My husband Bruce Watt and I (Kate Schoeffel) are both veterinarians and practiced in Condobolin in Western New South Wales for 22 years.We lived on Nyora a cropping, sheep and cattle property where we raised four wonderful daughters – Annelie, Ellen, Elizabeth and Jane – and also Tommy and Susie the Kelpies and Jack the German Shepherd. In 1993 we had the bright idea which changed our lives and led to the creation of Kate’s Family Pets. Our neighbours (the nearest of whom lived 7 km away) probably thought we were nuts, and people would ask “what’s a labradoodle?”
Our web site in 1995 was the first web site which promoted Labradoodles and the benefits of crossbreeding in dogs and our miniature Labradoodles were also a world first…. Such a long time ago!
Condobolin is a wonderful place to live and raise children but the drought, the inevitable migration of our children to the coast and the lack of family ties in Condobolin finally led us to the tough decision to move while we were still young enough to start a new life.
We leased our farm and moved to Bathurst where two of the girls were still at school. For 6 years Kate’s Family Pets operated as a partnership between me and Joanne (previously my kennel manager), with my role being to desex the puppies and keep in touch with owners. For 5 of those years some wonderful and committed veterinary nurses continued to keep the Condobolin Veterinary Surgery operating, and I commuted fortnightly. This regime, involving 6 hours driving each time, became too taxing eventually and the surgery was closed in 2012.
We resettled on a beautiful small farm at O’Connell near Bathurst and finally decided that Nyora must be sold. I’m retired from veterinary practice and we have built a new kennel on our farm, Warrawong. We have great staff – Heidi, Alex, Candice and Jess – and our new kennels are much more accessible for Sydney and Canberra visitors. We welcome prospective owners who would like to choose or collect their puppy any time during office hours or Saturday mornings before 1.00pm.
Two months before we brought our dogs back from Condobolin a channel 7 news story was broadcast which, at the time, I believed would destroy my life. I gave a full explanation to the reporter whose story will now haunt us on the internet forever – you can read my side of the story here.