Monday, December 31, 2012

Pictures, We've Got Pictures!

Can't believe how many pictures I have of this litter, but they are so incredibly cute!  Between my regular camera and my cell phone camera, and the pictures that are forwarded by visitors, there must be thousands.  A visitor yesterday took over 200 and posted well over 100 to Facebook!

There is no way these pups could be better socialized!  We've had lots of company of all ages, and the pups are incredibly friendly.  This weekend I started taking them up to the bedrooms one at a time, so I could observe them away from their littermates and stack them a bit in front of the mirror on my dresser.  Again, all were brave and secure and comfortable exploring without the backup of littermates.

Tomorrow the pups will get their first car ride, going to visit Jess, Don, Cousin Meribel, and Simmie the GSD.  We'll see how they ride, and observe them in a totally new environment which will tell us a lot about their personalities.  AND we'll do formal pictures, stacked shots of each pup from the side, front, and rear.  That helps us evaluate their make and shape, how they fit together, and to see their outlines - things that are very important to me.  They'll have more room to move too, so we can observe their gaits more carefully. We'll probably decide from those pictures and observations which puppy will go where.

Maxwell continues to be absolutely fearless and so funny.  Into everything, but so cute I can't resist picking him up and cuddling him.  He's very handsome, a beautiful mover, and full of personality.  Very glad I do not have anyone waiting for a top show male - guess I will just HAVE to keep him.  Easy decision!

Melitta looks very nice too, moves well, beautiful black eyes and lots of angle.  She has the "crabby face" like so many Rob kids did, and both Jess and I are quite smitten with her.  As hard as it is to get extra good bitches, she will stay too.  Maxwell and Melitta may not stay forever, but we'll probably run them both on for awhile and see how they develop.

 Liver Sanka also looks very good.  Beautiful face, great color, and a pretty shape.  When I had her upstairs last night I was amazed at how much reach she had. Covers ground the way Maxwell does.  She's a compact chunky girl with a lot of bone - more bone than Melitta has, and something that is nice to get in this breed.  She already has green eyes which tells me she will have dark gold ones as an adult.  Argus has been doing excellent eye color on most of his liver kids.

Britt is similar in type to Sanka, but with more skull and stop and a "stuffed toy" look to her.  Incredibly pretty markings, expression and attitude make her extra cute.  She's built similarly to Sanka with lots of bone, and a "pick me up" look to her, but she's actually the adventurer.

Vittoria is very pretty and we have not decided if she goes to a pet or show home.  Have one of each waiting for and wanting her.  She's a bit slighter and less mature than her sisters, and we may wait another week before making a decision on her.  She was a quieter pup but really blossomed over the weekend.

Folgers is going to be the heart-breaker I suspect.  Had no show homes waiting for black-spotted blue-eyed boys this time, and I do not believe in waiting for homes to show up if I have good pet homes waiting.  It's too much work, especially in the winter, and not fair to the pups who deserve homes of their own.  Folgers has almost perfect spotting, and sets up well.  He's got a bit more leg than Maxwell, so an curious to see how he photographs.  His people are not interested in showing, which is a bit of a shame, but it should be an excellent home.

And beautiful Gevalia, the patch, will go as a pet of course.  This week we'll decide who gets her.  Not everyone wants a patch, while others prefer them -and she's an extra cute patch.  The party at the top of my list wants an unpatched pup - they already have a gorgeous black spotted Argus daughter and are waiting for another, but will continue to wait unless Vittoria is available to them.  I've offered Gevalia to the person who is next on the list but have not heard back yet, but the person who is right below them is interested so we'll see.  As I had expected, a couple of the parties for pets are no longer waiting.  One adopted a mixed breed dogs who showed up on the doorstep, and another found a Dal pup close to home - so glad for the latter as they had been waiting since last June for a puppy!

Friday, December 28, 2012


The pups had more company yesterday, when Kathleen and Dave stopped by over the noon hour. Once the pups had slowed down a bit and gotten their peeing out of the way, we brought them all up to the family room so Kathleen could get some pictures.  I snapped away too and finished off yet another set of batteries.  Digital cameras are so perfect for puppy pictures since fewer than one in a dozen pictures is really a keeper.

The litter continues to look fantastic and I could not be more pleased with them.  It's one of those litters where everyone (except the patch) could probably go to a show home.  As the pups develop, it's great to see how sound they are and how well they move.  A quality Dal is a lot more than pretty spots, and most of this group seems to have it all.  On New Years Day we will be doing a set of stacked shots - pups set up in show poses, with pictures taken from all angles.  This allows us to see their outlines and proportions and how they fit together.  Jess will do the stacking and she will also note how the pup "goes together" when she stacks it.  A really good puppy also has a good "fit" and its legs automatically set down in the right places - now, whether it will stay that way long enough for me to get good pictures is the question!

This evening the pups will come up into the family room again and I'll be watching them move and "set themselves up".  I'll watch how they looking coming and going and from the side.   I'll watch their foot placement, their toplines, how they carry their heads and tails, and whether they move with attitude and style.
They are almost six weeks old now, and by then the pups pretty much are what they are.  Proportions and outlines are very similar to what they will be as adults, and although they will go through stages, Dals generally come back to what they were at six weeks.  Some things are not fully predictable at six weeks - tail carriage, bites, and size can still be a problem later, but in general we know what we have by six weeks, or occasionally a bit longer.

Currently I am looking at Melitta and Maxwell, and could possibly keep both, at least for awhile.  I like Maxwell a lot, and do not currently have a home for a top quality male if that's what he is, plus he's my favorte pup!  Melitta looks like the most suitable girl puppy for me to keep, and is most promising, my reward for all the work of raising a litter!

Folgers is already promised, as are two of the girls depending on a variety of things including health testing.  We've figured out the hearing status, I think, with two unilateral hearing pups.  We'll check that again when I get together with Jess, and then the pups will get their BAER testing to confirm that the following Saturday.  How can they be old enough for that already!?

Now I need to decide which of the fantastic homes on my list will get Gevalia the extra cute patch, and also need to decide where to place the girl I suspect is a uni.  She's a gorgeous pup and probably would have gone to a show home, but if she is uni we might have to rethink that.  Unis can be shown, and there are many top winning unilateral hearing Dals, but the people on my list for show puppies also want bilateral hearing since you have more options for breeding a bilateral puppy.  Unilateral hearing dogs are more likely to produce deafness - BUT they can be bred intelligently.   If she was my favorite puppy I would not have hesitated to keep and show her.  BUT, what I will probably do is place her locally in a good pet home, and keep the rights to show her (at my expense).  Time to check with the people on my list and see if any of them are interested.  Are you?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Digs

Pups got new housing arrangements last night when I took the whelping box apart, enlarged the pen and added a crate for sleeping.  Holly no longer spends the night with them, so there's no need to have room for her to lay down, and when/if she feeds them, they have to eat standing up anyway.  More room for toys now, and the pen is easier to keep clean.  Now I need to come up with more "furniture" for the pen, things to keep the pups occupied during the day.

Holly was away from the pups all day yesterday and I did not take her down to see them until 10:00 PM.  They nursed her dry, and by this morning she was still pretty empty.  Maybe one or two more late evening visits, and then we're done.  Once Holly got tired of the pups, that was it.  She kept them clean and well fed when they needed it, but has turned the job over to me.  She's obviously not the earth-mother type like Josie who would have nursed her pups until they were as big as she was.

Pups are changing so quickly and starting to develop their own personalities.  Vittoria is the quietest, although she's brave and friendly, just a quieter dog.  Folgers is the most "peopley" and always wants to sit on your lap and be held.  He's a little whiny because of that, so we'll work to make him more independent.  He's very brave, just wants to be with you.  Gevalia is the most adventurous, and is already trying the stairs.  Although she looks cuddly, she really the explorer.  Sanka is the most mischievous and the most into toys, closely followed by Maxwell.  Sanka is already an alligator.  Britt and Melitta are right in the middle, with Britt being the busier of the two, and Melitta being more cuddly.  Melitta and Britt already know their names, but poor Maxwell thinks he's Little Argus!

