I get the look of wonder when I tell people I’m a pharmacist but chose to be a third generation breeder instead. I know. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt and almost a decade of my life spent to receive that doctorate. Let’s give you some background and go back to how I grew up. Warning long blog post.
I was born into the breeding world. Literally, there was never a time growing up without multiple dogs around me. My earliest memories I was surrounded by pitbull pups and loved them. On my lower left lip I have a tiny scar from one of them biting me. This was an early lesson on learning to speak dog and understanding boundaries. That bite never kept me from loving them. In fact, I had a rocky childhood and my pups were my best friends. They were my escape, comfort, and first mentors in life.
My parents divorced when I was 4 years old and I went to live with my grandma and my brother went to live with my dad. I loved my grandma dearly. She was my person. Living in the country in Nebraska really matched my heart. My grandma had her kennel where she raised several different breeds over the years ranging from boxers, westies, cocker spaniels, basenjis, miniature poodles, shar-peis, and others that I can’t quite pull out of my head right now. Nobody had to tell me where babies came from. I knew. 🙂 I remember my favorite part of my days were going to the puppy shed to help grandma clean, medicate, and play with the pups. It was a normal thing for me at 5,6,7 years old to give shots, deworm pups, help dock tails, remove dewclaws, and help whelp pups. My older cousin Jim also lived with grandma. Our duties after school were to go out and scoop pens and feed & water. Yes, I’ve been scooping poop since I was five. We had our shovels and poop buckets and we’d get to work. We just might have been some of the fastest poop scoopers out there. Afterwards, we sprayed down the pens, dumped water buckets, and filled feeders. There was a dog food shed and I learned how to get the 40-50lbs feed bags on the back of my 50lb body to carry them to the feeders. Remember it was Nebraska so in the winter time the 5 gallon buckets would freeze and we’d have to break up the ice by lifting them up and throwing them to the ground. When we needed new pens, grandpa built the buildings where they slept and kept warm. We’d help paint the buildings and when it was time to pour concrete for the runs it was all hands on deck. I of course found joy in putting my hand or footprint in the cement. I can’t even imagine my 6 and 7 year old boys working this hard, but I don’t feel sorry for me at all. In fact I value the hard work ethic it created in me and feel a little guilty that my boys have too cush of a life.
We worked hard but in my spare time you would find me playing with the pups. In the summer time, grandma would place the puppies in a long pen outside on the grass/dirt. I remember my favorite thing was laying in there with them all swarming me with kisses. I’d sit in the pens petting the adult dogs. We’d go for walks on the dirt roads and take one or more of them along with us. My aunt Tami taught me basic commands on how to train dogs which I use to this day. She always loved boxers. At first, my grandma sold to brokers. For those of you who are not familiar with brokers, they buy the whole litter of pups and usually sell them to pet stores which then place them in homes. Please note, I don’t necessarily condone selling to brokers. I’m just giving you some history. My grandma was one of the early pioneers in dog breeding and an example of how to care for dogs. She was always a member of the pet breeders association and even went to Washington DC to rally for breeders.
My uncle had moved to Washington state and grandma discovered she could place her pups directly in their homes in this location. In the 80’s there wasn’t the market in Nebraska to do so. She’d load up the chevy citation with her pups and make the 24 hour drive only stopping for gas. Several times per year, I was her copilot. I never appreciated being able to see the beauty of the land I was exposed to along those drives until I was an adult and realized that not all kids experienced this. She’d play kid songs most of the time that we’d sing along to, play games with license plates, and point out what we thought the shapes of the clouds looked like. Eventually she bought a property in Washington where she eventually built a house and raised Westies for the remainder of her breeding career. She had a hard childhood and came from nothing in a time where women did not have as much access to education. She was the second youngest in her family and the first to graduate from high school. Supporting her family was important and she found ways to do so by selling Saladmaster cookware and becoming a breeder. Her kennel name was the Dawg Haus as we come from German lines. She created her own logo, figured out how to market her pups through newspaper ads, and how to make the sale. Some people look down on sales but I believe it’s one of the greatest professions out there. If you truly look at it, we are all selling ourselves in one way or the other. Grandma is my shining example of perseverance.
I lived off and on with grandma and my mom. My mom was always in abusive relationships. I used to feel sorry for her but I realized later in life that she is a fighter and that’s where she felt oddly at ease. She may have gotten herself out of physically abusive relationships but still continues to be in ones where she experiences lots of drama. When I lived with her in Texas, I was surrounded by Shar-peis and English Bulldogs. I loved them all but especially the little “sharpies”. 🙂 As my mom fought her way through life, I had the pups as my best friends and escape from reality.
