Friday, June 30, 2006

Long Holiday Weekend

Yeah, it's Friday and a long weekend for me. I'm taking annual leave on July 3 so I'll have four days at home. There's lots of work to do, of course, but I hope to also get in some fun things such as watching the fireworks from the Marine Center that is on Charleston Harbor. Charlie and John Lee, our handyman, will be doing painting and cleanup on the new addition to our house. It's coming along nicely with the sheet rocking done and the bricks almost up.
I'm going to get my rowing shell out and hopefully get out on the water. Every weekend, it's either been blowing or raining. Finally, I'll have a long enough stretch of time to get some rowing in. I also want to work the puppies and will, of course, be going to Sea Smoke's birthday bash on Saturday evening. It's going to be a "Bark Mitzvah" and should be fun with all the dog bringing presents to Sea Smoke.
Anyway, hope that everyone has a great weekend! More later....

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The old girls

I thought that I would share a photo of Tilly and her daughter Annabelle. Tilly is now 12 years old and Anna is from the first litter that Tilly had, sired by Ch. Tabatha's Drifter at Dickendall. Fortunately, both girls are still very active and enjoy life and EATING. Both are supreme scroungers when it comes to food. I will often catch Tilly sneaking over to our kitty's Abraham's bowl to munch on some cat kibble.
As dogs age, you really have to watch their weight. Tilly and Anna are on Senior formula because of digestibility. However, we often have to switch back to Lite food, especially when they get too many cookies.
We have their teeth cleaned regularly and generally watch their health very carefully.
We are thankful that so far our dogs have lived long lives. Sea Smoke will be celebrating her 13th birthday on Saturday. Tilly and Anna are looking forward to going to that celebration. We'll have a lot of photos from the birthday party to share.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The girls move outside

Addy and Amelia have been in the puppy room since their siblings left. We have now moved them out to the kennel where they can be with the other dogs. Each evening, I'll rotate them into the house and to the crate at night. It will give them special attention and allow them to get used to being in the crate. At first, I'm sure that they won't be happy, but it's also important to separate the girls so that they don't become so bonded with each other. I'll get up in the middle of the night to let them out so that no mistakes are made. It will also be fun to have them to play with in the evening. They are wild!!!!

I thought that it would be appropriate to share the rainbow photo taken from the R/V Nancy Foster a few weeks ago. Today has been so hot that I suspect we might get a thunderstorm this evening.

On a sad note, the heavy rains in the Ohio valley caused the destruction of Carol Heidl's home. Carol has the world reknowned Tabatha kennel in Sandusky, Ohio. Her home was completely destroyed but all of her dogs, except two old rescued girls, were saved. Sadly, the old girls died due to the stress of the situation. Carol is in need of just about anything. Charlie and I sent a donation to her home address. If you would like to help out a fellow breeder who is in dire need, her address is:
Carol Heidl
2708 Campbell St.
Sandusky, OH 44870

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Crating is a necessity

Crating is a topic that often is misunderstood.We always crate train our dogs.The puppies are started when they are small and learn that the crate is a safe den.

We suggest that puppies be started in a crate that is 36 x 24 x 23.The wire crate provides maximum air flow and the suitcase version can easily be broken down and moved. The first thing to realize is that crating isn’t cruel but is a powerful training tool.It is one of the best services you can provide for your new pup.

Although the puppy may cry at first when being put in a crate, you can actually make the crate a fun place by providing toys and a chewy in the crate.Everytime that you put the puppy in the crate, toss a cookie in.Pretty soon, the puppy will bounce into the crate to anticipate the cookie. If the crate is left near the bed at night, itis likely that the crying will only last for a few minutes and the puppy will then fall asleep.Remember that an eight-week-old puppy will most likely not make it through the entire night without a trip to the back yard. Sometimes, if they begin to cry, just the simple act of sticking your fingers through the crate will provide enough reassurance to soothe and settle her down to sleep. In addition, the closer to the crate that you are, the easier to awaken when she begins to stir for a trip outside.

