About the Breeder
"The Breeder" seen above with Oz Tamam, our first Kangal, having made our way to Istanbul, underway on a three country adventure back to the states.
Above is a bronze self portrait I made long before I bred any dogs, which one might argue turned out prophetic. And which I decided to use as the Olympicdogs Logo.
First and foremost what you should understand is I do this because I love it ! It is a passion first, a business second.
And the first priority has always been creating dogs more ideal for our needs. If dogs only had one or two pups per litter "Olympicdogs" could not exist as such, we would have no product to spare, as I almost always keep a pair to take a better look at. But the program would look about the same if it was done with no concern for the marketplace. Perhaps a bit less repetition, likely a little more experimentation, but the priorities would be the same. And less redundancy and more variety, is where where headed anyway.
I'm a firm believer in doing what you love. Then, if need be, figuring out how to make it pay. Which isn't to say I'm not in the habit of turning a profit, where possible in life, cause I am. One reason why at this stage of mine I don't really need dogs to pay my bills so long as they pay their own, which in turn allows me to run the dog business how I choose, with minimal concern or corruption from the almighty dollar.
And what I choose is to keep it pure, and keep it real.
Secondly, you should know I've never been a dabbler. If I do something, I'm all in.
"Obsessive" was the word, the art professors at university used. Pseudo literate jock that I was at the time, I had no idea what they meant, initially. But you don't have to know a word for it to fit. And it still does. It may well be thee single most apt word for this, "about the breeder" heading.
But any dumb ass can breed dogs.... all it takes is two. Which is about all many a "convenience breeder" brings to the table. Many a "reputable" breeder simply has more dogs, and a more polished schtick.
My "marketing" warrants parenthesis. Seems to run about a decade behind the curve and well outside the norm, as my life often does. But if I'm honest, I view marketing as little more than a necessary evil. Selling dogs, is not the part I like, so I have to have a little fun with it, to do it all. And despite being thoroughly convinced the real money in selling dogs, in selling in general, is often made corralling stupids. I refuse to dum it down to that end. Because not dealing with too many morons is...well...priceless.
Marketing is mostly bullshit, which has never been a medium I traffic in. I have little tolerance for it, will call it on you if need be, and simply refuse to sling it to sell dogs. So I can only hope you've sifted threw enough BS, in your travels thus far, to appreciate the relative lack thereof at Olympicdogs. If you've been looking around for dogs, and your bullshit detectors are functioning at all, we should stand out like a beacon on a mountain top.
Selling dogs is a separate vocation, apart from breeding dogs, really. Most "Breeders" might be better called "Dog Sellers." Often that's their real talent.... if they do anything well. Dog breeders are a dubious demographic the world over, and by association the term "Dog Breeder" Has become.... some how derogatory.
It has a sundry ring to it for many, it does for me anyway, but maybe that's just because I've met so many up close.
I'm loath to label my self as such. I'll claim all manner of titles prior; Artist, builder, Property developer. I'll wear goat farmer first cause it's less tainted than "Dog breeder"
But of late when people ask me what I do, I've simply been responding.
"I'm a Gem Hunter"
Cause that is a broader truth. Be it dogs, land, people...... what have you.
When a person is truly invested in the process of breeding they become genetic gem hunters. It's somewhere between Art, Science... and running a prison. But if a person is actually selective, and actively sifting ( as opposed to convenience breeding ) Then everything they bring to the table that helps navigate the train wreck of greater dogdom, is of use.
If a breeder looks at the whole planet as a potential resource, is willing, and able, to traverse it in pursuit of the genes of choice. Then everything that breeder brings to the table comes into play. Their whole life experience; skill sets, previous vocations, judgement, principles, discipline, formal education, street smarts, charm, people skills, eye, vision, will. It's all relevant to some degree from balls to dumb luck. Because all of that and more is brought to the pursuit. Much as an actor brings their entirety to a role. Or any number of creative endeavors call for everything a person has to offer.
