Lessons Learned
On our home page I mentioned that we don't consider getting Samson a mistake,
but more of a learning experience.  I wanted to write down a few things that I
have learned thus far in my mastiff journey.

The best piece of advise I was given was from my friend and mentor. We were
discussing breeding practices right about the time Misty was expecting her
first litter.  She told me that NO MATTER what I do, people will find fault
with my breeding program.  But it is MY RESPONSIBILITY to the breed to study
the standard, know it front and back and breed to it, it is MY RESPONSIBILITY
to the breed to make sure I do all I can to ensure the health of what I
produce. Now we have only had two litters here but I take that responsibility

Our first litter was with our Samson & Misty. Although I was hesitant about
using Samson, I went along with my husbands urging.  His mentality at the time
was 'if you put a male mastiff and female mastiff together, you get puppy
mastiffs'.I knew better, but did it anyways.  I insisted we have them both
fully health tested, which they both passed. I told myself that what Misty
lacked, bone and better top line, Sam would make up for it. Misty delivered
those beautiful nine puppies naturally, the whole thing was textbook. But what
I got was seven puppies from that litter that look totally like their dad and
two that were ALMOST what I wanted, almost but not quite. All nine pups are
healthy and happy today and all nine have EXCELLENT temperaments. But what did
I learn from that litter experience? PEDIGREES MATTER!!  Not just the sire and
dam, you HAVE to look back further.  Sams' sire was a big beautiful apricot
and his dam was decent sized fawn but Sam doesn't look like either one of
them.  You have to go back further.  All the pups from this litter, with
exception of two, went on spay/neuter contracts. One male that was on full
registration did get neutered and I have the other one here, Gus.  Who I will
never use for stud, but we do show a little in conformation.

After that litter, I really started looking at pedigrees.  I like the old
Greco lines and found a nice boy that I thought would compliment Misty very
well. We did an SI, had to check progesterone levels throughout, with
injections, and she ended up having a c-section. She delivered six gorgeous
healthy pups. I did this litter so that I could get a nice show girl and
perhaps breed in a few years.  What did I learn here?  Don't count your
chickens before they hatch.  I knew I wanted a female to show.  Well, I only
had four to choose from, one was a fluff, one didn't like the head so much. So
out of two possibilities, I chose Flo. I'm very happy with her.  I learned
that fluffies seem to suck all the bone and pigment from the littermates. <G>
I knew from the beginning it is very expensive to breed, but this litter was a
little reminder of that.  All of that litter, with the exception of Flo, went
out on spay/neuter contracts.  All six are healthy and happy today and they
look more like what I was aiming for than our first litter.

We have been very fortunate with our guys. Some people are not so fortunate.  
I know of some breeders that test to the hilt and still problems creep up. I
know of some breeders that do not health test and don't seem to have any
problems. I am not one to tell others what they should or should not be doing,
but I do believe that a person should stand behind the choices that they make.
As for me, I choose to test what I breed. After all, it is my responsibility
to the breed.  How can I do anything for the 'betterment of the breed' if I
don't use all the resources available to help me make the best decisions.

I am fairly new to the dog show experience, but here's my perspective of it
thus far. First and foremost, while at ringside, keep your ears open and your
mouth shut. Don't let the 'snarky' ringside comments get to you, don't let the
'biased' judge get to you, just go and have fun with your dog.  He doesn't
care if you win or lose...all he knows is that he gets to run around the ring
with you by his side.  And if you get a ribbon or the coveted points...icing
on the cake for you.

All I can say on this subject is....

January 2013

I haven't updated this page since I started it about five years ago. I'd like
to take the time now to add to my mastiff journey, for anyone interested in
reading this.

Since my last entry, we did one breeding. My beautiful girl, Lucy, to a nice
boy, Moose, from Colorado. What an adventure that was! Lucy presented us with
nine BEAUTIFUL puppies. Five boys and four girls. We kept one girl, Stella. Who
is currently being shown. One girl, Rylie, went to a show home. One boy was
supposed to be shown, but family has decided not to venture into the show
world. All others that I placed went on spay/neuter contracts to the best
possible homes. These pups are FANTASTIC!! They all have excellent temperaments
and looking great. I did experience a little drama with this litter. I will not
go into details here, but did want to say this: A comment was made to me that I
'had a nice size litter with very little money.' So not the case!! I have said
in my previous comments and will say it again..It is very expensive to breed
mastiffs correctly. When you factor in the cost of semen shipping, (as this was
from a boy in Colorado), a surgical implant, a cesarean section, stud fee, cost
of taking care of mother and raising puppies to eight weeks of age. And, if you
are unfortunate to experience a problem and have to rush all nine puppies to
emergency vet at two days old...well, as you can see, very little money to be
made. It all worked out in the end, and I am very happy with this litter of
pups. I guess the main thing I learned with this litter was more about people
than dogs. Especially when it came to screening puppy buyers. It all boils down
to trusting your own gut instinct. People aren't always what they appear to be.

