Become A Dog Breeder? Or, Stick To Rescue? Tough Questions.

Tuck, the wonder dog.

There are only a few things in life I consider myself especially knowledgeable about: The Bible, Food (growing it and eating it!), small farming, and dogs. That’s it. That’s the list. Sure, I’m fairly educated, and can talk, I hope intelligently, on a variety of subjects, but the list above pretty much covers the limits of my expertise.

With that in mind, I follow a lot of groups and individuals related to these areas on Facebook and Instagram. I love reading other people’s insights and opinions. A recent matter came up in a German Shepherd group on Facebook. I responded to it, as did many other people. But reading the responses made me decide to write this piece as an extended answer. I might even link to in on the group in FB.

The original question was, in essence, “I want to become a breeder, what advice do you have?” The answers came pouring in, for days. Some of them were funny. Some were helpful. Many were written to discourage him from his dream. And several went as far as to say, “There are too many dogs in rescue already, don’t breed anymore!”

I have experience in several breeds, and have a history in both breeding, and in rescue, so I’d like to address the gentleman’s question, AND, perhaps offer some thoughts to the skeptics out there.

First, I believe every single person had the best interest of German Shepherds in mind, regardless of how aggressive some of them sounded. I believe the gentleman who asked the original question was sincere, and asked with only pure motives.

For 32 years I operated a racing, and show, Siberian Husky kennel. I qualified three dogs for Crufts Dog Show in England, and bred show champions. I am very proud of that. I raced competitively for. many of those years. And I trained sleddogs even longer than I raced them. I have a much better eye for dogs than I have for competing with them myself. I have owned dogs that have run the Iditarod, and I have trained dogs that have run the race, as well. I raised many of my race dogs, and I bought many of them. I rescued even more than I raised or bought.

Additionally, after my racing was done, my wife and I got very involved with Mastiff, Smooth Collie, and Belgian Sheepdog rescue. We have adopted, and fostered, many dogs over the years. We also owned a well bred, and brilliant, Cardigan Corgi, that would have won many obedience crowns for me, had she not had problems with dysplasia. That’s a sad story, and one I may come back to another day.

Oh, one final thing. I’ve been a member of many breed and general kennel clubs around the U.S. And the United Kingdom. I have been a judges steward in more shows and for more breeds than I can name. I’ve talked to many judges and observed many breeds. I’ve also worked at many premier sleddog races in the U.S. And the U.K.

I only mention my ‘qualifications’ to show that I’m not a a quack who wants to mouth off about dogs. I love them, and genuinely care for their well being.

For someone to desire to become a breeder, that is a noble venture. That’s a million miles away from someone just trying to make a buck or two by getting a male and female together to sell pups. I think that kind of behavior needs to be discouraged. It takes a long time to do the research to want to improve your chosen dog breed. But a desire to improve, or maintain, a dog breed is a noble effort that should be encouraged. And I will heartily do so. I will offer advice to any novice breeder. I will assume the best of intentions.

There are a lot of dogs in rescue. Some of them are because of loss of a job, a divorce, a death, or one of any number of tragic events. We’ve had several dogs come to us as re homes or fosters from situations like that. Stuff happens. When I was a breeder, I had a policy to take back any dog from my breeding that needed to be re-homed. I thinks that’s responsible.

I’ve seen a lot of poorly bred dogs coming through rescue. Dogs that didn’t meet even a shadow of their breed standard. Most often bred by back yard breeders who wanted to make a quick buck. We’ve had some brilliant dogs come out of that kind of situation.

It doesn’t compute, that people should avoid becoming breeders simply because there are so many irresponsible breeders. But it should make us think very carefully about whether or not our dogs are worthy contributors to a breed’s future. In the 32 years I was in Siberian Huskies, I had 3 litters. A breeder once told me, “As long as you can improve your team by buying over breeding, buy. It’s always cheaper.”

Go to working competitions. Go to shows. Look at dogs. What are the things that make a dog great? Take notes. Study hard. Then buy the best dogs you can afford that fit into the criteria you’re looking for.

Ask to look at the buyers contract from a number of breeders. Explain that you want to create a good buyers contract yourself. Most will be happy to help, because most good breeders want to maintain and improve the breed.

Price your pups appropriately. Working and/or show prospects are worth more. I’m not going to suggest a price. That’s up to you.

