When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with dogs. (Not much has changed) Some of my earliest memories as a toddler, were sitting on the floor with a dog, caressing its soft fur and felt simply bursting with love and a sense of kinship.
Canines gravitated towards me, I’m not sure if that is because I was so tiny and already at their level, or because I was quiet and unchallenging and they sensed a kindred spirit.
Growing up as an only child, often in Northern Ontario, there were not many children to play with.
My very first playmate was a wire fox terrier named Buffy. I don’t remember Buffy passing, all of a sudden she wasn’t there, and my parents brought into the house a glossy huge magazine called “Dogs in Canada”.
Perhaps they were searching out breeders for a new dog, I was too young to know, but I thumbed back and forth through that magazine first gazing at the photos of the different breeds, and then as I got older reading every word of the articles and breed standards. I cut out photos of dogs I liked and gazed and daydreamed, that magazine was like my bible, I treasured it. I specifically remember being most in love with Bull terriers, Rottweiler’s and Doberman’s.
Instead of bringing another dog into the house, my mother decided I should have a cat, and kittens had claws and scratched me, which upset me greatly as they were nothing like a dog.
This did not sway my parents who then adopted an adult cat. This cat was supposed to be my first pet.
She hated all of us, didn’t like to be pet, wouldn’t cuddle or play with me…to be honest, I didn’t really enjoy her all that much. I begged for a dog, I pleaded for a dog, I prayed for a dog, I asked Santa, I asked Jesus…I cried. No dog.
I can’t even begin to explain the heartache in my tiny soul.
Every night I would go through all the back issues of Dogs in Canada wishing, hoping & praying that one day I could be like the people in these pages and raise my own dogs.
As I got older, I purchased every dog breed book, canine veterinary book and reference book I could get my hands on…knowledge filling the void in my dogless life.
Every year in March my parents had a booth at the Toronto Sportsman Show at Exhibition Place, back in the day the top floor was dedicated to the MNRF wildlife exhibit, antiques and the Purebred Dog section.
Breeders came to showcase their breed and market their business. There was even a green carpeted ring where 2 times a day they had a “dog show” of Meet the Breeds where breeders would parade their dog around the ring while the announcers read off fun facts and breed standard information.
I was hooked, I lived upstairs. (Luckily my parents didn’t mind) The Dog breeders didn’t mind either as they sensed my eagerness. I also was always willing to take the dogs to do their business, clean up after them, fetch coffee, anything to be a part of the action.
One older lady took a shine to me, and let me groom and show her English Bulldog for Meet the Breeds. This moment stands out as pivitol in my life…I do not even know who she was, but I am grateful for her kindness.
Over the years we owned a handful of dogs, an Airedale, Wheaten Terrier, a German Wirehaired Pointer, a Doberman and another Wire Fox Terrier who would become the foundation of my first breeding program. The dog breeding & show world is not easy to navigate for a newbie, and while I have whelped, raised and re-homed multiple litters, some my own and others for breed rescue, the show scene is by far the hardest to figure out. With my current dog, a Wire-Haired Pointing Griffon I might be breaking into something I have wanted for my entire life. Perhaps one day the dog on one of those glossy magazine pages will be mine, and I will feel like that dream I had as a little girl has really come true.
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