Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Adult versus Puppy Food

Food is one of the issues that seems to be like religion and politics--everyone has a differing viewpoint and strong opinions. We feed our dogs and puppies Pro Plan Lamb and Rice Adult food. The seniors get Pro Plan Senior. The reason why the puppies get the adult food is that we want slow, steady growth and secondly, we have had extraordinary good luck with using the adult food. We have never fed a large breed formula. I talked with a local orthopedist about nutrition in Labradors and he indicated that feeding an adult formula was the best thing to do. He did not think that there was any advantage in feeding a large breed formula. Unfortunately, many vets are ill-informed and think that Labradors have similar nutritional needs as pointers or poodles. They don't! The English type Labradors tend to have more bone and overall substance than many other breeds. They don't need a lot of protein and fat--in fact, a 24-25 % protein and 12% fat is just fine for these dogs. In fact, I've occasionally had to feed a lite formula when a puppy begins to exhibit signs of pano or a growth spurt in which the bones grow unevenly. A breeder friend once described this syndrome as "piano leg" and recommended that the protein content be reduced immediately. I put the puppy on lite formular Pro Plan and the problem corrected within a week.

Another favorite thing for vets to do is to recommend a food that they carry, such as Science Diet. Science Diet is not a food that I would recommend for Labradors. I believe that we as breeders have a good idea about what works for our dogs and what doesn't. Each breeder will have a different opinion but I think that it is best to heed the advice of the breeder from whom you get a puppy, rather than disregarding and going with a vet's advice.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Books on Labradors

I'm asked quite a bit about books that I recommend for Labrador owners. Here is a list of my favorites.

  • Reaching for the Stars: Advanced Dog Breeding Concepts (Pure Bred Series) by Mary Roslin Williams. This was originally called Advanced Labrador Breeding but that book is sadly out of print. This is essentially a reprint with a bit of additional information. It is an excellent book for those interested in breeding and how to become a better breeder.
  • The Ultimate Labrador Retriever, Second Edition by Heather Wiles-Fone. This is a good book written by an English breeder and judge. It provides basics about the breed but is especially interesting because it provides photos to indicate differences in type and structure.
  • The Art of Raising a Puppy by The Monks of New Skete. This is an excellent book for training a puppy during the first 3 months. The monks stress the need for early human socialization. The book also stresses humane training methods, and the importance of positive reinforcement.
  • How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With by Clarice Rutherford. This is another great book on puppy rearing. I especially like the idea that it isn't necessary to have formal tests to evaluate puppies. Just watching them play and observing their behavior is just fine!
  • Book of the Labrador Retriever by Anna Nicholas. This is an older book but has a lot of information in it. I like the photos of the Labradors of yesteryear.
  • The Versatile Labrador Retriever by Nancy Martin. This is my favorite on the breed. It is well-written and provides a lot of information on English and American lines. I like to see photos of the dogs behind our lines. This book provides a very good summation of the history of the breed as well.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Finding a good vet

One of the black boys went to a new home today. The puppy will be living in Asheville and will have a wonderful home. I’m glad that all the babies are doing well and enjoying their time outside. It’s also nice that the days are getting longer and that there will be more time to play with them in the late afternoon. I have to start working on leash training for Crinkles.

I’ve heard from quite a few of the puppy owners. One of the most problematic things for getting a new puppy is finding just the right vet. I provide an article on how to find a good vet in the puppy packet that goes home with every puppy. Finding a good vet is sometimes easier said than done. I am so glad that we have Drs. Shong and Rockwell as our vets. Tweedle’s owner in Florida has been having a hard time finding just the right vet for Tweedle. Not all vets are created equal and some definitely have more knowledge than others. For example, we suggest that the vaccines to use are Progard Intervet. These are expensive vaccines and are thought to be very good. However, there are vets who continue to use other vaccines that have been reported to not be as effective. The mark up on drugs and vaccines from vets is enormous, probably over 120 %. We do give our own vaccines, except for rabies which legally has to be done through a vet. I think that each person needs to make sure that a vet is available and provides the best care possible. It is a good idea to interview the vet and see what their philosophy is. For breeders, it is important to be able to get in touch with the vet should there be an emergency during whelping. It certainly makes life so much easier to not go to an emergency clinic.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Ear and mouth licking

I received a picture from an owner that shows Mia's ear that has been licked and chewed on by Gracie. Ear licking is not uncommon and I've watched our girls lick each other's ears. Sometimes it can be a sign of affection but it can also indicate that there is a yeast infection. I always check the ears when I see licking occurring. We use Chlorhexiderm to put on a pad and then wipe the ear out carefully. It's important not to go too deep into the ear. Otomax is another good thing to put in the ear.