For those who don’t want to become breeders, I strongly recommend buying from good breeders. But there are some amazing dogs in Rescue. My wife and I have had many wonderful pets, guardians, and even working dogs, come to us via rescue. I’m thinking of three Alaskan Huskies that had been born in Alaska and were living in less than optimal conditions near us. The owner begged us to take them or she would have to put them down. We loaded them in our truck and took them away. They were absolutely amazing recreational mushing dogs. The two males were as strong as bears, and the female was as loving as a dog could be. They were not pretty, but my heart still pounds when I think of them.

And then there was Lady, our first Smooth Collie. She was living in a puppy mill. She had once been a show dog, but because of poor nutrition and too many litters, that stunning beauty was gone. But she lived with us many years, and she became the queen of our household. Her death, due to cancer, when she was 12, still haunts me. I cannot tell you how much I loved that dog.

Let me tell you about Tuck. Tuck was our first Mastiff. I called him a Canadian Mastiff, because he was half Labrador Retriever. He had spent the first years of his life chained up under a trailer. When we got him, his teeth were all broken from gnawing on concrete. He was covered in scabs, and had to be dragged into a car.

The rescue agent said he’d never been inside a house and wouldn’t know how to deal with it. When we got him home, after he’d had a roam around the yard, we opened the door, he ran inside and leaped straight onto the couch and fell asleep. He is the most special dog. I made him the hero of two of my Novellas, “Isitoq’s Hound”, and “Night of the Rougarou”. I’m working on a third one about him now.

I could go on. I have a hundred or more stories about dogs I’ve bred or rescued, that have changed my life.

The point is, for those of you who like rescue, there are opportunities galore out there. For those of you who want to breed, that is noble too. I know the joy of breeding a dog, raising him, and have him win major prizes in dog shows, and become a top lead dog in a dog team. I could have never bought a dog like him in a million years.

This post has become much longer than I anticipated or intended. I just want to see breeders and rescuers recognize one another as both working toward creating and maintaining a healthy future for
their favorite breed. Thank you to those who want to become responsible breeders. I wish you every success in your endeavors. And to those of you who want to devote your time, and your hearts to the dogs nobody else wants, I tip my hat to you. And I wish you every happiness with your pets.

Oh Yeah, I’m At My First Weight Loss Goal!

Image result for hit the goal images public domainI did it! I reached my first goal. I’m below 250 lbs for the first time in a very long time. It took me longer to figure it out, because the battery went dead on our scales and I had to weight. Figures.

Next goal is 225. Now it’s time to kick up the exercise. That one scares me. I’m 62 years old. To regularly hit the gym is asking a lot of my old, out of shape body. I will probably do mostly body weight exercises for the first 2 months, then start adding weight machines. I will eventually go free weights, but not just yet. Correction, I’ll probably use dumbells for arm exercises. I fear I will have to get my biceps and triceps built up a bit to be able to do push ups. That’s a sad commentary, but a realistic one.

I really owe a big thanks to all the Keto people I’ve followed on FB and Instragram. And all the YouTube videos that have been so motivational.

For those who are new to  my blog, I am not practicing strict Keto. I have certainly curtailed my carbs, and raised my fat intake. That will probably always be true. But I have added new potatoes, parsnips, carrots, peas and corn, to name a few.

One of the reasons is simply because I love those vegetables. Also, they are good for you, and they grow very prolifically here in Scotland. New potatoes, are not nearly as starchy as mature ones, but are just as tasty roasted. The same with parsnips. Roasted parsnips are like manna from heaven.

I track my carbs carefully and try and stay below 30 grams maximum per day. The key is to track, faithfully, the food I eat. And if you want to really get a hold on your weight, you need to do that, too.

Think of it like budgeting. If you write down what you spend, and you write down your bills, you know exactly where your money is going and where it needs to go. I treat my eating the same way.

Oh, here’s another switch I made. I use paper and pencil rather than an app. I have two apps I used to use. I still have them for looking up food (calories and carbs). But using pencil and paper makes the exercise more personal. I don’t know why, it just does. I found that out when my wife and I were getting out of debt. Pencil and paper were so much better that using an app. I’ve seen on YouTube that there are lots of people who feel the same.  Try it with your food tracking and let me know what you think. I’m interested.

Just a couple of other quick notes. This is the easiest and the hardest program I’ve ever done. It’s the easiest because I’m never hungry. And when I am, I just eat. I don’t have to take any pills, or buy any shakes. I’m doing this naturally.

But it’s also the hardest, because sugar and flour are in everything. Spice mixes are full of sugar, so I have to pretty much make all my own. Yesterday, we had a taco and fajita night at Church. The taco and fajita seasoning all had sugar. I ate a little meat and cheese, but skipped the veggies because of the sugar in the seasoning. But watching all those flour and corn tortillas was a bit stressful. I didn’t feel deprived though, because I wasn’t starving and feeling jealous. I just miss bread.

