With camera in hand, my sister and I head out to visit her breeder. Finally after all these years, I was going to meet Dawn; the woman behind all the stories. Sadly I was meeting her after the passing of my sister's much loved Ruby.
Turning into the driveway, I scanned the springtime terrain that was trying to escape the winter cover. The ground was very wet and muddy; giving off the very familiar smell of spring. Even though April is a messy time of year in Canada; it carries with it the hope of sunshine and warmer temperatures of summer to come.
Getting out of the car, I stepped over a big puddle to avoid getting a soaker (foot submerged in water). We head towards the house where we got our first sneak peek at the Tollers who were enjoying the outdoors in a fenced area off to the left. The door opened and we were welcomed in with open arms and hugs. Dawn and my sister (Bonnie) are family; family through the mutual love of a very special dog.
After our welcome we sat in the living room and waited for the releasing of the hounds. Excited barking could be heard before a sea of red charged through the doorway and headed our way. Three Tollers (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers) and a small but mighty Toy Poodle welcomed us to their home. Immediately after our welcome the retrieving started. Tollers love to retrieve.
Our conversation began with who was related; where everyone came from and breeding. Dawn then opened a book that held a wealth of information. I was amazed as she sifted through the family (Toller) records with the topic turning to Ruby's siblings. Two siblings remained and Dawn shared the history of the rest. It amazed me that she kept track of each and every family member (Toller) who had left her charge over the years. The families who had adopted a Toller from Dawn were indeed family.
It is rare to find someone who is as passionate about dogs as I am but Ruby's breeder (Dawn) is most definitely that and then some. I have not met a more conscientious breeder. These are the type of breeders we need to support. We talked about extensive health testing, health, breeding and temperament testing in detail. I learned a lot as Dawn shared her Toller mission with us.
Throughout our discussion Dawn shared a great deal of information that she had learned over the years. We talked about a wonderful company that focuses on changing the future of dogs called Avidog. She also explained Nomographs, which I have never heard of. Nomographs are done by testing a mother's blood to see what level of antibodies are being passed to her puppies in her colostrum. This lets a breeder know when it is best to vaccinate puppies. This explains why puppies given vaccinations too early can get ill. Fascinating.
Between the canine conversation, I tried to capture a few photos of the dogs. It was clear that the little Toy poodle was the boss. Easily outweighed by all the red dogs she was confident and happy to rule the roost.
As our visit neared the end we head outside and toward the kennels. Dawn also runs a boarding kennel. We were going to meet Ruby's brother who is one of the two siblings remaining from her litter. As soon as we set eyes on him, it was impossible not to see the resemblance. Bonnie knelt down to meet the old man; a link to her much loved Ruby. It was a moment; one that most of us never get to experience.
Before we left we were lucky to meet the future of Dragonluck kennels. The new members who will continue the legacy of filling the position of much loved family members with their offspring.
As we drove away, back down the driveway and head for home we reflected on our visit. This is what a breeder should be. Dawn has a wealth of knowledge, a caring heart for dog and human; with a drive to do better and desire to know more. This is what you want to find when you are searching for a breeder; no matter what breed you are looking for. This is who we should be supporting.