The Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Weekend

I have learned some heartbreaking, but powerful, lessons about dog breeders recently.

Over the last few days my Newfie dog breeder (Heartsease Newfoundlands on Vancouver Island, BC) has been talking to me about picking up *my* puppy.

I have been corresponding with Joan Casler/Heartsease Newfoundlands since last July … prior to the arrival of the litter.

I named my puppy-to-be Fred.

Joan Casler, owner of Heartsease Newfoundlands, helped me pick both Fred’s name and his registered name.  (Heartsease Yabba Dabba Do!)

We agreed on pricing.

We discussed the dog’s diet.

Joan Casler texted with me, most nights, giving me updates on Fred.

She sent me Fred photos to help me send out a “name announcement” for my new puppy.

I met with my vet Saturday morning to ask him some questions and get advice about giant breed dogs.

I was making travel arrangements to go get the dog.

Heartsease Newfoundlands sent me the contract to sign midday on Saturday.

I told Joan Casler it looked good but I had a couple questions.

She told me to call her.

Once we were on the phone Joan told me people had been coming to look at the puppies all day long.

She answered my contract questions and I felt good about her answers.

We cut the conversation short when she was interrupted by yet another person stopping by.

And then ….?

I got a Facebook direct message from Joan Casler (Heartsease Newfoundlands) informing me to find a different breeder.

Snap – just like THAT.

I could print out all the text messages here for you to see how abrupt and inexplicable her change of heart was, but there’s really no point.

I’ve been told I could even sue Heartsease Newfoundlands for breach of contract.

(Although I hadn’t yet signed the contract she emailed me Saturday, I’ve been told our string of detailed written communication legally “counts” as a contract.)

Of course, I won’t sue because legal costs would be higher than the cost of the dog.

We hear from breeders, all too often, about people they trusted neglecting and/or abusing animals.

What we don’t hear, apparently, is how BADLY some breeders treat the families they deal with.

I may never know, but speculating – I would guess she sold “our” dog to a friend and/or higher bidder.

Did Joan Casler care that I was left sobbing for the rest of the weekend?

Did Heartsease Newfoundlands, for even a moment, think about the fact I’d have to tell my kids she backed out of our agreement?

Or that those same kids would be crushed?

Did she think about what it would feel like to face my son and tell him “his” long-awaited puppy would not be coming home after all?

My son who has been SO EXCITED for months?

Joan Casler doesn’t appear to care, in the least, about the wake of damage she created.

The lack of ethics is appalling.

It seems like, in the dog world, a lot of breeders give lip service to caring about the dogs and/or breed.

But really, they are all about themselves and their own egos.

Some of them are motivated by money.

We hear those terrible stories frequently … backyard breeders and puppy mills.

Other breeders have illusions of grandeur … thinking they are the greatest breeder to ever mate two dogs.

(They can be very quick to take credit for one great dog, and even quicker to claim a defective/malformed litter was not their fault.)

I try to tell myself it was better to find out what type of person Heartsease Newfoundlands is owned by NOW instead of after paying, in full, for the dog.

But, I’m heartbroken.

My kids are heartbroken.

At Joan Casler’s insistence,

I spent time as a houseguest at Heartsease Newfoundlands.

I had three days at Heartsease Newfoundlands to meet and bond with the puppies.

Joan Casler (Heartsease Newfoundlands) was texting me about Fred almost every day since that visit.

I trusted her to honor her word.

My God, I even LIKED her.

I was already emotionally attached to Fred the Puppy.

Maybe, in time, I’ll be ready to try again.

Right now I feel like breeders are evil, unethical, people.

P.S.  I know rescue dogs are an option for all dog owners.  I need a big, strong, dog for service needs.

P.P.S.  I must be very naive to think people are basically good and have integrity.  This experience has been the worst bad/unprofessional breeder experience imaginable.

42 Responses to “The Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Weekend”

  1. julieanne

    Ahhh Suzanne you poor thing 🙁 as I was reading your post I was bracing myself for what was to come but I didn’t even see this coming!? I’m so sorry, you’ve had a terrible run lately 🙁 will be thinking of you & sending love from Australia – to you, your kids – to Fred who is missing out on a great mum – and also that your sister is recovering. Talk soon xx

  2. Michelle

    I’m so sorry. I was reading your post to my daughter (who saw the photos of Fred and family, and fell in love with him), and we are both devastated for you. So, we also send our love from Australia to you and yours.

  3. Tonya Cinnamon

    I am so so sorry love. I foster for and its not uncommon for breeders to sell to the highest bidder without even doing a background history. Never mind about the dog .

    My heart breaks for you. (hugs)

    • Suzanne

      I’ve heard a lot of terrible stories over the last 24 hours.
      It’s terrible what some breeders put people (and dogs) through.

  4. Denise

    Whoa, I am absolutely stunned. And so sorry for you and your family. I guess a dollar in the hand was worth it to her, to break your heart.

  5. Jan's Sushai Bar

    Call her out on FB and Twitter, Suzanne. This is an abhorrent business practice and potential customers should know what kind of person they’re dealing with.

