By Sunday, January 15, 2017 16 No tags Permalink

Beware of backyard breeders, they’re out there and they’re bad news. Because of them, Harley’s life could have ended months after it began…



They had the audacity to call themselves that #farfromit

For years I wanted a Goldendoodle. I knew to stay away from puppy mills. But to me, puppy mills were pet stores in the mall, or individuals on Craig’s List.

I had absoDOODLEtutely no experience in selecting a breeder. #notproudjusthonest

For weeks I surfed the net “interviewing” breeders over the phone. This particular breeder was always courteous, friendly and patient with my incessant questions. Almost a month later I decided to pay them a visit.


To make a five hour drive – each way, round trip, in one day, requires a dawn departure. As ridiculous as it sounds, I elected to travel alone (hindsight can really work your last nerve).

I spent hours there. Hanging out in their lobby/waiting room area. I met Harley’s pregnant mother, and his super long legged “copper red” poodle father.

They brought out Goldendoodles of various ages, sizes and colors. But I never left the lobby area. It never dawned on me to demand a tour of the living areas of the dogs and puppies. I didn’t know, I just DIDN’T KNOW!

Looking back I still cringe because they fit the backyard breeder definition in capital letters –

Backyard breeders are typically small-scale operations. They may post classified ads in the newspaper, or they might be your next-door neighbor who decides to breed his Golden Retriever  every year just to make a few bucks.

Backyard breeders typically don’t adhere to standards for the breed, may inbreed, and don’t perform genetic screenings. They often don’t provide adequate veterinary care for their pets. Because they’re unlicensed, there’s no way to ensure whether you’re bringing home an animal who’s free from illnesses and genetic conditions. Source: Dog Obsessed – The Honest Kitchen

To this day, I cannot be 100% sure Harley is the offspring of the Golden Retriever I met. After she delivered, I was unable to travel back there again. Harley was chosen through Skype with the breeder.

As soon as the breeder placed him on the counter top – Harley leaped into my arms like a rabbit. #Ikidyounot

I cradled him in the car as my daughter drove us home. His first poop on my front lawn was loose and bloody. We were at the vet’s office the next day.


Harley’s new vet came into the examination room and said Harley had the worse case of Giardia she’d ever seen. She instructed me to contact the breeder ASAP so he could start treating the other puppies.

I called – hysterical. He wasn’t that interested. For over a year Harley battled with intestinal/digestive issues, and reoccurring bouts of Giardia.

When he was six months old, I saw this on NBC news…


I cried…

Cried hard…

For a long time…

..because I realized – my incredibly sweet and loving Harley would never have lived to see his 4th month if I (or someone) hadn’t been there to take him away.


I look at Harley as my purchased rescue. I hope to rescue a third doodle soon through IDOG (Sshhh – don’t tell Doodle Dad).

If you’ve checked out shelters and rescue groups and still haven’t found “the one” and you decide to go through a breeder, please don’t make the mistakes I made –

There ARE bonafide breeders in this world. After I learned the correct way to locate one, both my experiences have been positive.

Harley’s story has a happy ending. Many do not.  It is my understanding that Almost Heaven is permanently out of business, and due to the severity of his crimes, this despicable human is behind bars.

But there are others out there, so be careful, ask somebody, do your research.

Visit the American Kennel Club and also The Humane Society for additional valuable information.


You may remember Jaxson’s fascination at the Christmas Parade last year…


Well Doodledreams do come true. Monday at 11:00am he and Harley will be “marching in” the MLK parade. #collarusflattered

Monday is the pawfect day to correct last weeks mistakes ❤️


  • Emma
    January 16, 2017

    A good breeder is so important! Mom and Bailie drove 7 hours each way to pick up little Madison, and Mom drove alone. It was a long day, but the excitement kept her going! We know the breeder really well, so it was all okay. Those backyard breeders are seriously awful and need to be taken care of to stop that suffering of dogs and puppies. So many people just don’t know.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 24, 2017

      It’s so hard for new pet parents to know how to tell the difference. That’s why I wanted to share Harley’s story. You can never hear these horrific tails too much. Hopefully more and more people will realize the backyard breeders are still out there.