During the day, I suggest that you use the crate for brief periods so that the puppy doesn’t have the full run of the house.I always say that you can save your very expensive rugs,furniture and even walls by using a crate when the puppy is left unsupervised.An alternate scenario is to leave the puppy out of the crate and come back to possible destructiveness due to separation anxiety.The best thing that you can do with dogs is to not anthropomorphize.They appreciate your care and consideration and love but they also have instinctive behavior that is uniquely canine.

Monday, June 26, 2006

OFA exam

I just got back from our vet's office and went over Surry's Division Bell's x-rays for her permanent hips and elbows. They looked wonderful! I'm always on edge about having the final radiographs done but we have been very lucky with our dogs that descend from Tilly. Belle's brother Gilmour has had his final's done and they looked great as well. Barrett is out being shown with Rusty and Jen Howard but will have his finals done when he comes home. We are very happy that so far all has gone well with this litter.

Dr. Shong at Bohicket Vet is a master at positioning the dogs. He takes multiple films to make sure that the dog is positioned exactly. He does use anaesthestic for which I'm glad as rotating the hips and elbows can cause discomfort and without anaesthesia it is very difficult to get the rotation necessary for correct positioning.

Time to relax and have a celebratory class of lemonade!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Lazy Sunday

It was a deluge this morning when I went out to do the kennels and let the dogs out. I sat for awhile on a dogloo and watched it come down. The dogs had a great time splashing about in the puddles in the paddocks. After feeding the dogs, it was a nice day to just relax, read the paper and watch the raindrops fall. I think that rainy days are nice and it makes a good time to reflect and relax. Today was one of those days. It looks as if the week will be that way. Lots of time to try to run among the rain drops.

I had things that I wanted to get done, like take my rowing shell out and clean it up to get ready for summer and fall rowing. Looks as if I'll have to do that one evening this week or wait until next weekend.

We've decided to name the puppies Addy and Amelia. They are missing their littermates a bit but also enjoy going for runs around the yard. I heard from the puppy owners today and their babies are doing great. I can't wait to see more photos as they grow.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Puppies have gone

The last two boys went to their new homes today. It was so nice to see how thrilled the puppies and owners were. We now have the "bad" girls left for us. Purple and teal girl are full of themselves and a little lonesome now that they don't have their brothers to pick on! We've at least had a bit of a breeze today so the puppies were able to spend a few hours outside. I'm ready for fall weather and we're only a few days past the summer solstice.

I read in the Post Courier that Charleston didn't make the Sweatiest City list. Huh??? Sweat was invented in Charleston. When you get up at 5:30 AM and it is 74 F already,that qualifies as being a sweaty place. Sinced the listing was sponsored by Old Spice, perhaps they didn't list Charleston because this is more of an Armani place???? Who knows what they were thinking!

Sultry night

Another hot day on Friday. I didn't post last night because there was just too much to get done. I got home, let the dogs and puppies out, cleaned kennels, checked phone messages, heard from Charlie who was leaving Providence, and did some other minor chores. Berta, my neighbor and good friend, called to see if I wanted to go out for dinner. YIKES--I'm still in my kennel clothes consisting of a torn t-shirt and funky muddy work pants. So I took a shower, put some other kennel clothes on, fed up the dogs and got the puppies squared away and eventually by 7 PM was nearly ready to head to Bohicket Marina to watch the sunset over the creek. There was a bit of a breeze and we sat on the upper deck of the Privateer enjoying dinner. Charlie was supposed to arrive by 9 PM but when I got home, I had a phone message indicating that he was stuck in Charlotte and may not make it home due to all planes being backed up by thunderstorms. By 11:30 PM, I walked the dogs for the last time and got ready for bed. Charlie made it home around 1 AM. He said that it was a zoo at Charlotte airport. It was pretty much a zoo around here too!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Too hot to handle

It's hot enough to fry an egg here in SC. Every morning, it's absolutely stifling. Charlie is in cool, breezy Providence, RI for a meeting. Meanwhile, the dogs and I are dragging through the morning and evening chores. The puppies seem unfazed by it all. Thank goodness for the misting system as it is on from 10 AM to 6 PM and the dogs just like to lie under it.

