Friday, May 26, 2006

Away for a week

We loaded the boat this morning and will leave port tomorrow at 0700. I'm going to stay overnight on board so that we won't have to get up so early tomorrow. Charlie will be taking care of the dogs. There probably won't be any posts for a week because C. isn't likely to do any blogging!

We do have access to email onboard but can't receive any large files or access the internet.

Hope that everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tupac arrives in Israel

Tupac who was the red-collared boy from the Brier x Gabby litter arrived in his new home in Israel yesterday. Esther's brother contacted me over six months ago about getting a male for her. After much discussion and many emails with Esther and some delays about her visa to visit the US, she came over from Israel to meet us and to see the boy that I had picked out for her. She named him Tupac and spent an enhanted time with him on her visit to Surry. Tupac took to Esther immediately, gnawing on her nose and licking her face.

She and Tupac then visited Esther's brother in the upstate for 3 weeks during which time Tupac was housebroken, learned some obedience, picked up on clicker training, and generally made himself at home. I had several phone calls to tell me what a smart and wonderful boy he is.

After some tearful goodbyes, Esther and Tupac flew back to Tel Aviv on Tuesday and arrived on Wednesday morning. Tupac was a trooper and never made any messes in his crate during the long trip to his new home. He will continue with his work in obedience and will be shown in conformation. Tupac will have dual registration with the AKC and the Israeli Labrador Club. I feel as if I have made a great friend in Esther and her family. I'll look forward to hear of Tupac's escapades with his new friends and family.
Shalom and Be'hatzlacha!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Do puppies need puppy food???

It's been a long time--in fact, too long--but I can't remember when we ever fed puppy food to our puppies. We have fed Pro Plan Lamb and Rice adult food from the time the puppies first start being weaned. I've talked to several orthopods and vets about the "large breed" forumlas and most feel that it is a hype and not really necessary. I can't argue with success as we have had very few orthopedic problems since we have been feeding the adult food. We grind up the large adult kibble in an old-fashioned hand cranked grinder (good for a workout!), add in some Half and Half, then some applesauce, and some Gerber chicken and rice baby food. This mess is then mixed with warm water to make a nice slurpy dish for the babies.

Most of the time they walk in the food, lie in the food bowl, and sometimes poop in the flying saucer (thankfully, this doesn't happen often). We keep feeding the gruel until they are around 6 weeks and then go to regular kibble with just the half and half and some canned Pedigree chopped chicken added. By the time, they are ready to go home, they are eating regular adult sized kibble with only a bit of Pedigree added in.

Why mess with success by changing the puppies to puppy food or LB formula? We don't advise it and give out instructions indicating what to feed. I don't care if the brand is switched from Pro Plan but don't advise changing from an adult formula.

What was the rationale for creating a large breed formulation in the first place? Over-nutrition of puppies – most especially excess amounts of protein and calcium – is implicated in the development of a number of growth and bone development disorders such as OCD and panosteitis. It also greatly exacerbates the development of hip dysplasia, which occurs most frequently in large and giant breeds. So for these dogs, pet food manufacturers have come up with reduced protein and calcium formulas, often with glucosamine and chondratin supplements added “to ease painful joints”. Well, glucosamine and chondratin may be useful supplements in easing the pain of arthritic and otherwise damaged joints (the jury is still out on that one) but the small amounts added to pet food are unlikely to be effective. More importantly, there is no evidence to suggest that they may be helpful in preventing the development of joint conditions in the first place. Perhaps the biggest flaw with the food is that puppy growth problems are at least partially attributable to over-nutrition, and excess amounts of protein and calcium commonly found in puppy formulas. In some cases, puppy foods can have protein levels up to around 44% (versus around 22-25% for adults). So why would you feed a puppy formula in the first place? There is no reason to suspect puppies need different food from adults – and post-weaning, they certainly wouldn’t have received different food sources in a natural environment. Our advice would be to avoid the large breed and puppy formulations completely, and to choose instead a good quality adult or all-life-stages food instead. If you do choose to feed a puppy food, please ensure that the protein and calcium levels are not excessive and switch to an adult food by around 4-6 months.

I've created this poll to get your opinions:

What kind of food do you feed your puppies?
Regular adult
Large breed
Puppy food
Free polls from


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

sand grains make pearls

Okay, I've finally gotten irritated enough with Yahoo 360 to move my blog to another host. Hopefully, you'll now be able to make comments and not be frustrated about sites that don't fully function. Beta testing is great and the Yahoo 360 idea is cool but enough is enough!