    I’m so so very sorry for you. What a hateful thing to do to you, your family and poor Fred.

    • Suzanne

      I will be reporting her to three different Better Business Bureaus in Canada.
      I know nothing will fix my bad experience, but I hope no one else has to ever go through what our family has just experienced.

      • Suzanne

        Oh, and I’m also reporting her to the Newfoundland Dog clubs in both Canada and the United States. Hopefully, it will help another family from going through what we have.

      • Suzanne

        Heartsease Newfoundlands

        She was on Facebook … unless she pulled off of it in the last 24 hours.

        • Suzanne

          I haven’t looked at her FB. I don’t want to. I don’t want to see “my” puppy in someone else’s arms. But, I am not trying to create any type of Internet backlash.
          She did not treat us well.
          Karma has a way of taking care of things.

          I’m not suggesting, nor do I want, anyone to harass her.

  6. Missy Stalcup

    I am left speechless and feel so badly for you and your family. Your “24” friends were so excited for you looking forward to sharing in the exciting journey you were embarking on with a puppy training to be a service dog. I guess I am naive too. The breeder has some shady “ethics” to say the least.

    • Suzanne

      In hindsight, I now see there were a couple red flags.
      I didn’t see them at the time because I went into this trusting everything she said.

  7. Tracy

    I’m so sorry you and your family have to experience this! What a terrible, unethical person this breeder is. I would definitely call her out! You will have your new baby soon and he will be just perfect!

    • Suzanne

      I hope so.
      It’s hard to even start looking again after such a bad experience.
      I don’t know how I could ever trust a breeder again.

  8. Bridget

    I am so sorry. Some people just steam me. They have no regards for others feelings.

  9. Jenny in MN now in AZ

    I am speechless. That is beyond awful… WOW! So very sorry. UGH….

    • Suzanne

      As awful as it gets.
      Asking me to name the dog.
      Sending me photos to share a name announcement with my family.
      And then …?
      To do something like this.

      It’s times like this where I have to believe karma will win out.

  10. Joanne

    Suzz, I do a lot of rescue work, I see a lot of purebred dogs bred, born, and raised to make money for the breeder.thousands of dogs are euthanized daily in this country. In the rescue community there is no lower form of life. They are like slave traffickers. Just like my recent love affair with poor Boomer, a purebred American Bulldog, with profoundly defective hips, who could barely walk at age 4. surely sold to someone who never cared for him, he came to me with heartworms respiratory infection, Erlichia, hookworms, renal failure and then malignant lymphoma. it cost me and his rescue helpers over $1200 just to give my boy TWO MONTHS of love and happiness.
    YES …DOG BREEDERS HAVE NO HEARTS. I am sure that this statement will cause many to say “hey I am a breeder and I”M not like that”. Well, you create innocent souls and sell them to anyone with the right amount of money…. That being said, I will help you hold this faceless person in contempt

    • Suzanne

      I want to believe there are good people out there. Some dogs are bred for certain tasks and I understand that. But, there are also those who breed large quantities of puppies for pure profit – puppy mills and such. And there are some who breed litters hoping for a dog that will win titles … thinking those titles matter more than the well being of the animal. I’m sure there are many breeders who genuinely care for every dog they bring into this world. I want to think there are good/ethical people out there.


  11. Joanne

    maybe she balked because she knows you HAVE the ability to shine a light on her deceptive ways. Perhaps her dogs are subject to any of the multiple genetic issues of giant breeds, and she didnt want you letting her secret out…. maybe…

    • Suzanne

      I think, in hindsight, she is probably all about satisfying her own ego through title breeding. I can’t say for sure. Her change in behavior was baffling to me.

      • Joanne

        what she is doing is referred to as “hobby breeding” just a couple of dogs, and a litter or so a year, they dont care about genetics, disposition, or where their babies go, they are just after the money it brings, she got a higher price, and porbably from someone without a voice. BUT YOU my honey, you ROAR! she cant risk your publicity, just keep her kennel name in a few posts, keyword it, and she will be popping when someones searches for reviews or info on her. DO YOUR THING!

  12. KirstyB

    Oh Suzanne, I am heartbroken for you. I know how fast you can become attached to a puppy. We were in love with our puppies from the moment we met them. I can’t believe she pulled the rug out from under you like that. 🙁

    • Suzanne

      Thank you.
      Neither can I.
      And yes, our entire family was already emotionally attached to Fred.

  13. Kristi

    I am so sorry that this “breeder” did this to you. Please don’t count us all out! I am a breeder of Labs and I would NEVER do that to someone. I am not in breeding for the $, as most responsible breeders know- you never make money on a litter. You are lucky to break even, between health testing, vet care, etc. I breed Labs to better my breed and my lines. Temperament and health are my up most concern. Never money. My dogs, puppies, kennel and reputation as a responsible breeder are way more important to me than money. I love my breed!

    I am appalled that a breeder would do this to you. If you ever need help weeding out good vs. bad breeders please let me know. I would be more than happy to help you out in any way I can.

