Waking up multiple times throughout the night to care for and feed eight puppies is not a task for just anyone.
But for Mick and Andrea Bates, the process of breeding and caring for puppies has been a great blessing and way for them to establish relationships they may not have been able to establish otherwise.
Associate Professor of Marketing Mick Bates and his wife, Andrea, began their goldendoodle and labradoodle puppy breeding business, Mama Bates Doodles, in August of 2020.
“Our primary goal is to raise a great family dog that’s going to bless your family and be there for many years,” Mick said. “The goldendoodle has just proven itself over the years to be that.”
While it’s been a fun experience, the couple did not always plan on having a puppy breeding business.
Originally, the Bates were praying for a solution to financially support travel ministry, which is something that Andrea is very passionate about.
“How can I have the money to travel and be paid to write eight hours a day and work a couple of hours here and there to mentor either college girls or high school girls here in the area?” Andrea questioned.
Surprisingly, puppies were the answer to Andrea’s questions and prayers.
Although Andrea has been unable to travel due to COVID-19, she and her husband have been able to take a portion of their business’ proceeds to invest in established missionaries in foreign countries.
With Mama Bates Doodles, she is able to care for the puppies at home while working on her writing projects. She also still has time to mentor young girls in the area who love to play with the puppies.
“I’m enjoying the opportunities it’s giving me here to have people see the puppies,” Andrea said.
Through their business, the couple has also been able to meet and have people over whom they may not have met otherwise, and that has been a really exciting and rewarding part of their operation.
For Mick, the most rewarding part is the customers. He is a marketing professor, after all.
“I like the customer interaction,” Mick said. “I like the sales process. I like matching up their needs with what we have to offer, and the whole business side is really what I do.”
Despite the benefits and joy Mama Bates Doodles has brought to the couple, the process is not always sunshine and rainbows.
Their most recent litter, born in January, consisted of nine puppies, one of which was a runt.
Because the runt was so tiny and could not get up to feed, Andrea often had to stay up all night and sleep during the day.
Unfortunately, the couple lost their little runt, despite their great efforts to save it. This loss has by far been the most difficult part of the puppy breeding process for Mick and Andrea.
“There’s nothing in me that could have not tried,” Andrea said.
The puppies’ mom does all the work the first few weeks, but after that, it’s all up to the Bates.
For eight weeks, the puppies must be closely watched and looked after. But with each day, they become more and more independent.
“They’re just like my children,” Andrea said.
To prepare the puppies for their new homes, the Bates start to crate train and potty train them.
They also try their best to have young children over to handle and play with the dogs so that they are used to people of all ages.
“We are very intentional with these dogs,” Mick said. “We pray over the dogs. We ask God that they’ll take His spirit into the homes that they go to. And we pray that the right dog will go to the right people, and it’s been that way.”
Because Mama Bates Doodles is grown out of a business near Seattle, Washington called RedLetter Doodles, many of their customers are from Washington.
This means that the Bates often ship their puppies across the country to their new homes.
Although shipping is a norm for them, there was one instance where the Bates were feeling a bit more adventurous.
Many airlines have strict weather regulations for shipping, and if the airport is at a certain temperature, they can’t ship their puppies.
The weather became a serious concern for the Bates when it came time to ship out six puppies in the middle of January.
Instead, they decided to drive a large rental van from Upland, Indiana to Seattle, Washington with all six puppies.
The couple took off on a Wednesday morning and delivered the puppies to their families on a Friday night, staying at campgrounds and stopping at rest stops along the way to walk and relieve the pups.
“We were kind of like a well-oiled machine,” Andrea said.
The couple explained how through the process of meeting customers and delivering puppies, they hope to spread the love of Christ.
They strive to be lights for Christ by being kind, loving and establishing relationships with the people they interact with.
“I always look at it as you need to be a blesser first and you need to bless people,” Mick said. “As you do that, you build a relationship and you have opportunities to bring some kingdom light.”
In the future, Mick and Andrea plan on having three to four puppy litters per year. They do not want to evolve into a large operation because they hope to give each of their puppies individual care and attention.
Mama Bates Doodles has truly been a blessing and answer to prayer for the couple.
“When God gives you a vision, he provides the provision,” Andrea said.