I guess that’s enough for an update. I just wanted to share my good news. I love winning!

I Am NOT On A Diet!

Let me start by saying, I’m not on a diet anymore. I will stop calling Keto my diet. It’s the way I’m eating. Using the word ‘Diet’ is like a punishment. I’ve been bad, so now I’m on a diet. Boo Hoo. Poor Me. It is psychologically damaging.

Keto is the way I’m eating. And frankly, I like it. There are some of the foods I don’t ever want to go back to. Processed sugar is done. White flour. Outta here. Pasta and White Rice. Bye Bye. I don’t miss them.

There are some things I will work slowly back in. I’ve already done that with potatoes. I have three new potatoes about every 10 days. I leave the skin on, cut them into 4 pieces, soak them for an hour, and roast them. New potatoes have a fraction of the starch of full grown potatoes. That means fewer carbs. Soaking them for an hour means even more starch is removed. Leaving the skin on means I get all the nutrients. What a treat.

Eventually, I’ll bring back most other vegetables I’m currently not eating, like winter squash. I will also eventually bring back local honey. Especially with Greek Style Yogurt. I do miss that.

But I have a lot of weight to lose and I’m losing it. My clothes are too big. My wife got me three pairs of trousers that fit. My belt is too big now. I’m trying to decide whether to buy a new one, or punch some hole in this one. I am leaning that way, because the belt is fairly new and I hate spending money when there is a lot of leather that only needs a hole or two.

My shirts are mostly too big. Some of them shrank after we moved to Scotland and started using a tumble dryer. I hung my clothes out on the line for 5 years and they lasted great. Dryers are hard on clothes. Very hard. All that lint you have to clean out, that’s your clothes breaking down. I hate them, but we have no clothes line here in the apartment so dryer it is.

My sweaters are way too big. I’m wearing one today. I look like a street urchin. My jeans are too big, and my sweater is too big. But I’m still in them. It’s not like my pepper plants are offended when I go to my greenhouse to work.

Last week I was 5 lbs from my first goal of 50 lbs. I think I’ll be there in a week or so. Once I hit that target I will really be excited. I haven’t been below 250 lbs in about 18 years. I was last under 200 lbs in 1997. I have a while to go for that. Patience is a virtue.

I will go to the gym starting next week. I feel like I’m ready to try. It’s not particularly easy at my age, but I’ve got to give it a go.

Anyway, that’s my story for now. I’m eating great. I’m losing weight. I’m just not on a diet.

First Anniversary Of My Open Heart Surgery. Let’s Celebrate

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Image result for Celebrate images public domainSpeaking of it being June, it was one year ago today, that I received triple bypass surgery. Between January 2107 and June 4, 2018, I had a heart attack and 4 strokes. The last stroke was during my heart surgery. That’s pretty scary. The only after effects of all those attacks on my body, are scars on my chest and legs, loss of vision in half of my left eye, and trouble remembering names and names of places. My speech is not slurred. My long term and short term memory are good. I’m not as quick remembering things. I used to be really good at quizzes and memory games. I could think of things quickly. I’m not as quick as I used to be. It’s kind of like the way you lose a step in football or tennis when you get older. But this is with my mind. I can still recall things, it just might take me a minute to process the question. But all things considered, I’ll take it. The heart specialist told me that it’s not uncommon for a patient to die if they have a stroke during heart surgery. Ok, I’ll take a bit of blindness and a slower recall of historical information. And, with the names, it’s not like I don’t recognize people. It’s just embarrassing, when I’ve known someone for years and suddenly their name is gone. Still, what’s a little embarrassment in the great scheme of things.

For a year and a half, I was so sick. I tell people all the time, that it’s like I was asleep. I have very few memories of what happened during my sick time. I remember being a lot of trouble for my wife, if we went places to sight see, or shop. I was always having to stop and rest, and often spraying my heart meds. Poor lass, couldn’t have had much fun.

We live two or three blocks from the Church of Christ, where I’m the minister, and I couldn’t even walk it without stopping to rest. I remember that Sundays took a lot out of me. Preaching in the morning and at night was almost more than I could do. I had to start taking Mondays off, because I couldn’t get out of bed.

But now, a year on, I feel great. I still need to do some work to get seriously fit. I need to lose some more weight, but I’m losing it. Last week, I walked down to Buckpool harbor and back with my grandchildren. There were no problems. I’ve walked up and down all the stairs over at Brodie Castle. And, I’m awake. I feel like I was asleep, and I’m awake. So today, I’m celebrating. Life is not to be taken for granted. We live in a beautiful world. Especially up here in Moray. From the Sea to the Mountains, and every mile in between. We are surrounded by some amazing views of nature. And let’s not forget all the wonderful people we meet. Life really is a blessing.

