Some milestones that we as breeders reach are goals we have set for ourselves. When we reach these milestones there is celebration and a feeling of success. Other milestones are not a reason to celebrate and we all, eventually, will reach them.

One such event is the loss of the first dog of your breeding. You were there when the dog was born and you remember that day like it was yesterday. You recall holding that tiny helpless baby in your hands and marveling at his perfect form. You remember counting those adorable tiny toes and kissing that adorable tiny nose. Your heart swelled with love and you couldn’t even believe how much love you already had for these beautiful babies and their mother. Its your first litter and one you will never forget.

You remember the day he went home with his new owners, all smiles, and you knew he was going to have a new life where he could enjoy his new family and meet new dogs and go on new trips and adventures – and you hope that one day you get to see him again.

The day you learn one of those puppies (now a grown adult dog) has lost his life will stop your heart for a split second. You find you are holding you breath. You are at a loss for words and you know the pain that owner is going through is connected to your pain. You sometimes find it difficult to find the words to comfort the owner because you also need to hear those words. But you do it. You tell them how much the dog was loved and how you won’t ever forget him either.

You know this day will arrive but you never plan for it. Nothing you can do can prepare you for that news. That day was today. It was an accident. Not expected. I’ve been numb all day long. I looked through photos and I watched old videos (including the litter whelping videos – yes I videoed it!)

You look at the dogs mother, now 11 and gray, and you know she has no connection to her offspring once they leave her but you hug her just the same and you tell her you love her. When the tears begin to fall they fall for every dog you ever lost. Big ugly crocodile tears begin to fall and they dont stop for a while either. You have lost a lot of dogs and they all need these tears today. You need these tears today.

Run free CH Wavemaker Spincaster – and run free your two friends who lost their lives with you early this morning. I miss you already handsome Tackle.

UWPCH CH Ramstaff’s Black Eyed Pea, CAX RN TKN CGC TT

December 25, 2003 – August 2, 2019

She was born on Christmas morning in a litter of five adorable puppies in varying shades of brindle and white in a home near Lake Lanier. We went to meet her when she was only 5 weeks old. Jim wanted the ‘cartoon puppy’ so that was that. A few weeks later a wild and fierce little piebald Stafford called ‘Pnut’ came home with us. Life was about to change for us forever.

It was said had another family bought this puppy certainly she would be returned back to her breeder. She was a challenge. We had no idea how much of a challenge she was going to be. She was bold and fierce for sure and had a very strong will. She loved her food and she loved using her voice. Pnut never missed a meal. In fact, one of her first times in a show ring a judge even made this comment: “Bring fatty over for her ribbon” During the win photo the judge cracked jokes about how Pnut didn’t live far from the refrigerator. Pnut did not know it that day but she was about to go on a diet and learn to exercise more.

Pnut and I worked together every day. She was situated by my desk all day long as I worked from my home office. We attended classes, we walked, we went everywhere together. People stopped us daily telling us how she looked like a little cartoon. Of course we already knew that. By the time Pnut was 8 months old she had learned almost 50 tricks. When she reached a year her repertoire had nearly doubled. Her favorite trick was saying ‘I Love You’. Once she found her voice she never forgot how to use it. Pnut was well known for her vocal ‘talents’.

Some dogs are the glue of a household. Pnut was such a dog. She raised many puppies, she explained the rules to dozens of fosters and visitors and she could stop a dog in its tracks with just a sideways glare. She was definitely large and in charge. She greeted strangers and explained the rules to them as well. We all obeyed, mostly.

Cancer made its evil ways into Pnuts body several times over the years. This last one proved too much for her though. She was nearing 16 years old and it was just too much for her to overcome, though she tried. Last evening she accompanied the crew on a walk around the front pasture and she stopped at her favorite pear tree for a snack. That would be the last time she enjoyed an evening of pears, bird watching and walking with her friends. Very early this morning a large spleen hemangiosarcoma she had lived with for close to six months that we know of finally ruptured and Pnut told me the time was now. I was lucky to find a veterinarian who came to our home and helped me say goodbye for the last time. Nealie was with her too, laying gently alongside her, helping me hold her safe as we said goodnight. I asked Pnut to look for Toby, Lucy Bean and Captain and I told her how much we all loved her over and over…but she knew that already. She was one tough bitch – perfectly Stafford, perfectly Pnut.

Our home is too quiet tonight.