My love affair with the Entlebucher Mountain Dog breed started in Switzerland in the summer of 1990. I was an American living in Switzerland, working for Hewlett-Packard at their European Headquarters. One warm afternoon in July, while enjoying the crystal-clear waters of Lake Geneva, I met a small Entlebucher Mountain Dog puppy trying to swim for the first time. I was totally enchanted!
Meeting that puppy changed my life. Several months later I had left Switzerland and was living on a dairy farm in Quebec. The puppy, named Barnabe von Bielersee, was there as well. The next year, my daughter Arielle was born, followed by her brother Arlen two years later. Babiche du Bois du Foyard, a female Entlebucher, arrived from Switzerland in 1995, a four-month-old barking bundle of energy and affection. For us two-leggeds, it was love at first sight. Barnabe, however, didn’t know quite what to make of her. He was already five years old and was used to being an “only dog”.
In time, Barnabe and Babiche came to love each other. In our veterinarian’s words, they were a “true couple”, because when Babiche had her first litter of puppies, she allowed Barnabe to come and inspect them, which is rarely the case for female dogs who are bred with an unfamiliar stud dog. The puppies were born in the bedroom, next to my side of the bed, where Babiche hovered over them day and night for the first two weeks. Once their eyes were open, they moved into a plastic swimming pool in the middle of the living room floor where the entire family could hold them and play with them.
When they started to climb out of the pool, we moved them to the kennel, where they met the barn cats, Dolly the donkey, and a herd of Holstein cows. We spent many an hour lying in the grass with puppies running over and around us. As they grew up and left one by one, taking the love we had shared with them to their new families, we realized we were smitten. We were becoming breeders, and we loved it with a passion. We enjoyed meeting new people from across the United States and Canada, whether by phone or in person at the farm. We enjoyed hearing the anticipation in people’s voices as we planned together the new additions to their families. And most of all, we thrilled to hear stories of the puppies’ first days in their new homes. All our time and effort in socializing the puppies had paid off. They were loving and lovable.
I spent much of 1997 laying the groundwork with other conscientious breeders to form the National Entlebucher Mountain Dog Association, which supports ethical breeding and genetic integrity. I am a Founding Member and one of NEMDA’s Code of Ethics Breeders, who agree to breed according to strict ethical guidelines and to submit all breeding records to NEMDA’s Breeding Committee.
To better understand the breeding practices in the Entlebucher’s country of origin, I have travelled to Switzerland several times since 1997. I have met with officers of the Swiss Entlebucher Club, visited several breeders, and even had the good fortune to see a dog show featuring the four Swiss Mountain Dog breeds (Entlebucher, Appenzeller, Bernese and Greater Swiss) during one of my trips.
In my effort to obtain new blood lines for future breeding, I added two young females to our Entlebucher family in 1997. Venus v. Stauffenfeld arrived by plane in September, 1997. The Stauffenfeld kennel is one of the oldest in Switzerland, and the breeder, Frau Verena Siegenthaler, is an international judge and was president of the Swiss Entlebucher Club for many years.
During my 1997 visit to Switzerland, I was joined by Gina Thomas of Eagleheart Entlebuchers to bring home three Entlebucher puppies from the Slovak Repulic. We drove across picturesque Switzerland and Austria to the town of Bratislava, where we met breeder Jana Stefancová of Balihara Ranch Kennels. Blessed Love of Balihara Ranch came to live at Moratel Farm, while her sister Bliss went in Oregon and brother Bailey to Washington.
In order to maintain a high level of genetic diversity in my breeding program, I imported Lord du Bois du Foyard (“Tayzr”) and Lady du Bois du Foyard (“Sandy”) in 2008. Ballyhara’s Kohi-I-Noor (“Koko”) joined us in 2011 from Slovakia.
In 1999 I moved to beautiful Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia with children and dogs in tow and continued raising Entlebucher Mountain Dogs on 3 acres instead of more than 150. Bern Shiers joined me in 2007 as my new life and business partner. Sadly, Bern passed away suddenly in early 2012. His memory lives on in his love for our dogs and all the puppies we raised together.
Anyone wishing to purchase a puppy or just wanting to see some Entlebuchers “live” is more than welcome to visit us. We are located one hour southwest of the Halifax airport in the picturesque province of Nova Scotia, and we can pick up anyone who flies into the Halifax Airport. For people coming by car, there is ferry service from Saint John, New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia, a two-hour drive across Southwest Nova Scotia past Kejimkujik National Park. Numerous Bed & Breakfast accomodations are available in the area. Please e-mail us or call to arrange a visit.