But what about after. What would have happened to me, if my stroke during surgery had been fatal. Sure there would have been a sense of shock for some of my friends, and all the folk at church. Probably my wife would have been pretty upset at me. And I hope, a little sad. But what about me?

I am 100% confident of what would have happened to me. I would have awakened with no pain, in a place even more beautiful than Moray. I would never know a moment of sadness or illness, or pain ever again. Not because we all go to a better place, but because Jesus promised a forever of joy for ever single person who would put their Faith in Him. He is the creator of the world we live in. He died on a cross because we sinned, and he didn’t want to be separated from us. And he rose again, to conquer death. Not just once, in his case. But for all of us. And I made the choice many years ago, to give my life into his care. For that reason I know what will happen to me when I die. I know I’m not perfect. I’m not even close. Just ask my wife. But I am forgiven. Like the apostle Paul, For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

And what about you? On this anniversary of my surgery I have to ask. There is a funeral going on right now in Buckie. I saw the cars. There have been quite a few recently. Yikes. What if one of them next week is yours? What if your family and friends dress all in black and weep at losing you. What happens to you? Have you made preparations? Do you have a will? Do you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt what your future will be? You can. Seriously. I’m not joking. You can hand the keys over to Jesus right now. You can say, Jesus, I need you. I surrender. You drive from now on. And I can tell you, from experience, that new life with and from Jesus is even better that waking up after surgery. I’m glad I’m alive. I love my life. I love this town. I even love all the rain. And it’s much easier to love it all, because I know that even after it’s all behind me, life gets even better.

We’d love to have you visit us at Church sometime. We talk about things like this. You don’t have to dress up. Wear something. Otherwise you might get arrested. But you don’t have to get all dressed up. Sometimes people think you have to put on fancy duds to come to church. No Way. You can. Some people do. Heck sometimes even I do. But not always. Come as you are. We meet at 11 a.m. At the intersection of West Church and Pringle streets. We also have a meeting at 6:20 sunday evenings. You’d be welcome at either…or both. If you have a church home, I encourage you to go there. But if you don’t you are more that welcome to visit with us.

That’s all I’ve got for now. We’ll talk again soon. But for the rest of this week…..I’m out.

Weigh In Day…Sigh!

Image result for bathroom scales images public domainIt’s been about 6 weeks since I started the Keto lifestyle. That’s pretty impressive for me. So far, I’m not craving bread at all, or sugar, for that matter. But I’ve only lost 8 pounds. That’s rough on the ego. It’s rather discouraging to work as hard as I have, and to see such a small weight loss.

To be fair, I’ve found out part of the reason. My medication. One of my pills causes fluid retention. And another actually has significant weight gain as the number one side effect. Fortunately, I ran out of those pills a week ago, and I have an appointment next week to get the medicine changed. The fact is, I’m not going to take it anymore. I’m not prepared to trade one health issue for another. That dog don’t hunt.

As far as the fluid retention goes, that comes from my blood pressure medication. I’m less than a year removed from a heart attack, 4 strokes, and triple bypass heart surgery. I need that medicine until I get the weight under control. My blood pressure is phenomenal right now. It’s better than it’s been in 15 years, at least. I’m not going to mess with what’s working. My goal is to be able to get off the blood pressure meds, but I’m a ways away from that. In the meantime, I can take a diuretic pill once in a while.

Another problem I’m having is exhaustion. I have no energy at all. I’m getting plenty of sleep, but I don’t have the energy to go to the gym. When I go to the greenhouse, I can put in an hour of hard work, sometimes two. Then I have to quit. It’s so weird.

Looking over my macro tracking, I see that I’m cheating myself on Carbohydrates. Most days I only get 10 or 15 total carbs. I know that people on the Carnivore Diet think that sounds normal, but for me it isn’t. I believe I need to raise my Carbs to about 25 to 30 grams a day and see how that works. I’m not going to raise my calorie limit, so will bring down my fat intake a bit.

I’m not going to add in bread, pasta, or sugar. I’m trying to get those out of my life forever. But I am going to raise the amount of vegetables I eat. And I’m going to add in new potatoes, once or twice a week. I will slice and soak them in water to reduce the starch. I’m also going to add small portions of other root vegetables, like parsnips, and some carrots. Since I track all my food, I’m not worried about overdoing it. And by adding them one at a time, I can see what works and what doesn’t.

