It was 1985, and we were on our weekly “field trip.” My husband, Kevin, was in his third year of medical school, and I (Connie) was in my first year of dental hygiene school. We had a four year old daughter, Carissa Sue. We both went to school full-time, Kevin worked part-time, and as many college students, we were flat broke. Our “field trips” consisted of taking Carissa to the pet shop at the mall to see the animals. We couldn’t afford to buy anything, but it was fun to window shop and dream about the hopes that someday all of our hard work would pay off. It was like any Friday night, I had fixed the $.19 a pound chicken for dinner the way I knew how. Next, we were off to the pet store. That night, we walked in, and Kevin stopped in his tracks. He spotted a dog in the cages that we had never seen before. He was beautiful. After talking to the attendant, we found out that the breed was an Akita. Right then and there, Kevin vowed to one day own one of those dogs!
Years of school/residency/internships went by, and again, Kevin mentioned his dream of one day wanting to be able to afford an Akita. We finally took the time to research the breed. We found a fabulous breeder and bought our first dog. Her name was Tigger; she was an AKC show quality Akita. The next eight years of our lives were dedicated in learning, breeding, showing, and shipping Akitas all over the United States and England. We bred and learned from the best, Lou and Julie. We became friends and co-owned many dogs with them. They were the owners and breeders of the #1 Akita in the world at that time. We had the opportunity of showing many champion dogs during those eight years. I will be forever grateful for the teachings and commitment from Lou and Julie.
Who knew a phone call could change everything? While showing and breeding Akitas, we lived in a lovely home on thirty beautiful acres with a pond and a perfect place for the dogs. Kevin was in private family practice at the time but was doing a lot of baby deliveries, as well as working many nights in the Emergency Room at the local hospital. Kevin got a call from a hospital two hours away to become the Director of the ER. It was one of those offers that we couldn’t refuse, however, we chose to for several months. Finally, we made the decision to move to this new town and make a complete change. Unfortunately, after looking for several months, there was absolutely no place available for the dogs to come with us. The decision had to be made to take Tigger with us but to sell the rest of our dogs to our friends that we had become so close to, Lou and Julie. Even though we were sad, we knew that they would be in a great home, and we could visit them when we wanted to. So, the eight years of breeding, showing, and selling dogs ended… for then…
It was March 28, 1999 when tragedy hit. Our family was traveling home from a fabulous spring break in Florida. Carissa was now 17, a senior in high school. We took her and a group of her friends to spend a week at Siesta Key beach. We had such an amazing and memorable week. Kevin, Cayla, and Carissa (plus three other friends) were in one suburban. Our son, Cole, was following in another suburban. I had stayed in Florida to spend quality time with my grandmother. As they reached Murfreesboro, TN, they saw the swerving lights just moments before impact. To make a very long and heart wrenching story short, our suburban was hit by a drunk driver speeding at a rate of 120 mph. Our beloved angel, Carissa, was killed. What was to follow in our life was a living hell. Once again, who knew a phone call could change everything?
One doesn’t know the impact of a loving dog during trying times like these. They are there to catch your tears, listen to you, and love you…no matter what.
It was October 24, 2001, and we received another life changing phone call. The adoption was finally becoming real. This time, it didn’t involve adopting dogs.
We were adopting a baby girl. We drove to Indianapolis to welcome her as our new daughter and sister, Cassidie Marie. We were not only on cloud nine, but were so excited we could hardly contain ourselves. God blessed us with this adoption, not to replace our Carissa, but to help fill a void that was ripped in our hearts when that drunk driver took her from our lives. Cassidie definitely keeps us on our toes. She is a fun, warm hearted, animal loving girl.
My wheels were churning, and I was ready for a change. Our family has had our trials and tribulations, but we have learned through the grace of God that we will see our angel once again. Meanwhile, our life on earth must go on. Every other month, Kevin and I speak to drunk driving offenders about the consequences of drinking and driving and our story (as an ER doctor and father, he tried to save her). Our primary goal is to make a difference, not only on the roads, but in homes too. I had a heart to heart with my husband. With tears in my eyes, I said that I missed breeding dogs. Throughout the last twenty years, it had been a huge void in my life. I loved whelping and raising the dogs. They had gotten me through many hard times. They caught my tears on their fur and let me cuddle with them when it was hard to talk to anyone else. I loved the ‘new life’ feeling that came with the birth of puppies. The smiles on the faces of the forever families were priceless. The final question was: Kevin, can we start breeding again? We all know the answer by now…yes, of course!
