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Faith to Grow On...

Here on the farm, it's easy to get caught up in lots of work. There's always something to do, some project to work on, and a task to check off the to-do list. But every evening, Shaun and I stop what we are doing, grab a cup of coffee, and sit in the rockers on the back porch. There are days this view just takes our breath away. The hills, the valley, the trees, the birds, the wildlife, the beautiful colors splashed across the sky as the sun sets, it's clear to see God's glory on display. 

We are a family of faith, believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior. We are every day people with a goal to glorify God in all we do. When we aren't on the farm with our dogs, serving with our brothers and sisters in Christ at Highland Hills Baptist Church, you can find us working on projects for Lifeword and our BMAA Missions Department. Want to know more? Check out these great organizations we support through our Baptist Missionary Association. 


I love writing and sharing stories, and Lifeword Ministries gave me a unique opportunity to be a blog writer for them. I was shocked and humbled, to say the least, that the Lord would want someone like me, a nobody, to share His name through my story. I've served as a Board Member with them as they make decisions about ministry efforts in the future, and now have joined their amazing team to make Jesus Christ's name known to the ends of the earth. If you are a hunter or fisherman, you might also enjoy a new show Shaun has been working on for social media. He shares his love for the outdoors and the Lord in a fun way on "Outdoors with Shaun Merrell". A new show comes out on the 1st and the 15th of every month.

We love what this organization is able to accomplish and choose to financially support this ministry with every litter born. We would love for you to learn more about this organization that uses multiple media outlets to share the gospel across the globe in more than 130 languages in 123 countries. Check out what Lifeword is doing and pray about financially supporting them as well.

Mission World TV

Mission World Magazine has been around for a long time, sharing with readers the struggles, stories, and praises from our missionaries throughout the world. In 2020, seeing the need for reaching people through new media outlets, Mission World TV was launched. We now produce a monthly show highlighting a missionary to share their story through social media. We'd love for you to check out the monthly videos. As you watch and read, let the Lord speak to your heart about supporting missions and those that are in the field, sharing the name and hope of Jesus Christ to a lost world.


Check out our blog of things that happen on the farm, daily life applications of the scriptures, and ways that we can all have faith to grow on. 

  • Yalanda Merrell

We get lots of questions from our new puppy families, one of them being, "I work during the day. Is it ok to leave my puppy at home for the day?" Here are some tips that we have for families with a new puppy to set them up for success.

Crate Training - This is one of the most important things you can do to make sure your pet and your home is safe while you are away. The crate becomes the place where your puppy not only gets good rest, but where he or she will enjoy being. If properly trained, this becomes their safe spot. Puppies do have small bladders, so we begin training them for a few hours at a time with the crate, working our way to overnight. They will be able to remain in the create around 6-8 hours with little or no accidents. Here are a few tips for Crate Training we use in our "Tailored to You Training" program here at Wildcat Hollow Retrievers.

1. Choosing the right crate - It's fun shopping around for cute crates, houses and playpens, but is it the best choice for everyday use?

- Choose a crate that has a solid base. This makes clean up easier if there are any

accidents (and there will be in the beginning).

- Make sure it has plenty of ventilation. You don't have to have a fan blowing on them

necessarily, but making sure it has ventilation on at least 3-4 sides is a good idea.

- Size matters. Choose a crate that is big enough for them to stand up, turn around

and lie down comfortably, but not with a lot of excess room. If the crate is too big, they

will use the bathroom in the back and sleep in the front.

We like the Retriever brand kennels. This one is a size Medium, which is the size we use for

our puppies in our "Tailored to You" Training Program. You can usually pick those up at your

local Tractor Supply store. But there's lots of crates out there that will work!

2. Stop boredom before it starts - if a puppy is bored, they will bark, whine, howl, or even find something to chew on they don't need to. We put three things in their crate while training, and only these 3 things:

- old towel for absorbing any accidents

- bully stick

- rubber kong toy

Why only these 3 things? Even though stuffed animals are really cute and cuddly, you don't want them to be left unsupervised with them. All of a sudden, little fluffy will be missing an eyeball, a tag, or half of the stuffing from inside and guess who swallowed it? Bully sticks are not rawhides and last a long time. They are a little more expensive, but you get what you pay for. Kong toys are a great choice because they hold up really well for big chewers. Here at Wildcat Hollow Retrievers, we raise English Labs and English Cream Golden Retrievers, both breeds known for their love of chewing.

3. Regulate food and water - It's time to set a schedule. If your puppy is eating and drinking whenever they want, they will use the bathroom a lot more often.

- Feed in the morning and give them as much as they want to drink in one setting.

When they finish, pick it up.

- Give them a drink throughout the day if you're home and of course increase that a

little if they are playing hard or have been outside for a walk.

- If you aren't home and they are in the crate, they do not need a water dish attached

to it. Believe it or not, your puppy will sleep a majority of the day whether they are

outside of the crate or in it.

- When you come home, get them out of the crate, take them outside for bathroom,

and bring them back in for a drink.

- Feed earlier in the afternoon rather than late in the evening so they have time to get

it all out before going to bed.

- Give them water throughout the evening but take it away around 6-7 pm. If you play

hard after that, give them a drink, but make sure they have time to go outside to the

bathroom before bed.

Puppy-Proof the House - Even if you leave for 5 minutes, your puppy can get into anything that's left out. They are curious, inquisitive, and exploring new smells and sounds. They are learning what is for them and what is not. You are the trainer. You are the one who teaches them.

So, set them up for success.

- If you don't want them chewing on your shoes, don't leave them where the puppy can

get to them.

- Make sure to pick up any electrical cords or other items that might be dangling or

enticing to the puppy.