I'm leaving for a research cruise on Saturday morning. Our destination is off the coast of Georgia and we will be over Gray's Reef which is a National Marine Sanctuary. We'll be deploying gear near the reef to collect specimens for the Taxonomic Center. Unfortunately, one of our participants wasn't approved due to a medical issue so I was scrambling this morning to get another person to go to sea. Too bad you can't do the gunny sack and a bottle of rum to get an able-bodied seaman but NOAA Corps is very strict. Everyone has to have a TB test and their medical form approved. I was in good luck though as 2 people volunteered to go.

Charlie is going to host the puppy open house as it's time to get the babies out side for their first walk. I hate that I won't get to be there. It's fun to see how they react to being on grass and around noises of the other dogs and strange smells. Generally, they have no problems with feeling very comforted by all the people who are holding them.

I'm sending good thoughts for Bailey who belongs to a friend (Flamingo). She is having surgery today for a mass that appeared suspicious. Hopefully, it will be benign and all will go well.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Hair of the dog

I've put a photo up of Tobias who I took to the shows this weekend.
This week will be busy at work as I am getting ready to leave for a research cruise on Friday. I'll be back on June 3 but it's likely that I won't be able to post much of anything while at sea. I'll be in touch with Charlie who will be taking care of the dogs and will get updates on the puppies. Hmmm...maybe I can talk Charlie into posting on the blog.

My pet peeve for today is dog hair. Yikes, it's coming off in great gobs and looks like a black and yellow snow storm in the kennels. We brush and brush trying to get the dead hair out so hot spots won't develop. Thank goodness Tilly and Anna who are in the house are almost through blowing coat. I've found that a curry comb is the best to use. It has wire teeth and really gets into the coat to pull out the dead "tufts".

With the heat lately, it appears that our nice cool spring may be nearing the end. Almost time to get the misting system cranked up. I heard that there may be 17 named storms this year and four major hurricanes. " It's hard to reason with hurricane season."

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dog show on Sunday

Up again at 5 AM to drive to Beaufort at 6 AM. I took Izzy along this time to just walk around the grounds and get used to the sounds and smells of a show. She enjoyed it immensely and was sniffing and wagging. Tobias went WD today which was nice. That makes 9 points for him now and we'll now have to start hunting majors. I've entered Asheville because it will likely be a major.

One of the observations that I made this weekend is just how rude some people can be at dog shows. On Saturday there was a judge change and the judge who was the replacement is extremely well known. Unfortunately, she also can be short with people some times. One of the exhibitors was late for her class because she didn't hear the steward call for the class (more on that later). So when the lady showed up for the class, the judge announced to everyone, "Well, it's so nice of you to join us." This was followed by her berating the exhibitor for being late for her class. While the exhibitor was gaiting her dog, the judge turned to the other exhibors in the ring and rolled her eyes. This is really not necessary behavior at all. When an exhibitor pays $23 for 2-3 minutes worth of observation, I think that it is only fair to treat the exhibitor with respect. What if the lady were a novice and got chewed out for her first time in the ring? Would she really want to ever come back or continue to show? Why pay to be beat up?

The steward was also not helpful. Stewards are supposed to announce the breed and the class. Stewards generally call the armband numbers and indicate whether the order is by the catalog or not. This steward was speaking very quietly and not clearing announcing the classes. Yes, it was an outdoor show but he wasn't making himself heard. I asked him to please speak up so that we could hear him better. He then indicated that the exhibitors should move closer to the ring. To do that would block people from getting their armbands. The steward also stated that he didn't need to announce the classes anyway. I've stewarded with Southeastern for 15 years and the classes are to be announced. How else would an exhibitor know when to go in the ring? It appeared that once again the concerns of the exhibitor were not considered. There would be no dog shows without exhibitors--they are the customers and should be treated with respect.

Off the soapbox now. It was a quick weekend and tomorrow is back to work. The puppies are bouncing around, barking and playing. They are already going in their shavings so in about a day they know where to sleep and where to mess. Really smart puppies!

Off to feed the dogs....