Fern is camping at Heather's for a few days, so it's pretty quiet without her.  She's a busy dog, always playing with her toys, tugging with Josie or harassing her poor grandfather Argus.  It will be easier to have the pups upstairs though, and I'll probably introduce them to Josie and Watson tonight (Argus has already been down to visit them).  Josie likes babies, but Watson will sit in his chair and pull his feet up to be sure they don't touch his toes.  He was wonderful with pups when he was young, but is pretty bored with the whole idea now.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Past

Hope your Christmas was as good as ours was!  Gifts at home, then we picked up mom and traveled to my sister's for Christmas dinner.  My sister and her husband, my nephew and his girlfriend, my daughter and her partner, mom, Ron & me, and four dogs - Kris's charming Rat Terrier and her big mellow Dane/Lab cross, Jess's Meribel and our Fern.  Good thing Kris has a big house!

Fern's first Christmas, and she thought that unwrapping gifts was such fun!  Looked like a little kid on Christmas morning.  The dogs all got gifts to unwrap, although Holly had to do hers in her crate as she's a bit into "resource guarding" and gets a little protective about "her things".  She doesn't snap, but does growl, which I don't care for.  People can take anything from her, but she guards her space from the other dogs when she eats or plays with toys.  We raise our own dogs to "share", so I don't want Fern picking up bad habits.  This is something that is easily trained around.

Pups were pretty bored when we finally got home last night.  Only Fern got to go along to my sister's for Christmas Day, and the others all stayed home.  Holly stayed with the pups as she still has some milk left, but not much.  They are pretty much getting their nourishment from a bowl now.  Goats milk, cottage cheese, eggs, ground turkey and chicken, and kefir so far, plus a chicken neck each once a day.  This morning they will get some sweet potato added to their breakfast, and perhaps some beef for dinner.  They've also had well softened kibble twice.  Everyone is eating well, although Vittoria and Melitta get a separate bowl as they do not eat as fast as the other sharks!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Puppies Of Course

What a good weekend!  Lot's of fun with the pups, a good obedience class with Fern who seems to be developing a brain, a trip to the dog park with my daughter Jess, and Dals Argus, Fern, and Meribel, and a long phone call from my brother in Costa Rica.  Got lots done, and had fun too.

Pups are doing fabulously well.  Jess agreed that Melitta should stay, and perhaps Maxwell too.  Pups are still changing, but I am getting a feel on who should go to which home.  A couple of them are "tentatively promised" but we'll have to wait and see how this plays out.

What I am probably looking for now is a local co-owner - someone who wants to add a gorgeous pet to their home but is willing to let me show her.   We'll see how this plays out.

Friend Sue came over on Saturday to take Josie for a run and to play with pups, so they had way too much fun this weekend and are NOT happy to be shut in their pen.  They'll be most annoyed to find that the next two days will not include any visitors.  If the pups were just a week older I'd take them along to my sister's on Christmas, but instead they will be stuck in their pen, with only their mother for company.  Fern however, will go along to play with her doggy "cousins".

Am very very pleased with this litter.  They are absolutely lovely, with beautiful spotting and gorgeous faces.  Some show great promise as potential show dogs too, and all the temperaments are absolutely outstanding.  No shrinking violets or wall flowers in this group!

Raising a litter correctly is a lot of work, and takes an enormous amount of time, not to mention a sizeable cash outlay.  Sometimes things fall into place, sometimes they don't.  So far this litter pleases me immensely, which is a good thing as the next 3 - 5 weeks are the most work, the messiest, the loudest (pups have discovered their voices), and the most expensive.  So glad to have wonderful homes waiting.

Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Big Weekend For The Pups

Pups are changing so quickly now, really becoming little dogs.  They are out of their pen right now, exploring the front side of the basement on their own.  There's nothing they can get in to there, and I want them to be comfortable exploring without me always present.  We did the backroom of the basement earlier, but I supervised that as I like to watch how they react to totally new environments.  It gives me a clue as to which pups are more cautious and will need a bit more work.  

They had their first raw meaty bones today too.  Chicken drummies.  They removed all the meat and I collected the bones.  In a few more days they will start working on the bones too.  They'll try chicken necks and chunks of chicken backs.  They primarily eat ground meat, goats milk, egg, kefir, and I'll start adding baby food veggies to the mix, but they will soon be getting one meal a day of raw meaty bones.  In another week I'll give them an occasional meal of softened Pro Plan Selects Turkey & Barley, a quality kibble that I recommend to kibble feeders.  The pups will be able to eat either raw or kibble.

More company this weekend, a trip to the family room, and an introduction to the portable pen that I'll have for them upstairs.  New toys, new food, new places to explore.  It's a busy time for the puppies.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Puppies Are Bored

Another Puppy Party last night, and the pups had such a good time.  Now they are bored - no longer satisfied to amuse themselves in their basement pen. Sorry guys, I can't take you out to play in the morning or I would NEVER get to work!  You'll have to wait until this evening.

When I go down to clean their pen, they try to climb up my ankles and beg to be picked up.  Who could resist?  I pick each one up, call it by name and hold it up to my face for a kiss.  They are all into kissing now.  Today they will get three meals in addition to whatever Holly has for them.  She'd rather not be bothered, but will continue to spent the night in the basement, hopefully giving them a midnight snack another week at least.

Holly is extremely bored with the pups and would rather be upstairs, preferably sitting on the sofa with Ron, or unfortunately getting into mischief.  She really wants more exercise, but her exercise is limited to leash walks for now and we have to keep them relatively short so she does not get frostbitten nipples!  Her real owner Jana is coming to visit over New Years, but it will probably be too soon to send Holly home.  I don't want to ship a bitch who is still nursing, if she is, and the Holidays are not a good time for dogs to travel.  So she'll probably have to put up with us for a bit longer.

This weekend the pups will come up to visit the family room for the first time which is always an interesting time.  I'll have lots of paper towels and spray cleaner available!  The adults will be crated at first so no one gets stepped on.  When they are tired, I'll put the pups in their new pen which will be set up in the family room, and let the adults out for a visit.  Only Argus has been allowed down to see the pups, and Josie who loves all puppies is so eager.  It will be interesting to see what Fernly thinks.  Watson used to love pups, but thinks that senior dogs should be exempt from dealing with them.  He'll hop up on the chair and watch from there.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weaning Has Begun

Wish I had been able to convince all of the pups to sit in this grouping for a photo shoot, but three of them were still out playing with a variety of new toys and boxes.  They had such fun last night with all the new "stuff"!  Need to go shopping at a kids store to pick up some other interesting items for them.  A mobile is at the top of my list.  They need a "cat tunnel" too.   Pictured are Sanka, Britt (who is always mugging for pictures), Folgers (in the center) and Vittoria.  I would have gotten a picture of everyone, but the batteries ran out in my good camera, so I just used the cell phone to get this shot.  Am so pleased with how "pretty" this litter is for faces and spotting.  Lots of chrome!

Weaning has begun, and the pups are eating goats milk (wow, is it expensive right now!), egg yolk, kefir, and freshly ground dark turkey from Whole Foods, my regular weaning formula.  They'll eat that several times a day for a few days, then other foods will be added - various kinds of meat, pureed vegetables, yogurt, whole eggs, and eventually they will get a few meals of well soaked kibble as well since some of the pups will be going to raw feeding homes and others to kibble fed homes.  Next week I'll introduce raw meaty bones, starting with chicken necks and wings.  The necks will probably be swallowed whole, but the wings will take some chewing.

