I can then assume are interested by NR, and then have to fill out my vaguely worded questionnaire. It will find issues if there are any. Speaking over the phone or face to face is also helpful. People like to talk and if you listen, they will tell you what you want or don’t want to hear.

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NRBA: What are your goals for the future?

Roberta: I am at a crossroads right now. Not sure that I want to breed anymore. I find it more difficult to find the right homes. I have been doing more and more rescue over the last 4 years. People are willing to give up elderly dogs. This bothers me immensely. I only managed to home 2 out of 4 elderly rescues. The two I couldn’t home lived out their days here. I am considering taking in rescues over age 10, as long as they have stable temperament especially with other dogs.

NRBA: What advice would you give breeders who are just starting with NR?

Roberta: Develop a strong backbone and a strong intuition. You are swimming against the current. This is especially important when dealing with vets and owners who often are bullied by their vets. The most important thing is to listen to your gut. Your intuition will always tell you what you need to know, however you need to LISTEN. I guarantee, when you don’t listen, you will be sorry that you did not.

NRBA: Anything else you would like to share?

Roberta: You will never stop learning, and you will know things that others do not. Don’t let hubris or the sense that you know everything already, take over. You always need to keep an open mind and keep learning. Always observe nature, your dogs, everything that presents itself. You will learn from watching. Read as much as you can. Familiarize yourself with as much as you can. Join NR groups on the internet.

There are always alternatives. Some things will work, some won’t. Some things you will have a personal affinity for, and some you won’t. Try not to stay in a comfort zone all the time. It’s hard to learn or try new things from that position. I don’t experiment lightly with my dogs, but in a serious situation, I will try anything that my gut calls me to try. And never be afraid to ask the universe (or your higher power), to help guide you in a crisis. Help comes where help is needed.

November 24, 2016 - Jennifer Lee - Tailcreek Mastiffs

November 24, 2015- we are spotlighting

Jennifer Lee, Tailcreek Mastiffs of Edmonton, Alberta Canada.

Jennifer Lee

We interviewed Jennifer for this Spotlight:

Jennifer maintains membership with the Canadian Kennel Club, Canadian Mastiff Club, and the Natural Rearing Breeders Association. We are active in the Mastiff community including rescue efforts.

NRBA; How long have you been raising your dogs “naturally”?

Jenniefer Lee: About ten years now.

NRBA How did you get into breeding?

Jennifer Lee: Years ago we purchased a puppy that was intended as a pet from a breeder who was very involved in both showing and breeding. We got to be good friends and her passion seemed to rub off on me…our “pet” puppy that we bought from her ended up being the first dog I ever stepped in a show ring with. Although he was never used for breeding that was the start and within the next year we had imported two females, one of which went on to whelp our first litter.

NRBA Tell us about your journey into natural rearing:

Jennifer Lee: I was fortunate to be raised in a family that had a mindset that was more along the path of naturopathy as opposed to allopathic care. So the concepts of natural rearing were not foreign to me. In the 80’s my childhood dogs were fed a home-cooked diet. I already understood the importance of nutrition and the inadequacy of pharmaceutical drugs. However, despite this knowledge I still fed my own dog’s kibble. Like so many others, I had fallen victim to the marketing of the pet food industry. Then the inevitable happened and my dogs developed some health issues. In my attempts to restore their health I discovered the problems associated with feeding processed foods. This led me to re-evaluate all aspects of how I was raising my animals.

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NRBA What breed(s) do you have now?

Jennifer Lee: Mastiffs

NRBA What health problems are in your breed?

Jennifer Lee: Hip & elbow dysplasia, cystinuria, bloat, cruciate tears, along with skin, eye and heart problems are the most common.

NRBA Do you think they are influenced by nutrition and environment?

Jennifer Lee: There is absolutely no doubt in my mind.

NRBA Is there anything special or unique you feed or do with your litters?

Jennifer Lee: I wouldn’t say there is anything unique I feed my pups, they get a variety of raw meat, bones and organs. In my breed it is typical for the puppies to be separated from the dam between nursing to reduce the risk of the dam lying on a puppy. I allow the pups to be with the dam majority of the time while I monitor them. This means I am basically relegated to the whelping room 24-7 for the first couple of weeks, but I think it is imperative to keep mom & pups together as much as possible.

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NRBA Has your faith in NR ever been shaken?

Jennifer Lee: There have certainly been moments along my journey that have made me question natural rearing. It can be challenging going against mainstream beliefs and conditioning. But looking back, my experiences have only served to strengthen by faith in NR.

NRBA What kind of screening do you do with potential puppy buyers?

Jennifer Lee: I want to get to know them, their philosophies and beliefs. We use a questionnaire which is followed up with telephone conversations and meeting in person when possible.

NRBA What are your goals for the future?

Jennifer Lee: I want to continue working towards increasing the longevity and quality of life in the dogs I am producing and to educate pet owners so that they are able to experience the benefits of NR for themselves.

NRBA What advice would you give breeders who are just starting with NR?

Jennifer Lee: Question everything and stay true to yourself by not allowing yourself to be bullied into decisions that don’t feel right.