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Saturday at Beaufort

I was out the door at 6 AM to drive to Beaufort for the show. When I got to the show, I opened up the van and then took my soft crates near the ring where we would be showing. I then walked over to get my armbands. At that point, I noticed a sign indicating a judge change and that Labradors would not be showing until 11 AM due to the change. So, basically I was going to have to wait for 3 more hours before we would show. Luckily, I hooked up with a breeder friend and we went to get coffee in downtown Beaufort. It was nice to sit on the porch and catch up on some things rather than sitting at a hot marine base. Tobias and Emily showed well but only got a second in their classes. Second isn't really great when it's a small show. I guess that they weren't the judge's cup of tea today. Tomorrow we will try again. Every day is different and each judge has a different interpretation of the standard and what they like. The puppies are now out of their whelping box and are able to play inside a fenced in area that has shavings in one part and a sleeping area in the other. They learn quickly to not soil their sleeping are but use the shavings. It makes the room smell nice and the puppies smell like cedar. I'm off to take a power nap before it's time to let the dogs out and clean the kennels.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Getting ready for the show: May 19, 2006

The Beaufort shows are this weekend so we've had to get Tobias and Emily ready to go. Getting the dogs ready for the shows isn't a big deal--especially when I'm driving back and forth. We go over the dogs, clean ears, grind their nails, and wash them off. No shampoo because it will make the coat too soft. These are all breed shows so the judges usually aren't breeders and aren't as caring about the feel of the coat. Emily is just starting to blow coat and the black hair "storm" has been going in the kennel. By next month, almost everybody will be out of coat here. For ears, we wipe them out with Chlorhexaderm flush, getting any gunk out and follow up with Animax if there is any sign of ear debris. The eyes get gently wipes and we'll sometimes add in an antibiotic ointment if there is any redness. The nails get ground using a dreml tool. Tobias stands nicely to have his done. Emily likes to wiggle some. Because it is easy for the nails to get too hot if you grind on one for too long, I'll take some off of each and then go back over them. It makes them nice and neat looking and there is less chance of nicking a nail. We like to use Self Rinse plus on the coats. Wash them with a hose and then mix a little of the Self Rinse on the coats. It takes any dust and dirt away. I already have my tack box with leashes in the van so I'll just add in a water jug, some stainless steel buckets for water and a couple of food bowls with some food as the dogs being shown won't be fed until after they are shown. Tobias is entered in the Open Black dog class and Emily is entered in Bred-By. Toby now has 8 points towards his Ch. so he only needs one more single point before we begin the hunt for majors. Getting a major win means that there has to be at least 3 points or more at a given show. A dog has to have 2 major wins under different judges along with the single points for a total of 15 to become an AKC Ch. It's like Tiger Woods winning the Master's. And we have to have two of those! What's a pain is that we have to hunt for those majors, meaning that I can enter a show and if there isn't a major, then I have to pull Toby. This is only courtesy because I wouldn't want to take any single points away from any one else. Dog shows are fun, although I have to say that I much prefer going to specialties to show. After so many years of going to shows, I just prefer not to have to be away from home and I like seeing a lot of Labradors if I'm going to be away. Specialties or supported entries are shows that will have more dogs of a given breed. I went to the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac in April and there were over 1200 Labradors there. It is the biggest Labrador specialty in the world! Now that I'm an AKC judge (provisional until I have 5 assignments), I will be going to all breed shows as well as specialties to judge. That's okay because I won't have to drive and I won't have to carry dogs to show. I generally travel to shows by myself with the dogs. I've been as far north as Ohio and Conn., been to Florida and states in between to show. It's a lot of work because I generally also steward at the shows, so once I get up at 5 AM, I'm generally at the dog show until 4 or 5 PM and then finally to bed at around 10 PM. It may seem like a piece of cake but the venues are often fairgrounds, dusty and hot or freezing cold. You have to carry your gear in on a dolly and try to find space if it's an indoor show. I guess that I've never much liked the gypsy life so being away one weekend a month is enough for me. I'm just glad that I can drive back and forth to this one, even though I have to leave my house at 6 AM in order to make my ring call at 8:30. I will likely take Izzy along with me for some socialization. It will be her longest ride in the van so it should be good for her to go and see some other breeds and smell different things. More tomorrow after the show......

