When we began breeding, we had four GSP's, two females and two males. We had recently moved to Michelle's hometown of Bellevue, Iowa with our three young children from Naples, Florida. Michelle was an attorney and registered investment advisor and Mark was a master electrician. Just before Michelle's 40th birthday, she began having what turned into years of back and leg pain. She initially became a chronic pain sufferer after becoming a victim of medical malpractice. Three back surgeries and ten years later, Michelle was diagnosed with a rare form of rapidly degenerating adult-onset scoliosis. It took two surgeries totalling 17 hours to fuse her spine.
Needless to say, life changes had to be made. Michelle was no longer able to work outside the home on someone else's schedule. This meant retiring from practicing law, selling her financial services business and closing the Web services company she and her father had started a few months before her medical problems began. However, for someone as ambitious as Michelle, sitting around for the next 50 years wasn't an option. There were also bills to pay.
Right about this same time, the family farm (just 10 miles from Bellevue) had been taken out of production and the tenants were moving out. Michelle's parents had retired to a new home they built on the farm in 1993. All this presented an opportunity for the Wilbers to move to the farm to help out Michelle's parents.
Moving to Brush Dale presented another opportunity - the ability to add a couple more breeding GSPs. Possibly Michelle's experience with breeding and training could help provide some family income, while allowing her to work from home on her own schedule. Not to mention she'd be doing something she really loved! It was during a web search for upcoming GSP litters that Michelle saw Gosch Kennel's ad for their current Small Munsterlander litter. A month later, Brush Dale Kennel had its start with the purchase of KD.
Some people would lead you to believe it's a bad thing to breed dogs as a full-time business. They'd like you to think breeding part-time while you have a full-time job is somehow better and a more noble calling. Obviously we disagree and believe wholeheartedly there's nothing wrong with breeding dogs full-time, so long as you are doing it well, passionately, ethically, legally and to the best of your ability. That is the difference between being a professional breeder and a puppy mill - not how many dogs you own nor how many litters you have per year. Michelle makes no apologies for being a professional breeder who runs Brush Dale Kennel as a business. She spends countless hours assisting the owners of her puppies; attending educational seminars; reading books/articles; attending training clinics; showing, testing and training her dogs; and generally increasing her knowledge and skills every chance she gets. Breeding "professionally" gives her the knowledge, time, motivation and financial ability to do these things. It also allows her to mentor new breeders, which led to her founding the Small Munsterlander Breeders Network.
Iowa has some of the strictest commercial breeding laws in the country. If you own (or co-own) three or more intact males or females of breeding age that you are breeding or intend to breed, you must be licensed. It does not matter if the dogs live with you or with someone else. Therefore, Brush Dale Kennel is licensed and inspected annually by the State of Iowa (View License
) and has always passed all inspections 100%.