My hope is, that this will provide me with the energy to work out. I’m starting that change tonight. I’ll keep you posted. I wonder if others out there have had similar issues, and how you addressed them.

Oh, let me add that all the fat has seriously given me stomach issues. If I have a meal or a snack that’s too high in fat, I’ll have a stomach ache and cramps. Every. Single. Time. I document everything, that’s how I know. The worst offender is heavy whipping cream (AKA double cream to you Brits). Melted cheese and pepperoni can also cause it. Oh, and back bacon, if I have more than two slices. It’s delicious, but dangerous.

That’s why I think I’m on the right plan by tweaking both my fat, and my carbohydrate intake. Stay tuned.

That’s about it for this week’s update. Thanks to all of you who’ve begun following this weekly rambling session. You make me smile.

One Month Keto Update? Kinda Boring.

Image result for keto diet images public domainToday, I’ve completed one month on the Ketogenic Diet. Frankly, I don’t know what to think yet. I’m just being honest.

When it comes to processed foods, I genuinely feel I haven’t missed them at all. They are everywhere, though. And they’re so easy to grab and go. And my life is all about grab and go. If I had my way, that’s the way I’d eat two meals a day. So I’m trying to figure ways to make that happen. For example, This week I boiled up a dozen eggs so that I could just grab a couple for breakfast or lunch. I’ve also tried to keep meat sticks to have with them. I dip those in a whipped cream cheese spread. And I now have a couple cans of sardines in the cupboard.

I usually do the cooking for supper, as my wife is finishing here bachelors degree and has to study. We bought a grill a couple weeks ago and it changed everything. We had been missing that since we moved here from the states. A year and a half in Scotland without a grill and we were going insane. I’ve grilled pretty much every day but two for the last couple weeks. For us, it has made dinners enjoyable again rather than just something we had to do.

My days begin with a bulletproof coffee followed by a regular cup of coffee. For me, bulletproof means real cream, with a tablespoon of CMT or coconut oil, and a teaspoon of butter. Regular means just cream and maybe a shot of sugar free coffee flavoring. I like french vanilla and white chocolate. It gets my day off to a great start.

To be honest, though, the big energy boost I was expecting has not appeared. It popped up the first couple of mornings I had bulletproof coffee, but since then I feel pretty much of energy. My brain works fine, but there is no energy at all. I can’t figure it out, unless it has something to do with electrolytes. I may be short on magnesium and potassium. I’ve started supplementing with an electrolyte tablet, so we’ll see how that goes.

As far as weight loss is concerned, that’s the biggest area of confusion. I’ve only lost 5 pounds. And that’s after losing over 6 pounds the first week. I put it all back on the second week, stayed the same for a week, and this week 5 pounds are gone. That’s been a hard pill to swallow. On the plus side, and trust me I am a plus size, I have gone in a full notch of my belt and most of my shirts are beginning to fit a bit better.

I had hoped for better weight loss, and much more energy. I began to track everything I eat a couple weeks ago, to see what was happening. I am also counting calories now. One thing is certain, when you’re eating Keto for weight loss, counting your calories is very important. The foods are tremendously calorie dense. I need to stay under 2200 calories a day, and it’s easy to go over that if you don’t write down everything you eat.

I have not been hungry. At all. Maybe I get snackish, but never hungry. And I haven’t suffered from bread or sugar cravings, which I really thought I would do. I miss pizza crust, but I’ve got some recipes for fathead pizza crust, which is keto approved. I may try that next week.

Oh, I almost forgot, I have to make sure I don’t eat anything after 7 pm or I suffer terribly from acid reflux. I haven’t had that for years, and I’ve suffered badly the last week. I’ve got to get that figured out. I think I have a handle on it, but I won’t be sure for a couple more days.

I know this has not been a thrill a minute update, but it’s honest. I think I have a couple more weeks before I’m ‘totally’ fat adapted. I’m not in a panic. I just want to lose weight. I’m not a young man anymore. Time is of the essence. 🙂

New On Amazon Kindle!

 

NIGHT OF THE ROUGAROU

It’s Halloween in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but unbeknownst to the residents of a small community on the outskirts of Iron Mountain, an unstoppable evil has appeared to ruin their holiday. The U.S. Army has arrived, and with the help of Doc Stone and his Mastiff, Tuck, they try and hunt the beast. Terror and death meet them. In the end, the only hope for Iron Mountain is a famous ancient sword, Doc’s ability to wield it, and Tuck’s courage. Welcome to fear. This is The Night of the Rougarou!