Being a Breeder / Rescuer

How do I do it?  How do I let dogs and puppies go to new homes?  How do I foster rescues, then let them go to a new family?  How do I keep from getting so attached that I can’t let them go?

I was emailing Barb, who adopted our Sadie when she was 5 years old.  Sadie passed away in November 2011, at 11.5 years old (I still have to edit and compile her tribute page.).  Upon my request, Barb sent me a bunch of great photos of Sadie and we have been talking about what Barb might do next.  Sadie lived the majority of her life with Barb and made a huge impact on Barb and her family.  Due to her age and health, Barb doesn’t think she should take on a dog long term.  She was mulling over the idea of fostering for rescue.  Barb was trying to understand how I could place a dog after living with them for 5 years, and at the same time she thanked me for having such a personality.  Sadie was so special to Barb, and she wouldn’t have experienced that if I had kept Sadie myself.

Many people cannot re-home a dog.  Once a person lives with a dog, they feel they are responsible for the dog, good or bad, even if that dog is not ‘right’ for them or their home.  Most of my family fall into this category.  They have dogs that they complain about daily, hardly speaking a positive thing about the animal.  It is said with “Oh well, you know <so and so>, we still love them”.  The media and animal rights activist also spew forth “A dog is for life, not until…”.  Personally, I think this concept is selfish and often harmful to the dogs.  My grandmother had a mini poodle when I was a child.  He was a sweet dog, but grandmother never had a nice thing to say about him.  He was not right for her personality or home.  She kept that dog his entire life, but only because ‘that is the responsible thing to do’.

Sadie and Barb. Sadie was an active therapy dog and a certified hearing service dog for Barb. These are things she never would have experienced staying with me, not to mention the help she provided Barb.

I have the ability to know if a home will provide a better environment for a dog.  Sadie is an excellent example.  When Barb contacted me and gave me the specific needs she had, I knew the right dog was Sadie.  She was everything Barb needed in a dog.  Sadie was not truly happy living with us.  She was a gentle soul, very sweet.  Merlot was dominant and I am a dominant person.  Even though Sadie came to live with us at 8 months and left with Barb when she was 5, she never was comfortable with Merlot or me.  He was to much dog for her, I was to much Human!  This caused her to develop some stress habits.  She would eat socks, get into things, cause issues.  I told Barb about her baggage when I placed her, but she never once ate anything that wasn’t food or treat while living with Barb.  It proved to me I had found the right home for Miss Sadie.  She thrived in a home with no other dogs, no small children, only two gentle adults who never told her to do anything.  Barb simply asked her very gently if she would please do <insert typical dog command> and Sadie would do it, with bells on!

Major, Merlot, and Sadie. When all three lived with us in Huntsville, AL.

The same could be said for Major, Merlot’s brother.  Major was with us for 5 years, and when Stacey and her family contacted me about adding another dog, I knew Major was a good match for them and their home.  I can tell you Major touched that family more than any dog they have owned.  Major was special to them, something more to that family than he was in ours.  It was the right choice and he was loved beyond measure by Stacey.

My sister first pointed out how I was different years ago.  She said it was rare, and that I should use it as a gift.  This ability made me the perfect breeder and rescuer.  I can take in an animal, evaluate them, and hopefully decide the best home based on the information I have.  I didn’t foster my breeding dogs when I was showing / breeding Shibas, so I had a lot of experience re-homing adult dogs.  I couldn’t continue to breed (and stay happily married) by keeping every dog after they were done having puppies.  Also, at that time I was heavily involved with both Setter and Shiba Inu rescue.  I lost count of the number of both breeds I took in and found homes.  For about 5 years we always had a rescue or two in house.  Once my allergies became an issue, Keith put his foot down on the shedding dogs.  I became involved with Standard Poodles and there are thankfully, very few that come into rescue that are not quickly fostered and found homes.  Both the Setters and the Shiba Inu took a more specific family dynamic and required extensive rehabilitation for problem behavior.  Ask anyone looking for an adult Standard Poodle and you will get an ear full about how few there are to be found.

I believe one specific event made me who I am today.  When I was 12 years old I decided I wanted to buy my own dog.  I talked to my parents and they helped me sell a few things (goodbye Barbie Dreamhouse!) to attain the cash for my first purchase.  This wasn’t going to be a family dog, it was going to be MY dog.  I researched breeds, looked in the paper every day, compared how much money I had saved to my options.  I found an ad in the paper about champion sired Irish Setters.  I talked to mom and I called to inquire.   She had one male left and after a short visit I brought him home.  Rip was 12 weeks old and the apple of my eye.  The breeder supplied me the number of Rip’s sire.  I wanted to try conformation showing, so I gave her a call, which started my lifelong love of dog shows.  My first dog was finally a reality.  I trained him all myself and teaching a hyper Irish Setter to walk on a leash when your 12 years old with zero experience was a sharp learning curve!  After a while Rip and I became a team.  He and I did everything together, we learned together, we made mistakes together.  I learned how to strip and groom a Setter for AKC shows.  I taught him how to stack for conformation showing.  I taught him to swim in our pool.  To jump our fence and open the gate with his nose (ok, not the smartest choices.).  He was my dog.  He only listened to me.  My dad would get so angry when he would tell Rip to do something, and the dog would turn and look at me for conformation.  That was the moment I knew he was mine.  Years passed.  I grew up and moved on to college.  My father passed away when I was 18.  My mother eventually remarried.  I was in my second year of college and my Mom and Bill were moving from Arkansas up to Michigan.  They asked me what we should do with Rip.  They didn’t have time for him.  He was suffering from lack of attention after I went to college, but they would keep him for me if I wanted.  I made one of the hardest decision of my life.  I phoned a lady who had another Irish Setter and asked if she would take him.  She loved my boy and eagerly took him in.  Rip and Amber, the sweet female Irish Setter, became best friends.  He had a great life after me, but boy… what a hard call.