I'm through with the chores for the day and am actually meeting some friends to listen to a local music group called the Marsh Grass Mamas. Gina Perez, who works for Charlie and who used to work for me, plays fiddle with the group. I'm looking forward to drinking some iced tea and listening to some music for a couple of hours. Then, it will be time to head back to Wadmalaw and get ready to start up another early morning out at the kennels. This is about the only time of year that I wish I didn't have to venture outside.

Well, I'm off to get out of my kennel clothes and into something that is cool and clean!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Summer is the time when fleas really wreak havoc. We've had a bad time with them this year, largely because we have so many squirrels and other wildlife. All the dogs are on Frontline Advantage Plus and that helps. We also have to do premise control by tilling up the soil and liming the kennel area. We used to be able to use Dursban but that has been banned by EPA for several years.
One of the things that you can do is to check over your dogs, especially around the tail area and along the inner thighs. We are going to have to start the puppies right away on flea preventative because we noticed that they had several on them. Unfortunately, it seems that this year may be a bad year for the blood sucking insects.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Urinary Tract Infections

This past week, we noticed that Tilly was having accidents. She would urinate several times outside and then would come in for a few hours and also urinate. We realized that this was probably a UTI. She seemed sluggish and generally embarassed that she was making these mistakes. We took her to the vet and she was diagnosed as having a bad UTI. After several days of antibiotics, she is much better and hasn't had any more accidents. Tilly is 12 years old and is the grande dame of Surry. She is a wonderful old girl who has provided us with so many wonderful champions. She and her daughter Annabelle (Surry's High Hopes) are our house dogs and are wonderful companions. I always worry when anything is wrong with the oldsters as they can go down hill in a moment's notice. Here's hoping that Tilly will have many more years of life!

Monday, June 19, 2006

What's it like having a litter to raise?

Flamingo raised an interesting topic about the amount of work that goes into raising a litter. Not only is there a great deal of anxiety involved in whelping the litter but there is a lot of anxiety in just raising up puppies until they are 8 weeks.

For the first week, the babies have to be kept warm as they can't regulate their body temperature. I sleep in the whelping room just to make sure that no one gets rolled on by a tired and sleepy dam. I've lost several puppies due to one crawling under the dam and being crushed. It generally happens around day 4. I feel that if I can get the puppies to one week of age, then the chances of that happening lessen.

Another issue is making certain that the puppies have enough milk. Some bitches have plenty while others, especially those after a C-section, may not immediately have a lot of milk. On the last litter with Stella, I had to supplement with goat's milk. She simply didn't have enough milk after her C-section to sustain the babies. I weigh the puppies every day to make sure that they are gaining. If they aren't, then I don't hesitate to supplement.

Once the babies are a week old and eating well, I can relax a bit. I finally can sleep in a real bed and get back to work. The bitch will take care of cleaning the puppies and will keep the box clean. Nevertheless, the pads in the box have to be changed every other day.

At 3 and 5 weeks, wormings are done on the babies. If there is any sign of diahrrea, then treatment for coccidia needs to occur. Shots are given at 6 weeks and again at 8 weeks before the puppies go home.

At around 3 weeks, we start the puppies on a weaning formula. I've been using the same formula for a while and it works well. We grind up Pro Plan Lamb and Rice adult food, mix it with hot water, some Half and Half, some apple sauce, and some chicken and rice baby food. It makes a nice yummy gruel that the puppies lap up.

Once the solid food starts, then the poop factor increases significantly. Some bitches will continue to clean up but we usually always move the puppies to shavings after 4 weeks. The whelping box is broken down and the puppy pen is cordoned off to make an area for sleeping/eating and an area for eliminating. The puppies get the idea that they are supposed to keep their eating area clean within a couple of days. The shavings and bedding has to be changed often as the puppies get bigger. The amount of output increases dramatically from 6 to 8 weeks.