They were wormed yesterday for the first time.  My own pups normally do not have worms of any kind, but because Holly is leased from someone else and I'm not sure about her status, it was time to do this for the first time.  I'll worm them again in two weeks, and take in a stool sample too in case they have anything other than roundworms or hookworms.  They look so healthy and robust, I doubt they have any parasites, but it's best to be sure.  I never medicate my dogs needlessly, but this worm medicine is very easy on pups.

Company again tonight - the pups will be delighted!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holly's Special Puppy

Holly is spending more and more time upstairs now, and whenever she comes up she seeks out the squeaky green fish toy to mother.  She particularly likes having it with her on the sofa when she is sitting with Ron. I've retrieved it from the whelping box on a number of occasions as she takes it in with her puppies, then tries to keep them away from it as if it were a "special needs puppy".  I guess being green, rubber and squeaky could make it special needs!  Her second choice is the rubber chicken and she will occasionally take both into a crate for special cleanup.  Josie and Fernly sit and watch her, wondering why she is cleaning their toys.  She'll growl if they attempt to steal her odd looking "babies".  Holly is resting in a crate now, with her chin on the green fish.

The new pen arrived yesterday, a 60 inch plastic pen that I can set up in the family room so the pups can be upstairs but safe from being trampled by the adult dogs.  It will be a good way to get them used to the presence of adult dogs as well as typical household noises (although my household is not exactly typical).  They'll start coming upstairs to explore this weekend (with the adults all crated) and then spend some time in the pen with the adults free to check them out.  Only Argus has been allowed down to visit the pups so far.

Appointments made for BAER testing, a thorough Vet check and first shots after they turn 6 weeks of age.  They'll get lots of practice car riding that week, and I hope the weather and roads are good!  Pups all hear, but we need to verify whether or not any have unilateral hearing (hearing in one ear) as it may affect how they are placed.

Both show and pet folks continue to ask if I've decided whether there will be a puppy for them, but it's far too early for that.  I hate to keep people waiting, but being pressured about puppies takes some of the fun out of it for me.  I understand why people want to KNOW, yet I put all this time, work, and money into doing a litter of pups hoping to get a puppy for ME.  Until I have done a thorough job of evaluating pups for structure and personality, and have decided who I am keeping, I can't make any decisions as to where the other pups will go, and whether they will go as show potential or companions.  So far the litter looks exceptionally nice and most pups still look as if they will be show potential, but soon I will start evaluating movement and basic structure, and then we will have a better idea of what we are dealing with here.

Stay tuned.  Pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We're Bored

Pups have had such fun the past two days, with company to visit, and laps to fall asleep in.  On Sunday they had two young girls to play with, last night three teenaged boys.  Having a litter of pups is such a great way to catch up with friends, and it's been fun watching Trevor and Bradley grow up with Dals of their own (their family is on their third Paisley Dal) and visits with my puppies.  Kassia and Jozie's mom Heather grew up in a family with Dals too and I knew her parents many years ago when they belonged to the Dal Club and raised a litter of pups sired by our Ch. "Henry".

When I went down this morning, the pups were standing at their gate, singing, "Let us out, we're bored in here!"  Time to make the pen bigger.   Tonight the pen gets enlarged, and I'll add some boxes and lots more toys.  I posted to Facebook to see what things other breeders add to their puppy pens, and got some new ideas.  Because these are winter pups and they will not get much yard time, I need things to keep them busy, and visually stimulating toys for socialization.

Good news is there was only one pee spot in the box this morning, which means they have mastered the idea of keeping their "bed" clean.  I can add more toys to the box now and make it into a playground, and most of the peeing will be in the pen on papers.  Makes housekeeping a bit easier.

Miss Holly is very tired of motherhood and would prefer to stay upstairs now, feeding the pups only when pressure builds up too much.  She's getting a walk every evening now, which she really appreciates!  Had meant to start weaning the pups on Sunday, but time did not permit, and the pups are doing well as Holly has lots of milk.  Tonight though, weaning begins.  I love the first pictures of puppies in the food pan!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Let The Puppy Parties Begin!

For once I actually got through my entire To Do List on a weekend.  Admittedly, the list was more realistic than normal, only about half the length it usually is.  I knew I would be distracted by incredibly cute pups all weekend, and took that into consideration.  Good thing I did not over-schedule as we had the added wrinkle of surgery on Watson's ear.

Ron was petting little Watty boy (12 1/2 year old Coral son) on Saturday morning when he noticed a huge soft lump on Watson's right ear.  A Hematoma, a blood and fluid filled swelling about 3/4 inch thick that took up half his ear.  Fortunately I was able to get him in to the vet clinic that morning, where they sedated him, removed all the bloody fluid and clots, and inserted a drain that he will be wearing for 3 weeks.  If the ear is just lanced and drained it usually fills up again, and the plastic drain will hopefully keep that from happening.  He seems to be handling things well and is enjoying the extra attention.

Fern had her first obedience class on Saturday and things went pretty well except for the distraction of kids, one of whom was wearing furry white boots and dancing around the ring.  Too much of a distraction for Fern!  I was annoyed, as the class was not inexpensive, and the dogs did need any more distraction on the first day.  Should have offered to pay for a babysitter for next week!  Fern did fine though, and the class is handy, only a mile away.  We can always do a better class next time.  Distractable Fern needs to learn to concentrate before I can show her, and obedience classes will help.  She had a great weekend, with class, a run in the park, and a visit from her favorite kids.

The pups are 4 weeks old today, and have entered the Period of Socialization which lasts from 4 weeks to 4 months.  This is the time when pups need to be exposed to as many new things as possible.  A variety of people, situations, sounds, sights, smells, and textures.  The experiences a pup has during this 3 month time frame will determine what he grows up to be.  A puppy who does not receive appropriate socialization during this period can never make up for lost time, so we will be very busy for the next month, trying to insure the pups get as much socialization as we can manage.  Then it's up to their new owners to continue the process.

We had our first Puppy Party yesterday, the first of many.  Jozie and Kassia are great with pups and ALL the youngsters had a good time.

The adult dogs love Puppy Parties too, as they know they will get lots of extra attention too.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

More Questions Than Answers

Not my norm to post on Sunday, but it was one of those "can't sleep nights" so I finally gave up and got out of bed.  Argus and Josie just gave me the look and went back to sleep, so it's me, the blog, and coffee.  Too much happening right now, far too much of it bad.  Too many problems both large and small.

How can there be so much evil out there?  Why can't we identify and manage people with serious mental health issues?  What causes them to finally snap - and why can't they just kill themselves?  Is the sensationalism and notoriety really the trigger for mass murders?  How can any sane person argue against gun controls of some type?  How can they argue that NOW is not the time for meaningful action on this issue?  I just don't understand.  How can the parents of the murdered children ever get through this?  How traumatized will the surviving children be?

And how is poor Watson feeling about wearing the e-collar?  Will his hematoma heal as it should or will he need more surgery?  Will he really dig at the drain if I leave the collar off when no one is watching him?

Will I ever make a showdog out of Fern?  How can she be so scatty and distractable?  How can a pup this pretty be such a fool at times?  Can they put dogs on Ritalin?  Will this 6 week obedience class be helpful?  Will the mother of the kid with the furry white boots leave her (or the boots) home next week?  Why does our instructor allow kids in the class anyway?  Was this a waste of money?  Should I have signed up for a class at Animal Inn?  TCOTC?  Pet Junction?  Will these foo foo methods be helpful or am I wasting my time? Where should I send Fern so she's around kids more?  How will I manage her around the puppies?  Will she bully them?  Will she be gentle?  Will she scare them?