The challenge then under this heading is not so much making relevant connections, or even prioritizing those. The challenge becomes NOT starting an autobiography... in the ass end of a dog breeding website. No sir, No mam; no offense to the reader. But that's not where I want to start telling my story. Nor did you likely come to hear it. Yet here we are, together, cause you did click
"About the breeder,"
So let me try and split the difference, and speak glancingly to some both broader and specific aspects of
"The Breeder", that might be relevant.
First of all a love of animals has been a lifelong thread. Throughout a childhood perilous enough that most of my pets were killed, I always got more. My heart never wavered, or turned to lesser stakes.
The first dog I got to call my own, "Bandit" died a slow tortured death in my 7 year old arms, poisoned by a neighbor. In a life long enough to have forgotten significant amounts of loss, trauma, and tragedy, that experience is etched crystal clear into my child's broken hearted memory... still.
My cats also, turned over often in a neighborhood where people killed cats... for amusement. There again, memory takes vivid images on pains film. I can still see the way the yellow Camaro swerved to hit my Cat "Guy" I remember my rage, my heartache, my tears.
Looking back, I wonder if perhaps that childhood primer in the reality of life and death didn't also set a corner stone in a someday breeder's foundation ? Or perhaps just another stone in a boys path to an angry man's temper.
But animals for me were always a sort of an escape, a respite from the relatively complex cruelty of humans. As a child, when I wasn't out in the street fighting for my rank in the dog eat dog world of bi-peds in the hood. I spent vast amounts of time simply following my cats around the back yard; taking photos of em, building em houses, studying em really. I've always been fascinated with animals. I saved a few, and I always made more of my own. Come to think of it, I was breeding cats, long before I ever bred dogs.
As I got older a dog accompanied me everywhere, including college. To this day I sometimes meet a person who remembers the sight of the "husky/wolf hybrid" that ran alongside his owners bicycle like the side car of a motorcycle as they maneuvered threw U.C. Davis's throngs of cyclist packed roundabouts.
That would be me, and "Sultan." He had two recorded bites on campus (likely presumptuous college kids ) and we were one away from having to drop out, and flee, to save his hide. But we made it to graduation. In hindsight... becoming a dog breeder is looking less unforeseeable by the paragraph.
In any case, my fascination with genetics did not begin or end with k9's. Nor did my seemingly constant desire to have baby creatures about. I had studied a fair bit of biology, evolution, and genetics in particular, before my first marriage. And I had made a few human babies, with a fair sampling of beautiful, genetically impressive, mothers before I ever produced a litter of puppies.
Genetics is genetics. It's all a peek at Mother Nature's play book; a glimpse of God, if you ask me. Some, I'm sure, will find it sac-religious to merge the discussion of breeding puppies and persons. But if we're to look at my life's story with even a little detachment, it's pretty hard to deny that whatever it is that drives me, is responsible in large degree for both. Or as I've been know to confess up front, full disclosure style.
" At best.... I'm a life force. At worst....a fuckin breeder"
But I believe most of us are more captive to our instincts than we are inclined to acknowledge, or accept. Call it a breeder's bias. A nature over nurture slant. Or maybe just honesty, but I'll cop to my nature.
All that said, I'm a father first, and dam sure don't confuse my dogs for humans. Much less my own children. Not even a little. And I believe it's a red flag whenever a "breeder" seems too. Not morally mind you, because whose to say? Just effectively.
An acknowledgment that parental instincts motivate us all to some degree, by nature's design, is just that. But a "good breeder" needs to be a fairly ruthless S.O.B. Paradoxical as it may be. If you're going to play God, you best be able to play the Grim Reaper also.
And Paradoxical might be the other word, best suited to accompany Obsessive in
"About The Breeder." And probably two of the most apropos to define yours truly for any purpose.
I've got sides, many wildly incongruous.
I've done a lotta things, lived different lives, not all of which I'm inclined to write about.
Some more glamorous; sculptor, actor.
Some less so; mover, construction laborer, carpenter, handyman.
