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The Responsible Breeder: Re-Homing


A story from UABR Breeder Judy Maag Kaplar

Some people think that people who breed and sell animals are uncaring, coldhearted and greedy.  In our experience, nothing could be further from the truth.  It’s usually those of us who are especially softhearted and fond of little furry animals that become pet breeders in the first place.  Here’s a sweet tale of one of the many ways that one pet breeder goes the distance for the animals in her care, even after they have been sold.


Judy sold an adorable, healthy Havanese puppy to a family that checked out as suitable for him.  They already had a well-cared-for Yorkie that was twelve years old.  They were thrilled with their new puppy and ready for another long-term relationship. They named him Bear.  Bear is a rare find among Havanese dogs; he has one brown eye and one blue! 

Two weeks later, their house was in an uproar.  Their Yorkie wasn’t adjusting to Bear at all.  They started texting Judy for help.  In tears every day, the texts kept coming despite the family’s efforts to apply Judy’s advice.  Judy was stressing, worried about her special baby.


Trying to balance kindness with firmness, and trying to control her own emotions, Judy made it clear that she would take the puppy back and return their money at any time.  Finally the attacks got bad enough that the puppy needed to be checked by a vet.  The tearful family had to let Bear go back home.  Judy refunded them their money, minus the cost of the vet visit.


What a delicate situation that is for a breeder.  Almost like when your children leave home. You care so deeply about their welfare, but things are out of your hands now.  Finding the right words and tone of voice to express your grave concerns for your animal, without aggravating the new puppy owner to the point of ruining your reputation (it’s easy with Facebook) is a challenge that keeps many pet breeders from sleeping at night.


After a few sleepless nights, Judy managed in a fine way, reassuring the distraught family and rescuing her pup as well.


Her efforts were blessed!  Only two days after brining Bear back home, Judy found a new home for him with a couple.  The husband is a soccer coach, and wanted a little pal to accompany him to all his games and practices.  Bear is doing really well, and they report that he even plays a little soccer himself!


The first buyers never lost their love for Bear, and even called to find out if they could try again.  They will have to look elsewhere for their happy ending.  For Judy and Bear, this story is complete.

Judy Kaplar

Her kennel is Havanese Judy, in Orem, Utah


Lost and Found


We routinely microchip our puppies before they are sent to their new homes. It's a practice that isn't really necessary until something goes wrong. At that point it's too late to reconsider doing it if you failed to microchip in a timely manner. If you have purchased a puppy that has not been microchipped it would be a good idea to have your own vet provide this simple service.

If a dog is always at a home with which he is totally familiar, and you are at home with him, microchipping may not be necessary. However, dogs are often transported to unfamiliar areas, shipped cross country or accompanying you on trips.  In addition, a loud storm can send him running from home, a delivery person can accidentally leave a gate open, and, sadly, there are always pet thieves around.

I'd like to share a story about a wonderful dog named Geronimo. This pup was born and grew up on our farm and was one of the prettiest red Lakeland Terriers you would ever find. We had retained him and his identical brother as possible breeding stock. Our farm really only required one of them, but it was worth keeping two back in case one ended up with better conformation.

We were contacted by a couple in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and those folks were seeking a stud for their own operation. They chose Geronimo and so arrangements were made to ship him up to to Alberta. I suggested that they plan to meet him at the airport in Seattle but they preferred that he come all the way to Calgary. 

Shipping can be quite complicated, particularly when the dog is being shipped outside of the United States. When we finally worked it all out, we were able to ship him from our local airport in Springfield, Missouri to Calgary by way of Denver, Colorado. From Denver, following a considerable layover he would fly on to Calgary.

Geronimo as a puppy

The layover in Denver was long enough that Geronimo would have to be removed from his shipping crate, given food, water and bedding and allowed to take a nap after he had some play time. This is a procedure that the airlines refer to as "Kenneling". 

We generally avoid flights that involve long layovers when shipping small puppies. This time, we figured that it was acceptable because of Geronimo's maturity; he was almost a year old.

Geronimo arrived in Calgary quite late at night. His new owners picked him up at the Calgary Airport and then drove several hours further north to the village where they lived. They arrived home about 2:00 AM after an exhausting night fetching their new dog.

About 7:00 in the morning they were still asleep. Their eleven year old daughter decided to do her good deed for the day. Since she knew that her folks had arrived home very, very late the night before she decided to take Geronimo for a walk at 7:00 AM. As I have heard the story the little girl and Geronimo walked into a fairly remote, wooded area. A noise in the forest startled Geronimo and he lurched away from the child's grasp. He was wearing a harness which we had provided, and a leash, but the small girl was unable to catch up with him as he loped away into the forest.

Those Alberta woods are filled with grizzly bears and wolves and a variety of other creatures that are unwilling to share their forest lair with a small Lakeland Terrier dressed in his finery. As the frantic child pursued the pup he just ran faster and faster and soon escaped her sight.

"Those Alberta woods are filled with grizzly bears and wolves..."

The weeping child returned home to tell her folks what had happened and within minutes I had a call from them. We all knew that the chances of that dog surviving such a harsh environment were not very good. As each day passed their hope diminished. They realized that the dog was frightened and probably upset by the very difficult flight he had endured the day before. He had not been at their house long enough to have developed any sense of it being his home.

I sent them additional pictures which they could copy and post around their village. They talked to folks who lived near the site of the pup's escape. A week passed. Their despair increased to the point that they had pretty well given up on finding Geronimo.