When should I pick up more food for Holly?  When should I start weaning the pups?  When should I make their pen bigger?  Should Holly spend more time upstairs?  How am I going to get Holly's nails cut?  Should I try the grinder?  Why is she so bad about this?

When will I get my Christmas shopping done?  My Christmas cards done?  My gifts mailed?  My house decorated?  Should I bake?  When?  Should I just buy Christmas cookies this year?  Will the weather be good on Christmas Day?  How long will we be gone?  Should I take Fern?  Will the pups be OK being left that long?  Will Holly be OK being left that long?

Why did I buy another Charlie Brown tree?  It's so hard to decorate around holes!  Will this one actually look OK when the bulbs are added?  Is it worth the aggravation to save $10.00?  When will I ever finish decorating this tree and the one on the porch too?  

Did my hand heal properly?  Should I make an appointment with the sports medicine doctor to have it rechecked?  Will I need surgery?  Do I need more PT?  Will my wrist ever stop aching?  Is this Carpel Tunnel Disease?  Why do I have pain in the ankle that was broken almost three years ago?  Why now?  More exercise?  More calcium?  Will my back ever feel perfect again?

Will I have enough company to socialize my pups appropriately?  Will I survive all the company?  Will I survive all the work involved with winter puppies?  Will the pups all be steady or will some require extra work?  Will the weather be OK when they have to go in for their BAER testing.  Will the weather be OK for shipping when the time comes? Is the prettiest bitch a uni?  Are they all bi?  Could I be that lucky?  Why does Folgers have to have a blue eye?  Should he go to a show home anyway if he continues to look this good?  Or should I just let him go as a pet?  Should I keep Maxwell?  Should I keep a "spot" available for a liver boy? How will I explain to the people who are desperate for a puppy that I don't have enough to go around?  Will the pups all continue to look this good?  Will their tails come up?  Will their bites be OK?  Will they be as sound as they are pretty?

What to do with mom today?  When will I go over there?  Should we go out to lunch?  Or dinner?  Shall I take Fern along for some extra socializing?  Do I have a list of the things she wanted me to bring over today?  Should I take her some of the stew I made yesterday?  Should I buy her a Poinsettia?  Will she still be OK by Christmas?  How long can she continue to live alone?

Dogs are stirring and the coffee is working.  Problems are put into perspective (more or less) and it's time to get moving.  Lots to get done today.  I will.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Saying Good Bye Is Never Easy

Never easy, but inevitable.  I snapped this picture of my Jess saying good bye to Coral.  Ron said his good byes to his special girl at home, taking her for a very short walk, then just sitting with her on the sofa with her head in his lap as they have done so many times before.  Ron & Coral.   Jess met me at the clinic, as she did several years ago when we said good bye to Sidney.  It's never easy, but having someone to share the grief seems to help.  Coral's favorite Vet Dr. Amy did the deed and shared our tears as Coral passed peacefully and slipped away to wherever good dogs go.  Heaven?  The Rainbow Bridge?  If good dogs go to heaven, Coral did.  She was a very good dog. If they go to the Rainbow Bridge she has probably already re-connected with her Grandpa Morris and all the other relatives who passed before.

Puppies are the best therapy and it's hard to be sad when a puppy is giving you kisses!  Britt was only too happy to oblige!  A visit with the puppies made everything better.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Time To Say Good Bye

When I took this picture of Sanka last night, the first thing that came to mind was how much she looked like Coral, at least in this picture.  She's only very distantly related to Coral, does not have Coral's big eyes, and maybe it's just the open markings and distinctly red liver color that look so familiar.  Or perhaps it's just that Coral is so very much on my mind right now.

Today will be The Day, Coral's last day.  The appointment is made with Coral's favorite Vet, Jess will meet us at the clinic, and I know that it is time, but I almost backed out last night. Is it really time?  Is she really in pain?  Does she still enjoy her life, even though it no longer appears that way?  It's such a very hard thing to do, to decide when to say Good Bye.  If only they could talk, and share their feelings with us.

I had hoped that Coral could die at home, in her sleep, free of pain, but that is not to be.

Coral has a large, rapidly growing mammary tumor in addition to severe arthritis and chronic kidney failure.  She walks with great difficultly, with her back severely arched, and has great difficulty getting up and down.  Although we have throw rugs everywhere, she has trouble staying on her feet, and can't always manage the 6 inches to step up on the dog bed.  She falls often. Yet she still eats the meaty portion of each meal (no veggies please) and gazes adoringly at Ron when he talks to her.  She's patient with the other dogs, and even Fern is respectful of her.  Coral never pees in the house because Ron takes her out every 3 to 4 hours, but she can no longer control her bowels.  She never complains, never whines or cries out, and is just as stoic as she has always been, but I can tell by her eyes that she is in pain.  The sparkle is gone and has been replaced with a resignation.  I asked her last night if she was really ready to go.  Her eyes said Yes. So be it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Too Cute

The pups are amazingly cute now and are acting like little dogs, play fighting, wagging their tails, and trying to keep their bed clean.  They are also trying to climb out of the whelping box, so it's time to keep the pen gate closed.  It won't be long now.  They get to come out of the box for a few minutes in the evening, to explore their pen and Holly's nearby crate, but they don't travel very far yet and still fall asleep quickly.

Next week I will take the front panel off their box and give them unlimited access to the pen.  I'll also put a low panel on the front of the pen so Holly can escape if she feels the need.  She will.  Motherhood is starting to have less appeal now, and Holly is quite happy to spend time upstairs and away from her puppies.  She got her first walk on Sunday night and loved the snow.  Holly is from Texas, so this was her first experience with snow, and she was not ready to come home when I decided she'd had enough, but I was afraid she'd get frostbitten breasts!

Because of the weather, it's risky and time consuming to try and get home at noon.  A real disappointment to me because this is my favorite age, and I hate to miss the chance to sit in the box with the babies, if only for a few minute.

Holly is in the dog house, so to speak.  She's absolutely ravenous right now and every calorie she takes in goes into making milk for her brood.  While typing away here I heard an odd noise, but did not bother to check it out.  Fernly has been so good lately, I didn't think about the fact that Holly has not!  A few minutes later I discovered that she had removed my dog walking jacket from the back of a chair, and was busily eating through the pocket for the treats inside.  Bad Dog!  Hungry dog.   My favorite dog walking jacket will never be the same. . .

Monday, December 10, 2012


Yesterday was spent trying to stay ahead of the snow that was falling at the rate of an inch an hour.  We ended up with about a foot of the stuff.  It's beautiful outside, but the drive to work is likely to be time-consuming and to consist of numerous white-knuckle moments.  After several weeks of above normal temperatures the current temp is 11 degrees and the wind chill is below zero.  It's gonna be a long day as I won't try to get home at noon to visit the pups.

Pups are doing well and are incredibly cute - but more on that tomorrow.  Day 21, my favorite day with pups, when they seem to turn into little dogs.
That Maxwell and Britt. CUTE!

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Today's project is to come up with a suitable picture for Christmas cards.  I should have added some Christmas balls to this one!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Too Cute For Words!

And no pictures to prove it. . .   The last few evenings have been filled with a retirement dinner for a friend and a fish club meeting, so I have not been able to just sit in the box with the pups and admire them.  That comes tonight, along with a few new pictures.  I stop each time I go by to speak with and cuddle each puppy, but it's not the same as being able to climb in the box with them.  Oh my gosh these are cute puppies!

