Archive for the ‘breeding’ Category

I was thrilled to learn that one of Tooey’s puppies, Pax, was selected as the Best of Breed dog at the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America’s 2019 National Specialty.

I wasn’t there to see it, but I got lots of texts giving me the good news. And now here he is on the cover of the club’s May/June 2019 newsletter.

photo by Jeremy Kezer

Pax is owned and loved by Brenda. I think Pax heard her say that this show was going to be his swan song in the dog show world (he’s over 7 years old now). So he decided to show her that he still had it.

And boy does he. He was also selected for Best in Veteran Sweeps and Best Veteran Dog. I am so pleased for Brenda, and glad that Colleen and I (mostly Colleen) could breed such a fine puppy.

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Well, I’ve heard about it happening, but I’d never witnessed it before, until yesterday.

At lunch, one of my co-workers called me over to a table he shared with Guy, and said, “You know about dogs. Guy here wants to get a dog. Where would you get one?”

Always happy to talk about dogs, I asked, “What do you want to do with a dog?”

He said, “Just hang out, go for car rides. Couch potato stuff.” And then before I could say anything else, he added, “And I don’t want to get one from a breeder.”

That stopped me in my tracks. That, plus the disgusted look on his face when he said the work, “breeder.”

“Um… What makes you say that?”

“Yeah, you know,” Guy said, “they put out all these puppies just for the money. You know. Bad conditions, not treating the dogs right.”

“Yeah,” the first co-workder added. “Not a good connotation there.”

“Well…, I’m a breeder,” I said. “Breeders like me make a distinction between responsible breeders and puppy mills. Responsible breeders get medical care for the mom and pups, do health testing, take the puppies out to experience the world, and we’re always there to help our puppy people whenever needed. You’d get a good puppy from a responsible breeder.”

Guy looked conflicted. I know he didn’t want to insult me, a co-worker. But he also didn’t really believe me. And then he added, “And you know, breeders want $2000.00 plus for just a dog!”

Wow. Just a dog.

So, I went back to, “So, you want to just hang out with a dog? I got a great dog like that once, from my local Humane Society. They do a pretty good job of matching people with dogs. You might try there.”

As I turned away, I hoped I would be forgiven for claiming I’m a breeder. It’s true I am a co-breeder, but Colleen did most of the work: she provided the food, shelter, medical care, and socialization. She’s the one who found people for the puppies. I just drove up every weekend to contribute as much as I could.

But I do stand by Tooey’s puppies, and if any of those puppy people ever need me or need to return a dog, or if they ever need a question answered, an issue discussed, or an achievement shared, I am there for them.

A day later, I’m still thinking — Wow. “Just” a dog. Best money I ever spent was on a dog from a responsible breeder.

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Tooey has produced beautiful puppies. Her first litter, sired by Cork, has so far included three AKC show champions: Pax, Bold, and Sorcha.

In recognition of this, the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America awards an “Outstanding Producer” certificate.

Thank you, IWSCA! (And Brenda, Julia, and Colleen — along with their various helpers, groomers, trainers, etc. —  for showing their pups!)

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Tooey got fan mail! Two packages arrived from her baby girl, all the way from Australia. Amongst the nice long letter, several maps, a list of shows she’s competed in, and other assorted delights, were an absolute pile of 2-foot long, tasseled ribbons (which they call sashes) won in conformation shows all over Australia.


Sorcha (pronounced sirk´ha, a.k.a Baby Circle), the beautiful Tooey x Cork puppy, has obviously had a revel of a time in Australia. In addition to her American championship, with all those Australian wins, she now also has her Australian show championship.

Congrats, Baby Circle! And congratulations and thanks to her faithful devoted servants, Robyn and Bianca (who say that Sorcha is their very loving, PUSHY, lap dog).

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Chris came down to see the puppies, planning to take home a Faethe x Joey puppy. She has Joey’s brother, so a Joey puppy would make a nice symmetry.

And while she liked the Joey puppy, she was just won over by Ms. Yellow, the last (but not least) Tooey x JJ puppy to go home. But the Joey family connection is still there, since Joey is Ms. Yellow’s grandsire (JJ’s sire).


Fortunately, Chris is friends with the owner of another Tooey puppy, Pax (Mr. Red from Tooey’s first litter). So they will be able to share the joys and challenges of having an IWS from the same mom.

And it looks like Chris’ house comes with ready-made company, a mini-wire Dachshund, Mike. They’ll be about the same size for only a little while, and then watch out!


That makes three Tooey puppies in Canada — Pax from the Tooey x Cork litter, and Ivy (Ms Lavender) and Ms Yellow from the Tooey x JJ litter. With the Sorcha (the first Ms Yellow) in Australia, that makes Tooey a real international producer.

