About Us
The Puppy Process
An Introduction Darkstone Kennel™ (perm. Registered) is owned by Betty and Byron Osing, and is located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It’s not so much a kennel…as a lifestyle…or an expensive habit, depending on how you look at it. We live on a very private acreage located just west of the City, but within Calgary City limits. Our home is situated on eight acres, with approximately five acres of lawn, with a big chunk of lawn fenced in with six foot steel mesh fencing. Our dogs do not lack for room to safely and securely play, exercise, and just be happy dogs. They get to bark at the coyotes; chase the deer away from the fence; argue with Magpies, Crows, and Blue Jays; supervise the summer work in the garden; patrol the perimeter on guard duty; bark at anyone arriving in the yard; scare the heck out of any utilities worker dumb enough to ignore all the ‘warning’ signs all over the fence gates; make ‘snow angels’ and ‘snow dive’ in the winter months; try to dig up the odd gopher or mole; prune the trees; roll in the dirt; mark their territories; and just go ‘crazy dog’ sprinting around the yard for no apparent reason other than ‘they can’…all before retiring back into the house to lounge about on the couch, or a bed, have a snack, or just watch Breaking Bad re-runs on TV. It’s ‘good to be a dog’ in our house. In fact, some of our friends are hopeful that they will be re-incarnated as one of our dogs if we happen to out-live them. First and foremost, we are not ‘commercial’ breeders. We are simply ‘dog lovers.’ We are passionate about our dogs, and we consider them to be a part of our family. Our dogs live in our house with us as our ‘fur kids,’ and they are a central part of our daily lives. We do not have a traditional kennel set up or dog runs, we are simply a hobbyist or ‘passionate’ that shares our home with our family of dogs. Dogs that are co-owned by Darkstone Kennel are always placed with friends or close associates that we have come to know and trust to a very high degree. We do not breed for money, and in fact, are willing to invest money that we do not expect to recoup into each breeding if necessary. We have been fortunate in business, and certainly do not need any income from the breeding and selling of dogs. In fact, given the amount of time, money, and emotion we spend on our dogs, it can be said that having a ‘hobby kennel’ in the way we operate Darkstone would be a great hedge against accumulating any personal wealth for the average person. We spend what anyone who is not a ‘dog person’ would consider to be ridiculous amounts of money on our passion, which is our family of canine companions. We will only undertake a breeding when we believe that the off-spring of that mating will potentially produce phenomenal examples of the breed, and both the breed and future adoptive family of those off-spring will be made better for the same. To breed with only this goal in mind, requires a significant investment in many ways, not the least of which is monetary. In our minds, nobody who is breeding at a high level, and on a small scale, could even contemplate the same as a profitable past time. In the Beginning…When we were still sort of ‘normal’ people We bought our first Rottweiler pup in 1990. Frankly, like most first time working breed owners, we did not have a clue what we were getting into. Byron had been raised for most of his life with purebred Samoyeds on the farm where he grew up, but loved the look of the Rottweiler, which at that time, was not yet a highly popular breed in Canada. Like many first time buyers, we simply answered an ad by an out of town breeder placed in the Calgary Herald newspaper, and picked out a male puppy. ‘Panzer’ became our first male Rottweiler pup, and in many ways, we simply ‘lucked out’ when purchasing him. He was purchased as a companion, never shown, and received a minimal amount of training and socialization. Despite our lack of knowledge in selecting him, he turned into a very handsome example of a show quality Rottweiler in terms of his overall conformation. He was from strong German lines, and demonstrated as ‘hard’ of a temperament, and as high a degree of stoic stubbornness as one can imagine. In many ways, that made him quite a handful for first time Rottweiler owners like us. However, in the end, Panzer turned into a wonderful family member, who helped us welcome a number of additional new Rottweiler family members into our household over the years, both pups and adults. He was with us for eleven years, and it was his fierce love and devotion for us that made us fall in love with the breed, and officially turned us into ‘crazy dog people.’ Darkstone Kennel just grew from there with a life of its own, and we have both purchased and bred a limited number of beautiful Rottweilers, Cane Corsos, and very recently, even a hairy monster of a Tibetan Mastiff over the past twenty plus years of being involved with these breeds. Subsequent to acquiring Panzer, and gaining some actual knowledge over the years, we have always purchased the finest genetics available, seeking temperament, health, structure, and movement as the pillars of our program. In the past few years, our participation in the Rottweiler breed has diminished to some degree, as we have been highly focused on our Cane Corso. However, regardless of ‘if’ or ‘how many’ Rottweilers we own or breed in the future, we intend to be involved in some way with the Rottweiler breed for our lifetimes. Once a Rottweiler lover…..always a Rottweiler lover. Introduction to the Cane Corso Breed Sometime in the year 2000, Byron was reading through a magazine called “The Robb Report” and saw an advertisement for a stunning looking breed of dog that we had never seen or heard of before….the Cane Corso. Byron was intrigued, and began to research the breed on the internet, and to call up breeders to learn as much about the breed as possible. In all, we researched the breed for nearly a full year, and talked to many breeders prior to purchasing our first male show/breeding puppy from Sentinel Cane Corso’s in Chicago, Illinois. Dori Vronch, the owner of Sentinel, clearly understood that we had been searching all over North America to make our first Cane Corso acquisition, and that we only wanted a puppy that had every chance to be an outstanding example of the breed. She just happened to have on the ground what she felt was the finest male Cane Corso puppy she had ever bred, who’s father Ch. Bel Monte Grappler, was on his was to becoming the #1 ICCF/CCAA Cane Corso on the rare breed show circuit that year. We made her an offer she couldn’t refuse….a good one. We had made the plunge, and acquired our first Cane Corso. The big day came, and ‘Roscoe’ arrived on an airplane at the age of eight weeks, complete with his ears still intact. He came out of the shipping kennel, quite possibly not thrilled with his first flight experience, and wrapped his front paws around Betty’s neck so hard he nearly choked her out. He clung to his new ‘Momma’ for dear life, and the bonding was nearly instantaneous. Roscoe was a ‘Momma’s Boy’ for his entire lifetime, and spent nearly every night of his life sleeping between the two of us on the bed. We had to upsize from a queen to a king sized bed to accommodate the addition. Once again, we were incredibly fortunate in receiving ‘Roscoe’ (AKA Sentinel’s Blue Chip) as our first Cane Corso. Had we by luck of the draw received a poor example of the breed as a first dog, we may have never fallen so in love with the breed, and ended up immersed in the same today. Roscoe ‘set the bar’ for us, and he is everything a first time Cane Corso owner could have hoped for. His overall conformation and breed type were very strong, his movement was powerful and flowing, and his temperament was sound. With the arrival of Roscoe, we fell madly in love with the Cane Corso breed after having him for some time, and decided to take the plunge. We next purchased a show/breeding quality female puppy from Gator Country Cane Corso as a future mate for Roscoe. ‘Jynx’ (AKA Gator Country Bond Girl) was the offspring of two ICCF/CCAA Grand Champions: Avalon Tiger Lil and Bel Monte Primo Padrino. Jynx subsequently completed her ICCF/CCAA and Rarities Championships, and became our first breeding female. She arrived at our house the same day we happened to be hosting a big Christmas party, and she was the star of the event, being spoiled rotten day one with attention and every imaginable treat. As fate would have it, at a fairly early stage in our quest to build out a foundation of the highest quality dogs possible, we were fortunate enough to acquire two of what we had always felt were the finest young adult dogs in the entire Cane Corso world at that time: Scandifio’s ‘Caesar’ di Carfagna, and Carfagna’s ‘Samba.’ Caesar was nearly three years old at the time we acquired him, and was multi-titled, being an ICCF/CCAA, ARBA, IABCA, Rarities, and Canadian Champion. He went on to become our first ICCF/CCAA Grand Champion. Caesar was also the first Cane Corso in North America to become a titled ‘Iron Dog,’ and demonstrate to the ‘performance dog’ world the versatility and working ability of the Cane Corso breed. Very sadly, we lost Caesar in late 2010, at nearly ten years of age. Our home will never be the same without his huge presence. Samba is now in her senior years, and to this day, is still one of the finest overall females we have ever seen. She is a multi-titled champion, and has won some of the most impressive rare breed shows we had attended around North America. We had observed both dogs at the ICCF/CCAA National Specialty in previous years, and both times, considered them, in our opinion, to be in the top handful of Cane Corso in North America. We are grateful to Anthony Carfagna for having entrusted us with the opportunity to raise Caesar and Samba as our ‘kids,’ and to have had the ability to selectively breed them for the betterment of our foundation dogs, as well as the overall Cane Corso breed. Along with Roscoe, the addition of Jynx, Caesar and Samba to our foundation group of Cane Corso gave us an exceptional ‘head start’ in the breed that we were very fortunate to enjoy. To this day, we can see the strong influence in our lines from these three historically important specimens. While Darkstone Kennel is relatively young in terms of age, having been involved in the Rottweiler breed for approximately twenty years, and in the Cane Corso breed for approximately thirteen years and counting, we believe we have been both fortunate, and very diligent, in our quest to ‘get it right.’ We have been fortunate to have been able to both purchase and breed to some of the finest Rottweiler and Cane Corso genetics available on the North American continent, as well as to import some of the finest genetics available from other regions of the Globe, in establishing the foundation for our kennel. We hope to showcase both breeds in Canada and the U.S. via the show circuit in the years ahead, and to very selectively produce a limited number of litters of the finest quality offspring available within each breed, though it seems that we are trending at this time towards much greater involvement in the Cane Corso breed than in the Rottweiler. We will only place puppies in the highest quality homes, both show/breeding and companion, as it is very important to us that each puppy we breed finds its way to a wonderful ‘forever home,’ where they will truly be part of the family. We typically do not supply other breeders with dogs, as the majority of breeders, good or bad, house their dogs in traditional kennel facilities, which is not where we want our puppies spending their lives. We simply want all of our puppies/dogs to live their lives as ‘family dogs.’ They deserve the best in every way, particularly the amount of love they receive as part of a family unit.
The Puppy Process At Darkstone Kennel, our philosophy on breeding and raising a litter of puppies is driven by the following core principles: 1) We do not breed for profit. Most litters we have produced have actually cost us more money than we take back, as no expense is spared to breed and raise the finest litters possible. Even though we have some of the top stud dogs of our own available, if they are not the ideal fit for what we are trying to accomplish in a breeding with one of our females in order to constantly improve our lines, we will import semen from the ideal candidate dog no matter where on the globe that dog is located, and spend whatever money is required for extensive pre-breeding testing as well as artificial insemination. We do not simply breed the dogs 'in our own back yard' just for the sake of cost or convenience. We breed because we are in the 'pursuit of excellence' in our own dogs and blood lines. We want to produce a few world class dogs for ourselves, and for our co-owners. That is the only reason we ever really breed, and why we breed infrequently. The way we breed is costly, massively time consuming and life disrupting, and we have no desire to produce litters for any other purposes than breeding for ourselves to try to achieve our goals in the breed. 2) We believe that matching the right puppy with the proper 'forever home' is of critical importance. We do not sell a puppy to everyone who wants one of our puppies. Just as our puppy people should expect high standards from us as breeders, so do we expect that our puppies will only go to the finest homes, where they will be true family members for their entire life on this planet. 3) We firmly believe that a Cane Corso is not the breed for 'everyone'. We will only place a puppy in a home that will provide it with the care, lifestyle, training discipline, and love that puppy deserves. We have a rigorous process of approval for placing our puppies, but in the end, it must also 'feel right.' It really does feel like 'giving away one of our kids' every time a puppy leaves out home for its new home and family. 4) We do not place puppies on 'color' or other such physical preferences, or simply because a potential owner wants a certain dog they are attracted to for whatever their personal reasons. Our puppies are carefully observed in terms of temperament, energy level, dominance, drive, conformation, movement and other factors from the time they are born. We have the puppies professionally assessed via a temperament test at seven weeks of age to confirm our assessments or make us re-evaluate a particular puppy. We then work very hard to match the 'right puppy' with the 'right family', so that both the family and the puppy will have the greatest chance possible of having a great life together. The following is a simplified list of just some of the efforts taken to observe, assess, and shape a Darkstone litter: - The puppies are always whelped at our home, in one of our guest bedrooms, where they will spend the first 3 weeks or so of their life in the whelping box, in very safe, controlled conditions. Their mother lives with them in the room, as for the most part, does Betty, who moves into the room with them, and spends many of her waking hours with the puppies and the mother for the first 5-6 weeks. - The puppies are weighed daily to ensure they are gaining weight, and are bottle fed to