    • Suzanne

      Labs are great dogs.
      As you probably know, we lost our chocolate lab a few months ago. We loved her very much.

      In a way it makes me feel good that another breeder finds this situation appalling. I have to think most breeders wouldn’t behave this way. If they did, they would see their reputations ruined. I mean, seriously, who has a family NAME the dog, helps the family pick the pup’s registered name, etc., etc. and then breaks their word to the family?


      Once my heart heals, I might take you up on your offer to find a (much more) professional breeder.
      Thank you.

  14. Jane

    I’m speechless. You flew to Canada to MEET her and your puppy! She insisted on it! What a load of crap for her to do this to you, I’m just appalled and hurting for you.

  15. John

    So sorry to hear about this. As a former veterinarian and avid rescue advocate turned photographer, I have heard this story many times before. You have to remember, dog breeding is a business for these folks. I have met many breeders in the past who appeared to have wonderful intentions and a huge heart. Bottom line, however, for most, is the bottom line.
    I’ve seen breeders ignore health issues, neglecting these beautiful creatures because the cost is simply not worth it the investment it would take to treat these little ones. Can you fathom that? I’m sure there are good breeders out there, but, there are just too many bad ones. And honestly, they do a very poor job policing themselves within the breeding community.
    Prayers for you, and for Fred, hoping he finds a loving life he deserves. I would sternly recommend volunteering for a Newfie rescue in your area, and when you meet the right pooch, you’ll know.
    God Bless,

    • Suzanne

      Thank you John.
      I’m glad you shared your perspective as a vet and rescue advocate.
      Yes, I think I’m realizing there is a lot of bad in the breeding world.

  16. David

    I’m sorry you are not getting a puppy from Joan, however with most stories there is more than one side to it. I believe Joan required that the puppy be co-owned as well as be shown to his championship if he turned out to be show material. I have heard that you did not want to show the dog now and you were going to neuter him right away. I also understand you had a problem with the co-ownership. I believe these are the reasons you are no longer getting a puppy from Joan. I do not believe she thinks you would have been a bad home, to the contrary I believe she thinks you would be a good home for a newf puppy, just not a show puppy.

    • Suzanne

      I appreciate your comment.
      Your loyalty to Joan is to be admired.
      However …
      I AGREED to co-ownership.
      Joan had explained all of that to me when I was staying with her. I knew the pup would be co-owned from the time I visited Joan in Canada.
      I did ask some questions about how co-ownership worked in (potential/eventual) certain circumstances because it isn’t something I’ve done before.
      For the record, I thought Joan did a good job of answering my questions and I was satisfied with her answers which is why I was SO FLOORED when she told me to find a different breeder.

      I AGREED to show Fred and had every intention of doing so.
      (I have our text messages and extensive written communication to prove it.)
      I wouldn’t personally show him as I have no experience or knowledge about showing.
      Joan suggested YOU could handle him in the ring, David.
      I asked her if “down the road AFTER he championed” we would be able to have him neutered.
      I asked this question because I’m accustom to retrievers who will run/roam every chance they get if they aren’t neutered.
      I had no intention of neutering him right away and that was VERY CLEAR in our conversation.
      Joan told me if we decided to have him neutered in a few years she would freeze sperm from him and we would not be responsible for the cost to do that.

      All of this was VERY CLEAR in my conversation with Joan.

      I think you have been misinformed and/or misled.
      I don’t believe you’re being given an honest account of what took place between Joan and I.

  17. Suzanne

    One other thing David …
    As an adjunct to the fact Joan and I discussed showing Fred and using you as his handler in the ring ….
    That fact alone confirms the information you were given about NOT showing him (and neutering him now) is blatantly false.
    Again … I have all the written communication to back up “my side” of this.

    As I’m sure you know, Fred’s markings are not optimal show or breeding material. He’s too black for those wanting a landseer and too white for those wanting a black. I think a genetic test would have to be run to see if he’s IS or landseer or exactly what. For me, however, he was adorable anyway – and even BECAUSE of his mismarkings. Joan also described his body and movement as “awkward.” It’s questionable Fred will do well in the ring. I think he’d have to mature quite a bit before that could be determined. Because of his size, however, Fred WOULD HAVE made a great working/service dog.

    It’s too bad Joan decided to break her word/commitment to me at the (very) last minute. Remember … it was JOAN who picked his registered name for me, sent me photos to give to my kids after he passed his health clearance, etc. What she did to our family was unprofessional, unethical, and a breach of both our verbal contract and the written informal (but legal) contract we had via our correspondence. My wants/needs/intentions never changed …. Joan’s did. What she did to me, and my family, is just WRONG by anyone’s standards.

  18. Suzanne

    I’m going to close comments on this post. I want to move on from what has been a very bad, and heartbreaking, situation. I do not want to provide a place for a war of words between people who have good intentions, but don’t have the actual facts available to them. People have “heard” or “been told” things, but that doesn’t mean what they “heard” or “were told” is the truth. I think it’s for the best if everyone moves forward and focuses on more positive things in life.


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