Breeders breed for different reasons, some win in the show ring, some to make money, some for the joy of raising a litter. Bonza's original goal was to raise the quality and reputation of the mini Aussie to that of its larger counterpart, which I'm proud to say has happened. After 25 years my goal is still to chase that ever elusive dream, to breed the 'perfect' dog.
Our dogs are house pets, none of our dogs are kenneled. Our bitches' whelping box is set up in our bedroom, and remains there for the first 3-4 weeks of the puppies' lives. This gives me the opportunity to constantly monitor the puppies' temperaments, growth and care.
Due to the amount of time and energy devoted to our puppies we usually have one litter per year. We will never arrange a breeding unless we are absolutely convinced it will be an asset to the breed.
Naturally, all of our dogs have had their hip and eye clearances, all puppies have their eyes cleared before leaving, and are placed with a lifetime placement guarantee. This means that if, at any time in the life of the dog, you as the owner are no longer able to keep it, I want the dog back. Bonza doesn't want any of its puppies ending up in an animal shelter or inferior home!
I have always been an animal fanatic, in fact I can still remember telling my mother that I wanted to be a veterinarian - when I was only 3 years old!
I spent my life reading books about animals of all kinds, primarily about wolves, giraffes, horses and especially dogs.
I was thrilled when my husband and I finally moved to a house where we could have dogs and cats, and it didn't take me long to start a menagerie. We had a series of strays that I took in, but was frustrated by not knowing what temperament to expect from them. I found it was like getting a 'grab bag', never knowing what I was going to get, and the surprise may be good, but might not!
I gave the matter a lot of thought, taking our family's lifestyle in to consideration, and decided what our needs were:
Now my educated search began. I spent nearly a year hauling stacks of books home from the library, as well as combing through magazines. I had decided that it was time to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a breeder. It wasn't that I figured if I'm going to buy a purebred dog I might as well get my money back by breeding it (an attitude I have found many people have when acquiring a purebred dog.) It was that I had always wanted to breed dogs, and now the time had come. I had always wanted to 'make a difference' in a breed, like breeding out a health problem, or creating a new breed. I could fulfill the family's wish for a pet and my goal of breeding at the same time.
Because of this, my research wasn't just in to what breeds are small, smart and healthy. Some breeds have become so popular that competing in the show ring is extremely difficult, and finding good homes for puppies is equally difficult. Selling puppies was not my goal, but a breeder can't keep every puppy, so finding quality homes for puppies is a necessity. The average person on the street may feel, "Why pay hundreds dollars for a dog from you, when I can get a purebred around the corner for $25?" Because of this attitude I didn't want a breed that had been 'over bred'.
I was looking at a dog magazine one day and saw an ad for Miniature Australian Shepherds. I called the breeder, who happened to live nearby, and learned something about the mini's history. I was told there was a show coming up not far from me in just a few weeks. When Danny got home that evening he said, "Lynn, Australian Shepherds are great dogs, but they are just too big and too hyper." (His Aussies had been 1/4 Border Collie.) I reminded him that these were miniatures and he agreed to go take a look.
We got to the show and fell in love! In fact, Danny was ready to take one of them home then and there! We were put on a waiting list and I went home to do yet more research. Thankfully there was a very thorough book available, Jeanne Joy Hartnagle's "All About Aussies", published by Alpine. I went to the library and checked it out and read it from cover to cover. Then I went out and bought a copy so that I could read it again, underlining and annotating. (I can't read a book unless I have a pen in my hand!)
The Aussie was everything I wanted, eager to please, good with family, good watch dog but not aggressive, easy to groom, uncommon enough to not be found on every corner (especially the minis), and to top it off, beautiful! Each dog is totally unique, which makes the breed even more fun.
After several years in the mini world, I decided that the best way to promote the mini Aussie was to prove to people that the minis weren't a 'separate breed', but merely small dogs that have always existed in the Aussie gene pool. So now I am breeding both minis and small AKC Aussies. While my AKC dogs may never be as small as most 'minis', my goal is to maintain the 17"-19" size range that has always occurred in the Australian Shepherd.