I feel that breeding dogs is like providing other people with salt and light. Salt to preserve the goodness in life and give it flavor. And light to fill life’s dark rooms, so that we may see the goodness and hold on to hope. I came to dog breeding at a time after my wife had a stroke. It was a lonely time. A time when I needed salt and light. Fortunately, a dog named Hawkeye provided that for me. Hawkeye gave me a reason to get out of bed, to move forward, and to live. After recognizing what Hawkeye had done for me, I found my new purpose in life.
My wife is better now. So, I wanted to pay it forward and provide others with the same salt and light that Hawkeye provided to me. But Hawkeye is a unique dog, and not really a candidate for breeding. So, I studied, sought out mentors, and acquired dogs who are good breeding candidates. When I raise a litter, I try to become familiar with each individual puppy’s traits and personality at the youngest possible age. Three days old is when I start looking closely. After eight weeks of getting to know each one pretty well, I then try to match each puppy to each adopter’s needs as best I can. The better I can match a puppy to a home, the more likely it is that adopter, puppy and breeder will all succeed.
Breeding dogs the right way is hard work. And time-consuming. In addition to breeding the occasional litter myself, I wanted to leverage my technical and marketing skillsets to help other good, right-minded breeders succeed. That’s when I founded the Old-fashioned Black and Tan English Shepherd Association. We don’t breed a lot of dogs, but there is a lot of thought and care placed into the dogs we do breed. The men I founded OBTESA with have a common goal to preserve a bloodline that’s almost been lost.
My first litter will be one year-old next week. The featured photo above is of Liberty, a dog from my first litter that remains here on our ranch with me. Like Liberty and Hawkeye do for me, I hope that all of his siblings and the dogs we breed together will provide their families with salt and light for many years to come.