I finally chose to get my new puppy from Ken and Trudy Blanchard's Ginger Goldens because they fit every criterion of the highest possible standards, ethics and responsibility in breeding.
Both Ken and Trudy are active members and officers of the Golden Retriever Club of Northern California. At the time of this writing, Ken is the current president. Ken is also a licensed obedience judge. As members of the GR club they are actively involved in promoting ethical breeding and research to maintain the highest standards in health, genetics and temperament of the breed.
Ken and Trudy have been breeding goldens for over 25 years. Although their dogs have conformation, obedience and hunting titles, they are primarily beloved members of the family. They share their home and even their bed with them and they are not relegated to living outdoors or in kennels. They are part of the household. They breed infrequently and concentrate on intelligent, good looking and wonderfully temperamented puppies.
Trudy and Ken only breed dogs that pass every health clearance (for Goldens it would be hips, elbows, heart and eye) and temperament test possible. Ken and Trudy exceed the standards and criteria I describe below as the only acceptable means of selecting a breeder.
1. The breeder must be very knowledgeable about the breed's health, temperament and structure. They are members of their breeds local or national club so they stay informed on the latest research and findings concerning their breed. The dog's health and temperament are a priority over its conformation although they are aware of maintaining the breeds standard.
2. They do not breed the dog before it is 2 years old. Many genetic problems do not manifest until the dog is 2 years old. Their stock is tested not just once, but yearly for genetic problems and if a problem is seen, the dog is not bred. They will be able to present to you certification that their breeding stock is free of known genetic problems of the breed for multiple generations. A super good breeder such as Ken and Trudy will follow as much as possible, the health and temperament of all their puppies for their lifespan and even request that the new owners test their dogs when they mature to be sure a genetic problem doesn't suddenly manifest. If anything shows up, then the dog is not bred again to prevent the genes from spreading to future generations. And no dog is bred season after season after season, unless of course it's a male dog just donating his sperm.
3. They will interview you to make sure you will be a responsible owner and that you're well equipped with information and referrals for help with grooming, training, etc. They will not sell a puppy to a home where there's a good chance the puppy will be neglected or mismanaged. They will assist in selecting a puppy for your needs and lifestyle and may even refuse to sell you a puppy no matter how much compensation you offer.
4. They will not sell littermates to the same household.
5. They will make you sign a contract stating that if for any reason you cannot or will not keep the puppy, regardless of the reason, you are to return the dog to them or they must approve of the new home the dog goes to.
6. Trudy and Ken breed only one dog at a time. Properly raising a litter of puppies is an incredibly demanding venture and there is not enough time to devote to more than one litter at any given time.
7. The puppies are whelped indoors and someone is with the mom and her pups 24/7 for at least the first 3 weeks. So many things can happen and go wrong during the first few weeks that someone constantly needs to be on hand for emergencies. It's not uncommon for the mom to roll over, sit on, sleep on one of the newborns and accidentally kill it. Puppies often wander from the litter and it's vital they are returned at once so they do not succumb to exposure. The mom dog often cannot retrieve a wandering or lost pup because she is busy tending to a dozen others. Although their eyes open around the 8th day; the puppy's vision is not adequately developed until they are about 3 weeks old, so they cannot see their way back to their mother.
8. The pups health as well as the mother's is constantly monitored. The puppies are weighed regularly to make sure they are gaining the appropriate amount of weight. Their stools are tested for parasites. They are looked over daily for any signs of potential trouble. They have a regular veterinarian they can call upon in case of an emergency or for routine treatment.
9. Trudy and Ken will handle the pups, talk to them, play with them and interact with them many times a day. They will clip their nails, check their mouths and teeth, handle their bodies so the pups aren't touch-shy. This early interaction with humans is critical if a pup is to be well socialized with humans. Puppies that are left in their kennels with little to no human interaction will usually end up fearful, shy, aggressive, asocial and unfriendly. With Trudy and Ken the pups are living in a home-like environment and not relegated to multiple kennels outdoors or in some isolated area such as a garage or barn.
10. Excellent breeders will provide a stimulating environment so the pups can begin their environmental socialization process. Ken and Trudy provide their puppies with a literal playground full of different objects and items for the puppies to begin learning about their world and their own bodies: empty boxes, tunnels, tires, things to crawl on, under and thru. At an early age they learn coordination and agility. I'm sure this is the reason both Kaylee and her sister Chloe have shown from the start a great propensity towards agility. They love to climb and crawl and jump. They are confident and secure on unstable surfaces and know already how to balance themselves. They are ideal candidates for Seach and Rescue.
This type of stimulation is important developmentally for puppies. When a puppy is raised in a sterile environment, anything new or different can be traumatic. These puppies also acclimate immediately to loud and different sounds such as hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, thunders, rumbling trucks, and so on. These puppies would make wonderful Therapy Dogs.
In addition to all of the above, Ken and Trudy have an exit meeting with the new owners. They provide written instructions on what and when to feed, when to visit the vet for the next rounds of shots, etc and all the other little things people forget to ask about in the excitement of bringing home their new puppy. The night before the puppies leave the litter, Trudy puts a teddy bear per puppy into the kennel with them. The pup is given a teddy bear to take home so it will have something with the scent of all its littermates to help thru the transition stage. The puppies are all micro chipped, bathed, groomed, vaccinated, dewormed and given a clean bill of health. They also get a bag full of treats, toys, extra puppy chow and a booklet with variety of information along with AKC records, information on the microchip, and just about everything the new owner needs to start.