I was a little giddy and quickly began to do my research. We had raised our kids with Akitas, but knew they weren’t the breed we wanted to pursue. Our kids also grew up with a beautiful and loving golden retriever named Izzy (after the 1996 Olympic games mascot). He stole all of our hearts. We agreed to research the Golden Retriever breed. After many months, we found that many breeders and owners faced the same problem that we encountered with our Izzy.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in American Bred Golden Retrievers. Statistics say 60% of deaths are due to cancer and the hip dysplasia is out of control. With a saddened heart, the search was still on. Suddenly, it was love at first sight. The first glimpse of English Cream Golden Retrievers was breath taking. Not only are they big, bold, and stunningly beautiful, they are healthier than the American Bred Golden Retriever. They have less than half the chance of acquiring cancer and hip dysplasia was not as much of a problem either. It was nothing but a win,win… less vet bills, longer life expectancy, and in my opinion, the most beautiful dogs ever!
Thus, it came to fruition. Today Majestic Manor Goldens is a small business. We are superior breeders of high-quality English Goldens. We call ourselves “hobby breeders” because we will never be mistaken for a puppy mill or huge kennel where dogs are put out in kennels and never socialized or shown love!
Our first grandchild was on the way. We sold our house in another city, picked up, and moved to Carmel, IN. The closer you are to them, the more you can spoil them. We were stoked! However, our time was limited, and we were unable to find the kind of home with the ample amount of property for the dogs. Currently, we are leasing a huge home on two acres. It’s a great place for the dogs, but a very temporary one until we find the home and acreage we need.
Now, introducing the humans of the Majestic Manor Golden family…
Richard– My oldest brother
Richard has an animal science degree from Purdue . He conveniently has a farm about twenty minutes from our house. He does a phenomenal job taking care of our adult fur babies. Currently, we are building a state of the art facility where they will have more than enough room to run. About a week before our moms are due, they are brought to our home in Carmel. Our moms are whelped in my master bathroom on marble floors just feet away from where I sleep every night. They remain there for up to five weeks so I can watch and listen to their every move. They are then moved out to our temperature controlled garage until our forever families come to take them home.
Cassidie– Our 11 year old daughter
Cassidie takes the prize for “chief socializer and puppy washer.” You rarely see her without a puppy or two in tow!
Cayla and Ben– Our daughter and son-in-law
Cayla and Ben help with the day to day operation of the business. They clean and sterilize the pens. They wash and help sell the puppies. They also help with the majority of computer work.
Cole and Natalie– Our son and daughter-in-law
Cole just recently joined the Majestic Manor Golden’s team, after months of me begging him, and now runs the “business” side of Majestic Manor. He and his wife Natalie are also raising our precious grandson, Tristan Lucas. Tristan doesn’t know it yet, but claims the title for future “chief ball thrower” for the puppies.
Kevin– My awesome husband of 34 years and high school sweetheart
He has a very pertinent job. He is our chief financial advisor and supplies the money. He works very hard for making this dream come true! I am blessed to have such a supportive husband and teammate.
Last but not least, Me (Connie)
Aside from loving, kissing, and cuddling the puppies, I love to find ways to give back. As I stated earlier, making a difference is a passion of mine. This year we have donated two of our fur babies to charity events. Being a small business, I make sure that we stay within our budget. However, our main goal is to produce the most beautiful, sound, healthy, loving, and temperamental puppies available. These dogs have changed my life, and it is my goal that they, in some way, change the lives of their future owners! Lastly, our most important partner in our business is God. Without Him, this would not be possible. My goal is to always treat our forever families in a way that is pleasing to Him. Please come meet our family, our moms and dads, and puppies. Remember, we are only a phone call away. This time, we will be smiling on the other end.