- Reward them when they do something good.

- If they go for something you don't want them to have, replace it with something they

should have, like their favorite toy. This redirects their focus from the bad to the good.

- Don't leave food out where they can reach it. You may think it's safe on the end table,

but is it really? LOL! Dogs seem to become circus stars and acrobats as they learn

new ways to get to something they want.

Dog Walkers - If you are really worried about being gone too long and feel their little bladders just won't be able to hold it, you can always hire or ask someone to come walk your dog during the day. Maybe there is a neighbor close by or a college student looking to make a little extra cash this time of year.

Pet Cameras - And finally, if you want to keep an eye on little Duke while you're away, invest in a pet camera. Tons of parents use Nanny Cams for their children, why not pets? Some even have a speaker and let you talk to your pooch. But don't be surprised if when you get home, he ignores you and listens more to the camera... ;)

Hopefully, these tips will help you feel more confident about leaving for work or an outing an keeping your puppy at home.

If you're interested in learning more about our Tailored to You training program, message us at

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  • Yalanda Merrell

Leashes - check.

Collars snapped - check.

Squeaky toy in hand - check.

Every morning we head out with a purpose. We hit the trail with our goal in mind. The dogs know they have business to do. Along the way, they can easily get distracted. Whether it's squirrels, deer, new smells, birds, or a stick they think they just have to have, they lose focus. They lose sight of what we set out to do.

Does this happen to you? Do you get frustrated that your dog is easily distracted when it's time to take them to the bathroom?

Here's some great info about training them to stay focused on their business. This article even shares two reasons why it's sometimes difficult to train. But, she offers some great advice and training tips!

Back to our story...

Sometimes, when they get so distracted, I have to provide correction to keep them on track and remind them of why we are outside. They need to remember their purpose for coming on this walk.

I know exactly how long I'm going to stay out there. I know when that time will come to an end. There are times throughout our walk that I'm slow to end it. I mercifully allow them more time, being patient,


and waiting.

However, there comes a point when it's time. It's too late.

The time is up.

They missed their opportunity.

Let's forget about the dogs for a second. What a comparison this is to us and our own Master, God! He has given us a purpose (Matthew 28:18-20) and we get so distracted by things in this world that we forget what we came to do. We're too busy trying to get the next big thing that we find ourselves chasing things that are far from God.

As a loving Father, He provides correction, bringing us back to His path, reminding us of our purpose. But there will come a time, when His mercy stops. Those that refuse to listen to His voice, those who refuse to repent and surrender to Him, will no longer have that opportunity.

Time will be up.

They will have missed their opportunity.

Is this you?

Are you too busy chasing the things of this world and running after every distraction that you're missing the voice of the Lord? He's calling. Ready to welcome you with open arms and forgiveness.

If I have any advice for you, it's this:

Don't wait. Run to the Lord today.

The only regret I have about trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior is that I didn't do it sooner.

- Yalanda

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  • Yalanda Merrell

If you're searching for the best products on the market, you can get overwhelmed.

Many companies claim their products to be "puppy proof" or "indestructible". And then you're left with holes in your bed or toys and a trip to the vet.

We loaded up one of our pups to take back to our handler a few weeks ago. This boy is

competing in the show circuit and is quickly on his way to a Champion title.

We took him for a bath and let him pick out a toy for his trip. Within minutes, he had already chewed two holes in his brand new toy.

Money down the drain.

So, how can you know which products are safe and furry friendly? We're here to help you find the right products that are safe for dogs and have passed our tests.

Safe for the Crate

We honestly only recommend one thing for when a puppy or dog is in their crate. If they have plush toys or anything soft, they can easily swallow the contents and choke. And for that same reason we do not recommend rawhides. They just aren't good.

So, what do we recommend? Bully Sticks.

"Bones & Chews Bully Stick 6" Dog Treats deliver a protein-rich chewing experience dogs absolutely love. These all-beef chews are 100% digestible, making them a great alternative to rawhide. They feature an incredible flavor dogs crave, and even help to clean teeth and gums as your dog chews. These safe and healthy, single-ingredient treats have no chemicals or preservatives." - Bones & Chews Bully Stick 6" Dog Treats

Click here to order from


Dogs differ in their desire to chew based on their breed, age, and energy level. ALL dogs will chew because they teethe. This is the process of their teeth growing or what we call "coming in". It feels good on their gums to bite on something so, instead of them gnawing on your favorite slippers, set them up for success. Give them toys that will feel good on their gums as they chew. Plus, for older dogs, it can help with cleaning their teeth.

No matter the age, we recommend using Kong toys. I won't say they are completely indestructible, but with our labs, which are known for being heavy chewers, they work very well. Kong makes several products, some of which have fabric instead of just rubber. If you get a Kong toy with fabric, make sure your pooch is supervised. We have had a few with a leg, an ear, or a rope torn off.


I love a cute dog bed. Especially, if you have the chance to get someone to embroider their name on it. So adorable! But...

We do not recommend leaving a dog bed in a crate with a puppy. 9.9 times out of 10, they will have it destroyed by the time you return. Of course they will look all cute and pull an Urkel from the 90's, "did I do that?"

We use an old towel in the bottom of their crate while they are still in training, just in case they have an accident.

All of our dogs have their own Kuranda bed. These beds are not indestructible, but are heavy duty and Kuranda offers a 1 year chew proof warranty. Not all products are covered though. Check out their site to be sure the product you are purchasing is covered before buying.

Want to know about food and treats? That's a whole other topic that we'll discuss in another post, but for now, check out TLC Pet Food. They ship straight to your door within 2-3 days and in most states with free shipping!

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