One of the other cute things to observe is how the younger ones will lick around the mouth of the older dogs. This is a sign of submission by the puppy and is often observed with a young puppy and it's mother. All of our girls and boys are amazingly tolerant of puppies and youngsters. It appears that Mia also puts up with the ear licking and chewing by Gracie. Aren't Labradors the most understanding and kind dogs?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The puppies spent the day out

The puppies have attained too much biomass for their puppy room so they spent the day outside in one of the kennels. Several, including little yellow girl, were put in with Crinkles. Others were put in an adjacent kennel. They were having a wonderful time and Crinkles was finally able to have some playmates nearly her own size. She was being bossed about by yellow girl who is very fearless. Even though it was rainy, the day wasn't cold and their thick wooly puppy coats will keep them warm. I'm sure that they all piled up together in the dogloo for a nap. Tonight they will have some play time outside of the kennel but if the rain increases, they'll probably be put up so as not to get too wet.

The spring peepers are out on Wadmalaw and the jonquils are blooming at Surry. Everthing seems to be pointing towards signs of spring nearing. It hardly seems as if we had much of a winter this year, although I surely did experience a blast of it on my recent trip to Rhode Island. Hopefully, there won't be a hard surprising freeze in March. I like the soothing sounds of the spring peepers and go to bed each night listening to their night sounds from the wetland near the bedroom window.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Getting photos of the puppies

I received this photo of a boy with his dog. The puppy is from the Barrett x Clara litter and she seems to be very content! We like getting news and photos of the puppies and heartwarming ones like this really make me smile.

The boys from the litter had a wonderful time playing outside, although the weather was a bit cold for them to stay out long. Although these are Labradors, I don't like to leave babies out except during the day. Crinkles is now able to spend the night in the kennel but it will be a while before the newest puppies are able to do that. It's nice though that the days are getting longer.

Stella had a big morning at the beach running and sniffing. She seems to really enjoy playing with other dogs that she meets there. She also went to Pet Smart where she got a new red collar to go with her Sullivan's Island dog tag collar. We should all be so lucky as to come back as a Sullivan's Island dog.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Coming home

It was wonderful to get home and see the dogs. The puppies have grown and are now 14-16 lbs! All of them were out in the yard today playing. I think that the little girl from Sally is very cute. She is totally full of herself. The black boys were bouncing around and playing with leaves. Crinkles is also full of herself. She is having a lot of fun playing with her toys. I am pretty exhausted after being away but am glad that there is a long weekend with Monday being a holiday. I hope to get some much needed rest and perhaps take the dogs to the doggy park one day.
Tilly and Anna were very glad to see me as well. Charlie really had his hands full while I was gone but handled everything in an amazing way. Thankfully, I won't have any more meetings in the northeast for a while and I never plan to fly through Detroit in February unless I absolutely am sabotaged by a travel agent. It was truly looking like Siberia!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Icy covering

Today, Newport is covered with ice. The meeting group was supposed to go to Prudens Island today but because of high winds and very cold temperatures, the ferry wasn't running. So we are going to do more meeting today and wind things up this afternoon. Unfortunately, that means that tomorrow there will be no meeting and my flight doesn't leave until 4 PM with my arrival back in Charleston at 11:20 PM.

Charlie says that the dogs are fine. I really miss them and am looking forward to seeing the puppies who I know have grown since I've been gone. Also, I haven't even seen the new yellow puppy from Reba's litter. Charlie said that she is very cute. I need to play with all the babies and perhaps take some of the dogs to the Isle of Palms dog park over the weekend.