Suffice to say I'm comfortable dealing with a wide range of humanity. From knuckleheads, thugs, and outlaws; to artists, intellectuals and scientists. Though I'm partial to hybrids; Knucklehead artists, intellectual thugs, outlaw scientists. The genre busters and label breakers. Those are often the human gems.
And believe me, dogs are a common denominator of humanity. On every continent, in every culture, there are dog owners, and Dogmen. The buyers stay somewhat interesting by simple virtue of their diversity because they come from all walks of life. As do the breeders, scoundrels though they mostly be.
So it's best to be capable of dealing effectively with a wide range of humanity, from left to right, North to South, East to West, City to Country. But particularly so the sort of men who might still appreciate and traffic in serious beasts, if serious beasts is one's forte.
Some may wonder how relevant any of this is ? But one of my points, amongst others perhaps gone over those heads, is this. I have traveled the country, and the world, in pursuit of the best k9 genes to be found, and that hunt continues, as new blood is always needed.
And I don't make these journeys as a tourist, or a rich man might; alternately insulated from, then taken advantage of, by the locals. On the contrary, when abroad; historically I mostly travel with a backpack, usually on public transport, or even hitchhiking. Which is how you truly get to know a country, and make new connections all the while. And often into parts of town or regions of the countryside more timid souls might not venture. Thus far I've always won my way into acceptance by the locals, and always made it home.
From Argentina, to South Africa, to Turkey, to name a few, I've gone wherever I needed to see the dogs I was after seeing. And if you think that earning the respect of those folks selling those dogs in those places is not important... then you should try it. You may travel a long way, to be charged American prices... as if you'd never left. Or you may come back empty handed...or maybe not at all ?!
But I have been, and back. I have haggled via international cave man sign language in the back of Turkish butcher shops (butcher it seems is the most likely day job for Dogmen in Turkey ) with men who might have sliced me into dog food, and taken my money. I have ridden the "dangerous trains" into some of the more hazardous slums outside Buenos aires. I've gone alone threw places no sane white man should in South Africa, all in pursuit of dogs. And I have accepted the quizzical kindness of strangers, and dog-men all over the world, many of whom became friends.
High Functioning Crazy ? Maybe. Or maybe growing up as I did, developing into the young man I was, on a steady brain chemistry of adrenaline, testosterone, rage, and violence... Few things since seem too scary. I sometimes need a little danger, just to feel fully awake, in my older age.
Having come up poor, saving money was a necessity. Which became over time a sort of a sport. And eventually for lack of necessity something closer to a religion. One that in the relative wealth of older age I'm somehow unable or disinclined to renounce. And all of which leading most directly into a way of life, and doing business, that allows me to keep my prices down! If you don't find any of this relevant, perhaps you'll remember that bit ?!
The next time you see what some purebred pyramid schemer gets for their four legged vet bill generators. Or what some convenience breeder asks for combining whatever random k9 garbage they stumbled on. Or what hoops some child-less dog mom demands you jump threw before you might have the privilege of giving her your money.
I'm not a mother hen breeder. I don't do home inspections. I don't interrogate people (not least because I know they'll be more honest if I don't) Buying a dog from me won't be like adopting a child. I've no illusions about controlling what people do with their dogs. Or even knowing straw buyers from bonafides. I have no illusions about controlling anything once a dog leaves my yard. Nor do I have headspace to give it really once it's gone.
And I'll be happy to see you go too, even in the best of exchanges. Cause I'm a one man army and there's forever too much to be done building my little empire. I'll likely not be checking in, the feedback could be useful, but historically I lack the time and/or organizational skills to do so. So I only get the feedback that folks chose to volunteer, good or bad, both of which I welcome.
