NR Breeder Spotlight

The NR Breeder Spotlight

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

 


 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.

 

Archives – Breeder Spotlights

 

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.

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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.