I learned two things from Rip.  1. How to let a dog go, if it is the best choice for the dog.  2.  How to know if a dog is suppose to be mine.  This second thing is something I have only experienced twice in my life.  Letting a dog go, one that was meant to be my dog is something I will never do again.  I will never allow myself to get in a situation where I have to let the Rip or Merlot of my life go.  On the same note, I cannot allow a dog who wasn’t completely special to me stay here if a home came along that would offer that dog, and family, a chance to experience something amazing.  If you have never had the complete devotion of a “heart dog”, then I pray you have that experience sometime in your life.  I’ve been blessed twice.  The second, my Merlot,  I was there for his entire life.  I was there to hold his head when he passed on.  He knew I did everything for him I could.  I didn’t send him away to someone else, he was / is mine forever.

That’s why I do what I do.  If only one of you out there finds a dog that changes you, touches your heart like no other, then I am happy.  To most of the dogs in my life I am only a temporary caregiver, there until they find that special person.  Barb experienced that with Sadie and for that I am more than blessed.  Stacey had that with Major.  How many more people can I help experience this gift?  I don’t know, but I am going to keep doing what I do, until I am no longer able to do it.  Maybe someday I will strike gold again and be blessed with number three.

Merlot - always in my heart!

~ Becky


Sherri H - February 10, 2012 - 1:38 pm

Now that I have put the tissue box away……. great posting. More than ever, I know you are the perfect breeder for us. We had the privledge of of having “Merlin” for his entire life, brief though it was. He was meant to be with us. And as you know, Elvira is our Merlot. She has been one of our greatest gifts.

Lisa Gulledge - February 10, 2012 - 4:00 pm

Ruffy was another example of perfect re-homing. She was never quite at home with you. She was happy “enough”, but she found the “perfect” home for her last few months.
We have struggled for a year with this issue with Gatsby, deciding if he was as happy as he could be in our home. The funny thing is we found his special person within our own home.

Elizabeth Penning - February 10, 2012 - 6:14 pm

Becky – you are amazing. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Barbara Fitzgerald - February 11, 2012 - 1:17 am

Hi Becky, I just found your site/blog tonight while surfing the net and I love the new blog format! Your comments on vaccinations – totally agree. And thanks for the links/tips on flea control. I have not had any problem with fleas since back in the 80′s until our very dry weather last summer. I’d forgotten how miserable they can make life for a dog and I had to relearn how to deal with them.
I also love your explanation behind why you’ve chosen to ‘foster’ some of your dogs. I gave up breeding my collies because I stressed to much about finding the right homes for them. Several times I literally gave a pup away to a home that my instincts told me was the best for it instead of selling it to one that was just not right. I’ve often said I would love to just breed and have the litter but let someone else in charge of the selling/placement decisions. I love having the puppies and have always been extremely good at raising them, spending way too much time loving, playing & training them. And it was easy to do as I was working for myself grooming dogs and around the pups 24/7.
My mother used to raise poodles and her last one, a standard, became mine after her death in 2001. Lucy is an apricot and just passed her 13th birthday. She still acts like a puppy most of the time and is my buddy ready to go at a moment’s notice. I dread the thought of one day being without her. Maybe, as that time gets closer, I can check back with you to see if you might have just the right poodle for me.
Good luck with the babies! Barb

Becky - February 12, 2012 - 2:56 pm

Thanks for the great letter, Barb! Just let me know if you are ever in our area, we would love for you to visit. :) Give Lucy a big cookie from us here! She deserves it for having such a long life!

Sandy Tate - February 19, 2012 - 11:39 pm

What a great post. You placed a “heart dog” in our home when you placed Kipper. He is my third heart dog, so I will pray that you find yours. Although Kip is “on leave” from official therapy work right now since I am so busy he spent the weekend in the hospital visiting my mom and doing his puppy magic. Once again I was amazed to see how many hospital staff and patient family/friends recieved help from him. He has not lost his touch and it inspired me to get serious about getting certified again so I can hold the leash and watch him work his magic some more. I am so thankful you chose to share your gift with others and I hope you can see how it is multiplying.

Video: Zelda pups- a milestone

I was sitting in the puppy box today with Aiden and Kenzie, and just happen to catch a couple milestones on film.  I thought you guys would get a kick out of it.  Enjoy!


