As a very young child my parents and 5 siblings lived in a hamlet, deep in the Sandiland Forest, in Manitoba, Canada. Nature as intended surrounded us, the sightings of black bears, moose, fox, wolves, deer, snapping turtles, etc, wasn’t unusual. Lakes and streams surrounded us. Wild strawberries, blueberries, hazel nuts, chokecherry trees, gooseberries, saskatoons etc, was readily at hand for snacking. Medicinal plants such as plantain, rose hips, stinging nettles etc, grew wild and harvested for the winter months. Fall time when animals were butchered the meat was canned and stored in the cellars. Vegetables and fruits from the gardens were also canned or pickled and stored for winter.

I went to a two room school and my maternal grandmother was our teacher, really, I’m not that old:-). It was amazing how the rest of the world had flushing toilets and at my grandmother’s it was an outhouse not to mention what was used during the night. School was the same, in addition, during recess we had to pump water from an outdoor well if we wanted a glass of water. Recess was spent building forts from branches, sticks and leaves, cattle roamed in the fields next to the school yard, same with horses. At recess time we played with whatever nature offered us and we were happy well adjusted children.

Guess the beginning of my life was surrounded by nature and I always had a love for it. My parents and most folks in the hamlet had dogs of mixed breeds. At 7 years old my family and I moved to the city, as a late teen and young adult we lived on a small acreage. Again we had dogs, some purebreds and some mixed breeds. Whenever I had the chance I would bring stray dogs, kittens or grown cats home. “Some” were even owned by other families, I always had to bring those back. My parents loved animals and being raised on the farm all animals lived outdoors. I recall from those days my parents and the people who lived in the hamlet fed leftovers and fresh meaty bones. Visiting a veterinarian was uncommon. All animals were healthy and happy.

Growing up with and sharing our lives with animals it came as no surprise to our families and friends that we would become breeders. Especially my husband Sandy’s family, they were breeders of Bullmastiffs for over 30 years. Both Sandy and I have a love for animals as well as a deep respect for nature.

It’s funny how our life experiences can shape and mold the way we think, and how we execute the way we do things in life.