These are just some of the issues that go into raising puppies. There are tragedies that can occur such as disease outbreaks, snake bites (see earlier entry on this), and congenital problems. Being a breeder requires toughness, courage, persistence, dedication, and a great deal of love.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Robin and Thomas

Robin came today to pick up Thomas. They left to head back to Virginia where Thomas will be a companion to Ch. Surry's No Doubt at Castlewood. Robin thinks that Thomas' name should either be Surry Why Doubt at Castlewood or Surry Never Doubt at Castlewood. She wants to have a part of Gwen's name in there since Stella and Gwen are full sisters. Gwen finished her Ch. but Robin decided not to breed her since she loved Gwen so much that any risk to her wasn't worth the anxiety. That is something that breeders face every time that they do a breeding. I've often questioned my judgement in putting my girls through a whelping since it can be so hard (and even deadly) for them. I'm planning to slow down with breeding eventually, especially as I get more breeds in the sporting group to judge. I think that there comes a time that all the anxiety takes its toll. For now, though, Robin has her Thomas and is very happy. Here' s hoping that he follows in his dam's, sire's, aunt's and uncle's pawprints.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Puppy pickup day

Green boy went to his new home yesterday and teal boy went to his new home today. Red boy is being picked up by Robin in the morning and will be heading to Virginia. We supply a complete puppy packet that has a lot of interesting articles including those on housebreaking, crate training, correcting puppy biting and jumping, as well as information on genetic problems, clearances, pedigree, general care, behavioral stages, and finding a good vet. We are keeping the two girls who are already demonstrating their showiness and independence. The other two boys will be going to their new homes next weekend. We are looking forward to getting back to the quiet life here as having puppies takes a lot of time and energy. I'm glad that we won't be planning any breedings until fall.

Regarding puppy grading, it is actually pretty simple. I've watched the babies for nearly 8 weeks and have an idea of which ones I like; however, since Robin was getting a show quality male, she wanted to come over and bring some breeder friends to look at the babies. We stacked each of the babies on a table and looked at their overall balance, shoulder placement, rear angulation, bites, heads, and overall bone structure. We then watched them move on the ground. There was a lot of debate over which was the one for Robin. She decided on red boy because he was well balanced, felt solid, moved nicely and had a wonderful head. Puppies can change so much though that one is never sure how they will actually turn out. That's why we are running on two girls in hopes that at least one will work out!

More tomorrow after Robin picks up her boy....

Friday, June 16, 2006

Puppy grading

We had several breeders over last evening to grade the puppies. Each puppy was stacked on a table and anatomical aspects examined. It was interesting to hear the different view points but all agreed that this litter is spectacular. We will be running on the two girls from the litter. Both are very nice, and I'm hoping for another Stella. The first puppy goes to its new home tonight and the rest will go over this weekend and next weekend. Robin is taking home Red Boy although she had a hard time choosing which male she liked the best.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Puppy Wellness check up

Life has been very busy and I missed a couple of blog days. It seems that there just aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done as planned.

The puppies went for their wellness checkup last evening. All checked out just fine and were very healthy babies. The two snake bite victims were completely over their ordeal. Our vets take a lot of time with the puppies and carefully examine each and every one. They were amazed at their size with all weighing between 12 and 14.5 lbs. Definitely these puppies love to eat!

Several of my breeder friends are coming this evening to do the puppy grading with me. We will individually stack each puppy, watch them move on the ground and assess retrieving ability and other aspects of temperament. Robin Moody (Castlewood Labradors) will be taking one of the boys back to Virginia with her. I hope to have some updated photos of the babies after the puppy grading.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Snake Bit!

I picked up the babies this morning from the Mt. Pleasant Emergency Clinic. The staff just loved them and were so pleased at how well they had recovered. The swelling is almost gone on the face of the baby boy while the teal girl's ear is still swollen but should be back to normal soon. The puppies were fitted with little E collars so that they wouldn't pull on their IV tubing.

