William and I purchased our first pet hedgehog while we were still dating back in 1996 and were completely enchanted by what a wonderful and intelligent creature our Annabella was. We never even considered doing more than having hedgehogs as pets until I began to do more research on the internet in late 1998. Our son Connor, then just shy of one year, had become fascinated with watching and babbling at Annabella, who truly seemed to enjoy listening to him and would gladly come out to “talk” whenever she heard him. We were all rewarded by this unusual friendship when Bella became much easier to handle and one of Connor’s first words was “BA”, asking for her. The more I watched their incredible friendship grow, and the more research I did on these intriguing little animals, the more hooked I became. After a great deal of study and thought, I purchased three more hedgehogs in the late winter of 1999, and became USDA licensed as a breeder in April of 2000.
The hedgehogs remained “my” hobby until my pregnancy with Morgan in 2001, when William moved beyond supporting me and building our website, and became involved in the day to day care of the hedgehogs. He quickly went from simply providing me with assistance to enjoying them as much as I do, and became an important part of not only their basic care, but the planning and playing that has made hedgehog breeding such an important part of our life. All three of our children, Ting, Connor, and Morgan have also enjoyed their involvement, whether it was helping to wash and dry cages, or coming with me to peek into the mama hedgies cages checking for new babies.
Huge changes came in the Summer of 2004, when we realized a long time dream and were able to move to our own small farm near Rago, Kansas, a VERY small town located at the intersection of Highways 14 and 42. This enabled us to expand our hedgehog herd, giving them their own bedroom, and a lovely tiny nursery room across the hall. (you can see pictures of these in our photo album) It was also at this time that we chose to no longer participate with the IHA or IHR, and helped to found HedgehogWorld.com as a place where the several breeders we enjoyed regularly working with could share articles and answer questions in the forums, giving us a centralized location which we could send people who were interested in hedgehogs too.
Five years passed, with us seeing changes in hedgehogs that we had only dreamed of. Personalities improved, and health trends were tracked and held steady or improved. We were finally able to do some of the work with conformation and color that we had dreamed of. And oh what beautiful and friendly animals we were getting!
So what happened? Why did we vanish, and why are we coming back? Well, life happened. Kids got older and required more effort to home school. We became very involved with a community in Wichita, now an hour drive each way, and were gone much more often. We expanded our family by asking a couple of dear friends to be Godparents to our kids, and made room for them to spend as much time as possible at the farm with us. But the most critical change of all? It became a job. The politics, problem customers, and frustrations became greater than the joy of raising babies that were so much more what we hoped and worked for than the generations before. Once we realized that, saw that the obsession and passion were overshadowed by the frustrations and other demands on our time, it was time to stop.
At the time we honestly weren’t sure if it was a break or an ending. Most of our best animals were sent to other breeders to make sure the lines continued. We kept many of our retirees, as well as a few favorite younger animals, but that was it. The nursery was turned into a den for Bill. The main hedgehog room was revamped to be used more for sewing and study for Laura. Time went by, and we realized that our last few breedable animals were about to be too old to safely breed, but we still hesitated. Then Laura spent some time with a friend who breeds hedgehogs and some babies sired by one of our boys, and she realized that she wasn’t quite ready to throw in the towel for good.
So its 2011, and we’re back, admittedly on a much smaller scale. Its unlikely that we’ll have babies available more often than a couple of times a year, and first dibs will be given to our friends who breed to make sure that the lines continue on. What does the future hold for PogStar? We’re not sure. All we can promise is that the animals will continue to be our first priority, and that as long as we can work with them with the passion and love they deserve, the PogStar will be around.