On Monday the pups will be 21 days old, my very favorite day.  That's when they will start greeting me with wagging tails and will also start trying to keep their bed clean.  This weekend I'll change their box from a carpet with two throw rugs, to newspapers and just one throw rug for sleeping.  The pups will quickly catch on to crawling off the rug to pee on the papers.  It always amazes me how strong that instinct is, and how certainly behaviors occur on very specific days.  In another week I will take the panel out of the front of their box to allow the pups access to the entire puppy pen, and they will begin exiting the box to pee.  It will take them awhile to all catch on to that and do it consistently, but it will happen right on schedule.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

This Too Shall Pass

As I took the "Whole Dog Journal" magazine from Fern, I said, "Fernly, WHY are you such a bad dog?  Why must you get into mischief all the time?"  She looked at me inquiringly and said very distinctly, "How was I to know that I should not take that magazine off the bar stool?  You never told me I couldn't do that!"  Yes, I heard her say that, or maybe I just read it in her expression. . .

Fern is not what I would call an "easy" puppy.  She's very active, always busy, way too smart, incredibly curious, and already seems to have a wicked sense of humor.  She misses absolutely nothing, and MUST check out all new objects and anything else of interest.  It must be studied, smelled, and often tasted as well.  I've raised a lot of puppies over the years and some were easy, while others were more of a challenge.  We often joke that the dumb ones are the easiest to raise and the best for pet homes, yet the smart ones are incredibly entertaining and often amazingly funny, and they do grow up to be wonderful companions.  BUT they take a lot more time and patience!

This is not an easy time for Fern.  Because it gets dark so early there is no time to take her running after work, on-leash walks just don't do it for her.  Weekend runs just aren't enough for her.  The puppies will take an increasing amount of my time too.  Fern will enjoy all the visitors, but because she'll get so excited I may have to keep her on leash, at least at first.  She's very easily stimulated and will definitely jump up on and climb all over visitors.  It will provide lots of training moments, but if she's like her Grandpa Argus it will be a long time before she actually has Company Manners.  It's much easier to manage and control a single dog - an enthusiastic puppy with all the competition for attention is much more of a challenge.

Fern was a Puppy Kindergarten drop out because of my broken hand, so it's time to get back to class with her.  We work for awhile every evening, doing Sit, Down, Stand, Stay, Watch, and Walk (not formal heeling), and she's very good - when there are no distractions.  Home training does NOT take the place of a good obedience class!

Beginners Obedience starts a week from Saturday, Hooray!  Although I ask my puppy buyers to attend training school or obedience club classes, Fern & I will be going to PetCo to train with Carol.  Many of the pet shop trainers have gone through their company's classes to train "trainers", but are not actually very qualified.  Carol is a trainer at my local PetCo and I have gotten to know her over the years and respect her knowledge of dogs and training methods.  Her sister also breeds and shows dogs, AND Carol feeds her dogs a raw diet, just as we do.  The store is only a mile away, which will be nice when the weather is bad, and classes are Saturday afternoon.  My only conflict will be the weekend of the local dog shows.  Hopefully we get through the entire class before Fern comes in season!

This too shall pass - but not without a fair amount of work on my part.  Good dogs don't "just happen".  They are raised to be that way.   I know Fern will grow up to be a Good Dog - it will just take time!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Someone Will Be Disappointed

Although it's nice to have a great many reservations for pups, it will be difficult when the time comes to place them because there won't be a puppy for everyone.  Because there is no way of knowing how many (if any) show potential pups we have here, I have enough reservations to place them all (except the patch) in show homes, as well as enough to place them all in pet homes . .   Probably MORE of each than there are puppies, but as I have learned over time, not everyone who expresses interest will actually be ready for a puppy when the pups are ready to go.  Sometimes life gets in the way and adding a puppy has to be delayed or even cancelled.

And sometime the available puppies aren't right for the individual situations.  Several of the people with reservations for pets will only consider a black spotted female, so a male pup or the liver spotted girl won't work for them.  One or more of the pups may have unilateral hearing which is relatively common in Dalmatians, and although hearing in only one ear does NOT affect a Dal's ability to be a wonderful companion (or even a show dog, for that matter), not everyone will want a uni puppy.
Patches are normally popular, but not everyone will want a patched puppy either.

NO show puppies are flawless - they all come with a few holes, however minor, or a few things we are not quite sure about.  For instance, a tiny bit of nose trim will most likely fill in - but it might not!  A high tail will probably come down (at least from this litter), but there is no way I can guarantee that.   Some people have spotting preferences, and a pup might be too lightly or heavily spotted for them, and although we can show blue eyed dogs in the U.S., not everyone finds them acceptable, and blues are faulted in Canada.  Several people on my list would prefer a liver girl, while others only want a black one.  First pick belongs to me, should I decide to keep a puppy, but after that we'll see how it all plays out.

I received the good news that Argus's liver daughter GCh. Cassie is pregnant by a top quality black-spotted boy (A GCh., Top Ten, National Specialty BoB winner).  Both Cassie and Gabe are wonderful dogs with lovely temperaments and all their health testing, and I know Cassie's family will do a good job with the puppies. Star Chart Dalmatians  or contact John directly at

The pups have names now - Maxwell, Folgers, Britt, Melitta, Vittoria, Gevalia, and Sanka!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pretty Spots - Just The Beginning

My daughter Jess came over to admire the babies yesterday and they did their best to be cute, staying awake for about 10 minutes each time we went down to visit them.  They've started swaggering around the box and are doing some slow motion wrestling, so are already very entertaining.  From now on it will be hard to get anything else done as visits with the babies will be longer and longer.  I'll stop in to check on them and end up staying for a couple of hours. They are even cute when they're sleeping!

Jess agreed that the faces and markings are particularly nice on these babies, one of the "prettiest" litters we've had here.  So we're past the first hurdles - everyone hears, the trim will be good on all, and everyone has a pleasing spotting pattern.  Now we will cross fingers for dark eyes, good structural conformation, correct bites, proper tail carriage, good legs and feet, and most particularly good dispositions.  They'll be BAER tested to confirm hearing and identify any that might have unilateral hearing, get thorough health checkups at about 6 weeks, be intensely socialized with people of all ages, and I'll spend many many hours just watching them stand, interact and move around.  And we'll have LOTS of puppy visitors.

As a responsible hobby breeder who breeds for the show ring, I hope that some of the pups will be show potential.  That's why I am putting all this time, money, and work into a litter of pups.   If I'm fortunate and this breeding turns out as well as I thought it might, some of the pups will look like potential show prospects, while others will be pet quality for minor reasons that do not detract from their good looks or personalities. All puppies will receive the maximum amount of attention, whether they go to show or companion homes, will be carefully evaluated, and appropriately placed.   Fingers crossed . . . 

Monday, December 3, 2012

And Now For The Naming

A short post today as I spent too much time admiring the pups.  I did one last hearing test (what we refer to as "home testing"), and got this picture of all the pups listening to me.  I had previously tested them (multiple times) while they were laying more spread out, since a deaf pup will respond when a hearing littermate moves in response to sound.  I was about 95% sure on Saturday evening that everyone heard, got positive responses from everyone when I tested them yesterday, and much stronger responses today when I just spoke to them in a normal voice (I start off with soft whistles and hand claps).  Hooray!

Now it's time to assign their names, something I will probably do this evening.  They all get coffee names and I have narrowed the list down to eight, so will discard one.  Britt, Gevalia, Mill Stream (Millie), Tully, Sanka, Vittoria, Maxwell & Folgers.  I'll probably discard Mill Stream, and name the liver girl Sanka.

Pups will be BAER tested to confirm their hearing status, and by then I will have figured out if any of the pups are unilateral hearing - pups who just hear in one ear, rather common in Dals.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Best Medicine

With so many pleasurable things off limits because they are too expensive, bad for your health, or illegal, it's nice that we still have coffee!  I've followed all the possible health concerns about coffee for years, and am always relieved when further information negates the original warning.  Coffee in moderation will apparently do me no harm, and may even hold  Alzheimer's and a variety of other unpleasant diseases at bay.  Hooray for coffee!

