When Songe joined us, in 1989, our dear Zaira was still with us. Zaira was an extraordinary Irish Setter with an impressive sports and rescue dog career behind her.
Although our Zaira never usually cast more than a disdainful glance at puppies, she adored this baby Great Dane and was injected with renewed energy before going to her final resting place just one year later. This last year was one of constant discovery during which we understood the importance of relationships between members of the same species. After Zaira's departure, it became obvious that we would not only have to find a successor who would accompany me, in my sporting activities, but one who would also be a companion for Songe.
Moreover, as we already had the ideal set-up and were accustomed to looking after puppies, I was tempted by the idea of breeding. Our experience in placing dogs was a definite asset: over the last eight years, we had found homes for a great number of dogs of all ages.
In the course of our animal protection activities, we had taken in several in-whelp bitches. We had even occasionally recuperated puppies living in poor conditions. Our first hand experience, even if somewhat dramatic at times, had taught us the importance not only of a puppy's first impressions and its socialisation, but also of its genetic makeup and the character of its parents.
Our desire to learn more about breeding and to set up our own kennel, with the help of all the most recent studies, became more and more insistent. There remained one question to solve:
Several criteria had to be taken into account:
After having lived with an Irish Setter, our preference went to dogs that were flame red in colour.
As canine sports were my hobby, I needed an athletic dog.
We were aware of the health problems attached to the larger breeds; ours would therefore have to be medium sized.
However, character was the most important point.
As our dog would have to get along well with all of our boarders, we would need a good pack dog.
With adults and children coming and going here daily, our dog would have to like people.
Because of our often hectic and stressful lifestyle, our dog would have to be sturdy.
Friendly with other dogs
Moreover, I did not want to have anything cut off a dog just for the sake of complying with a standard (at the time, clipped ears and docked tails were not yet forbidden). And I didn't want a dog that required trimming or professional grooming, even for the best of reasons.
As we lived on the outskirts of a forest, terriers and hounds were out of the question, although I was attracted to several among these.
Finally, we were left with 5 breeds to study more closely
And the absolute winner was:
THE NOVA SCOTIA DUCK TOLLING RETRIEVER !