Most of my animal adventures were with dogs. I fell in love with my first pet, Shep, When I was 14 years old. He was a pup of 12 weeks. He was a German Shepherd/Doberman crossbreed. At age seven months, I lost Shep to a car accident.
I swore to never get a dog again, but 2 weeks later my dad brought home another pup (of unknown breeding). But she looked a lot like Shep and we called her Shepi 2. She lived to be 12 years old, and died of heart failure.
After Shepi 2 I never owned a dog until after my first marriage, when my husband bought me a Jack Russell and a Collie. The Jack Russell’s name was Jackie and the Collie was Lady.
Late in 1985 I decided to start breeding German Shepherds, and I got my first pure bred German Shepherd Dog, Sheena.
Sheena was a lovely dog with wonderful temperament, but I knew squat about breeding and the research it actually involves, so I found out that she was not suitable for breeding at all if I wanted to breed in order to improve the breed. So I got my second German Shepherd, Carna, from a reputable breeder, stating my intention to breed, so the breeder let me have the pick of the litter. I was lucky.
Carna sweet little lady. Wonderful dog, wonderful temperament. And so my dog breeding career started in 1986. Between 1986 and 2000 I have bred more or less a litter per year. I do not believe in breeding more than one litter per year from the same bitch.
In 1998 I finally bred a bitch, Tovah, that I believed would be suitable to breed champions, and so I bred my first litter from my own stock. And what a litter! There were three males and four females, and all of them were show quality. That year was the culmination of all I wanted to be as a breeder... and then my husband filed for divorce, and I only kept my Riska, who was my favorite. I have hand reared her from the age of 10 days, because the breeder who owned her parents believed in keeping no more than six pups per litter.
Riska's father was the 1989 Grand Victor in South Africa, so I couldn't refuse when in 1992 the breeder offered me one of the excess pups from one of her litters. The intention was that I put her among the pups of one of my litters that was due when the litter Riska was from was ten days old, but the mother of my litter contracted biliary fever, and lost the pups two days after Riska's birth. So I had to hand rear her, and the breeder agreed to register her only if I could rear her to be as healthy as and in the same condition as the rest of the litter by age six weeks. I managed to do exactly that, and Riska was registered with the rest of the litter.
Riska was like my child, and I put her through all the shows and training as the rest of my German Shepherds. She also became Companion Dog Champion Bitch in 1995.
Riska was born in October 1992. My divorce went through in August 1998. She was six years old at the time. In 1996 Riska's father died of prostate cancer. His condition was genetic, and shortly afterwards almost all of his offspring started manifesting with either prostate cancer (males) or mammary gland cancer (females). In 2000, when my Riska was only eight years old, I had to have her euthanized because of mammary gland cancer that spread into the breast bone. The vet could do nothing to help her. I still miss her so much, and am crying as I am typing this.
Some people in the breeder's circle still blame the breeder of Riska's father for the damage that was done to the South African German Shepherd gene pool during those few years that he was an active stud dog in this country, but to blame the breeder would be unfair. After all, how could he have known, really? It must have been caused by a recessive gene that somehow began to progress again…
Whatever the case may be, I have never owned a dog again until recently, when Fred came into my life. Fred was an active Basset Hound of sound breeding, but at age two he contracted a heart condition that took his life. I loved him, but I will return to German Shepherds if I should ever decide to own and/or breed again.
Besides dogs, I have also owned cats, budgies, cockatiels and wild birds like sparrows, minas, finches and cape canaries… and even silk worms. I don't own any animals right now, but I still remain synonymous with dogs. I hope that I will have the privilege to own another German Shepherd before I die one day. Now that I am rid of my second husband, the most abusive person that I have ever known, my dream might just come true, who knows?
And now for an update (29 May 2016):
I have finally taken the plunge, and got a new puppy on 26 December 2016. We were having our Family Christmas gathering, and one of my nieces offered me a little bundle of fluffy cuteness. Not as a Christmas present, since our family does not believe in offering pets as Christmas presents, but because of our mutual love for dogs.
I accepted and now, 5 months later, I cannot imagine my life without Sasha. She is a little Yorkie/MinPin mix, and has all the cuteness of both breeds. She is now 7 months old and in the process of getting her final molar teeth. What a mission to get her to eat her food! I think the teething process must be very stressful to her, since she has an extremely low pain threshold. She refuses to chew even the softest of juicy chicken cuts, and I have to cut her meat extra fine. A bit stressful to me too, but together we will get through this.
On top of the painful experience of teething, Sasha has inherited the full blast of Yorkie fussyness, being a picky eater like none other that I have ever encountered. She has also inherited a double portion of MinPin stubbornness. Indescribable! Suffice it to say that that feeding times and outdoor sessions can get somewhat interesting to whoever watches us, hehe! I am thankful for my excellent vet, who truly loves dogs an is helping me a lot with much needed advice on how to conquer these stressful situations.
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