My coffee is currently brewed in a Keurig.  It bothers me that there is so much waste with the little K-cups, and it IS a relatively expensive way to purchase coffee, but convenience wins out, and we never have a partially filled pot of coffee sitting around going to waste.  The variety is nice but we pretty much use one specific brand that we both like, plus an occasion cup of tea or dark hot chocolate.  That little machine brings me great pleasure, and gets my mornings off to a good start.

My coffee is generally drunk black, and I don't care for flavored coffee.  I prefer the taste of the coffee itself, though on occasion I may add a bit of milk or real cream and/or some sugar just to splurge a bit.  Wasted calories, but only an occasional treat.  If I stop for coffee at one of the coffee shops that dot every corner, I stick to regular black coffee, whatever the special of the day may be.  It might get doctored up, but is normally enjoyed black, just as it comes from the brewer, and as hot as possible.  Good coffee is always a treat.

Always a treat to be enjoyed by noon, that is.  I don't care for decaf, and only drink afternoon or evening coffee if I'm driving somewhere and need to stay awake and alert.  Otherwise coffee is a morning treat, something to look forward to as I start another work day.  The smell and the taste are so amazing, and I can not understand people who start their days off with a cola drink or hot tea.  Doesn't do it for me!

Yes, I know coffee is addictive, and after all these years my body is quite dependent on it, BUT I deserve to have at least one vice!  Yesterday morning I was in a rush at home and incredibly busy at work.  By late afternoon I had a headache that lasted all evening and was still there when I woke up, but this morning the cause was obvious.  I had had only had two cups of coffee before work, had left the second unfinished in the car, and had not had time for a cup of coffee from the cafeteria.   Caffeine withdrawal, of course.  After the first cup this morning my headache was gone, just like magic.  The magic of coffee.  The best medicine. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sibling Rivalry

We had a case of sibling rivalry last night.

Holly has a crate next to the puppy pen where she can go while I am cleaning the puppy box.  She had already taken her rubber chicken into the crate, to "mother" while away from her pups.  Holly had also taken the rubber chicken into the whelping box while she was in labor waiting for the real thing.

Yesterday Holly took the squeaky fish downstairs and carefully added it to the whelping box.  Ron figured that would be OK as he knew I would start adding toys to the box soon.  While fixing dinner we heard barking and growling from the basement and I dashed down to see what was going on - I assumed that Fernly or Josie and sneaked downstairs to see the pups and Holly was warning them off.

Nope.  Holly was "washing" the squeaky fish, while the other pups were crawling around the box and getting in her way.  She kept moving the toy, perhaps trying to get a response from it, and the pups kept following.  Every time they got too close to the rubber "puppy", she would bark and warn them away.  Of course they don't hear yet, and wouldn't understand the warning anyway. Wonder what was going through her spotted brain?   I removed the toy to return to the family room, and Holly settled down to clean and feed her furry pups.  Guess we'll hide the fish until the pups are older.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Puppy Names

Off to training today at the MNDOT Training Center.  Hope it's a worthwhile workshop, as my desk is covered with "must dos".  It's Audit Time, which makes things so much more hectic!  That means no coming home this noon to feel Holly and check the pups.  Ron can fill in for today.  I hate to miss that right now though, as the spots are coming through and the pups are changing so quickly!

Patterns are looking great on the pups and they have such beautiful faces.  Liver girl now has visible skin spotting too and it appears that she has big spots and an all over pattern too.  She looks to be the most open marked, but that may change a bit as the spotting is so much more obvious on the black puppies.  Several of the pups have exceptionally nice markings, none have messy marked faces, and none will be too dark, although one is a bit more colorful than the others.

This weekend I should start getting hearing responses.  Once I know the hearing status the pups will get their names - I've decided to use "coffee names".  Folgers, Sanka, Maxwell (house), etc.  This was my mother's suggestion.  I think we may have used coffee names once before, but that would have been many years ago. I like using a theme, and have gone through many many themes over the years!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Another Morning For Coral

Each morning when I go downstairs, I wonder if Coral will be having Another Morning . . .  Although I am not wishing her away, it would be my preference that she die peacefully in her sleep, either snug in her crate or laying on the sofa beside her beloved Ron.  Poor Coral is increasingly frail, and the combination of mammary tumors, chronic kidney failure, arthritis, and just plain old age are taking their toll, but with the help of pain killers she seems to be relatively comfortable.  At least I hope she is comfortable, but Coral is not a complainer, so I don't know really know that for sure.  Her large expressive eyes look sad, and I wish I knew what she was thinking and feeling . . .

Coral sleeps hard, but can still see and hear, and when I call her name she looks up and with a bit of effort struggles to her feet.  Another Morning.  She comes out of her crate walking stiffly, with her head down and her back arched, but when I talk to her she wags her tail, although her wag is very low now.  She waits for me to take her collar and I help her out the door and down the 2 porch steps, and walk her out to the dog yard, my hand still under her collar.  She appreciates the support, especially on the steps, and stumbles a few times as we walk.  I'll leave her outside for 10 minutes, although she wouldn't mind being out there longer.  The outdoor smells are one of the things she still relishes and she comes back to the house slowly, sniffing as we go.

Fortunately the other dogs are kind to her.  The boys sniff her a little, but stop when I ask them to, and surprisingly Fernly shows respect and gives Coral plenty of space.  Josie and Holly pretty much ignore her other than a simple greeting of nose touches.

Coral rests on the dog bed while I write this as the sofa is increasingly hard for her to conquer.  When Ron comes down he'll invite her up to sit with him on the sofa, and help her if necessary.  Later he'll walk her around the block if she still wants to go.  It takes them awhile, but Coral still looks forward to her walks, so she can sniff as she goes, and think about squirrels and rabbits and all the other interesting things she is still aware of.  She'll spend much of the day on the sofa, with frequent trips outdoors.

It's time to feed dogs, and so far Coral's appetite is fine and she still enjoys her meals.  Her weight is good and her coat is still nice.  When Coral stops eating we will re-evaluate the situation yet again, but for now it seems Coral is ready for Another Day, and will face it calmly and with grace.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Back To Work

Back to work.  Another four-day weekend is history, and unlike past years it didn't include any dog shows.  Didn't accomplish as much as I'd hoped, but did do the things that needed to be done, and actually relaxed a bit.  Relaxed!  Slept until 7:00 AM, didn't wash up or get dressed until after 10:00, listened to a couple of Linda Fairstein mysteries on the iPod while cleaning house and walking dogs, played on my computer, and had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with mom & Ron (eating out this year).  Took Argus and Fernly running several times, something that Fern especially appreciates, and admired the babies a lot!  Because I did a turkey yesterday we'll be doing leftovers all week.  Time to try out some of the recipes that I've been saving.

Holly now has a bed outside the whelping box, a big quilt that she can nest in.  She keeps the pups clean and fed, but decided that she'd had enough "togetherness" and needed to be able to get away.  She did take the rubber chicken to bed with her though!  If she was one of those bitches that carried her pups around she'd have a few pups with her, but thankfully she does not.  The whelping box under the heat lamp is a bit warm for Holly, and not "cozy" enough, so this works fine for all of us.

Fernly visited a couple of pet stores on Saturday and was so funny.  Because she's such a bugger about jumping up (just as Argus was as a pup), when people ask to pet her I request that they tell her to Sit and give her a cookie.  She added a hand shake to her routine, all on her own, and when they tell her to sit she does, and offers a paw.  Always gets her a laugh.

Back to work.  Gotta start budgeting my time again now.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Six Days Old

Six days old, and all is well.  Holly is a terrific mom and the pups are always immaculately clean and well fed.  She's eating three meals a day now, and thinks more often would be even better.  She's also starting to linger for awhile when she goes through the family room on her way outdoors, even took the time to jump on the sofa with Ron for just a second yesterday.  Boredom will be setting in soon.

