two before her, but also died of cancer at the age of only two years. We loved Goldens, but
the breed seemed so plagued with health problems. I had seen Nova Scotia Duck Tolling
Retrievers at shows in Canada, and after over a year of careful research and a search for
the right breeder, we added Cricket to our family.
Our Tollers are natural hunters, and driven retrievers. They get along with other dogs and
all people. They are not always easy, but they are extremely intelligent and remember what
they have learned. They are sensitive but respond very well to motivational training. We
strongly believe that no dog should be hurt in the name of training, and recommend clicker-
training and other motivational methods.
Our philosophy about breeding Tollers is pretty important to us. Although we strive to
produce Tollers to conform to the breed standard, we also believe the pups we produce
should have good health and temperaments. All the pups should be family pets even if they
are also show dogs, hunting dogs, or used for any events. And to be good family members,
they need stable temperaments, a willing nature, and the ability to adapt to all sorts of
environments. The health of the breed should be such that the only trips to the vet are for
annual exams and occasional vaccinations.
When decided on a breeding, we consider the health, conformation and temperament of the
dogs to be bred, and their desire to retrieve and hunt. But that is not all. We also consider
the parents of the dogs, and any offspring produced. But even that is not the end. We try
our best to look into any siblings, their offspring, any offspring or siblings of the
grandparents, and we go back as far as possible into the pedigrees to understand what
health issues may be present. Titles are not as important as some people might think.
Many Tollers are hunted and appreciated as family pets, but never shown, but that does not
mean they are not good representatives of the breed. We recognize the effort that goes
into earning titles, but the truth is, in many cases it is due to persistence of the owners
rather than the fact that the dog is outstanding. A Toller in a home where it is a happy and
loved family member is just as valued as the one that travels week after week to shows.
You have to look at the dog and his temperament and abilities rather than how his name
appears on paper.
We raise our pups in the house and devote all of our spare time to them when we have a
litter. They are born in our laundry room, which is converted into the "puppy room" for the
next eight weeks, with a cot and television...I move in with them for a bit! They get the
Biosensor Method of early neurological stimulation when very young. And as they get
older, our interaction with them changes as well. They get to experience many different
noises and toys and environments. They get individual training time (along with clicker
training) starting at 5 weeks of age, one at a time away from the litter. They learn to go up
and down stairs at a young age, as we have a split-level house. And weather permitting,
they spend time outside in the fresh air where they can run and jump and chase and dig.
We give them birds and/or bird wings, and if they happen to be summer puppies we'll take
them to the lake to see if they want to swim. They meet other dogs, and cats, and learn
valuable lessons from them! All along we are getting to know their personalities and we get
a feel for how they will react, and what type of home they are best suited for. We do
temperament testing and structure evaluation near the end of the 8 weeks to determine the
best fit for each puppy. And our vet examines each puppy and microchips them for
Placing puppies in just the right home is never an easy task, but we carefully interview the
prospective owners on their lifestyle and what they expect from a dog. We take into
account their previous dog experience, but also recognize that sometimes you have to start
somewhere! We spend so much time with the puppies, as a group and individually, that by
the time they are ready to leave, we have a pretty good idea which one fits with which
family. We stand behind our dogs and will take a pup back at any time in that dog's life, for
any reason. We are very glad to hear all the happy stories from owners of our pups. And
we sure love seeing pictures as they grow up!
Living where we do, we are lucky that our dogs have time to run free and play with each
other, and explore and use all their senses. People with single dogs and who live in town
have our respect for the amount of time they invest in exercising and stimulating their dogs.
But it is wonderful to see the dogs at full speed, and using the talents they were born with.
Tollers should be natural hunters, and we let our dogs learn by going out with a trained dog
to set the example. The first year is a learning experience, and we don't put much training
into the pup or expect any certain behavior (other than exposure to guns and birds, and
knowing they will come when called). Training is something that seems to get put off with
us, and as long as the dogs can flush game within range and retrieve it, we don't get too
fancy in our expectations. Our goal is to put the formal training in to earn titles, but life is
busy and we realize that with Tollers, play is more important than work!