When I was 8 years old I had the joy of seeing a borzoi (a large greyhound looking breed). I was in love!
At 16 I went to live at a Christian boarding school where I helped work off my tuition by working at the school's dairy. It was a small dairy but one that was kept very clean. only around 250 milking cows and about the same in calves and grown heifers.
My job started at 5:30 am. I fed all young stock, from just born to ones that were just ready to have their first calf. This is where I learned the importance of mother's first milk (colostrum) and the needing for de-worming for good health.
After feeding I would go get my breakfast =) Then back to the dairy for morning milking. Here I learned about care for the mammary (milk giving) system of mammals.
After milking the barn was hosed down and scrubbed with a disinfectant. Here I learned how very important cleanliness is in the raising of animals. I also learned how to recognize when a animals was due to give birth and if it was going to need help in doing so. I learned how to reposition a calf in the birthing canal and how to pull a calf properly if needed.
This is also where I meet my hubby. He worked at the school's 30,000 (yes that is right!) laying hen poultry. Where he learned about the importance of good nutrition and starting with healthy stock.
After we got married, He joined the Army. We had our first son and moved to GA. Where I was diagnosed With an autoimmune system disorder ( now called Fibromyalgia) After about a year The Army sent him to Germany for 2 years. So Me and my son moved up to NC to be closer to family.
This is where I started to work for a larger dairy 550 milking cows. Here I just helped milk twice a day and helped cows give birth. I really loved this work so I saved up and lucky for me, my employer was a nice person and gave me time to go to a internationally known cattle breeding and management school in KS (Graham School)Though it may seem strange but the care of gestating and lactating mammals wither they be cattle or dogs are very similar. Even down to the same medications and de-wormers.
After a long awaited visit from my hubby we found out that we where pregnant and with my fibromyalgie it was just to much to keep working. plus the dangers of working with 2000lbs animals. I reluctantly had to give the job up.
With in months after giving my job up, We found out that my oldest son had Autism and motor skill problems. He needed speech and physical therapy.
Since I knew it was going to be unlikely that I would/could do dairy work any longer. I still wanted to work with animals. So I took and got a diploma as an animal care specialist
With in days after my hubby came home from Germany, he was off to the gulf to get ready for the first gulf war. When he returned we decided to live in NC. Finally we were together again.
We started our oldest son with the hobby of showing rabbits. and he just bloomed! He would talk to strangers about the facts of each breed that was there and took great care in carrying his own rabbits to the show table.
unfortunately we had to move from the small mini farm when the owners wanted to move back in to it. So we moved back closer to town. There rabbits are considered small livestock, and we had to give up the rabbits. Dogs where aloud so we started to look for a breed that would fit in to our life style and would be easy to keep. We found the Italian greyhound. To me and my oldest son it was a perfect fit. meek, sweet,loving, cuddly and easy to keep clean. with the sighthound body style that I fell in love with went I was 8 years old when I saw that Borzoi.
My youngest was about 4 years old when we started going to dog shows. This is when he fell for the smallest breed Chihuahuas. He never wavered in his love for the breed. So when he was 12 years old and we felt he could significantly help with it's care, we got him a Chihuahua and the whole family fell in love.
even now years later dogs are our hobby that we as a family enjoy. hubby goes to the show when work will allow. Giving us "us time"
My oldest is now a young adult that on his own worked to become main streamed (attended reg class rooms)in high school and has started collage in hopes to be come an animal behaviorist. Works a full time job, owns his 2nd new car (fully paid) and land. He has turned his ease to retaining fact to his advantage. (he is now considered Aspergers, which is high functioning Autism) I feel that this would never have come about with out the unconditional love of his Iggy friends.
My youngest son is now a young man. so we are now free to show. He is very good about helping me to take our show dogs to handling class and may start showing himself. I truly hope so since he has a very good eye for Chihuahuas (can pick a winner)
It has been years of tears and hardships as life is but there has always been a steady amount of love, acceptance and happiness here that only a pet can bring.
We have now moved to SC so the dogs will have more room. We also have chickens for fresh eggs (that the dogs get too) as well as a small mini-zebu cow for milk, cream, butter and homemade yogurt. ( that the dogs LOVE) we have started to raise pedigreed rabbits ( Creme D'Argent ) again and will be showing both rabbits and dogs in our spare weekends.