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Day in the Life

Today started off with the usual alarm going off at 5:15 AM. UGH! I hit the snooze button once but then Charlie and I rolled out of bed for morning chores. Our routine is for me to put on my old clothes (I try to get 3-4 days out of them?better in winter than in summer for this!) and head out to the garage.
I?ve been alternating which puppy to bring in for the night. Last night, Vera was inside. We played with her for about an hour on the floor and then she went out for her last ex-ing around 10:30 PM. Unfortunately, she didn?t make it through the night last night. There was some poop to clean up (solid thank goodness!).
We also keep Tilly, Anna, Clondike and Timmi inside at night. Tilly sleeps upstairs with us while Anna stays in a large ex-pen. Timmi and Clondike sleep in their crates with toys. Well, Timmi must have had an upset stomach because he also pooped and it wasn?t solid. Double UGH! Nothing worse than having to clean up loose doggy poop before your first cup of coffee. After all these years though, I?m not as sensitive to the smell anymore. Afterall, Charlie estimates that we remove about a ton of poop a year! Does that mean that we are full of $*%#?
We have an extra washer and dryer in the garage just for the doggy bedding. Lots of Clorox too! A few squirts of air freshener and life is better.
After that I headed out to let the dogs in the kennel out. They are always happy to see me and want to get out NOW! Everyone runs around sniffing, smiling at me and doing their cute doggy behavior. Clondike and Timmi have come out to the paddock but Clondike stays in the center with me and I feed him cookies during my clean up of the kennels. Scrape up any poop first and then wash down everything. I get to listen to the birds and watch the first rays of the sun come up. Life is good but I?m still wanting that first cup of coffee!
Meanwhile, Charlie is inside changing out the baby puppies. They are nearing 4 weeks of age, eating their gruel and pooping like champs. We have to change the bedding every other day now. It will be time to move them to shavings and dismantle the whelping box this weekend. Stella is still cleaning things up but that will stop soon. The babies are up and barking at each other. They love their meals and generally fall asleep in the flying saucer pan!
By 7 AM, it?s time to head to the house to get ready for work. I now have that cup of coffee, eat a bowl of cereal, take a shower and get out the door for work. Whew! I made it through another morning!
Yesterday was a full one and I was dead tired by the time I got home. One of the federal grant administrators came from Florida to discuss one of my projects. It?s a show and tell for him, but we also discussed future funding and brainstormed over how best to continue the program. It?s a great asset to the region?you can read about it at I then had to finish up some reports and actually worked through lunch rather than go to the gym. I miss my gym workout when I don?t go which was probably why I felt so tired last night. After letting the dogs out last evening, I flopped on the couch for an hour nap which is something that I seldom ever do during the week.
Tonight Charlie is doing the kennels and playing with the dogs as I have jiu-jitsu and aerobic dance class from 5:30 to 7:30. Two hours of working out should make up for yesterday?s miss. I asked Robin Moody last night if she ever felt tired and sore. She said that she thought that we both were getting old. I have to remember that maybe keeping up with the 20 somethings in my gym class stresses out the body a bit. When I wore a pedometer a couple of years ago to monitor my miles logged during a week, it was around 80 miles. I?m at least doing that or more now. Between the dogs and the gym, I get a workout every day! Timmi will get a metranidazole to counteract any upset stomach that he might have. I?m hoping for an uneventful evening, a good night?s sleep and no poop in the morning. Tomorrow the cycle starts all over again with an added extra of getting ready for the Beaufort shows. More on that tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Blogs are so popular that I thought it would be fun to provide some thoughts on living life with our Labradors. Every day is an adventure of some kind. Some are good days with lots of laughs and smiles, while other days leave me wondering why I ever decided it was a good idea to have 12 (or more) Labradors. You can read all about how we got started by going to the scrapbook page and clicking on the article about us that was published in the Labrador Quarterly. I'll try to provide some humor here and give you a real taste of dog shows, judging dogs, breeding dogs, and living with dogs. The photo above more or less captures a good reason for having a dog blog. How else can you convey their sense of fun and adventure? Labradors are the king of comedy and are always inventing ways to make me smile.
Just this morning I was out to clean the kennels. The dogs were out, barking and bouncing around the paddocks. We have four large turn out areas where they play, dig, poop, and generally amuse themselves. In the small puppy paddock, I watched Pink and Vera, our 12 week old puppies from the breeding of Stella to George (go to They were running around the base of two large pine trees, playing hide and seek. One would stalk the other and pounce. I could watch them for hours! Sometimes, one will strike a pose that just takes my breath away--perfect top line, great reach of neck, wonderful angles--and I start to get really excited. I have to remind myself that there's a long path to having the next champion. Maybe Pink or Vera will make the grade. Time will tell. Well, enjoy the information. Hopefully, it will be entertaining to a certain degree.