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Friday, October 17, 2008

Dog breeding is tough: its heartbreaks and rewards.

A few days ago we received a phone call from Dwayne W. who wanted to let us know how pleased he was with Amy. He also sent us pictures showing Amy with her first deer of the season. It is very satisfying to know that Amy is in good hands, that she is loved by Dwayne and his family, and she does what she was bred to do. Yet, when I think of Amy, my throat tightens and my feelings are tinged with sadness.

We had very high hopes for Amy, who was born in March 2003. You can read more about her at though that page has not been updated for a while. She was the only female we kept from the first breeding of Alfi and Elli, and we were planning to include her in our breeding program. Oddly, the timing of her heats was always inconvenient for us so we never actually bred her. Last winter we were running out of time as she was already almost five years old. We took her for her CERF eye exam as we do every other year with all our dogs. This time we were shocked to learn that Amy had started to develop cataracts. Her cataracts may never progress to the point of affecting her vision, but breeding her was not advisable. It would be an understatement to say that we were very disappointed. We waited several months, and then went to Cornell to get a second opinion. The outcome did not change. Even though her cataracts did not progress, she was not a breeding prospect. As breeders with a multigenerational family of dogs, limited by the number of dogs we can work with, we had to make a decision. Should we keep Amy or should we find a new home for her? After much thought and discussion, we decided to find a good working home for her. It was a very hard decision! Amy was with us since the day of her birth, and she belonged to our pack. She was particularly close with her brother Billy. We knew that it was not going to be easy to let her go.

In summer when Emma had only two puppies and several people waiting for pups had to be turned down, we approached one of them (Dwayne) whether he would be interested in Amy. Dwayne jumped into the opportunity of owning a mature dog ready for some serious work. The transition time was not easy for Amy but after several weeks she fully adjusted to her new life. Now she is a member of the family with two teenage kids and only one other dog. She gets plenty of attention, affection and work. She gets to run rabbits in her backyard and track wounded deer for hunters.

Life is good for Amy, and we are proud to hear how well she has done. We know that we made a right decision, but we will never stop missing her.

Amy has found already two deer this season; this is one of them.

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