Tuesday, April 26, 2011

All the Girls I've Loved Before

My sweet Diamond, at home with the Kyzers

(F)Annie loved now by the Lantzys
I've been feeling a little blue tonight, trying to organize photos on my computer and seeing again all the sweet whippet faces from our past. The hardest part of being a breeder is knowing you have to let go. You simply cannot keep all the dogs you want to unless you're willing to have a kennel (which I am not -- we are housedogs-only people). For one thing, if you have more than a certain number, they don't all get enough attention.

So the hard part: You keep a little girl puppy from a promising litter and you love her and put all your hopes in her. She grows up to be everything you wanted, so eventually you find Mr. Perfect for her and breed her. She has a beautiful litter and is a wonderful mother. You breed her maybe a couple more times, and then she's retired from the whelping box to the sofa. Meanwhile, of course, you've kept a pup from each litter, so there's four dogs right there. And then there's Grandma and Great-Grandma and....you see where I'm going with this. At some point you have to say, "What is best for the dog? Not for my heart, because I would keep every one if I asked my heart. But for the dog."

And naughty Candy, loved in spite of herself by the Verdus
We never look for homes for our older girls. I could never say, "Okay, we're going to let this one go." But someday a perfect home will show up. Often it's someone who already owns one of our pups and I know for sure the home will be perfect. And then it's time. And lord, does it hurt.

But you know what makes it okay? We have a reunion every year and most of my girls come to that. And I see them so happy with their new families, where each girl is one of two or three or maybe even an "only child."  They are always excited to see me and it means the world to me. But what makes me happiest is seeing them turn back to their new families as if to say, "Yeah, I remember you and we had some good times, but hey, these are my new folks!" 

Some, of course, will never leave. But the ones who do take a little piece of my heart with them. And I am so very grateful to the people who love them so well.

Someday in the not-too-distant future, Walt and I will give up breeding and I'll be able to keep all my dogs into their old age. But until then, thank you, Timbreblue family members, for giving your hearts to my girls.



Anonymous said...

Aw, this made me cry! Especially the part about seeing them turn back to their new families...how bittersweet that must be for you. This post speaks volumes about how you raise your dogs, regardless of it they are "keepers" or not! I hope to one day have a whippet, and I hope it will come from Timbreblue. (BTW, I am Jillian from NC...I have been in touch with Jo and hope to be able to join your waiting list soon.)

Johannah Layson Hutchens Gage said...

Jillian, thank you so much for your comment. A lot of breeding is heartbreak, but the happy times make up for the sad times a millionfold.