A quick side note about my puppy people. I have been fortunate enough to find
some of the best puppy people!! There have been a few that keep in contact for
a short while and then nothing. But there are those that make up for it by
going above and beyond for the dogs. I am still in contact with owners from my
first and second litter, the first are seven years old now. And nothing makes
my day like getting updates about them all!!

Being a breeder is not just the joy of putting good healthy pups on the ground.
Sadly, the day will come when you get your first phone call that one of your
babies have passed on. This is something that I will never get used to. From
our first litter we have lost Grizzly, Cooper and Hogan. From our second litter
we have lost our fluffy girl, Tatum. I have not seen these pups for some time
(with exception of Tatum), but my heart broke with the news of each passing.
Although it is a part of life, sometimes I cant help but feel that I have let
them down. I know that I have done everything I could to produce healthy babies
for someone, still I cant help but feel that I have produced the heartache as

When I started this page, we had not yet experienced the loss of one of our
mastiffs. Yes, we have had other breeds and I don't mean to minimize their
importance in our lives. But the loss of a mastiff, for us anyways, has been
very traumatic. We lost our girl, Misty, a few months before her fifth
birthday. Very young for a mastiff. Misty was very special to me, she gave us
Flo and Gus. We learned a lot together. Over this last nine months we also lost
our girl, Emma, at nearly eight years of age and our very first mastiff,
Samson. Sam had just turned ten in October and we lost him the day before
Thanksgiving. We are still trying to deal with the emptiness felt here at home
without them.

Next subject please....

Well, my thoughts have not changed much on this topic. I did, however, show
Lucy to her championship!! First for me as owner handled. I am now showing
Stella, who is a very promising little girl. Fingers crossed that she will be
my first 'home grown' champion as I show her in the Bred by Exhibitor class.

I want to keep this positive. So all I'm going to say is there are some very
exceptional breeders out there, just be sure to research. Not everyone is going
to tell you the truth and the one thing I absolutely hate is having to depend
on the honesty of others to make my decisions.

I want to give kudos to a very special lady to me on my mastiff journey. Excuse
me while I speak to her directly. The reason I'm putting on my website is I
want others to know how awesome she has been to me:

Jan McNamee (Windfall Mastiffs), I don't know if you remember the first time I
ever met you. But I'll never forget it. Our boy, Sam, was about 7-9 months old
and Frank and I went to a local dog show. The lady told us since he was not
entered, he was not allowed in. So we drove all the way home, dropped him off
and went back. We missed seeing the mastiffs show, but you were still there
with your girl Chyna. I remember thinking she was the most beautiful dog I had
ever seen. Anyways, you stood there and talked with us for about an hour. Going
over all the health issues associated with mastiffs, temperaments...everything.
I do remember walking away with my head spinning. You had given me your phone
number and told me to call if I wanted to talk mastiff. I am not one to just
pick up the phone and call a total stranger to chit chat and I know it was well
over a month before I worked up the nerve to call you. Boy am I glad I did.

I have gained so much knowledge from you concerning the mastiff. I didn't have
one of your dogs, but yet you took the time to educate me. As busy as you were,
you never made me feel like I was troubling you. Not once did you ever say
anything derogatory about anyone. Your method of teaching me was not just
telling me something, but saying it in a way to make me think about it and
coming to my own conclusions, then discussing it. When I had my puppies, you
and Chuck were always there to help if I needed it. And still now, you do that
for me. You taught me what I know about showing. Inviting me to your home and
working with my dog. Letting me tag along to all the dog shows with you.
Showing me what to look for on the outside as well as in. You invited me to my
very first Northeast Ohio Mastiff Picnic. I could never repay you for the
kindness you have shown me as a newbie. There are not many like you Jan. You
have always conducted yourself with class and you're someone that I look up to
with respect. I am saddened that you are no longer 'in the breed', as I know
you have given so much of yourself to this wonderful breed. You once asked me
what did I expect out of breeding. I said "I want to be a breeder like you." I
still feel this way. I try to conduct myself with integrity, always honest
about my breeding practices/experiences.Always trying to learn. And hope that
one day I will be viewed in the same light that I see you in. I hope to never
disappoint you.

We have known each other for nearly ten years now. Naturally our conversations
have strayed from just the mastiff world into our own personal lives. You have
always been an ear to hear, giving sound advise when needed. Even when I didn't
listen to ya. LOL It broke my heart when you moved all the way to the other
side of the country. You seem very happy now, which I'm glad for, but I do miss

I am honored to call you my mentor.
I am honored to call you my friend.