Stella is doing well and is going to the beach every day with her human companion. She has decided that it's important to pick up all the mail and any items of clothing that she finds and take all of that to her crate. I'm not sure whether this means that she has decided to clean up or whether she is feeling secure by putting things from her human in her crate. It is funny to hear about this though. Certainly, she seems to be enjoying having constant attention.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The February storm

I'm looking out at a snow covered Newport this morning. It is absolutely beautiful. The snow started around 1 AM and was really coming down this morning. I walked along the inner harbor and looked out at Narragansett Bay. The snow is going to change over to rain and sleet later with a freeze tonight and possibly more snow.

Charlie said that the dogs are all okay and the puppies are having fun. Sally Sasser sent a Reba x Lewis (Ch. Ghoststone Louie Downtown) to me who is the same age as the Clara x Barrett babies. So there is this lone yellow girl amongst all the black boys. Charlie said that she is giving the boys what for and gets right in there to get her food and chow down. She evidently doesn't take any stuff off the boys.

I'm missing being home and playing with the puppies, although the Charleston weather with a lot of rain doesn't seem to be as appealing as the snow on the ground. I'm just hoping to be able to make it back home on Friday.

It's Valentine's Day so I'm hoping that the doggies are getting their special peanut butter doggy treats. I got a couple of Valentine greetings this morning which was nice. Just remember, no chocolate for the dogs!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Long meeting days

I'm listening to the weather and hearing that a major storm is headed to New England. It is supposed to dump about 4 inches of snow in RI. I'm in Newport so I'm not sure whether it will head here or not. I flew from Charleston through Detroit and there was a snow storm there. It was magical to watch the snow falling. The deicing of the plane was interesting as well. I think that it is crazy though to have meetings scheduled in the northeast in February. Also, whoever the travel agent was who sent me through Detroit probably needs to spend about 12 hours in an airport that is socked in by snow. I once had to spend 23 hours in Brussels because the airport was shut down by snow. There were guards with guns trying to keep some of the screaming travelers in line. I sat around with a bunch of other Americans on the floor and we generally talked and played cards. It became pretty old after a while.

Charlie is doing okay with all the dogs but I'm sure that he wishes that I were home. Hopefully, I'll be able to get out of here on Friday even though I have to go back through Detroit.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Puppy packets

Today was puppy pickup day, and I was on my way to Rhode Island for a meeting. I put together the puppy packets that contain articles on housebreaking, crate training, etc. as well as the shot record, pedigree, clearances, registration and a lot more information. Charlie was there to meet the puppy owners and go through the information packets. I think that this is the first time that I haven't been there to go through the information and hand over the puppies. All three of the girls are gone. The black boys are still at Surry. They will have wonderful homes eventually and in the meantime will have fun playing in their puppy pen.

It's always a good idea to always put together an informative puppy packet. I've found that articles on crate training and housebreaking are essential. I also have something that I put together that lists instructions for care of your puppy. It describes what to feed, when to feed, how much to feed, and other essentials that are needed for the puppy. The shot record is also very important. At 8 weeks, the puppy will have had the 6 and 8 weeks shots. We use Progard Intervet which is a good vaccine. It's important to provide as much information as possible to the new owners.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Missing Piedmont specialty

I hate that I'm missing the LRC of the Piedmont specialty this weekend. It is one of my favorite specialty shows. Unfortunately, I have a meeting out of town and just can't be in two places at once. The venue is wonderful and the club members are great. I've been a member of the LRC of the Piedmont for years but because of living on the coast, I seldom get to attend meetings. I was pleased to have taken BOB with Stella at the Piedmont specialty several years ago (has it been that long?). I'm hoping that everyone has a great weekend and enjoys the wonderful hospitality of the club.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Why does everyone want yellow labs?

It's a mystery to me why so many people are looking for yellow labrador puppies. Is it the Marley syndrome or the cute puppies used in commercials on TV? Is it because the faces are easier to see? For some reason, there is this much sought after yellow female which makes up about 80% of the calls that we receive. Obtaining a good Labrador should be based on its breeding, health clearances of the parents, and temperament, rather than color. To breed for color is a mistake that a lot of people make as the blacks have always been superior in overall type and conformation to the yellows. However, I'm speaking from the point of view of a show breeder and not John Q public.