Then, one morning, I got a call from an animal rescue facility near the village where all this had occurred. This faciilty had taken in a scruffy and dirty little dog that a stranger had found at the edge of the forest. The little stray was still wearing a tattered harness which suggested that he was not a wild animal.

The operators of the facility used a microchip reader and read a 15 digit code embedded in the skin on the back of the pup's neck. That code was registered in my name. The new owner hadn't even had time to re-register the microchip code into their own name so the microchip registry, when notified, gave them my name and telephone number. That information gave me a chance to call the buyer of Geronimo and let them know where he could be found.

He had managed to survive a week in the wilds of Alberta eating whatever he could find in the forest. He also cleverly avoided being lunch for a grizzly bear. Lakeland Terriers are tough little dogs but this was a challenge that none of us would have willingly forced upon a small domestic dog.

That microchip allowed Geronimo to be reunited with his family. We never know when there might be a life or death consequence when we microchip a dog. Forty nine times out of fifty it may be an unnecessary bother and expense. However, that one instance when it brings home a missing pup it makes the whole procedure worthwhile. 

Stephen Bennett

Theodosia, Missouri

Healing Outside the Box


Sometimes what appears to be an illness in a dog is the unintended result of our activity or our inappropriate animal husbandry. When a dog "looks funny" or "acts funny" most of us, as dedicated dog breeders, assume that an illness is involved. Occasionally we might need to consider this situation outside the box.

We have a wonderful dog named Buddy. Buddy is sterile. He is now four years old but he has never been a part of our breeding program. However, he gets the same care and attention as our breeding animals. We raise only Lakeland Terriers in our kennel.

Lakeland Terrier Buddy

Buddy seemed like all the other Lakeland Terriers on our farm until one day he appeared to have a seizure. He seemed to lose control of his leg muscles. He slumped toward the ground and his eyes seem to lose focus. Tony saw this happen. He went into the kennel and held onto Buddy until he recovered normal functioning.

Tony and Lafe and I discussed the incident extensively. None of us were sure whether Buddy had bumped his head or had some other accident that would explain this odd behavior. After much discussion we dismissed it as a sort of fainting spell though I did mention it to my veterinarian a few days later. 

A week or ten days passed and the incident occurred again with Buddy seeming to have a fainting spell. We are intensely involved with our dogs all day every day. However, it did occur to us that he might have had such a spell outside our view or attention. I sometimes have light headed periods as a result of hypoglycemia so I figured maybe dogs had a similar vulnerability. I did call the vet and take Buddy into the vet's office. The vet examined him, found nothing clearly wrong and advised us to keep an eye on Buddy. The vet didn't see the situation as life threatening at this point.

As the next few weeks passed the incidents became more frequent but they never seemed to last for more than a few minutes. Buddy seemed healthy, happy and in great spirits at all other times of day except when he had these spells. It reminded me of my childhood when the adults would whisper about Aunt Jennie's "spells". I guess that was adult talk for an old spinster acting weird.

On several more occasions I discussed this situation with my vet. He didn't feel that Buddy's spells were life threatening and, though he did offer advice as to potential medications to control the incidents, we had not yet settled on a medical program. We kept Buddy under close observation. And we began to do a great deal of research on this particular condition in dogs. Most of our research yielded nothing conclusive. Meanwhile the frequency of Buddy's seizures had become almost daily.

During this period some old friends came over to visit and meet our Lakeland Terriers. We introduced them to Buddy and explained his peculiar situation. Michelle talked to me about food allergies and more specifically discussed the fact that some dogs are allergic to either corn, wheat, soy or dairy. Our discussion concluded but in a few days she called me back and reiterated that I needed to check our food for the presence of any of the afore mentioned ingredients as well as various food additives. The food additives are ingredients such as food coloring and preservatives.

The frequency of Buddy's seizures had become almost daily.

At that time I was feeding a rather well known dog food that came in pretty little red and green and yellow and brown kibbles. I guess it was designed to give an unsuspecting dog owner the impression that it was providing a well rounded diet for these happy little critters. It clearly contained corn and probably all of the other potential allergens. It rather clearly involved food coloring.

Armed with this new information I returned to my vet's office and had a lengthy discussion with the office manager. She advised me that I might want to try one of the premium dog foods that contained none of these potentially harmful or damaging ingredients. She suggested that I try either Blue Buffalo or Taste of the Wild. The point was that I needed to locate a food that was free of corn, wheat, soy, dairy and food additives.

I located Taste of the Wild in one of the local stores and bought a special bag of it for the exclusive use of my pal, Buddy. On day one we mixed the Taste of the Wild food 25% with 75% of his old food. On the second day we mixed the Taste of the Wild 50/50 with his old food. That day Buddy had a small seizure that only lasted a few minutes. On the third day we used 75% new food to 25% of the old colored kibbles and then on day four he was totally switched over to Taste of the Wild. Buddy never had another seizure and has continued to this day "cured" of whatever was causing his problem.

Incidentally, as a further refinement regarding dog food, we eventually found that Buddy could eat Royal Canin, even though Royal Canin does contain grains. My assumption is that Buddy was not allergic to the grains but had a frightening allergy to food coloring and the other fillers and preservatives in the first dog food we had used. 

With the help of a very smart lady, Michelle, and a caring and resourceful veterinary office staff we were able to take care of a problem that appeared initially to be an illness. I had spent several years unintentionally poisoning my pal, Buddy, by feeding him a food that was inappropriate for his little body. We sometimes need to think outside the box.

Stephen Bennett

Theodosia, MO

Stephen Bennett