Remember grandma’s land she bought in Washington. Well there was an old crappy trailer that didn’t have running water. When I was in sixth grade I went to live in it with my mom. There was a water shed that Grandpa built about 100 feet from the trailer. In it housed a bathtub that was 3 feet from the ground so the water would drain downhill. There wasn’t a functioning toilet and we’d go in a bucket that had a toilet lid on it. It was basically like camping. Some of you may feel sorry for me. I actually found it as one of the happiest times in my childhood that I spent with my mom. It was the short window of about 4-6 months she wasn’t wrapped up in a guy and actually spent time with me. Eventually she hooked up a garden hose from the water shed to the trailer to provide us with cold running water. She tried a few different ways of creating an income and had even bought a class to help her prepare for the MCAT so she could go to medical school which she decided against. Eventually she made relationships with breeders in Missouri that she would purchase the litters and place them in homes. I was exposed to an assortment of breeds like Yorkies, Wheaten’s, Bichons, Fox Terriers, Italian Greyhounds, Scotties, Schnauzers, Silkies, Maltese, and others. After school, my responsibility was to go out and clean pens. These were set up differently as they were for pups not adults. I’d have to scoop up pine pellets each day. A big transition for me was also being a part of the selling process. As early as 14-15 years old, my mom would set up appointments when she wasn’t there. I’d show the pups in the living room, the people would decide on the pup, and then I’d explain the health guarantee, have them sign it, collect their money, and send them on their way. I didn’t think anything of it as I was a responsible kid/teenager but looking back I was a cute girl and had stranger adults just coming into my home when I was alone. I was once left to take care of the dogs before I had a drivers license for about a week to 10 days. Of course we had an emergency. There was a mean Fox Terrier that pretty much ate the neck open on a Scottie. I had to figure out how to get a ride to the vet and take care of it. Again, I don’t think I would expect this of my kids but I do value all it taught me as I’m pretty good at thinking through tough situations. I also saw the transition of advertising from newspaper ads to having your own website and using google ads when I was a teenager.
I was an unusual teenager and was bound and determined to change how I thought to be the best version of myself. In junior high my mom supposedly home schooled me for 7th-9th grade. She never opened a book. I taught myself, studied for tests, took them, and then graded them all without cheating. From the beginning I had a love of learning . When I returned back to a private school in 10th grade, I knew I was different. I was very religious at that time. I’d do things like reading self-help books, study the bible and recording it in notebook, and I had a system of memorizing bible verses each day. I probably memorized over 1,000 of them. My whole life I wanted to be something that always required a doctorate level degree like veterinarian, psychiatrist, medical doctor, dentist, or naturopathic doctor but wanted to make a huge difference in the world as well.
After high school I went to a Bible College in Springfield, MO and got a what I consider a useless degree in missions. My mom moved there after I did and started her breeding program. She had the usual bichons and wheatens at first and then in 2001/02 discovered French Bulldogs. I fell in love and added my first 3 girls Paris, Darcy, and Zoe. While I was going through school, she’d pay me hourly to post pics on the website. This is where I became familiar with SEO and WordPress. I’m completely self-taught and build all of my own websites. My Frenchie girls had litters that helped me pay for my undergrad degree in cell & molecular biology. I took two years off after graduating with my second bachelors where I did a combo of teaching genetics labs at Missouri State, taking Frenchie pics & posting them on the website, and running my fitness business called SoulFit Training. I met my husband at this time as well and decided on pharmacy school as my route.
Pharmacy School & Career
Creighton University had a distance program and I was accepted. Back then I though my dreams had come true and I’d escaped the doggie world but I didn’t like it from the very beginning. When you don’t like something it’s really difficult but as usual I bulldozed through it. We moved to Colorado Springs half way through when I was pregnant with Tytan. The final year of rounds I was pregnant with Trenton. When he was born on our anniversary June 29, 2015 via c-section I was sitting in the bed holding him while I was studying for boards. I was so stressed out and didn’t get any sleep the night before testing. I went in anyway. Halfway through I looked up and realized I only had 10-15 minutes left. I started guessing on the rest but still didn’t finish on time. I failed and was so embarrassed as I had to call Safeway who had hired me and tell them. Looking back this allowed me more time with Trenton as a baby and when I took it the second time I had the highest score of anyone else that I knew of in my circle.
In the beginning, I was a terrible pharmacist. I was so green and actually shadowed other pharmacists so I could learn from them and keep my job. Throughout this time, I had taken the time to drop my resume off at all of the independent pharmacies in town. The Medicine Shop called me and I got a job with them but now it was time to learn a whole new area of compounding for humans and our furry friends. Again, I was green. Put forth my best effort and everyone hated me anyway. But they could see I was trying and hard worker. Eventually I somewhat figured it out just in time for my hours to be reduced. I couldn’t make it on reduced hours and got a job at pharmacy filling meds for low income elderly and nursing homes. Again, totally different systems and way of filling meds. I was the green pharmacist once again. That position wouldn’t allow for me to take vacation time. They lost their biggest contract which left them with only a few patients. They kept us on as long as possible but I was the first pharmacist to go. Fortunately, I had already gotten another pharmacy job. This time doing medication therapy management reviews where the system randomly called elderly patients who needed their medication reviews completed. Let’s just say, I didn’t like it.
I’d already transitioned back into the Frenchie world and was placing my moms pups across the country. I found I loved doing the tech end, marketing, sales, and the education piece for new owners. It filled my soul, knowing that I was helping match pups to their owners. To me this is a big deal and I know and have seen the difference these Frenchies have made in their lives. I had also begun raising my own Frenchies again which also brings me joy.
Chose to be a third generation breeder
That all being said, I ran from myself for most of my twenties and half of my thirties. Guess where I ended up? Right back where I started but I appreciate the breeding world so much more now. I know from all of my experience watching two previous generations, that I have compiled the best breeding program possible. I am an integrative, 3rd generation professional breeder. Each of my Frenchies is special and loved. We’ve created a space connected to our home that makes them a part of our daily life. I’ve created courses to properly educate people looking for Frenchies to find their match and not be scammed, how to prep for your French Bulldog, how to care for your Frenchie naturally, and provide courses and support for French Bulldog breeders. I believe it is time to rise up to bring professionalism and systems to our breeding programs. Am I done with pharmacy? I can’t tell you that for sure. But I can tell you I am looking at partnering with someone on opening a mail order dog pharmacy. But for now I am here to support you in your Frenchie breeding program. Let me help you along your journey. Join the Frenchie breeding program.