And now, dear readers, we come to the heart of the matter.

If you breed puppies, you must find homes for them. (Unless you want to be the owner of thirteen Rottweilers.)


Mission: Find good homes for ten Rottweiler puppies.

Problem One: Iswepe is in a rural area and Rottweilers are a popular breed on farms. A local farmer, whose two bitches each produced eleven puppies, had to practically give them away. Now, while I accept that I am not going to make a fortune, I would like a bit of a profit for all my efforts.

Solution – advertise in a Johannesburg daily newspaper.

Problem Two: In spite of my offering to personally deliver the puppies and bring along photos of the parents, interested parties politely, but firmly, decline my offer. They want to see Wolfie and Lulu in the flesh.

Solution – With only three takers from the first advert, I place a second one and trust it will deliver better results.

In the meanwhile I leave Iswepe with Tasha and eleven puppies, and we deliver Paws, Jaws and Claws to their most satisfactory new homes en-route.

We arrive in Vaalpark with eight puppies. Schnudie (already thickening in the waist) is overjoyed to see us. She is very interested in the puppies, but does not seem to have a preference. We are anxious for her to hurry up and decide so that we can know which one not to sell.

The second advert produces takers for only three.

Off we set for Jo’burg with our eight puppies, our first stop being a fancy hotel in Sandton where a woman from Zambia is waiting for her puppy.

She is not in. This is surprising. We arranged a definite time and she has left no message for me. I leave a message for her and off we go to deliver two puppies to a delightful family. The lady falls instantly in love with White Spot. I say goodbye with only a minor twinge of regret. By now I am grateful for any response. The lady’s daughter and son-in-law take Turtle.

It is a few hours later and we are back at the fancy hotel in Sandton.

The lady from Zambia has not returned and she is not answering her cell phone. It is hot in the car and the puppies are becoming stressed. So am I.

I leave a message on voicemail. I try to speak in a level tone as I explain that I am returning home and will not be coming back. I never hear from her again.

Days pass and we have been in Vaalpark for a week. I still have five puppies for sale. A woman from Greece, staying at another fancy hotel in Sandton, phones. She wants a male. By now I am desperate and, like a fool, I agree.

I phone the Greek consulate for instructions.

The puppy needs a certificate of health from a vet and this has to be taken to the State Vet in Germiston, with the mother’s rabies certificate!

By a stroke of good fortune Barry, coming to Jo’burg the following day on business, is able to deliver Lulu’s inoculation records to a friend of mine who works in Jo’burg and she brings it to me on her way home to Sasolburg.

Meanwhile I take Little Gem to a local vet where I sit for over an hour in the waiting room. I am most uneasy. The woman next to me has a very sick little dog on her lap.

For the next two days I try to get hold of the lady from Greece. After the umpteenth call she answers. She tells me very abruptly to phone later as she is sleeping. (It is the middle of the afternoon.) I am too desperate to tell her to take a hike.

I phone later and reception informs me that she is out. Well!!!

The next morning, the day before she is due to leave South Africa, and after I don’t know how many more calls, I decide enough is enough. I am not going through to Germiston to the State Vet for nothing.

I never hear from her again. 

The weather is still unpleasant and the mess made by six fast growing puppies in my parents’ garage has to be seen to be believed. Feeling as depressed as the weather, I return home to Iswepe on Sunday with the puppies and Schnudl.

That night Little Gem refuses his food. He starts vomiting and has severe diarrhoea.

On Monday morning I take him to the vet. It appears to be the corona virus which attacks the intestines. He has to stay in hospital on a drip to prevent dehydration.

I now spread out my net and advertise in the local newspapers of towns in the district as well as in the same Jo’burg daily, lowering my price by a third.

In the meanwhile we let Schnudie spend as much time as possible with the five girls in the front garden. She still shows no preference.

Barry continues to mutter about his precious Lotta. I put my foot down. (Lotta has just revealed her penchant for flapping laundry.) Lilac Black Lips is off our list as well, She is too detached.

This leaves Bear, Princess and Fairy. We keep them under constant observation. All three are unaggressive and would fit in well with the pack. We let the three spend more time with Schnudl. All three know their place, but it is Bear who is particularly affectionate with Schnudl – as, in fact, she is with everyone, humans included.

And so, Bear it is, to Tasha’s immense satisfaction.

Friday arrives and I have takers for the four remaining girls.

On Saturday morning we prepare for our round trip to the East Rand and back – three hours there, three hours back, and however many hours it takes in between. Just before we leave, the vet phones with further devastating news.

Little Gem had contracted distemper and, with no hope of recovery, he has put the poor little guy out of his misery.

I scarcely have time to feel any grief.

In a haze of exhaustion Tasha and I travel to Evander, where a teenage boy chooses Lilac Black Lips, who, he informs us, he wants to use for breeding. (No! No! Don’t do it! You have no idea!) I now discover one of the (many) evils of backyard breeding. You cannot tell the person who takes your puppy what they can and cannot do.

The next stop is Kempton Park.

The man is abrupt to the point of rudeness. He wants Fairy and my precious Princess. Fortunately for my peace of mind, he has an Afghan hound which is clearly well-cared for and is just as clearly a very happy dog. The man apparently gets on better with dogs than with humans. Another evil of backyard breeding has reared its ugly head. There is no guarantee that your puppy is going to be loved and well-treated.

Lotta goes to a home in Wychwood. To my relief the lady has two Rotties and she loves and understands the breed. She is grateful when I warn her about the washing line, and it does not deter her from writing out a cheque.

We return home to Iswepe.

It has been a long, long day, but,  thank goodness, it is all over.

But it isn’t.

On Sunday morning the abrupt man phones me and demands that I come to fetch the puppies immediately. Fairy has not eaten since I left her there the previous day. When she began to vomit he took her to the vet who diagnosed parvo! (For those of you who might not know – the parvo virus also attacks the intestines and is usually a death sentence.)

I am stunned.

However, I am also incensed at his attitude and tell him roundly that I am very sorry that it has happened but he knows I live three hours away and how the h*** can he expect me to just hop in my car and come and fetch the puppy!

I immediately phone every one of the other new owners (all seven of them) but all the pups are thriving. (The lady from Wychwood is convinced I am being scammed.) I phone the abrupt man and inform him that all the other puppies are well. He admits on enquiry that Princess is fine. I tell him that I will refund his money if the puppy does not recover.

Fairy dies on Tuesday night. By this time I am too exhausted and numb to feel anything other than resignation. The abrupt man faxes me proof from his vet. I refund his money.

And my financial gain, after all the above mentioned expenses plus all the petrol I have driven out? Not even R100 per puppy.


I learnt several hard lessons about successfully breeding with large dogs. (Not that I intend ever putting my experience to use, I assure you.)

First of all, you must have knowledge. Experts know the strengths and weaknesses of the breed; they know about diseases and how to treat and prevent them; and they know how to deal with crises.

Secondly, you must have proper facilities so that you are not affected by bad weather, and you can maintain hygienic conditions.

Thirdly, it is essential to have a market. Your buyers must have access to the parents, and they must be close enough to collect the pups themselves. (Although I must say that in seeing the new homes for yourself, you are in a position to refuse to sell.)

Finally, you must have a business-like mind which regards the pups as merchandise, not as interesting and lovable little personalities to whom you become so emotionally attached that you are devastated when any of them die and you worry forever after about their destinies.

Seventeen years have passed and I still wonder what sort of life my beautiful little Princess had.

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Colleen Bennett
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