This is the second time around for the EZWhelp whelping box and it's doing the job again.   The rails keep Holly from accidentally leaning against or laying on a puppy.  The liners that came with the box were useless and kept coming loose and getting bunched up, but the new Dry Mate liners are great.  The backing works well to keep the liner flat and discourages Holly from trying to dig it up, plus it's large enough to fit under the corner legs of the rails which also helps to hold it in place.  The additional bath rug is for Holly and pups to lay on, but Holly prefers to lay in the opposite corner which is not under the heat lamp and is a bit cooler.    When the pups aren't nursing, they move over to the area under the light for some extra warmth.

Spots are starting to show faintly on the black spotted pups, and their face spots are already quite visible.  Most of the pups will be marked like Holly with big bold markings and attractively spotted faces. It's hard to see anything yet on the liver girl, as the skin spotting on livers is not as distinct and it takes longer for the spots to come through.  She appears to be more open marked (rather than colorful), and has a cleanly marked face.  Every time I stop to visit the pups I roll through their coats, looking at their markings!

Pups got their nails trimmed yesterday, or at least most nails got trimmed.  It takes good light and lots of patience to trim 112 nails on squirmy pups!  I use a human nail trimmer on babies since the nails are so small and thin.  BUT they are sharp and pointed, and very hard on mom's undersides when the pups knead her breasts to get the milk flow going.  Wish it was as easy to do Holly's nails.  She's been difficult about her nails, and of course I did not want to wrestle with her while she was pregnant (and my broken hand made it even more difficult).  Jess trimmed her nails twice, but they look pretty crummy now, definitely too long.  It embarrasses me, but so be it.

I'm surprised to still be getting puppy inquiries this time of the year, but thankfully not for Christmas pups (with one exception).  Most are from people who recently lost an older Dal and are looking for a new puppy.  One inquiry is from a couple who lost an elderly liver boy they purchased from us as a puppy, and are looking to adopt a sweet tempered adult liver male.  Hope I can find them one!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Let's Not Forget About Fern

Fern playing The Foot Game

The "big puppy" continues to make my life interesting.

I can visit the "little pups" every few hours, pick them up to admire their beautiful faces and how quickly the nose trim is moving, and am constantly amazed at how fast they are growing.  Holly appears to have plenty of milk and is a very attentive mother, so the babies are all clean and plump.  I check them out whenever I feel like doing so.

The big puppy however DEMANDS my time.  Fernly is quite the character and has turned everything into a game.  If I sweep she plays with the broom, if I try to read she drops toys on my lap, when I tell her to sit she offers to shake hands too, and when I am working in the kitchen she taps my foot so that we can play The Foot Game.  I pretend to step on her foot, and she taps my foot with her paw, leaps away or mouths my slipper.  Hopefully I don't regret this game, but so far she has only carried, never chewed, my slippers.

With my hand finally healed we are back to training, doing lots of show stacking in a variety of places.  Because she was a foot mover, it took some patience, but things are going well.  She's very sound and well put together, especially for such a baby, so it's fun to stack and admire her in shop windows when we are out walking.  (So what if the people inside think I'm crazy!)  Fern needs to get back to class too, as she sometimes still startles and barks at new or unusual things - and at odd things she does not understand, like boots and high heels.  She's incredibly visual, so she notices absolutely everything.  It was tough to take her places when I was one-handled, as she gets so excited, but she did get out, just not as much as I would have liked.  We'll be making up for that.

As a companion Fern is doing great.  Excellent in the house, plays with her toys, good in a crate, perfectly house trained.  She's pretty good on leash too, although last night when walking in her first snow I thought I would lose my arm.  She LOVED it.  Because she's not bothered by the cold, I'll find a place today where she can run off leash in the snow.  I particularly appreciate the fact that she comes really well off leash, something I still reinforce by always having a pocket full of extra tasty treats.

When we start having puppy visitors, all the extra socialization will be good for Fern, but she'll probably be too rough to interact with the pups, especially since she's inclined to clobber the other dogs with her foot!

Am I happy with Fern?  Yes indeed.   She pleases my eye and makes me laugh - that's what I love about good Dals.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

So Much To Be Thankful For

It's amazingly easy to feel sorry for ones self and to dwell on all the things we don't have.  A better job, a nicer house, a bigger income, more education, better health for ourselves and our families, more savings or a bigger pension, better looks, more smarts, a newer car, more disposable income, a wealthy family, and so it goes.  So many things it would be nice to have, but things that are not essential, and probably wouldn't make us happier anyway.  There will always be things that we wish were ours, but never will be.

How fortunate most of us are!  We have freedom, families, friends, homes, jobs, and health.  How amazingly fortunate we are and how much we have to be thankful for!  So many people have far less, and so many of them probably appreciate what they have far more than we do.  It's good to have a day to think about all that we do have!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Big Day

This is a big day for the pups as they will have their dewclaws removed this afternoon.  The entire litter will be packed in a large styrofoam box with towels and a hot water bottle and take a trip to Inver Grove Heights Animal Hospital for a visit with Dr. Annie.  Each pup will receive a checkup at the same time.  It only takes a few minutes per pup and they will sleep quietly all the way home.  Holly will stay behind to take a well deserved break, and for some reason the girls never act very stressed about the process.   If I took her along she would be much more agitated so she'll stay behind as usual.  Because the whelping went smoothly and Holly had strong contractions to expel all the placentas, it will be safer to leave her home.

All the pups appear to be doing well and are gaining weight.  Last night I sat down in the box and examined them carefully, to be sure I could tell them all apart.  They started their Neuro Stimulation exercises last night and I needed to be sure that I could identify the pups well enough to be sure that each pup got handled appropriately and did the little routine only once.  Click on the link below if you're curious about this.
Neuro Stimulation

These exercises are not the only handling the pups receive of course, but most of it is gentle handling.  They do however have additional "stress" that includes getting their blanket changed (it's great fun to watch them sniff a new surface, even at 2 - 3 days of age) and getting their nails cut - that starts tomorrow.

To the party who inquired about possibly obtaining a deaf pup - fingers tightly crossed that we have no deaf pups, BUT if we do I never place them.  Never have, never will.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

All Is Well

Holly and pups are doing well!  She's settled into motherhood and is very attentive without being obsessed.  The pups are clean and well fed but we can actually get Holly to go outdoors without dragging or carrying her, as we sometimes have to do the first day or two, and she'll get out of the box to take a drink of water.  She does insist on eating in bed, so we'll humor her for a couple of days.

Pups get handled several times a day for the first week or so.  I don't actually weigh them, but I check their body tone and their skin elasticity to be sure they are not getting dehydrated.  One of the old whelping books refers to a healthy puppy feeling like a glove with a hand in it, while a pup who is not thriving feels like an empty glove.  Very good description.

I don't put colored collars or rick rack on the pups to tell them apart, as they all have distinctive eye, nose or ear markings.  In this litter where the nose trim is done on all the pups except one, it's a bit harder and I'll have to depend on ear & and eye markings a more heavily.  Nice problem to have though.   I want to be able to identify each pup by the time they go in tomorrow for Vet Checks and dew claw removal.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Puppies! Good News - Bad News

More Good News by far!  Pups arrived last night, between 3:00 AM and 7:00 AM.  Big strong active pups that were quick to catch on to nursing.   We've got 7 of them, 2 boys and 5 girls.  One of the black girls is an incredibly cute triple-patch - both ears and one eye.  All are doing well, as is Holly.

The Bad News is that there are only 2 boys, and both of them appear to be black-spotted.  I did this litter because I wanted a liver Argus son for me.  I'm a bit bummed there are no liver boys, but so be it.  Most people would be thrilled to have mostly bitches.  Maybe I'll get my boy next time, if there is a next time.