supplement them as required to ensure they are robust, growing and healthy. - The Mother is given controlled and monitored access to the puppies for the first two weeks to ensure that she does not accidentally step on or injure a puppy while they are still very small. - Tails are professionally docked at 2 days of age. - The puppies and the Mother are de-wormed at approximately 4, 6 and 8 weeks to ensure that their systems are non-infected. - We begin to expose the puppies to controlled visits by friends and family members within the first two weeks, but all visitors must be wearing clean cloths, remove their shoes outside the house, and disinfect their hands, as we are protecting the puppies against disease being brought into the house. - At 3-4 weeks, the puppies are moved to a large enclosure erected in the great room of our house, where they have a larger play area, have a non-slip surface installed for playtime, and begin to be weaned from their mother, as well as paper trained. They continue to be supplemented with bottle feeding and/or the weaning process on to semi-solid foods, as well as being given access to their Mother several times a day and during the night. - We now encourage as many outside visits as possible to begin socializing the puppies with as many different adults and children as is reasonably possible but again under conditions that are as sterile as possible. - At five weeks, the entire litter and the Mother are taken to a specialist for a physical assessment and a setting of all their joints into proper alignment if needed. The practitioner is a leading specialist in animal physiotherapy, with a Masters Degree in Animal Kinesiology. We believe that this head start on joint alignment gives the puppies the best possible potential of having healthy joints and correct movement as adults. - The puppies are taken for their first shots at 8 weeks of age, as well as a complete physical. - At seven weeks of age, a professional temperament test is administered to the puppies by a third party assessor, with each puppy receiving a written score on the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test. This helps to confirm our assessment to date of 'who' each puppy is, and what type of owner would be appropriate. - During the process of raising the puppies, they are periodically stacked up for photographic benchmarking and assessment of structure, usually once per week after week 5. - During feeding and other times, the puppies are carefully assessed on a daily basis for their behavioral characteristics, social skills, and physical attributes as they are rapidly maturing. - We believe in the 'rule of seven', meaning that the puppies should be fed from seven different types of bowls, be made to walk and play on seven different types of tactile surfaces, be exposed to at least seven different types of chew toys, be exposed to multiple types of lighting, be exposed to as many different sounds and tactile experiences as possible, etc. This is done to try to socialize and condition the puppies as much as possible to a 'real world' environment, and set their temperamental development on the right path as early as possible. - At 8-9 Weeks, all puppies are micro-chipped. - At 8-9 weeks, those puppies applicable have their ears cropped. We allow the owner of the puppies to dictate as to whether they wish they ears to be cropped or natural, except in the case of show/breeding candidate puppies, who we will insist upon being cropped. This is just a small example of the all consuming task that is raising a litter in our household. A huge amount of time, effort and emotion is put into the raising and assessing of a Darkstone litter, understanding 'who' our puppies are and doing our best to ensure that they are matched with the best homes possible, so that both puppy and owner 'live happily ever after.' So, if we seem a bit picky about our owners, you can hopefully understand why. No process like this that is subjective in any way, can be perfect. We do make the odd mistake. On occasion, we do pass over what turn out to be very good homes, based on our assessment at that time. At some point in time in the future, we then discover, usually through meeting the same people via mutual acquaintances, that those folks would have in fact made a great home for one of our puppies. We have to make the best judgment call we can at the time, with what information we have to make it with. On the flip side of the coin, we have been 'fooled' a couple of times into believing someone would make a good home, and they have been a disaster. But, once bitten, forever shy in terms of being on guard for situations that for any reason, do not feel right to us. So, if we pass you over, and you are in fact a deserving owner, please do not take it too personally. We sometimes make mistakes, and we hope that in the future, fate will bring us back together and one of our puppies can find a place in your home, and in your life.

 

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Betty & Byron Osing

Calgary - Alberta - Canada

1-403-288-2688

email: bnbosing@gmail.com