I treat everyone with respect out of the gate, on principle, in life. But there can be a shockingly sudden transition awaiting those that don't return serve. No exceptions for customers, would be customers, etc. You rub me the wrong way I'm gonna tell you where to go, and what to do when you get there, if I give you the time that takes. I don't suffer from conflict aversion or anger banishment. I make enemies, and I make friends. And I made a website the FAQ section of which addresses most questions that I get asked ad nauseam. And goes as deep as you want on the big questions. Please do explore what I've taken the time to address in The Word of Dog
And I like most people I do business with, cause it's easy enough to discourage those that I don't. But purchasing a dog does not make us family, bind us evermore, or entitle you to any more of my time going forward than I choose to give. I'm a busy man. I've got a full life, other endeavors, and interests. I view time as the most precious thing we have. If I start to feel like you're waisting ours, I'll step on that shit posthaste.
I've been selling giant, potentially dangerous dogs, to what I've coined the "generally fucked up public "
For over two decades, out of my home... mind you. And I've adopted certain policies on how best to do so. Those are not likely to change cause any one customer takes issue, they came to exist for good reasons.
I've made some enduring friendships, and met a lot of interesting, and generally likable people. But I view my method of marketing as a filter of sorts, because in putting out an honest voice, it seems to sift for people I generally enjoy doing business with. I don't know who I loose of course, doing me, I'm sure I do loose em in significant numbers, but I suspect it's for the better, if not the betterment of the bottom line.
At the end of the day, when people call or write, to tell me how happy they are with their dogs, or what crazy smart/brave thing it did. Or when they come back to me at the passing of the best dog they ever had... to get another. I take a "still waters run deep" sort of satisfaction in those moments, and they happen a lot.
This is meaningful work to me !
There is no inherent shame in being a "dog breeder," quite the contrary. Good breeders are as important as good dogs, and few things in life are more important than a good dog. I'm not at all ashamed to do the the job. It's just that there's no bar, zero requirements, in place to becoming a "breeder." And so the job title has been defamed by association from too many who claim it.
It's a unique and special relationship that humans and dogs have. One's dog is a big deal. But it's not mass produced like... one's truck. Come to think of it, I don't know of anything else one can purchase that doesn't pale in significance and complexity really. Maybe a horse, if you're a cowboy. Maybe a raptor if you're a falconer. Or maybe you're a cowboy, falconer, artist/outlaw, philosopher/king in which case you're gonna need a very special dog. Probably have to be an Olympicdog.
I digress. But I'm willing to bet that your average dog ownership may last longer than your average marriage at this point in history. And most people, are neither "In-humane" or cash frivolous enough to alternately buy and kick dogs to the curb till they find something special.
Which is why finding and producing special dogs is my JOB !
So you don't have to.
Most people are likely making a lengthy commitment when they buy a dog. And will only have so many in a lifetime.
It's a big deal. It should be. I get it !
So I'm doing what I can to produce the best dogs I can. It's really that simple. I'm trying to make the best dogs possible; for you, and me both.
Hopefully that wasn't too much more, or less, than you needed to know
"about the breeder", aka Gem Hunter :)
And lastly, this would seem like the place to lay this old head shot talisman to rest with a proper epitaph. Cuz threw it up on my first website, where Tumbler wanted a photo, and my first instinct was to ask him take it down, as it was already way out of date, and it seemed inappropriate for a dog breeding site anyway. But he persuaded me to leave it, professional photographer that he is, I deferred to his instinct.
And it proved good for business, it seemed, as the emails starting arriving, oft times way too personal. So I let it ride, from that point on I was thirty indefinitely. And it became a sort of running inside joke, and brand image for Olympicdogs.
The photo went on to star in at least one fake website made by haters. And was used by Nigerians selling not only kangals out of W. Africa with photos of my dogs, but of myself as well. It started more than a few good stories, and jokes, that photo, and ultimately earned itself this honorable mention.
But when a woman showed up one day and asked if my son was home, it was a little awkward. And I had to acknowledge the ravages of time and inform her disappointed eyes they were in fact looking at an older, grayer, more weathered version of the guy in the photo.
So here, now, and long overdue, we lay the websites original talisman to rest, at the back end of
"About the Breeder"
Once and for all, and 30 evermore.
If you come out now, in 2022 this is the guy you're looking for, to the left.