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There are so many dogs in rescues and shelters who need homes, I’m told. Why, I am asked, didn’t I get one of those instead of buying a purebred dog?

Well, here’s one way to think about it:

Ask the same question to a car enthusiast: Why didn’t you just go down to your local used car dealership and get some car there? Why do you need a new car of a particular make and model?

Or, how about asking a guitarist: Why did you have to buy that particular guitar? Couldn’t you have gotten a used guitar from Craigslist?

To a woman who needs professional clothes for work: Why did you have to go out and buy new clothes? Can’t you go to Goodwill and get your clothes there?

Of course these folks can get a used car, a Craigslist guitar, or Goodwill clothes. And sometimes, those are excellent choices for a lot of reasons: getting used things is “green”, it recycles good stuff to new uses, and it keeps stuff out of the landfills. But most of all, sometimes you can get well-made, workable, second-hand items that fill the need you have.

But often, you can’t.

And even though dogs are living beings and not inanimate objects like cars, guitars, and clothes, the principle is the same.

I know because I’ve taken both paths.

Before I got my purebred Irish Water Spaniels, I had a Malamute-mix and a German Shepherd-mix. Both I bought from backyard breeders. I didn’t know any better about why I shouldn’t do that. But now I do, and I won’t do it again.

One of the dogs turned out to be a dearly loved, sweet companion, and the other turned out bad — really, frighteningly bad. It was all luck — we had no knowledge about the breeds, about the mixes, about the parents, how the mother was housed, fed, or cared for, about the environment the puppies had been initially raised in, about what they’d been fed or any training or socialization they might have been given (or not). And the people who bred them weren’t responsible breeders who cared about any of that or who could give us any ongoing information and support.

We did a bit better with our third dog. She was a sweet Chow-multi-mix rescue from our local shelter. The shelter workers helped us pick her out, and she was a calm, placid companion for us for several years. But she also had some issues and problems, and we had no one who had known her from puppyhood to help us figure out what was going on. And since she was a mixed breed, we couldn’t really research what might be typical for her breed.

Like the car enthusiast, guitarist, and professional, when it was time to get a new dog, we had specific requirements.

We decided we wanted a water dog. A puppy who would grow up to be a size down from our previous dogs. A dog who would go for walks and hikes, and who would love the water and go with us on our boat. We wanted an active dog who would play and retrieve a ball, and one who wouldn’t shed as much as our previous dogs. We didn’t want a protection dog or a lay-about dog or an ordinary dog.

Researching on the web, it quickly became apparent to me that there were three purebred breeds that would be right for us. At the same time, it became equally apparent that getting a mixed-breed would much less predictably get us what we wanted than getting a specific kind of purebred dog. And getting a dog that wasn’t right for us would be frustrating for us and sad for the dog.

I’ve told the story of how we got Cooper throughout this blog, so I won’t go into that again.

But I do think it’s important to stress how valuable and helpful it has been to stay in touch with the breeders of our Irish Water Spaniels. When the dogs have health or behavior puzzles, I have people to ask advice from, people who knew our dog from his first moments, who know our dogs’ parents, and can tell us how their parents, and grandparents, and great-grandparents behaved. People who have such long experience with Irish Water Spaniels, that they can tell us what is typical and what isn’t, and what kinds of behaviors to expect. They can tell us what kinds of medications to avoid, what kinds of foods are best, and what health problems we might see.

Staying in touch with our dogs’ breeders has expanded our social universe in ways we’d never had predicted. Plus we get to have the fun of sharing pictures and stories with people who actually want to hear about our dogs as many times as we want to share them.

I had none of this with my three previous dogs, and I couldn’t have had, because none of those dogs were purebred dogs bred by responsible breeders.

I have now co-bred two litters of Irish Water Spaniels. I hope I can serve these same functions for the people to whom I have entrusted my puppies, people who specifically chose purebred Irish Water Spaniels, plus my co-breeder and me and our puppies in particular, because the breed and the puppies meet their new people’s own specific requirements.

(written in response to this article: http://caninechronicle.com/world-news/september-chairmans-report/)

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Ms. Lavender has been determined by her people Ron and Mary-Lynn to be, “Hands Down… the Best Pup!” They say that Ivy is a very sweet and affectionate dog, who works hard to please them.


Even so,  she’s a puppy, going through a chewing stage, so she has some toys and a puppy Kong to satisfy that urge to chew (when she’s not sleeping, that is).



Like several of the other puppies, it sounds like she’s doing a great job with her crate training. Except for the first night, they report that she hasn’t cried, and only wakes them up once during the night to be let outside.

Like Louie, Ivy now lives with people who have a shop, but it’ll be a few more weeks until they let her hang out there, until they think she’s ready to tolerate the noise and activity.

But maybe best of all, Ivy lives with a view of the water. If she’s anything like her mama, she will love the water.


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