I drove the puppies to Bohicket Veterinary clinic where they will be monitored today by Drs. Shong and Rockwell. They will get another drip of fluids just to continue to flush out their system. I feel much better just knowing that the puppies had great veterinary care and will be fine. We are very fortunate that it was a copperhead bite and not a rattlesnake. Circumstances would likely have been very different. I can't resist the look on the pups' faces as they arrive at Bohicket Veterinary Clinic.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Copperhead Road


On my way back from Asheville, I received a frantic call from Charlie. During the puppy open house, two of the puppies wandered under some bushes and one was bitten by a venomous snake. The puppy was bitten on his nose. Charlie rushed the puppy to the Mt. Pleasant emergency clinic where he received IV fluids, benedryl, steroids, and antibiotics. He left the puppy at the clinic for overnight observation. He got home and found that another puppy had been bitten on the ear. He called as he was on his way to take that puppy to the E clinic. I was very upset and worried as I was in Columbia when I got the call and on my way home.

Wadmalaw has a lot of snakes, largely because it is undeveloped and there are lots of woods and wetlands about. We routinely find copperheads and Charlie was bitten by one on the ankle last year. Fortunately, the puppies that were bitten will be fine and can be picked up in the AM. We are extremely vigilant about watching the babies and keeping them from being near the woods. It is the time of year when venomous snakes are feeding and enjoying the warmth of the days. It is just unfortunate that the babies had to encounter a bad snake.

A word to the wise about dogs and snakes: Be very careful in wooded areas or in areas where there is pine straw. Snakes love to crawl under pine straw. Treat your puppy as you would an infant. They are innocent creatures who want to explore. Hopefully, these two puppies will have learned a valuable lesson. I've learned that it's best for me to be around when the puppies are out and about as they are simply at the age where they need a bit of "corralling" .

I'm tired after a long drive home and lots of anxiety over the pups. I'm up at 6 AM to drive to Mt. Pleasant to get them and bring them home. I'm sure that they will enjoy being back with their siblings after this journey along Copperhead Road.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Saturday in Asheville

We showed at 8 AM at the horse arena. It is a nice venue, although a bit dusty. Tobias placed second in his open black class and Isabelle didn't place but did show well. She is such a cute puppy and seemed to really enjoy the whole experience. This was her first time in the ring and she wagged her tail, baited well and really seemed to enjoy seeing all the other dogs. It was nice to see a lot of breeders from Florida here and to see some Labrador people that I hadn't seen in a while.

After showing, my friend Roberta and I went to downtown Asheville and to Biltmore Village. It is a fun town with lots of interesting shops. We also had dinner tonight at an excellent Thai restaurant. I would like to come back up here just to enjoy the town and the antique shops.

Labradors show again at 8 AM tomorrow. More news about tomorrow's show tomorrow evening.

Friday, June 09, 2006

In Asheville

Got into Asheville this afternoon. What a neat town! Every time that I come here, I just love it. Very eclectic with lots of artsy stuff. We walked around downtown until around 10 PM. Stopped at the Mellow Mushroom, sampled the local color, and looked at all the neat shops. We have an 8 AM ring call so I'll be up early to air the dogs and get them ready. Izzy was a great traveler and has enjoyed the trip so far. Tobias is always sober and calm. It should be fun to show and then go back downtown to stroll around. Part of the fun of going to dog shows is getting to be in neat areas where there is something of interest to see.
More tomorrow after the show!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Another show weekend

Tomorrow I'll leave for a 2 day show in Asheville, NC. It's one of my favorite show spots because I love the mountains and it's generally cooler there. Plus, Asheville is a neat, artsy town with lots of unique shops. I'm taking Tobias, hoping to snag one of those elusive major wins, and Izzy who will be in her very first show.

I spent some time tonight talking about showing to someone who is wanting to begin showing. I tried to explain the vagaries and many variables that occur at dog shows. Unlike performance events where one has points deducted for imperfect performances, conformation showing is the essence of subjectivity. It is that judge's opinion on that given day. Some judges are better at knowing the Labrador than others. It is also an expensive sport, with thousands of dollars spent on making up a champion. Some never make the grade and yet they are wonderful examples of the breed, while others get the title but are poor examples of the breed. It's all very confusing to someone who is wanting to do this.

