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    The Next Pup-Lab Adore

    Dogs have been part of my entire life, making up about 30 years of the happiest days in my life but also, unfortunately, a handful of the saddest days I have ever experienced. The following are my experiences of owning dogs and having them in my house all these years and working at a kennel training dogs where I worked with a couple hundred more. These articles are my experience and knowledge, along with others I have encountered during my life.

    I’m writing to help others give thought to decisions you may make and help solve the challenges you are experiencing. To this day, I still learn new things about dogs; I will never claim to be an expert while admitting I’ve made mistakes over the years. To be good at anything, one must have an obsession or strong passion, which ultimately takes away time and attention from other things. Dogs are a part of my everyday life, and for others, a dog is just an animal that stays outside, locked in a kennel. Each pet owner must be comfortable with pets’ role in their lives, and I pass no judgment on others. I’ve spent endless hours hunting and working with dogs and sharing competition hunt activities with them. Additionally, I’ve spent many of these years working one-on-one with breeders, veterinarians, and other trainers from across the Driftless Area.

     Dogs can come from many sources, whether a stray picked up on a deserted country road, a rescue dog found in a shelter or a reputable breeder. The best of dogs can originate from the worst circumstances, while problem dogs can, unfortunately, come from a great pedigree lineage. This article will discuss what one may expect from dealing with breeders committed to the health and betterment of their breed. Unfortunately, people often spend more time deciding on buying a new outfit than purchasing a pet that may be part of their home for the next 10 to 15 years.

    I recently spoke with breeder Gina Glidden of Bird Dog Labs in Bemidji, Minnesota. We discussed her decision to become a breeder and explained some things people should consider before purchasing their next dog. She grew up with labs used for hunting with her dad and as part of the household. Even today, a vital part of her program is that the dogs are raised within her home and always part of the family regardless of the hunting they do or additional training they receive for other purposes. At age 16, she found and adopted a stray dog that unfortunately ended up blind at age two, and later she had another dog that developed hip dysplasia at age 5. Given her compassion for the animals, it was tough to see them undergo these genetic defects that responsible breeding may have avoided. She devoted a great deal of time to begin researching bloodlines, temperament, and health clearances along with high pedigree dogs. She accomplished this while getting a Nursing degree and a master’s degree in Psychology. Many non-pet owners may never understand the consuming passion and time that goes into pet ownership and creating a responsible breeding program from scratch. Then comes the decision of how to match them with the right owner. A dog with the best pedigrees and excellent health may still not be the right fit for some families, as some people have no idea what a natural high pedigree or high energy dog means. If you think walking your dog for 10 or 15 minutes a day twice a day is a high energy, you’re sadly mistaken. Some of these dogs can go for hours a day in activity and seem unstoppable. I’ve often told people that a great dog would do anything to please you, including dying. Maybe only a duck hunter or someone in the field would understand that even in the worst conditions, that dog still wants to get that duck for you or continue searching for that pheasant until it can finally be retrieved.

     As for breeding, the current program at Birddog Labs not only tests for 17 genetic diseases, but they are monitored very carefully in terms of temperament and personalities. Hence, the perfect pup goes to the ideal family. These dogs must perform well outside and indoors, and Gina calls the “on and off switch.” In other words, I should be able to take the dog hunting with the expectation to have the dog performing well, but when I get home, the dog has to be able to shut the drive off and behave as a responsible family member in the house. The dogs also receive early sensory and auditory exercises that bring out the best of all their senses and enhance the dog’s immune and cardiac systems. As all this information comes together, Gina develops a plan based on the dogs’ traits and the potential expectations of the owner. These combine to give the dog and owner the best chance of success in this new situation. An advantage of the dogs raised in the home is that they receive constant monitoring and attention throughout the day. The disadvantage being the breeder has no social life as the pups always come first.

    When considering your next pet, do not base your decision on cuteness or price but instead ask for references and research the breeder. Ask for hard copy proof of health clearances and be clear on the terms of the guarantee while making sure the approvals are official and not preliminary. Check clearances that both parents have, whether these were companion, hunting, or field trial prospects, and why they bred. If pedigrees are essential to you, then look at the first three generations rather than generations beyond that. Finally, does the breeder have time for you when you call, or can they answer your questions, and will they answer your questions after the purchase? What types of homes and customers have bought the previous pups, and how are they currently doing? Remember, your final choice may be a family member for the next 10 to 15 years if you are lucky, so choose wisely and stack the deck in your favor by selecting a responsible breeder. I have gained a lifetime of knowledge from Gina and am very thankful for her services. She does everything to give the new pup and owner the best chance to succeed. Bird Dog Labs is a credit to responsible breeders working toward the improvement and health betterment of their breeds. THANK YOU ALL — Rick Pederson

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