4 of the 5 girls are also black spotted, which is also a bit disappointing.  Oh well.

Holly's temperature was normal on Saturday night, but was on it's way down Sunday morning.  The temperature drop means that pups will follow - eventually.  Her "due date" was 11/20/2012 +/- 2 days.  The plan was to take turns checking on her Sunday night, but when I went down at 10:00 PM I decided to get my sleeping bag and pillow and spend the night with her.  My old bones did NOT appreciate it, and I'm stiff this morning, but it was good that I stayed close as the first pup came at 3:00 AM.  Holly was an easy whelper, with vigorous pups and strong contractions, but is still fussing over the cords a bit too much.  She cut several too close and I had to tie off most of them to prevent the pups from bleeding, not an easy thing to do by yourself (Ron was asleep).

Nose and eye trim is very good, and many of the pups were born with complete pigmentation.  One thing we will not have to worry about at least, but I can never relax and enjoy pups until I am sure they can hear.  Argus has done good hearing numbers, but this is Holly's first litter.  Fingers crossed!

Thought I would go to work this afternoon for a half day, but with Holly fussing over cords I guess I'll stay home, just to be sure.  I need to make sure she can manage the pups and keep things in order anyway.  And maybe I can take a nap too.  Hah!

Dew claw removal scheduled for Wednesday,

Friday, November 16, 2012


Oh, so glad that is out of the way!  Now I can go on with life for a while longer, leaving the Attorneys to work this out.  At least I hope they work this out.

Argus enjoyed riding along and staying in a motel.  I could have stayed with friends but decided a motel would be better, the same one I stayed at the weekend my car got hit by the motorcycle, what seems like so many years ago.  I needed to exorcise a few evil spirits, and drove the accident route for the first time since it happened, going through everything step by step.  I've done this route in my mind a million times before, but have not actually driven it since the accident.  Thought I might be spooked but I wasn't, actually slept well the night before, and was just eager to get it over with.

Had a very nice dinner with Meg, Mike & Laura at a genuine Chinese Restaurant, something we never do at home.  We go to Thai, or Vietnamese, or Cambodian, or Laotian Restaurants.  Am sure we HAVE Chinese Restaurants here, but I can't think of any.  I suppose it's because we have large SE Asian population and so many individual ethnic groups.  Unfortunately, I left my leftover Mongolian Beef in the refrigerator at my motel. . .  It sure was good, as was the company.

The drive was easy and I left the Interstate to drive highway 14 in southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, where I always feel as if I have stepped back in time.  A battered winding road that passes through very old small towns that have not yet been "improved" by urban renewal.  Delightful, and lovely weather too.

Argus was his perfect Motel-Dog self, and although I brought the soft-sider crate into the room for him while I went to dinner, he would have been OK had I left him out.  He just sleeps, never barks when left, but it's not safe to leave a dog loose in the room when you are gone, no matter how well behaved or experienced the dog may be.

The Deposition went well, and I really liked my Attorney who I met for the first time.  The suit had originally been filed in Cook County but I had requested that it be moved to the county where the accident took place, so I had spoken with an attorney from the original law firm, as well as another attorney from this firm when the case got assigned to them, but this was my first visit with my actually attorney, who was chosen by my insurance company.  I had not realized that insurance companies used private attorneys in these cases.

We discussed the accident, worked out a map of the accident site area, went over the police report (which I had never seen), and she explained to me how to handle questions.  The Deposition itself took about an hour, during which time the plaintiff's attorney asked me many many questions, but I felt comfortable throughout the whole thing. My attorney had reminded me that its much easier to do these things when you give honest answers, and she was right, of course!  It all went well until the very end when the plaintiff's attorney shook my hand, the one I had so recently broken - OUCH!  My mistake.

So now the legal process continues.  Because the other driver was "impaired", which is presumably the reason for his poor judgment, my insurance company does not want to settle for anything of course.  If they don't settle, we go to trials.   I don't even want to think about that for awhile, and knowing how slowly the legal process moves, that's a long way up the road.  At least now I am quite sure that I CAN get through that too, if I have to.   Fingers crossed very tightly that I don't have to.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Let's Just Get This Over With

Off to Illinois today.  Finally. It's Deposition Time.  Time to experience one more part of the legal process that I would really rather know nothing about.  Something I've been dreading, but also looking forward to.  I just need to have it behind me, rather than having it hanging over my head, lurking in the back of my mind just waiting to pounce.  3 1/2 years ago a drunk on a motorcycle hit the side of my car when I was making a left-hand turn.  Not a good idea to try and pass a turning car.  When asked if I was going to sue him, my thought was that he was guilty of poor judgement, had caused an accident, and had suffered enough.  No, I was not going to sue him.  I just wanted this behind me.   A year later he sued ME.

Amazing how long this whole process takes, but it's finally here.  At least the deposition time is here. I spent the first year after the accident trying to put it out of my mind, and the next 2 1/2 reliving the details, filling out reports, trying not to forget anything.  Today I will re-drive the route I took that day, refreshing my memory, perhaps (I hope) exorcising evil spirits.  Tomorrow I will meet with the attorneys for both sides, mine selected by my insurance company.  Then, what will be will be.

Argus is riding along with me as my personal Therapy Dog.  He can't hold my hand through this, but he's great company, and always knows how to make me laugh.  And dinner with Meg, Mike & Laura gives me something to look forward to.  Haven't seen nearly enough of them this year.

I will get through this.    Wish me luck, please.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Ugliness Continues

The ugliness continues, and it's absolutely amazing. I am totally blown away by the responses of the losing side in this election, or at least some of them.  I never realized how much bigotry, racism, and hated still existed in America, and I am particularly upset that the flames are fanned by those at the top who COULD make a difference if they chose to.  What's wrong with these people?  And the party is blaming everything except their platform - they seem incapable of accepting the fact that women and minorities do not want to be second class citizens, and the middle class is tired of the income disparity and the erosion of their purchasing power.  No doubt they will continue to do all they can to block the President's efforts to get this country back on its feet, just as they did during the previous four years.  I'm so proud of my fellow Minnesotans for voting like Minnesotans again, except perhaps for the 6th District, but they may be space aliens rather than real Minnesotans.

On a much more cheerful note, we're celebrating Como's TD - Tracking Dog title.  Como is from the Argus/Nikon litter that included GCh. Penny and Ch. Charlie.  She went off to Pennsylvania as a puppy to a "tracking home" with Phil.  This was the first of what we hope will be many tracking titles.

On another cheerful note, Jana received Holly's CHIC number, for the completion of all her health testing, plus her entry into the Complete Dentition database.  Holly's pups are due in a bit less than two weeks, so this weekend I get to scrub the basement and set up the puppy pen and whelping box.  Trying to decide if I want to do an x-ray so we'll know how many pups to anticipate.  I don't normally do that, but don't normally do Ultrasounds either, and I did one of those this time!  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

We Did It

I don't think there is enough coffee to keep me awake all day.  Sat up way past my bedtime following election results.  Was pleased that Minnesotans voted like Minnesotans this year, and defeated the Marriage Amendment so strongly supported by the Catholic Church.  Hopefully the Tea Party mentality will slowly disappear from this state, but unfortunately MB will probably continue to fan the flames - even though her constituents finally appear to be waking up.  Just not quite enough of them yet.

The level of animosity on FB last night absolutely astonished me.  I expected some of the ugly, mean-spirited comments but a few normally mild-mannered, seemingly-civil people really surprised me.  I sincerely believe that my Democratic-voting friends would have lost far more graciously than so many of the Republican-leaning friends - some of who are probably now ex-friends, if they unfriended me last night.  So be it.

I continue to feel that the major problem with this country is the animosity and hatred.  IF we could put down our swords and work together, we could accomplish so much more . . .