You said…how many?

Before we were married my hubby and I both came from families with dogs–my hubby’s household had Maltese Terriers and, except for one American Cocker Spaniel, mine had Labrador Retrievers. After we married, and with college years behind us, we began acquiring our own. The first two were German Shepherd/Labrador crosses, one that had a nasty temperament and didn’t stay with us for long, and the second, a wonderful family companion for all of her twelve-plus years .

Every so often in a conversation about our dogs someone asks how many we’ve had. The answer almost always generates an eyebrow-raising response.


  1. Boots (German Shepherd/Labrador)
  2. Cindy (German Shepherd/Labrador)


  1. Westgyle Bonnie Keltie CD* (our foundation bitch)
  2. Carean’s Rusty Wee Robyn (died as pup in an accident)
  3. Carean’s Rusty Robyn CD
  4. CH** Shiralee Christabel Carean CD
  5. Misthill’s Calypso Careann CD
  6. CH Dutchman’s Bimbo at Carean CD 
  7. Careann’s Brody Breanne CD CGC*** 
  8. Careann’s Caramel Coby
  9. Firestar’s “Marla”  (Returned to Breeder)
  10. CH Shiralee’s Elizabeth Barrett
  11. Careann’s Classic Rendition CD CDX**** CGC (co-owned/Charlotte Davis) 


  1. Careann’s Ebony of Cedarwood CD (Co-owned/Heather Garvin)
  2. CH Riversedge Tynan at Careann
  3. Tanaco Duckndogs Careann Eclps

* CD = Companion Dog (Obedience degree)
** CH = Canadian Champion
*** CGC = Canine Good Citizen
**** CDX = Companion Dog Excellent

Like a proud parent, I could bore you with umpteen photos of cute puppies, backyard frolics, training fiascos and canine cuddle times, but I won’t. (You’re lucky! Except for a few photos that happen to be on this computer, my albums are packed away in boxes in the sure and certain hope that sometime soon we will be moving.)

I bred and exhibited Shetland Sheepdogs for thirty-five years, so there were always multiple dogs under foot. While my goal was to improve my bloodlines and keep only the best quality dogs for breeding and exhibiting, they were first and foremost family pets, and lived in the house with us, never in a kennel. I’m sure our children can’t recall a time when their lives didn’t involve our dogs and their needs.

However, ours has never been primarily a dog-focused family. Neither our lifestyle nor our budget would accommodate the dedication that the successful breeding, training and promoting of champions and breeding stock requires. And there were only so many dogs we could live with at any one time. My hubby used to say, “One dog is perfect, two are okay, three are a bit much, four are too many and five are out of the question!” We had five at one point! Thus it never did develop into much more than a pleasant hobby for me, albeit a well researched one.

After we acquired our first purebred Sheltie we had no desire for any other breed. That is, until our youngest daughter recalled my parents’ Labradors and took a notion to own one of her own. When she married and moved away, she took her Lab with her, and suddenly our home was missing something besides a daughter. It might have been all the black hair — don’t let anyone tell you that short-haired breeds shed less than long-haired ones; they don’t, and hollow Lab hair floats to places long strands of Sheltie hair can never hope to reach. But soon we decided we had to add our own Labrador to the Sheltie mix.

ECLPS “Clipper”

Now well into our late-retirement years, we are finally down to just one dog. It happens to be another Labrador. I have no intention of ever breeding Labs–my stash of Lab health, genetics, and pedigree knowledge is woefully lacking. And since my arthritic knees are no longer capable of jogging around show rings, I’m not likely to exhibit again (unless I can convince our trusty handler to come out of her retirement and do it for me).

In fact, Clipper may well be our last dog. It’s probably safe to say he’ll be our last big dog. And after sixty-plus years of marriage and dog ownership, I suspect my hubby would be content with the list concluding at sixteen dogs. ‘Sweet sixteen’ seems like a good number, right? But… but… if a beguiling little Sheltie should happen to come our way could we withstand the temptation? Hmm, I wonder!

~ ~ ~


Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

4 thoughts on “You said…how many?

  1. May I say WOW! I would love to get a fully trained companion dog. The little Schnoodle I have is so cute, and so needy but good company when she is content.
    Great post.

    1. I’m sorry I missed your comment in January, Lynn. I can imagine your little Schnoodle is every bit as much loved as all of our dogs were. Our first two were mixed breeds, but after the Shelties and Labs entered our lives we were sold on the consistency and predictability of a good purebred lineage. Not to say some of them weren’t a bit “needy” on occasion, too! LOL. Their training took long-term commitment but the results have always been so very worth it.

  2. That is a lot of dogs! But dogs are just the best companions. My son had a couple of dogs growing up and my daughter had cats. When she left we replaced her cat with our own and had a couple of others over the years. But my husband always wanted a dog so when we retired and moved to Spain, we got Dot. She was such a good dog, we got Lia, a livewire. So now we are dog people and don’t go anywhere without our girls. We love them to bits and wonder how we managed not having them earlier.

  3. I grew up on a farm, so you can imagine the animals I was able to love and care for. Dogs have always been very special. Your photos are beautiful. So many beings to love. It must have been precious.

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