Another thing that people who are new to the whole show game expect is to have that Best in Specialty winner right away. That's like winning the lottery--well, maybe the odds are worse for the lottery, but you get my point. It isn't easy. There is no sure bet in this. Yet, I'm often asked about guarantees. Can you really guarantee much of anything when it comes to a living creature? We do guarantee the dogs that have their OFA clearances because we know what their phenotype is. That doesn't mean that they will never produce a problem. We don't guarantee puppies because there are environmental affects as well as genetic factors that can influence what happens with puppies. The important and major orthopedic problems are the result of polygenic traits and not the simply autosomal recessive traits that produced Mendel's peas.

If you're one of the fortunate ones who is able to breed or buy a spectacular dog or bitch who wins a specialty and gets it's Ch. at 15 months and passes all clearances, there is still no guarantee that it will reproduce itself or better. It's spinning the roulette wheel with no idea as to whether you are going to hit the jackpot or just go bust.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Sad for Reba

I heard some news today that really was so sad. A good friend and fellow breeder has one of our girls. She was bred to a well-bred male and whelped 8 puppies with no difficulties. The puppies are now 8 weeks old. A few days ago, they started to vomit and have diahrrea. My friend became concerned and began to give them fluids. Sadly, she lost two of the puppies. All the remaining puppies are now at her vets office and it appears that they have rallied enough that they will make it. A parvo test was done but it came back as being negative. I am so sad for my friend and for Reba who is mother to the babies. It is every breeder's nightmare to have puppies who contract a virus, but even worse to lose such gorgeous babies at 8 weeks of age. It has made me sick at heart today to know about this.

I always caution puppy owners not to take their babies out in public places where they may pick up a deadly virus. A puppy just doesn't have the ability to fight dehydration when it is both vomiting and having projectile diahrrea. I'm sure that many of the puppy people think that I'm being way too cautious. All one needs to do is to live through something like this and it will make you extremely aware of deadly viruses that can take the life of a puppy.
Here's hoping that Reba's remaining babies recover and are strong and well.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Working the puppies

Because I have Isabelle entered in her first show this weekend in Asheville, I thought that it would be good to practice with her last night. I've worked with her a lot since she was a baby but since I was at sea for the week, the practices ended. Izzy did great gaiting and standing but she isn't crazy about using her ears. It really helps with expression when the ears are up rather than down. I jiggled cookies in my pocket, made some whistling sounds--all to no avail. Finally, I made a howling dog sound and the ears went right up. Now I just have to figure out how to do this softly in the ring (or else the judge and everyone else will probably think that I've lost my mind!). When her ears went up, I praised her and gave her a piece of cookie. She was getting the hang of it, even though I sounded like a sick coyote. The things that we do for showing and the dogs!!!

I also worked Vera and Pink. Vera likes to buck like a horse but finally settled down, wagged her tail and gaited nicely. Ears were up and tail was wagging. Pink loves to grab the leash in her mouth which is something that may seem cute but is a bad habit to start. I had to give some minor tugs and corrections to make her stop. She loves to eat cookies so her tail was going and she stacked herself like a pro.

I really like to encourage the babies and make it fun for them. They can get sour on showing if you don't. Well, off to feed the dogs.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Back on terra firma

I'm finally back home after a week at sea. My feet touched the ground on Friday evening in Savannah. It was a productive trip with lots of critters collected. No doubt it will take many months to work up all the information. It is very good to be home and finally catch up on some much needed rest.

What was great was seeing my hubby and the dogs. Anna and Tilly were butt tucking around and I was generally mauled by all the others. The puppies had grown and were happily enjoying getting outside. We had puppy visitation yesterday and it was interesting to watch their interactions with each other and the people who came to play with them. They are definitely happy, chunky babies who are inquisitive and loving life. They remind me so much of Stella that it is uncanny. I took some new photos of the babies and hope to have them up on the web soon.
More later.....