Welcome Home with the Deasons

Connie and Kevin Deason share the amazing story of how they began breeding puppies.

T

he first time I talked to Connie Deason, I immediately felt like I was talking to a friend. She’s a warm and caring person, quick to smile, and puts you at ease. Conversation seems to flow naturally when she’s in the room. Together with her husband, Kevin, and their family, the Deasons have lived through their share of challenges, joys, and heartaches. The magic of Connie and Kevin Deason is their willingness to share those experiences. That and a house full of fat and fluffy English Golden Retriever puppies guaranteed that our visit to the Deason’s home and Majestic Manor Goldens would be one of the best Mondays any of us had enjoyed in a long time.

There is so much to their story: family, friendships, coming home, and of course, the dogs. Connie and Kevin Deason have always loved dogs. It was a fateful day in 1985 when the small family of Connie, Kevin, and their 4-year-old daughter Carissa visited the local pet store, a weekly tradition. Carissa was a born animal lover, like her parents. Kevin spotted a beautiful Akita and fell in love with the breed. They knew then that an Akita was in their future.

Four years later, the family brought home their first Akita, Tigger. She was an AKC show quality Akita, and that is when the Deasons dedicated themselves to learning, breeding and showing Akitas all over the USA and England. Working closely together with Lou and Julie Hoehn, Connie and Kevin had the opportunity to show many champion dogs, and form close friendships along the way.

In 1997, Kevin received an offer to be Director of ER in a new town. The family looked for a suitable home that could support their Akita business, but unable to find what they needed, they made the decision to bring Tigger with them, and leave the rest of the Akitas in the capable and loving hands of their friends and fellow Akita lovers, Lou and Julie.

By this time, the Deason family had grown to include a 2nd daughter, Cayla, and son, Cole. Connie missed her Akitas, but certainly had plenty of blessings to focus on in the meantime. It was in 1999 that tragedy struck this kind and loving family. Returning from a wonderful spring break vacation at Siesta Key beach in Florida, the Suburban carrying Kevin, Cayla, Carissa and three of her high school friends was struck by a drunk driver at 120 mph. Carissa was thrown from the vehicle, and her father, an ER doctor but also a dad with all the love, dedication, and wisdom that comes with both titles, was unable to keep his little girl alive. While this is Connie and Kevin’s story, it is truly Carissa’s as well, as her memory and those people she touched during her life continue to impact the Deasons to this day.

Connie shares this incredibly moving story in her own words on the Majestic Manor website. Their story is one of love, loss, and grief, but also hope and inspiration. This is a parent’s worst fear, but you don’t have to be a parent to know how terrible and difficult those times must have been. Amazingly, the family, while grieving, through faith and love for each other and Carissa, became even stronger. When asked if Carissa’s story could be shared to educate people against drunk driving, they agreed. Connie and Kevin have spoken regularly with drunk driving offenders, sharing their story, making a difference. These amazing people have turned a tragedy into a legacy of hope. But even and maybe especially the strongest people need comfort.

One doesn’t know the impact of a loving dog during trying times like these. They are there to catch your tears, listen to you, and love you…no matter what.

- Connie Deason

During this most excruciating and difficult part of her life, Connie leaned on her family, on her friends, and on her faith. But it was the unconditionally loving and kind family dog that often brought solace when words felt empty. Everybody grieves in their own way, and much of that journey is a solitary one. For Connie, when the path twisted towards darker and more painful times, she took comfort in the company of her dog.

Two-and-a-half years after losing Carissa to a drunk driver, on October 24, 2001, the family received a phone call that would change their world again. They were adopting a new little girl into the Deason home. Cassidie Marie is their youngest daughter, and keeps them on their toes. Fun loving and warm hearted, Cassidie continues to bring joy into their lives every day.

During the next nine years, Connie began to recognize a different void in her life. In 2010, she was finally able to put words to it—she missed the dogs. Breeding, whelping and raising dogs gave her joy, hope, and appreciation for the every day miracles of life that we’re blessed with. She missed meeting the families that would eventually be taking home a new family member, and the stories, photos, and friendships that often came along with it. She missed it all. So after a long conversation with Kevin, they agreed—it was time to start again.