Rachel Bohl - February 10, 2012 - 9:36 am

That was hilarious! Kids, pups, moms – it has it all. The howling was so cute! Poor Zelda, I’m sure motherhood is a tad bit more trying now the puppies are bigger and moving more. Good thing you happened to be right there as they discovered the up and over!

Zelda & River pups: 3 weeks old

It has been an exciting week for the puppies.  They have moved to the kitchen from our master bedroom.  They now have to deal with all the everyday sights, sounds, and life of a busy home with two 4 year old kids!  This week again I was left taking their photos alone, with no adult hands to help.  However, I managed to get a few decent shots.  Enjoy!

The Girls


Tyna- Blaze Chest Girl

Tyna- Blaze chest girl


Nixie – Solid black girl

Nixie – Solid Black Girl


Numma- Solid Black Girl

Numma- Solid Black girl


The Boys


Douglas- Solid Black Boy

Douglas- Solid Black Boy


Leith- Blaze Chest Boy

Leith- Blaze Chest Boy


I have 4 deposits on this litter.  The last puppy will be held until a better understanding of temperament can be determined.  I have two other homes interested, but they have very specific needs which may or may not be met by this litter.  If you are interested, please contact me soon, so you can be put on my waiting list.  For those interested in adopting one of these little gems, price for a pet is $1500.00 on limited registration (no breeding rights). These pups should be suitable as performance dogs, therapy dogs, and wonderful pets.  The parents are very stable dogs with outstanding temperaments.  They will probably be small to mid size as adults (20-25 inches at the shoulders).  Contact me at for an adoption application.  References required as my puppies only go to the best homes and as forever members of your family.

Click the “LITTERS” link at the top to see more post about these puppies!

River (dad) and Zelda (mom)




The Average Standard Poodle coefficient of inbreeding is around 15%.  This litter is 2.66%  Lower % means lower inbreeding.


Rachel Bohl - February 8, 2012 - 5:40 pm

Between the video yesterday and the pictures today, my heart is full! They are so adorable. Good job with the sit-stays!

Becky - February 8, 2012 - 10:09 pm

I couldn’t get Leith to sit to save my life and he’s so wooly he looks like a cocker!! That boy is going to be a coat growing fool. I was happy to get a bare handful useable out of the 100 or so I took!! Next week will be bath, blow dry, face/tail shave, then photos!! Should be fun. :)

Aiden and Kenzie’s infant baby blankets came in handy. :) I wasn’t sure how the pups would do with the pink and blue behind, but it worked out ok. Black can look really funny with the wrong background.

Pamela Griffis - February 9, 2012 - 11:38 am

Becky, what a beautiful array of my favorite friends. Douglas looks stunning I,sometimes thinks he will just jump out of the screen and lick my face. I thank you for your undying Love of ,that which shall go to other LOVES, but remains in your heart forever. You are an unselfish Person for the real love of sharing Your True Gift.
You are a wonderful !!!!


Pamela Griffis


VIDEO: Zelda x River litter 3 weeks old

I decided to step back from working on the blog to do short video of the puppies.  Please excuse the Star Wars Lego game running in the background.  I had no idea it was so annoyingly loud until I had the video done.  Also Jazz and Mocha were outside barking their heads off playing right by the kitchen windows.   Just think of it as great socialization for your new puppy. :)


Courtney - February 7, 2012 - 3:06 pm

What a darling video! Thanks for sharing. :)

Summer - February 7, 2012 - 4:39 pm

Oh my golly, they are just too lovable. It must be so much fun getting to see them beginning to play and learning about the world. Way cool.
I still have Radar’s baby collar, tucked away safe. Every now and then when something in life is feeling especially hard, I wear it as a bracelet. It’s hard to be completely stressed out when you’ve got a dog who loves you on one side, and a reminder of when that dog first arrived in your life as a puffy cloud of black fur on the other.

BLOG: A New Look!

For the past several weeks I have been searching for a new blog theme/program that would accomplish my eventual mission, to completely drop my static website and use only a blog.  My previous theme did not offer a few important features, as well as being inflexible to change.  I asked friends who blog and also had static websites that they converted to a blog only website.  Some of them are photographers and though I am not a professional photographer, my post are often extremely media heavy.  So, with that in mind, I decided to go with ProPhoto Blog.  It will take me a few weeks to get everything changed over, but I think I have a decent start.

Aside from esthetics, some noteworthy changes are:

1.  There is now a “HOME” button.  Before if you clicked “Anutta Blog” it would take you back to the home, but you had to know it would do that, there was no real home option.

2.  There are now links at the bottom of each blog post showing the previous and / or next blog you can read.

3.  There is a “Subscribe by Email” option listed in several locations throughout the site.  If you choose this method, you will receive email updates about the blog when I post something new!!  This is my favorite feature that was not available on my previous ‘free’ template.

4.  It has a mobile site option.  I’m going to leave it enabled because it does make for a faster load time and organizes the photos and text so you don’t have to zoom to read.

Please bare with us during the change.  I have a lot to tweak.  Let me know what you think so far (both good and bad) and what you would like to see me add!!