  • The Daily Pip
    January 16, 2017

    Awe, poor Harley. Thank goodness you found each other and got him out of that horrible place. I’m sorry he had so many intestinal issues his first year.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 24, 2017

      Thanks Pip! I’ve always felt that we were just meant to be together. I am happy to say his health issues are all behind us and he’s doing just fine.

  • Monika & Sam
    January 16, 2017

    Thank you for sharing that PDF from the Human Society. All too often backyard breeders are another euphuism for puppy mills. My Elsa was rescued from such a place and when I saw that place, I cringed and felt heartbroken for her and all other pups coming from similar places. Harley is one lucky ‘Dood” to have you as his mom. Enjoy marching in the MLK parade.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 24, 2017

      It is heartbreaking isn’t it Monika? I still tear up when I think back to how close Harley came to crossing that rainbow bridge before he was even potty trained. My prayer is that places like these can be removed forever.

  • Jan K
    January 16, 2017

    Woooo—-hope you had fun in the parade today!

    Our golden retrievers came from what might be termed “backyard breeders”, but they were also friends of ours. We knew all that they did to be sure their puppies were healthy, and we were able to visit them as often as we wanted. It was the same way with our beagle Cricket too.
    Research is SO important. A friend’s daughter got her goldendoodle from a breeder who was recommended by others, but they sure did some sketchy things along the way. She flew alone to get hers and they wouldn’t let her go to their place, they met her at the airport! So far, thank goodness her dog is doing well. She could have found a puppy more locally but went all that way to save money. I’m not sure how much she saved after flying out there! Anyway, it’s important to cover all the bases, even if you get a recommendation from someone.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 24, 2017

      When I finally get settled (one more move to downtown Charleston this spring) it is my prayer to rescue one more doodle from IDOG (International Doodle Owners Group). I love my breeder who gave me both Leo and Jaxson but I think I want to rescue one who needs a home – and I am scared to death because I will not know much about the breeder, but I have faith God will lead me to the right pup. He’s done it before 🙂

  • Lindsay
    January 16, 2017

    I think we’ve all been there one time or another where we’ve made an ignorant decision because we simple didn’t know or know any better. Hindsight, right?

    My friend’s Husky had giardia from 3-6 months and it was an absolute nightmare. I’m glad he’s still here today and making us all smile!

    Must check Facebook to see any pics you might’ve posted from the parade today. How fun is that!! 🙂


    • Cathy Bennett
      January 24, 2017

      Lindsay, Giardia is no joke. Hope your friends Husky is still doing well. It’s a long road back from that one. Hindsight can make you feel ignorant as well as crack you up when you think about the stupid decisions we’ve made. But still we rise 🙂 XOXO

  • Sand spring Chesapeakes
    January 17, 2017

    A great post!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on looking for a good breeder and being aware of backyard ones.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 24, 2017

      Thanks so much!

  • Mary Nielsen
    January 21, 2017

    I am just wondering why aren’t there more strict laws about this. If people never bought animals from people who didn’t have the papers and authorisations to sell them, there wouldn’t be no backyard breeders.

    There should be stricter laws and inspections that will check people who are in this business while at the same time the consciousness of this problem needs to be risen in people.

    • Cathy Bennett
      January 23, 2017

      Mary – you are singing my song. On one hand I am pleased to know that this particular breeder is behind bars for many years and his operation has been shut down permanently however, so many innocent people out in the world don’t know what you and I know. They are victims, and I hope posts like this one will help educate them and eradicate this awful, unlawful business once and forever! Thanks for stopping by, come back again soon!

      • Mary Nielsen
        January 26, 2017

        Cathy, thank you for your reply.

        I just wish we could help even further somehow.. I always instruct my friends and family not to go to a backyard breeder whenever I find out that someone I know is planning on becoming a dog parent.

        Thank you for writing this article. I am sure that you helped some dog out there not to have to go through this much pain as poor Harley by writing this.. If you know how butterfly effect works then you can feel certain that you did your part in helping these poor creatures. I hope all of the people who read this blog post will spread it further and will remember it well. If I ever need to convince someone what is it like to have this happen to them, I will refer them to your article.

  • Cathy Bennett
    January 26, 2017

    Mary, thanks so much for spreading this post. I try so hard to share Harley’s story with as many people as I can. I appreciate it.

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