By Donna McMillan
In the early months of the pandemic, Port Dover dog breeder Lily Eggink was receiving more than 50 e-mails a day from people interested in purchasing one of her Labrador Retrievers.
Enquiries have dwindled during the winter months, Lily told the Maple Leaf last week. There was no question of purchase availability anyway. She was not able to accommodate the Covid requests.
“Puppies are sold out a year in advance at my kennel,” she said. All puppies being picked up or delivered this year were purchased last year before the pandemic, she said. Her CKC Purebred Labrador Retrievers fly under her “Gypzy’s Labrador Retrievers” banner.
And adopters this year know when making their deposit that they will not be getting a puppy until next year. “Many are waiting,” she said.
Lily could have 40 to 70 puppies available in any year, she shared in a telephone interview. “My dogs tend to have big litters; 10 to 14 puppies.”
Living in her house, she has one male and two females. She also has three other males and four females living in other homes under the Guardianship Program. This program believes that all dogs should have a forever home with a family rather than giving them up on retirement from breeding, she explained.
Lily has an extensive screening process and questionnaire for potential new owners so adopters and the breeder can determine whether applicants should be dog owners or not.
This is to ensure new puppy owners are not wanting to give their puppy back after a period of time because they didn’t know the time and commitment involved.
An apartment-dwelling owner, for example, may not be the best bet for a lab, Lily shared.
There have been Covid related issues for Lily as well. “It is more difficult when you need to see a vet,” she said. And since she delivers her puppies Canada-wide, Lily has had challenges booking flights.
In October, 2020, she shared, she drove a puppy from here to British Columbia, only stopping for gas and to sleep in her vehicle. Lily’s mother travelled with her.
Also, Lily said that generally new puppy owners get to visit the puppies after birth and as they are growing until their release at eight weeks. During Covid, Lily, who also works as a PSW, said there are no indoor visits; only outdoors.
She likes new puppy owners to be part of the process from the start. She gives them weekly updates on ultrasounds of the pregnant mothers as well as information on puppy growth and development.
Her puppies are socialized, crate trained and on their way to being house trained when they leave, she shared. They start off living in the kitchen and the dining room.
Lily understands demand for puppies has increased dramatically, but it doesn’t change her management of her dogs and puppies. Lily first became a lab owner 11 years ago and became a breeder eight years ago.
Her deposit fees have increased and total price has increased only slightly, she said. She calculated that raising of her dogs the year before Covid paid her about $7 per hour.
“I have seen mutts sold for more than my labs,” she said. Not that there is any problem with owning mutts. But the pricing is irksome, she shared.
Lily is the mother of two grown sons. She can be contacted by her email firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published January 20, 2021