Being a responsible Breeder (with a capital B) is a time consuming work of heart. The joy of holding that precious new life in your hands, the bittersweet moment you wave goodbye when they leave with their new family and the inevitable tears when The Call comes.
I stay in touch with my families. Always have, always will. You aren’t buying a dog here, you’re marrying into my clan. To do so you’ve got to pass muster and after that it isn’t hard to stay in my good graces. I’m a benevolent mother-in-law, I don’t need to be up in your kool-aid all the time but send me an email, pick up a phone, ask me for advice or brag a little about your furball’s latest accomplishments. I love this contact. We’re something bigger and better than a single transaction. And we’re united in our love for the dogs.
That amazing unconditional love these magnificent animals gives us comes with a price. And when the bill comes due, your heart shatters into millions of painful shards.
The Call comes when you least expect it. You’ve had a long day, a good one by all accounts. Then the soft chime of the cell phone lets you know a new message is waiting. Its a beautiful picture of the pup you bred so many years ago, muzzle now silvered with age, looking tired but peaceful that says ” I’m ready to go rest with my daddy now. I love you”. And you lose it. You live three thousands miles away and you wish with everything you are that you could stroke that beautiful face just one last time, and hold the hand of the person sitting beside him.
Once a BK baby, always a BK baby. This litter wasn’t really even supposed to be “mine”. Typically when you offer stud services you bring your boy to the date or mail a carefully packaged shipment of puppy juice in liquid nitrogen to the bitch’s owners. Not so in this case. I was present when the pups were born, helped clear nostrils and tie off cords and rub wet coats until the little ones squawked in response. And a week later, when their dam came down with a serious life threatening infection and the pups had to be removed for her treatment and recovery, I stepped in to take them home with me and hand raise the whole crew. All ten of them. We’re blessed in this breed to have what we refer to as super moms; a bitch will frequently adopt a litter not her own and care for them if they are orphaned. I’ve even had females who began lactating in the presence of a new litter. I was lucky enough to own one of these very special girls at the time and we split the work load. She cuddle-curled around the babies and offered immediate nurturing. I was up every two hours for bottle feedings. I think she got the better end of the deal.
When the time came for placements, I handled those too, to my standards. The litter had a carbon copy of their sire, Justice (CH Bk’s America’s Most Wanted, CGC, TDI) . Moms aren’t supposed to have favorites. Riiiiigggghhhhhhttttttt. This lovely boy went to an exceptional family not too far away, and came back for a stint at Camp Black Knight when he threw a teenage temper tantrum and thought being the Bad Boy was cool (not). I offer lifetime support including free training, and this family took me up on it. Nitro never put a paw out of place again and all contacts from them over the years were very positive.
A few years back I moved across the country but that didn’t stop us from staying in touch. As Nitro aged, and as happens with age, declined, his owner called and texted more for advice on what he could do to make his dear boy more comfortable. We both knew where this was going with each progressive talk.
Yesterday, his owner made The Call. And we cried together across the distance.
Nitro was born May 6, 2003 and left us shortly after his thirteenth birthday on May 10, 2016; a great run for an Akita. His family- all of us- will miss him greatly. Joe, I couldn’t have picked a better friend for Nitro than you. Thank you for being part of the family. And for letting me hold your hand through the Call.