Nancy DeMoss’ life revolves around two passions — photography and pets.

“I’m blessed that I get to do the two things I love,” she said.

Taking photos of pets — especially puppies — isn’t the easiest job in the world, but she’s learned a few tricks over the years. She also does people portraits — with or without pets.

Nancy and her husband, Jesse, run Midnight Howler Kennel and Photography, out of their Hillery home.

Besides photography, they board dogs, and also breed chocolate field Labrador retrievers (tall and lean), chocolate English Labs (short and broad) and English golden retrievers (cream colored).

The DeMosses have five retrievers of their own.

Nancy is especially proud of being a member of the Better Business Bureau; as far as she can determine, she appears to be the only BBB-listed kennel in the area.

Midnight Howler’s climate-controlled and clean kennels can hold 15-20 dogs, and are state licensed. There are no flat-screen televisions or luxuries for the guests, she said with a smile, but the dogs get plenty of attention, and the kennel is open 24/7.

“Our motto is we treat your dog like it’s our own,” she said. “They aren’t put in a kennel and forgotten. I talk to them and brush them.”

The DeMosses used to be hunters and skeet shooters, and Nancy trained horses in the past; she also gave riding lessons in the Bismarck area.

They’ve always liked Labs and golden retrievers, both for their good looks and gentle personalities. They decided to breed them a few years ago in an effort to improve the bloodlines, but they are careful to stick to high standards.

When puppies are born, she said, “I’m there from the first to the last being born. I sleep in the garage and monitor everything.”

All puppies are registered with the American Kennel Club, and she’s researched the bloodlines, weeding out physical problems.

The puppies are well-socialized before they leave home, and the buyers are screened. Once you buy a puppy from Midnight Howler, Nancy will be part of your life for a long time.

“I keep in touch with the buyers,” she said. “I want to watch the puppy grow up.” Buyers come from all over, from California to Florida.

New owners are expected to send photos of the puppy as he grows up, and the owners/pets get free photos every three months.

All puppies are microchipped, too, and treated at Fairchild Animal Hospital. Nancy praised the care that the dogs receive from the staff and especially from Dr. Carol Grice.

Having a big heart for dogs, Nancy loves “pound puppies,” too, saying, “Mutts are wonderful dogs.” She encourages people to go through rescue sites and local shelters to get a pet.

One benefit to going through a breeder is the new owner knows exactly what he’s getting. A person adopting from a rescue site should make sure the dog is a good fit and has an even disposition. Get down on the floor and play with it, she said.

She also does everything she can to help animals. She has donated crates and food to Citizens for Animal Rescue and Adoption, the no-kill shelter in Tilton. Over the summer, she bought blankets at rummage sales to give to the shelter.

Also, she said, “People contact me if they’ve lost a dog or they need one. I try to match people up with dogs (that need to be adopted).”

She goes out on the street and helps people search for lost dogs.

“I love my dogs, and people love their dogs,” she said.

The DeMosses have passed that love for animals down to their son, Jamie, who lives in Mississippi, and their two granddaughters.

As for their business, the DeMosses try to keep their rates for boarding and for puppies low. All the money is put back into the business and goes to veterinarian bills, insurance and other expenses.

“I’m not trying to get rich off people,” Nancy said. Jesse works for McLane Midwest.

It’s obvious the dogs at the DeMoss compound have it made, with all the attention and love they get from the couple. While they do breed retrievers in a responsible way, they also promote rescue and “pound puppies.”

Purebred or mutts, they all deserve love, care and attention — and that comes through at the DeMoss home.

FYI

To learn more, go to Nancy DeMoss’ website, www.midnighthowler.com

The Pets column runs every four weeks. If you would like to have your pet featured, contact Mary Wicoff at 477-5161, send an e-mail to mwicoff@dancomnews.com or write to Commercial-News, 17 W. North, Danville, IL 61832.

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