Giddy, excited, and full of plans, Connie started researching. While they loved the Akita breed, she knew she wanted to start with a different kind of dog this time around. Her kids grew up with the Akitas, but also had a beautiful and loving Golden Retriever names Izzy. The trademark golden smile stole everyone’s heart, and the couple started researching the breed. They discovered that cancer and hip dysplasia are huge areas of concern with Goldens, something that they knew from personal experience as well. But soon they came across the English Cream Golden Retriever, with less than half the chance of a cancer diagnosis. Connie was in love.

This is the story of how Majestic Manor Goldens came to be, but it wasn’t until 2017 that the Deasons ended up in their current home, and when Dirk Webster found himself blessed with the opportunity to work with this fantastic couple.

The Deasons moved to Carmel in 2012, celebrating the imminent arrival of their first grandchild. The dogs needed their own space, and Connie and Kevin couldn’t find that perfect spot right away, so they leased a house. It took five years, but when they finally found their home, it was nearly perfect. And they found that their daughter Carissa, already having moved Connie’s heart to return to her passion for dogs, would be a part of this process too.

When the Deasons were ready to make an offer on the property, their real estate agent placed the call. After a few words of conversation, he asked if he could put the call on speaker phone. Connie and Kevin soon found themselves speaking with the realtor in charge of selling the home, a young man who had known Carissa. In fact, he and his friends had met her and her friends at that last spring break trip. It was his video of Carissa goofing off with her friends that was featured in the Mothers Against Drunk Driving commercial. They were floored. The home seemed now, more than ever, meant to be. With a little help from Dirk, it was purchased.

Plenty of space for the dogs and the humans, tucked away from the city, down a gravel road, Connie originally worried that people would be put off by the drive in. What she found was that people loved it. Their very first customer to the new place drove in from New York City in a brand new Trailblazer. He assured them that the road just added to the ambience.

Their home stands fairly isolated from neighbors, surrounded by trees. As I drove up to meet the family, sunlight slanted through the leaves, dappling the ground with drops of lights. If you like nature and dogs, this could easily be mistaken as a little piece of heaven.

We chatted over lunch. Having been in this business for a long time now, Connie and Kevin have been blessed with many new friendships. When a dog leaves the Deason homestead, they stay in touch. Majestic Manor Goldens are now spread across the United States, with loving families. Some are therapy dogs, others work with individuals on the autism spectrum. One golden accompanies her owner, a dentist, as he provides free dental services to nervous children in high poverty areas. Another is trained to sniff out petroleum, to identify pipeline leaks. The families love and cherish their goldens, and Connie and Kevin and the entire crew and Majestic Manor Goldens cherish these families.

Connie and Kevin have also donated some of their puppies for fundraising auctions, and have seen these dogs find generous owners, giving up to $20,000 for their new family member. Raising the puppies until they’re ready to find their forever home is a journey all on its own. During lunch, Connie collected any plastic bottles to throw into a baby pool. The puppies romp and play in the pool, becoming used to the noises and textures. They’re exposed to sounds from traffic and car horns, to fireworks and gunshots. This is known as ENS, or Early Neurological Stimulation, and has been studied and proven to give dogs some definite benefits, such as stronger hearts and stress tolerance. A full time employee is on staff at Majestic Manor Goldens to provide this, along with the help of multiple interns. The puppies are exposed to many experiences, receive basic training, and are socialized with children and other animals. When the puppy goes home with their new family, they are ready for anything!

Connie introduced us to her daughter and the other people who share in the work and wonder of breeding and raising English goldens. It was obvious that here is a group of people who love to work together, and love what they do.

It turned out to be, as expected, a wonderful Monday, deserving a better reputation than Mondays normally receive. We were able to play with the puppies, grab some video clips, and really get to know this wonderful family and business that we’ve been honored to work with over the past few years.

Thank you, Connie, Kevin, and the whole crew, for welcoming us into your home. It was a privelege.

Written By: Jessica Rolph

Share this story:

Tell Your Story

Get involved! Share your story with us and we may end up writing about it.