I was out in the dog yard this afternoon as I am most days & got thinking of how quickly the kennel has aged. By the end of March 2015 we will have 76 dogs age 10 & 0lder. That is in addition to the 30 plus dogs we have retired from the kennel this spring already. That is a huge number of dogs removed from the work force. In perspective that eliminates 16 six dog teams & 32 clients per day. To make matters worse we have only put 12 pups on the ground that will be ready to work this winter. Doing the math, it becomes apparent in the next 2 years I need to come up with 74 dogs.
We have established that the optimum number of dogs required here at Chocpaw Expeditions is 385-390 working dogs. That allows for 40 dogs to de dedicated to our racing teams & allows us to put our 55 expedition teams, the money making dogs. At any one time we have a few older dogs waiting for homes or in need of rest or repair. Any less number of dogs & we drastically cut into our financial forecast. Most years we put out sufficient pups to replace the older dogs & I have acquired dogs from Lou Serre each fall. Lou got out of racing 2 years ago so there were no dogs from him last fall. In addition our breeding program lagged drastically last spring & again this spring & we have not produced sufficient puppies. So now we find ourselves in this predicament. This has a long term effect on the future & stability of the kennel. Without enough dogs we cannot continue at this level & cannot support the business as it is today.
We could go out & bring dogs in from other kennels. This is costly & as a rule, we need to spend a lot of time getting new dogs up to our standards. Not that they aren’t good dogs, but what we demand of dogs in our kennel likely is different to how these dogs were raised. Because of our work with people we require friendly dogs & dogs that want to work hard every day. As example we brought 28 dogs in 5 years ago from the west. Some made the race teams. Good dogs, but different expectations. We are still working with 4 or 5 who alarm bark when some one comes into the kennel. We don’t like that & have tried to work that out. Dogs raised in our kennel don’t do that. Others from that group were very skittish & although better now, require lots of positive. Time must be spent adjusting dogs to the big kennel & to a new way of life. The effect of not putting out pups for the race team is that you miss two years of potential race dogs & put a gap in progress to the podium or staying on top. The best dogs we produce ourselves & obviously competitors will not sell a top dog cheaply. Again there is an adjustment period as a great dog for one person may not be a great dog for another. We are on the hunt for dogs now so we have the time to work with new dogs. It is quite doable to acquire good dogs & be back up to 385 dogs & full capacity by winter. In the meantime we are actively breeding dogs to produce more pups. In 2 years we can correct this mistake. Its simple math. If you don’t put pups on the ground to replace your older dogs, There will not be sufficient working dogs to support the kennel & the kennel will decline. I was actually thinking of consulting Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, as she is facing the same dilemma with Ontario. Actually it is a world wide issue. Birth rates are down & the population is aging & retiring. There just aren’t enough people entering the workforce to stop Ontario’s economic decline. I can fix my problem in 2 years or less because a dog is ready to work at 1 year. Not so for the human pup. While I can decide who produces pups, there doesn’t seem to be much incentive to have children. Interesting possibilities. Solution required urgently. Its not about cutting jobs or stimulus spending. It is about having a workforce to pay the taxes & buy the homes & goods. We need young people. Keep your feet on the runners! Paul