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The SwissRidge Family

The SwissRidge family is vast and stretches across North America, with a sprinkling around the world. Thanks to social media, we can all mingle at our common meeting place, the SwissRidge Facebook group. When I started out, I never envisioned such an amazing forum for keeping in touch with owners and watching my pups as they grow. I monitor constantly to see what issues are surfacing and join discussions if I have something to add, though there are so many well-informed members that people often beat me to the punch – or teach me a thing or two. I appreciate the contributions of every member of this fantastic family.

Here at home, there are some key players I’d like to introduce, because they are often involved in one way or another with you and/or your puppy.

Pat Rupke – Mother

I have to start with my mom, right? Without her, where would I be?

Well, I’d be without some great dogs, that’s for sure. The day my mom decided to jump into breeding the Bernese with both feet was a great one for me. Although I started in this business first, it turns out I may have inherited the instincts and the eye for this work from her – not to mention the work ethic and determination. It must be part of our pedigree! I admire her commitment to breeding healthier and (in my opinion) more beautiful Bernese. Please visit moorsbernese.com and check out her dogs. To be honest, you may find the cream of the crop on my own pages, because she often gives me first pick of the litter. It’s only fair – we’re family!

Here’s more about my mom in her own words:

I live on a 100-acre farm in Beaverton, Ontario, with Gypsy Vanner horses, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Havanese dogs as well. Although I always loved animals, I never expected to become a dog breeder. Instead, I trained and worked as a registered nurse. After retirement, I was able to devote more time to caring for animals.

My daughter, Sherry Rupke, introduced me to the Bernese when she brought home her first, Mocca, at age 16. It was love at first sight. Mocca was a beautiful dog, with amazing markings, and an incredible personality. I liked the fact that, as a mountain dog, she was large and had a thick coat, so she would be comfortable in an outdoor shelter year round. I could not have a dog inside because dirt and hair triggered my asthma.

Mocca was an affectionate, loyal, protective dog. She only barked to alert me, and she never wandered. Her puppies were so beautiful that when Sherry suggested we form a partnership to breed Bernese, I agreed. We purchased our first male, Riley, from British Columbia. He was very big and handsome and produced gorgeous puppies. Then we purchased two more girls, Lily and Kiss.

Thus began our partnership in the Bernese world. When Sherry was in college, I cared for the dogs. She took the lead on whelping and promoting the breed. Meanwhile, she shared the skills and knowledge she was gaining while volunteering at our local vet clinic, and from her studies as a veterinary technologist. She introduced me to the importance of breeding correctly. I learned how to find good, strong healthy dogs, with sound pedigrees and generations of health clearances. As for the hands-on care, well, I had a strong foundation in human caregiving both as a registered nurse and as a mom. Providing quality care for pregnant dogs and newborn pups came naturally.

Eventually, Sherry decided to focus all her energy on Goldendoodles, and left the Bernese business to me. We had imported Daiko and Dyne from Europe, and they’d added so much to our program. I decided to purchase more Bernese from Europe, both because North American breeders tended to be negative about Sherry’s hybrid program and because many breeders here weren’t completing health clearances. I wanted to provide the healthiest dogs for my clients.

I must admit, it is not easy being a breeder. My entire day is devoted to dogs and puppies. But it is very satisfying work and I take pride in the breeding program I developed with care. I liked the fact that the Bernese is a stocky farm dog, as well as a companion dog, and am attracted to old-style Bernese – solid and well-built. I wanted to see more of that in the dogs I produce. So, using the skills Sherry taught me, I found healthy, gorgeous dogs from European breeders to help me achieve my vision. I am very happy with my Bernese and thankful that Sherry entrusted me with improving the breed.

I also love the fact that I am sharing this adventure with my daughter. Although we have branched out in different directions, we share the excitement and challenges of developing our lines. I enjoy her success, both as her mother and as a colleague.

We both like working with clients and helping to match them with the perfect dog for their lifestyle. I think we’d both agree that the most fulfilling aspect of this job is seeing the dogs we breed serving a therapeutic role for people.

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Lucas Mucha – Head Trainer and Partner

People used to ask me to recommend training services for their dogs, and I would make half-hearted referrals, knowing that excellent trainers are very hard to find. Then fate threw me into the path of the best trainer I have ever met…who now happens to be my partner in life. (I know, almost too good to be true, right?!)

Lucas, the resident SwissRidge dog behavior expert, is a truly gifted trainer and I am constantly learning from him.

Here’s the official line from the man himself:

Dogs are my passion. I have loved being around them ever since I was a child. My mom says I was constantly bringing stray cats and dogs into our house in Poland, and Sherry says I’d fill the house with rescues now, if there was room for them. It’s true! I can’t stand seeing a homeless, unloved or abandoned animal. My greatest joy in life is rehabilitating dogs that others have given up on, and finding new homes for them.

I started formally training dogs at the age of 18, working with security companies to train protection dogs. However, I consider my mentor to be Gottfried Dildei, the author of Training in Drive. At the time, Dildei was a pioneer in changing the perception that you can’t train a dog for high level sport without compulsion. I further studied marker training via Michael Ellis, and corrective based approach training via Don Sullivan. I felt all training styles were missing something used alone, but combined they offered a balanced approach. I began to add visual cues that bridge the communication gap between trainer and dog. Working with space, pressure, and body language, I began to develop my unique training style.

Over the course of my career, I have trained hundreds of dogs, ranging from Chihuahuas to Presa Canario. I am a breeder of the Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff). Perhaps it is their slow, trusting nature that intrigues me. What I love about them is their loyalty, and willingness to protect their home and family with their life. They are naturally soft with children and can sense danger with incredible intuition. They are large, powerful dogs, but make wonderful family pets when properly trained. Recently, four of my dogs appeared in the movie Pompeii.

I get so much satisfaction in rehabilitating dogs like Pit Bulls and Mastiffs because when they do get out of hand, they can be very dangerous. Yet the results of training are transformative. It literally saves lives; people may tolerate a nippy Shih Tzu, but they won’t keep a volatile Pit Bull in the house for too long.

Now, as trainer at SwissRidge Kennels, I have had hands-on experience with many Bernedoodles. As I noted in Bernedoodles: A Head to Tail Guide, these are not difficult dogs to train. They tend to be very bright, might be a bit stubborn, and are usually sensitive.

The SwissRidge training program has evolved in recent years, and will be expanding considerably in the year ahead. I look forward to being able to help more dogs – and their families – in the new facility. In the meantime, you can learn more about current services under Training.

Like Sherry, my work is also my hobby. But I do find time most days for my other passions: singing and song-writing. I also keep fit by practicing Brazilian jujitsu, hiking, biking, running, and body building. When Sherry and I escape from the kennel, I enjoy traveling and immersing myself in different cultures.

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We wrote the first book on Bernedoodles

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This comprehensive, easy-to-read and entertaining book covers everything you need to know about this amazing hybrid. Since Bernedoodles can vary significantly in size, build, coloring, and even personality, prospective owners need advice from someone who knows the breed inside out. Who better than the breeder who created them?

Pawsh Magazine – “… insightful tips for finding the right breed and puppy for your family dynamic.”

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