There is also the idea that females make better companions than males. If I had just one dog, I would choose it to be a male because of their sweetness and desire to please. Bitches can truly be, well...bitches. They are a bit more independent and much more oriented towards food. Males are goofy and lovable while the girls are a bit more serious.

The girl babies from the Barrett x Clara litter are going to their homes this weekend. Because most calls are for females, we will have the six black boys with us until several are placed. I would like to run on a couple of these boys as they are very nice. However, it will be a challenge to work with six of them. Good thing that I like the boys!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Getting ready for cold weather

Labradors love the cold and are well equipped to deal with it. They have a thick double coat with oily guard hairs. They basically shed water. Nonetheless, I like to make sure that they have plenty of straw in their houses during the winter. It's funny to see what they do when the straw is added. They run into their dogloo, turn around a few times, play with the straw and then flop down in it. I've kept loading up the houses with straw as it gets tamped down. Last night, they seemed very happy to go into their houses immediately after feeding and hunker down for a cold night. Crinkle, the baby, comes in at night as do Anna and Tilly and Timmi. Anna and Tilly stay inside all day as well. Timmi enjoys going out and being with the others during the day. I think that having fresh air, squirrels to look at, and the companionship of other dogs really makes mine happy.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sunday on the Spirit

Today I slept in until 7 AM which is a luxury. Then, there were kennels to clean and puppies to feed, etc. In the afternoon, I went down to the Spirit of SC to do more with splicing and whipping of lines. I learned a back splice which is very neat and decorative. There weren't as many people in the class today and we were down below decks which made it a little less cold, although I felt chilled after 2 hours of working with the splices.

The puppies were outside to play for over an hour and a half today. It was a fun time for them. When I got home, I played with Crinkles for a while. She is now spending the day outside. She seems to enjoy barking at the other dogs. It's obvious that she is fearless.

Stella is doing well and is going for long walks everyday. She is enjoying going to the dog park on the Isle of Palms. She's made lots of new friends and has Cayenne and Cooper, the greyhounds, for romping with. I really do miss her but know that I'll get to see her and have her back at Surry intermittently. That makes me feel better to know that she can always come back home at anytime.

It's hard to believe that the Clara puppies leave this weekend for their new homes. I still have several boys that I am hoping to place but almost everyone is looking for yellow females. A good Labrador comes in all three colors!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

cold day

Today was one of those damp cold days that makes you want to stay in your pj's all day. Instead, I was up at o'dark thirty to take care of the dogs and then headed over to work with the rowing crew on the pilot gig. Our group has two of the 34 ft. wooden pilot boats but one of them was in need of work. There were worm holes and patching to be done. First though, the entire boat had to be sanded. We suited up in protective gear, face masks, gloves, etc. to avoid inhaling copper paint. After getting the boat bottom sanded, we worked on the oars to get them sanded and new collars put on. It was a very productive several hours but I was ready for a bowl of hot soup when lunch time came around.

The puppies are very full of themselves but it was too cold today to let them outside for playing. The ground was still wet so their visitors are coming tomorrow. I think that the next few days, especially Tuesday, are supposed to be chilly.

Stella got her stitches out on Friday and is doing great. She is visiting with a good friend for the rest of this month and will live partly there and here at Surry. She will no doubt be spoiled rotten since she will get to go for walks on the beach and sleep in the bed. I miss her but know that she will be treated like a queen while she is visiting.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The puppies are making a mess

Usually when puppies get to be around 7 weeks of age, they start really wreaking havoc in the puppy room. This morning, the mats were pulled all around and the water dishes were overturned. Toys were everywhere! It is fortunate that there is a puppy room because it would be pure hell to have the 9 babies running around a house. I've heard that people do rear their puppies inside but can't imagine what the house must look like if they do.

Fortunately, I had a bit of quietude by attending the Hamburg Symphony last night. The Brahms which was the last selection played, just about put me to sleep. Guest violinist Robert McDuffie was really great and gave a wonderful performance.